The new seal from Jerusalem – the Gath connection!

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!


11 thoughts on “The new seal from Jerusalem – the Gath connection!

  1. Pingback: Deutsch On The Seals « Dr Jim West

  2. Can you please tell us where your 3-4 letter inscription has been partially published, & can you also give us an estimate of when it will be fully published? Thanks in advance!


  3. Zachi Zweig

    Another possible connection is another seal with bearing the name “Rph son of Ben^anat” (Hecht Museum H-1955). We know about Shamgar son of Anat who who smote six hundred Philistines (Judges 3:31). Maybe the consequences of this war was the settlement of the offsprings of RPH which may have been the son of Shamgar…?


  4. arenmaeir

    “RPH” or “RP'” is attested in various epigraphic sources and there has been a lot of discussion on its meaning. As to the question of what, if at all, is the historical framework of the “offsprings of the RPH” I believe is currently way beyond our ability to know.



  5. Pingback: More on the Rapaihu seal and Gath « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

  6. Pingback: Acceleration Radio – Judd Burton – The GIANTS of Gath! « L.A. Marzulli's Blog

  7. Deane

    Hi. I wonder if you could tell me if the incised inscription on the storage jar has now been published? And if so, where? I’ve been searching, but I can’t find it.


    1. arenmaeir

      An article in press will deal with this and a few other inscriptions from the site.
      Maeir, A. M., and Eshel, E. In press. Four Short Alphabetic Inscriptions from Iron Age IIA Tell es-Safi/Gath and Their Contribution for Understanding the Process of the Development of Literacy in Iron Age Philistia. In “See, I Will Bring a Scroll Recounting What Befell Me” (Ps 40:8): Epigraphy and Daily Life – From the Bible to the Talmud Dedicated to the Memory of Professor Hanan Eshel, eds. E. Eshel and Y. Levin. Supplements to the Journal of Ancient Judaism. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.



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