Sunday, September 23, 2007

Archaeology series 13: The Arad Inscriptions

The Arad Insciptions

From Meyers Encyclopedia of Near East:
*Found from excavations in the citadel of Arad in the Judaen
Negev carried out between 1962 and 1967 by Yohanan Aharoni

*131 Hebrew, 85 Aramaic, 2 Greek and 5 Arabic

*Many Yahwistic names and formulaic blessings in the name of

*From Jewish Virtual Library(Disclaimer: I do not endorse the political views of this site):
The Israelite Citadel
During the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah
(10th-6th centuries BCE), successive citadels were built on the hill of Arad as
part of a series of fortifications protecting the trade routes in the Negev and
the southern border of the kingdom against marauding nomads.

The first of these citadels was built by King
(10th century BCE). It measured 55 x 50 m. and was surrounded by a
casemate wall (two parallel walls with cross-walls between them) 5 m. thick, and
with a gate protected by two towers in its eastern side. Large towers protruded
from the corners and along the wall. Inside the citadel were quarters for the
garrison, storerooms, and a temple. A water reservoir cut into the rock beneath
the citadel was filled with water from a well dug into the Canaanite reservoir
south of the citadel. This well was 4.60 m. in diameter and 21 m. deep, to
groundwater level, the upper part carefully lined with stones. The water drawn
from the well was carried up the hill by pack animals to an opening in the wall
of the citadel, and from there flowed in a channel to the reservoir.

In the 9th century BCE, a new citadel was built,
surrounded by a massive, 4 m.-thick wall. This citadel, with various
modifications, remained in use until the Babylonian conquest of the Kingdom of
Judah in 587/6 BCE.
The ostraca
Over 100 ostraca inscribed in biblical Hebrew (in
paleo-Hebrew script)
were found in the citadel of Arad. This is the largest and
collection of inscriptions from the biblical period ever discovered in
Israel. The letters are from all periods of the citadel's existence, but
date to the last decades of the kingdom of Judah. Dates and several
names of
places in the Negev are mentioned, including Be'er

Among the personal names are those of the priestly
families Pashur and
Meremoth, both mentioned in the Bible. (Jeremiah
; Ezra
) Some of the letters were addressed to the commander of the citadel
Arad, Eliashiv ben Ashiyahu, and deal with the distribution of bread
wine and oil to the soldiers serving in the fortresses of the
Negev. Seals
bearing the inscription "Eliashiv ben Ashiyahu" were also

Some of the commander's letters (probably "file" copies) were addressed to his
superior and deal with the deteriorating security situation in the Negev. In one
of them, he gives warning of an emergency and requests reinforcements to be sent
to another citadel in the region to repulse an Edomite invasion. Also, in one of
the letters, the "house of YHWH" is mentioned.

Inscription 1

To Eliashib: And now, give the Kittiyim 3 baths of
wine, and write the name of the day. And from the rest of the first flour, send
one homer in order to make bread for them. Give them the wine from the aganoth

Inscription 24

From Arad 50 and from Kin[ah]...and you shall send
them to Ramat-Negev by the hand of Malkiyahu the son of Kerab'ur and he shall
hand them over to Elisha the son of Yirmiyahu in Ramat-Negev, lest anything
should happen to the city. And the word of the king is incumbent upon you for
your very life! Behold, I have sent to warn you today: [Get] the men to Elisha:
lest Edom should come there.
Inscription 40

Your son Gemar[yahu] and Nehemyahu gre[et] Malkiyahu;
I have blessed [you to the Lor]d and now: your servant has listened to what
[you] have said, and I [have written] to my lord [everything that] the man
[wa]nted, [and Eshiyahu ca]me from you and [no] one [gave it to] them. And
behold you knew [about the letters from] Edom (that) I gave to [my] lord [before
sun]set. And [E]shi[yah]u slept [at my house], and he asked for the letter, [but
I didn't gi]ve (it). The King of Judah should know [that w]e cannot send the
[..., and th]is is the evil that Edo[m has done].

From the Israel Museum
This ostracon (potsherd inscribed in ink) was executed by
a professional scribe in Paleo-Hebrew script. It was found in Arad, a frontier
fortress of the Judean monarchy which also served as the administrative center
of the region during the ninth-sixth century BCE. Written in the early sixth
century BCE, this letter is among the earliest epigraphic references to the
Temple in Jerusalem. It is addressed to Elyashib, probably the commander of the
Arad fortress, and was sent, presumably from Jerusalem, by an unknown
subordinate who was in Jerusalem on a mission of inquiry about a certain person.
Elyashib is informed that all is well with the man about whom he had inquired:
the individual is in the "House of God," where he probably found refuge: "To my
lord Elyashib, may the Lord seek your welfare...and as to the matter which you
command me-it is well; he is in the House of God." Elyashib is also asked to
supply some goods to someone named Shemaryahu and to an unknown person referred
to as the "Kerosite." Publications:The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N.
Abrams, Inc., 2005

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