An ancient rock inscription of the word “Shabbat” was uncovered near Lake Kinneret this week – the first and only discovery of a stone Shabbat boundary in Hebrew.
The etching in the Lower Galilee community of Timrat appears to date from the Roman or Byzantine period.
“This is the first time we’ve found a Shabbat boundary inscription in Hebrew,” Mordechai Aviam, head of the Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret College, said. “The letters are so clear that there is no doubt that the word is ‘Shabbat.’”
Aviam said Jews living in the area in the Roman or Byzantine era (1st-7th centuries CE) likely used the stone to denote bounds within which Jews could travel on Shabbat. The Lower Galilee of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages had a Jewish majority – many of the Talmudic sages bore toponyms indicative of Galilee communities.
The engraving uncovered in Timrat is the first and only Shabbat boundary marker yet discovered in Hebrew – a similar inscription was found in the vicinity of the ancient Western Galilee village of Usha, but its text was written in Greek.