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The Gezer Calendar, One of the Earliest Surviving Examples of Written Hebrew

Circa 950 BCE
<p>Gezer calendar clos in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.</p>

Gezer calendar clos in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

A tablet of soft limestone inscribed in a paleo-Hebrew script, the Gezer Calendar is one of the oldest known examples of Hebrew writing, dating to the 10th century BCE. It was discovered in excavations of the Biblical city of Gezer, 30 miles northwest of Jerusalem, by R.A.S. Macalister in his excavations between 1902 and 1907, and it is preserved in the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul.

"The calendar describes monthly or bi-monthly periods and attributes to each a duty such as harvest, planting or tending specific crops.

"It reads:

"Two months of harvest

"Two months of planting

"Two months are late planting

"One month of hoeing

"One month of barley-harvest

"One month of harvest and festival

"Two months of grape harvesting

"One month of summer fruit

"Scholars have speculated that the calendar is either a schoolboy's memory exercise or perhaps the text of a popular folk song, or child's song. Another possibility is something designed for the collection of taxes from farmers."

"Scholars are divided as to whether the language is Phoenician or Hebrew and whether the script is Phoenician (or Proto-Canaanite) or paleo-Hebrew" (Wikipedia article on Gezer Calendar, accessed 8-2020).

 

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