Chapel Hill, NC

Discovery of the first known depiction of the Israelite judge Deborah mentioned in the Bible

Anita Durairaj
A panel at the Nebraska State Capitol building showing "Deborah judging Israel"Credit: Ammodramus; Public Domain Image

Deborah and Jael were two heroic women described in the Bible in the Book of Judges. Deborah is the only female judge that is mentioned in the Bible.

According to the Bible, the Israelites were being oppressed by the King of Canaan. Deborah took matters into her own hands and commands an Israelite ruler to go into battle against the Canaanites. After the battle is won by the Israelites, there was peace in the land for 40 years. The second heroine in the Bible, Yael also plays a part in killing a Canaanite general during that time.

In recent archaeological news, researchers from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill discovered the first known depiction of Deborah and Jael on ancient 1600-year-old mosaics. This is the first evidence of the existence of Deborah and Jael outside of the Bible.

The mosaics were discovered in an ancient Jewish synagogue dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries in the village of Huqoq in Israel's Lower Galilee region. The mosaic panel divided into three parts was found in the synagogue's floor. The depictions on the mosaic are of Deborah under a palm tree looking at the Israelite ruler who she commands to go into battle. There is also a depiction of Jael killing the Canaanite general.

It is thought that the events of Deborah and Jael might have occurred in the same place as the discovery of the mosaics.

Archaeologists consider the mosaic depictions of the biblical heroines to be exceedingly rare. Additional images were also found at the site depicting other events in the Book of Judges.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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