Ten Commandments tablet sold at an auction

Nov 18, 2016 18:00 IST

The world’s earliest known complete stone inscription of Ten Commandments was sold at an auction in Beverly Hills, California for 850000 US Dollars on 16 November 2016.

Weighing 200 pounds, the two-foot-square marble tablet, designated as Israel’s ‘national treasure’ was one among many Biblical artifacts owned by the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn that went up for auction.

The opening bid on the piece was 300000 US Dollars.

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About the Tablet

• It is inscribed with 20 lines of letters in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan, jointly derived from Hebrew and Aramaic.
• It famously lists the Ten Commandments, a set of biblical principles that play an important role in religions such as Judaism and Christianity.  
• Going by its letter forms, researchers believe that it was probably carved during the late Roman or Byzantine era (300-500 CE) to adorn the entrance of a synagogue, which was destroyed by the Romans between 400 and 600 CE or by the Crusaders during the 11th century.
• It was first discovered in 1913 during an excavation for a railroad station near Yavneh in western Israel.
• It was initially used by an Arab as a part of flooring in his private courtyard. Constant stepping wore out some of the letters at the centre of the slab.
• Y Kaplan acquired it in 1943, after which he got in experts and scholars to study it.
• An antiquity dealer Robert Deutsch bought it in 1990s after which it was obtained by Rabbi Saul Deutsch for his Living Torah Museum in 2005.

Israeli Antiquities Authorities had allowed the export of the tablet to the United States in 2005 with just one condition that it should be displayed in a public museum.

The auction doesn’t imply that the stone inscription will be hidden away from public. In fact, going by the condition laid down by Israeli Antiquities Authorities, the new owner will have to display it for the public’s benefit.

Besides the ancient inscription, the auction also displayed other rare antiques including a nine-spouted ceramic oil lamp dating back to first century CE, which according to the experts is the earliest known Hanukkah menorah.


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