An Israeli professor believes he found ancient transcriptions from Judean King Hezekiah's reign and calls it "one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Israel of all time."
Professor Gershon Galil is the head of the Institute for Biblical Studies and Ancient History at Haifa University in Israel, he worked alongside Eli Shukron, from the Bible and Ancient History research institute to decipher Hezekiah's name on a palm-sized limestone tablet discovered in 2007.
The fragment was found near a man-made pool in the Siloam tunnel at Jerusalem's City of David National Park. It took the two historians over a decade to decipher it.
According to Galil, the writings sum up King Hezekiah's significant actions within the first 17 years of his reign, including the water factory (the mining of the shipping and blessing point, the Polish reform, the occupation of Palestine, and the accumulation of great property—which is described in 2 Kings 20 of the Bible.
"This is an extremely important discovery that changes [some basic assumptions of] research, since until today it was commonly accepted that the kings of Israel and Judah, unlike the kings of the ancient Middle East, did not make themselves royal inscriptions and monuments...to commemorate their achievements," Galil was quoted as saying.
This means that the theory that the scriptures in the Book of Kings are based on texts from royal inscriptions now has physical evidence, and can be used to rebuttle those who believe the Bible uses imaginary scenarios.
The inscriptions also possess the exact date of when the water factory was completed, 2 Tammuz in the 17th year of Hezekiah's reign, which means 709 B.C.E.
"These are the most complete royal writing found on our hands, and are further evidence that the kings of Israel and Judea wrote royal writing that mentioned their names and deeds," says Galil in a Facebook post.
In total, there are seven inscriptions that have been discovered and deciphered.
One of the writings (Inscription 3) was located to the right of the entrance to canal No. 4 in the round room found in the Canaanite pool. It was 48 cm wide, 38 cm long and 140 cm about the floor.
"The frame of the address was located in 1909 by Father Vinson, but he explained that there was no address there, but only a frame and aligned surface prepared for writing a text that was not written there, and so have all the other researchers claimed over the last 113 years."
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This was the case for many of the inscriptions found in the canals. Galil explains that though the message was affected by erosion, much of the words were legible.
Below is a verbatim quote of the inscription that includes 11 lines, 64 words, and 243 letters:
- Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, king of Judah,
- made the pool and the conduit.
- In the seventeenth year, in the second (day), in the fourth (month),
- of king Hezekiah, the king brought
- the water into the city by a tunnel, the king led
- the water into the pool. He smote the Philistines
- from Ekron to Gaza and placed there the OREB unit of
- the army of Judah. He braked the images and braked in ˹pieces˺ the Nehu˹sh˺tan
- and he removed the high ˹places and˺ cut down the Asherah. Hezek˹ia˺h, the king,
- accumulated in all his treasure houses and in the house of YHWH
- a lot of silver and gold, perfumes and good ointment.
The professor explains that the list is in a literary order, not chronologically. It is also divided into five components, title, the water project, the wars against Philstia, the reform and the accumulation of property.
In total, these writings include over 1600 letters.
If these transcriptions are considered the earliest Biblcal manuscripts, that means they predate other ancient discoveries, such as the Hinnon silver amulets by 100 years and the Dead Sea Scrolls by hundreds of years.
Galil and Shukron will be releasing a book in the coming year The Writings of Hezekiah King of Judah and it will include English and Hebrew translations of the inscriptions.