In Genesis 22:17, God assures Abraham that his descendants will be able to “seize the gates of their enemies.” The implication is that once the gates were taken, the battle was over; the city might as well surrender and avoid further destruction. In fact, “gates” is often a metonym for “cities” in Biblical Hebrew (see Judges 5:11).


The prodigious efforts of Seymour Gitin to link the prosperity of Ekron to the Assyrian Empire have produced an anachronistic conclusion. The economic “take off” did not occur during the late eighth or early seventh centuries B.C.E., but later in the second half of the seventh century B.C.E. What propelled the olive oil industry at Ekron into the international sphere was not a dying Assyria but a rising Egypt, ever the greatest consumer of Levantine olive oil. The expansion of Ekron and the development of its oil industry occurred after Assyrian interest and power in the West had begun to wane in the late 640s.


Gabriel Barkay extends the use of the Jerusalem Ketef Hinnom tomb into this gap; but that does not mean the city was rebuilt or widely inhabited.


It was not from want of trying, however. In 601/600 B.C.E. Nebuchadrezzar over-extended his army by invading Egypt; he was defeated by Necho II, who then reconquered Gaza.



Avraham Malamat, “The Kingdom of Judah Between Egypt and Babylon,” Studia Theologica 44 (1990), pp. 65–77.


See Malamat, “The Twilight of Judah: In the Egyptian-Babylonian Maelstrom,” Vetus Testamentum Supplement 28 (1975), pp. 123–125.


British Museum 21946, 18–20. In the first edition of Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (626–556 B.C.) (London: British Museum, 1956), pp. 68, 85, D.J. Wiseman restored Ashkelon (isû?-qi?-[erasure]-illunu) as the name of the captured city. Later W.F. Albright, accompanied by Wiseman and A. Sachs, reexamined the tablet in the British Museum and concluded that Wiseman’s reading was correct. More recently, A.K. Grayson, in reviewing P. Garelli and V. Nikiprowetzky’s Le Proche-Orient Asiatique: Les Empires Mésopotamiens in Archiv für Orientforschung 27 (1980), declared the reading of the name Ashkelon to be “very uncertain.” He apparently convinced Wiseman that the earlier reading was “uncertain” (Wiseman, Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon, Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1983 [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991], p. 23, n. 158). In 1992, my colleague Peter Machinist asked I. Finkel, curator of cuneiform in the British Museum’s department of Western Asiatic Antiquities, to check the tablet once again for the name of the captured city. In a letter dated November 11, 1992, Finkel confirmed that the city referred to is indeed Ashkelon. For details, see Lawrence Stager, “Ashkelon and the Archaeology of Destruction: Kislev 604 B.C.E.,” in “A Heap of Broken Images”: Essays in Biblical Archaeology (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, forthcoming).


Benjamin Mazar, “The Philistines and the Rise of Israel and Tyre,” in The Early Biblical Period, ed. S. Ahituv and B. Levine (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1986 [1964]), pp. 63–82, esp. 65–68.


The Egyptologist Dr. Michael Baud examined the situlae and suggested this interpretation of Min’s gesture, also based on statuary of the deity.


J.A. Wilson, “The Repulsing of the Dragon and the Creation,” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. James B. Pritchard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969), p. 6.


J.H. Iliffe, “A Hoard of Bronzes from Ashkelon, c. Fourth Century B.C.,” Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 5 (1936), pp. 61–68.


See William F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1961), p. 115.


See P. Mayerson, “The Gaza ‘Wine’ Jar (Gazition) and the ‘Lost’ Ashkelon Jar (Askalônion),” Israel Exploration Journal 42 (1992), pp. 76–80; and “The Use of Ascalon Wine in the Medical Writers of the Fourth to the Seventh Centuries,” Israel Exploration Journal 43 (1993), pp. 169–173.


See J.D. Eisenstein, “Wine,” in The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1904), vol. 12, pp. 532–535; Lawrence E. Stager, “The Impact of the Sea Peoples in Canaan (1185–1050 B.C.E.),” in The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land, ed. Thomas E. Levy (New York: Facts on File, 1995), pp. 332–348.


Seymour Gitin, “Incense Altars from Ekron, Israel and Judah: Context and Typology,” Eretz-Israel 23 (1989), pp. 52*–67*; and Gitin, “Tel Miqne-Ekron in the 7th Century B.C.E.: The Impact of Economic Innovation and Foreign Cultural Influences on a Neo-Assyrian Vassal City-State,” in Recent Excavations in Israel: A View to the West, ed. Gitin, Archaeological Institute of America, Colloquia and Conference Papers 1 (Boston: 1995).


F. Brown, S.R. Driver and C.A. Briggs, A Hebrew-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953), p. 1016. According to L. Oppenheim, date wine was added to the list of alcoholic beverages in Mesopotamia no earlier than the Neo-Babylonian period (Ancient Mesopotamia: A Portrait of a Dead Civilization [Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1964], p. 315).


See Gitin, “Tel Miqne-Ekron in the 7th Century B.C.E.,” pp. 69, 77, n. 36 for further bibliography.


See I. Eph’al, “The Western Minorities in Babylonia in the 6th–5th Centuries B.C.: Maintenance and Cohesion,” Orientalia 47 (1978), pp. 74–90.


See E. F. Weidner, “Jojachin König von Juda, in babylonischen Keilschrifttexten,” in Mélanges Syriens offert à Monsieur René Dussaud, vol. 2 (Paris: Guethner, 1939).


Eph’al, “The Western Minorities in Babylonia in the 6th–5th Centuries B.C.”