A new appraisal of the silver amulets from Ketef Hinnom

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Abstract

In the course of his 1979 excavations of a burial cave located at the site of Ketef Hinnom, Gabriel Barkay discovered two silver plaques with Hebrew inscriptions from the Bible. The inscriptions are the earliest biblical texts discovered to date. In an early publication (1989), Barkay deciphered portions of the two texts and dated the plaques to the late pre-exilic period. In a recent publication (2004), a team of scholars, using advanced photographic techniques and computer imaging technology, made considerable advances in deciphering the texts. Nevertheless, gaps remained in the text of plaque I and its meaning has not been entirely clear. In this article, I suggest decipherment of the missing section of plaque I and offer a new interpretation of the text. I further suggest that the amulets date from the early Second Temple period, possibly not many years after the construction of the Temple. The inscriptions reflect the hopes pinned on the newly erected Temple and the recent resettlement of the land and exhibit the belief that the return to Zion and the redemption of the land was orchestrated by the God of Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-195
Number of pages12
JournalIsrael Exploration Journal
Volume61
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011

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