Friday, September 28, 2007

Archaeology Series 20:Tiglath-pileser III inscriptions

REIGN: Tiglath-pileser III reigned from 745-727 BCE


The third year of Nabu-nasir, king of Babylon: Tiglath-pileser III ascended the throne of Assyria. In that same year he went down to Akkad, plundered Rabbilu and Hamranu, and abducted the gods of Shapazza.

Neo-Babylonian Chronicle 1.
ANET 282 In the subsequent course of my campaign, I received the tribute of the kings...Azriau the Judahite

COS 2, 285, 2.117A
Calah Annals ca. 738-37
I received the tribute of...Rezin, the Damascene, Menahem, the Samarian, Hiram, the Tyrian....

COS 2, 286, 2.117A
Calah Annals
Rezin the Damascene...With the blood of his warriors I dyed a reddish hue the river....That one (Rezin) in order to save his life, fled alone; and he entered the gate of his city like a mongoose. I impaled alive his chief ministers....I confined him like a bird in a cage. His gardens...orchards without number I cut down; I did not leave a single one.
[16] districts of Bit-Humri (Israel) I leveled to the ground.

COS 2, 287, 2.117B
The Iran Stela ca. 739-38
...Rezin, the Damascene, Menahem, the Samarian, Tuba'il, the Tyrian, etc...I imposed on them tribute of silver, gold, tin, iron, elephant hides, elephant tusks (ivory), blue-purple and red-purple garments, multi-colored garments, camels, and she-camels.

COS 2, 288, 2.117C
Summary Inscription ca. 731
I carried off to Assyria the land of Bit-Humria (Israel), [its] auxiliary [army]...all of its people,...[I killed] Pekah, their king, and I installed Hoshea [as king] over them. I received from them 10 talents of gold, x talents of silver, [with] their [possessions] and [I car]ried them [to Assyria].

COS 2, 289, 2.117D
Summary Inscription
I received the tribute of...Sanipu, Ammonite, Salamanu, Moabite,...Mitinti, the Askhelonite, Jehoahaz, the Judahite [= Ahaz]

COS 2, 291, 2.117F
Summary Inscription 9-10
The wide [land of Bit]-Haza'ili (Aram-Damascus) in its entirety, from Mount [Leb]anon as far as the city of Gilea[d], Abel...[on the bor]der of Bit-Humria (Israel) I annexed to Assyria. [I placed] my eunuch [over them as governor].

COS 2, 292
Summary Inscription 13, 2.117G
[The land of Bit-Humria (Israel)], all [of whose] cities I leveled [to the ground] in my former campaigns...I plundered its livestock, and I spared only (isolated) Samaria. [I/they overthrew Pek]ah their king.
The second year [of Nabu-mukin-zeri]: Tiglath-pileser III ascended the throne in Babylon. The second year: Tiglath-pileser III died in the month Tebet For eighteen years Tiglath-pileser III ruled Akkad and Assyria. For two of these years he ruled in Akkad. Neo-Babylonian Chronicle 1:24-26
2 Kings 15:19; 15:29; 16:9; 1 Chron. 5:26; 2 Chron 28:20

Archaeology Series 19: Inscriptions of Adad Nirari III

REIGN: Adad Nirari III reigned from 811 to 783 BCE


Tell Al Rimah Stela of Adad-Nirari III 797 BCE
COS 2.114F, p. 276
I received the tribute of Joash the Samarian, of the Tyrian (ruler), and of the Sidonian (ruler).
Calah Slab of Adad-Nirari III

COS 2, 276, 2.114G
I subdued from the bank of the Euphrates, the land of Hatti, the land of Amurru in its entirety, the land of Tyre, the land of Sidon, the land of Israel, the land of Edom, the land of Philistia, as far as the great sea in the west. I imposed tax and tribute on them.

Archaeology series 18: More Shalmanaer III inscriptions(pt 3)

REIGN: c. 859-824 BCE


Kurba'il Statue of Shalmaneser III 839-838 BCE
COS 2.113E, p. 268

At that time [841], I received the tribute of the Tyrians, the Sidonians, and Jehu, the man of Bit-Humri (Omri).

Calah Bulls of Shalmaneser III 841 BCE
COS 2.113C, p. 2.267

At that time, I received the tribute of the Tyrians and the Sidonians, and of Jehu, man of Bit-Humri.

Marble Slab inscription of Shalmaneser III 839 BCE
COS 2.113D, p. 268
[In 841] I marched to the mountains of Ba'li-ra'si at the side of the sea and opposite Tyre. I erected a statue of my royalty there. I received the tribute of Ba'al-manzer, the Tyrian, and of Jehu, the man of Bit-Humri. (Bit-Humri=House of Omri)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Archaeology Series 17:Hazael King of Syria

king hazael of syria
DATE: 842-805 BCE


Hazael (Hebrew Hazael, meaning "God has seen") was a court official and later an Aramean king who appeared in the Bible. He was first referred to by name in 1 Kings 19 when God told the prophet Elijah to anoint him king over Syria.

Years after this, the Syrian king
Hadadezer was ill and sent his court official Hazael with gifts to Elijah's successor Elisha. Elisha asked Hazael to tell Hadadezer that he would recover, but he revealed to Hazael that the king would die. The day after he returned to Hadadezer in Damascus, Hazael suffocated him and seized power himself.

During his approximately 37-year reign (c. 842 BC-805 BC), King Hazael led the Arameans in battle against the forces of King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah. After defeating them at Ramoth-Gilead, Hazael repelled two attacks by the Assyrians, seized Israelite territory east of the Jordan, the Philistine city of Gath, and sought to take Jerusalem as well (2 Kings 12:17). A monumental Aramaic inscription discovered at Tel Dan is seen by most scholars as having being erected by Hazael, after he defeated the Kings of Israel and Judah. Recent excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath have revealed dramatic evidence of the siege and subsequent conquest of Gath by Hazael. King Joash of Judah forestalled Hazael's invasion by bribing him with treasure from the royal palace and temple, after which he disappears from the Biblical account.
(1 Kings 19:15, 17; 2 Kings 8:7-15, 28-29; 9:14-15; 10:32-33; 12:17-18; 13:3, 22, 24,25; Amos 1:4).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Archaeology Series 16: Esarhaddon reference to King Manasseh and others

REIGN: 681-669 BCE


Esarhaddon's Syro-Palestinian Campaign (681-669 B.C.)

I called out the kings of the Hatti-land and the Trans-Euphrates area; Ba'al, king of Tyre, Manasseh, king of Judah, Qaushgabri, king of Edom, Musuri, King of Moab, Sil-Bel, king of Gaza, Metinti, king of Ashkelon, Ikausu, king of Ekron, Milki-ashapa, king of Gebal, Matan-ba'al, king of Arvad, Abi-ba'al, king of Samsimuruna, Pudu-il, king of Beth-Ammon, Ahi-milki, king of Ashdod – 12 kings of the sea coast. Ekishtura, king of Edi'il (Idalion), Pilagura, king of Kitrusi (Chytrus), Kisu, king of Sillu'a (Soli), Ituandar, king of Pappa (Paphos), Erisu, king of Silli, Damasu, king of Kuri (Curium), Atmesu, king of Tamesi, Damusi, king of Qartihadasti, Unasagusu, king of Ledir (Ledra), Bosusu, king of Nuria – 10 kings of Iadnana (Cyprus), an island; – a total of 22 kings of the Hatti-land, the seashore and the island. I sent all of these to drag with pain and difficulty to Nineveh, the city of my dominion, as supplies needed for my palace, big beams, long posts and trimmed planks of cedar and cypress wood, products of the Sirara and Lebanon mountains, where for long they had grown tall and thick; also from their place of origin in the mountains the forms of winged bulls and colossi made of ashnan-stone, of breccia both large and fine grained, of yellow limestone, of pyrites.


*Esarhaddon was a king of Assyria who reigned 681 BC-669 BC, the youngest son of Sennacherib and the Aramean queen Naqi'a (Zakitu), Sennacherib's second wife.

*Invaded Egypt


Click on the image for higher resolution

Archaeology Series 15: Lachish letters

*Lachish (Hebrew: לכיש‎) was a town located in the Shephelah, thirty miles South West of Jerusalem, 15 Miles West of Hebron (Joshua 10:3, 5; 12:11).
*The Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites (Josh. 10:31-33), but the territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah (15:39).
*Under Rehoboam, it became the second most important city of the kingdom of Judah. In 701 BC, during the revolt of king Hezekiah against Assyria, it was captured by Sennacherib despite determined resistance. The town later reverted to Judaean control, only to fall to Nebuchadnezzar in his campaign against Judah (586 BC).
*During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Lachish was identified with Tell el-Hesi from a cuneiform tablet found there (EA 333).

The Lachish Letters

*First excavated by James Starkey in 1932-1938

*18 ostraca found in 1935

*3 found in 1938

*Approximate Date:589/588 BCE

Letter 1

From the British Museum:
Lachish Letter I
A letter written on a piece of pottery
Israelite, 586 BCFrom Lachish (modern Tell ed-Duweir), Israel

This is one of a group of letters written on ostraka (pot sherds) found near the main gate of ancient Lachish (modern Tell ed-Duweir) in a burnt layer associated with the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 586 BC. It is written in ink in alphabetic Hebrew, and reads:

Gemaryahu, son of Hissilyahu
Yaazanyahu, son of TobshillemHageb,
son of Yaazanyahu Mibtahyahu,
son of Yirmeyahu Mattanyahu,
son of Neryahu

Presumably this list had some administrative function. Though several of the names occur in the Old Testament, it cannot be proved that the same individuals are intended.

The letters were received by Ya’osh, the military governor of Lachish, from Hosha’yahu, a subordinate officer in charge of a military outpost during the invasion by the Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar which ended in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC.

Subsequently only Azekah, about 18 miles south west of Jerusalem, and Lachish itself, about 12 miles further on, remained in Judean hands, until they too fell. There followed a large-scale deportation of a part of Judah's population. Thus began the exile, a period of great significance for the Jews spiritually, and one which would profoundly influence later religious ideology and teaching.

Letter 2

This letter came from an officer named Hosha'yahu who was in charge of a military outpost. He was writing to Ya'osh, military commander at Lachish, as the situation worsened.

'To my lord Ya'osh. May Yahweh cause my lord to hear the news of peace, even now, even now. Who is your servant but a dog that my lord should remember his servant?'
Abother translation:
To my lord Jaush: May the Lord (Yhwh i.e., Jehovah) soon let my lord hear pleasant tidings! Who am I, thy slave, a dog, that thou hast remembered me? May the Lord investigate (and punish me) if I have spoken a thing, of which I did not even know.

*Letter 3


Your servant Hoshiyahu was sent to inform my lord Yo'ash. May Yahweh cause my lord to hear news of peace. But now you have sent a letter; and my lord did not instruct your servant regarding the letter that you sent to your servant yesterday evening, though your servant's heart has been sick since you wrote your servant. And my lord said, "Don't you understand? Call a scribe." As Yahweh lives, no one has ever had to call a scribe for me. And furthermore, for any scribe who might have come to me, I did not call him, nor would I give anything at all for him. It has been reported to your servant, saying, "The commander of the army, Koniyahu son of Elnathan, has arrived in order to go down to Egypt. And


regarding Hodoyahu son of Ahiyahu and his men, he has sent to obtain . . . from him." And as for the letter of Tobiyahu, the king's servant, which came to Shallum son of Yaddua through the prophet saying, "Beware!"—your servant has sent this to my lord.

Pardee, Dennis. Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Letters. SBL Sources for Biblical Studies 15. Chico, Calif.: Scholars, 1982. P-84-85

Letter 4

May the Lord soon let my lord hear good tidings!
I have carried out all the instructions you have sent me, and have recorded on the page all that you ordered me. You instructed me also about the rest house, but there is nobody there. And Shemaiah has taken Semachiah and brought him up to the city (Jerusalem), and I will write and find out where he is. Because if on his rounds (turnings) he had inspected, he would have known that we are watching for the signal-stations of Lachish, according to all the signals you are giving, because we cannot see the signals of Azekah.
Trans: Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 5

May the Lord soon let my [lord] hear good and pleasant tidings!
Who am I, thy slave, a dog, that thou [hast s]ent me ....iah's le[tters ?] [And now] I have returned the letters to thee.
May the Lord tell thee what has [happenned]! Who am I, that I should curse the king's seed in (the name of) the Lord?
Trans: Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew
Letter 6
To my lord Jaush. May the Lord let (us) see thee in prosperity! Who am I, thy slave, a dog, that thou hast sent me the [lett]er of the King and the letters of the offic[ers, (The same word here is translated 'princes' in Jeremiah 38:4, Dr. J. W. Jack) say]ing: "Read, I pray thee, and (thou wilt) see (that) the words of the [prophet] are not good, (liable) to loosen ("weaken" suggested by Dr. J. W. Jack) the hands, [to make] sink the hands of the coun[try and] the city." (Dr. J. W. Jack translates: "the hands of the m[en in the] city.") My lord, wilt thou not write to [them saying]: "Why should ye do thus: . . . ?"
. . . The Lord thy God liveth, and my l[or]d liveth (to punish) if thy slave has read the letter or got [anyone] to rea[d the letter or s]een [anything of it.]
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 7 to 15

Letters VII and VIII are not well preserved. The handwriting on VIII resembles Letter I. Letter IX is somewhat similar to Letter V. Letters X to XV are very fragmentary.
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 16

Letter XVI is also only a broken fragment. However, line 5 supplies us with just a portion of the prophet's name, thus:
[. . . . i]ah the prophet.
This is not, however, any great help in identifying the prophet. So many names at that time concluded with "iah." There was Urijah the prophet (Jeremiah 26:20-23); Hananiah the prophet (Jeremiah 28), and Jeremiah himself.
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 17
Letter XVII, another tiny fragment, contains a few letters out of three lines of the letter. Line 3 gives us just the name:
[. . . . Je]remiah [. . . .]
It is impossible now to know whether this was Jeremiah the prophet, or some other Jeremiah.
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 18
Letter XVIII gives a few words, which may have been a postscript to Letter VI. It states:
This evening, [when cometh Tob]shillem, (I) shall send thy letter up to the city (i.e., Jerusalem).
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

*Biblical Archaeology Review Article

2005 titled, “Why Lachish Matters.”

The ostracon (inscribed potsherd) provides poignant testimony to the last days of Lachish. In perhaps his most famous discovery, James Starkey uncovered 21 inscribed sherds, known now as the Lachish Letters, 18 of them in a guardroom of the city gate. Excavator Ussishkin, following Olga Tufnell, believes the sherds are copies of letters sent from Lachish to Jerusalem. The letters date to the reign of Judah’s last king, Zedekiah, and record Judah’s increasingly desperate situation in the face of the Babylonian army led by Nebuchadnezzar. In Lachish Letter IV, a soldier writes to his commander, “We are watching for the beacons of Lachish ... we cannot see [the beacons from] Azekah.” Jeremiah 34:7 records that Lachish and Azekah were the last Judahite strongholds to fall to the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar razed Lachish and Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. Judah’s second most important city never regained its former importance.

Monday, September 24, 2007

King Lists

King Lists

Assyrian kings

Kings of Babylon

Rulers of Egypt

Israel and Judah

Archaeology Series 14: Cyrus Cylinder

When Cyrus captured Babylon in 538 B.C., he decreed: "All the kingdoms of the earth has the Lord, the God of the heavens given to me, and he has appointed me to rebuild for Him a temple in Jerusalem which is Judaea - whoever among you from all His people - the Lord his God is with him and he may go up" (II Chronicles 36:23; cf. Ezra 1:2-3). Thus, his own inscription confirms the Biblical record, proclaiming: "I returned to the sacred cities ... the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations." The text is still incomplete, but composed of two fragments, the larger one belonging to the British Museum, the smaller one to the Yale Babylonian Collection. The two are joined together in this plaster cast.

Yale Library

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

Archaeology Series 12:The Kurkh monolith of Shalmanasser III

The Kurkh monolith


*Dated to 853 BCE

The Kurkh Monolith is an Assyrian document that contains a description of the Battle of Qarqar at the end. The Monolith stands some 2.2 metres tall, and roughly covers years one through six of the reign of Assyrian king Shalmaneser III, although the fifth year is missing.

The Monolith mainly deals with campaigns Shalmaneser made in western Mesopotamia and Syria, fighting extensively with the countries of Bit Adini and Carchemish. At the end of the Monolith comes the account of the Battle of Qarqar, where an alliance of twelve kings fought against Shalmaneser at the Syrian city of Qarqar. This alliance, comprising eleven kings, was led by Irhuleni of Hamath and Hadadezer of Damascus, with a considerable force led by King Ahab of Israel. The Monolith is also the first time that the Arabs make an appearance in world history, fielding a contingent containing camels led by King Gindibu.


Kurkh Monolith of Shalmaneser III 853 BCE
COS 2.113A, pp. 263-264

I approached the city of Qarqar. I razed, destroyed and burned the city of Qarqar , his royal city. 1,200 chariots, 1,200 cavalry, and 20,000 troops of Hadad-ezer of Damascus; 700 chariots, 700 cavalry, 10,000 troops of Irhuleni, the Hamathite; 2,000 chariots, and 10,000 troops of Ahab, the Israelite; 500 troops of Byblos; 1,000 troops of Egypt; 10 chariots and 10,000 troops of the land of Irqanatu; 200 troops of Matinu-ba'al of the city of Arvad; 200 troops of the land of Usanatu; 30 chariots and X,000 troops of Adon-ba'al of the land of Shianu, 1,000 camels of Gindibu of Arabia; X hundred troops of Ba'asa, the man of Bit ruhubi, the Ammonite--these twelve kings he took as his allies....

I decisively defeated them from the city of Qarqar to the city of Gilzau. I felled with the sword 14,000 troops, their fighting men. Like Adad, I rained down upon them a devastating flood. I spread out their corpses and I filled the plain. I felled with the sword their extensive troops. I made their blood flow in the wadis. The field was too small for laying flat their bodies; the broad countryside had been consumed in burying them. I blocked the Orontes River with their corpses as with a causeway. In the midst of this battle I took away from them chariots, cavalry, and teams of horses.

Archaeology Series 11: The two silver Scrolls

Several seasons of excavation were carried out between 1975 and 1995 on Ketef Hinnom (Hebrew for "shoulder of Hinnom") a hill overlooking the Hinnom Valley, southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem. In the area next to St. Andrew's Church, finds dating from the Iron Age to the Ottoman period were uncovered.

The major discovery of the Ketef Hinnom excavations were several rock-hewn burial caves dating from the end of the First Temple period (7th century BCE), which contained an abundance of small artifacts, though the caves had been plundered and damaged in the past. The burial chambers have wide rock-cut benches, some with a raised headrest, on which bodies were laid. Space hewn beneath the benches served as repositories of bones for secondary burial, making room for burial of other family members.

One of the larger tombs, which probably belonged to a wealthy family, was found almost intact, with over a thousand objects in it: many small pottery vessels; artifacts of iron and bronze including arrowheads, needles and pins; bone and ivory objects; glass bottles; and jewelry, including earrings of gold and silver. The tomb was in use for several generations towards the end of the First Temple period and for some time after the destruction of 587-6 BCE.

The most important of all the objects found in this tomb are two small silver scrolls. They were somewhat damaged - small wonder, since they were placed in the tomb in the 7th century BCE. Carefully unrolled by experts at the Israel Museum laboratories, they were found to be covered with ancient Hebrew script on the obverse, which was deciphered with some difficulty.

The larger of the two plaques measures 97 x 27 mm., the smaller only 39 x 11 mm. The larger plaque contains 18 lines of writing, mostly legible. Both plaques contain benediction formulas in paleo-Hebrew script, almost identical to the biblical Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26.

This biblical text, dated to the 7th century BCE, is the oldest known to date and pre-dates the texts found in the Dead Sea area by about 500 years. The word yhwh (the name of the Lord in Hebrew) appears in writing for the first time ever. The benediction quoted from the Book of Numbers was recited by the Temple priests when blessing the congregation; here it is found in writing and for individual use. The tiny silver scrolls were probably worn as amulets around the neck.
The excavations were directed by G. Barkay on behalf of Tel Aviv University.

Num 6:22 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 6:23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel: ye shall say unto them,
Num 6:24 Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee:
Num 6:25 Jehovah make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
Num 6:26 Jehovah lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Num 6:27 so shall they put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.