Ziklag (Nehemiah 11)

Bilderesultat for ancient ziklag

Nehemiah 11:28 mentions in passing that Jews settled in the town of Ziklag. This site was in fact the scene of some major conflicts because of its location as border town.

Ziklag was appointed to be the tribe of Simeon within Judah (Joshua 15:31, 19:5) but may not have been taken by Israelites before the time of David. 1 Samuel 27:2-6 indicates that David received the town from the Philistine king Achish, after which it served as his base of operations. Later, an Egyptian servant reported that marauding Amalekites had razed Ziklag by fire (1 Samuel 30:13-14). The city remained in Israelite possession until the end of the monarchy and was reinhabited by Jews after the exile (Nehemiah 11:25-31).

Although unconfirmed by epigraphic (written) evidence, the cultural remains unearthed at Tell esh-Shaia (25 km southeast of Gaza) correspond well with what is known of Biblical Ziklag. Excavation Level IX (from the early twelfth century B.C.) revealed an incinerated “governor’s residence”. The destruction may by attributable to nomads, such as the Amalekites, or to the Sea Peoples. Also found at this level were Egyptian ostraca in the script of the New Kingdom period (early twelfth century B.C.). Philistine ware was uncovered at Level VIII (twelfth-eleventh centuries B.C.), while Hebrew ostraca and pottery vessel inscribed with “belonging to Yaram,” as well as Assyrian palace ware and architecture, were unearthed at the seventh century B.C. level (V). Thus, the archaeological picture is one of a border town in constant flux between Philistine, Israelite , Egyptian and Assyrian control. This is exactly what archaeologists would have expected from the city’s location and from the Biblical record.


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