Earliest-known 10 Commandments tablet auctioned for R12m

Ancient 10 Commandments slab up for auction. (PHOTO: Fox News)

Originally published in Fox News.

The earliest-known complete stone inscription of the 10 Commandments sold at auction in Beverly Hills for $850 000(R12 257 118) on Wednesday night.

The 0.6m-square marble slab, described as a “national treasure” of Israel, was sold at Heritage Auctions’ public auction of ancient Biblical archaeology artifacts.

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The auction opened with a $300 000(R4 326 041) bid on the piece. The winning bidder does not wish to be identified.

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Inscribed in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan, the tablet likely adorned the entrance of a synagogue destroyed by the Romans between AD 400 and 600, or the Crusaders in the 11th century.

Based on the letter forms, experts think that the stone was probably carved in the late Roman or Byzantine era between AD 300 and 500.

The auction house said the Israeli Antiquities Authorities approved export of the piece to the United States in 2005. The only condition was that it must be displayed in a public museum.

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“The sale of this tablet does not mean it will be hidden away from the public,” said David Michaels, Heritage Auctions director of ancient coins and antiquities. “The new owner is under obligation to display the tablet for the benefit of the public.”

Weighing about 91kg, the stone was first uncovered in 1913 during excavations for a railroad station near Yavneh in western Israel, and was used as flooring in a private owner’s courtyard. The tablet was acquired by Y Kaplan who brought in experts to study it. Antiquities dealer Robert Deutsch bought in the artifact in the 1990s and Rabbi Saul Deutsch obtained it for his Living Torah Museum in 2005.

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