Israeli archaeologists have uncovered an extremely rare 3,100-year-old inscription of a name that could very well be linked to the biblical judge Gideon from the Old Testament book of Judges.
According to The Times of Israel, archaeologists found a pottery vessel from a storage pit dating back to 1,100 BC at the Khirbet el Rai site during excavations in the Judean foothills. The small jug had an inscription of the name "Jerubbaal" or "Yeruba'al" on it, which was the same name given to Gideon, whose story is found in Judges 6, 7, and 8.
The rare find could be the first case of hard evidence of an artifact with a name connected to the biblical judges.
"For decades, there were practically no inscriptions of this era and region," Michael Langlois, a polymath independent epigrapher and historian, told The Times of Israel. "To the point that we were not even sure what the alphabet looked like at that time. There was a gap. Some even argued that the alphabet was unknown in the region, that there were no scribes, and that the Bible must therefore have been written much later."
Professor Christopher Rollston from George Washington University, who deciphered the text, noted that the 'Jerubbaal' inscription is "the most logical and reasonable reading, and I consider it quite definitive."
"I would hasten to add that this script is well known and nicely attested, so we can read it with precision," he added.
According to UPI, archaeologists explained that while Gideon was also called Jerubaal, they could not confirm if he owned the vessel with the inked inscription.
"According to the Bible, Gideon organized a small army of 300 soldiers and attacked the Midianites by night near Ma'ayan Harod," Yossef Garfinkel and Sa'ar Ganor, lead archaeologists on the project and professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained.
"In view of the geographical distance between the Shephelah and the Jezreel Valley, this inscription may refer to another Jerubbaal and not the Gideon of biblical tradition, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the jug belonged to the judge Gideon," they continued.
"In any event, the name Jerubbaal was evidently in common usage at the time of the biblical Judges," Garfinkel and Ganor noted.
On Monday, the archaeologists published the discovery of the inscription in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, an open-access online journal.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Keni1, this is a stock image
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.