A particularly interesting discovery in this layer is that of a partially preserved pottery bowl with an incomplete inscription. This fascinating find will be presented at the 14th City of David Research Conference that will be held on Thursday, August 29, 2023 in the City of David.

The closest name in the Bible to the name preserved in the inscription on the clay bowl, is Zechariah ben Benaya. This name appears in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, verse 14, where it is told about Yahaziel ben Zechariah ben Benaya, a Levite of the sons of Assaf, who prophesied before King Jehoshaphat before the King went out war with the Ammonites and the Moabites.

That being said, due to missing letters in the inscription, it is impossible to know whether this is indeed the name, and whether the owner of the bowl is the person mentioned in the Bible.

Archaeologists Dr. Joe Uziel and Nahshon Zenton of the Antiquities Authority, who discovered the bowl, date the letters engraved on the pottery to the 8th-7th century BCE, and associate the bowl with the time between Hezekiah’s reign and the destruction of Jerusalem during the reign of King Zedekiah. The archaeologists also add that the engraving of the inscription on the bowl was made before it was fired – that is: the inscription decorated the rim of the entire bowl, and was not written on the clay after the vessel was broken.

The inscription’s purpose is unclear, but the archaeologists claim that the bowl may have contained an offering, and it is likely that it had the name of the person bringing the offering or, alternatively, the name of the recipient.

Inscription analysis:

As mentioned, the inscription on the pottery bowl is in the ancient Hebrew script and has been partially preserved. The first letter is broken and hard to read, but it seems to be the letter resh. The next three letters, yud-heh-vav, are the letters of the theophoric suffix (the part of the first name that includes the name of God, such as in Yirmi-yahu, Eli-yahu, etc.). After these letters appear the letters bet-nun (son), and after them – the patronymic name (the part of the name derived from the father’s name) with the three letters bet-nun-heh. According to archaeologists Uziel and Zenton, “If we consider the possibility that this is a vowelless or ‘defective’ spelling of the name Benaya, then the name before us is ‘…riyahu ben Benaya'”.

Many of the first names mentioned in the Bible contain the theophoric component yud-heh-vav, as in this example of the inscription from the City of David. Besides the references in the Bible, archaeological digs have found additional examples of inscriptions on a variety of objects, such as seals, bullae (blocks of clay with a seal impression), pottery and even inscriptions in stone. Among the many names with the theophoric suffix yud-heh-vav, it is worth noting a number of examples that have been discovered in the past in the City of David, such as Gmar-yahu ben Shafan, Bena-yahu ben Hosheyahu, and others, which were also found in the layer of destruction and ruins left by the Babylonian conquest.

A 2700 year old inscription was discovered in the City of David