Revive Theory Sinai Script May Have Been Work of Moses
Menu JTA Search

Revive Theory Sinai Script May Have Been Work of Moses

Download PDF for this date

The suggestion put forward some years ago by Professor Hubert Grimme that the Sinai script found in 1905 in the Sinai Peninsula by Professor Sir Flinders Petrie might be the writing of Moses, is revived today by Sir Charles Marston, writing in the Observer on the exhibition now on view at the rooms of the Palestine Exploration Society in London.

“It is but a few weeks,” he declared, “since a small temple was excavated outside and below the walls of what was once the Biblical city of Lachish in South Palestine. Thanks to the initiative and energy of Mr. Starkey and the staff of the Wellcome Archaeological Research Expedition, the interior of the temple has been transferred to London, and through the courtesy of the Palestine Exploration Fund has been set up in their showrooms. Those who choose to take the trouble to go there can see the inside of a temple just as it was left after it had been burnt, perhaps by the Israelites in the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath (Judges v-vi.), whom Professor Garstung has identified with one of the captains of the Pharaoh Rameses II.

“But the most important feature of the whole exhibition,” Sir Charles said, “is really the large earthenware ewer, standing about eighteen inches high, for round its neck, painted in red, is the lettering or script which has already aroused such intense interest among scholars, both in this country and in the United States.

“We have heard so much about the missing link in other walks of life, that one is almost afraid to use the expression as applied to calligraphy. Yet painted in red on the neck of this shattered ewer are the symbols which definitely connect the mysterious alphabetical script, found in the Peninsula of Sinai in 1905 by Sir Flinders Petrie, with that Phoenician script from which our own alphabet has been derived. Mr. Starkey, the excavator, is entirely satisfied from the surroundings among which the pieces of his ewer were found that the date of it must be placed between 1295 B. C. and 1262 B. C. This discovery carries back previous datings of the Phoenician script by something like 350 years. The earlier Sinai script was found at the Temple of Serabit el Khadim, in the Peninsula of Sinai by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1905. It has ever since been recognized as the earliest known alphabetic writing. The Egyptian monuments on the spot testified that the writing must go back to 1500 B. C. and something earlier.

“Attempts appear to have been made in Germany to represent the Sinaitic writing as the work of Moses. We know from the Jericho excavations that Moses was in Sinai during the fifteenth century B. C., and his association with the Midienites suggests that he must have been acquainted with this system of writing as well as the Egyptian hieroglyphic and hieratic scrips.”


Ali, son of “Rabbi” Saul of Taberistan, is believed to be the first Jew to recommend chess as a diversion. Living in the ninth century, he considered the game a remedy for low spirits and dejected mental condition.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund