King Solomon’s Cheap Wine

Inscription on a Jar From the Time of Solomon

Haaretz is reporting today that an inscription found on a jar dated from the reign of King Solomon contains a reference to cheap wine which was drunk by Solomon’s servants who were conscripted into forced labor in order to work on the many building projects that Solomon promoted in Jerusalem. According to 1 Kings 5:15, Solomon had seventy thousand laborers and eighty thousand stonecutters working on his many projects.

The inscription was deciphered by Gershon Galil, Professor of Biblical Studies and Ancient History at the University of Haifa. This inscription has been declared to be “the oldest inscription ever discovered in Jerusalem.”

The significance of this inscription lies in the fact that it is written in an old Hebrew style and because it reflects literacy in Israel in the tenth century B.C. It also reveals that Solomon had a well-organized administration and that it kept official records.

According to Galil, the inscription has the word Halak in it. According to the article in Haaretz,

“Halak” is an oenological term from the Northern Syrian language of Ugarit. It referred to the lowest of three types of wine – “good wine,” “no good wine” and lowly “halak.”

According to Galil, the “halak”wine was the wine given to Solomon’s laborers.

The article, written by Nir Hasson, concludes as follow:

Galil’s interpretation is sure to add fuel to the archaeological fires regarding the magnitude of David and Solomon’s kingdom. Some archaeologists believe that Jerusalem was a small, unimportant town, contrary to its biblical description. Galil and others view the Bible as a reliable historical document. For them, the inscription is proof of a significant, well-administered kingdom that received goods from afar and expanded during Solomon’s time from the City of David toward the Temple Mount.

You can read the article here. The article is available in the subscription section of the paper and may not be available to the general public.

NOTE: For other articles on archaeology, archaeological discoveries, and how they relate to the Bible, read my post Can Archaeology Prove the Bible?.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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