West Semitic Inscriptions & the Hebrew Bible (AOAT 410)

West Semitic Inscriptions & the Hebrew Bible (AOAT 410)


Angelika Berlejung, Jan Dietrich, Enrique Jiménez


Bob Becking


Part I: Iron Age Israel

1. ‘Plead for the Poor and the Widow: The Ostracon from Khirbet Qeiyafa as Expression of Social Consciousness’, is an updated version of a piece originally published by me and Paul Sanders in ZAR 17 (2011), pp. 133–148. I would like to thank Paul for his consent to republish. We defended – and still defend – the view that this text has been a writing exercise and that the contents present a view of social responsibility comparable to other sources from the ancient Near East.

2. ‘An Iron Age Jar Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa, but who is Eshbaal?’, is newly written. It deals with a small inscription on the shoulder of a jar. Since the name Eshbaal also occurs in the Hebrew Bible the slithery path of identification is taken.

3. ‘The Tel Dan Inscription and its Problems’, is a patchwork of a set of articles: ‘Het “Huis van David” in een pre-exilische inscriptie uit Tel Dan’, NedTT 49 (1995), pp. 108–123; ‘The second Danite Inscription: Some Remarks’, BN 81 (1996), pp. 21–30; ‘Did Jehu write the Tel Dan Inscription?’, SJOT 13 (1999), pp. 187–201; ‘Does the Stele from Tel Dan refer to a Deity Bethel?’, BN 118 (2003), pp. 19–23. After the finding of the paleo-Hebrew fragments at Tel Dan, a sometimes-heated discussion enflamed on the authenticity of the inscription and on its bearing for Biblical studies. I try to steer a calm course by concentrating on the evidence and putting all sorts of speculations between brackets.

4. “The stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart”: Thoughts about the Siloam Inscription’. This is a newly written contribution on the paleo-Hebrew inscription found in the Siloam-tunnel. The date of this inscription has been disputed. I argue that the arguments to connect both the construction Siloam tunnel and the writing of this inscription are still valid.

5. ‘Does a Recently Published Paleo-Hebrew Inscription Refer to the Solomonic Temple?’. Unprovenanced finds turning out to be a forgery form a pandemic threat to the field. Sometimes, the forgeries are that ingenious that scholars accept them to be authentic. In this rewritten version of an article published in BN 92 (1998), pp. 5–11, I have to admit that the ‘three shekels’ inscription in fact is a forgery.

6. ‘The Enigmatic Garden of Uzza: A religio-historical Footnote to 2 Kings 21:18,26’, is an unaltered version of my contribution in: I. Kottsieper, R. Schmitt, J. Wöhrle (eds), Berührungspunkte: Studien zur Sozial- und Religionsgeschichte Israels, Festschrift für Rainer Albertz zu seinem 65. Geburtstag (AOAT 350), Münster 2008, pp. 383–391.

7. ‘Prophecy at Lachish’. Just before the Second World War, inscriptions were found at Tell ed Duweir, referring to the phenomenon of prophecy during the last days of the Kingdom of Judah.

8. ‘How to Read a Bulla from ‘Bethlehem’?’. This new piece discusses a bulla that was presented by its editor as a ‘fiscal’ bulla mentioning the city of Bethlehem. Both claims are challenged.

Part II: Aramaic Text

9. ‘An Extra-canonical Hymn on the Incomparability of YHWH: An Israelite Psalm in Papyrus Amherst 63’. The recently decode Aramaic text in Demotic script contains three hymns on the God of Israel. One of them is the often quoted parallel to Psalm 20. In this new contribution, I discuss the third hymn arguing that it contains the concept of divine incomparability.

Part III: Transjordan Inscriptions

10. ‘On the Interpretation of the Ammonite Inscription on a Bottle from Tell Sīrān’, is an updated translation of ‘Zur Interpretation der ammonitischen

Inschrift vom Tell Sīrān’, BiOr 38 (1981), pp. 273–276. It discusses a small but problematic text describing the achievements of the Ammonite king


11. ‘Exile and Forced Labour in Bet Har’oš: Remarks on a Recently Discovered Moabite Inscription’, was previously published in: GERSHON GALIL, MARK

GELLER and ALAN MILLARD (eds), Homeland and Exile: Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of Bustenay Oded (VT Sup 130), Leiden 2010, pp. 3–12. The essay analyses a Moabite building inscription in which remarks are made about forced labour by prisoners of war. I argue for a connection with the ancient Near Eastern herem-institution.

12. ‘A Voice from Across the Jordan: Royal Ideology as Implied in the Moabite Stela’, is an reworked version of my contribution to: R. Müller und C. LEVIN (eds), Herrschaftslegitimation in vorderorientalischen Reichen der Eisenzeit (ORA 21), Tübingen 2017, pp. 125–145. The well-known Mesha Stela is read from the perspective of power-structures in the emerging kingdom of Moab. It turns out that Mesha is representing his deeds and doings as an underpinning of his dominant position among the Moabite tribes.

13. ‘For the Love of Chemosh? Remarks on the Moabite inscription from el-Kerak’. I argue that the deeds an doings of the Moabite king, described in this inscription, are not seen as motivated by divine love. 

14. ‘Hebrews in Moab? Remarks on the recently published inscribed altar from Khirbat Ataruz’ has newly been written for this volume. The editors of the

two inscriptions on one pillar altar claimed a reference to the Hebrew neighbours of Moab. In my view, this claim cannot be substantiated.

15. ‘‘A Message from the King …’: Some Remarks on an Edomite Ostracon from Ḥorvat ‘Uza’. This essay was published by Meindert Dijkstra and me

in: JNSL 37 (2011), pp. 113–120.

16. ‘Does Wisdom Come From Edom? Remarks on an Ostracon from Ḥorvat ‘Uza’. This piece was published earlier in: S. Fischer und M. Grohmann

(eds) Weisheit und Schöpfung Festschrift für James Alfred Loader zum 65. Geburtstag (Wiener Alttestamentliche Studien 7), Frankfurt am Main 2010, pp. 29–42. The reader will find the original text here, an update will be published as ‘Have there been Prophets in Edom? An Ostracon from Ḥorvat ‘Uza Once more’, in B. HENSEL e.a. (eds), About Edom and Idumea in the Persian Period, Sheffield 2021.

Part IV: Texts from Elephantine

17. ‘Temple, marzēaḥ, and Power at Elephantine’, was originally published in: Transeuphratène 29 (2005), pp. 37–47, and has been updated for this


18. ‘An Anxious Dream from Elephantine’ is completely new. It offers a thick description based on a careful reading of an enigmatic dream report.

19. ‘Are there Futility-Curses among the Sayings of Achikar?’. This question was posed by James Moore in his review of Laurie Quick, Deuteronomy 28 and the Aramaic Curse Tradition, Oxford 2018. A futility clause is a well-known speech form attested in the Hebrew Bible, in the Aramaic documents, and in Mesopotamian texts.

20. ‘Burglars, Diplomats, or Victims? Remarks on the Interpretation of a Document from Elephantine’. This is a slightly revised version of an article with the same title published in ZAbR 23 (2017), 223–228. The Aramaic text highlights the growing troubles between the Yehudites of Elephantine and the indigenous population.

Part V: Late Texts

21. ‘A remark on a post-exilic seal’, published in: UF 18 (1987), pp. 445–446, was one of my first finger-exercises in the field of West-Semitic inscriptions.

It discusses a Hebrew seal containing a classical Hebrew word for ‘messenger’.


Bibliographische Angaben

Reihe + Nummer: AOAT 410


ISBN: 978-3-86835-344-0


Erscheinungsjahr: 2023


Seitenanzahl: vi + 261 pp.

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