Archaeology mystery as ancient 'curse tablet' could show earliest Hebrew name of God

During excavations at the West Bank, researchers uncovered a tablet only slightly larger than a postage stamp, with an ancient text that called on God to curse a person who breaks their word. While the study has not been peer-reviewed yet, the researchers believe that the tablet is 3200 years old, making it the oldest known Hebrew text, and also the earliest one to contain the Hebrew name of God.

The 40 letters of the proto-Hebrew inscription on the tablet is centuries older than any Hebrew text discovered in ancient Israel.

The archaeologists note that the inscription is a warning to those who do not fulfil their obligations held by a covenant, which is a legally binding agreement.

The team of researchers translated the inscription to say: “Cursed, cursed, cursed by the God YHW.

“You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die.

“Cursed by YHW- cursed cursed cursed.”

YHW is the three-letter version of the word Yahweh, the Hebrew word for God.

Project leader Scott Stripling, an archaeologist and the director of excavations for the US-based Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) noted: “These types of amulets are well known in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but Zertal’s excavated pottery dated to the Iron Age I and Late Bronze Age, so logically the tablet derived from one of these earlier periods.

“Even so, our discovery of a Late Bronze Age inscription stunned me.”

According to researcher Pieter Gert van der Veen, deciphering the concealed letters proved tedious, but “each day we recovered new letters and words written in a very ancient script.”

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