“Priestly Benediction” on amulets
Ketef Hinnom, Jerusalem
6th century BCE
H: 3.9-9.7; W: 1.1-2.7 cm
Israel Antiquities Authority
Accession number: IAA 1980-1495, 1980-1496
These two silver amulets bear the oldest copies of biblical text known to us today. They are some five hundred years older than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The amulets, inscribed with ancient Hebrew script, were found rolled into tiny scrolls in a burial cave in Jerusalem. They were incised with a sharp, thin stylus, no thicker than a hair’s breadth, and thus deciphering the inscription was difficult. The lower part of the inscription has been identified as a version of Numbers 6:24–26: “The Lord bless and protect you. The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you. The Lord bestow his favor upon you and grant you peace.” This formula, which found its way into the Jewish liturgy, is known as the Priestly Benediction.
From the Israel Museum publications:
The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005
Zalmona, Yigal, ed., The Israel Museum at 40: Masterworks of Beauty and Sanctity, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005
Beauty and Sanctity: the Israel Museum at 40. A Series of Exhibitions Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2006
The Beauty of Sanctity: Masterworks from Every Age, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Spring-Summer 2005
Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir