World's Oldest 10 Commandments Tablet to Sell at Auction
Heritage Auctions is set to sell the world's oldest stone tablet featuring the 10 Commandments.
The religious relic is thought to date back more than 1,500 years, and will now be offered at auction with a starting bid of $250,000.
"There is nothing more fundamental to our shared heritage than the 10 Commandments," said David Michaels, Director of Antiquities for Heritage Auctions, "and Heritage Auctions is honored and privileged to be entrusted with the sale of this remarkable piece of Biblical history."
The marble slab is inscribed in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan, and is believed to originate from the entrance of a synagogue in Western Israel, built in the late Roman or Byzantine era, circa AD 300-500.
The synagogue is thought to have been destroyed by either the Romans circa AD 400-600, or by Crusaders in the 11th century.
The tablet is one of four examples surviving from the period known as the "Samaritan Decalogues". Three of these tablets are fragmentary, and owned by museums or at protected sites in the Middle East. The fourth, and most complete tablet, will now be sold from the collection of The Living Torah Museum in New York.
"The Living Torah example is among the earliest of these Decalogues, and certainly the most complete," Michaels noted. "It is also the only example that can be legally obtained for private ownership."
Having been originally discovered in 1913, during excavations for a railroad station near the modern city of Yavneh, the tablet passed through several collections before being acquired by Rabbi Saul Deutsch for his Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, in 2005.
The tablet is considered a 'National Treasure' of Israel, and was only granted an export license to the U.S on condition that it be displayed in a public museum – a condition which is still in place.
"We seek either an institutional buyer or a private one who will agree to exhibit the 10 Commandments Stone so that all can see, enjoy and learn from it," said Michaels.
The tablet will be sold as part of a collection of 50 items from the Living Torah Museum, with proceeds set to fund the museum's future expansion and development.
"Most of these objects date to Biblical times and have particular relevance to the Old and New Testaments," said Michaels. "All have been researched, vetted, and carry the appropriate provenance and export paperwork.
"Anyone with an interest in Jewish, Christian, or Classical history will find something in this sale. We thank the Living Torah Museum and its creator, Rabbi Saul Deutsch, for this opportunity."
The sale takes place at Heritage Auctions in New York on November 16.
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