Ancient Tomb Stone With Warning of Curse Discovered at Israeli Necropolis

© Photo : Yevgeny Ostrovsky/Israel Antiquities Authority1,800-year-old grave marker for 'Yaakov the Convert' discovered at Beit She'arim
1,800-year-old grave marker for 'Yaakov the Convert' discovered at Beit She'arim - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2022
Although more than 300 inscriptions in four languages have been discovered in Israel’s Beit She’arim necropolis to date, archaeologists say that the “Jacob the Convert” engraving and another one written on a wall beside it are the first to be identified over the past 65 years.
A marker with a convert’s curse against potential robbers was found in an ancient grave at the Beit She’arim cemetery in northern Israel, researchers have revealed.
Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the University of Haifa reported about the marker, discovered a year ago, in a joint press release on Tuesday.
They explained that the story goes back to about 1,800 years ago, when a hex designed to deter grave robbers was scribbled in uneven Greek writing in scarlet paint on a Beit She’arim grave of the convert to Judaism named “Yaakov HaGer” – Jacob the Proselyte.
The archaeologists noted that even though the Beit She’arim necropolis had been studied rather meticulously, the catacomb in which the convert was buried had been unknown until 2021. According to them, the blood-red inscription was accidentally discovered next to a second one during the necropolis’ conservation.
The “convert” inscription reads, “Jacob the Proselyte vows to curse anybody who would open this grave, so nobody will open it. He was 60”, something that some researchers suggest was written by the convert himself.
Обнаруженные 59 саркофагов с мумиями в Египте - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.03.2022
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Tel Aviv University Professor Jonathan Price, who deciphered the inscription, told the Times of Israel that he is sure Jacob the Proselyte “prepared his stone before he died”.
“Whether he wrote with his hand or not, we can’t know,” although the shape of the letters is “pretty good relative to other homemade inscriptions”, Price pointed out.
He said that the marker was composed in “odd,” redundant Greek, adding “That’s how he [the convert] spoke, apparently”. The professor recalled that Beit She’arim is “known for being an international burial ground for Jews from all over the east” and “Who knows where he [Jacob] came from”.

“And we will never know unless we find his diary, which we won’t,” Price asserted.

Professor Adi Erlich of the Zinman Institute of Archeology at the University of Haifa, who heads the excavations at Beit She’arim, in turn suggested that “the convert” inscription is from the Late Roman or Early Byzantine period, “when Christianity was strengthened”.
“And yet we find evidence that there are still people who choose to join the Jewish people”, Erlich stressed.
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