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The Most Ancient Fragment of the Bible

June 5th, 2013 by Oleg Kostyuk
Ketef Hinnom

Ketef Hinnom

Have you ever wondered what the most ancient fragment of the Bible is? This tiny silver plaque (Ketef Hinnom) dates all the way back to the late 7th century – early 6th century BCE, which means it is more than 2600 years old. It had been rolled up like a miniature scroll and deposited in a tomb as an amulet for the deceased in one of the burial caves in Jerusalem. It is a work of elaborate beauty and impeccable craftsmanship. The ancient Hebrew letters were incised with a sharp, thin stylus no thicker than a hair’s breadth.

The plaque contains a version of Jewish liturgy that is known as the Priestly Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26):
“Yahweh… the great… who keeps the covenant and Graciousness toward those who love him and those who keep his commandments… the Eternal blessing more than any snare and more than Evil. For redemption is in him. For Yahweh is our restorer and rock. May Yahweh bless you and may he keep you. May Yahweh make his face shine [upon you].”
These words are inscribed on the most ancient of biblical documents, but I trust that their timeless benediction will encourage you today.

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