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Biblical Archaeology Review 48:3, Fall 2022

Cursed by Yahweh?

In March, a research team led by scholars from the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) announced the discovery of a lead tablet from Mt. Ebal that contains a Hebrew inscription. They say the inscription, dated to the end of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1200 B.C.E.), is a curse text that invokes the deity Yahweh. The team believes the tablet to be the oldest extant Hebrew inscription. Questions abound, however, and some scholars have expressed doubts about the team’s sensational claims.

The tablet comes from the West Bank site of Mt. Ebal, first excavated by archaeologist Adam Zertal in the 1980s. Zertal interpreted the site to be the location of Joshua’s altar (Joshua 8:30).a The tablet was recovered only in 2019, however, when the ABR team began to sift the soil dumps from the Mt. Ebal excavation.

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