Samuel Dies & The Ekron Inscription of Akhayus

Finger Pointing UpSo David will be the new king.  Does Saul have to die before David becomes king?  How does Saul die, do You kill him? 

1. Tel Miqne
The biblical city of Ekron is now identified with Tel Miqne (Khirbat al-Muqannaʾ), a large fortified mound (75 acres), situated 22 mi. southwest of Jerusalem on the frontier zone that once separated Philistia from Judah.

Apart from ceramic finds from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages, the earliest remains of a settlement at the site date from the Middle Bronze Age (MB II), including monumental platforms – the base of a fortifications rampart, and intramural burials.

The Late Bronze Age settlement was apparently unfortified and restricted to the ten acres of the northeast acropolis/upper city, while the lower city was abandoned.

Finds attest to links with Cyprus, the Aegean, and Anatolia, on the one hand, and Egypt, on the other.

The final LB stratum was destroyed by fire.

Ekron saw a process of re-urbanization during the Iron Age I with the founding of the first Sea Peoples/Philistine city in the second quarter of the 12th century B.C.

This fortified urban center, encompassing upper and lower cities, was characterized by a new material culture with Aegean affinities, including megaron-type buildings and local versions of Mycenaean wares.

The Iron Age I city was destroyed in the first quarter of the tenth century B.C., either by the Egyptians (at the time of Pharaoh Siamun) or by the Israelites.

The Iron Age IIA–B city (10th–8th centuries B.C.) was limited to the northeast acropolis/upper city.

Following the Assyrian conquest in 701 B.C., when Ekron became an Assyrian vassal city-state, the city once again expanded encompassing the lower and upper cities and a new area of 25 acres to the north of the site.

During the Iron Age II period, when the Aegean affinities of the Philistine material culture had ceased to exist, the Philistines themselves did not disappear but underwent a process of acculturation.

Nevertheless, throughout this period the Philistines were able to maintain their ethnic identity.

Excavations have shown that in the seventh century B.C. Ekron achieved its zenith of economic growth, with the largest industrial center for the mass production of olive oil yet known from antiquity.

Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshing floors. 

Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more than if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? 

Then David enquired of the LORD yet again.  And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand (1 Sam 23:1-4).

David and his men went to Keilah, slaughtered the Philistines and walked away with their cattle, so the people of Keilah were saved.

Saul was told that Abiathar had taken a ephod to David in Keilah, and he was happy because he thought, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars (1 Sam 23:7).

Saul gathered his army to go down and destroy David.  But David knew that Saul would be coming so he told Abiathar to bring him the ephod.

Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. 

Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand?  Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard?  O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant.  And the LORD said, He will come down.

Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?  And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up (1 Sam 23:10-12). 

2. Ziklag
David’s Ziklag
David, while fleeing from King Saul, joined the Philistines, ancient Israel’s bitter enemies.

With 600 men (and their families), David presented himself to Achish, king of the Philistine city of Gath, and asked for asylum.

Achish gave David the town of Ziklag, and David lived there a year and four months (1 Sam 27:1–7).

With Ziklag as his base, David raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites, who, we are told, inhabited the region of Olam (or Telem) on the way to Shur and on to the land of Egypt (1 Sam 27:8).

When David reported his raids, he told Achish that he had raided several Negev regions, including the Negev of Judah, belonging to his own people, but in fact David studiously avoided any attack on his own people (1 Sam 27:9–11).

The Philistines must have hated King Saul a lot because remember David had killed and beheaded Goliath who had been a Philistine.

David and his 600 men took off and stayed on a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph.  Saul had found out that David had left and he searched for him, but God wouldn’t let him find him.

Jonathan found David, which strengthened David’s faith in God, especially when he said,

…Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. 

And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house (1 Sam 23:17-18).

The Ziphites came to Saul and suggested that David was hiding in the hill of Hachilaw, south of Jeshimon.  And they told him that if he would be look kindly upon them they would hand David over to him.

And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me. 

Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtly. 

See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah.

And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon. 

Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon.  And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.

And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them. 

But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. 

Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Selahammahlekoth. 

And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at En-gedi (1 Sam 23:21-29).

After Saul was done with the Philistines he was told that David had travelled to En-gedi and hid in the rocky area where the goats lived.  He then took 3,000 men to find David, who was hiding out.

Saul found a cave and entered it and David and his men were there, but he didn’t see them.  And David’s men said to him,

And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily. 

3. Philistine Temple Ekron. 7th century B.C.
Philistine Temple, Ekron. 7th century B.C.
The Philistines were the chief adversary of Biblical Israel in the 12th and 11th centuries B.C.

They were also the conquerors of the Canaanite cities of the southern coastal plain.

At the beginning of the first millennium B.C., however, the Philistine cities were destroyed and the Philistines themselves seem to have become a casualty of history, as they apparently disappeared from the archaeological and historical record.

This was the conclusion of most historians and archaeologists—until we began to excavate the Philistine site of Tel Miqne (Biblical Ekron), on the border of the Israelite hill country, 22 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

Israeli archaeologist The excavation produced dramatic new evidence that has radically altered our understanding of Philistine history.

What were regarded as the distinctive features of Philistine culture, indeed, did disappear.

As the archaeological evidence piled up, however, it became clear that the Philistines continued to exist, although they had adopted features of other cultures.

However—and this is the important point—they also retained their ethnic identity as Philistines, only to be obliterated in the path of the Babylonian assaults of the late 7th century and early 6th century B.C.

Those assaults also destroyed Jerusalem, burned the Temple and put an end to the state of Judah and the 400-year dynasty founded by King David.

And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt (1 Sam 23:4-5).

David responded with, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD (1 Sam 24:6). 

So David’s men didn’t do anything.  Saul then walked out of the cave and David went out also and shouted to Saul, My lord the king.  And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself (1 Sam 24:8).

David then told Saul that God had delivered him to David, but he chose not to kill him because he was the anointed one.  To prove to Saul that he could have killed him he showed him the skirt of his robe that he had cut off.  David went on to say that he would not sin against him or against God.  That he isn’t the evil one.

As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. 

After whom is the king of Israel come out?  After whom dost thou pursue?  After a dead dog, after a flea. 

The LORD therefore be Judge, and Judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.

And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David?  And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. 

And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. 

And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.

For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?  Wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. 

And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand. 

Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house. 

And David swore unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold (1 Sam 24:13-22).

The Ekron Inscription of Akhayu

Sometimes evidence from proper names (onomastic evidence) helps us to reconstruct the history and racial identity of a people.

5. Beer Jug
Philistine Beer Jug decorated with typical pattern: fish and ducks, c. 12th c. B.C., Ashdod Excavations.

In 1996 a dedicatory inscription was discovered in a Philistine temple at Ekron, reading in part:

“The temple that Achish, son of Padi,… ruler of Ekron, built for PTGYH.”

Although PTGYH’s identity is de­bated, Achish and Padi are known from As­syrian records as kings of Ekron.

Achish appears by the name Ikaiisu in Ashurbanipal’s annals from the early 70th century B.C.

But both appear to derive from a previous form of the name, Akhayus, which is similar to the Greek term Achaios (Achaean).

The Achaeans were one of the archaic Greek peoples. ln short, widespread evidence sug­gests that the Philistines were related to the Greeks.

According to 1 Sam 21:11-16,27:1-29:9 and 1 Kgs 2:39—40, the ruler(s) of Gath were named Achish from the time of Saul to the days of Solomon (10th – 9th centuries B.C.).

4. Ekron inscription
Ekron Inscription
An inscription carved into a limestone slab found at Tel Miqne, 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, confirms the identification of the site as Ekron, one of the five Philistine capital cities mentioned in the Bible.

The inscription is unique because it contains the name of a biblical city and five of its rulers, two of whom are mentioned as kings in texts other than the Bible.

The only such inscription found in situ in a securely defined, datable archaeological context, it has far-reaching implications for our understanding of the history of Ekron and Philistia.

The inscription was found in the Babylonian destruction debris of a 186-by-124-foot structure, known as Temple Complex 650, in the elite zone on the site’s lower tel.

Consisting of 72 letters in five lines, it reads:

“The temple which he built, ‘kys (Achish, Ikausu) son of Padi, son of Ysd, son of Ada, son of Ya’ir, ruler of Ekron, for Ptgyh his lady. May she bless him, and protect him, and prolong his days, and bless his land.”

The inscription records the dedication of the temple by Ikausu, son of Padi, both of whom Assyrian records refer to as kings of Ekron.

Padi is mentioned in annals of Sennacherib in the context of the Assyrian king’s 701 B.C. campaign.

The kings Ysd, Ada, and Ya’ir, forefathers of Ikausu in the inscription, are otherwise unknown.

The name Ikausu is interesting in that it is the only non-Semitic name among those of the 8th and 7th century Philistine kings mentioned in the Assyrian records.

It may be related to the word Achaean, meaning Greek.

Similarly, an 8th century Philistine ruler of Ashdod used the nickname Yamani, which seems to be a cor­ruption of the word Ionian (another Greek peopie).

Thus it appears that various Philistine rulers used their Greek ethnic identity as a title for themselves.

This conclusion is supported by their material culture in the 12th century B.C., which is Achaean.

This evidence also fits well with the assertions of Jer 47:4, Amos 9:7 and Zeph 2:4-6 that the Philistines were Kerethites (hailing from Crete [aka Caphtor]) who came to Canaan along with the Greek Sea Peoples.

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