Reexamined: Biblical-Era Writings Reveal Royal Administration in Israel

A new study offers a peek into the rule of Jeroboam II.
“In the year ni[ne] from Az[…]t Par’an to Shemaryau jar of aged wine”;
Faigenbaum-Golovin S, Shaus A, Sober B, Turkel E, Piasetzky E, Finkelstein I,

Excavations in 1910 at the ancient Israelite capital of Samaria yielded over 100 pieces of pottery covered with ink writing. Known today as the Samaria Ostraca, these ancient administrative documents detail the receipt of wine and oil to Samaria during the reign of the Israelite King Jeroboam II – over 2700 years ago.

Now, a renewed study of the potsherds has revealed that only two scribes wrote all of the documents.

In response to the study, many media outlets implied that the limited number of scribes point to a low level of literacy in ancient Israel.

On today’s program, host Brent Nagtegaal refutes the claim, showing how the results of the study harmonize extremely well with biblical history – especially during the reign of Jeroboam II.

Show Notes

Study - Algorithmic handwriting analysis of the Samaria inscriptions illuminates bureaucratic apparatus in biblical Israel