Brooklyn Museum/Gift of the Estate of Charles Wilbour

“YHW the God dwelling in Yeb.” Graham Hancock claims that several Elephantine papyri describe the Israelite deity YHW (a variant of YHWH) as dwelling in Yeb (Egyptian for Elephant Land), as highlighted in yellow in this papyrus. He claims that if the Ark of the Covenant was YHW’s dwelling, then the Ark must have been in Elephantine, and that the local temple was built to house the Ark. But noting that only this papyrus from Anani’s private archive actually contains the phrase, Bezalel Porten denies that this phrase denotes the presence of the Ark. Ezra 7:15, Porten observes, includes a similar reference to “the God of Israel, who dwells in Jerusalem.” By this time the Babylonians had destroyed the Jewish Temple, and the Temple rebuilt by Zerubbabel contained no Ark.