First Temple-era cave inscription refers to Biblical “Valley of Salt”

Thursday, September 7, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Using modern high-tech imaging, an Israeli archaeologist has been able to decipher the three-line First Temple period paleo-Hebrew inscription found on a cave near the Dead Sea in southern Israel in the 1970s as referencing the “Valley of Salt” cited in several Hebrew Bible Scriptures, the Times of Israel (TOI) reports.

Dated to around the 7th century BC, the inscription was first discovered in 1973 in a cave full of stalactites in Ein Gedi; it was painted with carbonite ink on a stalactite in the cave. The inscription was partially deciphered in 1974 by researcher Pessach Bar-Adon. Working with what tools he had at the time, Bar-Adon deciphered the text as reading: Blessed is God (Adonai) / Blessed XXX / Blessed is God (Elohim), TOI reports.

This year, however, Dr. Asaf Gayer, of the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Ariel University, determined it was time to take another look at the inscription, given the modern technology now available to researchers.

Accordingly, the inscription was re-photographed by the Israel Antiquities Authority using multispectral imaging, TOI reports. Using manual computer programs, Gayer was then able to decipher the Hebrew words “in the valley,” with valley in a variant spelling that appears several times in the Bible. Moreover, Gayer said, he also believes he deciphered the words “the salt.”

Gayer’s report has significance for Bible scholars especially as the locale the “Valley of Salt” appears in several biblical texts, including 2 Samuel 8:13 and Psalms 60:2. In both of these Scriptures King David gives thanks to God for his acts that led to victory in the Valley of Salt.

Bible scholars have generally agreed that the Valley of Salt referred to by David is near the Dead Sea – but “having an external source that tells us about the area right above the Dead Sea” is important, Gayer told TOI.

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