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The excavations reveal that Ebla’s mightiest king was Ebrum – a name similar to Eber, the Biblical ancestor of the Hebrew people. Also found are names that evoke those of such Biblical people and places as David, Esau, Saul, Abraham, Israel, Sinai, Gaza – even Jerusalem. Experts will be debating the significance of these findings for years to come.

Among the most tantalizing of Ebla’s enigmas are the similarities between some of its tablets and passages written more than a millennium later. An example is the “sin cities” of Sodom and Gomorrah. Scholars had never found any mention of either place outside Biblical texts. But they are listed in an Ebla tablet.

There is another fascinating Biblical parallel. The tablets indicate that during the reign of King Ebrum, Ebla’s most dynamic monarch, the Eblaite religion underwent a change. Men’s first names had carried a suffix glorifying the god El: for example, Michael, Israel. Now men’s names paid homage to a “different God”, Ya. For example, Michaya and Israya. This might seem insignificant, except for the fact that the Hebrews also used both El and Ya (Yahweh) for the name of God.