Gabriel's Revelation, also called Hazon Gabriel (the Vision of Gabriel) or the Jeselsohn Stone, is a stone tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew text written in ink, containing a collection of short prophecies written in the first person. It is dated to the late 1st century BCE or early first century CE and is considered important for understanding Jewish messianic expectations in the Second Temple Period.
Gabriel's Revelation is a gray micritic limestone tablet with 87 lines (in two columns, 44 and 43 lines) of Hebrew text written in ink. It measures 37 centimeters (width) by 93 or 96 centimeters (height). While the front of the stone is polished, the back is rough, suggesting it was mounted in a wall.
The writing is a collection of short prophecies written in the first person by someone identifying as Gabriel to someone else in the second person singular. The writing has been dated to the first century BCE or the early first century CE by its script and language. David Hamidovic's analysis instead suggests a date after 50 CE. A physical analysis of the stone found no evidence of modern treatment of the surface, and found the attached soil most consistent with the area east of the Lisan Peninsula of the Dead Sea. The text as a whole is unknown from other sources; it is fragmentary, so the meaning is quite uncertain. It is considered very similar to the Dead Sea scrolls. The artifact is relatively rare in its use of ink on stone.
Scholars have characterized the genre of Gabriel's Revelation as prophetic, although biblical Hebrew scholar Ian Young expresses surprise that it does not use Hebrew language characteristic of biblical prophetic texts. Other scholars describe its genre as a revelatory dialogue similar to 4 Ezra or 2 Baruch or even as an apocalypse.
Origins and reception
The unprovenanced tablet was likely found near the Dead Sea some time around the year 2000. It is in the possession of Dr. David Jeselsohn, a Swiss–Israeli collector, who bought it from a Jordanian antiquities dealer. At the time, he was unaware of its significance.
The first scholarly description of the find and the editio princeps of the text was published in April 2007 in an article written by expert Hebrew paleographer and epigrapher Ada Yardeni in consultation with Binyamin Elizur.[a] Yardeni gave the writing the name "Hazon Gabriel".
- Lack of provenance
- Novel material (ink on stone), not observed before, which also makes dating more difficult for a number of reasons
- Incoherent content apparently coming from many sources, indicative of "cut and paste" by a non-expert
- Unknown genre
- Hybrid language, also suggesting a forger with insufficient expertise.
Justnes also points out that nearly all parties were eager for the text to be authentic, resulted in an insufficient critical view. For example, Yuval Goren speaks cautiously that while there are no indications of modern treatment of the stone, this cannot be stated without any trace of doubt and further investigations are necessary. Still Goren's 2008 survey is often presented to public as a proof of authenticity, and Goren's warning is dismissed as a scientific over-cautious way to say "yes". 
Interpretation and significance
Hillel Halkin in his blog in The New York Sun wrote that it "would seem to be in many ways a typical late-Second-Temple-period eschatological text" and expressed doubts that it provided anything "sensationally new" on Christianity's origins in Judaism.
The finding has caused controversy among scholars. Israel Knohl, an expert in Talmudic and biblical language at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, translated line 80 of the inscription as "In three days, live, I Gabriel com[mand] yo[u]". He interpreted this as a command from the angel Gabriel to rise from the dead within three days, and understood the recipient of this command to be Simon of Peraea, a Jewish rebel who was killed by the Romans in 4 BCE. Knohl asserted that the finding "calls for a complete reassessment of all previous scholarship on the subject of messianism, Jewish and Christian alike". In 2008, Ada Yardeni was reported to have agreed with Knohl's reading. Ben Witherington noted that the word Knohl translated as "rise" could alternately mean "show up".
Other scholars, however, reconstructed the faint writing on the stone as a different word entirely, rejecting Knohl's reading. Instead, Ronald Hendel's (2009) reading of "In three days, the sign..." has gained widespread support. In 2011, Knohl accepted that "sign" is a more probable reading than "live", although he maintains that "live" is a possible reading. However, the meaning of the phrase in the currently accepted reading is still unclear. Knohl still maintains the historical background of the inscription to be as mentioned above. He now views Simon's death, according to the inscription, as "an essential part of the redemptive process. The blood of the slain messiah paves the way for the final salvation".
The mainstream view is that Gabriel's Revelation is a pre-Christian work. However, David Hamidovic suggests it was written in the context of the Roman Emperor Titus’ siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Gabriel's Revelation is considered important for broader scholarly discussion about Jewish messianic expectations in the Second Temple Period, specifically the themes of the suffering messiah and the Messiah ben Joseph, both of which are otherwise believed to be later developments. as well as the Davidic messiah.
The Hebrew text and translation are available in several editions: Yardeni & Elizur (2007),[b] Knohl (2008c), Qimron & Yuditsky (2009), Knohl (2011), and Elgvin (2014). Photographs of the stone are printed in Henze (2011a, pp. 189–194). Newer high resolution images are available from the InscriptiFact Digital Image Library. Detailed linguistic studies have been performed by Bar-Asher (2008), Rendsburg (2011), and Young (2013).
- Elizur is a specialist on the 9th century CE Pesikta Rabbati (Septimus 2015, p. 153).
- Yardeni & Elizur (2007) includes only the Hebrew text. The English translation was first published in Yardeni (2008). The Hebrew and English were republished in Yardeni & Elizur (2011, pp. 13–17), with a note from the authors that Qimron & Yuditsky (2009) contained "important corrections... to our reading", some of which were included in that edition (Yardeni & Elizur 2011, p. 11).
- Knohl 2008a.
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- Elgvin, Torleif (2014). "Eschatology and Messianism in the Gabriel Inscription" (PDF). Journal of The Jesus Movement in Its Jewish Setting from the First to the Seventh Century. 1: 5–25. Retrieved 29 September 2017. This paper reworks and combines Elgvin's prior work on the Gabriel Revelation.
- Evans, Craig A. (2003). Jesus and the Ossuaries. Baylor University Press. ISBN 978-0-918954-88-6.
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- Goren, Yuval (2008). "Micromorphologic Examination of the 'Gabriel Revelation' Stone". Israel Exploration Journal. 58 (2): 220–229. JSTOR 27927206.
- Hamidovic, David (2012). "An Eschatological Drama in Hazon Gabriel: Fantasy or Historical Background?". Semitica. 54: 233–250. ISSN 0373-630X. oai:serval.unil.ch:BIB_11BDA2887951.
- Hendel, Ronald (2009). "The messiah son of Joseph: Simply sign". Biblical Archaeology Review. Vol. 35 no. 1. p. 8.
- Henze, Matthias, ed. (2011a). Hazon Gabriel: New readings of the Gabriel Revelation. Early Judaism and its literature. Brill. ISBN 978-1-58983-541-2. Table of contents and preface
- Henze, Matthias (2011b). "Some Observations on the Hazon Gabriel" (PDF). In Henze, Matthias (ed.). Hazon Gabriel: New readings of the Gabriel Revelation. Early Judaism and its literature. Brill. p. 113–29. ISBN 978-1-58983-541-2. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
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- Knohl, Israel (2008b). "The Gabriel Revelation and the Birth of Christianity". In Schiffman, Lawrence H.; Roitman, Adolfo D.; Tzoref, Shani (eds.). The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture: Proceedings of the International Conference held at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (July 6-8, 2008). Brill. p. 435–476. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004185937.i-770. ISBN 978-90-04-18593-7. abstract
- Knohl, Israel (2008c). "The Messiah son of Joseph: 'Gabriel's revelation' and the Birth of a New Messianic Model" (PDF). Biblical Archaeology Review. Vol. 34 no. 5. p. 58–62. Retrieved 29 September 2017. The translation from this document has been republished and is available online at Knohl, Israel (15 July 2008). "'Gabriel's Revelation' Tablet Translation Now Available on Hartman Website". Shalom Hartman Institute.
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- Knohl, Israel (2011). "The Apocalyptic and Messianic Dimensions of the Gabriel Revelation in Their Historical Gontext". In Henze, Matthias (ed.). Hazon Gabriel: New readings of the Gabriel Revelation. Early Judaism and its literature. Brill. p. 39–60. ISBN 978-1-58983-541-2.
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- Qimron, Elisha; Yuditsky, Alexey (Eliyahu) (2009). "Notes on the So-called 'Vision of Gabriel' Inscription". Cathedra: For the History of Eretz Israel and Its Yishuv (in Hebrew). 123: 133–144. JSTOR 23408340.. An abbreviated version was published as Qimron, Elisha; Yuditsky, Alexey (Eliyahu) (2011). "Notes on the So-Called Gabriel Vision Inscription". In Henze, Matthias (ed.). Hazon Gabriel: New readings of the Gabriel Revelation. Early Judaism and its literature. Brill. p. 31–38. ISBN 978-1-58983-541-2.
- Rendsburg, Gary (2011). "Hazon Gabriel: A Grammatical Sketch". In Henze, Matthias (ed.). Hazon Gabriel: New readings of the Gabriel Revelation. Early Judaism and its literature. Brill. p. 61–92. ISBN 978-1-58983-541-2.
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