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It’s almost too stunning to ponder!
Has one of the two sets of the Ten Commandments, hewn by Moses and “engraved with the finger of God”, been found?
Several weeks after their legendary Exodus from Egypt, according to the biblical account, the Israelite nation was gathered to Mount Sinai to hear God’s eternal covenant with them – the Ten Commandments.
Moses was also called up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. When Moses descended, he broke them at the foot of the mountain. Later he received a replacement set to go inside the Ark of the Covenant.
What happened to the Ten Commandments of Moses – the first set?
We may wonder what happened to that first – the broken – set of tablets/
The June 17, 1992 issue of the Shanghai “Liberation Daily” (Chinese official party organ) published a news item, entitled, “A ‘Myth’ from the Gulf war”. “The Sun”, a United states newspaper, also published a report on it. The two sources contained points that differed, but they generally agreed on the essential points. That two separate articles, with differing details, would appear on two separate continents, was regarded by some as significant.
They both indicated that those first two inscribed tablets had been found.
During the Gulf war, heavy allied bombing of southern Iraq “caused a cavern about 100 feet deep to cave in,” explained Kurt Jenkins, a British archaeologist and one of the first called to the scene. He and his colleagues found a variety of items in the cavern, including, incredibly, the original tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
“We just put everything on planes and flew them out of the country because we knew the Iraqis would not allow us to properly excavate the site,” Jenkins said. The site was close to the Euphrates River, about 80 miles north of the Kuwaiti border.
Why would the Ten Commandments be found in Iraq?
Historically, there would be a good possibility that the broken set of the tablets was later recovered from the lower slopes of Mount Sinai by a faithful Israelite and taken to the promised land of Canaan (Israel). Later, when the Jews were carried captive to Babylon (now in Iraq) in 606, 597 and 586 BC), the broken set of tablets could well have been taken by someone, in the hope of preserving them for posterity. By the time when the captivity was drawing to a close, the Jews had been so successful in business in Babylonia that their children and grandchildren, now so worldly-minded, few of them were interested in returning to the desolated home of their forefathers. Only a remnant returned. Overlooked, it was NOT later brought back to Judea. Forgotten, it was ignored. When the town was flooded, a new village was built atop the old one. This went on for 2,500 years, until recently. (Jews lived in these riverside towns as well as in Babylon city.) This rebuilding as well as the continual river deposition would account for it now being so far under the surface.
According to the Chinese report, it was personnel in the Western forces who recognised the tablets for what they were.
Ten Commandments of Moses taken to U.S. “for analysis”?
The “Sun” article reported that exciting as the discovery was, scientists were stunned by the way the words were inscribed on the tablets. “Although worn by centuries of erosion,” said Jacob Arens, a physicist from the University of Jerusalem, “the letters are clean with sharp edges. No stonecutter could have done such a perfect job.”
Arens and other scientists from Europe and the United States subjected the tablets to a variety of tests, including x-rays and computer analyses. “The letters were definitely burned into the rock,” said Professor Ludwig Sales from Berlin university. “I’m not ready to say it was a laser beam, but some sort of cutting ray was used – something far beyond the skills of ancient Hebrews” (runaway slaves in the desert).
Vance Ferrell reported from the U.S. that a friend rang John Hopkins University sources and the people there “appeared stunned that someone would have that information. Throughout the conversation, it was obvious that a secret needed to be kept, and they were surprised that the cat was out of the bag. At one point in the conversation, I asked, ‘Do you have information on this?’ The answer was something like this: ‘Well, we have information.’ I replied, ‘Something in the affirmative or in the negative?’ ‘Something in the affirmative,’ came the response.”
How big were the Tablets of The Ten Commandments?
According to “Encyclopedia Judaica”, they weighed 40 se’ah (selah) which equalled 913 grams, that is about 2 pounds. This means they were quite small. The biblical record states that when Moses brought them down the mountain, “the two tables of the testimony were in his hand [singular]: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.” (Exodus 32:15,16)
Notice, according to the record he held them BOTH in his one hand; and they were engraved front and back. That clears up two popular misconceptions. (Artists often portray them as large, with one carried on each arm, and everything written on the front side only.) Jonathan Gray