4 Astounding Archaeological Discoveries in the Holy Land

Hebrew goes back very far in the Holy Land. The earliest inscription believed to be in Hebrew, discovered in 2008 at the Khirbet Qeiyafa archeological site, dates from the 10th century BCE.

Professor Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa is convinced that it’s a Hebrew inscription and says it

indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research.

Other scholars, though, believe the inscription is written, at least partly, in other ancient languages like Phoenician, Moabite, or Canaanite.

Other finds, however—including, of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves—are indisputably in Hebrew. What follows are some of the more notable examples out of many.

1. The Siloam Inscription.

Back in the 8th century BCE, Hezekiah, king of Judea, wanted to ward off an Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. One way was to make sure they’d have no water: Hezekiah ordered that the waters of the Gihon Spring, located outside the city walls, be diverted by a tunnel to the Pool of Siloam within the city.

The Bible puts it this way (2 Chronicles 32, 3-4):

And he took counsel with his officers and his mighty men to stop up the waters of the fountains that were outside the city, and they assisted him. And a large multitude gathered and stopped up all the fountains and the stream that flowed in the midst of the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?”

Over two and a half millennia later, in 1880, a boy who was wading through the tunnel came upon an inscription carved into its rock. After being cut from the wall, the inscription—which, it turned out, is in ancient Hebrew—made its way to the Istanbul Archeology Museum where it remains to this day.

This source gives a simple and partial translation of what it says:

The tunneling was completed…. While the hewers wielded the ax, each man toward his fellow…there was heard a man’s voice calling to his fellow…the hewers hacked each toward the other, ax against ax, and the water flowed from the spring to the pool, a distance of 1,200 cubits….

Dating of the Siloam Inscription revealed that it comes from Hezekiah’s time. The hewing of the tunnel from two directions was an impressive feat of ancient engineering.

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