by Rich Deem
The recent translation of a first century B.C. stone tablet discovered a decade ago near the Dead Sea in Jordan is causing a stir in archeological and biblical circles. The stone, although unreadable in part, is an apocalyptic description attributed to the angel Gabriel, which clearly makes references to the Messiah and a command from Gabriel that the Messiah live after three days, a probable reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered about 60 years ago, and have provided significant insight into the religious communities of both before and after the birth of Jesus. Some of these scrolls, dated to the first century B.C., have confirmed the authenticity of the book of Isaiah, including the famous “suffering servant” passage in Isaiah 52-53.1 This passage describes “an arm of the Lord” who is “pierced through” and “like a lamb that is led to slaughter” as he “bore the sin of many.” Although written before the birth of Jesus, the text perfectly describes His ministry and death for the sins of mankind, as described in the books of the New Testament. The discovery of a first century B.C. stone tablet near the Dead Sea appears to extend the ancient prophecies of the “suffering servant” to include his death and resurrection three days later. The prophecies given in the tablet are attributed to the angel Gabriel, the same angel who announced the birth of Jesus to Zacharias and Mary.2
Discovery and authentication
The stone tablet was discovered about a decade ago and purchased by David Jeselsohn, an expert and collector of antiquities. A few years ago Jesselsohn showed the stone to Ada Yardeni, an expert in ancient Hebrew, who determined that the text dated from the late first century B.C., based on the shape of the script and the language. Yuval Goren, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University has analyzed of the chemistry of the stone and commented that he has no reason to doubt its authenticity, although his study has not been published yet. Yardeni and Binyamin Elitzur, another expert in ancient Hebrew, studied the stone and published their findings in the Hebrew-language quarterly Cathedra.
The tablet consists of two partially-preserved columns of Hebrew text. The first column describes the breaking of evil by righteousness:
“By three days you shall know that, thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the evil has been broken by righteousness.”
This text is reminiscent of the passage from Daniel, which declares that the Messiah will “make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness.”4 The text of Gabriel’s Vision goes on to describe the timing of this event as in being “in just a little while”:
In just a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth.
Since the dating of this tablet has been set to the late first century B.C., this “little while” would have been just a few years before the birth of Jesus, described in the Bible as being at the time of king Herod (who died in 4 B.C.).5 The text goes on the make Messianic allusions:
My servant David, ask of Ephraim (that he) place the sign; (this) I ask of you.
At the time of the writing of the Gabriel’s vision, David had been dead for 1,000 years, so, obviously, the text does not refer directly to David. However, in the prophetic passages of the Bible (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), the text often refers to “My servant David” as King David’s descendant and the Messiah to come.6 According to Jeremiah, the Messiah is the “righteous Branch” of David, who will be known as “The LORD our righteousness,”7 which goes along with the text listed above. Line 80 begins with the phrase “by three days” followed by the word “to live” or “be resurrected” , with the source being the angel “I, Gabriel” . Because of the poor preservation of the text, the object of the command is not clear. However, the next line contains the phrase “prince of princes” . Elsewhere in the prophetic passages of the old testament, Messiah is known as “Prince of Peace.”8 Daniel defines Messiah as “Messiah the Prince”9 and makes direct reference to him as the “prince of princes.”10 Given the significance of the Messianic nature of the text, and the juxtaposition of “prince of princes” to Gabriel’s command, it would not be unreasonable to think that the resurrected one would be the Messiah. So, the likely translation would be “By three days, live, I Gabriel, command you, prince of the princes.” Therefore, this stone strongly supports the New Testament’s claim that Jesus is the Messiah who died for the sins of the people11 and rose again the third day.12
A first century B.C. stone tablet discovered a decade ago near the Dead Sea in Jordan has been translated, showing it to be an apocalyptic description attributed to the angel Gabriel. The text of the tablet makes clear references to the Messiah who will destroy evil and bring in righteousness. In the stone tablet, Gabriel commands the Messiah to live after three days, a seeming reference to the resurrection of Jesus.
- Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
- The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. (Luke 1:19)
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27)
- Knohl, I. 2008. By Three Days, Live”: Messiahs, Resurrection, and Ascent to Heaven in Hazon Gabriel. The Journal of Religion 88:147–158.
- “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:24-26)
- Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, (Matthew 2:1)
- ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.'” (Isaiah 37:35)
“Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. (Jeremiah 33:20-21)
“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:23-24)
- “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.'” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
- For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
- “And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; And he will magnify himself in his heart, And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, But he will be broken without human agency. (Daniel 8:25)
- “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. (Daniel 9:25)
- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (Romans 3:23-24)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
- But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:21-22)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
“We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible” (Acts 10:39-40)