|Tel Abel Beth Maacah looking east from the main road|
Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah; and all the Bichrites assembled, and followed him inside. Joab’s forces came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah; they threw up a siege-ramp against the city, and it stood against the rampart. Joab’s forces were battering the wall to break it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, I want to speak to you.’” He came near her; and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” He answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “They used to say in the old days, ‘Let them inquire at Abel’; and so they would settle a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not the case! But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David; give him up alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head shall be thrown over the wall to you.” Then the woman went to all the people with her wise plan. And they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, and all went to their homes, while Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
– 2 Samuel 20: 14-22.
Northern Exposure: Launching Excavations at Tell Abil el-Qameḥ (Abel Beth Maacah). By Nava Panitz-Cohen, Robert Mullins, and Ruhama Bonfil. STRATA: Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society, Vol. 31 (2013). Also here.
Tell Abil el-Qameḥ, identified with the Biblical site of Abel Beth Maakah, is an imposing site strategically located on the farthest northern border of Israel, a border in antiquity as well as today. In the Iron Age, this boundary separated - and joined - Israelites, Phoenicians and Arameans. In the Bronze Age, it served as a springboard for relations with the great kingdoms in Syria and Mesopotamia. Despite its prominence and strategic importance, the site had never been excavated. Following a survey in 2012 led by the authors, excavation began in the summer of 2013. Iron Age remains exist just under the topsoil in the two areas explored this first season. In the center of the eastern slope (Area A) a series of Iron Age occupation levels were found and in the southern end of the lower mound (Area F) there was a large stone structure that might be a fortification overlooking the Huleh Valley.
Report: Survey at Tel Abel Beth Maacah – May 2012. By Nava Panitz-Cohen, Ruhama Bonfil, and Robert Mullins. Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations.
Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations website.
Abel Beth Maacah Facebook page.
Breaking Ground at Tel Abel Beth Maacah—Why Dig at the Gateway to the Arameans. By Robert Mullins and Nava Panitz-Cohen. ASOR Blog.
Mullins and Panitz-Cohen:
Abel Beth Maacah is an imposing 35-acre mound controlling one of the most strategic passes in northern Israel and has the honor of being the northernmost site in Israel (running neck-and-neck with nearby Tel Dan, but winning by a nostril). It was also ancient Israel’s northern gateway to the Aramean world.
Abel Beth Maacah: Beneath the Surface of Israel. By Robert Mullins. Azusa Pacific University, September 25, 2012.
’Abel-Beth-Ma‘acah: “Northern Gateway of Ancient Israel.” By William G. Dever. The Archaeology of Jordan and Other Studies. Presented to Siegfried H. Horn. Edited by Lawrence T. Geraty and Larry G. Herr. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1986. Pp. 207-223. Also here.
The Forgotten Kingdom: The Archaeology and History of Northern Israel. By Israel Finkelstein. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013. Also here.
Abel Beth Maacah Excavations Uncover Silver Hoard at an Ancient Crossroads. By Noah Wiener. Bible History Daily, February 26, 2014.
The city of Abel Beth Maacah was located at an important juncture between several ancient Near Eastern cultures. During the Bronze Age, it was a threshold between the Levant and the major empires of Syria and Mesopotamia. In the Iron Age, the Biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah was a crossroads between Israel, Phoenicia and Syria, and it may have served as the capital of the Aramean kingdom of Maacah (Joshua 12:5; 2 Samuel 10:8).
3,300-year-old silver earrings found at biblical site. By Ilan Ben Zion. The Times of Israel, February 25, 2014.
The Rebellion of Sheba. 2 Samuel 20.
In Focus: Abel Beth Maacah. Video. Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations. YouTube.
Robert Mullins: The Emergence of Israel in Retrospect. Video. Bible History Daily, February 1, 2014. YouTube.