The Hebrew Bible identifies the city of Netaim as a city of potters: “These were the potters who were inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah. They lived there in the king’s service” (1 Chronicles 4:23). The reference that these potters were “in the king’s service” may indicate either that the king had a production of pottery for export (or local sale) or that the pottery were being made for the king’s personal use and not to be sold.
It is also possible that the expression “in the king’s service” may indicate the existence of a guild that specialized in the production of pottery, similar to the statement that a family of scribes lived at Jabez (1 Chronicles 2:55) and that a clan of linen workers lived at Beth-ashbea (1 Chronicles 4:21).
In a recent article published by the University of Haifa, Professor Gershon Galil of the Department of Bible Studies at the University of Haifa has identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as the city of Netaim, the city of potters mentioned in the book of Chronicles.
The following is an excerpt from the article:
Has another mystery in the history of Israel been solved? Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Bible Studies at the University of Haifa has identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as “Neta’im”, which is mentioned in the book of Chronicles. “The inhabitants of Neta’im were potters who worked in the king’s service and inhabited an important administrative center near the border with the Philistines,” explains Prof. Galil.
Khirbet Qeiyafa is a provincial town in the Elah Valley region. Archaeological excavations carried out at Khirbet Qeiyafa by a team headed by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel and Mr. Saar Ganor have dated the site to the beginning of the 10th century BCE, namely the time of King David’s rule. A Hebrew inscription on a pottery shard found at the site, also dating back to the 10th century, has recently been deciphered by Prof. Galil and indicates the presence of scribes and a high level of culture in the town.
The genealogy of the Tribe of Judah dated to the same period is recorded in 1 Chronicles. The last verse of this genealogy, 1 Chronicles 4:23, mentions two important cites: Gederah and Neta’im, both of which were administrative centers, since they were inhabited by people who work “in the king’s service”: “These were the potters, the inhabitants of Neta’im and Gederah, they dwelt there in the King’s service.” Gederah has been identified by A. Alt with Khirbet G(udraya, near the Elah Valley, but Neta’im, which is mentioned only once in the Bible, remained unidentified.
You can read the article in its entirety by clicking here.
NOTE: For other articles on archaeology, archaeological discoveries, and how they relate to the Bible, read my post Can Archaeology Prove the Bible?.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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