Have Israel Defense Forces and Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered a memorial to Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel, whose story is told in 1 Samuel 1?
According to The Times of Israel, “a group of IDF soldiers took part over the past month in an effort to uncover anew a 1,500-year-old nuns’ convent said to honor the biblical Hannah near the central town of Shoham, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Monday.”
Hannah was a Jewish woman married to Elkanah who had two wives. One wife, Peninnah, had children while Hannah, whom Elkanah especially loved, was barren.
Every year the family would pilgrimage to Shiloh to worship and during this time, Elkanah would give Hannah a “double portion” of what he gave to Peninnah and her children. Peninnah would then provoke Hannah for being unable to have a child.
One year, while weeping and fasting, Hannah prayed at the temple and asked God for a child. Because she was only moving her lips and was so distraught, Eli the priest assumed she was drunk and scolded her.
Hannah defended herself saying that she was only “pouring out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15, ESV). At this, Eli blessed her that she would receive that for which she’d prayed.
She gave birth to Samuel whom she dedicated to God and he grew up to be a great prophet and priest before the Lord.
Hannah has been an example for women (and men) throughout time. The Times of Israel article states, “‘The Byzantine convent was first excavated twenty years ago by Dr. Uzi Dahari and Dr. Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and it was subsequently covered up to protect it. It is now visible again, thanks to the project carried out with the soldiers,’ the statement read.”
A statement on the Israel Antiquities Authority Facebook page states “the church may have commemorated the burial place of the biblical Hannah.”
The Times of Israel quotes the IAA saying “the mosaic is ‘partially visible,’ and visits to the site can be arranged with permission from the IDF Central Command.”
Archeological evidence of biblical history is always enriching and fascinating. If you’re interested in exploring journalistic evidence that supports the Christian faith, tune into Lee Strobel’s series called Investigating Faith on Liftable.tv.