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 News, Artifacts and the Bible, Inscriptions.

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