(Posted by Michael J. Caba)

These two small scrolls are known as the Silver Scrolls. They contain the oldest known copies of biblical passages. Written about 600 BC, they were discovered in 1979 in Jerusalem at a place outside the Old City known as Ketef Hinnom. The Hebrew language text on the scrolls is taken from Numbers 6:24-26 which reads, “May Yahweh bless you and keep you; May Yahweh cause his face to shine upon you and grant you peace.” The scroll to the left is roughly 4″ long and the one to the right is about 1.5″ long. Both scrolls are now located in the Israel Museum.

For those interested in Biblical studies, the scrolls speak to the antiquity of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the Christian Old Testament). Some critical theories postulate a late date of composition for these texts, say, the 6th-5th BC, but the earlier existence of these scrolls—and their Biblical passages—weighs to some extent against this theory.

For information on similar artifacts related to the Bible, see Bible and Archaeology – Online Museum.

(Photos: BiblePlaces.com. Significant resource for further study: Gabriel Barkay, 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]: 162-71.)