The Yehoash inscription in court
A strange turn of the screw occurred in the Israel Supreme Court last Wednesday. For 10 years the Israel Antiquities Authority has been charging Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan with forging a 15-line inscription which, if authentic, would be the first and only royal Israelite inscription. It is generally referred to as the Yehoash (Jehoash) inscription. The government eventually charged Golan criminally. A five-year trial ensued in which Golan was charged with forging the Yehoash inscription and numerous other artifacts (including the famous ossuary inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”).
At the end of the trial, the judge wrote a lengthy opinion acquitting Golan on all forgery charges.
Nevertheless, the government refuses to return Golan’s antiquities collection—more specifically, the Yehoash inscription—to him, which was confiscated for purposes of the trial.
The reason for the government’s refusal is an astounding volte-face: The government now argues that the Yehoash inscription is an antiquity. Therefore the government is entitled to it!
How this will play out is unclear. The Supreme Court has not yet rendered a decision. At the hearing, it suggested that the parties get together and reach some sort of compromise, perhaps giving the government only the Yehoash inscription. (The government has made no claim to the James ossuary; apparently it intends to return this to Golan.) I have spoken to Golan and it seems clear that, after 10 years of making his life a living hell by charging him as a forger and trying him criminally, he will never agree to the settlement the court suggested.
From their remarks from the bench, it seems clear that the judges are sympathetic to the government’s claim, although they obviously find it difficult to reach this conclusion based on legal reasoning.
Whether or not the Yehoash inscription is a forgery is beside the point of the suggestion I would like to make. I would like to make a claim on behalf of the public: ALLOW US TO SEE IT!
All the items confiscated from Oded Golan should be displayed in a museum, such as Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum. Golan told me he would agree to this. Will the Israel Antiquities Authority?-H.S.
For more information on the forgery trial, visit the Bible History Daily James Ossuary Forgery Trial Resources Guide page, featuring over one dozen links on the trial and artifacts.
Read Will the IAA Return the James Ossuary to Oded Golan? in Bible History Daily.
Download the FREE eBook James, Brother of Jesus: The Forgery Trial of the Century, featuring the article “Is It or Isn’t It?” on the Yehoash inscription.
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