>The Sarcophagus of the High Priest

>Image: Fragment of the sarcophagus bearing the inscription

According to a press release, Israeli archaeologists have found a sarcophagus with an inscription that says that the sarcophagus belonged to a high priest who served in the Second Temple. The following is the press release in its entirety:

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of a stone sarcophagus fragment with Hebrew script that was apparently taken from the original burial grounds and used for a Muslim building near Jerusalem.

The discovery was made along the West Bank separation barrier north of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

The sarcophagus is believed to be that of a Jewish priest from about 2,000 years ago. The fragment of the limestone lid bears the carved inscription “Ben HaCohen HaGadol” which can be loosely translated as “the high priest.”

“It seems that the fragment was plundered from its original location approximately one thousand years ago and was used in the construction of a later Muslim building that was erected atop the ruins of the houses from the Second Temple period,” the statement said.

The 60 centimetre by 48 centimetre (two foot by one-and-a-half foot) fragment likely comes from the sarcophagus of a priest who officiated at the Jewish Second Temple in Jerusalem some time between 30 and 70 of the first century, it said.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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