Finding Faith On The Mountain Of Curses

Finding Faith On The Mountain Of Curses

Brent Pollard

Dr. Scott Stripling, excavations director for the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR), made a significant biblical archaeology discovery on Mount Ebal in 2020. Stripling found the amulet in the eastern dump pile, and they believe it came from one of the altars that Professor Adam Zerta excavated more than 30 years ago.

Tomographic scans revealed an ancient proto-alphabetic Hebrew inscription on the amulet, hundreds of years older than any other known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel. Two epigraphers, Pieter Gert van der Veen and Gershon Galil, identified the amulet as a curse tablet (defixio). The word “cursed” appeared ten times in the inscription, as did the tetragrammaton (YHWH) twice.

Mount Ebal is significant in biblical history because it was where curses were pronounced during the covenant ceremony before the Israelites’ entry into Canaan (Deuteronomy 11:26ff). Due to its discovery within the ruins of an altar, Dr. Scott Stripling and Pieter Gert van der Veen propose a link between the discovered amulet and the biblical covenant renewal ceremony (Joshua 8:30ff). Furthermore, Prof. Gershon Galil’s textual analysis suggests that the person who inscribed the amulet was most likely a prominent figure, and the deliberate placement of the talisman near the religious site supports the biblical account of Joshua’s altar’s historical accuracy.

What is the significance of this? The consensus is that Israel entered Canaan around 1250 BC or in the 13th century BC. (Metych) Scholars have long assumed that they had no written language when they arrived in Canaan. Furthermore, scholars believe that the Hebrews only wrote their Scriptures once imprisoned in Babylon or even the Persian or Greek eras. Consequently, scholars think that various cultures influenced a substantial portion of the concepts presented in Scripture. (e.g., Noah of Genesis vs. Utnapishtim of The Epic of Gilgamesh).

However, this Ebal inscription predates the pottery discovered in the 2010s, dating back to the end of the First Temple period 2,710 years ago. (Staff) The engraving on Ebal is at least three hundred years older. And, despite being written in a proto-alphabetic script, the message indicates that those who placed the amulet there were YHWH worshippers. YHWH is God’s covenant name, which He taught Moses when He tasked the latter with leading His people out of Egypt (Exodus 3.14). And now we have proof that people in Joshua’s time could write.

There is also the implication that the Exodus may have occurred earlier than previously believed. The Pharaoh Merneptah created a victory stele discovered in Thebes in 1896. (Kettley) Merneptah claimed to have defeated the nomadic people “Israel” in his campaigns in Canaan on the stele. Merneptah was a little-known pharaoh who ruled from 1213 to 1203 BC.

Suppose Israel was already present in the early 13th century BC. Could we not deduce from the evidence atop Ebal that these “nomads” against whom Merneptah fought were not a people devoid of civilization and culture? Why would Merneptah boast about his victory over them if they weren’t fearsome and capable of mounting a defense? Some believe that Merneptah’s father, Rameses II, ruled Egypt during the Exodus. If true, though I am skeptical, Merneptah may have wanted to boost his image following his father’s failure.

I am mindful of the warning from the Hebrews’ writer that “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31 NASB1995). Even so, I don’t think I have ever been happier to read about God’s curses. It may be one of the few times that you can build your faith when you read: “Cursed, cursed, cursed—cursed by the God YHWH. You will die cursed. Cursed, you will surely die. Cursed by YHWH— cursed, cursed, cursed.” (Eliyahu Berkowitz)

Works Cited

Metych, Michele, editor. “Canaan | Definition, Map, History, and Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 14 Apr. 2023,

Staff, JPost. com. “2,700 Year Old Hebrew Inscription Uncovered in City of David.” The Jerusalem Post |, 18 Aug. 2013,

Kettley, Sebastian. “Merneptah Stele: How This 3,200-year Artefact Could Prove Bible RIGHT.”, 26 May 2020,

Eliyahu Berkowitz, Adam. “‘Curse’ Text on Ancient Amulet Could Change Way Scholars Read Bible.” The Jerusalem Post – Christian World, 24 Mar. 2022,

Further Reading

Sudilovsky, Judith. “Researchers Decipher Oldest Known Hebrew Inscription on ‘cursed’ Tablet.” The Jerusalem Post |, 24 Mar. 2022,

Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy. “Ancient Tablet Found on Mount Ebal Predates Known Hebrew Inscriptions.” The Jerusalem Post |, 14 May 2023,

Fred Baur

Fred Baur

Thursday’s Column: Learning From Lehman


Braden Wilson

It was 2008, just 20 days shy of his 90th birthday, when Fred Baur died. On the way to the funeral home, his kids decided to stop at a nearby Walgreens to pick up some salty snacks. They debated for a bit, should it be sour cream and onion, cheddar cheese maybe? Larry and his siblings finally decided on Original. 

You see, Fred adored his kids, but his passion was snacks. His accomplishments included a variety of frying oils and freeze-dried ice cream. 

Fred was an American organic Chemist that had received both his masters and PhD at The Ohio State University, and it was 1966 when P&G came calling. Evidently, in the 1960s, there was a problem with the packaging and shipping of potato chips. By the time the consumer would pick up potato chips at a store, well, they were merely in pieces. This is where P&G thought Fred could help solve this problem. 

After two years of experimentation, Fred developed a chip of dried potato flakes, added a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients, and cut them into thin hyperbolic paraboloids. With this shape, Fred could neatly stack his chips into his vacuum sealed tube. 

By this time, you know that I am referring to Fred’s invention of Pringles, but the story doesn’t end there. Fred still wasn’t done with his invention. 

There were problems:

First and foremost, they tasted like sawdust, so Fred spent another 2 years to improve the taste. Then, another issue. Frito-Lay sent lawyers because they said Fred’s chips weren’t potato chips at all because they were just 42% potato. 

After some time and haggling, they decided to call them potato crisps. 

Fred persevered.

He gave birth to an iconic brand that many of us still enjoy today. Through years of experimentation, development, and disappointments, lawyers-at one point P&G wanted to trash the idea. 

But Fred persevered. 

He was able to see his brand break 100 million in sales. He was able to see it break 500 million in sales. However, he wasn’t there in 2011 when P&G sold Pringles for almost 2.5 Billion Dollars. 

That brings us back to 2008 when Fred’s children showed up to the funeral home with the Original flavored can of pringles. Fred’s wish was to have his ashes be placed in a Pringles can when he passed. 

Fred got his wish.

As great as this story is, we wouldn’t have this story if it wasn’t for Fred’s perseverance. And as great as Fred’s perseverance was, we have so many examples of greater perseverance in the Bible. 

Consider Joshua, Job, Jeremiah, Nehemiah and our greatest example of perseverance, Jesus. These are just a few of the many examples the Bible gives us. 

Two points I want to quickly make about Perseverance, and the lesson is yours. 


It’s not a matter of if, but when…Christians Will Face Tribulations in Life. Jesus says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

Christ never promised us that this life would be a bed of roses. The Gospel never said we’d go to Heaven on “flowery beds of ease.” Rather, we are promised that we shall have hardships and tribulations in this life, especially if we are faithful Children of God.

Only those who persevere receive the reward. Revelation 2:10-11 tells us, “ Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”


Romans 8: 18-28 can be summarized as this: Viewed in faith, tribulation is a friend rather than an enemy. I don’t know a lot of adversity that is necessarily fun, but we can learn from it, and we can grow from it. 

In Deuteronomy 8, the Israelites failed to see the benefits of their trials. 

In Numbers, we see there was an Exodus of over one Million Israelites. 

We later see that only two Persevered and reached the promised land. 

In 1 Corinthians and Hebrews, Paul admonishes us not to imitate the Israelites.

Rather than complain, rejoice in God’s work in your life. 

Difficulties and trials would not normally be considered an occasion for joy but think about James and Paul and how they exhort us to look beyond the immediate pain and discomforts of trials to the lasting effect they have on the character of the Christian. 

It is the development of our character, that should cause us to rejoice in adversity. Always remember who wins in the end. 

We all have mountains to climb and sometimes holes to dig ourselves out of. Perhaps you want to begin to persevere and put on the armor of God through Baptism. There is no better time than now. Perhaps you’ve been baptized, and you’re currently trying so hard to climb the mountain that you’re on and you’ve had setbacks. We would love to help you reach the peak. 



Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross


Neal Pollard

Jethro is one of my favorite Old Testament people. His efforts in Exodus 18 seem to be what he’s remembered most for. Yet, he is quite an impressive person from the time we meet him in the beginning of the book of Exodus.

  • Jethro was an appreciative man (Ex. 2:20). Moses met Jethro’s family after fleeing from the Pharaoh’s wrath following Moses’ murder of an Egyptian taskmaster. Moses helps Jethro’s seven daughters by fending off some mischievous shepherds and caring for the man’s sheep and family’s water needs. When Jethro heard of this, he asked his daughters, “Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” Jethro was eager to quickly, tangibly show his thanks for Moses’ kindness.
  • Jethro was a spiritual man (Ex. 2:16; 3:1). One of the first facts we learn about the man is that he is “the priest of Midian.” He likely was the chief representative of the people in religious sacrifice, though it seems that when Moses meets him he has not yet learned who the true and only God is. That realization comes later (Ex. 18:10-11), but his role as spiritual leader is introduced to us from the beginning though with no details of it in the text.
  • Jethro was an accommodating man (Ex. 4:18). When the time came and Moses heeded God’s bidding to confront the Pharaoh, it meant separating himself from his work and living arrangements in Midian. Moses pleaded with his father-in-law, and Jethro made that easy for him, telling him, “Go in peace.” Jacob’s father-in-law had not been so kind. What a contrast in this man who saw the bigger picture and made his son-in-law’s departure that much easier.
  • Jethro was a sensible man (Ex. 18). This is the quality of the man about which we have heard most. Jethro’s appeal to Moses’ common sense, to get help from the people in judging the people, has served as a role model in spiritual leadership for centuries. Jethro could see the effect of the old, broken system on both Moses and the people. He sized it up, saying, “The thing that you are doing is not good” (17). But, a sensible man does more than raise the specter of the problem. He offers a solution (19-23), and it works beautifully (24-26).

One of the marvel’s of the Bible’s inspiration is seeing the supporting cast of men and women whose lives crossed the people we know best in Scripture. Moses was perhaps the most prominent figure of Old Testament history, so those whose lives he touched show up at several points. Jethro is one of the most interesting of them all.




Neal Pollard

Prayer is a very personal exercise, a life built between an individual and God. Thus, these suggestions may of themselves feel intrusive or foreign to some.  However, through the years, I have heard many express some difficulty in knowing how to praise God or what to say in praise to Him when in prayer.  Leah, in naming Judah, was the first to articulate the idea (through his name), “I will praise” (Gen. 29:35).  Moses resolved the same at the head of his song in Exodus 15:2.  The remaining six times the phrase appears, the psalmist pens the words (Ps. 22:22; 35:18; 69:30; 109:30; 145:2; 146:2).  Twice in the Psalms we learn that “praise is becoming” (33:1; 147:1). In fact, it makes little sense to make the case for the importance of praise to anyone who professes a belief in God and has seen His blessings and assistance in his or her life.

Having said all of that, what are some specific things one can praise God for in the exercise of prayer?

  • Praise Him for His attributes (eternality, limitlessness, superlativeness).
  • Praise Him for the wonders of creation (try praying under a starry sky, as the sun is rising, or out in the midst of nature’s beauty—words of praise will flow like water).
  • Praise Him for His blessings.
  • Praise Him for His sovereignty and superiority.
  • Praise Him for His promises.
  • Praise Him for His desire to have relationship with you.
  • Praise Him for His providence.
  • Praise Him for His plan of salvation, giving thought to its component parts.
  • Praise Him for the glorious future He has prepared for you.
  • Praise Him for the victorious work of Christ and the spiritual benefits that brings you.

Obviously, this is just a primer list of ideas.  Contemplate God, His nature, His work, His personality, and you will have an ever-growing, ever-changing, and ever-deepening “praise component” to your prayer life.  It is good to thank Him and petition Him, but take sufficient time to exalt Him by infusing your supplications with praise to Him!  As David urged Asaph and his relatives to proclaim, “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised” (1 Chr. 16:25a). Amen!

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