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E04171: Greek inscription praising the virtues of seven Old Testament figures (*Abraham, S00275; *Isaac, S00276; *Jacob, S00280; *Moses, S00241; *David, S00269; *Solomon, S00270; *Job, S01191), and probably encouraging the reader to imitate them. Found at Shivta (ancient Sobata) in the Negev desert (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably late antique.

online resource
posted on 2017-10-19, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[- - -]
[πίστιν Ἀβραάμ]
φιλίαν Ἰσαάκ
ἐλπίδαν Ἰακώβ
πραύτοτα Μουσῆν
δόξαν Δαουίδ
σοφία Σολομῶν
ὑπομονὴν Ἰώβ

3. φιλίαν Ἰσαάκ, Φ- -NAM Negev

'[- - - In faith like Abraham]. In friendship (?) like Isaac. In hope like Jacob. In humility like Moses. In glory like David. In wisdom like Solomon. In endurance like Job.'

Text: I. Negev, no. 70. Translation: A. Negev.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Abraham, Old Testament patriarch : S00275 Isaac, Old Testament patriarch : S00276 Jacob, Old Testament Patriarch : S00280 Moses, Old Testament prophet and lawgiver : S00241 David, Old Testament king of Israel : S00269 Solomon, Old Testament king

Saint Name in Source

Ἰσαάκ Ἰακώβ Μουσῆς Δαουίδ Σολομῶν Ἰώβ

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Liturgical texts Other


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Sobata Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The inscription, carved on an unknown medium, was found at the West Gate of Shivta by Harris Colt who surveyed Sobata in 1933-1935 on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Most of the written records of the Colt Expedition, were, however lost in a fire, and the archive of the mission, which is now in the Department of Antiquities and Museums in Jerusalem, is lacunose. Avraham Negev found a transcription of the present text in the archive, but the file did not provide any detailed description of the find-spot or photograph. Negev published the inscription in 1981, with the permission of the DAM and the BSA. No scholar since Colt has recorded seeing the inscription.


This interesting inscription gives us a list of the chronologically arranged names of seven Old Testament figures with virtues ascribed to each of them (because of the way the text is presented, the missing figure of Abraham, who was regularly associated with faith, can confidently be restored at the beginning). Negev notes that the virtues are conventional characteristics of saints, as shown in the Bible, and in the works of Jewish and early Christian writers (for a list of relevant passages, see the comments by Negev). The line mentioning Isaac (our line 2) was partially illegible according to the transcription preserved in the Colt Expedition archive. Negev was unable to find a solution for this, but he speculated that Isaac could have been associated with 'joy', as this virtue is given to him by Philo of Alexandria ('he will laugh', or 'laughing', is actually the etymological meaning of Isaac's name). However, in 1989 Pau Figueras plausibly suggested that the puzzling word could be restored as φιλία/'friendship', 'love'. Sadly, the beginning of the inscription was already lost when recorded, and we do not know what the purpose of this text was. Negev doubts that the list was a local composition, but supposes that it was copied from a liturgical, exegetical or a literary text. There is also no way to reliably date the inscription.


Edition: Negev, A., The Greek inscriptions from the Negev (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1981), no. 71. Further reading: Figueras, P., "", in: N. Duval, P. Pergola, Actes du XIe Congrès international d'archéologie chrétienne: Lyon, Vienne, Grenoble, Genève et Aoste (21-28 Septembre 1986), vol. 2 (Rome: Ecole française de Rome), 1778. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 31, 1449; 39, 1616.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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