The biggest archaeological discovery, after the Dead
Sea scrolls, was made by archaeologist Gabriël Barkay
in the year 1979 in the area of Jerusalem. He laid open an
old cave grave in Ketef Hinnom, dated at the end of the 7th
century B.C. This time period is before the destruction of
Jerusalem in 607 B.C. The chamber of the grave was still intact
and they found about a thousand archaeological objects, under
which were two curled up silver amulets. The grave chamber
belonged to some prominent families of Jerusalem. All these
objects made it possible to determine the age of the cave
and with this the age of the little scrolls. In the middle
of the scrolls was a small opening, which made it possible
to pass a thin fiber through it – it is possible the
amulets were worn around the neck or the wrist.
Unfolding the Silver scrolls was very
difficult. Because their age, they could break very easily.
When finally done, they could see that the silver plates measured
about 3cm wide and 10 cm high. They also discovered a very
finely engraved scripture. With much effort they were able
to read the text. Both scrolls contain about the same text:
Numbers 6: 24-26:
Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee:
Jehovah make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious
Jehovah lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
(American Standard Version)
Also interesting is what is written in verse 27:
And they shall put My name upon the children of Israel,
and I will bless them
– 21th century King James Version
Apparently some Jews took this text very literally!
Facsimile made by B. Bonte
Why is this discovery so important?
In the first place because it is the earliest quotation
of the Bible ever found, even 400 years before the Dead Sea
scrolls.Secondly, the Divine Name is written three times on
the plate, in the shape of JHWH, in very ancient Hebrew writing.
The original scrolls are now to be seen in the Israel Museum,