January 7, 2010
University of Haifa Professor Gershon Galil announces that he has deciphered an inscription from the time of King David’s reign in the 10th century BCE. The inscription, written in an ancient proto-Canaanite script, is the earliest known Hebrew writing discovered to date. It was written in ink on a 15 centimeter by 16.5 centimeter trapezoid pottery shard that was discovered the summer of 2008 by Professor Yosef Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Elah valley.
The text as deciphered by Galil, tells its readers to protect slaves, widows and orphans; rehabilitate the poor and support strangers. The discovery according to Galil, “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.”
The discovery was especially noteworthy because it provides evidence that parts of the Hebrew Bible were composed hundreds of years before the dates proposed by many researchers up to that point. According to Galil, “It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.”
To read the press release from January 7, 2010: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/uoh-mah010710.php
Photo Credit: A drawing of the pottery shard deciphered by University of Haifa professor Gershon Galil. Photo from the University of Haifa