Who was Elihana bat Gael? An exceptional woman during Jerusalem’s First Temple period some 2,500 years ago, according to the Antiquities Authority.
A rare seal bearing her name was recently unearthed in a large ancient building during excavations carried out in the Givati parking lot at the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park, the authority announced on Monday.
Inscribed in ancient Hebrew letters on the seal, made of semiprecious stone, appears the mirror-writing of “to Elihana bat Gael,” along with the name of her father.
Another seal, belonging to a man named “Sa’aryahu ben Shabenyahu,” was found nearby.
The second seal was also in mirror-writing, and bears the inscription “to Sa’aryahu ben Shabenyahu.” The name Sa’aryahu appears on a sherd from Arad, and apparently means “The Lord, which was revealed in a storm” (Job 38).
“Finding seals that bear names from the time of the First Temple is hardly a commonplace occurrence, and finding a seal that belonged to a woman is an even rarer phenomenon,” the authority said.
Indeed, according to the authority’s excavation directors, “The owner of the seal was notable compared to other women of the First Temple period: She had legal status, which allowed her to conduct business and possess property.”