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Name from Book of Judges found inscribed on 3,100-year-old pottery

J-P Mauro - published on 07/29/21

The discovery is the first example of corroboratory evidence contemporary to the Book of Judges.

Archaeologists working in the Judean foothills have discovered an inscription that may bear the name of a biblical judge. The name “Jerubbaal,” a nickname of the biblical judge Gideon, was found inked upon pottery shards. The artifact was dated to the time of the Book of Judges, making it the first hard evidence in support of the biblical text. 

According to the Times of Israel, the rare inscription was dated to 1100 BC. The three pottery shards join only a handful of other examples of writing from this era. The team noted that it is possible that the inscription is incomplete, as it is on broken pottery. Still, they believe that “Jerubbaal” is the most logical translation. 

In an interview with the Times of Israel, Prof. Christopher Rollston from George Washington University, who deciphered the text, said: 

“The reading Yeruba’al 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.”

First evidence of Judges

The team noted that although the pottery was branded with his nickname, they don’t know if Gideon actually owned the jug. In fact, it could have been referring to a different Jerubbaal, as the name was in use at the time. Regardless of this, the discovery, published in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, is significant in its corroboration of the bible. 

According to UPI, lead archaeologists Yossef Garfinkel and Sa’ar Ganor explained the importance of the find: 

“As we know, there is considerable debate as to whether biblical tradition reflects reality and whether it is faithful to historical memories from the days of the Judges and the days of David.” They continued, “The name Jerubbaal only appears in the Bible in the period of the Judges, yet now it has also been discovered in an archaeological context, in a stratum dating from this period.”

Previous to this discovery there were scant examples of writing from this region and era. The team believes the artifact could help us understand the transition from the Canaanite to the Israelite and Judahite cultures. 

Find out how this inscription is helping experts better understand ancient cultures at The Times of Israel. 

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