Thursday, May 20, 2010

Symbology in Talpiot

In my opinion the most important symbol found in the Talpiot tomb is the large letter Tav in ancient Hebrew script, directly preceding the name "Yeshua bar Yehosef" on ossuary 704. There's no other ossuary listed in Rachmani's catalogue of Jewish ossuaries where that symbol appears immediately before the name inscribed on the ossuary. There's substantial evidence that this symbol signified messianic expectations in Judaism, at least from about 100 years before Jesus' time; and even more evidence that from that it evolved after Jesus' time into the Christian cross sign.

The most interesting example of a Tav, in the context of the "Chevron and Circle" symbol appearing on the facade of the Talpiot tomb, may be an ossuary of "Nicanor Alexa" , found in 1904 on the North side of the Mount of Olives, presently in the British Museum. There's an inscription in Greek on it that specifically identifies the Nicanor as "who made the gate." That's the same Temple gate which, in turn, bore the chevron and circle symbol, as seen on Herod Phillip coins from the first century AD. This ossuary has a large sideway Tav/Cross near the name "Nicanor Alexa" in Hebrew, and another one cut into the top of the lid.

The incidence of the Tav mark on Nicanor's ossuary may indicate some relation between that and the Chevron and Circle symbol. Maybe the same connection can be implied re Jesus' Tav and the Talpiot Chevron and Circle symbol. What that correlation may be escapes me. Do both symbols stand for Messianic expectations? E.g. can the circle represent a star, and the chevron the sky dome, in the context of Numbers 24:17? Note that in Bar Kochba ("Son of a Star") coins from the second century, the circle above the Nicanor gate is depicted as a star. Here the allusion to Numbers 24:17 is clear.