Gershon Galil: On the Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription

Prof. Galil has been kind enough to send along a copy of his essay which has just appeared in UF 41 (2011).  Here’s the abstract-

This paper offers a new reading of the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription. It reexamines its script, language, genre, and literary structure, as well as the identification of the site, and the implications of this important inscription for the history of Israel and its neighbors in the 10th century BCE.

In my opinion this text was written in the late Canaanite script, in Hebrew, and it was dictated by a teacher / father to his student / son. It indicates that there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex compositions as early as the beginning of the 10th century BCE. Khirbet Qeiyafa identified with Biblical Neta’im (1 Chron 4: 23), was built by King David as an administrative fortified centre on the border with the Philistines.

It testifies to a conflict that erupted between the Israelites and the Philistines after David was victorious over the House of Saul, and all the Tribes of Israel were unified under his leadership. The destruction of Khirbet Qeiyafa / Neta’im by the Philistines, as well as the destruction of Tell Qasile (X) by the Israelites, may indicate that the war between King David and the Philistines was more complex and lengthier than presented in the Book of Samuel.

It’s quite an extensive and absolutely thorough treatment of the inscription. Indeed, at 50 pages, it is the most extensive treatment to date. I recommend it to all those interested in the subject. Visit your local research library today!

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