Jerusalem, 1975 (The Bialik Institute and Israel Exploration Society).


An ostracon (pl. ostraca) is an inscribed potsherd. The ancients used broken pots as handy notepaper.


The original message may have been delivered orally by a messenger and transcribed on the spot, or the message may have originally been written on the ostracon.


Note the Yahwistic elements in this name (ya and yahu). Eliashiv, on the other hand, contains the divine element el, another name for God.


Genesis 36:31 speaks of the kings who ruled “in the land of Edom,” using a beth for “in”, but here, says Yadin, the author is simply giving a list of kings who ruled there; he is not indicating that the kings ruled “over” their land (which of course goes without saying), but simply that the particular list of kings ruled in that place, namely Edom. Similarly in 1 Kings 14:21, which tells us that “Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, reigned in Judah”, the word “in” is a beth; but here again the author’s purpose is not to tell us that Rehoboam ruled over Judah, but that Rehoboam was the king who ruled in Judah in contrast to the king who ruled in Israel.

In both these instances the translation “in” is accurate and makes sense in English. Aharoni’s reconstruction of the Arad inscription, however, does not correctly convey even in English the meaning suggested by Aharoni. The meaning Aharoni wishes to convey by his reconstruction is “I ruled over all the land of Israel,” not “I ruled in all the land of Israel.” “In,” says Yadin, “is meaningless in the context presented by Aharoni.” This becomes even more clear, says Yadin, when Aharoni’s reconstruction is considered in the historical context in which Aharoni seeks to place the inscription—as an expression of the Judean king’s extension of his rule as far south as Arad.


Yadin suggests that the battle may have been at a fortress in the vicinity of Ashdod rather than at Megiddo and that the Biblical reference to Megiddo is a corruption of “migdal” (fortress).