Biblical Archaeology Review 30:2, March/April 2004

Don’t Rush to Judgment

Jehoash Inscription May Be Authentic

By David Noel Freedman

BAR’s reports on the so-called Jehoash inscription—which describes repairs to the Solomonic Temple by King Jehoash in the ninth century B.C.E.—are unhesitatingly condemnatory: It is a fake. A piece by the BAR editor on the 15-line inscription is headed “Demonstrably a Forgery.”a My long-time friend Frank Cross (we wrote two joint doctoral dissertations in 1947–48 under William Foxwell Albright), now retired from Harvard, is quoted as saying that the inscription “leaves little doubt that we are dealing with a forgery, and that, fortunately, it is a rather poor forgery.” The statement was later repeated by Cross in the Israel Exploration Journal.1 Some of the forger’s linguistic errors Cross finds “astonishing.” One mistake, he says, was “a howler.”

Another report in the same issue of BAR, by Edward Greenstein of Tel Aviv University, tells its story in the title: “Hebrew Philology Spells Fake.” “Clearly,” Greenstein tells BAR readers, “it is not a genuine artifact.” He has “no difficulty” in reaching this conclusion: “I have not the slightest doubt that this inscription is a phony.”

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