Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Archaeological Find of the Century: Letter written by King David

BETHLEHEM, ISRAEL, January 13, 2010 - Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a text written by King David shortly following his defeat of Goliath, authenticating the biblical story narrated in 1 Samuel 17. Excavation directors, Dr. Benny bar Throom and Dr. Eilat Mezimah unveiled a tenth century ostracon uncovered only days ago, in Bethlehem, David's hometown.

"The Bethlehem Ostracon appears to be a short letter written by David to his mother, shortly after killing Goliath," explained Dr Mezimah. "This remarkable and hitherto unparalleled letter not only proves the historical existence of David, but also of the giant Goliath. It also sets out David's ambition to become king over the entire region from Egypt to Babylon, thereby supporting the legitimate and God-given right of the modern State of Israel to the entire region of the Levant."

The text is written in ink on a potsherd and is only six lines in length. Dr Bar Throom dates it to "the time of David." The first line identifies "David son of Jesse" as the sender of the brief letter, and it is addressed to "my mother." Dr Mezimah remarked that the tenderness of the address corresponds to what we know of the biblical David, whose relationships with others were marked by great love and affection.

The following lines of the Bethlehem Ostracon describe David's victory over the infamous Philistine terrorist, and appear to be written shortly after the event. The main body of the Ostracon reads as follows: "What a great day! I killed the giant, Goliath. And now I will be king over all Israel, from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates."

"Writing a nice letter like this, to his Mom back at home, displays just the sort of Torah-observant respect for parents that we would expect from the young King David. And it is entirely consistent with the biblical picture we have of him," noted Dr Mezimah. "This high level of morality is quite unlike anything we find amongst Israel's neighbours during this period."

The Hebrew letter aleph is visible on the obverse of the ostracon, together with parts of the letters beth, he, and tav. Although the text is difficult to reconstruct, Dr Bar Throom believes that it is a short sentence in the first person, "probably something along the lines of, 'I'll be home for dinner soon, Mom!'"

"What a good and faithful boy David was," added Dr Mezimah.

Reactions from Old Testament scholars in this country have been universally positive. Professor James Digmore of Dallas Seminary welcomed news of the Bethlehem Ostracon as "the archaeological find of the century." Commenting on highly skeptical scholars who "only want to cause trouble" by denying biblical truths (the so-called "minimalists"), Professor Digmore proclaimed, "It is not too much to say that it sounds the death-knell of minimalism as we know it."

"What this find shows us," said Professor Digmore, "is that it is entirely possible that the Bible's account of David was written by David's own hand. We are dealing with eyewitness testimony. In any case, it was certainly written centuries before the critics have previously claimed. I guess they will have to change their tune, now."