Biblical Archaeology Review 38:3, May/June 2012

Ancient Inscription Refers to Birth of Israelite Monarchy

By Gerard Leval

The already famous Qeiyafa Ostracon, found only in 2008, has been read and interpreted quite differently by a variety of senior scholars, as recounted in the previous article by Christopher Rollston. One of the most fascinating interpretations is by Émile Puech, the senior epigrapher of the prestigious École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem. Because his analysis is written in French (published in the Revue Biblique1), it is not well known outside of a small group of scholars, but it is well worth considering. In Puech’s view, the Qeiyafa Ostracon is the earliest known text relating to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy—likely referring to the installation of the first Israelite king, Saul, rather than to the accession to that throne by his more illustrious successor David.

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