Image: The Elisha Inscription (via Duane Smith)
According to a recent report, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a house that probably was the house where the prophet Elisha lived. The Bible says that the prophet Elisha was the son of Shaphat and lived in the Israelite city of Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:16). Elisha was a disciple and the successor of the prophet Elijah. The building that archaeologists believe was the house where the prophet Elisha lived was discovered at the site of Tel Rehov, a few miles from Abel-meholah.
According to the Institute of Archaeology of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Rehov was “the location of the largest ancient Canaanite and Israelite site in the Beth-Shean Valley and one of the largest tels in the Holy Land.” The site was occupied in the 10th-9th centuries B.C. during the reigns of David and Solomon and during the reigns of Omri and Ahab.
During the excavations at Tel Rehov, archeologists found a broken piece of pottery with an inscription written in red ink with the name “Elisha.”
Two other inscriptions were found at the site. These inscriptions mention the family of Nimshi. According to the biblical record, Jehu, the king of Israel, was the “son of Nimshi” (1 Kings 19:16). According to 2 Kings 9, Elisha commanded one of his disciples to anoint Jehu, the commander of the army as the next king of Israel.
If this patronymic information is a reference to the king who ruled over the Northern Kingdom, it reinforces the possibility that the name Elisha, which appears inscribed on the ostracon found at Tel Rehov, may confirm that the house belonged to the prophet Elisha.
My friend Duane Smith at Abnormal Interests has cast some doubt on this discovery. Duane said that the name Elisha appears elsewhere. Duane wrote:
By the way, the name Elisha (אלישע) is found at least once and possibly twice on one Ostracon from Samaria (S 1:4, 7[?] and perhaps once on another (S 41:1). For the sake of convenience (mine) I am using Gogel’s designations. The name is also found twice on an ostracon from Arad (A 24:15, 19-20). From context it is rather clear that these Elishas are not the Biblical Elisha. They are also likely from later centuries.
Watch the video [here] describing the discovery of the Elisha inscription (watch it in full screen, if possible) and review the evidence. If the discovery of this inscription proves that the house belonged to the prophet Elisha–and this is not yet evident– it will be another evidence that the characters mentioned in the Old Testament were people who lived in a real historical context.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary