Fox News offers this headline: Message decoded, again: 3,000-year-old text may prove biblical tale of King Solomon.
I wish they wouldn’t do that but I’m not surprised they did given their audience. ‘May prove…’? That’s such an unfortunate phrase in such cases. That aside, Gershon does a good job stating the evidence:
The Ophel inscription — 3,000-year-old characters found in Israel in July — is the earliest alphabetical written text ever found in Jerusalem. It proves the real basis behind the parables and stories in the world’s most famous book, said Gershon Galil, a professor of ancient history and biblical studies at the University of Haifa. ”We are dealing here with real kings, and the kingdom of David and Solomon was a real fact,” Galil told FoxNews.com, in a phone call from Israel. But the world’s leading archaeologists are still hotly debating the meaning of the inscription. Gershon offers what he calls the “only reasonable translation,” noting at the same time that the very existence of the text is as important as its meaning.
Personally I don’t think other readings are very likely – but I am hesitant to accept the idea that the inscription proves anything other than that the jar contained wine. That’s it. Indeed, the next quotation from Galil supports my position-
“The most important thing this tells us is that somebody during this time knew how to write something,” he said.
Three letters of the inscription are incomplete, and Galil translates them to read, “yah-yin chah-lak,” which is Hebrew for “inferior wine.” The first half of the text indicates the twentieth or thirtieth year of Solomon’s reign — making the entire inscription a label of sorts for the jug’s contents. He explains that the text must be written in an early form of southern Hebrew because it is the only language of the time to use two yods(Hebrew letters) to spell the word wine. Galil also suggests that the “inferior wine” was probably given to laborers who were helping to build the burgeoning city of Jerusalem.
Give the rest a look. And, to Gershon, well and nicely done.