To most eyes, it’s just a tiny stone, so plain that it probably wouldn’t get a second glance.
To archaeology experts in Israel, however, that stone took on deep historical meaning after it was uncovered in Jerusalem.
According to The Times of Israel, an extremely rare “beka” stone was recently unearthed at the Western Wall, an ancient portion of Temple Mount in the famous biblical city.
Inscribed with Hebrew script, bekas were used as a crude form of currency by religious pilgrims making their way to the holy site. Today, however, they’re incredibly hard to find.
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The Israel Antiquities Authority told The Times that only a few beka stones have ever been discovered in Jerusalem, and the one just found in Jerusalem seems to have a unique inscription.
The lettering on this item is “mirrored,” and experts believe that a seal-maker who was used to making mirrored images was the ancient artisan behind the historic piece.
“Apparently, the seal craftsman got confused when he engraved the inscription on the weight and mistakenly used mirror script as he was used to doing,” archaeologist Eli Shukron said.
Beka stones were used as a sort of intermediate currency or weight that was used as a measure of value.
“The word ‘beka’ appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to matriarch Rebecca in the Book of Genesis, and later in the Book of Exodus as a weight for the donation brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple and the census,” the Israeli newspaper explained.
In addition to the rarity of this find, experts are also excited about its historical and biblical significance.
“The Bible, the artifact found close to Solomon’s Temple, north of the City of David, the Temple foundations — everything is connected,” Shukron said.
It is estimated that the rare discovery may go back to around a thousand years before Christ.
“This 3,000-year-old beka weight, inscribed with ancient Hebrew, was likely used in the First Temple, anchoring once again the deep historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem,” said Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation.
That point may seem trivial, but it’s vitally important to Israelis. Palestinians also lay claim to Jerusalem despite the long history of Jewish roots there, and that dispute has dominated much of Middle Eastern and world politics.
If nothing else, the beka discovery is a vital reminder that we are not isolated and disconnected from the past. Understanding our history and the people who shaped the world we live in is important, and even a simple stone can speak volumes.
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