In Their Own Words
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Only in the study of ancient Israel would a 22-letter inscription—and an abecedary [the letters of the alphabet] at that—generate an entire monograph ... The reason for this is obvious: While the number of inscriptions from the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (especially the latter) dated to the eighth century [B.C.E.] onward is rather significant, the epigraphic evidence for the tenth century (the period of David and Solomon) remains meager. Accordingly, the discovery of an inscribed bowl from Tel Zayit in the Judean [Judahite] Shephelah spurred major interest in 2005 …
While reading the essays [in this volume] I found myself asking over and over again: Do we really need all this information? Does all this information actually stem from the discovery of this simple inscription? ...
Do we really need all this prose to tell us what we already know—or don’t know!? To be honest, one feels like screaming from the mountaintop: “This is only an alphabet!” ... This inscription—limited as it is—offers valuable information concerning the development of writing during the much-debated tenth century. If a lowly outpost in the Judean Shephelah attests to writing (limited or otherwise) during the period of David and Solomon, then one may assume, with all due caution, that the capital city of Jerusalem would have possessed, qal wa-homer [all the moreso], scribes and priests linked to the palace and temple capable of producing (significant) literary and administrative texts ...

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