Eli Shukron and Gershon Galil have announced the identification of several stone inscriptions from Hezekiah in and around Jerusalem’s ancient water system. Remarkably, one of their newly identified inscriptions is at the end of Hezekiah’s tunnel, just below the spot where the original Siloam inscription was cut away more than a century ago. No one has noticed the additional text before due, according to Galil, to heavy erosion.
The first lines of the inscription are in Istanbul but here is Galil’s translation of the Siloam inscription’s other lines still on the wall of Hezekiah’s tunnel.
9. of king Hezekiah, he brought ˹the˺ water into the city, ˹the ki˺ng ˹l˺e˹d˺
10. the water into the pool. Hezekiah smote ˹the˺ Philistines
11. from Ekron to Gaza and placed ˹the O˺RE[B] unit [o]f the army of ˹Ju˺dah
12. there. He braked the images and removed the high places, braked in pieces the Nehushtan, and cut down
13. the Asherah. He accumulated in his treasure houses and in the house of YHWH
silver and gold, perfumes and good ointment.
Galil has also identified additional words in the original cut-away portion of the Siloam inscription, including the names Hezekiah, Ahaz, and Judah.
One of the other inscriptions is located near the Canaanite Pool. Galil translates it as follows.
1. Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, king of Judah,
2. made the pool and the conduit.
3. In the seventeenth year, in the second (day), in the fourth (month),
4. of king Hezekiah, the king brought
5. the water into the city by a tunnel, the king led
6. the water into the pool. He smote the Philistines
7. from Ekron to Gaza and placed there the OREB unit of
8. the army of Judah. He braked the images and braked in ˹pieces˺ the Nehu˹sh˺tan
9. and he removed the high ˹places and˺ cut down the Asherah. Hezek˹ia˺h, the king,
10. accumulated in all his treasure houses and in the house of YHWH
11. a lot of silver and gold, perfumes and good ointment.
Galil notes these translations read very much like biblical texts in 1 Kings 18 and 20, and goes on to suggest these 8th century BC inscriptions could be called “the earliest manuscripts of the Bible.” That’s quite a way to describe them, and sure to excite some passions.
The big issue I and some others have is that this announcement is huge, if correct, yet was not made known through peer review in an established journal. It’s certainly possible these scholars don’t have everything right, yet no one’s had opportunity to verify the claims. What if Shukron and Galil end up being wrong about something? Perhaps something significant? Too late! The cat’s out of the bag. Good luck getting any corrected information into circulation. Unpublished announcements that claim to confirm the Bible risk a backlash if there are mistakes or errors – even unintentional ones.
If all of this is correct, then wonderful. As a biblical Believer, I’ll be as happy as anyone. For those who have put on patience and self-control, let’s give this some time for evaluation and verification before starting to use it in our teaching – especially anything involving evidence for the Bible.
Addendum: This information comes directly from posts Gershon has made on his Facebook page. He also has a video with himself and Shukron in the tunnels discussing these inscriptions. You may watch it here, though be advised it’s in Hebrew. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTY75OCWHa0. This announcement is also showing up in Israeli media. Give it another day to start appearing in Western news sources.