In the last few days, the web has been busy (such as here and here and here and numerous others) with discussions of the new Iron Age II seal that was just reported from Jerusalem, from the City of David excavations conducted by Reich and Shukron. The seal bears an interesting Hebrew name which has been read as Repaihu (ben) Shalem. Besides the various issues that were discussed regarding this seal (and the name on it), I wanted to point out one interesting point that relates to Philistine Gath and the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath.
Notice the name Rapaihu – basically it means the Rapa of Yahu. How does that connect to Gath and Safi?
Well, here it is: In the late 9th century BCE, Stratum A3, at Tell es-Safi/Gath (the level which we believe was destroyed by Hazael of Aram), a short 3-4 letter post-firing, incised inscription (as yet not fully published), was found on the body of storage jar, which has preliminarily been read as rpa’. This reading is reminiscent of the connection in the biblical narrative between the Rephaim and the Philistines in general, and the association of the enigmatic yldy hrph (roughly, “the offsprings of the rph) to several figures originating from the city of Gath (e.g., II Sam 21: 16-22).
Now isn’t that cool?!
So, join us in the summer to find more REPHAIM!