Gabriel’s Revelation

Gabriel’s Revelation, also known as Hazon Gabriel or the Jeselsohn Stone, is a Hebrew prophetic text on stone from the early Herodian period.

This is a very large piece of limestone (ca. 96 x 37 cm), of light gray color, polished on one side, the other being undressed and formless. The stone is broken into three pieces, considerably differing in size but joined together with hardly any pieces missing. To date pieces have not been joined permanently.

The provenance of the stone seems to be Jordan, and it is now part of the collection of Dr. David Jeselsohn in Zurich.

Two columns appear on the polished side of the stone, 3.5 cm apart. Each column is 16 cm wide and ca. 75 cm or more long. The text is written in ink, in a manner resembling the writing of a Torah scroll, in a “Jewish” book hand of the late first century BCE. Forty-seven thin, straight, horizontal guidelines, running through both columns parallel to the short side of the stone, and four straight, vertical line bordering the columns on both sides, are incised with a thin, sharp implement in a manner very similar to the guidelines in the scrolls from the Judean Desert. A margin of ca. 1 cm has survived on both the right and left sides of the stone. A margin of about 5 cm has survived at its top, and a larger margin of about 13 cm has survived at its bottom.

The existing text comprises eighty-seven lines of writing, the right column comprising forty-four line and the left column only firty-three lines, the two last being shorter and delimited by three, slanting strokes, one below the other, marking the end of the entire text. About three horizontal guidelines at the bottom seem to have been left empty (unless additional lines of text once existed in column A, which are now undetectable).

The text is poorly preserved, with lacunas throughout. The top and the bottom of the text, together with the beginnings of the lines in column A and the ends of the lines in column B, are very worn-out, with only single letters being legible. The readings in many places are conjectural and difficult to restore owing to a lack of parallels.

The undressed surface of the back of the stone indicates that it was installed in a wall in an upright position. The layout of the text, resembling the columns of a scroll (possibly having been copied from a scroll), indicates that it may originally have been much longer-that is, comprising more columns and thus having been written on a series of stones and perhaps installed in the walls of a large chamber. However, no similar finds seem to exist, and since the beginning of column A could not be deciphered, this assumption can be neither confirmed not refuted.

The text is a literary composition not known from other Jewish sources. Its formulation indicates that it belongs to the prophetic genre. It contains at least one biblical citation, from the book of Haggai, and expressions from the books of Zechariah and Daniel. Some expressions, however, seem to be early attestations of expressions known from later sources (e.g., Hekhalot literature, piyyut, Talmud, and Midrash). The text also contains expressions that do not seem to have parallels elsewhere. The language shows some Aramaic influence. The text seems to have been composed in the late first century BCE and copied onto the stone (perhaps from a scroll) soon after, as indicated by its script.

Written by Ada Yardeni and Binyamin Elizur.
Yardeni, Ada and Binyamin Elizur – A Hebrew Prophetic Text on Stone from the Early Herodian Period: A Preliminary Report (2011)

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: