How a 13-Year-Old Discovered the Oldest Copy of a Text from the Torah

The remarkable story of the Ketef Hinnom Amulets, and their implications for Jewish History.

A Warning

This video deals with issues that some of my fellow students of Jewish history might find philosophically challenging. I have therefore restricted access to registered students in my online Biblical Jewish History course and members of my YouTube channel at the Researcher and Colleague level. Please don’t watch it if you feel it would make you uncomfortable.

A Partial Explanation of the Warning

I like to regard myself as a religious person (although not a Rabbi). I can reassure you that I have found personally satisfying approaches to deal with many troubling questions, but I don’t discuss them in this video. Besides, who says my personal strategies would be helpful to you or anyone else?

Still, the story of the discovery of the Ketef Hinnom Amulets is so remarkable, and the amulets themselves so fascinating, and bear such historical significance, I could not help myself: I had to put this video together and share the ideas with some of my more serious students.

This video is really only appropriate if you have already been exposed to some of the more critical approaches to Biblical study. This video does not present any challenges to the traditional viewpoint–on the contrary, I think the Ketef Hinnom Amulets are entirely consistent with a faith perspective–but it would be better for many people to skip this video.

Here’s a litmus test: if your favorite commentator on the Torah is Ibn Ezra or Ralbag, you will probably love this video. If your favorites are Rashi and Ramban, maybe not. If you don’t recognize any of those names, you’re good to go, enjoy the video in good health.

For a scholarly description of the amulets, please see Gabriel Barkay, A. Vaugn, M. J. Lundberg and B. Zuckerman, “The Amulets from Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No. 334 (May, 2004), pp. 41-71 https://doi.org/10.2307/4150106.

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