Ver. 1.2

January 20, 2003

Temple Tablet Transcription and Translation

By David Steinberg

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On the Internet, the tablet’s photograph and background can be found at




break…….חזיהו٠מ Line 1.

break……. הדה٠ואעש٠את٠ה Line 2

break…… ה٠כאשר٠נמלאה٠נLine 3.

בת٠לב٠אש٠בארצ٠ובמדLine 4.

בר٠ובכל٠ערי٠יהדה٠ל  Line 5.

תת٠כספ٠הקדשם٠לרבLine 6.

לקנת٠אבנ٠מחצב٠וברLine 7.

שמ٠ונחשת٠אדמ٠לעשת٠Line 8.

במלאכה٠באמנה٠ואעשLine 9.

את٠בדק٠הבית٠והקרת٠סLine 10.

בב٠ואת٠היצע٠והשבכLine 11.

מ٠והלולמ٠והגרעת٠והLine 12.

דלתת٠והיה٠הימ٠הזהLine 13.

לעדת٠כי٠תצלח٠המלאכהLine 14.

יצל٠יהוה٠את٠עמו٠בברכהLine 15.


Preliminary Translation

Line 1 (a)hazian

Line 2.(Ju)dah. and I made/did the…

Line 3.  ? when it (f) was filled…

Line 4.  ? voluntarily (lit. heart of man) in the land  and in the wilder-

Line 5.  ness and in all the cities of Judah to

Line 6.  give their holy contributions of silver in large quantity

Line 7.  to purchase quarried stone and cyp-

Line 8.  ress (or pine) and red copper (or bronze) to do

Line 9.  the work properly and I did

Line 10. the repair of the temple (lit. house)  and the walls arou-

Line 11.  nd (it) and the lower projecting story (of the temple) and the lat-

Line 12.  tice work and the winding stairs and the recesses (or ledges) and the do-

Line 13.  ors and this day will be (or was)

Line 14.  a glory (or testimony) when the work is successfully (being completed)

Line 15. may the LORD redeem His people through a blessing


Notes –


General – Nb. The transcription must be checked against better photographs of the tablet and, ideally, against the original tablet.  Misreadings may be due to cracks, chips, shadows etc.


Script – a clear Palaeo-Hebrew script.  The letters most easily confused are ד and ר.

I have no expertise in semitic paleography.  In comparing the photograph with the table on p. 77 of Early History of the Alphabet: An Introduction to West Semitic Palaeography by J. Naveh , Magnes Press 1987, pp. 117-118 of Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions by J. C. L. Gibson, Clarandon Press, Oxford 1971; and the Beit David/House of David Inscription (, I made the following observations:


Biblical Hebrew

Comment – greatest similarities to


Beit David


Angle like Beit David but sharp angle to bottom stroke like 7th –century BC seals




Beit David and Siloam Tunnel


Beit David


Variable some like Mesha and some like 7th –century BC seals




Beit David, Arad (early 6th C. BC), Samarian Ivory




Siloam Tunnel, 7th–century BC seals


Beit David


Beit David, Mesha, Siloam, 7th–century BC seals


Beit David, Siloam Tomb


No close match


Beit David, Gezer, Mesha, Siloam, Samarian Seal


Beit David


Beit David, Gezer


Gezer, Mesha




Beit David, Gezer


7th–century BC seals


7th–century BC seals


Dates of Inscriptions (see and Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions by J. C. L. Gibson.




Gezer Calendar/Almanac

c. 925 BCE

Siloam Tunnel

c. 701BCE

Mesha Stele

9th cent. BCE

Beit David

9th—8th centuries BCE



Orthography – Vowel letters ,matres lectionis, are used regularly at the end of words but only in the following possible cases within words:

·                       Line 9 the א in במלאכה may have still been pronounced as a consonant or have become a vowel letter as in the Tiberian tradition for reading this word.

·                       Line 12 the ו in והלולמ may be a vowel letter


For further on this subject see Matres Lectionis in Ancient Hebrew Epigraphs by Z. Zevit ASOR Monograph Series 2 1980


Authenticity – From my purely amateur point of view, it would seem likely that either it was authored by the authors of 2 Kings 12 or is a forgery based on that and other Biblical texts with the script mainly based on the Beit David/House of David Inscription


Relationship to Biblical text.  The vocabulary and subject matter closely resemble 2 Kings chapter 12.


Original Length of the text – the top of the tablet is missing (say 5+ lines).  The ends of lines 1-3 are missing.  Line 1 has only 6 letters that I can distinguish; line 2 is about 2/3 intact; line 3 is missing only the last 1-2 letters. As lines can end at any point in a word and continue on the next line, the reading of the initial word of lines 1-4 must remain uncertain.


Word dividers – as is normal in First Temple texts, dots divide the words.  The poor resolution of the photograph I used makes the reading of the dots frequently uncertain



Line 1 – חזיהו probably the end of the name name Ahaziah (see 2Kings 11:2 ff) who reigned for 1 year over Judah (c.842-841 BCE).  The repairs to the Temple (called, as in our inscription the house) - see 2Kings 12:5 ff started on or after the twenty-third year oh Joash’s 40 year reign (835-978 BCE).

Line 2 – הדה is likely the end of a word that started on the previous line (text missing). It could well be יהדה.  Final letter could be ה or ת. Probably the object of ואעש was , בדק٠הבית or המלאכה or the like.

  לב٠אש٠ likely the meaning is similar to 2 Kings 12:5  (12:4 in English)  איש לב על יעלה

Line 6 – הקדשם٠ כספ identical to 2 Kings 12:5; we can also read הקדשם as the infinitive construct haqdishem (cf. Jastrow on הֶקְדֵש p 364)

Line 7 – מחצב אבנ identical expression in 2 Kings 12:13 (12:12 in English) 

Line 9 –   באמנה identical word in 2 Kings 12:16 (12:15 in English) but the meaning is different.  In 2 Kings it is used to say that the workers were honest so the honor system was used.  In our text, I believe that the meaning is that the repair work was properly done.

Line 10 – for  הבית בדק see 2 Kings chapter 12 and BDB p. 96.  The expression is not used with the verb עשה in the Bible in fact, as noted by BDB it always is the object of the verb חִזֵּק.  However, in my view, this is unlikely to be evidence pro or con for forgery because (a) a forger would have seen this simple fact from examining 2 Kings 12 and 22:5 which are, I think, the only uses of this expression in the Hebrew Bible; and, (b) with so little evidence we cannot know the range of verbs that might have been used with the expression  הבית בדק during the First Temple period.

Line 11- יָצִעַ = lower projecting story of the temple (BDB p 427)

Line 11/12 שבכ מ (BDB p 959)

Line 12 לולמ (BDB p 533); assuming גרעת = מגרות (BDB p 175)

Line 14 תצלח probably in hiphil see BDB p 852 top of second column

Line 15  יצל can also be translated as “the LORD will redeem or the LORD redeems;ברכה can also be translated as have the sense of prosperity, gift or treaty of peace (BDB p 139)


Gesenius = Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar by William Gesenius, Emil Kautzsch (Editor)

Syntax – Hebrew Syntax An Outline by R. J. Williams, University of Toronto Press 1967


BDB = Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by William Gesenius, Edward Robinson (Translator), Francis Brown (Editor), S. R. Driver (Editor), Charles A. Briggs (Editor)



Segal = Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew by M. H. Segal


Jastrow = Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature by Marcus Jastrow.


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