Sunday, March 28, 2010

Inscription of the Day: Yehimilk

The Yehimilk inscription dating to the mid-tenth century B.C.E. was discovered in 1929. It consists of seven lines of text inscribed over the top of a previous pseudo-hieroglypic inscription that was written within registers dividing the lines (Gibson 1982, 17). The language of the inscription is Old Byblian, an early Phoenician dialect used primarily in the city of Byblos.
Yehimilk_DTM line drawing
The text is a royal dedicatory inscription by a king of Byblos. Several similar inscriptions also dating to the tenth century B.C.E. have been found at Byblos – Abibaal, Elibaal, and Shiptibaal. The basic pattern throughout these inscriptions is:
The object which PN king of Byblos, son of PN, king of Byblos built/brought for DN. May DN prolong the days of PN and his years over Byblos. (PN = proper name; DN = deity name)
This pattern was not limited to the inscriptions from Byblos but should be seen as a common formula for dedicatory inscriptions in the Canaanite dialects. The formula has even been found in a seventh century BCE inscription from Ekron, a prominent Philistine city (Gitin 1997).
Yehimilk transcription


1 (This is the) temple which Yehimilk king of Byblos rebuilt. 2 He restored all the ruins of 3 these temples. May Ba’al-shamem and Ba’alat 4 of Byblos and the assembly of the 5 holy gods of Byblos prolong the days of Yehimilk and his years 6 over Byblos. For [he is] a legitimate king and a 7 good king  before the h[oly] gods of Byblos.
The fact that Yehimilk doesn’t give us his lineage (i.e., I am Yehimilk, son of Abibaal, son of . . . ) but stresses that he is a good and legitimate king of Byblos suggests that he is a usurper (like Zakkur in an Aramaic inscription that we’ll get to later).

Gibson, John C. L. 1982. Textbook of Syrian Semitic inscriptions: Volume III: Phoenician Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Gitin, Seymour, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh. 1997. A royal dedicatory inscription from Ekron. Israel Exploration Journal 47, : 1-16.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Famous Footnote 4

The apologist vs. scholar dichotomy has been getting some thoughtful attention lately inspired by Alan Lenzi’s reflections on several theological puff pieces passing as book reviews in the Review of Biblical Literature.

In a very real sense, this is a false dichotomy because no one is ever either fully on one side or the other. All of our thinking is more or less affected by our experiences, education, values, beliefs, agendas, etc. Some discussions of this issue play up the false dichotomy (e.g., Russell McCutcheon’s Critics Not Caretakers).

A balanced philosophical approach to this phenomenon – the conflict between religious experience and rational thought – was recently brought to my attention. It is apparently somewhat famous (or infamous).

Footnote 4 of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s The Halakhic Man (JPS, 1984) contains an extended philosophical discussion of these two fundamentally opposed perspectives. On the one hand, “cognitive man” wants to classify and prove everything based on verifiable evidence. This is the approach preferred by critical scholarship. Sometimes we confuse our religious or philosophical commitments with “verifiable evidence.” Here’s a sample quote from Soloveitchek (not from the footnote but from the main text).

“We must undertake a comparative study of the fundamental and distinctive features of the ontological outlooks of homo religiosus and cognitive man. For only by gaining an insight into the differences and distinctions existing between these two outlooks will we be able to comprehend the nature of halakhic man, the master of talmudic dialectics” (pp. 4-5).

Before I read more, I need to brush up on my philosophy jargon.

Logical Fallacies: Appeal to Tradition

I've decided to start a periodic series on logical fallacies. It's called "Logical Fallacies: How to Argue Like a Fundamentalist and 'Win' Every Time." I'll leave out the subtitle most of the time.

Today's fallacy is the appeal to tradition. In its purest form, it simply means: X is old/traditional, ergo X is better. While not a pure example of such, I found the ongoing comment thread on Art Boulet's recent post to have hints of it from one of the commenters.

In biblical studies, an example of appeal to tradition might be an appeal to theology or an appeal to the divine origin of Scripture. Since this appeal is based on an unverifiable presupposition of the one making the argument, it doesn't really count as public evidence admissible for academic proof. It's a sectarian claim no matter how strongly we might believe it to be true. Here's an example of this sort of reasoning:
The Bible is old, of divine origin, and venerated by generations of faithful Jews and Christians. Therefore the Bible must be true. We will believe the Bible is true unless proven otherwise. The burden of proof is on you to disprove it because so many people have believed it.
And that's a good segue for our next segment in the Logical Fallacies series: The Burden of Proof. I'm also trying to find a name for the fallacy of stringing together assertions without proof and claiming you're right. Minimalists, maximalists, and fundamentalists use that one a lot.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pondering the Qeiyafa Ostracon

After refreshing my amateur paleography skills by revisiting the Gezer Calendar and the Siloam Tunnel inscriptions, I thought I'd have another look at the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon.

So I looked and attempted to transcribe what I could see from both Misgav's and Yardeni's line drawings and the photos from the Hebrew University. Even so, I was still unable to make heads or tails of Qeiyafa. My transcription has many blanks where I was uncertain of the letter and couldn't even hazard a guess.

I set the Qeiyafa ostracon aside again and went looking for information on 'Izbet Sartah, recalling that I was told it would make a better paleographical comparison than Gezer, for example.

The 'Izbet Sartah inscription 
(drawing via

The Qeiyafa discovery is important because of its 10th century dating. But the script appears much less developed than a 10th century inscription like Gezer. The better paleographical analogue is a 12th century text - 'Izbet Sartah. All of that is introduction to this one idle musing. What if the 10th century archaeological context for the ostracon merely provides a terminus ad quem for a possibly earlier text? If Qeiyafa is more like 'Izbet Sartah than Gezer (left to right writing, more primitive letter forms, etc.), then isn't it more likely that Qeiyafa is a 12th or 11th century text? And if that's the case, is it really even a possibility that we could call the language of the text Hebrew? Any thoughts from those of you more learned in paleography than I? 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Genesis Rabbah I,X: The ABCs of Creation

Why was the world created with a B? So asks R. Jonah in Genesis Rabbah I.X. Why was the world created with a word starting with B (Hebrew bere’shit)? If someone asked me that, I would exclaim, “What?! Do you lie awake nights thinking of these things?” But the answer is probably yes – things like this kept students of the Torah in Late Antiquity tossing and turning until they could discuss the question ad infinitum. Here is part of the discussion from Genesis Rabbah I.X.

למה בב׳ להודיעך שהן שני עולמים, ד״א למה נברא בב׳ שהוא לשון ברכה, ולמה לא בא׳ שהוא בלשון ארירה, ד״א למה לא בא׳ שלא ליתן פתחון פה למינים לומר היאך העולם יכול לעמוד והוא נברא בלשון ארירה, אלא אמר הקב״ה הריני בוראו בלשון ברכה והלווי שיעמוד׃
Why (was the world created) with a B? To make known to you that there are two worlds. (The letter B carries the numerical value of 2 in Hebrew. The reference is to this world and the world to come.) Another interpretation: Why was the world created with a B? Because it begins the word “blessing”. And why not with A? Because it begins the word “curse” (in Hebrew). Another interpretation: Why not with A? So that an opening might not be given to the minim (that is, apostates, infidels, or heretics) to say, “How will the world be able to stand when it was created with a letter standing for “curse”? But rather, the Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Behold, I created it with the letter standing for “blessing” and by this association (?) may it stand!
ד״א למה בב׳ מה ב׳ זה יש לו ב׳ עוקצים אחד למעלה ואחד לאחריו, אומרים לו מי בוראך, והוא מראה להם בעוקצו שלמעלה, אומר זה שלמעלה בראני, ומה שמו, והוא מראה להם בעוקצו שלאחריו י״י שמו׃
Another interpretation: Why (was the world created) with a B? Because B has 2 points, one (points) above and one after it. (When) they say to it, “Who created you?”, then it will appear to them with its point that is pointing above (as if) saying, “This one who is above created me.” “And what is his name?” And it will appear to them with its point that is pointing after it (as if saying) the LORD is His name. (Perhaps referring back to 'aleph or A, the first letter of the alphabet that begins the word for God--Elohim--in Gen 1:1)
ר׳ לעזר בר אבינה בשם ר׳ אחא כ״ו דור היה קורא א׳ תיגי לפני הקב״ה, אמר לפניו רבונו שלעולם אני ראשון שלאותיות ולא בראתה עולמך בי אתמהא, אמר לו הקב״ה העולם ומלואו לא נברא אלא בזכות תורה, למחר אני בא ליתן תורתי בסיני ואין אני פותח אלא בך אנכי י״י אלהיך (שמות כ ב)׃
R. Eleazar bar Abinah in the name of R. Aha: (For) twenty-six generations, the one called A argued before the Holy One, blessed be He, saying before Him, “Master of the Universe, I am first among the letters , but you did not create your world with me, how strange!” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “The world and everything in it was only created on account of the merit of the Torah. Tomorrow, I go to give my Torah at Sinai, and I will not open except with you: “I am the Lord your God (Exod. 20:1).
We’ve seen number-sayings before in Genesis Rabbah I.IV. Now we have alphabet-sayings. At least they didn’t get past A and B because that was a lot of text to work through, even though the Hebrew wasn’t necessarily that hard. (They’ll get to more letters on a completely unrelated topic in I.XI.) There are a few odd forms, but with rabbinic Hebrew, it’s usually possible to easily get the gist without fully understanding the morphology. I don’t quite know how to parse ליתן for example. From context, it looks like an infinitive of נתן “to give” but the infinitive in biblical Hebrew is irregular לתת. I still don’t quite know how to explain it, but I know what it means.

Today’s episode on Genesis Rabbah has been brought to you by the letter B and the number 2.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Free ESV iPhone App!

A few days ago I learned that Crossway has released an ESV app for the iPhone. We’d put Olive Tree’s Bible Reader on my wife’s iPhone, but I didn’t really want to pay for additional translations, so it only had ASV, KJV, and NET. More than that, I found it difficult to actually use because of the continuous text layout. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the ESV app has a very easy-to-read elegant text layout and easy-to-use navigation features for quickly flipping to a new passage.

If I had an iPhone or an iPod touch with this app, I would probably stop carrying a Bible to church. If you have an iPhone or an iPod touch, you should check it out!

HT: ESV Blog, Bible Design and Binding, and Art Boulet via Twitter on Mar 16th.

Inscription of the Day: Siloam Tunnel

Very rarely does archeological evidence connect closely with the biblical account. This inscription (if one accepts the dating) may be one of those times.

The Siloam Tunnel inscription dates to around 700 BCE during the reign of Hezekiah. The date is based on paleographical analysis of the inscription which shows features typical of 8th century BCE Hebrew.[1] The inscription seems to commemorate the completion of the Siloam Tunnel connecting the Gihon spring to the pool of Siloam inside Jerusalem, a public work attributed to King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:30 and necessitated by the Assyrians’ impending siege.
2 Chr 32:30 This same Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
The language is very similar to biblical Hebrew, and the spelling (orthography) fits the late 8th century with final but not internal matres (vowel letters). It was found on the wall of the tunnel in 1880.

[הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד [ההצבם מניפם את
הגרזן אש אל רעו ובעוד שלש אמות להנקבה נשמע קל אש ק
רא אל רעו כי היתה זדה בצר מימני . . . ובים ה
נקבה הכו החצבם אש לקרת רעו גרזן על גרזן וילכו
המים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתים ואלף אמה ומא
ת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראש החצבם
(1) The breach.  And this was the record of the breach.  While [the workmen were swinging,] (2) the pick-axe, each man toward his companion, and while there were three cubits to be tunneled, a voice was heard- each man called (3) to his companion because there was a crack in the rock from the right…and on the day of (4) the breach the workers struck, each man to meet his companion, pick-axe against pick-axe.  And the waters flowed (5) from the source to the pool: one thousand and two hundred cubit[s].  And one hundred (6) cubit[s] was the height of the rock over the head of the workmen.
Reference: The line drawing above is from J. Renz and W. Rollig, Handbuch der altehebraischen Epigraphik, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1995.

1 This dating was famously (and foolishly) challenged by J. Rogerson and P. R. Davies (“Was the Siloam Tunnel Built by Hezekiah?” Biblical Archaeologist 59:3 (1993), 138-149) who argued the inscription was Hasmonean. An international dream team of paleographers and philologists (including Jo Ann Hackett, Frank Moore Cross, P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., Ada Yardeni, André Lemaire, Esther Eshel, and Avi Hurvitz) administered a massive smackdown in the pages of BAR a few years later (“Defusing Pseudo-Scholarship: The Siloam Inscription Ain't Hasmonean.” BAR (Mar/Apr 1997), 41-68).

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Elusive Objectivity of the Religious Insider

Or, why religious history written by an insider for insiders is unsuitable for general academic consumption. Let me explain.

I've been reading Lawrence Schiffman's history of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism From Text to Tradition (Ktav, 1991). If it weren't on my prelims reading list, I would've put it down long ago. The simplistic ease with which Schiffman uncritically reports tradition as history raises the question of how well religious insiders can be historical critics of their own faith tradition. The question is not can they or should they because I think they can and they should, but I think all sources need to be evaluated critically, even sacred or semi-sacred texts. There is value in examining your argument and evidence from the perspective of an outsider just to see if your explanation of the data makes sense (HT: NT Pod 21; I'm indebted to Mark Goodacre for this observation). 

It's more than a little ironic that while Schiffman claims to take a critical approach to his sources as a historian (pp. 4-5), his historical account is dominated by an uncritical acceptance of the story of Judaism as told by the Bible and rabbinic sources (refracted somewhat through the lens of contemporary Judaism). For example, the "historical sketch" began on p. 17 narrates the migration of the patriarchs as if it was perfectly reasonable historiography to simply retell the biblical account. As I read, I was almost immediately struck by Schiffman's acceptance of the claim of continuity put forth by Jewish tradition: 
Behind the continuity so often asserted by the tradition there is a complex development that we seek to uncover. The existence of such a history should in no way be taken as a challenge to the affirmations of continuity made by the Jewish tradition. On the contrary, continuity can only be achieved in a tradition which adapts and develops. . . . Because we recognize the underlying continuity we see no reason to avoid the occasional use of the term 'Judaism' to describe the religion of the Hebrew Bible, the earliest stage in the history of Judaism." (p. 3) 
If anything, recent research on Israelite religion has concluded it was nothing like what we recognize now as Judaism. Personally, I would hesitate to use the term Judaism at all before Ezra-Nehemiah.

Now we all have areas where in practice we diverge from our stated methodological principles, but the juxtaposition of statements like "before any source can be used, it must be approached critically, and the extent of its reliability must be carefully evaluated" (p. 5) with later statements like "the Romans saw at least some of the rabbis, most notably Yohanan ben Zakkai, as leaders with whom they could deal" (p. 168) reveals a striking methodological incongruity. Rather than critically evaluating his sources, Schiffman appears to be an apologist for the traditional model of the development of Judaism as presented by the classical sources. More current research on tannaitic Judaism suggests tannaitic influence was historically much less normative and dominant before the Babylonian Talmud than the sages themselves claim. In other words, the only evidence we have of their power and influence comes from the texts they wrote telling us about their power and influence.

But Schiffman appears unaware of any uncertainty regarding the power the rabbis claimed for themselves. The prominence of the 1st century sages as leaders of the Jewish community and representatives to Rome is reported as historical fact (pp. 168-169). In the quote above, is Schiffman uncritically accepting the rabbinic legend about b. Zakkai and Vespasian as a historical fact? The way b. Zakkai is mentioned by name leads me to suspect his source is the legend found in Avot d'R. Natan ch. 4 (pp. 35-37 in Goldin's translation, Yale, 1955.) 

The legend, in brief: Yohanan b. Zakkai has himself smuggled out of besieged Jerusalem in a coffin and carried to Vespasian. When he jumps out of the coffin, Vespasian recognizes him as the renowned Yohanan b. Zakkai and offers to give him whatever he wants. Ben Zakkai replies that all he really wants is Yavneh so he can have a place to teach his disciples, establish a prayer house, and perform all the commandments. Vespasian gives him permission, and the school at Yavneh is traditionally understood as the starting point of rabbinic Judaism.

That I have to guess at what his source was brings out the other major flaw with this work--the total absence of direct citation of either primary or secondary sources. Each chapter has a bibliography, but the lack of documentation makes this book a poor choice for scholarly use. It is difficult to assess his critical use of sources when he rarely mentions where he's getting his information. Now I doubt this text was ever intended for a scholarly audience. It appears to be a popular distilling of Schiffman's expertise on second temple and rabbinic Judaism published for a Jewish audience by a Jewish press.

So is it unreasonable to expect a religious insider writing for his co-religionists to attempt some semblance of objective critical evaluation of his source material?

At any rate, I will be recommending the removal of this book from our PhD reading list. It is not valuable for scholarly work on ancient Judaism because of its lack of documentation and interaction with primary and secondary literature and his oversimplified presentation of the development of Judaism, heavily influenced by the tradition which is itself the object of study.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Judaism is like Tofu

Or so says Jordan Rosenblum, rabbinics specialist and food guru in the UW Hebrew & Semitic Studies department.

"Tofu has texture, texture is the tradition. Then you have the flavor. Put [the tofu] into the pan and the flavor ... of a time and location interacts with the texture of tradition. We can't say there's one Judaism. The tradition takes on the flavor of the location."

I think this is a great quote and a great analogy. I haven’t verified its accuracy with the man himself, but it lines up nicely with the podcast on Hellenistic Judaism that I listened to today by Michael Satlow (From Israelite to Jew Episode 14).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Comments on the Gezer Calendar Script

In my previous post on the Gezer Calendar inscription, I didn’t go into too much detail about the script in which it was written. That’s because I’m not really trained as a paleographer. I’m a biblical studies person who dabbles in Northwest Semitic inscriptions. I enjoy epigraphy and paleography, but I’ve never had a chance to study with a specialist in Semitic inscriptions and scripts.

In comments on the previous post, I was asked whether the Gezer Calendar shows any evidence of being a distinctly Hebrew script (i.e., not Phoenician). Here I offer my non-specialist evaluation of the script. I rely heavily on Yardeni and Cross for my quasi-expertise.

Yardeni (1997, 15) identifies the script as Phoenician. Gibson (1971, 1) calls it the “Old Hebrew script” but goes on to point out close parallels with characters from Old Byblian texts (i.e. Phoenician). Since the Phoenician script served as an international script until the 8th century BCE (Yardeni 1997, 15), a Hebrew inscription in Phoenician script would not be unusual.

There is some debate over whether the language of the text is Hebrew or Phoenician. The dividing line between the two languages is not very distinct at this stage. An important feature identifying the language of the inscription as Hebrew is the reconstruction of {h} in the name in the margin, making a Yahwistic theophoric element. One isogloss indicating a northern Hebrew dialect is the diphthong reduction with קץ .Cross believes Gezer shows initial tendencies marking the emergent Hebrew script (1980, 14).

The identification of the script as Phoenician is an indicator of the age of the inscription, placing it earlier than the Hebrew texts of the mid to late 9th century BCE. According to Yardeni (1997, 17), Hebrew inscriptions from the later time period show tendencies distinct from the Phoenician script such as a cursive leftward curve to the long downstrokes. In the Gezer script, the downstrokes on the “long-legged” letters tend to be straight. However, the Gezer script also has other features which Yardeni identifies as Hebrew tendencies including the waw with a concave top (though inconsistent in this text) and the x-shaped taw (ibid.). The elongated vertical strokes of ‘aleph, waw, kaph, mem, and resh are also rudimentary features of Hebrew script (Cross 1980, 14). The abcedary found at Tell Zayit exhibits similar archaic features and has also been identified as Hebrew and dated to the mid-10th century.

The paleographical evidence for dating the Gezer Calendar to the 10th century is strong. The ‘aleph, waw, and zayin are more advanced than 11th century, but the script lacks the cursive tendency indicative of Hebrew scripts of the 9th century and later (Cross 1980, 14, 18 n. 16).

It may be best to identify the Gezer script as transitional Hebrew between the standard Phoenician from the 10th century and the earliest Hebrew from a century later since it shows features of both scripts.


Cross, Frank Moore. 1980. “Newly Found Inscriptions in Old Canaanite and Early Phoenician Scripts.” BASOR 238: 1-20.

Gibson, John C. L. 1971. Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions. Vol. 1: Hebrew and Moabite Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon.

Yardeni, Ada. 1997. The Book of Hebrew Script. Jerusalem: Carta.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Filtering the Data

I’ve been catching up on episodes of the NT Pod over the past week or so. I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed Mark’s series on the Synoptic Problem, especially the more complete picture provided through the extended episodes. I’ve come to realize that I’m a Hebrew Bible person primarily because it’s the fountainhead for all later biblical interpretation, and what really interests me is the history of interpretation. To that end, I’m trying to be a well-rounded generalist in Second Temple Judaism, New Testament, and classical Judaism.

One thing struck me out of Mark’s discussion of the Synoptic Problem that I think is relevant for many many many issues in biblical studies. He talked about how most NT introductions never really present the student with the problem when they discuss the Synoptic Problem. They start with one of the solutions and filter all the pertinent data through the solution. (By the by, Mark, I’m not a NT expert but you’ve convinced me in your case against Q anyway.)

Filtering the data seems to be a common way for unexamined consensus positions to get passed on intact to the next generation of scholars. We all take away a certain perspective on the biblical data from our teachers. That perspective often works like a filter preventing us from seeing the data in a fresh way. I try to be as aware as possible of my own filters, or rather, I try to be aware of when a particular perspective or presupposition is coloring how I interpret the data. It’s hard to do, but it might be a good exercise for us all to think through how we might be filtering the data when we read the Bible or study any particular problem in biblical studies.

I can think of two perspectives that I’ve gained from my teachers that color how I approach my scholarship. First, in Qumran studies, I first learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls from a non-consensus scholar, so it would probably take nothing short of an angel from heaven revealing to me that Essenes did, in fact, live at Qumran and compose the sectarian scrolls there for me to accept the validity of that consensus. Second, in biblical studies, I learned to keep theological conclusions about the truth claims of the text from overrunning what the text itself actually says. That is, I learned to identify it when I or any other interpreter has come to the text peering through a particular theological lens. The result is that I am not a fan of unexamined consensus positions, and I draw a hard line between apologetics and critical scholarship.

Well, have you thought about it? What are your filters that affect how you read the Bible? Do you think of them as strengths or weaknesses?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Inscription of the Day: The Gezer Calendar

The Gezer Calendar is a Hebrew inscription on limestone found at excavations at Gezer in 1908 by R.A.S. Macalister. (Technically, a visitor to his excavation found it sitting atop his trash heap. Macalister was not that great of an archaeologist.) It is one of the earliest Hebrew inscriptions, dating to the late 10th century BCE (ca. 925 BCE). I made the line drawing below in 2007 for a class on Hebrew/Canaanite inscriptions.

  ירחו אסף
ירחו זרע
ירחו לקש
ירחו עצד פשת
ירחו קצר שערם
ירח קצר וכל
ירחו זמר
ירח קץ

Its (two) months of harvest.
Its (two) months of sowing.
Its (two) months of late growth.
Its month of cutting flax
Its month of barley harvest.
Its month of harvest and measuring.
Its (two) months of pruning.
Its month of summer (fruit).

What kind of a text is this? An agricultural calendar? A school text? Is it poetry? I like to think of it as poetry because of the assonance and terse lines, but it's one odd poem if that's the case. There are two main issues with this inscription besides figuring out what it actually means.

First, the waw on ירחו is unusual. It likely reflects a 3ms suffix on a dual noun (Albright 1943). It can't be singular because the waw has to be consonantal at this stage of Hebrew. Other explanations have been offered such as waw as a case ending (Tropper 1993). Vocalization is uncertain. In Tiberian, I would vocalize it as יַרְחָיו.

The other primary uncertainty with this inscription is the phrase עצד פשת. Most likely it says “cutting flax” but עצד is a rare root in Hebrew. The main problem is that if the activities are in sequence, then the flax harvest would be out of place. Attempts to find another meaning for פשת, however, have been less than convincing (Dobbs-Allsopp 2005, 161).

This is an important inscription for the development of Hebrew as a written language. Oh, and one more thing, the last line is usually read as a personal name, perhaps the scribe or poet or whatever (in case you were wondering).

References & Resources
Albright, W. F. 1943. “The Gezer Calendar.” BASOR 92: 16-26.
Ahituv, Shmuel. 2008. Echoes from the Past: Hebrew and Cognate Inscriptions from the Biblical Period. Carta.
Cross, Frank Moore, Jr. and David Noel Freedman. 1952. Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic Evidence. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
Cross, Frank Moore. 1980. “Newly Found Inscriptions in Old Canaanite and Early Phoenician Scripts.” BASOR 238: 1-20.
Dobbs-Allsopp, F. W., et. al. 2005. Hebrew Inscriptions: Texts from the Biblical Period of the Monarchy with Concordance. Yale University Press.
Gibson, John C. L. 1971. Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions. Vol. 1: Hebrew and Moabite Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon.
Lidzbarski, Mark, et. al. 1909. “An Old Hebrew Calendar-Inscription from Gezer.” PEFQ.
Tropper, Josef. 1993. “Nominativ Dual *yarihau im Gezer-Kalendar.” ZAH 6/2: 228-231.
Yardeni, Ada. 1997. The Book of Hebrew Script. Jerusalem: Carta.

Biblia Hebraica: Top 5 Threads from 2009

My two year blog anniversary came and went a month ago. In recognition of that event, I’m posting links to some favorite posts from 2009. These are either my favorites, popular posts with good reader feedback, or big topics in biblioblogdom from last year. I had 164 posts, so this is just a small sampling.

1. Genesis Rabbah

Thoughts on Intertextuality

Creation in Rabbinic Literature

The Pre-Existent Torah

First Things First

Identifying Insertions in Rabbinic Texts

Which Came First?

2. Apologetics and Critical Scholarship

Apologetics, Logic, and Critical Bible Scholarship

Faith & Intellectual Honesty

Apologists & Bible Scholars

What Does It Mean to be “Critical”?

Religion and Biblical Exegesis

Go Where the Evidence Leads

3. Bizarre Bible Stories

Judges 17-18: Micah the Levite, His Shrine, and the Tribe of Dan

Judges 19-21: The Levite and His Concubine and Its Aftermath

Exodus 4:24-26: YHWH Shows Up to Kill Moses

2 Kings 2:23-24: Elisha and the Bears

4. Essenes, Qumran, and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Curiouser and Curiouser … No Essenes?

Challenging the Essene Hypothesis

Shockwaves Blast Qumran Consensus

Bringing the DSS to Life in MN

5. Book Reviews

Legal Revision and Religious Renewal in Ancient Israel

Alter: Book of Psalms

NLT Mosaic

But I thought the world was only 10,000 years old

There was an interesting report earlier this week that Czech scientists discovered a 150,000 year old human settlement in northern Iraq. I’m sure there’s some way to harmonize that with young earth theories that count the age of the earth only back 6,000-10,000 years.
An expedition of Czech archaeologists has found remains of an about 150,000-year-old prehistoric settlement in Arbil, north Iraq, which has been the so far oldest uncovered in this part of northern Mesopotamia, team head Karel Novacek told reporters Friday.