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2,700-Year-Old Papyrus with Biblical Name Written on It Returned to Israel

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A 2,700-year-old piece of papyrus with Hebrew script upon it that had spent decades in Montana is back in Israel.

The scrap is not much larger than a postage stamp and has four lines upon it, according to CBN.

The document came to the attention of researchers in 2018 when a photograph of it was found by Israeli researchers examining antiquities, according to Israel Today.

The scrap has the Biblical name “Ishmael” in its opening, which reads, “To Ishmael send …” The scrap also includes text reading, “Don’t send to …” and “of no help,” according to Newsweek.

The document is considered a First Temple-period document, from either the late seventh or early sixth century B.C. Experts believe the scrap was among documents recovered from Judean Desert caves.

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After research, the document was traced to a Montana man, whose name was not used by Israeli officials when they released the news about the find.

The man told Israeli officials that his mother was given the document in 1965 during a visit to Jordan-occupied East Jerusalem by Joseph Sa‘ad, then-Curator of the Rockefeller Museum, and Halil Iskander Kandu, an antiquities dealer who sold pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Back home, his mother hung the framed scroll fragment on the wall.

According to Haaretz, the Montana man had alerted an American Dead Sea Scrolls scholar about the document when he sought to learn about it.

Eitan Klein, head of the Israeli antiquities’ theft prevention unit, said the man was invited to Jerusalem in 2019.

An unspecified “arrangement” was reached in which the papyrus was given to the Israel Antiquities Authority, according to CBN.

Joe Uziel, director of the Judean desert scrolls unit, said radiocarbon dating and the style of the writing make him “very certain” that it is not a modern forgery.

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He said the scrap was likely looted from a Judean Desert cave at some point in the last century.

“First Temple-period documents written on organic materials — such as this papyrus — have scarcely survived. Whilst we have thousands of scroll fragments dating from the Second Temple-period, we have only three documents, including this newly found one, from the First Temple-period. Each new document sheds further light on the literacy and the administration of the First Temple-period,” Uziel said, according to Israel Today.

“The name Ishmael mentioned in the document, was a common name in the Biblical period, meaning ‘God will hear,’” Professor Shmuel Ahituv said, Haaretz reported.

“It first appears in the Bible as the name of the son of Abraham and Hagar, and it is subsequently the personal name of several individuals in the Bible, including Yishmael ben Netanyahu, who murdered the governor Gedaliah ben Ahikam,” Ahituv said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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