The world’s earliest-known stone inscription of the Ten Commandments is going up for auction in Beverly Hills Wednesday evening.
The two-foot square marble slab, which is owned by the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, New York, has an opening bid of $250,000. The auction of Bible-related artifacts begins at 9 p.m. ET. Bidders can also participate online.
Inscribed in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan, the tablet likely adorned the entrance of a synagogue destroyed by the Romans between A.D. 400 and 600, or the Crusaders in the 11th century, according to auction house Heritage Auctions.
The tablet is inscribed with 20 lines of Samaritan letters. Based on the letter forms, experts think that the stone was probably carved in the late Roman or Byzantine era between A.D. 300 and 500.
David Michaels, Director of Antiquities for Heritage Auctions describes the artifact as a “remarkable piece of Biblical history” in a statement. “There is nothing more fundamental to our shared heritage than the 10 Commandments,” he said.
Potential bidders are required to place the tablet on public exhibition, as stipulated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which has designated the artifact a “National Treasure” of Israel.
"We seek either an institutional buyer or a private one who will agree to exhibit the 10 Commandments Stone so that all can see, enjoy and learn from it," said Michaels, in the statement.
Weighing about 200 pounds, the stone was first uncovered in 1913 during excavations for a railroad station near Yavneh in western Israel, and was used as flooring in a private owner’s courtyard. The tablet was acquired by Y.Kaplan who brought in experts to study it. Antiquities Dealer Robert Deutsch bought in the artifact in the 1990s and Rabbi Saul Deutsch obtained it for his Living Torah Museum in 2005.