“Jerubbaal” Pottery Found in Israel

“Archaeologists digging in southern Israel may have found the name of Jerubbaal, scourge of the Midianites, on a broken fragment of a Judges-era clay pot. The inscription in primitive alphabetic writing from the time of the biblical Judges was found in Khirbat er-Ra’i, near Kiryat Gat in southern Israel. The shard with the rare ancient writing was found in a subterranean storage pit that had been lined with stones. Khirbat er-Ra’i is being excavated under the direction of Prof. Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University, Sa’ar Ganor at the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Dr. Kyle Keimer and Dr. Gil Davis of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. The writing was deciphered by epigraphic expert Christopher Rollston of George Washington University, who discerned the letters yod, resh, beit, ayin, lamed–YRBA’L, i.e., Jerubbaal. The original inscription had been longer but is lost based on time and location, the archaeologists surmise that he may have been none other than the biblical figure Gideon (also known as Jerubbaal), son of Joash, the Abiezrite, whose activities are described at length in the book of Judges. Sa’ar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority tends to the theory that it belonged to the biblical Jerubbaal, on the grounds of his interpretation that the syllables ‘Jeru’ stem from the ancient root of ‘rav’ in the sense of ‘fight’ (not rabbi); and who did he fight? Baal. ‘He broke Baal’s altar,’ Ganor points out, according to the biblical narrative.”

“Israel Archaeologists Find Biblical Name,” Haaretz, July 12, 2021

CONCLUDING COMMENT: “Jerubbaal” was not a common name. It was a name given to Gideon because of the unique occasion when he broke Baal’s altar (Judges 6:28-32). A true worshiper of Baal would not have had that name, and no other Israelite would have had it.

(Friday Church News Notes, July 16, 2021, www.wayoflife.org, fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143)