“The tablet’s significance is testament to the deep roots and enduring power of the Commandments that still form the basis of three of the world’s great religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” says David Michaels, director of ancient coins for Heritage Auctions, who will be conducting the sale.
“Its surface is worn, battered and encrusted in places, but running a gloved finger over it does produce, in some people, a particular thrill of touching a piece of Bible history.”
The two-foot-square (0.18 square meter), 115-pound (52 kg) marble slab is inscribed in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan and most likely adorned a Samaritan synagogue or home in the ancient town of Jabneel, Palestine, which is now Yavneh in modern Israel, according to Michaels.
It lists nine of the 10 commonly known Biblical Commandments from the Book of Exodus, with an additional Commandment to worship on the sacred mountain of Mount Gerizim, near Nablus, which is a now a city in the West Bank.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in Vain” was deliberately left off the list to keep the total number of Commandments to 10, according to scholars.Described as a “National Treasure” by Israel, its export was approved under a special permit issued in 2005 by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The IAA stipulated that the stone can be sold to a third party, but only on condition that it be placed on public display “where all can view it and enjoy.”
Rabbi Deutsch is now selling the stone, along with more than fifty other “Bible-related historical artifacts” he owns, to fund an expansion of his Living Torah Museum, according to Michaels.
“We hope a museum, library, institute of higher learning, or similar public facility will be able to acquire it, perhaps with the help of a generous patron or donor with an interest in Biblical history or a desire to put people in closer touch with their Biblical heritage,” he adds.
The Yavneh Stone will be sold as part of the “Properties of the Living Torah Museum Auction” being held by Heritage Auctions on November 16, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California.