Kuntillet Arjud Inscriptions

Kuntillet Ajrud: The Ancient Fortress that puzzles archaeologists

shareThis

In the Sinah desert stands Kuntillet Ajrud, a remote settlement that was found in 1975 by the archaeologist Ze’ev Meshel of the University of Tel Aviv. The settlement is dated to the 8th century BC and is suggested to be one of the border fortresses built by King Solomon. The name of the fortress in Arabic, means ‘Hill of the Water-Source’.

Two major buildings were found preserved at Kuntillet Ajrud. The largest one contained numerous inscriptions—of early Hebrew and Phoenician writings—and paintings on the walls, door posts, pottery and store jars, as well as numerous drawings of men, animals and gods. It is interesting to note that in addition to Yahweh (the God of the Bible) being mentioned in the inscriptions, the Canaanite gods, El and Baal, were also worshipped. It was only later that Baal was ‘transformed’ to a demon and was considered evil in the scriptures.

Even if it has been proposed that Kuntillet Ajrud was used as a fortress, the actual nature and function of the place is not clear. Various remains that were found, including the inscriptions, suggest that it also served as a kind of religious center, with one phrase of particular importance creating debate amongst archaeologists: “I have blessed you to Yahweh of Shomron (Samaria) and to His Asherah”. Asherah was a Semitic mother goddess. The question has therefore been debated among scholars as to whether she may have been the wife of God?  Asherah was known to be the consort of the god El, however it seems that she disappears at some point from Phoenician/Canaanite inscriptions.

Under that inscription is a drawing of two figures, possibly God and Asherah, and one that resembles the Egyptian god Bes, which is a collective name for a group of dwarf deities. A few scholars have suggested that the drawings were added after the initial inscriptions and may not be related, but both of the drawings are very interesting in terms of how they present the God and his possible wife—if that is their purpose, of course.

Another inscription found on the walls says the following:

“When God shines forth … Yahweh … The mountains will melt, the hills will crush … The Holy One over the gods … Prepare to bless Ba‘al on a day of war … to the name of El on a day of war”

We won’t attempt to interpret the inscription because its content is puzzling.

Kuntillet Ajrud baffles archaeologists—especially biblical archaeologists—because of the complexity of early Israelite worship and the mixing of the god of the Bible with many different deities, showing a different ‘face’ of the god and a gradual movement towards monotheistic worship without any other ‘interferences’. The controversial inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud serve to shake the foundations of monotheism.

By John Black

Related Links

Kuntillet Ajrud Fortress

Kuntillet Arjud Inscriptions

Puzzling Finds from Kuntillet Arjud

Related Books

Related Videos

Comments

The first part I read as something like. Sunshine meltin mountains snow caps, leading to erosion(by action of waters, yeah).. just assuming their version of god is half way between the old standard sun god and todays undefined god(creator god, define the role of our sun. A sun god is a creator god).
Given what we may know of old gods, an equal standing to, thus appropriate wife material for, an assumed creator god; she (ashera, an El of sorts), i think it may be safe to assume her to be a hunteress archetype, matriarchal [her name on day of way], or ' versa she could be synonymous with death (life and death).
Life and death, life and death, life and death, different forms diferent names : sun creator warmth, melts snowcaps anually, causes water (more life giving) - balanced out with slowly eroding away entire mountains (baal. water and earth god..?)... just guessing, dont take my word for it

Gasp! Early Israelites worshipped other deities other than Yahweh? And Biblical archaeologists are confused by this? Let me think. Where did I hear about Israelites adding other deities along with Yahweh to their worship? Oh, yeah! The Bible. I apologize for my sarcasm and while it's always exciting and wonderful when an ancient site is newly uncovered, it's well know that early Israelites worshipped other deities. I'm sure that people are aware of Rebecca's idols that were stolen from her father's home, the golden calf that was worshipped during forty years in the desert, the baking of bread in remembrance of Tammuz by Israelite women as they mourned his passing into the underworld, sacrificed their children to Baal by fire, worshipped the golden serpent and many other examples, all found in the Bible. Why is finding a site where Israelites worshipped and mixed deities news or surprising?

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Ancient Places

Dispilio Tablet
According to conventional archaeology, writing wasn’t invented until 3000 to 4000 BC in Sumeria . However, an artefact was found over a decade ago which contradicts this belief – and perhaps this is...

Opinion

Mosaic depicting Alexander the Great fighting Darius III of Persia
Interpreted by many historians as proof of a vision for the unison of man, much of Alexander’s dealings in Persia have come to be attributed with a policy of racial fusion. Accordingly, echoed in...

Our Mission

Ancient Origins seeks to uncover, what we believe, is one of the most important pieces of knowledge we can acquire as human beings – our beginnings.

While many believe that we already hold such knowledge, our view is that there still exists a multitude of anomalies and mysteries in humanity's past that deserve further examination.

We therefore wish to foster an open community that is dedicated to investigating, understanding and explaining the origins of our species on planet earth. To this end, we aim to organize, support and even finance efforts in this direction.

Our aim is to move beyond theories and to present a thorough examination of current research and evidence and to offer alternative viewpoints and explanations to those currently held by mainstream science and archaeology.

Come with us on a journey to explore lost civilisations, sacred writings, ancient places, unexplained artefacts and scientific mysteries while we seek to reconstruct and retell the story of our beginnings.

Ancient Image Galleries

Vessel in the form of a man on a reed raft
Administrative tablet showing the early development of cuneiform writing
The Great Pyramids
Next article