The monumental Ekron inscription is dated, statistically and historically, to the first half of the seventh century B.C.E. The five lines of the inscription are together with this in a slit open border. And, mirabile dictu, the inscription itself is equally complete and, for the largest part, very comprehensible. The words are estranged by word dividers in the form of specks.
The inscription describes on a goddess to bless king Achish and his land. It is significant that the formula used here, "May she bless him and keep him", is evocative of the first of the three religious blessings as traced in the Bible (Numbers 6:24): "May the Lord bless you and keep you" and in the inscriptions revealed by Gabriel Barkay at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem.
The text is surprising in numerous ways, as the Ekron archaeological team accurately indicates. The temple, the inscription notifies that it was built by Achish, son of Padi, son of Ysd, son of 'Ada', son of Ya'ir, ruler of Ekron. Both Achish and Padi are known from Assyrian records as kings of Ekron. Achish, or as the Assyrians well-defined his name, Ikausu, is one of the kings who gave building resources for the palace of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (680-669 B.C.E.) in Nineveh.2 Achish also partook in an Assyrian military campaign led by Ashurbanipal (668-627 B.C.E.) in opposition to Egypt in 667 B.C.E.3 even though he is recognized in the Assyrian sources as king, in the Ekron inscription Achish stands the title sar, which can be converted "ruler" or "mayor."
The authorized publication of the inscription recommends that the utilization of sar might point out that this title states the vassal's devotion to his Assyrian overlord-or most likely that the word refers "king" in a Philistine-Canaanite vernacular. Achish's father, Padi, is also known and referred to as king of Ekron in an Assyrian text. Padi was taken prisoner by Hezekiah during the latter's revolt in opposition to Sennacherib (705-701 B.C.E.).4 Now, with the aid of the Ekron inscription, we can put in three more, former rulers to the Philistine reign that ruled Ekron in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E.-Ysd, 'Ada' and ya'ir.
The name Achish is in particular appealing as it is the name of a Philistine ruler of Gath stated in the Bible. When David flew from the rage of King Saul, he joined the company of Achish of Gath (1 Samuel 21:11, 27:2). This Achish is certainly not equivalent as the one referred to in the inscription: The Biblical Achish of Gath ruled in about 1000 B.C.E.; the Achish referred to in the Ekron inscription and in the Assyrian report is his seventh-century B.C.E. namesake. The stability in names over more than three centuries may point out that Ekron was the successor of neighboring Gath's territory, ethnicity and culture.
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The monumental Ekron inscription
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