A New Volume for Epigraphers and Students of the Hebrew Bible

Biblical Period Epigraphy: The Josef Chaim Kaufman Collection Seals, Bullae, Handles, by Robert Deutsch

From the Foreword-

The book is the second volume recording biblical period epigraphic material from the Josef Chaim Kaufman collection. The first volume published by the author: “Biblical Period Hebrew Bullae”, printed in Jerusalem in 2003, consists of 516 bullae and two seals. The present volume includes 387 specimens: 88 seals, 248 bullae and 51 stamped handles. Out of the 88 seals: 84 are Hebrew, one is anepigraphic (Judean), one is Hebrew Phoenician, one is Hebrew Aramaic and one is Moabite. Two additional Hebrew seals were presented in the first volume (Deutsch 2003, nos. 44f and 109a). Six seals were previously published and 82 seals are presented here for the first time. The Hebrew seals, including a Moabite example, are to be dated to the end of the 8th century B.C.E., through the beginning of the 6th century B.C.E., before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 B.C.E., while the Hebrew Phoenician and the Aramaic seals are dated to the post exilic period in the 5th century B.C.E. The seal collection was formed during the last four decades, since 1967; the seals were purchased one by one from antiquity dealers, mainly in Jerusalem.

The bullae are all Hebrew except for three anepigraphic and two Hellenistic. They were impressed by 231 different seals and there are 17 duplicates. The Hebrew bullae are to be dated also to the end of the 8th – through the beginning of the 6th century B.C.E. All are previously unrecorded. This group of bullae was collected in the last seven years, since the publication of the first volume. Their possible provenance is Khirbet Qe’ila, biblical Keilah (Josh. 15:44), located 13.5 Km. north-west of Hebron. Out of the 51 handles, seven are of the lmlk type, impressed by seven different seals. The majority, 42 handles, are impressed by 33 different official seals with nine duplicates. They are to be dated to the end of the eighth century, before 701 B.C.E., in the time of Hezekiah king of Judah. The two remaining handles are from the Persian Period.

The question of authenticity has been addressed in the first volume (pp. 11-12), nevertheless, some additional remarks can be added. All the items presented in this volume were meticulously examined by the author and were found genuine beyond any doubt. The recent tendency expressed by some scholars, to declare all unprovenanced epigraphic materials “questionable” and therefore worthless, is an approach which is to be unequivocally rejected. Such an attitude is rather destructive instead to adopt a constructive approach. The corpus of west Semitic epigraphic material unearthed in controlled excavations is significantly smaller than that from unprovenanced sources. Avoiding most of the historical information just because the material was found by non professional plunders is inconceivable. A proper analogously are the Dead Sea Scrolls which were looted by local Bedouins. Today, no scientific biblical research can be even imagined without them. The same is valid concerning the 14th century B.C.E. el-Amarna cuneiform letters. The majority of the clay tablets were found by farmers on the east bank of the Nile, about 300 Km. south of Cairo and only a minority were uncovered by archaeologists. The letters, which are part of the diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian royal court and the Canaanite city-kings, are records revealing invaluable historical information unknown from other sources. Such documents can not be ignored simply because were not found in methodological excavations.

The importance of these volumes is self-evident and they are to be considered rescue publications. Their permanent value will increase as time will pass and they will serve as valuable reference books.

With thanks to Robert for telling me about it. You can order it from Eisenbrauns.

One thought on “A New Volume for Epigraphers and Students of the Hebrew Bible

  1. The Hook 2 Apr 2011 at 9:05 am

    I admire the sheer volume of work you produce. Great job!

    Like

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