10th Century Hebrew Inscription on Pottery from Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel Confirms Biblical Claims
by Rich Deem


Bible Written Late?

Many skeptics claim that the Bible wasn't written until the fifth century B.C., since ancient Hebrew wasn't even in existence until then. However, recent discoveries show written Hebrew was in existence by the 10th century, B.C.

Rich Deem

To the surprise of many skeptics, an ancient Hebrew inscription, dated to the 10th century B.C. was discovered in 2006. Now, the most ancient example of the Hebrew language has been found on a pottery shard in Khirbet Qeiyafa, 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the Elah Valley in Israel.1

New evidence

The archaeological site of Khirbet Qeiyafa is the location of a massively fortified city of megalithic stones 6-9 ft tall.2  In 2008, two city gates were discovered, which was very unusual for cities of that time (which usually had only one gate). This unusual characteristic clearly identified the city as being the biblical Sha‛ărayim, which has the meaning of "double gate."3 The city is mentioned three times in the Old Testament (Joshua 15:36, 1 Samuel 17:52 and 1 Chronicles 4:31).4

The pottery shard containing the inscription was discovered by Professor Yosef Garfinkel in 2008. It was translated by Professor Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa. The full translation of the inscription on the pottery shard reads:

  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.1

The inscription has similar content to several Old Testament passages, including Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3.5

Conclusion Top of page

The discovery of the 10th century B.C. Hebrew city of Sha‛ărayim at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel confirms the existence of a Hebrew kingdom during the period of the reigns of David and Solomon as described in the Old Testament. The discovery of a pottery shard containing an ancient Hebrew inscription shows that the Hebrew language was already in existence and makes it likely that the Hebrews were already recording their history in written records at that time.

Inscripción Hebrea Del Siglo X En Cerámica De Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel, Confirma Las Afirmaciones Bíblicas

References Top of page

  1. Most ancient Hebrew biblical inscription deciphered at University of Haifa.
  2. Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor. 2008. Khirbet Qeiyafa: Sha`arayim. Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8: Article 22.
  3. Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
    sha‛ărayim שׁערים (Strong's H8189)
    Shaaraim = "double gate"
    1. a town in Judah
    2. a town in Simeon
    Part of Speech: noun proper locative
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong's Number: dual of H8179
  4. In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages. (Joshua 15:33-36)
    The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. (1 Samuel 17:52)
    They lived at Beersheba, Moladah and Hazar-shual, at Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-biri and Shaaraim. These were their cities until the reign of David. (1 Chronicles 4:28-31)
  5. Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)
    Let the mountains bring peace to the people, And the hills, in righteousness. (Psalm 72:3)
    nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute. (Exodus 23:3)

Last Modified January 12, 2010


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