Biblical Archaeology Review 25:2, March/April 1999

Seal of Ba‘alis Surfaces

Ammonite king plotted murder of Judahite governor

By Robert Deutsch

Just as archaeological finds flesh out Israelite history, so they also tell us about Israel’s neighbors and sometime enemies. Such is the case with the Ammonites, a people who lived east of the Jordan and fought in league with the Philistines against the emerging Israelites (Judges 10:7–9). Both Saul and David engaged the Ammonites in battle (1 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 11:1). At one point, David’s forces besieged the Ammonite capital, Rabbah (2 Samuel 11:1). The remains of the Ammonite capital lie beneath the modern capital of Jordan, Amman, whose name preserves the name of the ancient people.

The Ammonites continued to live across the Jordan from the Israelites for centuries and are often referred to in the Bible. Much of what we know about them we learn from archaeology.

Very recently the seal of an Ammonite king has come to light. This is the first time that we have found the seal of an Ammonite king, and this is its first public announcement. What makes this seal especially exciting is that the king who owned the seal, a certain Ba‘alis, is also referred to in the Bible.

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