יום רביעי, 27 ביולי 2016

’Eshbaʿal Son of Bdʿa Whose Name Found at Qeiyafa Identified as the Commander of the First Platoon of the Heroes of David

Prof. Moshe Garsiel, Bar-Ilan University

Khirbet Qeiyafa (probably biblical Shaʿaraim; Garfinkel and Ganor 2008) is located on a hilltop within the hill range that controls the Elah Ravine and an important part of the main road leading from Gath and Ekron to Gibeah of Saul, the city of David, Bethlehem, and Hebron. It also controls part of the road that leads from Beth-shemesh southward. On this northern hill range above the Elah Ravine, King Saul’s troops encamped in order to block a massive Philistine invasion along the Elah Brook road. At that time and in the ravine that divided the two rival camps, the one-on-one combat between David and Goliath took place (1 Sam 17; Kallai 1964; Garsiel 2009a). Recent excavations at the site unearthed a circular casemates walled fortress with two gates dating to 1020–980 BCE, the time when King Saul and King David ruled (Garfinkel and Ganor 2008; 2009; 2010; Garfinkel, Ganor, and Hazel 2012; Garfinkel, Kreimerman and Zilberg 2016). The findings of these excavations support, in certain aspects, the validity of the general historical picture as depicted in the book of Samuel, and it undermines the minimalists’ view that tries to utterly “revise” the history of the united kingdom of Israel (see Garfinkel 2011a; 2011b). Earlier, a small ostracon of five ink-written lines (probably a scribal exercise) had been found in this site and stirred up a debate about its reading, type, and meaning (Misgav, Garfinkel, and Ganor 2009; Yardeni 2009; Demsky 2012; Ahituv 2009; Galil 2010; Millard 2011; and many others).
Recently, a new inscription from Qeiyafa has been published. It is incised on the shoulder of a storage jar and has been deciphered, analyzed, and interpreted thoroughly by four scholars (Garfinkel et al. 2015). The inscription opens with enough space for an uncertain word, which preserves only meager remains. Yet, in her drawing Ada Yardeni (in Garfinkel et al. 2015: 226–27) reconstructs the word: כפרת. Gershon Galil adopts this reading and translates it כפרת.אשבעל.בן.בד[ם =
״The expiation of ’Ishbaʿal son of bdʿ[m]” (in Mazor 2015a); for other circumspect suggestions cf. Garfinkel, Kreimerman and Zilberg (2016: 170-172). I doubt whether the meager remains of the first word are in a state that allows reasonable restoration. Therefore, I intend to focus on the significance of the name itself. The above four scholars published a comprehensive article that culminated in a discussion of the onomastic aspects of the elements constructing the names of ’šbʿl and of his father bdʿ. They have pointed to a few biblical individuals from the time of David who bore the name ’Ishbaʿal (or the like). Yet, they were rather circumspect and avoided attempts to identify any of the two biblical persons with the incised names from Qeiyafa. Their article was followed by a blog that elaborated on the biblical approach when dealing with individuals bearing the theophoric component “baʿal” (Mariottini 2015).
In an earlier brief interview (in Mazor 2015b), I suggested that the said ’Ishbaʿal (or ’Eshbaʿal) son of Bdʿa should be identified with the so-called Jashobeam son of Hachmoni, one of the senior commanders of David’s elite military unit called “the heroes of David” (2 ;הגבורים אשר לדוד Sam 23:8; 1 Kings 1:8; 1 Chron 11:10–11). In this paper, I intend to elaborate on this individual’s name (and his father’s name), how he was called and by whom, and why his name underwent discrete transformations in the various biblical texts and other ancient text witnesses. In my opinion, the identification of the person behind the storage jar inscription as one of David’s best commanders of this elite unit leads to some historical implications about the validity of the historical information regarding David and his kingdom, beyond those suggested by the previously noted scholars who dealt with the inscription.

I will begin by mostly accepting the reading as suggested by these four scholars: “’Eshbaʿal (or with slight variants in the first element) ben Bedʿa”. However, I tend to disagree with their interpretation of the father’s (or ancestor’s) name Bdʿa. I have suggested earlier (in Mazor 2015b) that the letter Beth (B=ב) was added to the beginning of the father’s name only at a later stage, when referring to his son (or descendant). In several other names, the word ben (son of) was abbreviated as well, and included just the consonant Beth (B=ב) which was then added to the beginning of the father’s name. For example, ben Dekar (בן דקר ) in 1 Kings 4:6 has been abbreviated to Bidekar (בדקר ) in 2 Kings 9:25; ben Ana (בן ענה; see Ahituv Encyc. Bib. 6: 307-8) has been abbreviated to Baanah ( בענה ) in 2 Sam 4:29; and [Samson] ben Dan (בן דן) has been abbreviated to Bedan (בדן ) in 1 Sam 12:11. There are more names of this kind (see Encycl. Bib. 2: 1; R. Zadok in Encyc. Bib. 8: 57; Brown, Driver, and Briggs 1968: 122; Koehler and Baumgartner 1995: vol. I: 102). Hence, in the inscription at issue, the word ben (בן) was abbreviated; and the consonant Beth (ב) was attached to the beginning of the  father’s (or forefather’s) name, which eventually became Bedʿa (בדע).
As for the main element in this name, Dʿa (דע), it is an abbreviated derivation of the root ydʿ (יד"ע; to know). Usually, the father’s (or forefather’s) name at issue is a hypocoristic abbreviated name from theophoric names indicating knowledge, such as בעלידע, אלידע, דעואל, דעאל , יהוידע, ידעיה, ידיעאל etc. In our case, the theophoric component was omitted (see, e.g., ידע in 1 Chron 2:27, 32); and the derivation from the root יד"ע was compacted to דע (see, e.g., דעואל ; Num 1:14). The inscription’s name at issue underwent a similar process: the theophoric יד"ע element in the father’s name was omitted and the derivation from the root (ydʿ) was abbreviated to Dʿa, which became Bdʿa after the addition of the consonant Beth (ב) for “son of” (בן ). The jar sender, however, probably wanted to ensure that the jar with its contents would arrive safely at its destination, so he toiled to incise the addressee’s name finely and before firing, and he also added the redundant word “son” (ben) for clarity, even though the consonant Beth attached to the beginning of the father’s name already included the meaning “son of.” Below, we will show that some of the biblical editors knew that the father or the forefather of the mighty commander (called differently by the sources: ’Eshbaʿal, Josheb-basshebeth, Jashobeam, and other similar variations) carries a name based on a verbal derivation from the root יד"ע (to know).
Now, we may return to the theophoric component baʿal (בעל ) in the individual’s name incised on the Qeiyafa’s jar and integrated in a few biblical names as well. We shall examine the attitude toward this component among biblical authors, copyists, and editors as reflected in the books of Judges, Samuel, and Chronicles. The various methods of coping with such an “idolatrous” component will help us understand whether the biblical name of the commander of David’s elite unit corresponds with the name incised on the Qeiyafa jar.
While in certain Israelite circles the deities, Baʿal and El, are transformed to correspond with Israel’s Lord in a syncretistic way, in other circles any element of worship of the above deities is regarded heresy that should be dealt with by discrete means, one of which is wordplay.
The book of Judges, to begin with, abounds with puns on names (Garsiel 2008a). In the case of one of the best judges, Jerubbaʿal (ירבעל ), who bears a theophoric name with the idolatrous component baʿal, the author uses this name only four times. In most instances (thirty-four times), however, he uses the other name – Gideon (גדעון ). The latter carries a midrashic pun on this name: Gideon–the one who cuts off (גדע ; the narrator, however, uses the synonym כרת) the wooden figure of Asherah (Jud 6:26–30; Garsiel 1991: 106). The name and his deeds put him in the battlefront against idolatry. Even his other idolatrous name Jerubbaʿal is midrashically and apologetically interpreted in accord with his action against the idolatrous cult: “Therefore, on that day he called him Jerubbaʿal, saying, Let Baʿal plead against him (ירב בו הבעל) because he has pulled down his altar” (Jud 6:31–32). Moreover, in 7:1, the implied author uses this name alongside the current one, since this name serves as a different wordplay by containing the component רב (many). The latter component serves as a guideword pun to indicate that the Israelites are too many (רב) in the battlefield. Hence, Jerubba‘al is repeatedly instructed by God to send many of them away, leaving only 300 men to fight the enemies (7:1–8). Again, in 8:29, the name of Jerubbaʿal is played on in terms of both its elements to say that this judge was a husband (בעל ) of so many women, therefore he had so many sons. The pairing of Jerubbaʿal with his )רבות( lad Phurah constitutes the couplet pun: פרה ורבה(“to be fruitful and multiply” as in Gen 1:22, 28; 8: 17; etc.). The anti-monarchic author implies that this judge starts behaving like a king, even though a king is not allowed to take many women (Deut 17:17). In any case, the author of Judges employs diverse wordplays to interpret the name that contains the idolatrous component baʿal by pointing at Gideon-Jerubba‘al as a warrior against idolatry. Yet, Gideon is subtly criticized for some of his other activities.
It is interesting that in 2 Sam 11:21 this judge is mentioned by the pejorative name Jerubbosheth, which incorporates the word “bosheth” (בשת ) which means “shame” while in 1 Sam 12:11 he is mentioned as Jerubbaʿal without any derogatory change. Maybe the reason is that in 2 Sam the subject is Abimelech (Jerubbosheth’s son), therefore the context calls for denunciation, while in 1 Sam the context is about the savior judges, among whom is Jerubbaʿal. Therefore, the editor did not use “bosheth” to replace baʿal. In any case, the wider context deals with the Israelites repenting and annulling the worship of the Baʿals and committing themselves to worship God alone (1 Sam 12:10). Moreover, it seems that the editor understood the name Jerubba‘al in the latter instance in accord with its interpretation in Jud 6:11–12 as a person who battled with the Baʿal, while the Baʿal could not fend for himself.

The traditional (MT) book of Samuel reflects a version in which an earlier editor (or a copyist scribe) took the liberty to change a few names that initially contained the idolatrous component baʿal, replacing them with the derogatory element “bosheth” (shame). In these MT texts, for instance, the name of Saul’s son, who succeeds his father, appears eleven times as the pejorative name Ish-bosheth ישוי while in one instance it was transformed into the Hebraic form ,)איש-בשת( (Ishvi; 1 Sam 14: 49). Yet, in 1 Chronicles 8:33; 9: 39, this feeble king is twice named “אשבעל ” (’Eshbaʿal) without any editorial derogative replacement. Based on a few of the Septuagint versions to Samuel and some other ancient text witnesses, most scholars agree that the original name of Saul’s son was indeed ’Eshbaʿal, even though there are several nuances in the readings and interpretations of this name due to its first component (whether it is ’Ish-baʿal, ’Esh-baʿal, Yish-baʿal or Yesh-baʿal? See an elaborate discussion of this name in McCarter 1984: 86–87; Mazar 1974: 218 n. 47; Loewenstamm 1950, vol.1: 749- 50). This phenomenon also appears in other names that initially contain the theophoric component of the deity Baʿal, which is later replaced with bosheth in the version that becomes the MT book of Samuel, whereas MT Chronicles sometimes still preserves the original idolatrous names.
Can we identify Saul’s successor with ’Eshbaʿal of the Qeiyafa inscription? The answer is negative. The inscription carries a patronymic name, whose father’s name is Bdʿa (i.e., son of Dʿa – a hypocoristic name abbreviated from a name like Joiada, Baʿalyadʿa, Dʿa’el), while the king at issue was the only surviving son of Saul. Moreover, the king in question was residing east of the Jordan in his capital Mahanaim. Hence, nobody in the Qeiyafa fortress, which is located far away in the northwestern territory of Judah, would prepare a jar full of a certain material to be sent as a tax to King ’Ishbaʿal, whose rule was limited to the north, while David ruled Judah, including the area of Qeiyafa.
As stated above, I have earlier suggested that the mysterious name ’Eshbaʿal on the Qeiyafa jar should be identified with ’Eshbaʿal=Jashobeam, the first commander of the thirty mighty warriors who served King David (in Mazor2015b). I shall now discuss in more detail my earlier proposition and draw some additional inferences.
The elite unit dubbed “The Heroes of David” (on this elite unit see Mazar 1974: 183–207; Garsiel 1975: passim; 2008b: passim; 2011) was established as early as David gathered round him many fugitives and relatives and established a battalion of four hundred warriors in the area of the caves of Adullam after his flight from Saul’s court (1 Sam 22:1–2). In a later episode describing the common exploit of three petty officers of the elite unit who volunteered to draw water for the thirsty king, David, the narrator, in a flashback remark reminds his readers that these three had joined David very early, while he was still at Adullam (2 Sam 23:13–17; 1 Chron 11:15–19; Garsiel 2004). Moreover, the fact that Asahel, Joab’s brother, is regarded as a respected warrior in the group of “thirty” (1 Sam 23:24; 1 Chron 11:27) even though he was killed during the second year of David’s reign in Hebron, infers that the unit was established during the early stages of David’s serving as a freelance battalion commander. Indeed, scholars maintain that the first kernel of the elite unit of the tribe of Judah was established already in Adullam (Mazar 1974: 18889; Ackroyd 1977: 224; Willis 1982: 407; Vargon 2015: 148). In training his relatives and other fugitives, David utilized his experience as the commander of Saul’s best division (1 ;אנשי המלחמה Sam 18:5; cf. 22:14) from which he was later demoted, but still excelled as a commander of a thousand of regulars.
From Adullam, David and his followers move to Moab. David requests the local king to care for his parents and in return, David functions in a Moabite fortress with his battalion and his elite heroes as mercenaries border guards of the king of Moab, until the prophet Gad instructs him and his followers to return to the land of Judah. David then arrives at the forested area 1 ;יער חרת Sam 22:3–5) near the modern Arab town Kharas which preserves the biblical name. This town is located about 6 miles northwest of modern Hebron, and about 2 miles east of Keilah, and about 4–5 miles southeast of the caves of Adullam (for this identification see Conder 1889: 243; Naor 1954: 194; McCarter 1980: 357). This area is not far away from Qeiyafa. The rough topography of this mountainous area, which descends towards the Lowland at its lower step, as well as its proximity to Keilah and Adullam (Kochavi 1972: 48–49) favors this identification. This area is also not far away from Bethlehem, David’s hometown. David was thorough in his plans to reorganize and continue training his forces in this area, well known to him from his early days. It is a terrain with many hiding places, rich vegetation, and plenty of water available from the streams flowing northwest and feeding the Elah Brook. The Judahite agricultural settlements in the Lowland provided supplies for David and his battalion while he stayed in the nearby area.
The biblical accounts of David’s wanderings with his men near the Elah Valley, as well as some later legends about him and his heroes' exploits in battles against the giants of Gath (Garsiel 2009b), provide a reasonable background for a later appointment of the leader of the first “thirty heroes” as commander of the area. It is plausible that this commander established his headquarters in the fortress known to us as Qeiyafa (about seven miles east of Philistine Gath). The excavations of this fortress yielded a large assortment of metallic arms (Garfinkel, Ganor, and Hazel 2012: 111–19, 191). Indeed, during the first period of his kingship in Hebron, David had to send to this western buffer zone opposite Gath and Ekron a commander who was familiar with the area and its settlers, on the one hand, and who could cope with the Philistine raids, on the other. Therefore, it is also plausible that David appointed ’Eshbaʿal=Jashobeam as commander of the fortress of Qeiyafa and its region. There is, however, a possibility that at a later stage, this command center was moved to Azekah (but we will have to await the results of the ongoing excavations at the latter site). Yet, at a later stage of David’s reign in Jerusalem, the Philistines became David’s vassals, and David integrated many Philistine warriors into his special units. At that time, the Israelite elite units with their commanders moved eastward, back to the city of David.
We shall now return to the name of the mighty commander of the first elite platoon as it appears in the biblical sources and other earlier text witnesses and try to glean some more details about his background. In the MT of 2 Sam 23:8, instead of a name such as Ishba‘al, Eshba‘al, Ishbosheth, or the like, we have josheb-basshebeth-takhemoni (ישב בשבת תחכמני), which seems to be a description of a man who used to sit in the sages’ sitting place (like the city gate). If it is a name, it is a very unusual one which means: “the sitter sitting in the sitting place of the wise." It seems that the initial idolatrous name (as reflected in the SeptuagintL Eishba‘al), which contained the theophoric component baʿal, was replaced by a pious copyist or editor who probably changed the theophoric element to bosheth, so that the original name אישבעל (’Ishbaʿal, or a similar variant) became אישבשת (Ishbosheth, or a similar variant, as reflected in other versions of the Septuagint). At a later stage, however, another editor or copyist found the hero’s name with the bosheth element too insulting for the admired commander. Therefore, he used a midrashic pun to slightly rechange the name to a description of a person sitting in a sage’s place as it appears today in MT of the book of Samuel. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, the SeptuagintL to the latter text preserves the initial idolatrous name ’Ishbaʿal (or the like), and so do a few other ancient manuscripts (see Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) regarding the commander’s name in the book of Samuel.
In the MT text of Samuel dealing with David’s heroes, the anecdote of this commander’s exploit is missing. Yet, the Chronicler tries to briefly restore an exploit anecdote (1 Chron 11:11). It seems to me that in the MT book of Samuel, however, a part of this commander’s exploit was mistakenly moved slightly backward and part of it is now included as the end of the song “the Last Words of David.” The somewhat “lost” part speaks about dangerous and undisciplined warriors (2 Sam 23:6–7):
ובליעל כקוץ מנד כלהם, כי לא ביד יקחו 
ואיש יגע בהם ימלא ברזל ועץ חנית
 ובאש שרוף ישרפו בשבת
Commentators have long toiled to connect this corrupted text to the “Last Words of David.” Yet, its military terminology better suits the heroes’ stories that come next in the book of Samuel. In my reconstruction of the “lost story” of the first commander, the text above indeed speaks about the first mighty commander
’Eshbaʿal who has to cope with his lawless and dangerous underlings. He must
discipline and train them to be excellent warriors. The section opens by applying to the group a collective qualifier, “beliyaʿal” (בליעל ), which is usually understood as “people without worth” (Brown, Driver, and Briggs 1968: 116). I prefer the etymology בלי עול- , i.e., “people who have no yoke or burden” and feel free to do whatever they like regardless of laws and rules. David himself was called “a beliyaʿal man” (איש בליעל) by an important personage in Saul’s family (2 Sam 16:7). Similarly, the narrator himself elsewhere dubbed evil and beliyaʿal men (איש רע ובליעל  i.e., evil men and lawless) the arrogant and strong men in David’s fugitive battalion who courageously chased the Amalekite raiders, but refused later to share the booty with their comrades who stayed behind to guard the camp (1 Sam 30:22).
About three dozens of these tough and rough people (בליעל) who excelled in David’s battalion became members of the first platoon of the “heroes of David” and were placed under the direct command of ’Eshbaʿal=Jashobeam who successfully disciplined and trained them. The narrator describes them collectively and metaphorically as a wandering thorn bush” (כקוץ מנד) that one cannot touch by hand. Moreover, the one (ואיש) who approaches them, is going to be “filled” with a spear made of a wooden shaft and an iron blade. In other words, the enemy who approaches David’s tough warriors will be pierced by a spear’s iron blade, followed by the wooden shaft penetrating his entire body from front to rear. The rest of the enemies would be utterly burned by fire (אש ) in the sitting place (בשבת ) [of the city gate], i.e., when enemies approach the city gate, they will be burned by torches hurled by David’s heroes.
Obviously, the text is somewhat corrupted. Yet, as it is so common in the book of Samuel (see Garsiel 2000), even in these two brief verses there are puns related to the hero commander’s names: the theophoric element ba‘al is referred to by the title בליעל (of which contains all the letters of ba‘al); and it serves as a qualifier of the heroes of David. Moreover, the first component of the commander’s original name, the word “ואיש” (and a person) fits the reading ’Ishbaʿal; while word “ ובאש ” (and by fire) fits the reading ’Eshbaʿal. The words שרף ישרפו בשבת And [the enemies] will be entirely consumed in the sitting(  area), appear to be a late midrashic interpretation of the mighty commander’s last description: ישב בשבת תחכמני. I have suggested above reconstructing the text development as follows: the MT text of Samuel represents an edition of which many names were replacements of the component baʿal with “bosheth”. A later editor was uncomfortable with the denunciation in the unique instance of the admired mighty commander, so he replaced the pejorative name with a praising description. Instead of Ishbosheth (איש בשת), he describes the commander as “sitting in a place of” (יושב בשבת); instead of his father’s name  דעאל (El knows), or the like, the latter editor employs the synonym תחכמני (a corrupted word for knowledge). Hence, the latter midrashic description turns the hero into a “sage” who is sitting within the gate where the sages used to sit.
In the MT book of Chronicles, however, the editor probably used a different version of the book of Samuel that in several instances did not replace the theophoric component of baʿal with bosheth. Yet, in the MT to 1 Chron 11:11 the mighty commander at issue is called: “Jashobeam the son of Hachmoni  (ישבעם בן חכמני).  ”The latter replacement is an elegant Hebraization which better fits the  formula X son of Y (unlike the MT book of Samuel that deviates from the form and context with its description of the sage). However, a few of the Septuagint versions preserve the component baʿal in the commander’s name also in 1 Chron 11:11. Therefore, most scholars agree that the initial name of the commander included the component baʿal, but they disagree on the reading and interpretation of the first component (Is it ’Ish-; ’Esh-; Yesh-; or Yish, as explained above; see also Liver 1958: 892). There is a possibility that the original name was indeed ישבעל in the early text of Chronicles. A pious copyist, however, felt uncomfortable with the idolatrous element of baʿal and decided to alter it slightly in its last letter. Instead of ל (L), which he omits, he replaced it with its next letter in the Hebrew alphabet roster מ (M). This slight alphabetic emendation is the process through which the name of ישבעל becomes ישבעם in three instances in Chronicles (Rudolph 1955: 96).
What is very interesting to the research at issue is two versions of the name at issue in 1 Chron 11: 11, found in two manuscripts of the Septuagint (see A. Rahlfs 1962: 777, n. to v. 11) the LXXB reads ιεσεβαδα. It is not a reading error as suggested by J. Liver (1958). The reading reflects the name of the father’s abbreviated name Dʿa (דע), and with the added letter B (ב), which is the abbreviation of the word ben (בן), it makes the name—בדע. The copyist indeed erased the component of baal yet he preserved the letter B adding it to the original name of the hero’s father דע which then becomes בדע to designate the hero as ב(ן) דע the “son of Dʿa”. Similarly, the Sinaiticus Codex reads: ιεσσαιβαδα, which refers to the same father’s name דע plus the letter B (ב) for the abbreviation “son of”. This exactly is also the name of the father incised on the Qeiyafa’s jar!
Indeed, there is another reading of the above name version: ישבדה (A. Fincke 2001: 264). Yet, other names based on the root ידע are generally translated the
same in the LXX as demonstrated with the following examples: יהוידע = Iωδαε (2 = ידע ;)28 :13 ;22 :12 ;6 :3 Iωιδα or Iωαδα (Neh = יוידע ;)22 :11 Sam 8: 18; 1 Chron
Iαδαε (1 Chron 2: 28); אלידע = Eλιδαε or Eλιαδα (2 Sam 5: 16; 1 Chron 3: 8; 14: 7 [βααλιαδα in LXXB, S; cf. A. Rahlfs 1962: 788, n. 6 ]; 2 Chron 17: 17); אבידע = Aβιδα
(1 Chron 1: 33). Hence, the above two LXX versions preserve the name of the .]ב[דע—commander’s father
Two more pieces of ancient information, preserved in Chronicles, may contain subtle references and echoes related to the hero commander ’Eshbaʿal. In 1 Chron 4:21f, the Chronicler speaks about Judahite families who were descendants of  בית אשבע  . They settled in the extensive region around the Elah Valley and the Lowland and practiced various professions that integrated with the king’s operations. It seems that the second word of Beth-ashbea (בית אשבע ) is intentionally missing its last consonant L (ל). It should be read: ’Eshbaʿa[l] instead of Ashbea (Curtis and Madsen 1965: 113). This reading may originally refer to a well-known forefather in the region whose name is--’Eshbaʿal.
The next MT verse (1 Chron 4:22), after mentioning Beth-asbea/’Eshbaʿal, is even more interesting:
ויואש ושרף אשר בעלו למואב וישבי לחם—והדברים עתיקים
“...and Joash, and Saraph, who ruled in Moab and returned to Lehem [now the records are ancient]” – translation: Japhet 1993: 103). An early interpretation (the Sages and Aramaic translation) links this verse to the story in the scroll of Ruth (see Keel 1986: 96; Knoppers 2003: 352; Liver 1958: 3: 891–92). Yet, Naomi’s sons who married (בעלו ) Moabite women had passed away in Moab, and did not “return” to Bethlehem.
Therefore, I suggest that the author of Chronicles is alluding to another ancient piece of historiographical information related to David’s moving to Moab with his battalion and elite warriors, and to his later return to the region not far away from Bethlehem (1 Sam 22:3–5). Both of the Judahite names preserved in this ancient record in the MT Chronicles refer to “fire”: the name Joash ( יואש ), be its אש linguistic etymology as it may, carries the connotation of, ,fire) as is demonstrated also in Judges 7:14, where Gideon’s father, יואש , contains an association with אש (fire; see also Garsiel 1991: 120). Moreover, the second eponym Saraph (שרף, which means “he burned”), also creates an association with fire. It reminds us that 2 Sam 23:67, according to our interpretation above, connects the commander’s “thirty” underlings with an  exploit of hurling torches toward their enemies and setting them on fire (ובאש שרף ישרפו בשבת - "and they [the enemies] shall be utterly burned by fire in the  sitting place”).
These two names, Joash and Saraph, are described in Chronicles,  אשר בעלו למואב
its plain meaning being that they “ruled Moab”. Yet, the verb בעלו (baʿalu), contains a clear association with deity Baʿal! Together with the above element of fire (אש), we have a second association to the name ’Eshbaʿal .(בעל+אש). Moreover, the words “אשר בעלו” contain the two elements that constitute the name אשבעל . It is noteworthy that in the Septuagint B, the first name יואש is replaced by Ioada (Ιωαδα: a transliteration of יהוידע or יוידע ), which contains a derivation from the root יד"ע plus a Hebraic theophoric component. This is rather similar to the abbreviated name of ’Eshbaʿal’s father (or forefather) “(B)dʿa” from  the Qeiyafa Jar, whose name is an abbreviated derivation from the root יד"ע (know). It is also cognate to the name “Hachmoni” (“the wise one”), the father of Jashobeam in 1 Chron 11:11 (cf. 2 Sam 23:8), since both roots (חכם//ידע) are synonyms.
It seems to me that Chronicles preserves here a corrupted ancient fragment of a scribe’s riddle latently referring to the name of the hero commander, Eshba‘al son of Joiada, Ba’aliada, Jadʿa, or Dʿael (or the like from the root יד"ע). This hero commander joins David and his battalion in their move to Moab, where they ruled ( בעלו) over a region. There is a possibility, that like Ishba‘al son of Saul, whose  name is rendered in the Hebrew ישוי
(1 Sam 14:49; see Mazar 1974: 191 n. 18; 218 n. 47), so it is with ’Eshba‘al the hero commander. If this is the case, the hero commander’s name ’Eshba‘al also underwent theophoric Hebraization in Chronicles to Joash (יואש ); while other MT texts of Chronicles render it Jashobeam (ישבעם).
Furthermore, the settlements of Joash and Saraph as described in Chronicles above include the region around the Elah Brook and the Lowland, and the word וישבי ("and they returned”) in Chronicles again raises an association with the commander’s name: ישבעם/ישבעל (Jashobeam). The toponym לחם (Lehem) refers here to the area near Bethlehem (בית לחם; cf. Curtis and Madsen 1965: 113) to which David and his battalion returned from Moab.
These ancient echoes from the past (as the Chronicler puts it: “and the records are ancient” –והדברים עתיקים) lead us to support the identification of the person from Qeiyafa’s jar as the mighty commander of this fortress and its region which was settled by the tribe of Judah. It makes the hero commander and David members of the same tribe. This hero, Jashobeam, was the earliest commander of David’s elite unit of warriors (most of whom are from the tribe of Judah) who had joined David in Adullam and accompanied him when the battalion moved to Moab, and the commander helped David in his military activity in the Moabite fortress. After a relatively long stay in Moab, David and his battalion, including the hero commander ’Eshba‘al – Jashobeam, returned to the Judahite region (the forested area of Hareth) near Bethlehem, east of Keilah, and not far away from Qeiyafa (1 Sam 22:1–5; 23:1–13). Later, when David decided to move to Philistine Gath with his battalion and to serve King Achish as a mercenary battalion that operated later from Ziklag, ’Eshba‘al=Joshobeam joined David in his operations (1 Chron 12:7; Mazar 1974: 191 n. 18). This period provided the hero commander with another opportunity for military experience and allowed him to gain an insider’s knowledge about the Philistine art of warfare.
A few years later, after David becomes the king of Judah, the hero ’Eshba‘al=Jashobeam is promoted and appointed commander of the fortress, known to us as Qeiyafa, and its region. ’Eshba‘al=Jashobeam seems to be the best choice to command the buffer zone opposite the hostile cities of Gath and Ekron. From the fortress of Qeiyafa=Shaʿaraim, he and his heroes and other troops controlled the nearby juncture of roads leading from west to east and from south to north. Since Jashobeam earlier accompanied David when the latter served as the commander of a Moabite fortress מצודה;  
1 Sam 22:4–5) and sometime later served Achish, king of Gath, in military activity from Ziklag, he was familiar with these kinds of operations in buffer zones and he knew how to handle Philistine raids as well.
Several years later, however, the Philistines were subdued and became vassals of David. The elite unit was now the king’s bodyguard and was transferred from the Lowland and deployed in Jerusalem. Among its responsibilities was guarding the palace and the city. At this time, a number of the heroes of the king’s guard were promoted to other higher-ranking positions in addition to their status in the guard. Eshba‘al=Jashobeam was then promoted to command a large division from the tribe of Judah and the clan of Pharez (1 ; פרץ Chron 27:2) which is David’s clan.
In sum, the name ’Eshbaʿal son of Bdʿa incised on the Qeiyafa jar appears to be the name of the commander of the first platoon of David’s elite unit of Judahite warriors, who originally bore a similar name; and the names of both fathers are a pair of synonyms (חכם//ידע). The period is probably the early years of David’s reign, when he was residing in his capital Hebron. David needed a capable, courageous, charismatic, and experienced commander in the northwestern fortress of Sha‘araim=Khirbet Qeiyafa in order to deter and contain the Philistine raids mounted by the warriors and giants of neighboring Gath that might in the long run endanger Hebron and Jerusalem (Garsiel 2009b; 2011). The commander was familiar with the area, and the locals were already acquainted with him from the earlier time in which he had joined David and his fugitives in the area of Adullam and the forest of Hareth, when the battalion was hiding, training, and wandering in the expansive area around the Elah Brook and its upper streams. Most of the people of this region in the time of Saul (but not all of them) supported David and his troops. The jar is a small token of loyalty and gratitude sent years later to the commander Eshba‘al by an unknown settler for the defense and safety that the commander had provided the nearby inhabitants in the early years of David’s reign in his capital Hebron and his first years in the new capital Jerusalem. Later on, Eshba‘al=Jashobeam moved to Jerusalem to serve as a commander in the elite unit that guarded the capital and the king’s palace.
Eshba‘al also served as a senior commander of a division comprised of part of the tribesmen of Judah.


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