Israel God Names
Rock Art and Israel God name YH.
Deciphering rock art from Israel, israelrockart.com.
A scene in rock art represents a page in an ancient book that preserves long-forgotten tradition. Such documentation can reveal the region’s early religious beliefs. As an example, the ongoing mystery of Israel’s God name comes to mind. The Negev Desert rock art provides evidence of the earliest inscriptions of Israel’s God’s name engraved on the desert rocks.
Early Hebrew Script
Early forms with the name Israel God appear on ancient rock art from the Negev Desert, including names such as YH-יה and YHH-יהה representing variants of the modern Hebrew root word YH-יה, dating to 1400 BC. This finding indicates that the god name of Israel existed long before the compilation of the Bible, in 800BC. Such early documentation may provide clues of Israel’s geographical origins.
The Hebrew script and its precursor, the Proto-Sinaic Alphabet, was invented by Semites working in the Egyptian mines in the Sinai desert at Sarabit-el-Haddam dated 1900B C. Due to its simplicity, it was popularized throughout the ancient world and many ancient nations, Canaan, Phoenicia, Greece, adopted the alphabetical concept that later became the base of all alphabets in the world.
Israel God name YH in Negev Desert rock art
Numerous rock art engravings have been identified in the Negev Desert with affinity to Israelite god names including engraving such as “YH“, and “YHH” (Fig.1). Some engraved god names contain a mix of Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite script which shows that they were inscribed during the script transition period. Colless B. a scholar in the field of Religious Studies interpreted these engravings and I quote him:
“It is writing and in fact the original alphabet (or the proto-alphabet) from the Bronze Age: the stick represents a human arm (Hebrew yad) hence Y; the person is rejoicing, and the word for jubilating and praising is hallel (as in Hallelu-Yah) hence H“.
Joining these letters creates a new word YH that translates to “work and praise” a fitting description of god name. The content suggests that the engravers observed a covenant with the regions’ god YH that they worshiped.
The alphabet transitions in Israel God name
The Alphabet found in the Negev Desert differs from the original Proto Sinaic Alphabet. It is a later variation that traveled through the Negev Desert established itself as a local Alphabet, refers by some researchers as Old Negev. Another possibility is an adaptation of the Proto Canaanite script which changed from the Proto-Sinaic Iconic alphabet, into recognizable alphabet letters. The Proto-Canaanite alphabet is not widespread and only 50 short inscriptions have been discovered in Sinai and Israel. Their dating is quite uncertain, ranging from 1700 B.C. to 1050 B.C. The rock art engraving in Fig.2 shows a mix of Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite alphabets found on a massebah from the Faran Desert that spells the name of god YH.
The God’s name YH found in Negev Desert rock art signifies the dwelling region of people worshipping this god. According to the Bible Israel God always appeared from the south: “went out of Seir” and “marched out of Edom” (Judges 5:4-5), an area ranging from Sinai across the Negev Desert. It is the oldest written Israel God name, evidence unambiguous and easy deciphered, engraved forever on Negev Desert rocks! They are found only in the Negev Desert, in the Midianite tribe territory. Does it mean: that Israel originated from the Negev Desert?
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.
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Harris& Dann Hone, The Names of God. The Origins and Emergence of West Semitic Alphabetic Scripts.
Colless B. (2014) The origin of the alphabet