James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1955), pp. 18–22.


A few very short, similar inscriptions have turned up in Canaan—called Proto-Canaanite—but they are dated later, to the late Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom (17th–16th century B.C.E. at the earliest). See especially the examples of the Shechem plaque, the Gezer sherd and the Lachish dagger in Joseph Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet: An Introduction to West Semitic Epigraphy and Palaeography, reprint of 2nd rev. ed. (Jerusalem: Magness Press, 1997), pp. 26–27. See also the Tell Nagila sherd in Gordon J. Hamilton, The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Scripts (Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 2006), p. 392. Another small, two-line example comes from Wadi el-Hôl (near Thebes) from a wall with Egyptian inscriptions which date to the late Middle Kingdom (late Dynasty XII and Dynasty XIII) and Second Intermediate period. These inscriptions seem also to date a little later than the Sinai inscriptions.


See Orly Goldwasser, “Canaanites Reading Hieroglyphs: Horus Is Hathor?—The Invention of the Alphabet in Sinai,” Egypt & Levant 16 (2006), pp. 121–160 for a detailed table with all references.


One example is known from an Egyptian inscription in Tell el-Daba and another from Wadi Gasus.


Hamilton, The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Scripts, p. 84.


See recently Anson F. Rainey, “Review of The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Scripts, by G.J. Hamilton,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 354 (2009), p. 85.


Hamilton, The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Script, p. 242 (after Huehnergard).


Dated to year 13 of Amenemhet III.


John C. Darnell, “Two Early Alphabetic Inscriptions from the Wadi el-Hôl. New Evidence for the Origin of the Alphabet from the Western Desert of Egypt” (together with: Meredith S. Chesson et al., “Results of the 2001 Kerak Plateau Early Bronze Age Survey”), Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 59 (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2005), p. 91.


The god El is mentioned at least three times in the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions in Serabit (Sinai 377, 378, 363), and once in Wadi el-Hôl. The god El plays a central role in the Book of Judges. See recently André Lemaire, The Birth of Monotheism—The Rise and Disappearance of Yahwism (Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2007), pp. 14–17.


Seth L. Sanders, “What Was the Alphabet For? The Rise of Written Vernaculars and the Making of Israelite National Literature,” Maarav 11 (2004), p. 44.


From the 12th century B.C.E., see the Qubur el-Walaydah fragment (northwest Negev) and the Izbet Sartah ostracon in Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet, pp. 36–37. For a recently discovered mid-tenth century B.C.E. example, see the Tel Zayit abecedary in Ron Tappy et al., “An Abecedary of the Mid-Tenth Century from the Judaean Shephelah,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 344 (2006), p. 27. A stratified ostracon carrying a text (probably a letter) dated to the tenth century B.C.E. was also found recently at Khirbet Qeiyafa near Beit Shemesh by Yossef Garfinkel. He identified the site as a Judean city from the time of King David. See “Newly Discovered: A Fortified City from King David’s Time,BAR 35:01 2009 and “Prize Find: Oldest Hebrew Inscription Discovered in Israelite Fort on Philistine Border,” in this issue. For a different, later dating of these inscriptions, see Benjamin Sass, “The Alphabet at the Turn of the Millennium,” The Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv Univ. Occasional Publications No. 4 (2005). However, the dates of these finds are still highly debated.