ISRAEL - Fragment Reveals Babylonian Slave Trade

Arno Froese

The fall of Samaria, which has been known in the Bible to be ruled by the Israelites, has been discussed by numerous scholars and remains a key issue in the Bible.

A cuneiform fragment discovered at Tel Mikhmoret on the Mediterranean coast north of Netanya suggests Babylonians were living in Samaria in the 6th century BCE. 

The Akkadian text, studied by Prof. Ira Spar, Prof. Samuel M. Paley and Prof. Robert R. Stieglitz, was published in the current edition of the Israel Exploration Journal. Stieglitz and Paley were involved in ongoing excavations at the site between 1979 and 1992.

The cuneiform tablet documenting a slave sale refers to a pym weight, a polished stone weighing about 7.6 grams. Since these stones were in common use in biblical Israel but not in ancient Mesopotamia, Spar, Paley and Stieglitz concluded the text was written in the Levant, and reflected a business transaction regarding moveable property, namely slaves, in the biblical kingdom of Israel.

While the presence of Babylonians in the region has been assumed by many scholars, archaeological evidence attesting to their presence has remained scant.

Tel Mikhmoret and its neighboring sites served as a port city during the late Bronze era (1550 BCE to 1200 BCE). Archaeological remains reflect the development of sea trade on the Mediterranean Basin, which began during the Middle Bronze age (2000 BCE to 1500 BCE), and reached a peak during the late Bronze era.

While much of the population of the Northern Kingdom was deported by Assyria and a new population sent to replace the so-called Ten Lost Tribes, the conquerors encouraged agricultural activity to continue in the area’s many unfortified villages., 1 December 2018

Arno's commentary

The Jews’ presence in the land of Israel has been confirmed multiple times by archeology. It’s not surprising that Israelis today continue to take claim of land in Samaria and Judea, yet with great opposition from the entire world.

There are a number of reasons why the nations oppose the Jews taking possession of the Promised Land. Number one is the argument that historically it goes too far back. Some argue that if the world validates Israel’s request, then it could equally apply it to the new countries; for example, the 35 sovereign nations established on the American continent. That would mean descendants of Europeans, Africans, and Asians should vacate the land.

Second, and more important, the entire world is ruled by the god of this world. His desire is to unify the nations of the world against Israel, because prophecy must under no circumstances come to pass. That’s why we read of God’s judgment against the nations, such as Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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