Did archaeologists just confirm yet another account from the Scriptures? On May 12, 2023, Associates for Biblical Research published a press release announcing the publication of a research study on an exciting find of a small, folded lead tablet sifted out of a pile of discarded archaeological material on biblical Mount Ebal. And, if the study is correct, this tablet confirms, yet again, that the Bible relates an accurate account of history!
Now, the small tablet couldn’t be opened without destroying it, but the researchers were able to use a form of CT scanning to peer inside. After months of studying the indentations, the researchers believe they’ve pieced together what it says, and the results are exciting. Researchers believe the tablet states:
You are cursed by the god yhw, cursed.
You will die, cursed – cursed, you will surely die.
Cursed you are by yhw – cursed.
Now, the letters “YHW” represent the name God gave for himself to Moses: Yahweh (the vowels are often not written out in Hebrew). So, if that interpretation is correct, this is absolutely a tablet from the Israelites since that is the unique name of only the Hebrew God (the one true God).
This tablet was discovered in a pile of discarded fill from a previous archaeological expedition that uncovered a religious site—two altars—located on Mount Ebal. Those altars, and thus this artifact, are dated roughly to the time of the conquest of Canaan. This is now believed to be the oldest—by a few centuries—Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel.
The really amazing part comes with some Old Testament background information. Deuteronomy 11 records the Lord’s command to Moses:
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. (Deuteronomy 11:26–29, emphasis added)
Then the book of Joshua records Moses’ successor, Joshua, doing just this.
At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written . . . And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. (Joshua 8:30–32, 34)
Could this small lead tablet be a record of the curse put by Joshua on Mount Ebal? Perhaps. But, at the very least, it shows that some ancient Israelite considered Mount Ebal to be the mountain of curses—which is what we’d expect, given what the Lord said to Moses.
Now, as with all archaeological finds of this significance, the interpretation of the tablet’s contents is controversial, and papers will certainly be written either decrying or defending the interpretation. But if this interpretation proves correct, we won’t be surprised. It would be just another of the many examples of archaeology confirming the Bible’s history. After all, God’s Word is true, from the very first verse.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.