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1-7-16 Southern Adventist University Involved in Two of the Top Ten Biblical Archaeology Discoveries of 2015
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On December 30 Christianity Today, the leading Christian magazine in America, published “Biblical Archaeology’s Top Ten Discoveries of 2015." Two of the listed finds came from excavations sponsored by Southern Adventist University’s Institute of Archaeology.
 
Number five on their list is the Eshba’al inscription found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, located in the Elah Valley in southern Israel. The inscription dates back to the days of Saul and David and mentions a man by the name of Eshba’al, the same name of one of King Saul’s sons. The inscription’s publication made international headlines in June, 2015 and prompted a meeting between the directors and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. This name only occurs in tenth century contexts in the Bible, which means that the biblical text fits very well with the archaeological data in Judah. It also confirms, with the other inscriptions found at the site, that Hebrew writing was well established in Judah by the early tenth century BC. Khirbet Qeiyafa has become the crucial site in the ongoing debate about the early history of Judah. New data from the site, including this inscription, has established an early date for the monarchies of Saul and David which some scholars wish to dismiss from history.  
 
Number four on their list is the Canaanite ostracon found at Tel Lachish. This is the first time a proto-Canaanite inscription was found in the last 30 years of archaeology in Israel. The context of the inscription was a Late Bronze Age Canaanite temple at Tel Lachish, one of the most important cities of Canaan during the period of the Judges. The fragmentary inscription is very difficult to read, but provides important information about the development of the proto-Canaanite alphabet as it progressed from Hebrew, Greek, and then Latin.
 
Southern Adventist University is a co-sponsor with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem of the expeditions to Khirbet Qeiyafa and Lachish. The Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation phase concluded in 2013 and is now completing final publications. The Fourth Expedition to Lachish began its investigations at the second most important biblical site in Judah in 2013 and has become the largest excavation in the Middle East with between 115-120 staff and volunteers in the field every year. An international consortium of Adventist institutions joins Southern every year including the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (Philippines), Adventist University of Bolivia (Bolivia), Helderberg College (South Africa) and many other nationalities that make up those that participate. Other consortium institutions include Korean Jangsin University, Oakland University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.
 
The excavations at Lachish have also uncovered massive destructions from the Babylonian campaign of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC (2 Kings 25) where dozens of whole vessels have been found and the earlier 701 BC destruction of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18; Isaiah 36-37). The Assyrian destruction level contained several LMLK jars found on the surface. In previous expeditions over four hundred LMLK storage jar handles were uncovered at Lachish many dating specifically to King Hezekiah. The term LMLK in Hebrew means “for the king.”
 
This summer the project will continue from June 16-July 24 as more buried secrets are uncovered from the ancient city of Lachish. For information on how to participate, visit southern.edu/lachish.
 
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
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