I COUNSEL CAUTION: Archaeologist claims to find oldest Hebrew text in Israel, including the name of God. Scholars date tiny ‘curse tablet,’ found at Mt. Ebal, to 1200 BCE – which would prove Israelites were literate when they entered Holy Land; but findings have not been peer-reviewed
(Amanda Borschel-Dan). The podcast interview with Scott Stripling has additional details.
Potentially, this amulet is an extraordinarily important discovery. It reportedly bears an inscription written in something like Hebrew, possibly the earliest recovered Hebrew inscription. This inscription reportedly places YHWH worshippers at the site of the altar on Mount Ebal c. the twelfth century BCE, not far from the date of the Merneptah Stele. The text reportedly invokes some kind of curse, which immediately brings to mind the curses uttered by the Israelites on Ebal according to Deuteronomy 27. If all this is accurate, the discovery is on the lottery-winning level.
But the reports offer us almost no data to evaluate.
The object is folded over and the inscription is not readable (or, at least to me, visible) on the outside. All the claims are based on an unpublished scan of its interior. Only a drawing of three letters (reportedly the divine name) has been released. There is no paleographic analysis. There is not even a transcription of the Hebrew. The editors have only released an English translation. No peer review of these claims has been completed.
I would also like to know more about the provenance trail of the object.
I am going to invoke my Lottery Rule here. If a reported new discovery is the scholarly equivalent of our having won the lottery, we should be skeptical of it unless and until we have strong evidence that it is real.
People sometimes win do the lottery. Scholarship sometimes wins the lottery (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls). But the bigger the claim, the more we should expect solid evidence and the more carefully we should probe that evidence.
I await more information.
Earlier posts on the discovery are here and here.
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