Abday on Eleventh-Century BCE Arrowheads
by Robert Deutsch
In a previous issue of Israel Exploration Journal,1 Professor F.M. Cross Jr. challenged our proposed reading hs kty // msl 'bdy "Arrow of Kittian ruler of Abday", which we published in 1994.2 Instead of the personal name bdy (Abday), Cross argued that the inscription on a mid-eleventh-century arrowhead refers to bdn (Abdon), which he identified as Khirbet Abdeh, a ruin situated 5km east of Akhzib, in northern Israel.
Arrow of the Kittian inscription: new photography and drawing (photograph by Mr. Pavel Shrago)
It is true that from the contextual point of view, msl bdn (the ruler of + a typonym) would be preferable to msi hdy (the ruler of PN), but Cross's main objection to our reading was based on palaeographic grounds, having been misled by the poor-quality photograph that we originally published. The surface of the arrowhead had been damaged by corrosion and the image was less than one might have desired; he, therefore, read the final letter of the word in question as nun, instead of yod, because one of the horizontal bars of the yod was invisible in the original photograph. A new photograph and drawing (see below) are presented here to rectify this problem; these illustrations clearly show both horizontals of the yod, hence: 'bdy.
A suggestion made by Professor K. McCarter, Jr. seems to have resolved the contextual problem.3 He notes that msl "ruler" was based on a misreading of the last letter as lamed instead of qof, and suggests that the word should be read as msq, "cupbearer".
We now accept McCarter's reading and translation of the inscription as: hs kty // msq bdy "Arrow of the Kittian, cupbearer of Abday". It should be noted that the personal name Abday has emerged as the most frequent name inscribed on Phoenician arrowheads. There are five other published arrowheads bearing this archaic name:
- hs ymn // s 'bdy "Arrow of Yaman, man (retainer) of 'Abday"4
- hs swr // s 'bdy "Arrow of Suwar, man (retainer) of 'Abday"5
- hs mlkyrm // bn 'bdy "Arrow of Malkiram, son of 'Abday"6
- hs mhrn // bn 'bdy "Arrow of Maharan, son of 'Abday"7
- hs s // bn 'bdy "Arrow of S', son of 'Abday"8
In addition, we plan to present two other arrowheads attesting to 'Abday in a forthcoming publication.