Inscription indicates Kingdom of Israel existed in the 10th century BCE
Jan. 8, 2010
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
A breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew scriptures has shed new light =
on the period in which the Bible was written, testifying to Hebrew writing =
abilities as early as the 10th century BCE, the University of Haifa announc=
ed on Thursday.
Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University=
of Haifa recently deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century B=
CE, and showed that it was a Hebrew inscription, making it the earliest kno=
wn Hebrew writing.
The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least som=
e of the biblical scriptures were composed hundreds of years before the dat=
es presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel already exist=
ed at that time.
The inscription itself, which was written in ink on a 15 cm X 16.5 cm trape=
zoid pottery shard, was discovered a year and a half ago at excavations tha=
t were carried out by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Ela=
The inscription was dated back to the 10th century BCE, which was the perio
d of King David's reign, but the question of the language used in this insc
ription remained unanswered, making it impossible to prove whether it was i
n fact Hebrew or another local language.
Prof. Galil's deciphering of the ancient writing testifies to its being Heb
rew, based on the use of verbs particular to the Hebrew language, and conte
nt specific to Hebrew culture and not adopted by any other cultures in the
"This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. I
t uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah ("did") and a
vad ("worked"), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particu
lar words that appear in the text, such as almanah ("widow") are specific t
o Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages," Prof. Galil
The deciphered text:
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.
Once this deciphering is received, Prof. Galil added, the inscription will
become the earliest Hebrew inscription to be found, testifying to Hebrew wr
iting abilities as early as the 10th century BCE. This stands opposed to th
e dating of the composition of the Bible in current research, which would n
ot have recognized the possibility that the Bible or parts of it could have
been written during this ancient period.