Archaeologists discover oldest Hebrew text in Israel, matches biblical account

The discovery was made at Mount Ebal in Samaria, the site of biblical curses — relevant to the tablet’s wording.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Biblical archaeologist Dr. Scott Stripling, along with a group of internationally renowned scientists, unveiled what he says is the oldest example of Hebrew text ever found in the Holy Land, dated circa 1200 BCE.

The discovery was made at Mount Ebal in Samaria, in the vicinity of Nablus (Shechem). Remarkably, the text also includes the holy name of God (YHVH).

The archaeologists – from the Associates for Biblical Research, a Christian apologetics ministry dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible through archaeological and biblical research, as described on its website – held a press conference on Thursday at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas, to announce the exceptional discovery.

The tiny, two-by-two centimeter defixio (curse tablet) came to light in December 2019 when Stripling, ABR’s director of excavations and director of the Archaeological Studies Institute at The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas, led an ABR team to wet sift the discarded material from Adam Zertal’s excavations on Mt. Ebal from 1982 to 1989.

“These types of amulets are well known in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but Zertal’s excavated pottery dated to the Iron Age I and Late Bronze Age, so logically the tablet derived from one of these earlier periods,” Stripling said.

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“Even so, our discovery of a Late Bronze Age inscription stunned me.”

Mt. Ebal is mentioned in Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua as the site of biblical curses, the ABR noted – as opposed to Mt. Gerizim across from it, which is the site of blessings.

Moses urged the Israelites in his farewell before his death to follow God’s commandments and that He has given them the choice between a life of blessings and one of curses:

“And it will be, when the Lord, your God, will bring you to the land to which you come, to possess it, that you shall place those blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and those cursing upon Mount Ebal.” (Deuteronomy 11:29)

The ancient inscription uncovered by the archaeological team contains 40 letters and reads: “Cursed, cursed, cursed, cursed by the God” – followed by the Hebrew name for God.

“You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by [God’s name] – cursed, cursed, cursed,” the tablet, likely meant to direct Divine wrath on an enemy.