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Danny The Digger - Israel Private Tours

Owner of a Biblical Sceptre Found (2002)

Motza is an ancient site 10 km west of Jerusalem. In Biblical days it was in the lot of the tribe of Benjamin. In the Roman period it was known as a village for veteran Roman soldiers. As in antiquity, the site is on the main road to Jerusalem.

When the modern highway from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem was constructed in the 1960’s, it passed around the ancient site in order not go over antiquities and modernMotza. The result is a sharp curve in the road, which proved to be so dangerous that it is known by drivers as “the death curve”. Finally a decision has been made to alter the alignment of the highway in this section. In order not to damage antiquities and modern site, a bridge will be built over it, but even so, salvage excavation is required at the bases of the planned bridge.

Although the area excavated is small, archaeologists Alon De-Groot and Tsvi Greenhut of the Israel Antiquities Authority found evidence of occupation at the site in many periods, as far back as the Neolithic period. The most intriguing find, in my view, is a small stamp seal bearing the name of “Tsafan son of Nasas”. The name “Nasas” is unknown in the Bible, but the term “Nasas” could be an adjective: “the sceptre carrier”. This is definitely not a common profession, and so it could be thatTsafan was declaring his father’s profession rather then mentioning his name. Intriguingly in a previous season of excavations in Motza, in 1993, among many finds, a broken piece of a scepter was found. It is made of an artificial composition also known as “Egyptian blue,” consisting of quartz, calcium carbonate, and copper. The style of the scepter resembles similar finds from Syria and Mesopotamia, while the material of which it is made is typical in Egyptian art. Such an eclectic nature is not rare in Biblical finds, as the Israelites were influenced by both neighboring cultures.

Due to the new stamp seal found, perhaps it is possible to suggest that the father of Tsafan from Motza was the owner of this scepter, or an official in charge of it?