The earliest known inscription of the Ten Commandments has been placed for auction at the Heritage Auction house.
The opening bid is $250,000 for the beautiful white marble tablet and the bidding begins in November.
The inscription of the Ten Commandments, often described as “one of the most important documents in history and a national treasure of Israel” is part of a larger sale from the Living Torah Museum, based in Brooklyn.
According to ArtNet, all bidders are required to agree to place the tablet on public exhibition for a certain amount of time stipulated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The slab weighs roughly 200 pounds and has 20 lines of Samaritan script chiseled into it.
The single tablet lists nine of the Ten Commandments, outlined in Exodus.
David Michaels, the director of antiquities for the auction house, said researchers believe the slab once adorned the entrance of a synagogue destroyed by Romans sometime between 400 and 600AD, or possibly by the Crusaders in the 11th century.
According to CBN News, Rabbi Shaul Deutsch, the founder of the Living Torah Museum, explained the tablet was discovered in 1913 during an excavation for a railroad line in Israel.
The earliest known inscription of the Ten Commandments (HeritageAuctions/BNPS).
An archaeologist acquired the tablet in 1943 and he owned it until his death in 2000.
Deutsch then owned it temporarily after making an agreement with the Israel Antiquities Authority, then later purchased it after a legal settlement.
Deutsch explained, “The sale will provide us with the money to do what we need to do. It’s all for the best.”
“There’s nothing more fundamental to our shared heritage than the 10 Commandments,” Michaels stated, adding the auctioneer is “honored and privileged to be entrusted with the sale of this remarkable piece of Biblical history.”
The Heritage Auction house explained Dead Sea Scrolls dated to the 1st century B.C. have several written examples of the Ten Commandments on parchment and papyrus, the earliest stone inscriptions are written in “Samaritan Decalogues” and there are only four surviving examples, including the one for auction.
The other three examples exist in pieces and are either in museum collections or can be found at protected sites in the Middle East.
Michaels explained: “The Living Torah example is among the earliest of these Decalogues, and certainly the most complete. It is also the only example that can be legally obtained for private ownership.”