Please note: This is part 2 of my report about the remarkable stone tablet from the time of Jesus discovered along the shore of the Dead Sea and now on display.

No sooner had I finished writing that article about the remarkable discovery of the 1st century Gabriel Stone yesterday, than I came across a scholarly article about the same artifact published by the Biblical Archeology Review (BAR) entitle it, “Gabriel’s 259 Revelation”.  An interesting turn of a phrase.

Another scholar named the inscription on the stone as “The Messiah of Joseph”

This moved me to write more concerning this for you today. That  is part of my commitment, through my new website,  to keep my many friends up to date on the remarkable things often unearthed in Israel.

The use of the word “Revelation” in the BAR article caught my attention and I wondered what had caused this designation by serious scholars  that this artifact was somehow above the ordinary and in a sense even a  “revelation”.

Although the ink-on-stone  script is difficult if not impossible to read in places, much of it has been translated and is quite interesting for students of early Christianity.

This 2nd article by me  is not intended to  be exhaustive but I do want to use it to touch upon areas that caught my attention as being significant in this ancient inscription that dates to the time of Jesus. I might add that the dating of this 1’ by 3’ stone  seems to be settled and places the stone around the time of Jesus or slightly before his birth.

If it is dated as prior to his birth, as seems to be the case, then some of its statements are very significant.

In the  context of its apocalyptic language, it remarkably  refers to someone important dying and being raised from the dead in 3 days. That intrigued me when I read it.

The actual  translations read: “in three days you shall live”,  or “in three days you shall return to life (be resurrected)”,  and again  “By three days you shall know that thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the evil has been broken by righteousness”.

And then there is  the interesting BAR observation  that the Gabriel Stone appears to state  that “The Archangel is ordering someone to rise from the dead within three days’.

The faded  ink inscription also makes the case for the idea of the suffering messiah as found in the Old testament book of Isaiah, chapters 52 and 53 .

Students of Classical Christian music will recognize this powerful and revolutionary theme from Handel’s Messiah.

This was a difficult idea for 1st century Jews to embrace. A Messiah that suffers and dies? Really? Not on the menu they might claim. Even difficult for the disciples to grasp.

Throughout the translation of this ink-on-stone writing, language similar to the Old Testament is found frequently: God “shows mercy to thousands”, and  ” I will shake the heaven and the earth”, and “YHWA (a favored Hebrew name for God) the Lord of Hosts”, and “David servant of YHWH”, and “Thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts” and “Showing mercy unto thousands”.

Also, strangely, the number three seems to appear frequently in the text.

There also seem to be two traditions included in the text as to the lineage of the coming Messiah:  ( 1) as the Son of David,  and (2) also as the Son of Joseph. Prominent rabbis have argued these points of view.

In the text it also says: “the Lord addresses David asking him to request of Ephraim that he place a sign: ‘My servant David ask of Ephraim (that he place a sign” but the nature of the sign is not disclosed.

According to the BAR, this “is the most important document found in the area since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” and that would make it significant.

So what does one make of this matter?

1)      It seems to me that this inscription is important and valuable, if for no other reason than that it  documents the awareness to which  this pre Jesus author confesses, in the Old Testament predictions that the long awaited Messiah would come soon.                                                 

I have long concluded that the reference in Galatians to God’s special timing of the birth of Jesus “(When the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son)” was significant and reflective of that unique and  specific time in history.   Many have observed the  contemporary interest in the predicted arrival of the Messiah that was strong then, and the sense of expectancy that it could occur soon.                                                                                                                                         

This sense of expectancy was clearly  reflected in Herod’s reflexive terror over the announcement of the wise men concerning the conclusion of   their search for the Messiah . They believed he had already been born.                                                                                                                      

For more thoughts on the meaning of the “In the fullness of time” reference in Galatians I invite you to go to my website and to the “GURU  UNIVERSITY” link and then to the  “free seminars”  offered by “GURU  U”.

2)      The prophetic references to a significant death to be followed 3 days later by the miraculous resurrection of that person, is quite stunning.                                                                    

As the speculation continues, I fully expect to see sides taken as this inscription is viewed in the context of the life of Jesus, with some arguing that it must be dated as later than the resurrection and is thus reflective of the Christian event.  Not predictive at all but recording what had already happened.                                                                               

Or we may also see some arguing that the New Testament account was colored by the group that produced the Gabriel Stone and so this text added to the myth of the resurrection etc. I do not put it past some to adopt this stance .                                                 

I can already predict the headlines: “Mysterious unknown Jewish Group responsible for the creation of the myth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

Modern scholarship will have lots of fun playing with this text and trying to figure out where it fits into the forces at play in the Palestine of the time of Jesus.

Interesting stuff and important to be aware of, but not faith shaking by any means.

By Dr. Robert Grant aka the Holy Land Guru.

Dr Grant has been traveling to the Middle East for more than 46 years and has been there more than 125 times hosting holy land tours for his friends. As a result he has been , much to his amusement, designated the holy land guru by some.

July 16, 2013

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