Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin was an Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i archeologist, politician, and the second Chief of Staff
The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces is the supreme commander and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. At any given time, the Chief of Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, Rav Aluf , which is usually...

 of the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...


Early life and military career

Yadin was born in 1917 to noted archeologist Eleazar Sukenik and educationalist and women's rights activist Hasya Feinsod Sukenik. He joined the Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 at age 15, and served there in a variety of different capacities. In 1946, however, he left the Haganah following an argument with its commander Yitzhak Sadeh
Yitzhak Sadeh
Yitzhak Sadeh , was the commander of the Palmach, one of the founders of the Israel Defense Forces at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel and a cousin of British philosopher Isaiah Berlin.-Biography:...

 over the inclusion of a machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 as part of standard squad equipment.

He was a university student when, in 1947, shortly before the State of Israel declared its independence, he was called back to active service by David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

. He was Head of Operations during Israel's War of Independence
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, and was responsible for many of the key decisions made during the course of that war. In June 1948 he threatened to resign during the General's Revolt
The General's Revolt
Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel the leader of the Yeshuv, David Ben Gurion, made several attempts to reorganise the main underground militia, the Haganah, and its elite force, the Palmach...

 during which he accused Ben-Gurion of attempting "to transform the army as a whole into an army of one political party (Mapam
Mapam was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Meretz party.-History:Mapam was formed by a January 1948 merger of the Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party and Ahdut HaAvoda Poale Zion Movement. The party was originally Marxist-Zionist in its outlook and represented...


Yadin was appointed Chief of Staff of the IDF on 9 November 1949, following the resignation of Yaakov Dori
Yaakov Dori
Yaakov Dori was the first Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces .Born in the present day Ukraine as Yakov Dostrovsky , son of Tzvi and Myriam, his family emigrated to Ottoman Palestine following the anti-Jewish pogrom in Odessa in 1905...

, and served in that capacity for three years. He resigned on 7 December 1952, over disagreements with then prime minister and defense minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 about cuts to the military budget, which he argued should be at least one third of the national budget. By age thirty-five, he had completed his military career.


Upon leaving the military, he devoted himself to research and began his life's work in archeology. In 1956 he received the Israel Prize
Israel Prize
The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

 in Jewish studies
Jewish studies
Jewish studies is an academic discipline centered on the study of Jews and Judaism. Jewish studies is interdisciplinary and combines aspects of history , religious studies, archeology, sociology, languages , political science, area studies, women's studies, and ethnic studies...

, for his doctoral thesis on the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

. As an archeologist, he excavated some of the most important sites in the region, including the Qumran
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

 Caves, Masada
Masada is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel, on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is best known for the violence that occurred there in the first century CE...

, Hazor
Hazor is the name of several places in the biblical and modern Israel:Biblical locations:* Tel Hazor, site of an ancient fortified city in the Upper Galilee, among the most important Caananite towns, and the largest ancient ruin in modern Israel and UNESCO World Heritage Site.* Hazor, A town in...

, and Tel Megiddo
Megiddo (place)
Megiddo is a tell in modern Israel near Megiddo Kibbutz, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance especially under its Greek name Armageddon. In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicated a long period of...

. He considered the Solomonic Gate at Tel Gezer
Gezer was a Canaanite city-state and biblical town in ancient Israel. Tel Gezer , an archaeological site midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is now an Israeli national park....

 to be the highpoint of his career. He was sometimes forced to deal with the theft of important artifacts, occasionally by prominent political and military figures. In one instance, where the thefts were commonly attributed to the famous one-eyed general Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military leader and politician. The fourth Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces , he became a fighting symbol to the world of the new State of Israel...

, he remarked: "I know who did it, and I am not going to say who it is, but if I catch him, I'll poke out his other eye too."

Even as an archeologist, Yadin never completely abandoned public life. On the eve of the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, he served as a military adviser to prime minister Levi Eshkol
Levi Eshkol
' served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.-Biography:...

, and following the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, he was a member of the Agranat Commission
Agranat Commission
The Agranat Commission was a National Commision of Inquiry set up to investigate failings in the Israel Defense Forces in the prelude to the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was found unprepared for the Egyptian attack against the Bar Lev Line and a simultaneous attack by Syria in the Golan — the first...

 that investigated the actions that led to the war.

Political career

In 1976 Yadin formed the Democratic Movement for Change
Democratic Movement for Change
The Democratic Movement for Change , commonly known by its Hebrew acronym Dash was a short-lived and initially highly-successful centrist political party in Israel...

, commonly known by its Hebrew acronym Dash, together with Professor Amnon Rubinstein
Amnon Rubinstein
Amnon Rubinstein is an Israeli law scholar, politician, and columnist. A member of the Knesset between 1977 and 2002, he served in several ministerial positions. He is currently dean of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a patron of Liberal International.-Early life:Rubinstein was born...

, Shmuel Tamir
Shmuel Tamir
Shmuel M. Tamir was a prominent Israeli independence fighter, lawyer, Knesset member from 1965 to 1980, and Minister of Justice in the government of Menachem Begin from 1977 until 1980-Irgun:...

, Meir Amit
Meir Amit
Meir Amit was an Israeli politician and general. He served as Director of the Mossad from 1963 to 1968 before entering politics and holding two ministerial positions.-Biography:...

, Meir Zorea
Meir Zorea
Meir "Zarro" Zorea MC was a general in the Israel Defense Forces and later a member of the Knesset. He earned distinction through his combat actions in World War II and in the Israeli War of Independence...

, and many other prominent public figures. The new party seemed to be an ideal solution for many Israelis who were fed up with alleged corruption in the Labor Alignment
Alignment (political party)
The Alignment was an alliance of the major left-wing parties in Israel between the 1960s and 1990s. It was established in 1965 as an alliance of Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda but was dissolved three years later when the two parties and Rafi formally merged into the Israeli Labor Party...

 (the dominant party in Israel from its founding and up to that time), which included the Yadlin affair
Yadlin affair
The Yadlin Affair refers to a political corruption scandal that broke in Israel in 1976, involving senior members of the Labor Party...

, the suicide of Housing Minister Avraham Ofer
Avraham Ofer
Avraham Ofer was an Israeli politician, famous for committing suicide following the eruption of a corruption scandal.- Biography :Ofer was born in the Khorostkov shtetl in Poland in 1922, and immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1933. He went to High School in Jerusalem and studied in the Hebrew...

, and Leah Rabin's illegal dollar-denominated account
Dollar Account affair
The Dollar Account affair was a political scandal in Israel in 1977, following the exposure of an illegal US Dollar bank account held by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah...

 in the United States. Furthermore, Dash was a response to the increasing sense of frustration and despair in the aftermath of the 1973 war, and the social and political developments that followed in its wake. Many people regarded Yadin, a warrior and a scholar, as the quintessential prototype of the ideal Israeli, untainted by corruption, who could lead the country on a new path.

In the 1977 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1977
The Elections for the ninth Knesset were held on 17 May 1977. For the first time in Israeli political history, the right-wing, led by Likud, won the election, ending almost 30 years of rule by the left-wing Alignment and its predecessor, Mapai...

 which transformed the Israeli political landscape, the new party did remarkably well for its first attempt to enter the Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

, winning 15 of the 120. As a result of the election, Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 party leader Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

 was initially able to form a coalition without Dash (or parties to its left), significantly lowering the bargaining power of Dash. Dash joined the coalition after a few months. As the new Deputy Prime Minister, Yadin played a pivotal role in many events that took place, particularly the contacts with Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, which eventually led to the signing of the Camp David Accords
Camp David Accords
The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following thirteen days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two framework agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by United States...

 and the peace treaty between Israel and its neighbor. Nevertheless, Dash itself proved to be a failure, and the party broke up into numerous splinter factions; Yadin joined the Democratic Movement
Democratic Movement (Israel)
The Democratic Movement was a short-lived political party in Israel formed in the aftermath of the spectacular breakup of Dash. Founded in 1978, it lasted only until 1981.-Background:...

, but it too split up and he sat as an independent MK for the remainder of his term. During a cabinet meeting, May 1981, while still Deputy Prime Minister, he accused Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan
Rafael Eitan
Rafael "Raful" Eitan was an Israeli general, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces and later a politician, a Knesset member government minister...

 of "lying to the government" and told Prime Minister Begin "You have lost control of the defence establishment." He retired from politics in 1981.

Yadin was married to Carmela (née Ruppin
Arthur Ruppin
Arthur Ruppin was a Zionist thinker and leader. He was also one of the founders of the city of Tel Aviv, and a pioneering sociologist credited as being "The Father Of Jewish Sociology", directing Berlin's Bureau for Jewish Statistics and Demography from 1902 to 1907...

) who worked with him throughout his career in translating and editing his books and with whom he had two daughters – Orly and Littal. He died in 1984. The Israeli actor Yossi Yadin was his brother.

In 2005, he was voted the 165th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.


  • Views of the Biblical World. Jerusalem: International Publishing Company J-m Ltd, 1959.
  • The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands. McGraw-Hill, 1963.
  • Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand. New York: Random House, 1966.
  • Hazor (Schweich Lectures for 1970)
  • The Bar Kochba Caves. (Hebrew). Maariv, 1971
  • The Temple Scroll published posthumously London, Weidenfeld & Nicholson,1985

Yigael Yadin published many research papers and ancient text explanations, at the Hebrew University press (in Hebrew):
  • The Sons of Light against Sons of Darkness (from the Qumran Caves
    Qumran Caves
    The Qumran Caves are a series of caves, some natural, some artificial, to be found around the archaeological site of Qumran. It is in a number of these caves that the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found...

    ), 1955
  • The Hidden Scrolls, 1958
  • The book of Ben Sira
    The Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira , commonly called the Wisdom of Sirach or simply Sirach, and also known as Ecclesiasticus or Siracides , is a work from the early 2nd century B.C. written by the Jewish scribe Jesus ben Sirach of Jerusalem...

    , 1965
  • Teffilin of Head from the Qumran caves, 1969
  • The Temple Scroll (from the Qumran caves), 1977


  • Neil A. Silberman "A Prophet from Amongst You: The Life of Yigael Yadin, Soldier, Scholar, and Mythmaker of Modern Israel" Addison Wesley (1994).

See also

  • List of Israel's Chiefs of the General Staff
  • List of Israel Prize recipients
  • Yadin
    Yadin is a Hebrew name, used as both a first and last name, which comes from the root word "din" . Yadin is the future tense of the verb conjugated in the third person, meaning “ will enact justice,” “ will make law” or “ will judge.”-Antiquity:The word Yadin appears in the Hebrew Bible usually...

External links

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