Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed a 2,800-year-old pottery shard dating to the time of Solomon’s temple that includes a name found in the Bible, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced this week.
The shard, a pottery storage jar handle with the Hebrew name “Menahem,” dates to the end of the First Temple period (8th–7th centuries BC) and was found during an archaeological excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Ras el-‘Amud neighborhood in Jerusalem “prior to the construction of a girls’ school by the Jerusalem Municipality,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
“This important find joins similar names that have been found in archaeological excavations in the Ancient East and in Israel in particular. The names Menahem and Yinahem are expressions of condolences -- possibly related to the death of family members,” said archaeologist Ron Beeri, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
It is the first time that a “jar handle with this name has been found in Jerusalem,” the organization said.
The Bible, in 2 Kings 15:17-20, tells of a “Menahem son of Gadi” who was king of Israel for ten years. He was one of the so-called “bad kings” of Israel. The Bible says of him: “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. During his entire reign, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. Then Pul, king of Assyria, invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. Menahem exacted this money from Israel. Every wealthy person had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer.”
He was one of the last kings of the northern kingdom of Israel.
It is not known if the “Menahem” on the jar handle is the same one in the Bible. Nevertheless, this “Menahem” lived during the time of Solomon’s temple and experienced the events described in Scripture.
Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians.
Photo Courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.