Literacy in Judah

13 Sep 2020

This story  has surface once again as a result of further studies - see ... a new study concerns widespread literacy in the Biblical period, in the 7th century BC kingdom of Judah. This follows the discovery of handwriting by 12 different individuals based at a fort at Arad, guarding the caravan route to Arabia, at the borders of the kingdom of Judah. People could read and write, Probably not the peasant class, the rural farming  communities, but certainly, the more refined classes. Middle class as we might say in modern lingo. This was the era of Deuteronomy and Josiah. It is also thought to be the time when a good part of the Bible was assembled in its current form. In fact, the Bible as we have it nowadays was largely assemble at this time, it is thought, presumably for a literate general public. In fact, the author of the piece notes that the Bible wasn't put ogether for the likes of us, 1400 years later. It was composed for the people alive at that time, in the later 7th century BC. It had an idealogical meaning of that time. In other words, he is confirming the Deuteronomist as a legitimate author of a significant part of the Biblical narrative. We do not know what he omitted, as idealogically frowned upon at the time, but only what he included - which was the wider historical narrative as in Joshua, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, down to Deuteronomy. The most important part of the Bible from the perspective of a chronologist.

At ... which is the same subject but from a different angle, the addition of police forensics to track down who wrote the Bible and when. It goes on to tell us that a few years after the Tel Arad writing material, in 586, Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and destroyed the city. He probably snuffed out literacy at the same time by deporting the educated class. Apparently, there is a problem in Hebrew literacy and writing over the following 400 years, down to the time of the Maccabees when there was a sort of cultural revival. The exiles, we may assume, still had the ability to write, but not in Hebrew.