An ancient limestone tablet is now on display at an exhibit in Jerusalem. The mysterious stone features text in Hebrew and portrays and image of the archangel Gabriel. It has left scholars arguing as to what the tablet signifies.
The tablet which is about three foot tall has been dubbed “Gabriele Stone.” It was found 13 years ago on the banks of the Dead Sea and features 87 lines of an unknown text which dates back to the first century BC, at the time of the Second Jewish Temple. The writing on the stone is highly unique as it is ink written on stone, not carved as is reminiscent of that period. There has also been no other such religious text found in the region.
The Curators at the Israel Museum, where the first exhibit opens today, said the discovery was the most important in the area since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. James Snyder, the director of the Israel Museum said, “The Gabriel Stone is in a way a Dead Sea Scroll written on stone.” The writing on the tablet reportedly dates to the same period and uses the same calligraphic Hebrew script similar to some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is a set of documents that include the earliest known manuscript of the Hebrew Bible texts.
This is not the first time the “Gabriel Stone” has made an impression. In 2008 Israeli Bible scholar Isreal Knohl offered an interesting theory which stated the world of Christianity would be revolutionized. He claimed the text on the stone included a concept of Messianic resurrection that predated Jesus. His theory was based on one line which was translated to mean, “In three days you shall live.”
His theory caused a firestorm among Bible studies scholars. National Geographic even had their documentary crew feature his theory. An American team tried without success to detect more of the faded writing. Even today Bible experts are still debating the meanings of the writings. So far what they have deciphered from the writing indicate an apocalyptic vision of an attack on Jerusalem in which God appears with his angels to save the city. The most central angelic character is Gabriele who is the first angel to appear in the Hebrew Bible.
The writing’s on the stone is one of the earliest passages mentioning the archangel. Adolfo Roitman a curator at the exhibit said the passage represents an “explosion of angels in Second Temple Judaism.” We can expect for many years to come to have scholars arguing as to exactly what is written on the stone.