“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse... you shall proclaim the blessings upon Mount Gerizim, and the curses upon Mount Ebal” (Deuteronomy 11: 26, 29).
Some 3,400 years ago, the God of Israel renewed a covenant with the Israelites upon their entrance into the Promised Land in a solemn ceremony involving two mountains—Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim.
Half of the Israelite tribes stood on Mt. Gerizim, representing blessings for obedience, and the other six tribes stood on Mt. Ebal, representing curses that would befall the nation for disobedience.
The recent discovery of an ancient “curse” tablet corroborates this biblical narrative, and I believe it has very deep spiritual significance for our generation.
Archeologists sifting through debris from Mt. Ebal in biblical Samaria made one of the most significant discoveries: the now already famous folded “curse tablet” dating back to the late Bronze Age bears one of the Proto-Hebrew names for God.
Dr. Scott Stripling and a team from the Associates for Biblical Research uncovered the tablet in late 2019 and have begun releasing their findings after nearly three years of painstaking research.
In both the Book of Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua, Mt. Ebal is described as a place where the Israelites agreed that those who broke God’s Law would be cursed while the adjacent Mt. Gerizim represented the blessings they would receive through obedience.
The inscription represents a legally binding document, a covenant that was made between the ancient Israelites and the God of Israel who promised to bless them if they kept the terms of the covenant as recorded in Deuteronomy 27 and 28.
The tablet says:“Cursed, cursed, cursed cursed by the God YHW.You will die cursed.Cursed you will surely die.Cursed by YHW cursed, cursed, cursed.”
According to Dr. Stripling, the ominous inscription confirms the biblical account of Mt. Ebal and he said the discovery “is a 10 on a scale of one to 10… To find the name of God written twice on such an ancient artifact is historic from this early time period.”
It represents the whole nation binding themselves to the Lord's covenant.
The discovery of the Mt. Ebal tablet follows the initial discovery of Joshua's altar by the late Israeli archaeologist Adam Zertal. It was found among discarded materials from those early excavations at the altar site.
The tablet is a stunning example of archaeology validating the truth of the Bible. But to hardened hearts, the discovery may seem negative or even superstitious because of the repetition of the word cursed.
People who hate the Bible will scorn because the Bible to them is nothing but negativity and religious restrictions. Skeptics and agnostics do not understand that God’s purpose in setting restraints upon behavior is for our mental, physical and spiritual benefit.
But to those who are spiritually attuned, the discovery comes across as a stark warning.
Do you recall a number of years ago that a medieval manuscript of Psalm 83 was found in a bog in Ireland?
That discovery was a message from God reminding the nations mentioned in that psalm that they conspire in vain against Israel because, as the Bible teaches in Genesis 12:3 and Numbers 23:8, you cannot curse what God has blessed.
God has determined at this time to bless the return of the Jews to the Holy Land.
So, in the mercy of God, the discovery of the “cursed tablet” is a warning to antisemites in a season of increased antisemitism.
It is also a warning to the Church and to the nations.
In the churches for the most part very little repentance is preached concerning our gross national sins. Instead, sermons tend to emphasize how to be blessed.
So why didn’t God allow a “blessed, blessed, blessed” tablet to be discovered from Mt. Gerizim rather than a “cursed, cursed, cursed” message from Mt. Ebal?
Whether we like it or not, the Almighty is warning us and the nations—including Israel itself— that there are consequences to our many national sins.
Christine Darg is co-founder of the Jerusalem Channel.