Biblical Artifact Proven to Be Real
In 1979, two tiny silver scrolls bearing the same Old Testament verse were found in a tomb near Jerusalem by Dr. Gabriel Barkay, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Both of the scrolls were inscribed with this verse:
May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace.
The Priestly Benediction, as this scripture from Numbers 6:24-26 is often called, are spoken at the conclusion of both Christian and Jewish liturgies. And now these words have been found on those two miniature strips of silver wound like tiny scrolls, making it the earliest biblical passage ever found on ancient artifacts.
It's taken 25 years, but scientists now date those scrolls from the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.--400 years older than the Dead Sea Scrolls, reports The New York Times.
Because the ancient silver scrolls were cracked and corroded and some of the words were just faintly scratched onto the metal making them virtually unreadable, it was impossible to accurately date the artifacts. Some thought they were from the third or second century B.C. and therefore were of less importance in establishing the antiquity of religious concepts and language that became part of the Hebrew Bible, reports The Times.
High-technology to the rescue. University of Southern California scientists used photographic and computer imaging techniques to more closely examine the inscriptions. For the first time, they could be fully read and analyzed, which confirmed their much-older age. There is no doubt now that the script is from the time just before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and exiled the Israelites to Babylonia.
The researchers wrote in The Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research that the scrolls "preserve the earliest known citations of texts also found in the Hebrew Bible and that they provide us with the earliest examples of confessional statements concerning Yahweh." Other scholars agree with this conclusion.
It's now known that each of the scrolls was an amulet intended to provide a blessing and protection to the person who wore it. The Times notes that such early Hebrew inscriptions are rare, and these artifacts offer new understanding about the history of religion in ancient Israel.