Biblical Scholars Decipher the ‘Tablet of Curse’
Biblical scholars say they have decoded an ancient Hebrew inscription, known as the “curse tablet,” which predates any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel by centuries. The inscription was found on Mount Ebal, the mountain of the curse, mentioned in Deuteronomy 27 and Joshua 8.
“Cursed, cursed, cursed – cursed by the God of YHWH, cursed you shall die, cursed you shall surely die, cursed by YHWH cursed, cursed, cursed,” reads the first proto-alphabetic Hebrew text recovered from a small, folded leash tablet, have announced the Associates for Biblical Research during a press conference at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas on Thursday.
“I believe the amulet dates to the Late Bronze Age II, or as early as 1400 BC,” ABR excavation director Scott Stripling told The Jerusalem Post.
He added: “This is earlier than many skeptics believe the Bible existed, making this the first appearance of the word YHWH in Israel and it was found on a covenant site. The implications are huge and will reverberate for many years to come.
The amulet, known as the defixio or curse tablet, was discovered in December 2019 when Stripling, also director of the Biblical Seminary’s Institute for Archaeological Studies, went with his team to wet-sift the material discarded during the 1982-1989 excavations in the West Bank
These excavations were led by the late Haifa University archeology professor Adam Zertal, who discovered the Altar of Joshua on Mount Ebal near the West Bank city of Nablus.
“This amulet and its inscription do not predate the Bible,” Stripling said. “We believe this coincides with biblical events. We talk about likelihood, consistency between what we read in the text and what we find in the material culture. If the text were true, that’s what you’d expect to find, and indeed, that’s what we found.
Gershon Galil, a professor at the University of Haifa, told The Times of Israel: “It is a text that is only found every 1,000 years.
Some have raised concerns about the claims, with an unnamed scholar telling The Times of Israel: “The fact that they publish it in the news before it is published scientifically is a bit off.”
The Associates for Biblical Research said a peer-reviewed academic paper will be published later this year. The researchers are: Stripling, Galil, Ivana Kumpova, Jaroslav Valach, Pieter Gert van der Veen, Daniel Vavrik and Michal Vopalensky.
According to the Bible, Mount Ebal was the mountain from which the curses were called for those who broke God’s law when the children of Israel made a covenant with God before entering the land of Israel.
Deuteronomy 11:29 says, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering, you shall proclaim blessings on Mount Gerizim, and curses on Mount Ebal.