SURPRISE!! Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription Already Being Used to Support the Historicity of David

The following is a response to recent reports of an inscription found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, by Dr. Hector Avalos, Iowa State University:
I’ve seen this so many times, I could write a manual. An interesting inscription or item is found that derives from ancient Israel. What soon follows is some announcement that this item is “the earliest” or “the best” example of X--- or, better yet, “definitive proof of” the historicity of some biblical person or event.

And so it is the case with the recent reports of an inscription found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site in the Elah valley of Israel dating to around 1000 BCE, and so around the presumed time of David. Discovery of the inscription was already announced in 2008, but only now has a “decipherment” been announced by Dr. Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa.

Over at Ancient Hebrew Poetry, John Hobbins seemingly has already reconstructed a whole Davidic Kingdom on the basis of an inscription that does not even mention David. He tells us:
Nonetheless, given the relatively certain aspects of the inscription’s contents and the archaeological context in which the inscription was found, it is already difficult to avoid the conclusion that the kingdom of David – or some equivalent entity we would have to invent were it not for the fact that 1-2 Samuel preserves traditions whose basic outline is compatible with everything we know from the archaeological record - possessed a defensive infrastructure capable of giving the powerful Philistine city-states on its western border a run for their money. The balance of probability now rests with a hypothesis of that kind. The minimalist theses of a Davies and the skeptical theses of a Finkelstein now seem like so much ancient history.
But how certain are the contents of this inscription? Without having to know Hebrew or the finer points of Northwest Semitic epigraphy, we can detect the actual level of uncertainty just by comparing these translations:

A. Translation on John Hobbins’ website:

1 Do not do [anything bad?], and serve [personal name?]

2 ruler of [geographical name?] . . . ruler . . .

3 [geographical names?] . . .

4 [unclear] and wreak judgment on YSD king of Gath . . .

5 seren of G[aza? . . .] [unclear] . . .

B. Translation “provided by the University of Haifa”:

1 you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord]. 

2 Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an] 

3 [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and] 

4 the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king. 

5 Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger

First, notice THERE IS NO DAVID mentioned anywhere in this inscription. Judging by translation A, which mentions Gath, we could equally be exuberant that Assyrian historical claims have been amply confirmed by this inscription because the records (ca. 712/711 BCE) of Sargon, the Assyrian king, mention Gath. Hooray for Assyrian culture and religion!!!

Notice also how much difference a noun and a verb can make.

Translation A has a noun, the equivalent of the (Masoretic) Hebrew SHOPHET, and so translated as “ruler” (often translated as “judge” in the Bible). Translation B has an imperative verb commanding someone to “judge X.” But where are the partially reconstructed “slave” and “widow” of Translation B in Translation A?

Since the inscription appears to be in Hebrew (rather than in Phoenician or some other Canaanite dialect), it would at least confirm that Hebrew was being written at this time. But that is about all it would confirm until we have a better handle on what it actually says. As we can see, the translations alone tell you that this is not yet a settled issue.

Otherwise, it is like arguing that we have just confirmed the historicity of Gilgamesh because we found a fragment of the epic of Gilgamesh in Israel (and we have found such a thing).

And how certain is the archaeological context? I agree that we have much more data than for many other excavations (including some Carbon 14 dates). See the report by Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures.

Yet, the archaeology is also not completely without dispute. For those who do not have access to the latest journals, note the abstract of Yehuda Dagan’s article in Tel Aviv (Volume 36, Number 1, June 2009 , pp. 68-81[14]), a well-respected journal:
“The excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa have attracted attention recently following the discovery of a city gate and the proposals of the excavators that it be dated to the 10th century BCE and identified with biblical Sha'arayim. Based on my survey of the site, I suggest an alternative settlement history and a different interpretation of the construction stages of the circumference wall. I also propose an alternative identification of the biblical city of Sha'arayim.”
From my experience, few things are ever definitively settled in the archaeology or epigraphy of ancient Israel. Accordingly, and as I have done with previous finds, I urge caution until a greater number of experts have looked at this inscription more closely.

34 comments:

busterggi said...

The worthlessness of faith is never more demonstrated than by the desperate efforts of believers to prove their myths are true.

Brad Haggard said...

John,

Dr. Avalos is urging caution and patience for more complete study after a whole year in which 4 respected archaeologists have been studying the inscription. It is obfuscation to think that this isn't a significant find. Even apart from translation. (BTW, his apparent "scandal" of translation is obfuscation as well, because anyone who knows Hebrew knows the limited vocabulary of the language, making decontextualized translations difficult.)

This may not "prove" David killed Goliath, but it is a very inconvenient fact for minimalists. I think you have to let go of this whole "Christians only explain away evidence" because Avalos' agenda is loud an clear in this response. If this was the only piece of evidence we had ever found from this time period, it would be different. Do you remember how minimalists tried to explain away the tel-Dan inscription? The term is "special pleading."

Please deal with the evidence at hand.

=^skepticat^= said...

For me it comes back to the old saw about how proving that Kansas existed doesn't prove OZ existed ....

busterggi said...

Brad, that is BS. If Dr. Avalos & company really were being cautious they wouldn't have released the information.

There is no mention of David or Goliath or Israel in the inscription. All it 'proves' is that Hebrew is derived from older neighboring languages and we already knew that.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Hello, Mr. Haggard,
I deal with the Tel Dan inscription in detail in my book, The End of Biblical Studies. As you may know, it does not come from the period of David, but is clearly 9th century BCE. Therefore, the Tel Dan inscription is NOT from the time of David.

There are also other formidable interpretive issues
with even deciphering whether the Tel Dan inscription is about the biblical "David."

So, I am not sure what you mean by other "evidence we had ever found from this time period." What evidence from THIS TIME period (ca. 1000 BCE) have we found that mentions David or indicates that he had a kingdom AS DESCRIBED
by any text in the Bible?

Please be specific.

Steven Carr said...

Gosh, I thought there was so much evidence for David and Solomon that more was hardly needed - that it was a settled issue.

Yet the evidence seems to be so poor, that a tiny scrap of paper that never even mentions David or Solomon is a 'significant find', plastered in headlines around the world.

Surely the correct response from believers should be 'Not another bit of evidence! I'm sick of finding these. Put it in a drawer with the rest.'

After all, museums are full of drawers of fossils that people just haven't found time to analyse yet, other than naming the animal.

But evolution is the controversial theory not 'David and Solomon'.

How strange...

Brad Haggard said...

Dr. Avalos, (I'm a little calmed down, so I'll try to be more irenic this time and less "enthusiastic")

Before anything else, I need to state that I'm mainly arguing against minimalism a la Davies. You may not subscribe to that (I haven't read your work, only reviews), so if I mis-characterize your views, please let me know. This find is significant for skepticism a la Finkelstein, as well, though.

1. The Tel-Dan inscription does not come from the time of this ostracon, of course, but I don't see why that means we can't correlate the two finds. Tel-Dan is very important because a neighboring state considered the "house of David" a sovereign entity. There was outrage amongst the minimalist camp in the 90's when this came to light, which shows that it was a very significant find.

Once again, I haven't read your treatment, but the only "interpretive" issues with the dalet-vav-dalet in the Aramaic are false ones. I think I've heard that we can alternately translate those three letters as "beloved" or "uncle". Besides the clear semantic issues with the "translation", those alternate options make no sense of the context. Why would the king brag about defeating the house of the "beloved" or "uncle"? This sounds like a clear case of special pleading and obfuscation, but if you have another treatment in your work, I'm open to hearing it.

2. Besides the fact that we can correlate evidence from other time periods (such as Dever's survey work of the hill country of the 13th century, the 12th century Mernepteh Stele, the Gezer calendar, Tel-Dan, and the more solid evidence we have from the divided kingdom), there has recently been found a large public building in Jerusalem dating from about the 10th Century. Mazar found the building along with potsherds that date it to the time as well as a government seal. This is another inconvenient find for minimalists and David doubters.

3. The simple fact that Hebrew is used in a fortified city such as Khirbet Qeiyafa is very significant in two ways. a) The fortified nature of the site speaks against Finkelstein's "tribal" characterization of Israel at the time, and b) it speaks against the supposed linguistic and etymological considerations expressed by minimalists in their radical re-dating of the materials.

4. The elephant in the room, however, is the fact that we have the texts. History is done primarily through texts. I'm a little incredulous at the unsubstantiated skepticism to even the post-Davidic Deuteronomistic history among minimalists. Where do they think all of the evidence, including the texts, came from? It just doesn't strike me as sound method, more like speculation with an agenda. Given the nature of archaeology, verificationism with respect for the texts is unrealistic and an impediment to actual critical history.

You may agree with me against the minimalist revision, and if so, then please let me know so I won't accuse you of something that you don't support. I think, though, the evidence is even starting to mount against Finkelstein.

Thanks for your time!

Brad Haggard said...

Steven,

The evidence is only "poor" if your method is to completely disregard the texts as a presupposition or to "read against the grain." If that is your method, then the door is wide open for you to do whatever you want with the archaeological findings.

Come to think of it, there are some methodological similarities between YEC'ers and minimalists.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Hello, Mr. Haggard,
I am a proud minimalist. The problem is that you are not really dealing in detail with the problems posed by the evidence you mention.

I go through each one of your examples (except the Mazar claims about Jerusalem as my book was published in 2007) in detail in my book, and I have a VERY DETAILED analysis of the Gezer evidence, along with critique of Dr. Dever's use of "convergence" between textual and archaeological evidence.

I address the Merneptah Stele, the so-called Solomonic gates. etc. I trace the history of Dr. Dever's work, and his recent retreats from earlier claims.

Dr. Dever also relies heavily on the work of Raz Kletter (especially statistics of pillar figurines) for his conclusions about the boundaries of the divided monarchy, and I critique the use of those pillar figurines in some detail, as well.

You also have to remember that I was at the University of Arizona at the time Dr. Dever was
there, and so I am very familiar with his work.
I went from being a very firm believer in his conclusions to a very skeptical minimalist after examining the evidence he presented in many
of his books.

If after reading my critique you still have an issue with any of my facts or reasons, then I would be glad to entertain any specific challenges. Otherwise, I would be repeating myself quite a bit.

Brad Haggard said...

Dr. Avalos,

It's difficult to go into detail in a comments section like this, so even though I was hoping to dialogue a little more, I'll accept the need for me to delve into the specific arguments in your published work.

Two things, quickly,

1. Just for the sake of the readers of these comments, I need to point out that Dever is no evangelical or friend to evangelicals. I know a lot of people tend to polarize people because of the implications of their arguments in forums like this.

2. I can't get over the feeling that Mazar's work, coupled with the ostracon in question, could be the "smoking bullet" for minimalists.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Hello, Mr. Haggard,
I realize that Dr. Dever is no friend of evangelicals, and he calls himself secular. If you read Dr. Dever's works from the 1960s until today, you will also see an evolution on various levels.

For example, he used to use the word "minimalist" only derisively. However, in 2006, he remarked, “Lay people may not have noticed, but nearly all of us have become ‘minimalists’ of a sort.”

William G. Dever, “The Western Cultural Tradition at Risk,” BAR 32, no. 2 (2006), p. 26.

Brad Haggard said...

Dr. Avalos,

I don't take that to mean, however, that Dever accepts the minimalist reconstruction, only that he is skeptical of the conquest narrative and before.

BTW, what do you make of Mazar's work? Hopefully I'm not asking you to repeat yourself.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Hello, Mr. Haggard,
If you read my book, you will see that I challenge the very notion that Dr. Dever is not a minimalist.

If you read the context of the article by Dr. Dever that I quoted, you will also see some retreat, and that already started happening by 1998, when Dr. Dever suggested that the gates at Hazor and Megiddo were 9th century gates, when he had previously and adamantly held them to be Solomonic. Gezer, however, he still thinks is firmly Solomonic. In 2005, he said:

“Thus, I believe that while the Hazor and Megiddo gates might turn out to be early 9th century, the Gezer gate will likely remain well fixed in the 10th century BCE.”

Source: William G. Dever, “Some Methodological Reflections on Chronology and History-Writing,” in The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating: Archaeology, Text and Science, ed. Thomas E. Levy and Thomas Higham (London: Equinox, 2005), p. 419.

There are generations of Mazars. I have a wait-and-see attitude toward the recent work in Jerusalem.

Thomas4567 said...

I enjoyed reading the exchange between Brad Haggard and Dr. Avalos.
My questions :
If the writer of the Tel Dan inscription did intend to write "House of David" how else might he have spelled it?

What evidence would the minimalist
except as indicating an Israeli Kingdom as early as 1000 BCE?

It seems to me that the minimalist
is exercising at least as much faith as any other view.

I am not a "scholar", but I am very interested in history.

Thank you.

Sabio Lantz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sabio Lantz said...

Even the Science blogs give it favorable biased press ! Geez !

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Hello, Mr. Thomas4567
RE: “It seems to me that the minimalist 
is exercising at least as much faith as any other view.

”

I define faith as holding a belief without evidence. My definition of minimalism includes the premise that one should not regard anything as historically established without a minimum amount of verifiable evidence. Therefore, minimalism is the opposite of relying on faith.

A good way to see why your proposition is flawed is to compare the statements below:

1. There is a David, despite there being no verifiable evidence from his own time to show that he existed.

2. There are undetectable Martians despite there being no verifiable evidence to show that they exist.

3. The existence of Caesar Augustus meets the criterion that we need a minimum amount of verifiable evidence to establish that an ancient person existed, and this includes works (e.g., Res Gestae) reputedly authored by him from his time along with inscriptions from his time that mention him.

Now, do you really believe that view #3 is just as much a faith claim as #2 or #1?

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

RE:" What evidence would the minimalist
except as indicating an Israeli Kingdom as early as 1000 BCE?"

There are ZERO pieces of contemporary evidence for David or Solomon, compared to dozens, hundreds or thousands of independent pieces of contemporary verifiable evidence for the existence of many other kings of antiquity.

For some of the great kings of antiquity, we might have:
-Letters to other kings or letters from other kings (we have ZERO of this type of evidence for David or Solomon) that are preserved independently.

-Monuments with their portrait (nothing like this for David or Solomon)

-Inscriptions from their time detailing their activities (nothing like this for David or Solomon)

-Buildings with their name on it, especially when built by them or during their reign (nothing like this for David or Solomon).

-Foreign inscriptions mentioning those kings (nothing like this for David or Solomon, though we do have this for Ahab)


So, yes, if we only had one independent piece of evidence like this from David or Solomon's time (remember biblical manuscripts actually come from much later times), then that would be start.

Your question about how “House of David” would be spelled is an excellent one. The individual letters would be the same (transcribed here as: BYTDWD) as what we find in the Tel Dan inscription. However, the problem also resides in at least two additional issues:

1. Whether word division matters.

2. The existence of other words that also could be spelled the same way or the existence of other meanings for the words in the inscription.

As to #1, we see that genitive expressions are elsewhere divided by a dot in the Tel Dan inscription—e.g., mlk.ysr’l = king of Israel.

But BYTDWD is not divided in the same manner, and so that raises, among other things, the question of whether we should understand this as a single word or as two words.

As to#2, some scholars have noted that DWD can also mean other things, as can BYT, which can mean “temple—e.g., temple of DWD. So, it is not clear that it has to mean “House of David” in the sense of “dynasty of David.”

What is not often explained is that the Tel Dan is also regarded as contradicting biblical information.

Dr. Dever admits: “It must be cautioned, however, that the Tel Dan inscription cannot be taken simply as confirmation of the biblical accounts of Aramaean contacts, since it supplies new information that seems to differ with the biblical
accounts."

Source: W. G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: MI: Eerdmans, 2001), p. 167.


But what one might characterize as “differ” another scholar might rightfully call “contradict.” In the case of the Tel Dan Inscription, the reconstruction accepted by Dever asserts that an Aramean king killed Jehoram, whereas the biblical record said it was Jehu who killed Jehoram (2 Kings 9:24).

In any case, the bottom line remains that David and Solomon do not meet the minimum amount of contemporary verifiable evidence to establish their historicity.

When we do find such evidence, then we can move David and Solomon into the category of “historically established.” The inscription at Qeiyafa does not do that.

beowulf2k8 said...

"This may not 'prove' David killed Goliath, but it is a very inconvenient fact for minimalists." (Brad Haggard)

How? It doesn't contain the names of David nor Yahweh. For all we know the text could be from a Baal worshiper of Chemosh worshiper. On the Vridar blog, Neil Godfrey points out a text in the Akkadian Counsels of Wisdom that looks rather similar, but is written by a Shamash worshiper, "To your opponent, do no evil. Recompense your evildoer with good. To your enemy, let justice [be done] . . . . Give food to eat; give date wine to drink; honor, clothe the one begging for alms. Over this, his god rejoices This is pleasing to the god Shamash; he rewards it with good. Be helpful. A maid in the house, do not . . ."

beowulf2k8 said...

Another similar example is found in the Instruction of Amenemopet "Do not laugh at a blind man nor tease a dwarf nor cause hardship for the lame....Do not refuse your oil jar to a stranger; double it before your brothers. God prefers him who honors the poor to him who worships the wealthy."

So a pottery shard of ancient semitic "don't mistreat the poor" wisdom has been found. We have yet to determine what God is the God of the Khirbet Qeiyafa text.

Brad Haggard said...

Dr. Avalos,

I think you need to clarify your method. You reject the biblical texts as historical evidence unless there is archaeological evidence. So when you say "no verifiable evidence" I think you need to be clear, because many scholars believe that we can trace back material to David (certain Psalms) and Solomon (portions of the Wisdom corpus), and that we can trace back Deuteronomistic history to certain early levels of redaction. I assume you reject the majority redaction reconstruction, but it isn't clear to everyone else.

How do you answer the charge that your method is circular? You assert that there is not the evidence one would expect for a king of antiquity, and when we do find evidence it must not verify David because we already know we don't have enough evidence for his existence. Surely your not expecting the same amount of evidence to verify David as we have for Julius Caesar, especially considering that the most important archaeological sited in Jerusalem which would possibly provide more evidence will never be excavated because of political reasons. I guess the better question would be, what is your tipping point? If Mazar's work is verified? Some royal seals? (you know we have some from not too much later) More Hebrew inscriptions?

Also, I know you may be repeating yourself, but what exactly do you think that "bytdwd" is saying in that inscription, considering the context?

Thanks for your time.

Brad Haggard said...

Beowulf,

This is inconvenient because of the verb "asah". An English-speaking blogger wouldn't recognize this because it is only clear in the west semitic languages. Hebrew is the only one that uses that construction "al asah" for "do not do".

beowulf2k8 said...

"This is inconvenient because of the verb 'asah'....Hebrew is the only one that uses that construction 'al asah' for 'do not do'."

Canaanites who worship Baal of Chemosh can't speak Hebrew? I don't see how finding Hebrew written in a old Canaanite script, and Hebrew so non-Hebraic that it can only be recognized as Hebrew by the use of one word, does anything but prove that Hebrew was being written at the time and perhaps that the language was just then evolving.

Yes my friend, if anything, this find makes the Exodus less likely, or at least the Mosaic authorship of the Torah in Hebrew less likely, because it shows Hebrew is just evolving from Canaanite languages and clearly didn't come with the Israelites out of Egypt. Its inconvenient only for maximalists. Minimalists have been expecting such a find.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Hello, Mr. Haggard,
1. RE: "I think you need to clarify your method. You reject the biblical texts as historical evidence unless there is archaeological evidence."

I have a very detailed discussion of my historical epistemology and method in The End of Biblical Studies, and so I don’t want to repeat myself here. I will concentrate on related issues you have raised.


2. RE: “You assert that there is not the evidence one would expect for a king of antiquity, and when we do find evidence it must not verify David because we already know we don't have enough evidence for his existence.”

I do not assert what you say. As I have said, you have ZERO evidence for David from his time, whereas we do have contemporary evidence for other kings I can mention.

Thus, I do not say that since we already KNOW that we don’t have enough evidence for David’s existence, then any piece of evidence can’t be regarded as evidence.

I am consistent in saying that when we find at least one piece of verifiable independent evidence, we can regard the existence of that person as a reasonable belief. If you read my book, you will see a list of Hebrew kings (e.g., Ahab) that meet that criterion. David does not.

You are also using the word “verify” and “KNOW” differently, and I explain the differences I make between using the word “KNOW” and using the descriptor “reasonable belief” when it comes to ancient history.


3. RE: “Surely your not expecting the same amount of evidence to verify David as we have for Julius Caesar, especially considering that the most important archaeological sited in Jerusalem which would possibly provide more evidence will never be excavated because of political reasons.”

I am neither expecting nor requiring David to have the amount of evidence we have for Augustus Caesar (I mentioned Augustus, not Julius Caesar).

What I am saying is that we don’t even have ONE
piece of evidence for David from his time, whereas we do for Augustus. David does not even meet the minimum of evidence.

The reasons you gave for why we might not have evidence for David will not change the fact that we don’t.


4. RE: "If Mazar's work is verified? Some royal seals? (you know we have some from not too much later)."

Yes, a royal seal would do it. I mentioned others (letters from David to some other king; letters from other kings to David; a building
with David’s name, etc.).

We have suspected for a long time that the Hebrew language 
probably evolved by around 1000 BCE, and so that would not be 
a surprise.

However, it is one thing to say that there is evidence
for the Celtic language in the 5th century, and another to 
say that evidence of a Celtic language in the 5th century is also evidence that King Arthur and his kingdom existed as described in Medieval narratives.

We would need much more evidence than that for Arthur, and the same goes for David, who is still is not mentioned in any ACTUAL document from the 10th century BCE (biblical manuscripts of Psalms or any other book are no earlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls, and so don’t count as ACTUAL documents from the 10th century BCE).

Brad Haggard said...

beowulf,

If you think that the minimalist reconstruction predicts that we'd find Hebrew writing as early as 1000 B.C., then, frankly, I don't think you understand the full minimalist reconstruction. Davies wants to date the ENTIRE HEBREW CANON to the 4th century. 600 years between the actual use of the language and a whole cloth composition of a national history is too incredible to believe. So this has to be accommodated by minimalists, hence Dr. Avalos' answer. It's not impossible to accommodate, but it's not what they expected.

Brad Haggard said...

Dr. Avalos,

I do wish I could interact more with your method exposition, but I have to plead ignorance and only interact inasmuch as I can determine it from your posts here.

I just have two concerns:

1. It seems a little obtuse to say that since the earliest manuscripts we have of the biblical texts that we cannot discern earlier historical traditions, even to the 10th century. That is the whole enterprise of history, and an over-reliance on the glimpses we get from archaeology would spiral down into a sort of historical solipsism. Considering where the most probably rich site are located in Jerusalem, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect the same sorts of epistemological standards.

2. This is a serious question, not a jab. How do you accommodate Ahab into your historical reconstruction if he is only 60 years removed from Solomon? Did he found the state of Israel, or did Omri or Jeroboam? I am really in the dark as to how you reconstruct this history.

Also, I still ask you to indulge me in your translation of bytdwd in the tel-dan inscription.

Thanks again!

John W. Loftus said...

Brad, please be considerate of Hector's time. He told you to read his book. Read it then. If after reading it you have other concerns then I'm sure he might help you at a later time. As it stands he is in seclusion writing another book right now.

Cheers.

Brad Haggard said...

Well, I can respect that.

John, thank Dr. Avalos for the little bit of interaction.

Sabio Lantz said...

Well, this interaction has made me buy Dr. Avalos' book -- I hadn't considered it until listening to this dialogue. Thank you folks.

beowulf2k8 said...

"If you think that the minimalist reconstruction predicts that we'd find Hebrew writing as early as 1000 B.C., then, frankly, I don't think you understand the full minimalist reconstruction. Davies wants to date the ENTIRE HEBREW CANON to the 4th century." (Brad)

So in your deluded mind, the writing of the Canon and the existence of the language are simultaneous events? So what if the language did come into existence in the 10th century? The canon could still be as late as the 4th. This shard in no way testifies to the existence of the canon.

Brad Haggard said...

Sabio,

Make sure to read K.A. Kitchen's On the Reliability of the Old Testament for the complete opposite view of the OT and you can see where you fall.

beowulf,

I don't know anyone who thinks the Hebrew Canon was finished in 1000 B.C., I don't even think the Pentateuch was in its final form by then. But if you think that Hebrew writers didn't write any history of themselves for 600 years when they were already writing on pottery, be my guest.

beowulf2k8 said...

Obviously they were writing something at that time, but that doesn't mean that what they were writing is what we read in the Bible today. That's like saying that because Greek was a written language in the BC period, the New Testament must have been written in the BC period. Or because Arabic was a written language before Mohammed, the Koran must have been written before Mohammed. "How can you say none of the Koran was written before Mohammed, Beowulf? The language existed! Therefore, parts of the Koran must go way back to before Mohammed!" You are just being silly.

nazani said...

A long time ago I heard that there was an Assyrian tablet that contained the phrase "I have slain a prince of the line of David." Has anyone else heard of this? I'm not surprised that there isn't much evidence for the existence of David; he damn sure didn't leave many survivors in the states he attacked.

Pete Kovacs said...

Hello...I don't usually post to blogs, but I am a graduate student at the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a square supervisor at last season's (2009) Qeiyafa Excavation - doing some graduate work on Qeiyafa as well.

While I am a low-ranking member of this excavation, as far as what I've heard, read, and seen firsthand, the context we can ascertain on the inscription is pointing to Iron IIA - early 10th century BCE. When visiting our site, Dr. Lily Avitz-Singer from Tel Aviv, a pottery expert in this period, picked out some of the pottery sherds from a pottery basket that had just been excavated from the bedrock level and level of the foundations of several walls from my square in Area C, and I personally heard her say they are Late Iron I/early Iron IIA. These correspond to the dates we attribute to King Saul and King David.

The PhD student from Hebrew University publishing the pottery, Mr. Hoogoo Kang (from Korea) has told me something similar...of course, you'll have to wait until he has published everything to know in detail and with 100% certainty. The 2007-2008 seasons were just published.

But, if you really want to know what's going on at Kh. Qeiyafa, why not join us for a week or two or more this summer season (June-July 2010) and you all can get insight into the debate about the inscription and dating of the finds at Qeiyafa first hand.