By November 20, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

Arad Ostraca, c. 600 BCE

First extra-biblical reference to the Temple?

 

Arad Ostracon 1

Arad Ostracon 1

Arad Ostracon 2

Arad Ostracon 2

In the 1960s, a Tel Aviv University expedition directed by Yohanan Aharoni at the Judean city of Arad in the Negev desert uncovered a number of Hebrew ostraca, many of which came from a single archive dating to the late seventh or early sixth century. Several of the ostraca, potsherds penned in ink, concern the military correspondence of an officer at Arad named Eliashib. Some letters detail the conveyance of provisions, while others discuss troop movements in the light of fears about nearby Edomites. The most striking ostracon, Arad 18, refers briefly to a religious shrine- “the house of the Lord is well. It remains.” It is not clear whether the author is referring to the temple in Jerusalem, but the date of the archive is close to the time when the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed the capital. While it is difficult to discern the exact meaning or historical context of cryptic references like the temple remark, there is clearly a sentiment of concern that pervades the archive as a whole. Perhaps we see a glimpse of an anxious desert garrison shortly before the fall of the kingdom.

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Posted in: Bible and Beyond

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