Thursday, October 30, 2008

Very Inconvenient (For Kadima) 3,000 Year Old Archeological Find in Judean Hills May Provide Earliest Example of Hebrew Language


This article is a perfect example of how archeology is often interpreted in order to please those in power.

How inconvenient, it seems, for the Olmert/Livni/Abbas government of Israel to have proof of a Judean kingdom unearthed at precisely the moment that they are poised to destroy Jewish lives, homes, and families by giving away Israel to terrorist thugs in the name of “protecting Fatah.”

This article doesn’t say the obvious, that those who question David’s story are probably arabs, the same arabs who say that the Temple never stood on the Temple mount, right?

This is why they question that the language found is Hebrew. It is very inconvenient for it to be Hebrew. It would be better to call the language “proto-Canaanite” in order to protect the new fiction that has been perpetrated by Kadima about Israel and it’s borders.

In order to sell us this fiction, Kadima must first discount that our Torah is true. They must present it as a series of mythic events, somewhat like the stories of the Greek or Roman heroes, or the stories of characters like Gilgamesh—and try to convince us that Hashm is just a mythic character, not the Almighty G-d of All Creation.

So, they target those who are religious, those who are nationalist, and those who teach our traditions in order to show that those people are somehow flawed—crazy or fanatical—in order to undermine the truth: Israel was given to us by G-d, there are no ancient arab peoples called “palestinians” in this land (the word "palestinian," by the way, was used to refer to Jews who lived under Roman rule in Israel, or who were later called "Palestinians" under the British Mandate. "Palestinian" was never used to refer to arabs until Arafat used it after 1967 to name his terrorist group).

Jews not only have a right to the land we are currently living in, but much more land in the surrounding area—Greater Israel. This is our ancestral homeland.

Kadima wants us to give away our nation and our heritage, they want us to sell our birthright for a mythic “peace” with those who want to destroy us at any cost and whose only idea of “peace” is the PEACE OF DEATH.

We have a choice with the new elections—both in the US and in Israel. We can chose those who would deny our heritage and sit in rooms with known terrorists to listen to their anti-Jewish poetry and their anti-Jewish, anti-Israel promises, or we can chose those who would stand with Jews and with Israel, who know the Bible is TRUE, and who know we are the right and true heirs of Israel.

'Oldest Hebrew writing found near J'lem'
Oct. 30, 2008
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST

An Israeli archaeologist digging at a hilltop south of Jerusalem believes a ceramic shard found in the ruins of an ancient town bears the oldest Hebrew inscription ever discovered, a find that could provide an important glimpse into the culture and language of the Holy Land at the time of the Bible.

The five lines of faded characters written 3,000 years ago, and the ruins of the fortified settlement where they were found, are indications that a powerful Israelite kingdom existed at the time of King David, says Yossi Garfinkel, the Hebrew University archaeologist in charge of the new dig at Hirbet Qeiyafa.

Other scholars are hesitant to embrace Garfinkel's interpretation of the finds, made public on Thursday. The discoveries are already being wielded in a vigorous and ongoing argument over whether the Bible's account of events and geography is meant to be taken literally.

Hirbet Qeiyafa sits near the city of Beit Shemesh in the Judean foothills, an area that was once the frontier between the hill-dwelling Israelites and their enemies, the coastal Philistines. The site overlooks the Elah Valley, said to be the scene of the slingshot showdown between David and the Philistine giant Goliath, and lies near the ruins of Goliath's hometown in the Philistine metropolis of Gath.

A teenage volunteer found the curved pottery shard, 15 centimeters by 15 centimeters, in July near the stairs and stone washtub of an excavated home. It was later discovered to bear five lines of characters known as proto-Canaanite, a precursor of the Hebrew alphabet.

Carbon-14 analysis of burnt olive pits found in the same layer of the site dated them to between 1,000 and 975 B.C., the same time as the Biblical golden age of David's rule in Jerusalem.

Scholars have identified other, smaller Hebrew fragments from the 10th century B.C., but the script, which Garfinkel suggests might be part of a letter, predates the next significant Hebrew inscription by between 100 and 200 years.

History's best-known Hebrew texts, the Dead Sea scrolls, were penned on parchment beginning 850 years later.

The shard is now kept in a university safe while philologists translate it, a task expected to take months. But several words have already been tentatively identified, including ones meaning "judge," "slave" and "king."

The Israelites were not the only ones using proto-Canaanite characters, and other scholars suggest it is difficult - perhaps impossible - to conclude the text is Hebrew and not a related tongue spoken in the area at the time. Garfinkel bases his identification on a three-letter verb from the inscription meaning "to do," a word he said existed only in Hebrew.

"That leads us to believe that this is Hebrew, and that this is the oldest Hebrew inscription that has been found," he said.

Other prominent Biblical archaeologists warned against jumping to conclusions.

Hebrew University archaeologist Amihai Mazar said the inscription was "very important," as it is the longest proto-Canaanite text ever found. But he suggested that calling the text Hebrew might be going too far.

"It's proto-Canaanite," he said. "The differentiation between the scripts, and between the languages themselves in that period, remains unclear."

Some scholars and archaeologists argue that the Bible's account of David's time inflates his importance and that of his kingdom, and is essentially myth, perhaps rooted in a shred of fact.

But if Garfinkel's claim is borne out, it would bolster the case for the Bible's accuracy by indicating the Israelites could record events as they happened, transmitting the history that was later written down in the Bible several hundred years later.

It also would mean that the settlement - a fortified town with a 30-foot-wide monumental gate, a central fortress and a wall running 700 meters in circumference - was probably inhabited by Israelites.

The finds have not yet established who the residents were, says Aren Maier, a Bar Ilan University archaeologist who is digging at nearby Gath. It will become clearer if, for example, evidence of the local diet is found, he said: Excavations have shown that Philistines ate dogs and pigs, while Israelites did not.

The nature of the ceramic shards found at the site suggest residents might have been neither Israelites nor Philistines but members of a third, forgotten people, he said.

If the inscription is Hebrew, it would indicate a connection to the Israelites and make the text "one of the most important texts, without a doubt, in the corpus of Hebrew inscriptions," Maier said. But it has great importance whatever the language turns out to be, he added.

Saar Ganor, an Israel Antiquities Authority ranger, noticed the unusual scale of the walls while patrolling the area in 2003. Three years later he interested Garfinkel, and after a preliminary dig they began work in earnest this summer. They have excavated only 4 percent of the six-acre settlement so far.

Archeology has turned up only scant finds from David's time in the early 10th century B.C., leading some scholars to suggest his kingdom may have been little more than a small chiefdom or that he might not have existed at all.

Garfinkel believes building fortifications like those at Hirbet Qeiyafa could not have been a local initiative: The walls would have required moving 200,000 tons of stone, a task too big for the 500 or so people who lived there. Instead, it would have required an organized kingdom like the one the Bible says David ruled.

The dig is partially funded by Foundation Stone, a Jewish educational organization, which hopes to bring volunteers to work there.

"When I stand here, I understand that I'm on the front lines of the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines," said Rabbi Barnea Levi Selavan, the group's director. "I open my Bible and read about David and Goliath, and I understand that I'm in the Biblical context."

While the site could be useful to scholars, archaeologist Yisrael Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University urged adhering to the strict boundaries of science.

Finkelstein, who has not visited the dig but attended a presentation of the findings, warned against what he said was a "revival in the belief that what's written in the Bible is accurate like a newspaper." That style of archeology was favored by 19th century European diggers who trolled the Holy Land for physical traces of Biblical stories, their motivation and methods more romantic than scientific.

"This can be seen as part of this phenomenon," Finkelstein said.

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