Netanyahu Sees Rare King David-era Inscription
JERUSALEM, Israel -- At a time when many in the world question Israel's right to the land, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed in on an extraordinary archaeological find from the time of biblical King David.
Archaeologists Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, with the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, and Saar Ganor, with the Israel Antiquities Authority, showed Netanyahu the rare 3,000-year-old inscription at his office in Jerusalem this week.
They told him that until five years ago there were no known inscriptions from the Kingdom of Judah in the 10th century B.C.
"Today we have four inscriptions -- one from Jerusalem, one from Beit Shemesh, and two from Khirbet Qeiyafa," Garfinkel said in an interview with CBN News.
Archaeologists say these inscriptions have revolutionized thinking about that time period. It wasn't a prehistoric era with illiterate people. They clearly had writing skills and commercial activity.
The ancient writing appeared on pottery shards discovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa, identified with Sha'arim in the Bible in the Valley of Elah. That's the place where the Bible says a young David fought and killed the Philistine giant, Goliath.
Conservators worked almost a year in the laboratory to put the more than 100 pieces of the pot together.
"The inscription read: "the estate of Eshba'al son of Beda."
Garfinkel said this particular find provided a fascinating name.
"The name Beda is unique. We don't know what it is but Eshba'al is very well-known name. It appears in the Bible a few times but all the time it's mentioned it's from the time of King David," Garfinkel told CBN News.
"There is the famous Eshba'al, son of King Saul. He ruled for two years and then his head was cut off and brought to David in Hebron. But this is not our guy, we have another Eshba'al," he said.
Eshba'al means "man of ba'al," which was a Canaanite god.
Because the Israelites didn't like ba'al, Garfinkel said that one of Saul's son's name was changed to Ishbosheth, man of shame in the book of Samuel. He told CBN News that all Eshba'als in the Bible and archaeology are from the time of King David.
"This is fascinating that you see the correlation between biblical text and archaeological text," he said.
For years, some experts said there was no proof that King David existed. But Garfinkel and Ganor's work at Khirbet Qeiyafa helped proved skeptics were wrong.
Netanyahu said the inscription attested "to what happened here, in this country, in the time of King David."