BEVERLY HILLS—The world’s earliest-known stone inscription of the Ten Commandments will be up for auction in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, November 26 at 6 p.m., with an opening bid of almost $250,000.
The two-foot, 200-pound square marble slab is inscribed with 20 lines of an early Hebrew script called Paleo-Hebrew Samaritan. Based on letter forms, experts believe the stone was likely carved during the late Roman or Byzantine era, between 300 and 800 A.D., according to Heritage Auctions – the Dallas-based collectibles auctioneer that is administering the sale.
Potential bidders are forewarned of one requirement: the tablet must be placed on public exhibition, as stipulated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which has designated the artifact a “National Treasure” of Israel.
Director of Antiquities for Heritage Auctions David Michaels describes the artifact as a “remarkable piece of Biblical history” in a statement. “There is nothing more fundamental to our shared heritage than the 10 Commandments,” said Michaels.
The tablet was first discovered in 1913 during excavations for a railroad station near Yavneh in western Israel. It was being used as flooring in a private owner’s courtyard. The slab likely originally decorated the entrance to a Samaritan synagogue or home near Yavne—a small city in Israel—Michaels told the Washington Post.
The inscription is being sold by Rabbi Saul Deutsch, who obtained the artifact for his Living Torah Museum in 2005. Bidders can also participate online. Heritage Auctions made the tablet available in precaution bidding, where it received an opening bid of approximately $240,000.