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,

“It’s all Greek to me.”

“It’s all Greek to me.”

Tuesday’s Column: Third’s Words


Gary Pollard

This is a familiar phrase to most of us, usually used when responding to something so difficult to understand that it warrants saying. Advanced math brings this phrase to my mind (no one should never mix the alphabet with numbers, by the way). For most people, any topic or conversation with very difficult-to-understand components will prompt, “It’s all Greek to me.” We understand that it is used in good humor and not as a slight against Greek, but I believe that it has also discouraged the “average” Christian from studying the original language of the New Testament. 

Before I continue, allow me a disclaimer: I am not a scholar, by any means, in the use of the Attic/Ionic-based ancient language known as Koine Greek. I am an enthusiastic student of the language, but not an expert. The purpose of this article is to hopefully knock down some of the myths surrounding the language and hopefully encourage us all to pursue a knowledge of it. 

Myth #1: Greek Is Super Hard to Learn

This could not be further from the truth. Greek makes a lot more sense than English! This is not to say that it is easy (learning any language is difficult), but it is most certainly attainable. Start with the Greek alphabet and memorize it. Once you can sound out words, try memorizing as much vocabulary as you can. If you can, find a Greek New Testament with a lexicon in the back and memorize those. With that base, learning the more complex grammar rules and language structure becomes significantly easier. 

Myth #2: You Need to Be an Expert to Get the Benefits of Greek Study

Regardless of what anyone says, the New Testament really comes to life when you can read it without the third party that is translation. You get the full emotional and intellectual impact of a writer when you can read his words first-hand. You do not have to be a Greek scholar to get some of that impact! Technology today can be an incredible tool. One such tool is Logos Bible Software. It is a free app that allows anyone to look up a word in the New Testament and understand more about its meaning. Another resource is a good lexicon like BDAG. This can be had (in an earlier edition) on for a couple of dollars. 

Why study Greek? It will help you grow immensely in your spiritual life. It will help you understand truths more clearly. It will give you even more joy and excitement in your study. It will give you a better grasp of the English language. It will give you a firsthand look at scripture without the bias sometimes present in translation. This is not, by any means, necessary for salvation or even spiritual growth and maturity. It is, however, one of the most incredible tools any Christian will have for in-depth bible study. As an added bonus, you can chuckle a little more anytime someone says, “It’s all Greek to me.” 


Why We Need The Word

Why We Need The Word

Neal Pollard

Many know that Psalm 119 is the greatest, inspired tribute to the Word of God known to man. 176 verses, eight verses under the heading of every Hebrew letter, grace these pages of our Bibles. All but a few verses mention some synonym for God’s Word. So many individual studies can be made of themes and thrusts in Psalm 119, but by reading it one discovers David giving many benefits or needs for studying the Bible. Consider what is no doubt an inexhaustible study.

  • To keep from sinning against God (11)
  • I am a stranger in the earth (19)
  • The influential can be against us at times (23)
  • Our soul often melts from heaviness (28)
  • To keep our eyes from worthless things (37)
  • To have an answer for him who reproaches us (42)
  • It causes hope (49)
  • For comfort in affliction (50, 76)
  • It causes righteous indignation (53)
  • It leads us to seek God’s favor with our whole heart (58)
  • It makes us choose better companions (63)
  • It brings good judgment and knowledge (66)
  • It prevents apostasy (67)
  • It makes us more attractive to the God-fearing (74)
  • That I may live (77, 93, etc.)
  • For revival (88)
  • For greater understanding (99)
  • To be upheld and safe (117)
  • To have a proper sense of self (125)
  • For a proper sense of values (128)
  • For proper emotional investment (136)
  • For righteous zeal (139)
  • For a proper sense of dependency (147)
  • It brings confidence (152)
  • It gives us the proper sentiment toward the world (158)
  • To develop a proper “praise life” (164)