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The stone (see article image) is dated to about 700-600 B.C.E., and it belongs to the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, and it was taken from a burial cave not far from Hebron in Israel. The inscription states: “Cursed be Hagaf son of Hagav by Jehovah Sabaot.”
It is in Paleo-Hebrew. Paleo-Hebrew is the name given to the script used in ancient Israel and Judah from the 10th century BCE to the 4th century BCE. It is also sometimes referred to as “Old Hebrew” or “Ancient Hebrew.” The script is closely related to the Phoenician alphabet and is considered to be one of the oldest examples of the alphabet. The script was primarily used for monumental inscriptions and seals, and it is known from a limited number of inscriptions found on stone and metal artifacts. It was also used in religious texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and some biblical texts. The script was gradually replaced by the “square” or “Aramaic” script, which was more suited to writing on parchment or papyrus. However, the Paleo-Hebrew script continued to be used by some Jewish groups, such as the Essenes, well into the 2nd century CE.
This ancient inscription supports the Bible in several ways. Firstly, it shows that the name of God, written as JHVH in ancient Hebrew letters, was well-known and commonly used in daily life during Bible times. This is supported by the fact that other inscriptions from burial caves in the area also contain God’s name written on the walls.
Secondly, the inscription includes the phrase “Jehovah Sabaot,” which translates to “Jehovah of armies.” This indicates that this expression was also commonly used in Bible times, which is supported by its frequent use in the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly in the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah.
Jehovah of armies: (יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֣וֹת Jehovah tsebaot) literally means an army of soldiers or military forces (Gen. 21:22; Deut. 20:9). The expression is found 285 times, with some deviations, in the Scriptures. The prophetic books, especially Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah, have the most occurrences. It is also used figuratively, “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the armies of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19) In the plural form, it is also used of the Israelite forces as well. (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; Num. 33:1; Psa. 44:9) However, the “armies” in the expression “Jehovah of armies” is a reference to the angelic forces primarily, if not exclusively. Paul and James, quoting from the Old Testament prophecies, used its equivalent (τὰ κυρίου σαβαὼθ ta kuriou sabaōth; “the Lord of armies”) in their writings. – Rom. 9:29; Jas 5:4; cf. Isa 1:9.
Furthermore, the inscription also supports the biblical idea of God’s power and sovereignty, as it demonstrates that people in Bible times believed that God had the power to curse someone. This further supports the biblical portrayal of God as a powerful and sovereign being.
Lastly, the fact that the inscription was found in a burial cave near Hebron in Israel, which is known to be an area with a rich biblical history, further supports the idea that this inscription provides valuable insight into the beliefs and practices of people during Bible times.
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 200+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).