Tuesday, October 23, 2007

David and ... ?

Archaeologists excavating the Philistine city of Gath have uncovered inscriptions with the name "Goliath" visible. The name, like the Philistines themselves, has its roots far away from the Semitic areas of the Ancient Near East; an Indo-European name, it came from an area probably near Greece.

The Philistines, known for their occupation of the Canaanite area, were actually new arrivals in the region, showing up there around 1200 B.C., when the other groups, such as Egyptians, Hebrews, Babylonians, and Canaanites, had been there for centuries already.

There is no way to prove that the Goliath in the inscriptions is the same Goliath who fought a battle with Israel's king David; the name may have been common at that time, and these inscriptions could refer to a different Goliath. The discoveries do, however, bring us one step closer to re-assembling the historical puzzle of the famous series of Philistine attacks on the Hebrews.