Oldest Hebrew Text Discovered

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Oldest Hebrew Text Discovered

Post  sunshine on Fri 31 Oct 2008, 6:14 pm

Archaeologists have discovered what they say is the oldest Hebrew text ever found, at a site they believe was King David's front line fortress in the war against the people of Pleshet, also known as the Philistines. The site overlooks the Elah Valley, where the young David slew Goliath, the Philistine giant, with a well-aimed shot from a sling.

The text is written in ink on a pottery shard. It is made up of five lines of text in Proto-Canaanite characters separated by lines. The discovery, by archaeologists Prof. Yossi Garfinkel and Sa'ar Ganor of Hebrew University, is being hailed as one of the most important finds in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Carbon-14 dates to King David

The writing on the shard seems to be a letter sent from one person to another and archaeologists have still not deciphered it completely. Preliminary analysis shows that it contains the words "king" (melech), "judge" (shofet), and "eved" (slave), but the terms seem to be parts of names, as in "Achimelech" or "Evedel" (lit. "King's brother," "Servant of God").

Carbon-14 dating as well as chemical analysis of the pottery found at the site shows conclusively that it dates from between 1,000 and 975 B.C. – the time of King David's reign. David – who wrote the Psalms, unified the tribes of Israel and made Jerusalem the capital of the Israeli nation – is considered to be Israel's greatest King, whose reign ushered in the period in which the First Temple was built.

The writing therefore predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by about 1,000 years.

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