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Ancient Handle engraved "Menachem"

20 May, 200920 May, 2009 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

 Ras El Amud Neighborhood  - Jerusalem surroundings area

Settlement remains dating to different phases of the Middle Canaanite period (2200-1900 BCE) and the last years of the First Temple period (eighth-seventh centuries BCE), including an inscription in ancient Hebrew script that mentions the name Menachem, were recently exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood of Jerusalem, prior to the construction of a girls’ school.


Among the remains from the First Temple period is a handle on which the Hebrew name Menachem is engraved. According to archaeologist Dr. Ron Beeri, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This important find joins similar names that were found in archaeological excavations in the Ancient East and in Israel in particular. The names Menachem and Yinachem are expressions of condolence – possibly related to the death of family members”.


Dr. Beeri adds that such names already appeared earlier in the Canaanite period: the name Yinachem was found written on an Egyptian pottery shard that dates to the eighteenth dynasty and the name Yinachemu is mentioned in the El-Amarna letters (from the fourteenth century BCE) as the name of an Egyptian governor on the Lebanese coast.


This is the first time that a handle with this name has been found in Jerusalem. The name Menachem is known from the corpus of Hebrew or Phoenician names and seals that bear this name were found in Israel, Assyria, Cyprus and Egypt. The name Menachem Ben Gadi is mentioned in the Bible. He reigned as king of Israel for ten years in Samaria and was one of the last kings of the Kingdom of Israel. According to Kings 2 Menachem Ben Gadi ascended the throne in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah, king of Judah. Menachem, king of Israel, is also mentioned in the texts of the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III, as Menachem of Samaria and as one of the kings from whom he received tribute.


Photograph: Mariana Salzberger, Israel Antiquities Authority


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