Monday, July 11, 2011

Discovery: Ancient Sabbath Boundary Inscription in Galilee

From the Jerusalem Post:

An ancient rock inscription of the word “Shabbat” was uncovered near Lake Kinneret this week – the first and only discovery of a stone Shabbat boundary in Hebrew.

The etching in the Lower Galilee community of Timrat appears to date from the Roman or Byzantine period.

News of the inscription, discovered by chance Sunday by a visitor strolling the community grounds, quickly reached Mordechai Aviam, head of the Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret College.

“This is the first time we’ve found a Shabbat boundary inscription in Hebrew,” he said. “The letters are so clear that there is no doubt that the word is ‘Shabbat.’”

Aviam said Jews living in the area in the Roman or Byzantine era (1st-7th centuries CE) likely used the stone to denote bounds within which Jews could travel on Shabbat. The Lower Galilee of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages had a Jewish majority – many of the Talmudic sages bore toponyms indicative of Galilee communities.

The Jerusalem Post report continues here and includes a photograph of the inscription. Timrat is located about 4 miles (6 km) west of Nazareth.

The BibleWalks Blog has the story of the discovery, more photographs, and directions to the inscription.

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3 Comments:

  • The article claims this is "the first and only discovery of a stone Shabbat boundary in Hebrew", however a parallel that comes immediately to mind is the 12 or so Gezer stones inscribed, in Hebrew, 'thm gzr' or "boundary of Gezer"; each bears a second inscription, in Greek, positioned to be read from the opposite direction: "[lands] belonging to Alkios", apparently the Gentile neighbor of the observant Jews of Hasmonean-period Gezer. (Todd, you attempted to locate and GPS-map these stones a few years ago, yes?) Anyway, I believe the Gezer stones are often interpreted -- even though they don't bear the word 'Sabbath' itself -- as Sabbath boundary markers.

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

    By OpenID israelpalestineguide, at Tue Jul 12, 02:59:00 PM  

  • Also, why the J-Post writer describes the community of Timrat -- which lies WEST of Nazareth -- as being "near Lake Kinneret" is beyond me. If in doubt, they should get out a map! Maybe it was the expert from 'Kinneret College' that threw them off...

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

    By OpenID israelpalestineguide, at Tue Jul 12, 03:09:00 PM  

  • Tom - thanks for the comment. Yes, I located about four of the Gezer boundary inscriptions (plus one in the Istanbul museum). I've had it on my list to write a post about them but I haven't had the time yet.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Tue Jul 12, 05:29:00 PM  

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