Markings 185

November 9, 2018

The Khirbet Qeiyafa Potsherd


On January 10, 2010, the University of Haifa issued a press release announcing that the most ancient Hebrew text found to date had been translated. Discovered by Yossi Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa (pronounced Kee YAH fuh) in 2008, the 15x16.5 cm potsherd contains five lines of writing and dates to the 10th century B.C. Professor Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa’s Department of Biblical Studies translated the inscription. The translation provided in the press release is as follows (a dotted line indicates missing text; brackets indicate the translator’s reconstruction of unreadable text):


 English translation of the deciphered text:


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.


'Anyone will be moved by this inscription . . . Written in Hebrew more than three thousand years ago, the potsherd is inscribed with a moral and legal imperative born from a culture that demanded justice for the weak and the deprived.' Amos Oz 2017

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