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Re: orion spaceless BYTYHWH inscription!

Dear Judith,
Thank you so much for your report on this new ostracon.
I hope we can all go cautiously on this one.
I think we need to think about *how* "labs" have "authenticated" the 
inscription (pottery? opinion of paleographer?). Is the potsherd on 
which the inscription has been found datable? does the palaeography 
match that kind of date? Has the region from which the clay of the  pottery has 
come been identified?
I agree with you that the parallel with the other byt inscription 
should be considered for historical interpretations, though I am 
unwilling to see the absence of a dot as pivotal, indicating little 
more than that it can be read as a single word, like a place name. Also any other 
inscriptions that refer to temples or the like, such as the Yahweh of 
Teman and Yahweh of Samaria of Kuntillat Ajrud, need also to be 
considered. Do we have other names of temples in inscriptions from 
South Syria?
A dating of an inscription from 9-7th. century is unfortunately not 
much of a date. Does this dating exclude an 11-1oth. century dating? 
Does it exclude a 6th.-5th cent dating, or indeed, later or earlier? 
Or is the dating 9th-7th merely a possible one among other possible 
Is bytyhwh the name of a patronage? The name of a village? The name of a 
temple? A geographical name? Can we exclude any of these 
possibilities? Do we now have 4 known temples related to yhwh from 
the Iron Age, or are there more? Does the Mesha stele offer a fifth?
Such questions are important to ask. Unfortunately, they were not 
asked about the Aramaic inscription from Tel Dan before journalists began hawking 
it. It would be a shame to see such a circus repeated.
Unfortunately, I have not received a copy of this magazine as yet, so 
can not really comment on the text's significance.

Thomas L. Thompson
professor, University of Copenhagen

> A fascinating report (with clear photograph) appears in the latest BAR,
> concerning an ostracon that recently surfaced on the antiquities  market.
> Obviously, such objects must initially  be viewed with suspicion, but this
> one  has (according to the report)  been authenticated by several different
> labs.  The author of the BAR report (You-guess-who!)  acknowledges the
> assistance of two experts,  P. Kyle McCarter and Benjamin Sass,  in
> preparing it.
> The inscription appears to be some kind of a receipt for (or at least a
> record of)  a donation to a temple called *BYTYHWH*  (that is,  BYT YHWH
> written as one word with no space between BYT and YHWH --  similar to the
> Tel Dan inscription, which  (albeit in square Aramaic characters) likewise
> lacks a space between BYT and DWD.   It is written in ancient Hebrew
> characters and is claimed to refer to the First Temple.  (Apparently a full
> write-up is going to appear soon in the Near Eastern Archaeologist).
> So, it seems that H.S.  has once again set the cat among the pigeons!
> The ball is now back in the court of the  BETDOD-NIKS.......
> "Agog with Anticipation"
>  Judith Romney Wegner
>  jrw@brown.edu