Biblical Archaeology Review 31:1, January/February 2005

Strata: A Good Look

Hi-Tech Peek at the “Priestly Blessing” Amulets

A new study using the latest photographic and computer-imaging technologies has confirmed conclusions reached by Israeli scholars nearly 15 years ago regarding the date and contents of two unusual silver amulets discovered in an excavation in Jerusalem.a

The amulets were rolled up when they were found in 1979 by Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay. Both Barkay and Israeli epigrapher Ada Yardeni independently studied the faint inscriptions on each of the amulets (Yardeni in connection with an exhibit of the amulets at the Israel Museum) and separately published their results.b They substantially agreed with one another: The amulets, although written by different scribes, both date to the end of the First Temple period (late seventh or early sixth century B.C.), shortly before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, and both amulets contain a version of the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24–26:

“May the Lord (Yahweh) bless you and protect you;

“May the Lord cause his countenance to shine upon you and be gracious unto you;

“May the Lord favor you and grant you peace.”

In Hebrew, the three verses build on one another: The first is 3 words; the second, 5; the third, 7. The name Yahweh (YHWH, known as the tetragrammaton) is repeated in each verse.

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