What other ancient Hebrew texts?

Tony Prete tonyprete at earthlink.net
Wed Feb 28 21:43:29 EST 2001

At 09:04 AM 02/28/01, Dave Washburn wrote:
>Raymond wrote:
> > On 26-02-2001 15:44 Karen Spray <karen.spray at lineone.net> wrote:
> >
> > > I was wondering what (if any) other Hebrew texts of comparative antiquity
> > > exist which might shed light on word meanings etc in the Hebrew Bible.
> >
> > Karen,
> >
> > there are Hebrew inscriptions dating from the biblical times. However, they
> > do not help very much with regard to the meaning of words, though sometimes
> > they do.
> >
> > On the other hand, sometimes they are rather revolutionary with regard to
> > the religion or history of ancient Israel. For example, an inscription from
> > Kuntillet `Ajrud mentions that Yhwh has an Ashera. An inscription from Tel
> > Dan (though in Aramaic) mentions the _BYTDWD_ which refers to the house of
> > David (see http://members.nbci.com/gathas/teldan.htm for much more
> > information).
>Agreed.  At the same time, it's necessary to use caution when
>interpreting what these items really mean.  In particular, does the
>Kuntillet `Ajrud inscription indicate that ancient Israel *universally*
>and consistently believed YHWH had an Asherah, or does it
>indicate a localized phenomenon that took place during one of
>Israel's many reported periods of idolatry?  People's answers will
>vary with their presuppositions about things like what we can know
>about ancient Israel, how reliable the biblical texts are, the history
>of religions and other aspects of the field.  But in most cases, there
>are several ways of looking at the implications of these brief and
>often cryptic messages.

I appreciate Dave's clarification, which is especially important with the 
Asherah matter because of its potential for mis-application (and I 
emphasize "mis") to the contemporary "goddess" interests.  Also, presenting 
these two extra-biblical sources as examples of "Hebrew inscriptions dating 
from the biblical times" can create the impression that there are lots of 
others. Is that true?

Anthony Prete
212 Marne Avenue
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
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