King David-era inscription pieced together from broken jug

The pictured 3.000-year-old jar is inscribed with a name mentioned in the Bible, "Eshbaal." Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to A rare inscription dating back to the 10th century BCE, the estimated time of Jewish Kings David and Solomon, has recently been pieced together from fragments of a 3,000-year-old broken jar that were discovered near Israel’s Elah Valley.

Letters in an ancient Canaanite script were identified on some of the pieces of the vessel, sparking the researchers’ curiosity. After intense preservation work in the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) laboratories, which involved piecing hundreds of sections of the broken jar together, the inscription was completed and the mystery was solved: The jug had been engraved with the name “Eshbaal Ben Beda.”

Professors Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, who directed the dig for the Archaeological Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the IAA, respectively, noted that “this is the first time the name ‘Eshbaal’ has appeared in an ancient inscription in Israel. The Bible makes reference to Eshbaal Ben Shaul, who ruled Israel alongside King David. Eshbaal was murdered by assassins, and his head was brought to David in Hebron (2 Samuel 3-4).”

This is the fourth inscription dating back to the ancient kingdom of Judea discovered thus far.

“The name Eshbaal appears in the Bible, and now on an archeological artifact, starting from the time of King David in the first half of the 10th century BCE,” Garfinkel and Ganor explained.

“The name wasn’t used in later periods of the First Temple. The match between biblical tradition and the archeological find demonstrates that this name was acceptable in this [specific] time period only. The name Beda is unique and has not been discovered in [other] ancient inscriptions or in biblical sources,” the archaeologists observed.

Posted on June 17, 2015 .