Ori Greenhut, a 7 year old boy from Israel found something amazing this week while hiking near his home. He was hiking with a few friends in the Beit Shean Valley at a site called Tel Rehov. Under a rock he saw something with the image of a person. After brushing off the mud, Ori saw that it was a figurine of a woman. It turned out to be a 3,400 year old Canaanite idol.
Moriya Greenhut, Ori’s mother, says. “Ori returned home with the impressive figurine and the excitement was great. We explained to him this is an ancient artifact and that archaeological finds belong to the State”.
The law in Israel states that all archaeological finds belong to the state. Being good citizens the Greenhut family promptly contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority to report the find. Representatives of the IAA came to collect the figurine. They also visited Ori’s school and presented him with a certificate of appreciation. They also explained to his class about this find.
Esther Ledell, Ori’s teacher, said, “It was an amazing occasion! The archaeologists entered the class during a Torah lesson, just when we were learning about Rahel stealing her father’s household gods (trafim; Genesis 31). I explained that the household gods were statues that were used in idol worship, and all of a sudden I realize that these very same idols are here in the classroom!”
Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and expedition director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov, examined the figurine and stated, “It is typical of the Canaanite culture of the 15th–13th centuries BCE. Some researchers think the figure depicted here is that of a real flesh and blood woman, and others view her as the fertility goddess Astarte, known from Canaanite sources and from the Bible. It is highly likely that the term trafim mentioned in the Bible indeed refers to figurines of this kind”. Mazar added, “Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs”.
The lesson learned from this is, next time you’re hiking in Israel, keep your eyes open. You never know what you may discover!