The “Gabriel Stone” on Display

James Tabor discusses Israel Knohl's revised interpretations

This article, discussing the inscription Gabriel’s Revelation,” was originally published on Dr. James Tabor’s popular Taborblog, a site that discusses and reports on “‘All things biblical’ from the Hebrew Bible to Early Christianity in the Roman World and Beyond.” Bible History Daily republished the article with consent of the author. Visit Taborblog today, or scroll down to read a brief bio of James Tabor below.

Many of my regular blog readers know all about the so-called “Gabriel stone” and its intriguing references, as argued by Prof. Israel Knohl, to raising a corpse “after three days.” I have several blog posts dealing with this topic that you can access here: “Suffering Messiahs and Resurrection after Three Days.”

The stone itself is currently on display in Jerusalem at the Israel Museum:

JERUSALEM (AP) — An ancient limestone tablet covered with a mysterious Hebrew text that features the archangel Gabriel is at the center of a new exhibit in Jerusalem, even as scholars continue to argue about what it means.
The so-called Gabriel Stone, a meter (three-foot)-tall tablet said to have been found 13 years ago on the banks of the Dead Sea, features 87 lines of an unknown prophetic text dated as early as the first century BC, at the time of the Second Jewish Temple.
Scholars see it as a portal into the religious ideas circulating in the Holy Land in the era when was Jesus was born. Its form is also unique — it is ink written on stone, not carved — and no other such religious text has been found in the region.
Curators at the Israel Museum, where the first exhibit dedicated to the stone is opening Wednesday, say it is the most important document found in the area since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

You can read the rest of the AP story here.

Read the original English publication of “Gabriel’s Revelation” along with Israel Knohl’s BAR article that made scholars around the world reconsider links between ancient Jewish and Christian messianism in the brand-new FREE eBook Gabriel’s Revelation.

What is not so well known is that Professor Knohl has changed his mind about the transliteration, and thus the translation, of the key line 80 in the text that he had previously argued talked about resurrection of the dead after three days:

By three days–live, I Gabriel command you, prince of princes, the dung of rocky crevices.”

In a paper given at a 2009 conference at Rice University on the Gabriel Stone, now published in the conference volume as, “The Apocalyptic Dimensions of the Gabriel Revelation in Their Historical Context,” Knohl says he was mistaken in his original reading.[1] Knohl still maintains that the text was “composed shortly after 4 B.C.E.” by “followers of the messianic leader Simon, who was killed in Transjordan in 4 B.C.E.,” which is where the stone was probably found. He continues to see it as an example of what he calls “catastrophic messianism” where a slain Messiah gives a new/holy covenant to Israel. What he now doubts is that the text speaks of “making the dead live after three days.” Following the readings of Yardeni and Elizur he accepts as the translation for line 80:

In three days the sign will be (given). I am Gabriel

The critical word that Knohl once read as a verb, “to make live” (חאיה) now is read as the noun “sign” (האות). On the whole, however, his overall interpretation is the same and if he is correct the text continues to have great significance for our understanding of “messianism” among late 2nd Temple Jewish groups.
Though I greatly respect Knohl’s integrity in so freely changing his mind I am not convinced that this alternative reading is necessarily correct. Unfortunately the text is faded at this point, and even after subjecting it to a battery of scientific tests designed to enhance its clarity, it may be that we will never know with certainty how it should be read.

Read the original English publication of “Gabriel’s Revelation” along with Israel Knohl’s BAR article that made scholars around the world reconsider links between ancient Jewish and Christian messianism in the brand-new FREE eBook Gabriel’s Revelation.



1. In Hazon Gabriel: New Readings of the Gabriel Revelation, edited by Matthias Henze (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011): 36-60. See the SBL review of the volume here.

Dr. James Tabor is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he is professor of Christian origins and ancient Judaism. Since earning his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1981, Tabor has combined his work on ancient texts with extensive field work in archaeology in Israel and Jordan, including work at Qumran, Sepphoris, Masada, Wadi el-Yabis in Jordan. Over the past decade he has teamed up with with Shimon Gibson to excavate the “John the Baptist” cave at Suba, the “Tomb of the Shroud” discovered in 2000, Mt Zion and, along with Rami Arav, he has been involved in the re-exploration of two tombs in East Talpiot including the controversial “Jesus tomb.” Tabor is the author of the popular Taborblog, and several of his recent posts have been featured in Bible History Daily as well as the Huffington Post. His latest book, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity has become a immediately popular with specialists and non-specialists alike. You can find links to all of Dr. Tabor’s web pages, books, and projects at

11 Responses

  1. Malik oden says:

    We are not all worshipping the same God! Those that consider themselves Christians believe that Jesus is the Savior to the world to save the people from there sins. Christians also believe in the Holy Bible in its entirety they believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation!!! Any other believe system is not the same! Jesus is the only way to the Father and into salvation! Please don’t take a chance believing anything other than that!

  2. Micah (pronounced Meekuh) says:

    If in fact the translations (existant today) of today are correct, then Yeshua could not have been crucified on anything but the fifth day (Thursday) by the Hebrew reckoning of the calendar. Even one as knowledgeable as Hal Lindsey agrees to that timetable.

  3. Michael W Cuber says:

    This stone, if authentic, is most important in the arguement between Judaism and Christianity, as to whether, or not, a Redeemer was expected within Judaism at that time.
    If authentic, most of Modern Judaism’s arguments against the necessity for a suffering Messiah fall down, as well as the argument that Messianic Judaism or Christianity were not off shoots of Judaism at the time of Yeshua of Nazareth. The stone, if authentic, could really be pivatol in determining which group has had the proper interpretation of Prophecy in Scripture for the last 2000 years.

  4. Sakhile Gwebu from South Africa says:

    Christianity is a very young religion of which the its own leader and his followers deam to act as perfect but remain to be imperfect… God; Allah; Creater Nkulunkulu or whichever way u call him, he is one and its only this deferent religions that creates conflict amongst humanitarian… The is no better religion than any other, the is salvation in all this different religions… The is no heaven or hell, life after death is eminent for every living organism, its a cycle of reincarnation until eternity… We have lived as dynasours b4 and we will continue to live as Machine Robborts tommorow… God is 4us all and people pls stop criticising each other on which religion is better, the common factor remains that we all worship the same created…

  5. andre muller says:

    Totally disagree with comments related to this book. Let me explain why. In Luke 24:13-35 Yeshua explain Himself to them though all the scriptures (OT). We need to know that Yeshua was representing YHWH, incarnated in the flesh, when He walked in the Tanakh (OT) & when He was represented prophetically through man. When references are made about Son of David; Son of Joseph; Ephraim, etc. or to Messiah scriptures its all foreknowledge (shadow) of the True Messiah to come.

    In the book of Gabriel’s Revelation, on the discussion point of “to rise from the dead within three days” I don’t think its referring to Yeshua in this context, but to the two witnesses

    Tanakh (OT) – Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days.
    New Testament (NT) – Yeshua (Jesus) Christ himself rose on the third day
    End Times – The Two Witnesses – And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God
    entered into them, and they stood upon their feet;

    Both the book of Zechariah & Rev 11:11 talks about the Armageddon war, before the appearance of the Saviour.

    Other scriptures related to the Gabriels Revelation:
    Zechariah 11:8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month;
    Zechariah 13:4 On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision.
    They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. Each will say,
    ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my

  6. Troels says:

    Dr. Tabor I am currently reading your book Paul and Jesus with great interest. In it you mention the stone, and I was as puzzled as you in learning that Knohl changed his mind. What makes you think, Knohls new translation is incorrect? Has he been subject to pressure from the church, I wonder?

  7. Mark Storm says:

    Stick around… come back to this site in a year or so.
    I’m calling it in now: The stone will be proven to be either (1) a fake or (2) some kind of wretched scratching by some deluded zealot around the time of Jesus … and… whichever of these two conclusions is determined, one thing will certainly be confirmed (3) the stone is utterly IRRELEVANT to Jesus.

  8. M.A.A says:

    Christ is here..

  9. anne hilliard says:

    Christ has come; Christ has died, Christ has risen; Christ will come again.

  10. Danielle hemby says:

    Beautiful. Yes, God is real.

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