- MMST redirects here. For the Metropolitan Medical Strike Team, see Metropolitan Medical Strike Team.
MMST (Hebrew Mem, Mem, Shin, Tau) appears exclusively on LMLK seal inscriptions, seen in archaeological findings in Israel, and its meaning has been the subject of continual controversy.
ממשת transliterations into English
- Mameshat (Yeivin, 1961)
- mamsatt (Ginsberg, 1948)
- Mamschat (Galling, 1937)
- Mamshat (Sellers and Albright, 1931)
- Mamshath (Conder, 1901)
- Mamshet (Aharoni, 1960)
- Mamshit (Vilnay, 1960)
- Mamshith (Driver, 1909)
- Memsath (McCown, 1947)
- Memshat (Bliss, 1900)
- Memshath (Macalister, 1905)
- Mimshat (Macalister, 1925)
Charles Warren excavated the first two specimens in the original 1868-1869 excavations at Jerusalem (Warren, 1870); however, those were both only partial impressions showing the final two letters ST. The first complete inscription was published by Frederick Jones Bliss after excavating it from Tell Ej-Judeideh (Bliss, 1900), later determined to be Biblical Moreseth-Gath. Beginning then, here is a list of all the ancient sites scholars have associated with it:
- Moresheth-Gath (Clermont-Ganneau, 1899)
- Mampsis (also known as Kurnub; Hommel, 1901)
- Mareshah (Vincent, 1907)
- Tel Masos (also known as Tell el-Meshash or Khirbat al-Mishash; Abel, 1938)
- An unknown site near Gezer such as Emmaus (Albright, 1943)
- Jerusalem (via MMS[L]T) or one of its suburbs (Ginsberg, 1948)
- Tel 'Erani (Yeivin, 1961)
- Tel 'Ira (Yadin, 1961)
- An unknown site between Bethlehem & Hebron (Lang, 1972); Bethlehem vicinity preferred (Rainey, 1982)
- An unknown site between Beth Shemesh & Aijalon such as Emmaus (Lang, 1972)
- Emmaus (also known as Amwas; Lemaire, 1975)
- Ramat Rahel (Barkay, 1993)
These proposals fall into two main streams of thought. One philosophical school places MMST in a geographical region based on the identification of three other regions surrounding Hebron, Socoh, and Ziph (the other words on the LMLK seals). The chief problem is that the majority of the seal impressions were not found in any particular region associated with one of the four inscriptions. For example, the majority of HBRN stamps were found at Lachish significantly to the west. An alternative strategy identifies MMST in the vicinity of Jerusalem (which includes Ramat Rahel) based upon the datum that the majority of MMST stamps were excavated in and around there. The chief problem is that there were more HBRN stamps than MMST found at Jerusalem and more Z(Y)F stamps than MMST found at Ramat Rahel (Grena, 2004, pp. 354-60).
In further support of a Place Name interpretation is the notion that MMST was lost from the Hebrew Masoretic text, but preserved via a corrupt Greek transliteration in the Septuagint version of the book of Joshua, 15:59-60 (Rainey, 1982, p. 59):
- Ephratha (Baethleem)
In 1905 Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister suggested that MMST meant Mareshah, but instead of identifying it with the town, he proposed that the seal referred to a potter (or family of potters).
If the LMLK seal inscriptions were votive slogans or mottoes instead of geographical places, MMST may share the same etymological root as MMSLTW (Strong's Concordance #4475), a Hebrew word used in the Bible translated alternately as domain, dominion, force, government, power, realm, responsibility, rule. (See Genesis 1:16, 1 Kings 9:19, 2 Chronicles 8:6, Psalms 103:22, 114:2, 136:8-9, 145:13, Isaiah 22:21, Jeremiah 34:1, 51:28, Daniel 11:5, Micah 4:8.) 2 Kings 20:13 and Isaiah 39:2 deserves special attention for its association of the word in the same chronological context as the LMLK seals:
- And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures--the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory--all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.''
Likewise 2 Chronicles 32:9:
- After this Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem (but he and all the forces with him laid siege against Lachish), to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all Judah who were in Jerusalem...
Note that Ginsberg suspected such a literal reading of the inscription in paper presented in 1945, but changed to the geographic association with Jerusalem
Note also the well-known Moabite inscription from Kerak that begins with the fragmented phrase ...MSYT MLK. While we may never know if the first word is a compound of KMS, the Moabite deity mentioned in the Bible as Chemosh, the MMST on the LMLK seals may have been "MMSYT" written scriptio defectiva with a possible relation to "mumsa" in the Arabic language.
- Abel, Pere (1938). Geographie de la Palestine II. p. 377, footnote 17.
- Aharoni, Y. (1960). "Hebrew jar-stamps from Ramat Rahel". Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies 6 28*.
- Albright, William Foxwell (1943). "The excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, Volume III: The Iron Age". Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research XXI-XXII 73–5.
- Barkay, G. (personal communication quote by editor Ephraim Stern; 1993). Ramat Rahel in New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. p. 1267.
- Bliss, F. J. (1900). "List of casts and wax impressions of stamped jar-handles". Palestine Exploration Quarterly 32 (July): 298.
- Clermont-Ganneau, C. (1899). "Note on the inscribed jar-handle and weight found at Tell Zakariya". Palestine Exploration Quarterly 31 (July): 204–7.
- Conder, C. R. (1901). "Jar-handle inscriptions II". Palestine Exploration Quarterly 33 (January): 63.
- Driver, S. R. (1909). Modern Research as Illustrating the Bible. pp. 74-7.
- Galling, Kurt (1937). Biblisches Reallexikon. pp. 337-40.
- Ginsberg, H. L. (1948). "MMST and MSH". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 109 20–1.
- Grena, G.M. (2004). LMLK--A Mystery Belonging to the King vol. 1. Redondo Beach, California: 4000 Years of Writing History. ISBN 0-9748786-0-X.
- Hommel, Fritz (1901). "MMST--Mampsis". The Expository Times 12 (September): 288.
- Lang, Bernhard (1972). "Recension: "Die Konigs-Stempel" par P. Welten". Revue Biblique 79 (3): 441–4.
- Lemaire, Andre (1975). "MMST = Amwas, vers la solution d'une enigme de l'epigraphie Hebraique". Revue Biblique 82 (1): 15–23.
- Macalister, R. A. Stewart (1905). "The craftsmen's guild of the tribe of Judah". Palestine Exploration Quarterly 37 (January): 243–53.
- Macalister, R. A. S. (1925). A Century of Excavation in Palestine. pp. 37-8, 190-1.
- McCown, Chester Charlton (1947). Tell en-Nasbeh I: Archaeological and Historical Results. pp. 156-61.
- Rainey, A. F. (1982). "Wine from the royal vineyards". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 245 (Winter): 57–62.
- Sellers, O. R. and Albright, W. F. (1931). "The first campaign of excavation at Beth-zur". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 43 8.
- Vilnay, Zev (1960 and possibly earlier editions to 1942). The Guide to Israel. Under listing for Gath (Kiryat-Gat).
- Vincent, Hugues (1907). Canaan d'Apres l'Exploration Recente. pp. 357-60.
- Warren, Charles (1870). "Phoenician inscription on jar handles". Palestine Exploration Quarterly 2 (September 30): 372.
- Yadin, Yigael (1961). "The fourfold division of Judah". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 163 6–12.
- Yeivin, Shemuel (1961). First Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Tel Gat (Tell Sheykh 'Ahmed el-Areyny) 1956-1958. pp. 9-11.