Last week I was schooled in Deuteronomy by Not the Bee. (Not the Bee is the non-satirical sister site to the satirical Babylon Bee.) This is such a cool, faith-building archaeological find, but it requires some knowledge of Deuteronomy to understand its significance.
Archeologists just deciphered an ancient tablet from Mount Ebal that contains a curse exactly as Moses instructed the Israelites in the Book of Deuteronomy 👀 https://t.co/L9PEoLoTZC
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) May 16, 2023
Back in 1980, an archeological dig uncovered an ancient altar thought to be made by Joshua. The dirt that was excavated from the altar was dumped nearby. Last year, another archeological team was sifting through this dump pile to see what smaller finds had been missed. And what they found was very cool: a small tablet with this inscription: “You are cursed by the God YHW.”
YHW is a an abbreviation for the God of the Bible, the God of the ancient Israelites: YHWH, or Yahweh. So that identifies this tablet as being from the Israelites. The script written on the tablet is called proto-alphabetic script, or proto-Sinaitic script: an early form of Hebrew. This script is derived from hieroglyphics, and so looks like rough pictures, but each picture represents a sound rather than a word or idea. This script would have been used around 1350-1400 B.C., according to Peter van der Veen, who worked on deciphering the text. Van der Veen said this dating aligns with a potential date for the exodus from Egypt.
So, why would there be a tablet with curses from the God of Israel at the site of an altar potentially from Joshua? This altar is on Mount Ebal. Here’s what Deuteronomy 11:26-32 says:
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. Are they not beyond the Jordan, west of the road, toward the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oak of Moreh? For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today. [Emphasis added.]
God commanded the Israelites to “set” “the curse on Mount Ebal.” Now, on Mount Ebal, we have evidence of a curse written out and found in the dump pile from an altar there. Perhaps it had been set on that altar.
That’s so cool!!!
When I read this story on Not the Bee, I immediately thought of Tim Mahoney and his Patterns of Evidence documentary films on archeological evidence related to the Exodus and whether Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. As it turns out, this most recent piece of news relates to a long-awaited peer-reviewed journal article that has been published on the writing found on the interior of the tablet. But the discovery was made last year, and Mahoney has since discussed the find on his blog and with six videos on his YouTube channel.
A representative of Patterns of Evidence told me through email that the recently published peer-reviewed journal article “puts the find on much more solid ground than just the excavators making claims with line-drawings showing what they found and people having to take their word for it.” The article contains many images, he said, and pertains to the interior of the tablet, which has been scanned with x-ray rather than physically opened up. “Another peer-reviewed journal entry is expected in the future about the writing on the exterior of the tablet,” the spokesperson said.
Mahoney wrote on his blog last year that the tablet has this script:
Cursed, cursed, cursed — cursed by the God YHW.
You will die cursed.
Cursed you will surely die.
Cursed by YHW — cursed, cursed, cursed.
God wants us to know in no uncertain terms that following Him leads to life and blessing, and to turn away from God has the consequence of death. God disciplines those whom He loves to warn us against the ultimate consequence of His judgment and justice against our wickedness.
I love how this find matches so perfectly with the Bible. The God of the Bible is the one, true living God!
Elon Musk Says He’s Willing to Pay the Price of Making Unpopular Statements
Last week Elon Musk, an unbeliever, highlighted how we believers must count the cost of faithfulness to the truth. Watch this amazing clip from an interview:
“I’ll say what I want to say and … if the consequence of that is losing money, then so be it.”
We all must count the cost of faithfulness to our convictions. Jesus tells us to count the cost of following him and that those who endure to the end will be saved. Watch out! https://t.co/nR9YwyYd1J
— Aliya Kuykendall (@AliyaKuykendall) May 17, 2023
Increasingly, we may find that speaking the truth comes with consequences. Are we willing to pay them? Jesus is known as the faithful witness. He spoke the truth, even unto death. This is our call as well: to take up the cross and follow Him. We must count the cost. As Jesus said: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Jesus also said:
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Let’s give ourselves wholeheartedly to Jesus, knowing it may cost us everything, but in the end we will gain the inheritance God has for us: resurrection, a new heaven and a new earth, eternal unity with God.
Here’s a funny video that has a similar lesson as the lesson of the curse tablet: seek to obey God and respond to the correction of the Holy Spirit.
Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on Twitter @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.
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