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Ketef Hinnom (Hebrew: כֵּתֵף הִינוֹם katef hinom, “shoulder of Hinnom”) is an archaeological site southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem, adjacent to St. Andrew’s Church, now on the grounds of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. It is located where the Valley of Rephaim and the Valley of Hinnom meet, on the old road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
The Silver Amulet is one of many archaeological nails in the coffin of the Documentary Hypothesis. Why? This portion of Numbers is argued by the critics to be part of the “P” document that was supposedly penned between 550 and 400 B.C.E. However, initially, it was dated to the late seventh/early sixth centuries B.C.E.
Of course, this dating was subsequently challenged by Johannes Renz and Wolfgang Rollig (Handbuch der Althebraischen Epigraphik, 1995) because the silver was cracked and blemished to the point of making many words and a few lines unreadable. This allowed these critics to argue for a date in the third to second centuries B.C.E. period, which would remove this stain on the lifeless body of their Documentary Hypothesis.
Then it was shipped to the University of Southern California to be examined under photographic and computer imaging. The results? The researchers stated that they could “read fully and [had] analyzed with far greater precision,” which resulted in the final analysis of being yet another vindication for Moses—the original dating stands: late seventh century B.C.E.
Exodus 14:6-7 (UASV) reads, “6 And he [the Pharaoah] made ready his chariot, and took his people with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.” Pharaoh, being the god of the world and the supreme chief of his army, personally led the army into battle. Archaeology supports this custom.
The site consists of a series of rock-hewn burial chambers based on natural caverns. In 1979, two tiny silver scrolls, inscribed with portions of the well-known Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers and apparently once used as amulets, were found in one of the burial chambers. The delicate process of unrolling the scrolls while developing a method that would prevent them from disintegrating took three years. They contain what may be the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible, dating from the First Temple period around the late 7th to early 6th century BCE prior to the Babylonian Exile, and are now preserved at the Israel Museum.
The scrolls were found in 1979 in Chamber 25 of Cave 24 at Ketef Hinnom, during excavations conducted by a team under the supervision of Gabriel Barkay, who was then professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University. The site appeared to be archaeologically sterile (the tomb had last been used for storing rifles during the Ottoman period). Still, a chance discovery by a 13-year-old “assistant” revealed that a partial collapse of the ceiling long ago had preserved the contents of Chamber 25.
A reconstruction indicates that there were five chambers and a central ‘hall’ in cave 24. The cave could hold about 22+ bodies on benches, each with a headrest of stone. Under three of the chambers in the cave, there were repositories. The repositories were used for secondary burial, which means that the bones and other remains of the long-deceased body were removed and put into the repository, thus making space for another body on that particular bench. The chambers were neatly cut with smoothed surfaces using the royal cubit as a measure. The repositories, such as that under chamber 25, had rough surfaces and a sack-like form, thus it was not intended to be seen. Ketef Hinnom cave 24 has a similar outline and capacity as the Mamilla cave complex 1 and 2, however, these cave complexes have more rooms than cave 24 at Ketef Hinnom. To accommodate more people Ketef Hinnom cave 24 has used the large chamber to the right to accommodate about 10 people, whereas this room in the Mamilla cave complexes did not have benches, thus probably they were used for chemical treatment of the bodies.
The repository under chamber 25 contained approximately 60 cm of material with over a thousand objects: many small pottery vessels, artifacts of iron and bronze (including arrowheads), needles and pins, bone and ivory objects, glass bottles, and jewelry including earrings of gold and silver. In addition, the excavators found two tiny silver scrolls, referred to below as KH1 and KH2. The tomb had evidently been in use for several generations from about 650 BCE, that is towards the end of the First Temple period, and it continued to be used after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587/6 BCE.
KH1 was found in Square D, the middle of the repository, 7 cm above the floor, while KH2 was found while sifting dirt from the lower half of the deposits in Square A, the innermost portion of the repository. Both amulets were separated from Hellenistic artifacts by 3 meters of length and 25 cm of depth and embedded in pottery and other material from the 7th/6th centuries BCE.
Barkay initially dated the inscriptions to the late-7th/early-6th centuries BCE, but later revised this date downward to the early 6th century on paleographic grounds (the forms of the delicately incised paleo-Hebrew lettering) and on the evidence of the pottery found in the immediate vicinity. This dating was subsequently questioned by Johannes Renz and Wolfgang Rollig, who argued that the script was in too poor a condition to be dated with certainty and that a 3rd/2nd century BCE provenance could not be excluded, especially as the repository, which had been used as a kind of “rubbish bin” for the burial chamber over many centuries, also contained material from the fourth century BCE.
A major re-examination of the scrolls was therefore undertaken by the University of Southern California’s West Semitic Research Project, using advanced photographic and computer enhancement techniques which enabled the script to be read more easily and the paleography to be dated more confidently. The results confirmed a date immediately prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586/7 BCE. Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins University, a specialist in ancient Semitic scripts, has said the study should “settle any controversy over [the date of] these inscriptions.”
The 2004 team described the scrolls as “one of most significant discoveries ever made” for biblical studies. Apart from their significance for our knowledge of the development of the Hebrew alphabet, the scrolls “preserve the earliest known citations of texts also found in the Hebrew Bible and … the earliest examples of confessional statements concerning Yahweh.” The reference to Yahweh as “Rebuker of Evil,” found in later incantations and amulets associated with Israel, is evidence that these artifacts were also amulets.
Dr. Wayne Pitard has stated that although evidence for the antiquity of the Priestly Blessing is now compelling, this does not necessarily mean that the Book of Numbers already existed at that time. Dr. James R. Davila has similarly pointed out that the idea that while the scrolls show that “some of the material found in the Five Books of Moses existed in the First Temple period,” the suggestion that they are “proof that the Five Books of Moses were in existence during the First Temple period” (as described in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz) is “an overinterpretation of the evidence.”
NOTE: It was in the latter half of the nineteenth century that higher criticism began to be taken seriously. These critics rejected Moses as the writer of the Pentateuch, arguing instead that the accounts in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were based on four other sources [writers] written between the 10th and the 6th centuries B.C.E. To differentiate these sources one from the other, they are simply known as the “J,” “E,” “D,” and “P” sources. The letters are the initials to the name of these alleged sources, also known as the Documentary Hypothesis. Dr. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., identifies many flaws in the reasoning of those who support the Documentary Hypothesis; however, this one flaw being quoted herein is indeed the most grievous and lays the foundation for other irrational reasoning in their thinking. Identifying their problem, Archer writes, “The Wellhausen school started with the pure assumption (which they have hardly bothered to demonstrate) that Israel’s religion was of merely human origin like any other and that it was to be explained as a mere product of evolution.” (Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2007), 98.) In other words, Wellhausen and those who followed him begin with the presupposition that God’s Word is not that at all, the Word of God, but is the word of mere man, and then they reason into the Scripture not out of the Scriptures based on that premise. As to the effect, this has on God’s Word and those who hold it as such; it is comparable to having a natural disaster wash the foundation right out from under our home. NT Textual scholar Harold Greenlee writes, “This “higher criticism” has often been applied to the Bible in a destructive way, and it has come to be looked down on by many evangelical Christians.” Greenlee, J. Harold. The Text of the New Testament: From Manuscript to Modern Edition (p. 2). Baker Publishing Group. So, I offer the following 50+ page blog article that destroys the Documentary Hypothesis.
This biblical text, dated to the 7th century BCE, is the oldest known to date and pre-dates the texts found in the Dead Sea area by about 500 years. The word YHWH (the name of the Lord in Hebrew) appears in writing for the first time ever. The benediction quoted from the Book of Numbers was recited by the Temple priests when blessing the congregation; here it is found in writing and for individual use. The tiny silver scrolls were probably worn as amulets around the neck. – Ancient Hebrew Research Center.
According to the team which led the most conclusive reexamination of the scrolls:
Based on our new analysis and reading of these texts, we can reaffirm with confidence that the late preexilic period is the proper chronological context for the artifacts. We can further reassert the conclusion reached by most scholars: that the inscriptions found on these plaques preserve the earliest known citations of texts also found in the Hebrew Bible and that they provide us with the earliest examples of confessional statements concerning Yahweh.
The scrolls are known as KH1 and KH2. They are written in Paleo-Hebrew characters (see Paleo-Hebrew alphabet) not the Aramaic square script more familiar to most modern readers. Text below in square brackets represents informed deduction.
The scroll KH1 measures 27 by 97 millimetres (1.06 in × 3.82 in).
[Top line(s) broken]
(1) …] YHWH …
(3) the grea[t … who keeps]
(4) the covenant and
(5) [G]raciousness towards those who love [him] and (alt: [hi]m;)
(6) those who keep [his commandments …
(8) the Eternal? […].
(9) [the?] blessing more than any
(10) [sna]re and more than Evil.
(11) For redemption is in him.
(12) For YHWH
(13) is our restorer [and]
(14) rock. May YHWH bles[s]
(15) you and
(16) [may he] keep you.
(17) [May] YHWH make
(18) [his face] shine …
[Bottom line(s) broken.]
Compare lines 3–6 to:
Exodus 20:6 – showing mercy to thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments
Deuteronomy 5:10 – showing mercy to thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments
Deuteronomy 7:9 – keeping covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations
Daniel 9:4 – keeping covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments
Nehemiah 1:5 – keeping covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments
The omission of “thousands” may have originally appeared on line 7 as in Deuteronomy 7:9.
The scroll KH2 measures 11 by 39 millimetres (0.43 in × 1.54 in).
[Top line(s) broken: For PN xxxx]
Birkat kohanim 22
(1) -h/hu. May be blessed h/sh-
(2) -[e] by YHW[H,]
(3) the warrior/helper and
(4) the rebuker of
(5) [E]vil: May bless you,
(7) keep you.
(8) Make shine, YH-
(9) -[W]H, His face
(10) [upon] you and g-
(11) -rant you p-
[Bottom line(s) broken.]
Compare lines 5–12 to Numbers 6:24–26:
6:24 Yahweh bless you and keep you;
6:25 Yahweh make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
6:26 Yahweh lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Note that the two bold italicized phrases above are not present on this scroll; also note that all of Numbers 6:25–26 may have appeared on KH1 after line 18 where the scroll has disintegrated).
Apotropaic Nature of the Amulets
Jeremy Smoak has argued that the combination of the terms “guard” and “protect” is typical of apotropaic amulets and find parallels among Phoenician and Punic amulets from the Iron Age. He finds reflection of the custom of making such apotropaic amulets in Psalm 12:7–9:
“The utterance of YHWH are pure utterances, silver refined in a furnace in the earth, purified seven times. You O YHWH, will guard them; you will protect him from this generation forever. On every side the wicked prowl, a vileness is exalted among humankind.”
By Wikipedia and Edward D. Andrews
THE SACRED PERSONAL NAME OF GOD THE FATHER: The Myth That Jehovah Was Pointed with the Vowel Markings of Adonai
- “Jerusalem — Silver Plaques” – brief overview at Jewish Virtual Library, sourced from the Islraeli Foreign Ministry.
- “The Riches of Ketef Hinnom” – Biblical Archaeology Review online article.
- The Ketef Hinnom tombs – photos provided by Holy Land Photos.
- “St. Andrew’s Scottish Church” – photos and details of KH’s location relative to the church.
Barkay, Gabriel (1983). “News From the Field: The Divine Name Found in Jerusalem”. Biblical Archaeology Review. 9:2 (March/April): 14–9.
Barkay, Gabriel; Lundberg, Marilyn J.; Vaughn, Andrew G.; Zuckerman, Bruce; Zuckerman, Kenneth (2003). “The Challenges of Ketef Hinnom: Using Advanced Technologies to Reclaim the Earliest Biblical Texts and Their Contexts”. Near Eastern Archaeology. 66:4 (December): 162–71.
Barkay, Gabriel; Lundberg, Marilyn J.; Vaughn, Andrew G.; Zuckerman, Bruce (2004). “The Amulets from Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation”. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 334 (May): 41–70.
Barkay, Gabriel (2009). “The Riches of Ketef Hinnom: Jerusalem tomb yields Biblical text four centuries older than Dead Sea Scrolls”. Biblical Archaeology Review. 35:4 (Jul/Aug Sep/Oct).
Berlejung, Angelika (January 2008). “Ein Programm fürs Leben. Theologisches Wort und anthropologischer Ort der Silberamulette von Ketef Hinnom”. Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (in German). 120 (2): 204–230. doi:10.1515/zaw.2008.013.
Smoak, Jeremy (2010). “Amuletic Inscriptions and the Background of YHWH as Guardian and Protector in Psalm 12”. Vetus Testamentum. 60 (3): 421–432. doi:10.1163/156853310×504856.
Smoak, Jeremy (2011). “‘Prayers and Petition’ in the Psalms and West Semitic Inscribed Amulets: Efficacious Words in metal and Prayers for Protection in Biblical Literature”. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. 36 (1): 75–92. doi:10.1177/0309089211419419.
Smoak, Jeremy D. (2015). The Priestly Blessing in Inscription & Scripture: The Early History of Numbers 6:24-26. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-939997-0.
Waaler, Erik (2002). “A revised date for Pentateuchal texts? Evidence from Ketef Hinnom” (PDF). Tyndale Bulletin. 53 (1): 29–55. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16.
Waaler, Erik (2011). “A Reconstruction of Ketef Hinnom I”. Maarav. 16 (2): 225–263.
Yardeni, Ada (1991). “Remarks on the Priestly Blessing on Two Ancient Amulets from Jerusalem”. Vetus Testamentum. 41 (2, fasc. 2): 176–185. doi:10.1163/156853391X00450.
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CHURCH ISSUES, GROWTH, AND HISTORY
 St Andrew’s Church, also known as the Scots Memorial Church, is a church in Jerusalem built as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who were killed fighting the Turkish Army during World War I, bringing to an end Ottoman rule over Palestine. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland.
 The Menachem Begin Heritage Center is the official state memorial commemorating Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth Prime Minister. The Center is located on the Hinnom Ridge, overlooking Mount Zion and walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
 The Valley of Rephaim or Valley of the Rephaim, is a valley descending southwest from Jerusalem to Nahal Sorek below, it is an ancient route from the coastal plain to the Judean Hills, probably named after the legendary race of giants. Emek Refaim, the German Colony in Jerusalem, takes its name from this valley.
 Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Lookout and Reich Archaeological Garden.
 A scroll, also known as a roll, is a roll of papyrus, parchment, or paper containing writing.
 An amulet, also known as a good luck charm, is an object believed to confer protection upon its possessor. The word “amulet” comes from the Latin word amuletum, which Pliny’s Natural History describes as “an object that protects a person from trouble”. Anything can function as an amulet; items commonly so used include gems, statues, coins, drawings, plant parts, animal parts, and written words.
 The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh, or sometimes the Miqra (מִקְרָא), is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a few passages in Biblical Aramaic. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and consists of 24 books and is sorted and numbered using Perek and pasokim whereas Protestant Bibles divide essentially the same material into 39 books. Catholic Bibles and Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bibles contain additional materials in their Old Testaments, derived from the Septuagint and other sources.
 According to the Biblical narrative, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was a temple in Jerusalem built under King Solomon’s reign and completed in 957 BCE. The Temple was looted and then destroyed in 586/587 BCE at the hands of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, who also deported the Jews to Babylon. The destruction of the temple and the deportation were seen as fulfillments of prophecy and strengthened Judaic religious beliefs.
 The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
 The Israel Museum was established in 1965 as Israel’s foremost cultural institution and one of the world’s leading encyclopedic museums. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, adjacent to the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
 Gabriel Barkay is an Israeli archaeologist.
 Barkay, Gabriel, et al., “The Challenges of Ketef Hinnom: Using Advanced Technologies to Recover the Earliest Biblical Texts and their Context,” Near Eastern Archaeology, 66/4 (2003): 162–171. The article includes an isometric drawing of the chamber where the find was made.
Tel Aviv University (TAU) is a public research university in Tel Aviv, Israel. With over 30,000 students, it is the largest university in the country. Located in northwest Tel Aviv, the university is the center of teaching and research of the city, comprising 9 faculties, 17 teaching hospitals, 18 performing arts centers, 27 schools, 106 departments, 340 research centers, and 400 laboratories.
 The secondary burial, or “double funeral” is a feature of prehistoric and historic gravesites. The term refers to remains that represent an exhumation and reburial, whether intentional or accidental.
 n 589 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586 BC.
 Paleo-Hebrew script, also Palæo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the name used by modern scholars to describe the script found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of Biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script used to record the original texts of the Hebrew Bible due to its similarity to the Samaritan script, as the Talmud stated that the Hebrew ancient script was still used by the Samaritans. The Talmud described it as the “Libona’a script,” translated by some as “Lebanon script”. Use of the term “Paleo-Hebrew alphabet” is due to a 1954 suggestion by Solomon Birnbaum, who argued that “[t]o apply the term Phoenician to the script of the Hebrews is hardly suitable.”
 Renz, Johannes and Wolfgang Röllig, Handbuch der althebräischen Epigraphik (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1995).
 The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880 by Robert M. Widney, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2020–21 academic year, there were 19,500 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs, and 26,500 graduate and professional students in a number of programs, including business, law, film, engineering, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. Admissions is considered highly selective. USC is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.
 Barkay, G., A.G. Vaughn, M.J. Lundberg and B. Zuckerman, “The Amulets from Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 334 (2004): 41–71. (An innovation in the report was the simultaneous publication of an accompanying “digital article,” a CD version of the article and the images).
 Peter Kyle McCarter Jr. is an Old Testament scholar. He is William Foxwell Albright Professor in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University. McCarter is best known for his work on the Books of Samuel: he wrote volumes on I and II Samuel for the Anchor Bible Series.
 The Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest —of which half financed the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time.
 Barkay, Gabriel, et al., “The Challenges of Ketef Hinnom: Using Advanced Technologies to Recover the Earliest Biblical Texts and their Context”, Near Eastern Archaeology, 66/4 (Dec. 2003): 162-171.
 Haaretz is an Israeli newspaper. It was founded in 1918, making it the longest running newspaper currently in print in Israel, and is now published in both Hebrew and English in the Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International New York Times. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the internet. In North America, it is published as a weekly newspaper, combining articles from the Friday edition with a roundup from the rest of the week.
 Gabriel Barkay, Marilyn J. Lundberg, Andrew G. Vaughn and Bruce Zuckerman, “The Amulets from Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation,”Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 334 (2004): 41–71. (An innovation in the report was the simultaneous publication of an accompanying “digital article,” a CD version of the article and the images).
 Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic-speaking thalassocratic civilization that originated in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily modern Lebanon. It was concentrated along the coast of Lebanon and included some coastal areas of modern Syria and Galilee, reaching as far north as Arwad and as far south as Acre and possibly Gaza. At its height between 1100 and 200 BC, Phoenician civilization spread across the Mediterranean, from the Levant to the Iberian Peninsula.
 The Punics, Carthaginians or Western Phoenicians, were a group of peoples in the Western Mediterranean who traced their origins to the Phoenicians. In modern scholarship, the term ‘Punic’ – the Latin equivalent of the Greek-derived term ‘Phoenician’ – is exclusively used to refer to Phoenicians in the Western Mediterranean, following the line of the Greek East and Latin West.
 Smoak, Jeremy, “Amuletic Inscriptions and the Background of YHWH as Guardian and Protector in Psalm 12,” Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010): 427–428.
The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Bronze Age and the Stone Age. The concept has been mostly applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy, also to other parts of the Old World.
 Smoak, ibid., 427–428.