Has the House of Elisha Been Found?

It’s rather unlikely, but neither is it impossible.

Archaeologists digging at Tel Rehov (under the direction of Amihai Mazar) in Israel have come upon an unusually structured house, in which they found an ostracon with the name ‘Elisha’ written in ink on it. Mazar suggests the ostracon dates to the 9th century BC, which would fit the timeframe for the prophet Elisha, successor to the prophet Elijah.

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) news service has reported on the find. Here are some quotes from their article:

Outside the backroom were incense altars that may have been used to make an offering to God before entering the house to hear the prophet’s message…

“We found an ink inscription written in red ink on pottery, but it is broken unfortunately,” Mazar said. “But we reconstructed the name as Elisha.”

The prophet Elisha was born about seven miles from Tel Rehov in Avel Mehola and went throughout the kingdom of Israel, from Jericho to Samaria to Shunam.

“You know I cannot say for sure this particular Elisha that we found is the biblical Elisha,” Mazar said. “You know it’s very difficult to say, but it is very tempting because it is exactly the period when Elisha acted — the second half of the 9th century BC.”

There are strings of ‘maybes’ in all of this. And with each ‘maybe’, we effectively halve the chances of a ‘probably’. So there are quite a few things that have to align for this discovery to actually be the house of Elisha. Personally, on first glance, I’d say the writing on the ostracon looks more 8th century BC than 9th century BC. The report doesn’t give us much info on the stratigraphy where the ostracon was found, unfortunately. So, I’m inclined to say that it’s probably wishful thinking to say that we’ve found the house of Elisha. Despite that, it’s always exciting to be digging up someone’s ancient home and learning more about the ancient Israelites who lived in it—even if they were just plebs rather than prophets.

The CBN article includes a short video clip about the alleged discovery.