Khirbet el-Qom inscription
Khirbet el-Qom is an archaeological dig located on the western slopes of the Hebron mountains on the area of the settlement al-Qom, about twelve kilometers west of Hebron. Some scholars proposed that Khirbet el-Qom is the biblical city of Makada. The biblical Makada is in the boundaries of the tribe of Yehuda. This proposal is based on the bible only.
|Location of Khirbet el-Qom|
Two inscriptions were engraved on the walls of tombs near the ledge (where the dead body of the deceased was laid).
Based on the shape of the letters, the tombs can be dated to 700-750 BCE.
The first inscription
The inscription (see was purchased in Jerusalem from an antique dealer who said it had been carved out from one of the tomb rooms. The inscription was engraved on the soft lime stone and the letters were painted in a black ink and the reading is quite clear:
“לעו[..] בן נתניהו. ” “to o[...] son of Netanyahu ”
|to o[...] son of Netanyahu inscription|
Names in the inscription
Netanyahu - נתניהו: appears several times in the Bible, the biblical chronology is the 7th BCE. It should be noted that the inscription was written in full spelling way (with a Mater lectionis letter), similar to the Masoretic text.
To O[..] - לעו[..] : perhaps the name is “ofi עופי“, This name appears in the Bible only one time and incidentally in the same verse in which the name "Netanyahu"appears.
Jeremiah 40 "8. then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Netanyahu, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men."
|A view into the interior of the cave|
The second inscription
In an additional excavation a second tomb was discovered, the tomb seems to be plundered recently.
A few days later, a local Bedouin sold an inscription he “found” in the same area, to an American archaeologist who was in charge of the excavation, the inscription has four lines that are carved on the stone in ancient Hebrew letters. Below the inscription was carved a decoration in the shape of a human hand. The script reading is difficult.
|Translation of the Inscription|
Insights from the inscription
1. The name of the deceased is "Ariho" “אריהו”, the meaning of the name in Hebrew is -Lion of the Lord, a parallel name (with the same meaning) in the bible is "Arel" "אראל".
2. The inscription and the magnificent tomb attest to a distinguished deceased.
3. Ariho was probably a senior official in the kingdom of Judea, as the inscription attests to "Arihothe Minister (sar)- אריהו השר", in Akkadian "Saru - שרו " is a king and in Egypt "Sir" is a nobleman, a senior official or an adviser.
In the Bible the word sar –שר means ruler/captain /minister
For example Judges 9 "30. And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled."
“ וַיִּשְׁמַע, זְבֻל שַׂר-הָעִיר, אֶת-דִּבְרֵי, גַּעַל בֶּן-עָבֶד; וַיִּחַר, אַפּוֹ.”
Or 2 Samuel 2 "8. Now Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;"
“וְאַבְנֵר בֶּן-נֵר, שַׂר-צָבָא אֲשֶׁר לְשָׁאוּל--לָקַח, אֶת-אִישׁ בֹּשֶׁת בֶּן-שָׁאוּל, וַיַּעֲבִרֵהוּ, מַחֲנָיִם.”
4. The inscription asks the God of Israel "YHWH" to bless the deceased, and to protect him from his enemies.
5. The connection of the Canaanite goddess “ASHERA” in the inscription was not clear at first, according to the inscription, it seems that “Ariho” will be blessed by “YHWH and his ASHERA”. This inscribing format is already known from another source, the site of Kuntillet Ajrud, where two inscriptions were found in the format of “TO YHWH[name of a place] and his ASHERA”.
By writing “YHWH and his ASHERA”, the scribe refers to ASHERA as the wife of the Israeli god YHWH.
Marriage between EL and ASHERA is the foundations of Canaanite theology, According to this theology, ASHERA is the wife of EL (the supreme god of the Canaanite pantheon), according to the Hebrew bible the two names EL and YHWH represented the same deity.
The reflection of worshiping YHWH and ASHERA together, can be found in some verses of the Bible, for example The Judean king Manasseh in 2 Kings Chapter 21 “7. And he set the graven image of Asherah, that he had made, in the house of which the LORD said to David and to Solomon his son: 'In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put My name forever”.
|statue of ASHERA|
Some scholars suggest that the name “ASHERA” does not refer to the Canaanite goddess, but to a tree, that was planted for the purpose of idolatry. The Torah forbids planting such trees :Deuteronomy 16 “21. Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee”.
Dever, W. G. - “Inscriptions from Khirbet el-Kom”,Qadmoniot: A Journal for the Antiquities of Eretz, Vol. No. 3 (15) / 1971), pp. 90-92.
Dever, W. G., “Iron Age Epigraphic Material from the Area of Khirbet el Kém”, HUCA 40-1 (1970), pp. 139-204.
“Recent Archaeological Confirmation of the Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel”, Hebrew Studies 23 (1982), pp. 37-44.
Dorsey. D. A., “The Location of Biblical Makkedah". Tel mm: 7 (1980). pp. 185-93.
Gilula, M., “To Yahweh Shomron and his Ashera”, Shnaton 3 (1978-9), pp.129-37.
“Who or What Was Yahweh's Asherah?", Biblical Archaeology Review 10/6 (1984), pp. 42-51.