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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions

Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions (Video)

By Jeff A. Benner


The first major discovery connecting the Phoenician alphabet and language with Hebrew occurred on January 19th, 1855, when Turkish laborers accidently uncovered an ancient sarcophagus in Sidon, a Phoenician city. On this sarcophagus was a lengthy inscription written in the Phoenician alphabet and language, which was found to be identical to Hebrew with only a few exceptions.

The Meshe stele, also called the Moabite Stone was discovered in 1868 in the Biblical city of Dibon, the capital of the Moabites. The inscription was written with the same letters as the Phoenician, old Hebrew and Samaritan and it was discovered that Moabite language was also the same as Hebrew with some minor variations.

The Siloam Inscription, discovered in 1880, is written on the wall of Hezekiah's tunnel, which connects Gihon spring to the Pool of Siloam in East Jerusalem. This Hebrew inscription was written in the same style as the Phoenician and Moabite inscriptions.

During the excavation of the city of Gezer, 30 miles from Jerusalem, a limestone tablet was discovered in 1908 with a Hebrew inscription written in the old Hebrew alphabet.

In 1935 eighteen ostraca (broken pottery fragments) were discovered in the ancient city of Lachish with Hebrew writing in the old Hebrew alphabet.

In 1966 an inscription was discovered in Amman Jordan with an Ammonite inscription whose alphabet and language was also similar to Phoenician and Hebrew.

The Tel-Dan Stele, discovered in northern Israel in 1993, is an Aramaic inscription using the same old Hebrew script. This inscription includes the phrase beyt david meaning "house of david."

In 2005 archeologists uncovered another Hebrew inscription at Tel-Zayit that turned out to be an abecedery, the entire alphabet written out in its correct order.

As recently as October of 2008 another inscription in Hebrew was found which included such words as judge, slave and king and is to date one of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions ever found.




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