(HAARETZ) -- Nearly 3,000 years ago, a scribe inked a single Hebrew word on a large jar filled with wine or something else, which had been stored in a building at Abel Beth Maacah, an ancient settlement at the northern tip of today’s Israel. Now archaeologists have found it. That one word in an “unexpected” place could redraw the map of the ancient kingdom of Israel in the 10th-9th century B.C.E., showing it may have stretched farther north than is currently supposed.
There is a big debate among archaeologists on whether Abel Beth Maacah, which is mentioned in the Bible three times, was under the control of Israel, the Phoenicians, the Arameans, or was independent during this period.
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This discussion, and questions raised by the discovery of that one word on a jar, also touch on the broader debates on the historicity of the Bible, especially the true extent of the territory of the Kingdom of Israel and the belief system of the ancient Israelites.