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POTSHERDS OF ARAD   7th century B.C.
During   their   quest   to   conquer,   the   Israelites   came   into   conflict   with   the   king   of   Arad.   A   number   of   it’s   inhabitants   and   the king   himself   knew   how   to   escape   the   destruction.   Later,   Joshua   defeated   31   kings   during   his   campaign,   including   the   king   of Arad - see Joshua 12:14. Ruins   of   a   stronghold   may   be   found   today   in   Tel’Arad,   or   Arad   in   Biblical   times.   The   place   is   located   in   the   Negeb   desert   in Israel   and   is   of   great   historical   value.   Around   the   year   1965,   200   ostraka   or   potsherds   from   the   7th   century   B.C.   were   found. About half of the potsherds are written in old Hebrew. The other half is written in Arameic. Why did the people write on discarded potsherds? In   old   times,   writing   material   such   as   papyrus   or   vellum   was   very   expensive.   An   alternative   was   writing   on   pieces   of   broken pots   or   jars.   Clay   was   cheap,   so   was   often   used   and   broken   pots   could   be   found   anywhere.   They   often   wrote   letters   on   such potsherds. On    one    of    these    potsherds    'the    house    of    JHWH'    is    mentioned.    A    personal    letter    in    ancient    Hebrew    is    written    on    the potsherd.   The   letter   was   from   a   servant   of   Eljasib.   He   starts   with   the   words:   "To   my   lord   Eljasib,   may   JHWH   seek   your peace"... he ends with: "He lives in the house of JHWH". In   those   days   it   was   common   to   use   the   Divine   Name   in   religious   writings.   But   what   is   so   special   about   this   ostrakon?   Well,   it is   an   example   of   a   personal   message   with   the   Divine   Name   in   it.   This   is   also   the   case   with   the   letters   of   Lachish.   They   too included personal messages (see also on this page).
   
Facsimile made by B. Bonte