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Two Jerusalem Artifacts Could Be Destroyed

Israeli judge threatens ‘judgment of Solomon’ on controversial items

by
Marc Tracy
May 29, 2012
Oded Golan (artist's rendering).(IMDB)
Oded Golan (artist's rendering).(IMDB)

While many archaeological treasures may have suddenly materialized in Israel, as Alex Joffe reports today in Tablet Magazine, none have quite the prestige of two artifacts that, tomorrow, a judge could order destroyed. Judge Aharon Farkash will decide the fates of two pieces that found their way into the hands of collector Oded Golan, whom Farkash acquitted of well-publicized forgery charges. Golan is a fascinating guy, and in fact was the subject of a lengthy New Yorker profile by Tablet literary editor David Samuels.

Farkash, who has evinced massive anger at Israeli police for damaging the artifacts in the course of inspecting them, has suggested he might pursue the Solomonic route (his analogy) and order them destroyed.

What are the artifacts? Just a stone box and a black tablet. Except the black tablet details repairs to the Temple almost 3000 years ago, and microscopic bits of gold on it suggest it may have been in the Temple and survived a fire—as in, when the Temple was burned. And the box, roughly 2000 years old, declares that it contains the bones of one “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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