The Messiah Ossuary

An Ossuary discovered at Giv’at Hamivtar, Jerusalem in 1971 is believed to have “belonging to the house of David” on the unusual place, the rim of the ossuary. Amos Kilmer was the primary archaeological report in 1972 [1] “Of the house of David” in Hebrew would be של בית דוד but the inscription is missing a ‘ת’. The inscription, the text could mean “son of David” or “house of David”, the latter reading appears to be the most probable. The Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palestinae has accepted David Flusser [2] reading which translated דוד as David. (CIIP 1.1.45). So the actual inscription שלבידוד (sheleVE daVID) is now accepted in scholarship as “belonging to the house of David.”

Kokkinos has written:
“In a penetrating analysis of Ant. 17.43-45, prompted by the discovery of an important ossuary of an individual claiming to belong to ‘the House of David’, Flusser suggested that the ‘slave’-wife of Pheroras [Herod the greats brother] may have been [thought] of Davidic descent, and that the ‘Pharisees’ …. hoped that she would become the mother of the expected Messiah.” [*3]

Ant 17.43-45:
“ In order to requite which kindness of hers, since they were believed to have the foreknowledge of things to come by divine inspiration, they foretold how God had decreed that Herod’s government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it; but that the kingdom should come to her and Pheroras, and to their children. 44These predictions were not concealed from Salome, but were told the king; as also how they had perverted some persons about the palace itself; so the king slew such of the Pharisees as were principally accused, and Bagoas the eunuch, and one Carus, who exceeded all men of that time in comeliness, and one that was his catamite. He slew also all those of his own family who had consented to what the Pharisees foretold; 45and for Bagoas, he had been puffed up by them, as though he should be named the father and the benefactor of him who, by the prediction, was foretold to be their appointed king; for that this king would have all things in his power, and would enable Bagoas to marry, and to have children of his own body begotten.”

Herod the Great was threatened by a potential messiah figure and a prophecy of the end of his dynasty so he slaughtered everyone- gospel of Matthews slaughtering the innocents sounds like political commentary to me.
[*1] Kilmer, Amos, “A buried cave of the Second Temple Period at Giv’at Hamivtar, Jerusalem” (in Hebrew), Qadmoniot, 19-20 (1972), 108-9.

[*2] Flusser, David, “The house of David on an Ossuary” The Israel Museum Journal, 5 (Spring, 1986), 37-40.

[*3] Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty p.173

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