Sinai 7: Gerster Inscription with Some Minoan Linear A (1400 BCE)

For translation methodology see: How to Translate Alphabetic Akkadian Texts

Drawing of Gerster inscription from Rainey (1975). Letter assignments added by Olmsted.

Drawing of Gerster inscription (Sinai 376) from Rainey (1975). Letter assignments added by Olmsted.

Photo from page 65 from Gerster (1961)

Translation of the Gerster (Bir Nasb) Inscription

(Jan 13, 2023) The Gerster inscription found at a Sinai copper ore mine only 5 miles from Serabit el-Khadim.  The text reads:

In Akkadian (top to bottom,  right to left, Sinai Text 7)

  1. Tu Ku RaBu
  2. A Zu Mu (Letter "M" is Minoan Linear A)
  3. Tu Qu DaBu  Y (Letter "Y" is Minoan Linear A with bottom half rubbed out)  
  4. Qu L'u U ("U" is the verb here)

In English

  1. Motion-Magic is due to the authorities (planets)
  2. They are eliminating the water 
  3. Threading magic (from life-priests) does not affect the connections (of the network)
  4. Threading is because of the astrological-powers

This promotion of the motion powers over the life powers is Phoenician and not Israelite

Earlier Translation Attempt in Hebrew

In 1975 Anson Rainy (Rainey 1975) attempted a translation of this inscription assuming it was in an early form of Hebrew (Northwest Semitic). Our differing letter assignments by column number are shown in red: 
  1. BRK T  (bottom right upward)
  2. ADA (downward)
  3. RB HWT (upward)
  4. W L' H (downward)

These produced Rainey''s translation: 
  1. Blessing on
  2. Adda
  3. chief of the stockade
  4.  and L ‘H 

Problems Indicating Failed Translation

  1. Column 4 remains untranslated
  2. Alternating directions (never seen in properly done translations)
  3. Incorrect letter assignments


Gerster, George (1961) Sinai, Land der Offenbarung. Frankfurt a.M. u.a., Büchergilde Gutenberg
Rainey A.F. (1975) Notes on Some Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions . Israel Exploration Journal Vol 25 No. 2/3 pages 106-111