A professor at the University of Haifa, Gershon Galil affirms that a Biblical curse written in Hebrew, inscribed on a small leaden amulet (or tablet) is “the earliest Hebrew inscription found so far.”
Scholars investigating the find place the date of the inscription to around 3,200 years ago. That puts it, biblically speaking, in the time of the Judges.
This curse that was discovered was published at the end of March by the Associates for Biblical Research. It was found in 2019 among materials previously excavated on Israel’s Mt. Ebal.
It’s a short curse, just 40 letters in Hebrew and only 23 words when translated to English: “Cursed, cursed, cursed—cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW—cursed, cursed, cursed.”
Hitherto, some biblical scholars say the bulk of the Bible wasn’t written when it says it was. It’s long been assumed that the early, and supposedly primitive, Israelites simply lacked the skill to come up with the written grandeur of books like Genesis and Deuteronomy. This tiny curse reveals that the right people at the right time in the right place were writing about God just as the Bible describes. This discovery provides proof of the Israelites’ literary ability, hundreds of years before skeptics thought it possible.
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This discovery points to an event near the end of Deuteronomy when God called the newly freed Israelites to assemble on Moun. Ebal and to declare there, to God and to one another, the promises of obedience and disobedience. Put another way, they were to announce the blessings and curses that came with their role as God’s people.
This discovery is divinely intentional — a written curse left at the very location the Bible associates with curses.
Four years ago, a then-recent discovery of an exploding meteor wiping out a series of cities at the south end of the Dead Sea corresponded to about the time the Bible says that Sodom and Gomorrah met their fiery fate.
Three years ago, an unearthed signet-seal affirmed the identity of someone mentioned in the biblical text.
Two years ago, new DNA studies confirmed aspects of the biblical description of the Philistines’ origin. How many times will the Bible have to be proved right before we accept it as true?
This is what the Bible claims for itself. The Bible doesn’t claim to be true in some watered-down “spiritual” sense. It claims to be the true record of God’s intervention in human affairs.
It does not describe a faraway fairy world built on wishes and dreams, but this world, the real one. It is here that Lazarus and Jesus were truly dead but raised to life again.
It is in this world that actual Israelites escaped from actual slavery in Egypt. If what Scripture claims to have happened didn’t, then we may as well “eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Its reality confirms its truth.
As the Apostle Peter claimed, Christianity is not rooted in “cleverly devised myths,” but in the real account of actions in the real world. Bits of lead and clay in the dirt will never ultimately prove the Bible’s claims to the satisfaction of all skeptics, but day after day, more evidence emerges that its claims should be taken seriously by not only archeologists and historians, but all of us. In Holy Scripture, something special is indeed going on.
Archaeologist Dr. Scott Stripling and a team of international scholars held a press conference on last month in Houston, Texas, unveiling this discovery – the earliest proto-alphabetic Hebrew text — including the name of God, “YHWH” — ever discovered in ancient Israel.
If the Late Bronze Age (circa 1200 BCE) date is verified, this tiny, 2-centimeter x 2 centimeter folded-lead “curse tablet” may be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever.
It would be the first attested use of the name of God in the Land of Israel and would set the clock back on proven Israelite literacy by several centuries — showing that the Israelites were literate when they entered the Holy Land, and therefore could have written the Bible as some of the events it documents took place.
“This is a text you find only every 1,000 years,” Haifa University Prof. Gershon Galil told The Times of Israel on Thursday. Galil helped decipher the hidden internal text of the folded lead tablet based on high-tech scans carried out in Prague at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
Based on epigraphical analysis of the scans and lead analysis of the artifact, Stripling and his team date the curse tablet (or defixio) to the late Bronze Age, before or around 1200 BCE. If this dating is verified, it would make the text centuries older than the previous record-holder for the oldest Hebrew text in Israel and 500 years older than the previously attested use of the tetragrammaton YHWH, according to Galil. Writing in a similar alphabet was discovered in the Sinai Peninsula dating to the beginning of the 16th century BCE.
However, the researchers have not yet published the find in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Likewise, they are not yet releasing clear images and scans of the inscription for other academics to review.