IRON SWORD, SMALL SILVER SCROLL FROM LEHI'S DAY DISCOVERED
A meter-long iron sword has been discovered recently by archaeologists digging at Vered Jericho, three miles south of modern Jericho. The sword dates to the seventh century B.C., during the lifetime of Lehi. "It was in quite bad shape," reports excavator Avraham Eitan in the July/August issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review, p. 33. "I believe that we have the haft and even the tip. The haft is of bronze with some wood remains." This is the first complete sword of this period and of this size ever to be found. "We do know of swords this size from Assyria [pictures on wall reliefs], but nothing like this, as far as I know, has been found before," Eitan reports. Only the unique and extremely dry conditions around Jericho allowed the remains of this sword to survive. Even at that, the sword is extremely fragile and badly deteriorated. The tempered tip survived intact.
In another dig, in Jerusalem, archaeologists in 1979 uncovered a burial cave dating to the time of Lehi. The cave had collapse long ago and thus was never looted by grave robbers. Until now, the excavators have declined to disclose the nature of the treasure trove they had uncovered. Among the pottery and jewelry amazingly found there were two extraordinary silver scroll-shaped charms. On these small metal scrolls were inscriptions of the priestly benediction found in Numbers 6:24-26. The text appears to be the earliest Biblical text extant. A museum exhibit of these artifacts has just been announced and is opening this summer in Jerusalem.
Further information about these significant finds is eagerly awaited. These archaeological discoveries, dating to the time of Lehi, may prove to have considerable relevance to the Book of Mormon. The use of tempered, carburized iron (steel) for swords (1 Ne. 4:9) has been noted before in the F.A.R.M.S. 1986-87 Catalog, p. 12; SOR-82a; HAM-85; and SOR-85, p. 286. On the ancient writing of religious texts on metal, see WRI-81; GRI-81; and CHE-84 (discussed below in this newsletter).