The earliest known tablet bearing the 10 Commandments comes to auction next month.
Written in Hebrew, the white marble, 200 pound tablet is believed to date to AD 300-500. It's thought to have once stood at the entrance to a synagogue in modern day western Israel.
That synagogue was likely destroyed by the Romans between AD 400 and AD 600 or by the Crusaders in the 11th century.
It bears nine of the familiar 10 Commandments Moses received from God in the Old Testament, replacing "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" with "Raise up a temple".
It is not, however, the earliest rendering of the Commandments. The first century BC Dead Sea Scrolls, written on parchment and papyrus, outdate the slab.
It has an opening bid of $250,000 at the Heritage Auctions sale in California on November 16.
The artefact is one of four such tablets produced around the same time, today known as the "Samaritan Decalogues". The other three are incomplete and are housed in museums or at historic sites.
"It is the only tablet that can be legally obtained for private ownership," explains the director of antiquities at Heritage Auctions, David Michaels.
The winning bidder will be required to publicly display the tablet - a measure put in place by the Israel Antiquities Authority which has declared it a national treasure of Israel.
It is among 50 artefacts from the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, New York to feature in the dedicated auction.
Among the items is a first century AD nine-spouted ceramic oil lamp, regarded by some experts as the earliest known Hanukkah menorah. It has a $14,000 opening bid.
"Most of these objects date to Biblical times and have particular relevance to the Old and New Testaments," says Michaels.
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