Moshe Kochavi

Homework from the Iron Age. Shortly before 1100 B.C.E., someone at ‘Izbet Sartah, perhaps a schoolchild learning to write, inscribed letters of the alphabet on a pottery fragment. Fragments such as this one are known as an abecedary; on this example the last line contains an almost complete proto-Hebrew alphabet. Curiously this alphabet reads from left to right, contrary to later Hebrew. Most importantly the script is Canaanite, leading William Dever to conclude that the early Israelites were at this time still writing and speaking a language indistinguishable from the Canaanites. Hebrew as a national tongue and script was not to emerge until the establishment of the monarchy in the tenth century B.C.E.