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The El-Kerak Inscription

Click the image to view an enhanced version.

The inscription pictured here is in a language called Moabite. Moabite is a language very much like ancient Hebrew and it was spoken by the people who lived in the country of Moab. Moab was a kingdom situated across the Dead Sea from Israel and Judah. Another inscription in Moabite, known as the Moabite Stone, tells about the victory of Mesha, king of Moab, over one of the descendants of Omri, king of Israel. The alphabet used is like the one the Israelites used until the 6th to the 4th centuries B.C.E. It is the alphabet developed by the Phoenicians and adopted by a number of other peoples, including the Greeks. The Latin alphabet, upon which our alphabet is based, comes from that same Greek alphabet.

The Inscription

The El-Kerak inscription was either written by Mesha, king of Moab, or his father in the 9th century B.C.E. It was found in 1958 in Jordan while a trench for a new building was being cut. It is of gray-black basalt and probably was part of a longer piece, perhaps a statue.

Photograph by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research. Courtesy Department of Antiquities, Jordan.

Commentary by Marilyn J. Lundberg.

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