After yesterday morning’s news that the world’s oldest Hebrew inscription may have finally been translated, I found this story in the U.S. media this morning. Here is an excerpt:
The inscription is the earliest example of Hebrew writing found, which stands in opposition to the dating of the composition of the Bible in current research; prior to this discovery, it was not believed that the Bible or parts of it could have been written this long ago.
… current theory holds that the Bible could not have been written before the 6th century B.C.E., because Hebrew writing did not exist until then.
The real news to this inscription has been that even a small, border town in 10th century B.C. Judah possessed scribes who could record events and administrate on behalf of a government. An administrative capital (such as Jerusalem?) would have had equal if not greater capability to preserve its own history and sacred writings.
For anyone unaware of the history of this inscription, here’s a brief summary.
- The inscription was discovered in a 10th century B.C. (Iron Age IIA) stratum during the 2008 excavation season at Khirbet Qeiyafa.
- Its Proto-Canaanite characters have been determined to record a Hebrew-language message, based on the existence of specific vocabulary.
- It is the oldest Hebrew inscription yet discovered in the world.
- Most of the inscription has remained indecipherable until now, even after high-tech scans to recover some of the faded letters.
I had the privilege of searching for more inscriptions while working at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the summer of 2009, and plan to go back for more this July. There is a reasonable chance more texts will be found in the next few years.