Archaeologists announced the discovery of a woman’s seal dating to the period before Babylon’s destruction of the Kingdom of Judah. The find came from the long-running Giv’ati parking lot excavation in the City of David.
The woman’s name on the seal is “Elihana bat Gael.” This name does not appear in the Bible but is the feminine form of the male biblical name “Eli.” Judging from the article Elihana likely lived in the years leading up to of the Kingdom of Judah.
Personal seals belonging to women are relatively rare, especially from the Iron Age period in Israel and Judah. This kind of personal seal indicates Elihana was likely wealthy and possessed prominent social status.
Seal bearing the Hebrew inscription: “to Elihana bat Gael”. ()Photo credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Epigrapher Haggai Misgav was interviewed for the article.
“It seems that Elihana maintained her right to property and financial independence, even after her marriage, and therefore her father’s name was retained. However, we do not have sufficient information about the law in Judah during this period.”
Misgav said the name Eliha is known from a contemporary Ammonite seal, and is the feminine form of the name Eli, known from the Bible.
“The script appearing on the seal is remarkably similar to the script on Ammonite seals, and this might indicate the foreign origin of the artisan who carved the seal, and possibly the foreign origin of Elihana, who apparently came from east of the Jordan River,” he said.
Misgav added that the Book of Proverbs (31:13-23) states that an ideal wife is responsible for providing for the needs of her household when her husband is engaged in public and legal affairs at the city gate. “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands…,” it says. “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.”
Excavators also found another seal bearing a man’s name, “Sa’aryahu ben Shabenyahu” which translates to “The Lord, which was revealed in a storm.”
Seal bearing the inscription: “to Sa‘aryahu ben Shabenyahu”. (Photo credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)
Recent visitors to Jerusalem may recall seeing this excavation just south of the Old City’s walls. The work area is surrounded by a metal fine along the street, close to the “City of David” archaeological park. Visitors coming up from the Pool of Siloam via the Roman-era sewers often exit through this excavation area.
The Giv’ati excavation in the City of David. This area has produced numerous finds from many centuries of Jerusalem’s history. (Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)
Additional details are in the Jerusalem Post’s full English article here.
The wall of the building where the seals were found, probably an administrative center, dating to the First Temple period.
HT for the photos: Joe Lauer