Prof. Shmuel Ahituv, of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, will be awarded the Israel Prize in Biblical Research, the Education Ministry announced on Thursday.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who holds the Education Ministry portfolio, approved the recommendation of the prize committee headed by Prof. Eliezer Greenstein.The other members of the prize committee included: professors Gershon Brin, Gershon Galil and Sarah Yefet.“Prof. Shmuel Ahituv is one of the leading Bible scholars in Israel and worldwide. He made many important contributions to the study of the history of the people of Israel in biblical times and to the interpretation of biblical literature,” the Israel Prize committee wrote of its decision.Ahituv is a past head of the bible, archeology and ancient near eastern studies department and was the founder of the BGU Press, which he led for 14 years until shortly before his retirement. He completed his studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, during which time he joined the staff of scholars compiling the Biblical Encyclopedia eventually becoming the editor who finished that monumental work. Upon the encyclopedia’s completion, he initiated the Biblical Encyclopedia Library, which has published 25 volumes so far.The Israel Prize, the state’s civilian highest honor, is presented annually on Independence Day at a state ceremony in Jerusalem.