Indiana Jones would love it!
An 80-ton piece of mountain in the middle of New Mexico’s wilderness engraved with an abbreviated version of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew that has had a few Greek letters mixed in.
And beside the boulder is a Tamarisk, a tree species native to the Middle East and which, according to the New American Standard version of the Bible, is what Abraham planted at Beersheba when he called on the name of the Lord.
The stone has been a mystery for years, but now an expert in the Ten Commandments who works with The Foundation for Moral Law, founded by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who lost his position in a fight over the Ten Commandments, has investigated.
80-ton boulder engraved with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew found in the remote wilds of New Mexico (Foundation for Moral Law photo)
In a report posted on the Foundation for Moral Law website following his trip to the mystery stone, Col. John Eidsmoe, the foundation’s legal counsel, offers a possible explanation to how the engravings came to be.
But first, how he got involved in the mystery.
“I had heard of the Los Lunas Mystery Stone. Skeptical but curious, I researched the stone on the Internet and communicated with several archaeologists to gain their perspectives,” he said.
Then he went to see it, and took with him Steven Collins, of the College of Archaeology and Biblical History at Trinity Southwest University and Denis Otero, professor of Hebraic Studies at Trinity.
Eidsmoe told WND that the message of the Ten Commandments is vital to the United States, because its system of law and societal values have for centuries been based on the laws.
“The Ten Commandments summarize the basic principles on which our legal system was founded,” he told WND. “Respect for life. Thou shall not kill. Homicide laws.”
Further respect for property is found in “Thou shall not steal” and “Thou shall not covet.”
Respect for family is found in the ban on adultery and “Honor thy father and mother.”
“There really are two kingdoms,” he said. “The church and the state. The family is the basic unit in each of those.”
Further in God’s law is respect for truth, in the ban on bearing false witness. And finally is respect for God, with the instruction to “Have no other gods before me.”
Those ideas, he said, are found not only in the founding documents for the United States, but all of the colonial charters as well as the constitutions for all 50 states.
In fact, he explained, the Pennsylvania Constitution specifically cites Romans 13 with God being the source of all human rights.
The stone engravings in New Mexico are near Los Lunas, some 20 miles from Albuquerque. The locals knew the mountain as the “Cliff of Strange Writings.”
In Eidsmoe’s report, he describes the letters as paleo-Hebrew, an early form of Hebrew writing dated by some experts to about 500 B.C.
The writing, when translated, roughly is:
“I [am] Jehovah your God who has taken you out of the house of slaves of land of Egypt. Not there be other gods before my face. You shall not make idol. [You must] not take name Jehovah in vain. Remember day of the sabbath to keep holy. Honor your father and your mother so that will be long your days upon that ground that Jehovah your God to you has given. You must murder not. Not you commit adultery. You must steal not. [You must] not give testimony against neighbor as witness false. You must desire not [the] wife of your neighbor and all that is your neighbor’s.”
An Internet search offers some interesting perspectives on the stone.
A report posted on the Ohio State website says the script is the Old Hebrew alphabet and documents that James Tabor of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1996 interviewed the now-deceased Frank Hibben, a retired New Mexico archaeologist.
The report said Hibben first saw the text in 1933, and was taken to the site by a guide who had seen it as a boy in the 1880s. Estimates then were that the carvings were 500-2,000 years old.
Another idea floated was that the engravings are a Samaritan mezuzah, a large slab of stone containing the Ten Commandments. And since Samaritan shipowners were known to live in Greek communities, it could place the artifact in the Byzantine period.
Roger L. Williamson writes at Ancient-Hebrew.org the carver was a man “of many ports of call and could speak multiple languages phonetically, but not a man versed in letters.” Further, the analysis concluded the carver knew the Mosiac Law but was not a priest.
Eidsmoe noted other explanations have suggested the inscription is from Israelites of the Ten Lost Tribes of Northern Israel, “or by Jews traveling on sea voyages during Solomon’s reign,” about 1000 B.C.
“Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard argued for the ancient origin of the inscription, contending that the script is consistent with ancient Hebrew,” Eidsmoe reported.
But he said Collins doubted the age of the inscription, noting the characters are aligned at the bottom, “while traditional Hebrew writing would align the characters at the top or in the middle.”
Eidsmoe cited other explanations include that it was chiseled by “Native Americans of Hebrew origin” or it was made as a prank to play a joke on some professor. The oral statements that the carvings existed as early as 1800 tend to minimize the contemporary joke option, and the age is hard to determine exactly because the stone has been marked with graffiti and cleaned, since it is open to the public and not protected.
Eidsmoe then suggested an alternative to hoax or ancient writing: the possibility of the presence of those with a biblical faith in southwestern North America in the 1500s or 1600s.
He explained how when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella freed Spain from Muslim domination they decreed Jews in Spain must either become Christian or leave. Many stayed and converted, “at least externally.” They were called conversos.
Some of those then came with the conquistadors to the Western Hemisphere and settled in New Mexico, which to this day remains thick with the evidence of Spanish presence.
“I suggest that sometime in the 1500s, 1600s, or thereafter, to honor the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a Jewish converso carved the Ten Commandments … to memorialize the covenant his people had made with Jehovah in the days of Moses,” Eidsmoe said.
“This would explain the aging of the inscription and its presence … It could also explain why the maker of the inscription, who may have known Hebrew only as a second language, would have aligned the characters at the bottom as would have been done in English … would have used spacing and punctuation and might have shaped some letters more like the Greek alphabet.
At Science-Frontiers.com, however, there were those with their own ideas:
“We are … still left with the possibility that Old World travelers with a knowledge of ancient Hebrew visited what is now New Mexico perhaps as early as the time of Christ.”