Avraham Hay

Edomite ostracon from Horvat ‘Uza, a Judean fortress in the eastern Negev. The discovery of this ostracon provided the first clear evidence of Edomite penetration into the Negev. The fortress probably fell into the Edomites’ hands at about the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah (c. 586 B.C.), the time to which the ostracon is dated. Six lines of writing, in the Edomite script and language, form the following, virtually complete message on the 4 1/2-inch by 3 3/4-inch pottery sherd ”(Thus) said Lumalak (or limelek): Say to Blbl! / Are you well? I bless you / by Quas. And now give the food (grain) / that Ahi’ma (or o) … / And may U[z]iel lift [it] upon (the altar?) … / [lest] the food become leavened (?).” This short letter was probably addressed to the Edomite commander of the fort by a high Edomite official. After a standard salutation and invocation of the blessing of the Edomite god Qos (Quas), the message commands the recipient to give some food, possibly unleavened dough, to the bearer of the ostracon.