Court of broken pieces

Ancient notes are found on shards of clay, so-called ostraka. The Bible House displays copies of the twelve name ostraka, which can otherwise only be seen in the Masada Museum on the Dead Sea. A note from the fortress of Masada records the Aramaic name Ben Ja’ir and tells a gruesome story of war and ruin around 73 AD.

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Name ostraca in the BIMU

The archaeological find provides an insight into the conflict-ridden period in which the New Testament was written. Research assumes that the Gospels were written precisely in those years - as a reaction to the bloody defeat against Roman rule and the destruction of the Temple.

In 1965, archaeologists found twelve name ostraca in the rubble of Herod’s former palace on Table Mountain by the Dead Sea. Masada is known for the final battle of the Jewish War between Judean resistance fighters and the Roman Tenth Legion Fretensis in 73 AD.

Report of the historian Flavius Josephus

The ancient historian Flavius Josephus relates that shortly before the conquest of the fortress, the besieged choose to commit collective suicide. Who is to carry out the gruesome deed is drawn by lot from among ten companions - a court of shards.

These shards are now believed to have been found. The name of Eleazar Ben Ja’ir, which is written on one of the shards, is a clue. The find continues to fuel the controversy as to whether Josephus’ ancient account is credible. It is thus an object lesson in the relationship between archaeology and textual interpretation.

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