Archaeological Assumption

10 Apr

There is no logic or rationality to this aspect of archaeology. Based upon very, very minute evidence archaeologists and others involved in the field make great leaps to conclusions when there is absolutely no reason for that conclusion to exist. Case in point comes from the following link and article by Hershel Shanks:

Was the proper name Eshbaal—man of Ba’al—banned in Judah after King David’s time? A recent analysis suggests that it was.

Ba’al, meaning lord or master, was a common divine appellative in Canaan and neighboring areas during Biblical periods, most frequently referring to the storm god.

Very recently an inscription was uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa—a site already famous for a late 11th–10th-century B.C.E. inscription—about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. According to excavator Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University, the site is probably an imposing fortress erected by King David facing the Philistines. The dim five-line inscription in ink on a piece of pottery found there has been widely discussed and variously interpreted—with some claiming it as one of the oldest Hebrew texts ever found.a

Very recently two additional inscriptions—far less known—have been recovered at Qeiyafa. Only one has been deciphered so far. A team of scholars is continuing to work on the other one.


Top: General view of the inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa. Photo: Tal Rogozin; Bottom: The inscription of ’Ishba’al, son of Beda‘, from Khirbet Qeiyafa, with existing parts of letters emphasized. Drawing by Ada Yardeni.

The deciphered one is short, but clear. It consists solely of a name: ’Ishba’al son of Beda‘.

Archaeologists make these assumptions all the time and it is annoying for there is no basis for these assumptions to be made. We cannot say that the name was banned because there is no discovery of an official document stating that such ban took place. Looking at one pot then seeing all the other artifacts inscribed with names does not even come close to suggesting that a ban was in place after King David’s time.

We wrote on in the response section under that article the following two points that make far more sense and are as probable a theory as a ban idea would be: 1). no one wrote it down on material that survived to this day and 2) it may have simply fallen out of favor like so many names do in other eras.

Both reasons make far more sense than a ban would. Then how do we know that the person doing the inscribing was actually an Israelite? Just because it may be an Israelite site does not mean that only Israelites lived there,that they used only Israelite manufactured pottery and so on. new York and Toronto are North American sites yet people from other nations live there and buy imported material objects.

The lack of thinking on the part of most archaeologists and others associated with the field is astounding. It makes one wonder how they got their positions in the first place.

The archaeological situation is a bit, but not completely, different. We have more than a thousand seals and seal impressions (bullae) and hundreds of inscriptions from Israel and Judah from the post-David period (ninth–sixth centuries B.C.E.). The name Eshbaal is not to be found among these names. The situation with the name Ba’al is slightly different; it does occasionally appear in Israel—and of course in Philistia, Ammon and Phoenicia. But not in Judah!

While it is possible a ban was put in place, relying solely upon 1 inscription to make that judgment is not scholarly nor historically accurate. We would need some sort of verifiable official manuscript stating that a ban took place and there is none. This author is not aware of any ancient document that records the banning of any name by any ruler so why is it assumed that Judah proposed and enacted one? There is no evidence to suggest one ever took place.

Then we must ask, why would a ruler meddle in such affairs? In the case of Judah, it might be because of their faith in God but we find no OT scripture that has God giving instructions to ban different names. We must add that the meaning of names does not always reflect the motivation of the parents in naming their child. They may be weird parents , like so many modern celebrities, who hang on their offspring names not worthy of a pig. Or that they simply liked the name or were naming their child after an older relative whose identity was never recorded on pottery or a stele.

There are reasonable and more logical explanations than a ban for the absence of the name in further historical records. I do not see many parents jumping on the ‘moon unit’ bandwagon a name Mr. Zappa used to name one of his daughters. Should we suggest a ban was put in place to make sure that never happened again? No thus it is illogical to suggest that a ban was placed upon ancient names as well without real evidence to support such a theory.

For those believers who want this article to have a Christian theme, all we can say is ‘use your heads’ before making stupid conclusions like that baseless theory. Think- as God did give us brains to use to ferret out the truth and to make proper presentations when we have the real evidence and not wax eloquent when only 1 example appears in the archaeological record. We do not leap to conclusions, use assumptions or promote wild speculation or conjecture but base our words upon facts and the truth. We may not have all the evidence we need so we present the discovery with the truth– one person in the ancient world had to live with that name and it was recorded on a piece of pottery for whatever reason he or others may have had.

For all we know that inscription may simply have been an ancient example of theft prevention and made it easier to recover stolen property. Modern people label their valuable items with their identifying marks so why not the ancient world? we cannot know until we find a real ancient document describing why that name was used once and only once.

Bad theories distort the past not build us a correct picture of what took place in ancient times.

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Posted by on April 10, 2016 in academics, archaeology, General Life, history, science


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