A crucial disagreement about the translation of the Qumran ostracon occurs over the last three letters in line 8 (reading right to left). Frank Moore Cross and Esther Eshel, who translate the line as “when he fulfills (his oath) to the Community,” read these last three letters as yod (y), het(h) and dalet (d). Ada Yardeni, however, who translates the line “and every oth[er(?)] tree[…],” reads these as nun (n), aleph (a) and possibly het. The two critical letters are the third and the second from the left—Cross and Eshel’s yod and hethet, Yardeni’s nun and aleph. For the first letter, their difference lies in what they see in the photograph. For the second, they see pretty much the same thing but disagree on what letter it represents.

Yardeni also disagrees with Cross and Eshel on how to read the beginning of the line. Yardeni reads the third letter from the right as a waw (w); Cross and Eshel see it as a mem (m). Yardeni contends that they get this mem by taking part of the following lamed (l) and attaching it to the waw. She thinks they make a similar mistake finding a waw and a taw (t) after (to the left of) the lamed; she believes it’s an aleph that they’ve split in two.


transliteration: WKWL’YLN ’H|

translation: and every oth[er(?)] tree[ … ]

Cross and Eshel

transliteration: WKMLWTW LYH|D

translation: when he fulfils (his oath) to the Community ]