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Sunday, January 10, 2010
  The Earliest Hebrew Inscription (so far)
Some 18 months back the excavators of Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Elah valley in the Judean Shephelah announced the discovery of an ostracon (potsherd) with an inscription they believed to be in Hebrew. The ostracon was dated from its context to the 10th Century BCE, the time many people would date the United Monarchy of David and Solomon. At the time photos were published that did not really allow one to read the inscription and only a few words had been tentatively deciphered.

Now a text and English translation have been published (at least informally in the news media). Since this publication is NOT scholarly but promotional, and since no other scholars have had access to either the text or to good photographs this text must be treated with some caution!

Credit: Courtesy of the University of Haifa Usage Restrictions: This image may only be used with the given credit.

However, if Prof. Galil's reading of the text is even approximately correct this discovery is very important. He reads (and translated) the text like this:
1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.
If this is roughly correct, while it does not (despite the quoted claims in the press article) either contain ideas that were "unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society" and alone it certainly cannot support Prof. Galil's claim that:
It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research.
But it might help support the likelihood that biblical accounts of Daviod and Solomon are not entirely fictional, and cause significant increase in estimates of the likelihood that significant texts could have been composed and written in Hebrew at that time. And, unless closer examination shows that it was not written in Hebrew, it IS the earliest evidence for Hebrew writing so far!



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Saturday, January 06, 2007
  Negev flash flood video ::
Todd Bolen (of the superb BiblePlaces.com has a link to this cellphone video of a flash flood in the Nahal Zin, about 60Km south of Beersheba in the Negev. If you have ever wanted to see why psalm 23 delights in being led by "still waters" just imagine sheep drinking from the pools you see at the start of the video!

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