rcheologists are on the look for the missing pieces of the puzzle that have crafted our society. Today, an artifact from ancient history the size of a puzzle piece had been found. The Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) announced the discovery of a formulaic curse recovered on a small, folded lead tablet. The tablet that is allegedly cursed is inscribed with ancient letters in an early form of Hebrew.
This artifact actually was brought to light by archaeologist Scott Stripling in December 2019. At the time it was unknown exactly what the inscriptions on the table meant or what ancient language/dialect they were part of. It took until now for the tablet to be deciphered by specialists who despite the short text, they found it really difficult because of how rare and early this dialect is.
The text that is present on the table has been translated by Pieter Gert van der Veen of Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa. The two are specialized in deciphering ancient texts and are known to be the best in the world. This ancient form of Hebrew seems to contain about 40 letters and it is considered centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from Israel.
Not many inscriptions from ancient Israel have been found in this early form of Hebrew. The text seems to be cursing a person who went against the word of God, asking God himself to curse the person. This is what the translated text looks like:
“Cursed, cursed, cursed — cursed by the God YHW.
You will die cursed.
Cursed you will surely die.
Cursed by YHW — cursed, cursed, cursed.”
It seems that whoever created this artifact or inscribed it referred to God as YHW (or Yahweh). Stripling says that the table may have been some sort of amulet from the Hellenistic period. He had excavated similar artifacts before and they were usually worn as talismans. According to Deuteronomy 27 and Joshua 8, Mt. Ebal was the mountain of the curse. Joshua 8:30 indicates that Joshua built an altar on Mt. Ebal. This tablet could be from that altar or even part of it.
An academic article is being written which will be published later this year that better defines the findings and offers more speculations based on the origin of the table and possibly for whom the message on the table was meant. This specific name which is given to God in this early Hebrew dialect has not been seen before or mentioned throughout history as far as know records and archives go.
For someone to be cursed by God himself and not be forgiven, a great sin must have taken place. Could this be referring to a different God we are not aware of? Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. But, as we don’t know from which exact period this table is, it is difficult to tell.