Approximately 18 months ago archaeologists discovered a 3,000 year old pottery shard containing an ink inscription written in proto-Canaanite script.  That script has now been positively identified as Hebrew, making this the oldest extant Hebrew writing ever found.  It is from the 10th century BC, which would be around the time of King David’s reign.  Interestingly, it was discovered 18 miles west of Jerusalem in a building near the city gate at Elah Fortress, in the valley where the Bible describes David’s historic battle with Goliath.

The translation of the text is:

1 you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2 Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3 [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4 the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5 Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

The importance of this discovery is two-fold.  First, it proves that Israelites had the ability to write in the 10th century, silencing critics who claim that certain books of the Bible could not have been written as early as the internal witness suggests because the Israelites lacked the ability to write.  Secondly, it proves that the fortified city in which it was discovered was a city of the Israelites (the most ancient Judean city discovered to-date).  Its massive size indicates the presence of a strong kingdom, and thus this would serve as physical evidence for the existence of an early united monarchial kingdom in Israel (a fact denied by many skeptics).