Purim, Persia and Tell es-Safi/Gath

Well, as you may know, today was the Fast of Esther, and as of tonight, Purim is celebrated in most cities, and in Jerusalem (and other ancient cities – what’s known as “Shushan Purim”) on Friday. As you may know, Purim is connected to the Persians and to the story of an evil man Haman, who wished to destroy the Jews. Thanks to Esther, Mordecai, etc., the plot was foiled.
Now I know that people are comparing the current “issues” between the Jews and Persians (aka Iranians) to this story and I do hope that a peaceful solution to this quite complicated predicament will be reached, but as usual, with a little creative thinking, here’s a connection with Tell es-Safi/Gath!

As you may know, the Land of Israel was part of the Persian Empire from the late 6th thru early 4th centuries BCE, the time in which the story of the Book of Esther is supposed to have occurred. And while we don’t have a lot of evidence from this period at Tell es-Safi/Gath, there is some. Both in the Bliss and Macalister’s excavations in 1899 and in ours, evidence of this period was found.
This includes a very interesting cultic repository found by the Brits, and various pottery and other finds from our survey and excavations.

In fact, the remains from the Persian period have been surveyed in an article that we published a while ago that was entitled:
Avissar, R., Uziel, J., and Maeir, A. M. 2007. Tell es-Safi/Gath During the Persian Period. Pp.©65–115 in A Time of Change: Judah and Its Neighbors in the Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods, ed. Y. Levin. London: T&T Clark International.

Here are some pictures of finds from this period:

This is a protome of a woman from the cultic cache excavated by the Brits

Here is a couple of figurines from their excavations.

And here is portion of very nice male figurine from our survey.

So, while we can’t say that Esther, Mordecai or Haman were at Gath, their compatriots left us some finds…


Happy Purim!


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