Jehoash Inscription

The "Jehoash" inscription.

The Israel government has appealed Jerusalem Judge Aharon Farkash’s decision in the case of the “Jehoash” inscription, an inscription which, if authentic, would be the only surviving royal Israelite inscription. In the 5-year trial, the so-called “forgery case of the century,” the government alleged that the 15-line “Jehoash” inscription was a forgery; the judge ruled that the government had not proved its case and declined to convict the defendant, Oded Golan.

The government has now appealed the judge’s decision to Israel’s Supreme Court. If you find the government’s appeal difficult to understand, you will not be the only one.

What is the government asking on the appeal? No one seems to know.

Normally someone who appeals asks the upper court to decide in the appealing party’s favor. But that’s not the case. The government is not asking the Supreme Court to convict the defendant after the trial court acquitted him.

The government contends only that the judge could not decide whether the patina on the “Jehoash” tablet was genuine (proving that the inscription was authentic) unless a chemical analysis was made of what appeared on photographs to be genuine patina. (The photographs, incidentally, showing patina were made by the government’s expert, Yuval Goren.)

But whose responsibility was it to make this chemical analysis of the patina, if one was required? Certainly it was not the defendant’s. In short, if a chemical analysis was needed, it was the prosecution’s job to make it. How can the government now complain?

The courtroom scuttlebutt is that the government is mounting this strange appeal simply to delay the judge’s decision on whether the allegedly forged items should be returned to their owner—not only the “Jehoash” inscription, but also the famous James Ossuary inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The government has objected to the return of these items to Golan. A decision on this matter is pending with Judge Farkash.

After more than five years, the “forgery trial of the century” concluded in a Jerusalem courtroom and defendants Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch were acquitted of all forgery charges. In our free eBook James, Brother of Jesus: The Forgery Trial of the Century, Hershel Shanks explains why he believes the now-famous “James Ossuary” inscription is authentic. Plus, he provides behind-the-scenes analysis of the trial and its key players.

We have received several reports that an intense disagreement took place between the prosecutor Dan Bahat (not the well-known Jerusalem archaeologist of the same name), who insisted on making this strange Supreme Court appeal, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who did not want to appeal. Did the IAA simply want to be done with a case that has caused it so much embarrassment already? Or did the IAA see the strangeness of an appeal that seems to be based on an argument that the government had not proved its case by means of a required chemical analysis?

The government’s appeal is not the only one following Judge Farkash’s decision. The judge sentenced Golan to 30 days in jail for illegally selling antiquities. (Golan was not convicted on any count of forgery.) The 30-day sentence is, in fact, not a jail sentence because the judge ruled that Golan’s previous incarceration at the beginning of the case counts toward the sentence, and he was already incarcerated for more than 30 days.

The guess among Israeli court watchers is that one of the Supreme Court judges assigned to the appeal will call the parties’ lawyers into chambers and strongly urge them both to drop their appeals. Surely Golan will agree—if the government agrees. Will it? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, the bigger question is whether the government will get to keep the “Jehoash” inscription and the James Ossuary or will it have to give them back to Oded Golan?


Want to learn more about the James Ossuary and the “forgery case of the century?” Visit Bible History Daily’s “James Ossuary Forgery Trial Resources Guide” to learn more, or download the free eBook James, Brother of Jesus: The Forgery Trial of the Century.


Posted in Artifacts and the Bible, Inscriptions, News.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Add Your Comments

6 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  • Susan says

    This is November 2012 any more updates. Being a novice who likes mysteries. This is a real life mystery that I would like to read more about. It is to bad that I’m not updated with ebook capability.

  • Thomas says

    David, thank you for your analysis. Very helpful to understand the situation. How could any find that verifies the life of Christ not suffer the same fate. Sad.

  • david says

    I predict Oded Galan will be the one who torpedoes the settlement, and I think I can predict the ultimate settlement. Mr. Golon doesn’t dare drop his appeal. Any experienced trial lawyer can see where this is going with one glance. The government, through the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) or the prosecution is going to allege that as a convicted illegal seller of antiquities, Golan cannot possess other antiquities to sell, and those he has are forfeit to the government. This means every antiquity Golan owns. I suspect Golon would be offered a “bargain” that if he let the government keep the Ossuary and perhaps the “Jehoash” inscription (more on this later), he could keep the rest of his collection.

    What are the government’s ulterior motives? Some time back, the government said that Christian evangelism of Jews was genocide. Who would have an interest in saying that those who accept a “wrong” interpretation of the Jewish Scripture, the “Old Testament,” weren’t Jews at all? Who would want to make trying to get Jews to accept a different interpretation of the Old Testament than theirs into genocide? That sounds like the Ultra-Orthodox to me, whose coalition of votes control whether the government stands or falls. With that background, everything that has happened makes sense.

    According to a BAR report, the IAA, a governmental agency, issued a “badly flawed” report calling the James Ossuary and other items forgeries. The report went so far to achieve this result, the best that could be said about the IAA report was it was badly misleading and did not say what the IAA claimed it said. (I the BAR report will come out from behind the pay-wall, Nonetheless, the public, unaware of the background, generally accepted the conclusion of the IAA report.

    The government through the prosecution seized the evidence. After a disinterested expert found the patina was genuine, the government made its own “test” which “accidentally” destroyed the usefulness of the remaining patina for further scientific testing. In other democracies, evidence destruction like this would result in the charges being dismissed. Further, in North America at least, ethics complaints would be filed against those who destroyed potential exculpatory evidence (evidence showing the defendant is innocent of the charges). The government appeal makes a tiny bit more sense now, but there is more.

    Given all this, it is fairly obvious what faction would be pleased by the government, through the prosecution, or through the trial judge as he has already threatened, destroying the items.

    What puzzles me is the motive for the attack on the Jehoash inscription. That inscription supports the historicity of the Old Testament the Ultra-Orthodox rely upon. Is this going to be the ultimate bargain, give up the ossuary and keep the “Jehoash” inscription as well as the pomegranate and the rest of the collection? That would give the Ultra-Orthodox the best of both worlds.

    I read the BAR report on the IAA flaws while it as out from behind the pay-wall. Most of the reasons for my suspicions come from the BAR report on the flaws in the IAA report. The free links near this article do not come anywhere near the thoroughness and therefore the persuasiveness of the BAR report. As I said before, I hope the article will be brought out from behind the pay-wall again.

  • Helen says

    How many “trials of the century” can you have in a century?

    It would be lovely if the Joash inscription was found in a museum next rather than only for one to enjoy its beauty.

  • Robert says

    Robert Deutsch have been acquitted of all charges and not “of all major charges”, and has nothing to do with the ossuary or the Joash inscription !!

  • Some HTML is OK

    or, reply to this post via trackback.

Send this to friend

Hello! You friend thought you might be interested in reading this post from
Here is the link:
Enter Your Log In Credentials

Change Password