February 7, 2009
A US college has released a study which claims the ancient “Jehoash tablet” found in Jerusalem is an authentic artifact from the ancient kingdom of Judah. The tablet’s inscription is linked to the biblical account in II Kings 12 about the repairs to the Temple of God during the reign of King Josiah. This tablet is embroiled in the seemingly-inevitable “forgery” controversies which erupt in Israeli archaeological circles whenever an important artifact is found which affirms the Bible.
I have not previously heard of “Touro College,” and it seems curious that one professor who co-authored the study is a biology professor. Nonetheless, I offer this to readers for your information and consideration.
The report also noted that the ancient Hebrew inscription on the tablet is “similar to the ancient Phoenician script.” As readers of my book know, this “similarity” is historically significant. When the 12 tribes of Israel were all united under Kings David and Solomon, they spoke and wrote the same language. After their bitter civil war under Kings Jeroboam and Rehoboam, the northern ten tribes split off from the dynasty of King David. The northern tribes remained allied to Tyre and Sidon in what the historical world calls “the Phoenician Empire” until the fall of the kingdom of Israel. I Kings 12:25-33 records that King Jeroboam of the northern kingdom of Israel did all he could to stop cultural and religious interactions between Israel and Judah. With the kings of Israel discouraging their northern Israelite subjects from contacts with Judah, it is inevitable that the northern kingdom’s language and script would steadily have morphed into the “Phoenician” dialect/script of Tyre and Sidon. The Israelites had merged their navies with those of Tyre and Sidon under King Solomon (I Kings 9:26-27, 10:22) so the language and script of the northern Israelite tribes was already being merged with the Phoenician language and script even before the Israelite tribes divided into two separate kingdoms. After the split, Judah (cut off from Tyre and Sidon) retained a more classical “Hebrew” script while the northern kingdom’s script would have become more like that of their close Phoenician allies. The languages of Israel, Judah, Tyre and Sidon were all dialects of a common Semitic tongue as the Bible regularly indicates that people from these separate entities never had any problems communicating with each other.