In what may be the find of a century, per an article by BibleNowFinds.com, a fragment of the original Ten Commandments was found in a private collection which was moved due to the clashes between protestors and the government in Egypt. These were the recent events that caused former President Hosni Mubarak to step down from office in February. The original owner of the museum quality collection, Amasis Al Ahram, passed away in 2009, but the collection was inherited and to be shared by his 5 children. It was left in storage in their parents home where Al Ahram’s wife still presided. What was in the collection was largely ignored and left to collect dust; numerous antiquities and rare examples of Egypt’s past, but also pieces that spanned the Middle East.
When Egypt went into its latest upheaval, the Al Ahram family became concerned about looting and quickly moved the collection to extended family in the United States. This is where one of the family members chose to get the collection appraised for insurance purposes. A chain of events led to the discovery of a small stone fragment that now appears to be part of the second tablet referred to in the original Biblical story of Moses. Translated loosely into English, it reads similar to the scripture: “…Nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s…” If you read the Ten Commandments, this is part of the language of the Tenth Commandment:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
The new discovery is causing a stir in Biblical archaeology as some scholars are insisting it must be a fake while others are reserving judgment. A handful of Christian Bible scholars, who defer to a traditional interpretation of scripture, are saying they believe it is proof of the veracity of the book of Exodus. This is mainly based on the scientific dating of the fragment as it does fall into the Biblical timeline of 1300 to 1200 BCE (Before the Common Era). This is a suggested time period for when Moses may have possibly lived.
It certainly presents a puzzle for freethinking atheists and unbelievers as up until now the Biblical timeline has been dismissed. There has also been no hard evidence that Moses existed or that Israelites were kept as slaves in Egypt. Some scholars with a more liberal view of Biblical events, who consider the fragment to be authentic, are suggesting it is possible to have a set of stone commandments that verify a narrative without having to accept the miraculous version recounted in Exodus. Moses could have simply been a leader of Israel or a mythological representation of leadership. There still seems to be no direct evidence tying Moses to Egypt.
If the fragment is real it may be the piece from the first set of tablets which Moses is said to have broken out of rage at seeing idol worship after coming down from Mount Sinai. While Old Testament scripture is often said to be an allegorical retelling of what actually happened, the tablet itself may represent the first attempt to present a set of religious laws for the nomadic Israelites. Said one researcher who had studied the fragment, “This isn’t proof of anything yet except there was a set of commandments. We have a long ways to go towards placing the fragment within our understanding of ancient history.”
Should atheists be concerned? Doubtful. The fragment hasn’t been proclaimed to be a fake due to the dating, but it also doesn’t verify anything beyond the writing down of a commandment. The Israelites were sure to have copied their laws, among other records they wanted to keep, onto stone and unfortunately this doesn’t even establish the existence of Moses. Until more fragments can be found, it doesn’t even establish the entire set of the Ten Commandments and it certainly doesn’t validate the miracles recorded in Exodus such as the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. More evidence is required to make a determination…