The Gezer calendar (Psalm 107)

Bilderesultat for The Gezer calendar

Illustration: The Gezer calendar

Gezer (modern Tell Jezer) lies in the low hills that separated Philistia from Judah. It had a strategic location, guarding access to the coastal trade route, known as the Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”), as well as to the overland route into the hill country. The city was at various times under Egyptian, Philistine or Israelite control.

In 1908 a stone was found inscribed with what appears to be an agricultural calendar. It dates to the tenth century B.C. and was probably written as a schoolboy’s exercise. Rather than beginning in the spring, as does the festival calendar, the “Gezer calendar” commences in the fall, suggesting that the Israelite agricultural calendar began in the autumn.

Scholars have used this brief text to try to better understand Israelite agricultural practices. It suggests that the planting of grains began in October, after the rains had softened the soil to allow for plowing. Grain sowing lasted for two months, followed by two months of vegetable sowing. After a month of hoeing, the harvest began in the spring with first the barley, then the wheat, then the grapes and finally the summer fruit. The text of the calendar has also proved important in the stury of early Hebrew spelling and the development of the shapes of letters.


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