Tag Archives: Khirbet Qeiyafa

Gedaliah at Mizpa

Today is the Jewish Fast of Gedaliah in which we remember the assassination in the town of Mizpa, in about 582 BCE, of the Babylonian appointed Jewish governor of Judah. Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shafan and many of his followers were murdered by ten men led by Ishmael son of Nethaniah of the Davidic line with the connivance of the Ammonite king (Jeremiah 41:1-3). There are two candidates for Mizpa, Nebi Samuel and Tell en-Nasbeh. See Todd Bolen’s very interesting post about why Nebi Samuel is not Mizpa.

Archaeological excavations at Tell en-Nasbeh go back to 1926; see Zorn for more recent analysis of the site. Uncovered was a monumental inner and outer gate complex from Iron Age II. The city plan, which is characteristic of many other Israelite settlements, like Khirbet Qeiyafa, follows basically a ring-road arrangement: a town wall often with houses or other structures built up against it in a casemate manner. At least six spacious four-room houses have been identified as well as what may be remains of a Babylonian residence. Epigraphic finds include inscribed ostraca, in cuneiform and one with a Mesopotamian name written in Hebrew characters, weights, scarabs, a cylinder seal, and eighty-seven LMLK seal impressions.

The prize was the seal of Jaazaniah, which possibly belonged to the officer of the same name who reported to Gedaliah at Mizpa (II Kings 25:23). This seal has the image of a cock in a fighting stance, one of the earliest representations of this bird ever recovered.
Jaazaniah onyx seal found at Tell en-Nasbeh with (modern) impression, Center for Online Jewish Studies

A clay bulla (seal impression) was found in the City of David that has the name Shafan.
Gmaryahu ben Shafan seal

A bulla with the name “Gedaliah who is over the house” was found at Lachish.
Gedaliah seal, Lachish

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