Joseph Calloway

On the trial of the Israelites. This inscribed jar handle from Raddana, about ten miles north of Jerusalem, bears (from top to bottom) the letters alef (A), het (H|) and lamed (L). Adding the letter dalet (D) completes the name Ahilud, a name known from contemporaneous references in 2 Samuel 8:16 and 20:24.

Frank Moore Cross, applying his expertise in palaeography (the study of a script’s style and stance), dated this jar handle to about 1200 B.C.E. Cross believes the earliest Israelites may have been of patriarchal stock living in the Shechem area who formed a covenant of clans early in the 12th century; this “proto-Israel” was later joined by followers of Moses, devotees of Yahweh, who entered Canaan from the east.