The Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription, which is the oldest extant Hebrew text (ca. 1000 B.C.), has finally been revealed. Aren Maeir, excavator of Tel es-Safi (Gath) was present and reports on the presentation.
Unfortunately his initial report gives the text in Hebrew (I don’t read it!), though he includes comments and notes in English. Is it some kind of treaty involving the Philistine city of Gath?, A draft of a monumental inscription? Hebrew scholars and students can work their way through it, though it is difficult to read and several interpretations of the text exist. There is enough for Prof. Maeir to be openly excited. Scholars will be working on this for some time.
Yossi Garfinkel commented to us on the translation process this past summer. He mentioned that it was difficult to come up with a clear translation of the text, that some letters faced different directions in the text (an aleph apparently faces 3 different directions in different places), and that it may require years of research to settle on an interpretation.
I will update as more information becomes available.
Update: Prof. Maeir gives a “very rough translation” in English of the Khirbet Qeiyafa text.
Another Update: For any who may feel underwhelmed, just give it time. This translation is an important step. Todd Bolen comments:
This text apparently dates to 1000 BC, which is a period of great discussion these days among archaeologists and biblical scholars. To give one example, scholars debate today the degree of literacy at this period; this ostracon indicates proficiency in Hebrew some distance from the capital city of Jerusalem. Certainly the mention of the words “judge” and “king” at this period are provocative.
We’ll keep an eye out for any official release from the excavation or the IAA.