Earliest known stone version of Ten Commandments sold for $850,000

Bidding for this ancient tablet of the 10 Commandments startedt at $250,000.


"The tablet's significance is testament to the deep roots and enduring power of the Commandments that still form the basis of three of the world's great religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam," said David Michaels, director of ancient coins for Heritage Auctions."Its surface is worn, battered and encrusted in places, but running a gloved finger over it does produce, in some people, a particular thrill of touching a piece of Bible history."

 

The two-foot-square (0.18 square meter), 115-pound (52 kg) marble slab is inscribed in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan and most likely adorned a Samaritan synagogue or home in the ancient town of Jabneel, Palestine, which is now Yavneh in modern Israel, according to Michaels.
It lists nine of the 10 commonly known Biblical Commandments from the Book of Exodus, with an additional Commandment to worship on the sacred mountain of Mount Gerizim, near Nablus, which is a now a city in the West Bank.
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in Vain" was deliberately left off the list to keep the total number of Commandments to 10, according to scholars.

Michaels said the the tablet's home was either destroyed by the Romans between 400 and 600 AD, or by the Crusaders in the 11th century, and that the stone had lain buried in the rubble of the ruins for centuries before its discovery near Yavneh.
"The workmen who found it did not recognize its importance and either sold or gave it to a local Arab man, who set the stone into the threshold of a room leading to his inner courtyard, with the inscription facing up," Michaels said.
"Some of the letters of the central part of the inscription are blurred -- but still readable under proper lighting -- either from the conditions of its burial or foot traffic while it was resting in the courtyard."Michaels said the the tablet's home was either destroyed by the Romans between 400 and 600 AD, or by the Crusaders in the 11th century, and that the stone had lain buried in the rubble of the ruins for centuries before its discovery near Yavneh.
"The workmen who found it did not recognize its importance and either sold or gave it to a local Arab man, who set the stone into the threshold of a room leading to his inner courtyard, with the inscription facing up," Michaels said.
"Some of the letters of the central part of the inscription are blurred -- but still readable under proper lighting -- either from the conditions of its burial or foot traffic while it was resting in the courtyard."


Thirty years later, in 1943, the man's son sold the stone to Y. Kaplan, a municipal archaeologist.
"He immediately recognized its importance as an extremely rare 'Samaritan Decalogue,' one of five such known stone inscriptions that date to the late Roman-Byzantine era (300-640 CE) or just after the Muslim invasion of the seventh century CE," added Michaels.
CE is a term used in academic texts and refers to "Common Era", which is more commonly known as AD
 



Auction Method vs. Traditional Listing 

AUCTION METHOD

  • Property marketed separately
  • Price negotiated up
  • Up front marketing expenses
  • Sold "As-is, Where-is"
  • Pre-qualified bidders
  • Pre-determinded sale date

TRADITIONAL LISTING

  • Property listed in portfolio of other properties
  • Price negotiated down
  • Broker typically absorbs marketing fees
  • Post sale contingencies
  • Possible financing contingencies
  • Sale date unknown

 

Call our office for more information on bringing your property to auction! 806.655.3900


 

Auction Calendar