Ugarit was an important Syrian seaport, from which a large corpus of alphabetic cuneiform tablets has been recovered dating to the 14th and 13th centuries B.C.


The city of H|adera is located in a swampy part of the Plain of Sharon, about midway between Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Mt. Carmel.


For the text of the Mesha Stele, see André Lemaire, “‘House of David’ Restored in Moabite Inscription,” BAR 20:03, and Siegfried H. Horn, “Why the Moabite Stone Was Blown to Pieces,” BAR 12:03.



See P. E. Guigues, “Pointe de flèche en bronze à inscription phénicienne,” Melanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph 12 (1926), pp. 323–328.


A complete list of the examples available for study in 1992 was compiled and published by Pierre Bordreuil in the journal Revue Biblique (99, pp. 205–213), where he also indicates knowledge of the existence of five additional examples in museum collections and an unspecified number of others in private hands (p. 212, n. 34).


Jean Starcky, “La flèche de Zakarba‘al, roi d’Amurru,” in Archeologie au Levant. Receuil Roger Saidah (Lyon: Tarragon, 1982), pp. 179–86.


The name MRS| seems to reflect a common Semitic word referring to sickness, so that unless some other meaning eludes us (as is quite possible!) we might conclude that Zakarbaal’s grandfather was an invalid.


Deutsch and Heltzer read the third letter of the title as lamed, yielding MSðL, “ruler(?),” which yields no good interpretation. But the sign in question is qop, providing us with a welcome example of an archaic form of this relatively rare letter, and the title masû, “cupbearer, butler,” is well known.


The Cambridge Ancient History, trans. J. Bottéro, vol. 1, part 2a (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1971), pp. 563–564.


An earlier generation of historians and archaeologists saw this as evidence of an invasion of the settled lands of the Fertile Crescent by desert nomads. We know, however, that a portion of the population of Mesopotamia was Amurru long before the time of the posited invasion. They were pastoralists and nomads living side-by-side with the urban and farming population. When the urban culture of the Early Bronze Age collapsed in the last quarter of the third millennium, some of these people were evidently able to gain positions of influence, and they seem to have taken the lead in the gradual reurbanization that occurred in the early centuries of the second millennium.


Ramesses’s records include not only the name bin ‘anat, “Son of Anath,” but also bint ‘anat, “Daughter of Anath”!


Dever published this material in an article in the Hebrew Union College Annual (40–41 [1969–79], pp. 139–204) entitled “Iron Age Epigraphic Material from the Area of Khirbet el-Kom.”


Dever, “Iron Age Epigraphic Material,” p. 142.


Deutsch and Heltzer are of the same opinion; they present it as another inscription from Khirbet el-Kom. In his publication of the el-Kom materials, Dever describes the unfortunate situation at the site as follows: “During the brief excavations there the writer personally observed nearly a hundred robbed tombs; and several thousand pieces would be a conservative estimate of the pottery from the site seen in the village or later in the hands of Jerusalem dealers.”


Deutsch and Heltzer indicate (p. 27) that the first word, brk, might be a singular or plural imperative (“Bless … !”). But brk cannot be a plural imperative, which would have been spelled brkw at this time, when final long vowels were indicated in spelling by vowel letters. This was in contrast to the much older system that was in effect, for example, at the time of the inscribed arrowheads discussed above. In that earlier orthography final vowels were not marked, so that there would have been no difference between the spelling of the imperative of brk, “bless,” in the singular (barek, spelled brk) and plural (bareku, also spelled brk).

There are other possible readings of the term brk.
At a BAS summer seminar, BAS member Gerta Cole of Toronto, Canada, suggested to me the interesting possibility of interpreting brk as “Baruch,” the name of the stonecutter.

Deutsch and Heltzer say that the second word, hsbk, might be singular (“your stonecutter”) or plural (“your stonecutters”), but in the language of Judah at this time the plural, which they prefer, would have been hsbyk. This is because diphthongs remained uncontracted in all positions in pre-exilic Judahite Hebrew. In other words, the plural ending with the suffix would have remained -aykca, and the word would have been written hsbyk in the inscription. If the plural ending with the suffix had contracted to, –êkaµ, as in Biblical Hebrew, it would have been written hsbk, as it is in this inscription. But we know that the contraction had not taken place, so that hsbk can only be singular, “your stonecutter.” The first word in the second line cannot mean “will rest” (plural) for the reason already cited: It is spelled ysûkb and must be singular (“he will rest” or “he will lay to rest”), since the plural would have been spelled ysûkbw at this time. It follows from this that the unambiguously plural noun rendered by Deutsch and Heltzer as “the elders” (zqnm) cannot be the subject of the singular verb ysûkb.


This is the meaning of the Aramaic phrase lhyy npsûh, “for the life of his soul,” as shown (for example) by the Akkadian napisûtam bullutu, “to spare one’s life.”


The form l’dnnm is difficult to construe as singular (“to their lord”), for which we would expect l’dnm, regardless of whether the suffix was –nm or –m (both of which are known in Phoenician).


Otherwise we might suppose that the offerings are to one god whose name was something like ‘Ashtarom (?), especially since “the ‘Ashtars” has the form of a Phoenician (not Aramaic) plural even in the Aramaic dedications. The retention of the final –m as the plural marker in the Aramaic texts, where we expect final –n, is surprising. We can only suppose that the ‘Ashtars were always referred to as a group, so that their name became a collective noun, the form of which was retained as traditional even when the local Phoenician dialect was replaced in the region by Aramaic. Still, it is surprising.


The analysis of Deutsch and Heltzer goes astray here. They read this clause as zy dsûrn’ and render the final part as “at the Sharon (plain or area),” explaining d– as “the particle expressing in this case the relation to the place” (p. 83). This is puzzling, but I’m afraid they are thinking of later Aramaic d-, which can have such a meaning. But this would be phonologically incompatible with the preceding zy (the older form, from which d– developed!) and therefore impossible. Moreover, the photograph shows that the sign in question has a clearly curved stem; it is not dalet but bet. Hence, the clause is zy bsûrn’, which clearly and elegantly means “who is/are in the Sharon.”