Near the bottom of the Chamber 25 repository lay a tiny silver plaque that had been rolled up like a miniature scroll and deposited in the tomb as an amulet for the deceased. A second amulet was found while sifting the repository debris. Once researchers had painstakingly unrolled the delicate sheets of silver foil, they found that each plaque was faintly inscribed with multiple lines of ancient Hebrew script characteristic of the late Iron Age. These photographs of the unrolled plaques, taken by the West Semitic Research Project in 1994, were produced with special fiber-optic lighting techniques and time-exposure methods. The innovative techniques allowed scholars to discern numerous characters in the faintly inscribed plaques that had been previously overlooked or misread under normal lighting.

When deciphered, the inscriptions revealed one of the earliest extrabiblical references to the Israelite God Yahweh and the oldest-known reference to a passage from the Bible: the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24–26, which beseeches the Lord to bless the children of Israel. Excavator Gabriel Barkay believes the inscribed amulets were likely meant to protect the owner from evil.

Ketef Hinnom I

Ketef Hinnom I

… . . . why

…]YHW …

. . .

[rmu l]dg

the grea[t God who keeps]

w ty rbh

the covenant and

bhal dsj[h]

[G]raciousness towards those

(alt: [xm] yrmu w[y) [xm] yrmuw [w

who love [him] and

. . . [wtw]

those who keep [his commandments …

(alt: [.].n le ht) [.]. Mleh t

the Eternal? […].

[p] lkm hkrb[h]

[the?] blessing more than any

erhmw j

[sna]re and more than Evil.

lag wb yk

For redemption is in him.

hwhy yk h


[w] wnbyu[m]

is our restorer [and]

rby rwx

rock. May YHWH bles[s]

w hwhy K

you and

[y] Krmu[y

[may he] keep you.

hwhy r[a]

[May] YHWH make

. . . [wy]np

[his face] shine …

Ketef Hinnom II

Ketef Hinnom II

h Krb w/h

[for PN, (the son/daughter of) xxxx]h/hu.

[h]whyl [a]

May h[e]

w rzeh

sh[e] be blessed by YHWH,

b regh

the warrior and

Krby e[r]

the rebuker

y hwhy

of [E]vil: May YHWH bless you,


keep you.

hy ray

May YHWH make

wynp h[w]

his face shine

yw Ky[la]

upon you and

u Kl Mu

grant you p[ea]ce