Joshua's Altar on Mount Ebal

 While Israel was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, another Egyptian ruler, following in the footsteps of the Exodus pharaoh, would come to power and try to foil God's plan to bring the Hebrews into the land of Canaan. Historians call this pharaoh the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt.

His name was Thutmoses III and he would invade the land of Canaan before the Hebrews did. His desire was to bring all the cities of Canaan under his authority. Those cities who would not submit to Egypt's rule he would attack, and to those who bowed to his rulership, he would honor as an ally.

Statue of Thutmose III

(Illustration above: Statue of Thutmose III)

But as always, God's plan cannot be thwarted by any military or leader. And just like Napolean, the victories of Thutmoses III in Cannan would be short-lived, for God would bring Joshua and the Hebrews out of the desert and into the land He promised to Abraham. And one by one, the kings of Cannan who had pledged allegiance to Thutmose III would soon fall in battle at the hands of the Israelites.  

What evidence do we have of this? Well, plenty. You see, when Thutmose III took over a Cananite city he would leave what are known as scarabs. These amulets were inscribed with the name of the Thutmose III and were used as administrative seals. These scarabs were apparently created for diplomatic purposes between the allied cities of Canaan and Egypt.

And it just happens, In the ruins of the major cities of Cannan which the Bible says the Israelites destroyed, the very scarabs of Thutmoses III have been found.

The first city the Hebrews would attack on entering into their promised land was Jericho. Here a scarab, as well as a seal of Thutmoses III were found in the very ruins where the walls came tumbling down.

Scarab of Thutmose III at Ai

(Illustration above: A scarab inscribed with the throne name Thutmoses III (Men Kheper Ra) - Illustration based upon photo of the Israel Antiquities Authority.)

From Jericho, the Hebrews then advanced toward Ai and destroyed the city as described in Joshua chapter 8. But what is really interesting is that after the Israelites defeat the inhabitants of Ai, Joshua goes to Mount Ebal to build an altar to the Lord God of Israel. There the children of Israel worship the Lord who defeated their enemies and who brought them into the land of Canaan.

Israelites worship at Mount Ebal

 Joshua chapter 8 states: "Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses - an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool. And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before (in Deuteronomy 11:29), that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward, he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.

To this very day you can go and visit the location believed to be Mount Ebal. And there you can view the ruins of Joshua's altar.

Joshua's altar at Mount Ebal

At the altar site, they also found a scarab of Thutmose III as shown below.

Thutmose III scarab at Mount Ebal

 (Illustration: The scarab of Thutmoses III throne name (Men Kheper Ra) found at the Mount Ebal altar site. Below: Cartouche hieroglyph name of Men Kheper Ra.)


But what is even more amazing than Joshua's altar being found, was that a small curse tablet was also found on Mount Ebal that indicates the Israelites carried out the command of Moses to proclaim God's cursings on Mount Ebal.

Moses' command is written in Deuteronomy 11:26-32: "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. Now it shall be, when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today."

This curse amulet is believed to be the earliest Biblical text uncovered in archaeology and dates to around the 15th century B.C., which would likely date it to the reign of Thutmose III, and is inscribed with the words: "Cursed, cursed, cursed – cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed." 

These inscribed words, written down over 3,400 years ago, verify that the Biblical events indeed took place on mount Ebal. The words testify that those who do not keep the Lord's covenant will face the cursings of God's judgement.

Mount Ebal - Cursing tablet

(Illustration above: "Cursed by the God YHW." Lead folded amulet found on Mount Ebal.)

The Lord's Greatest Statements about Blessings and Cursings

Deuteronomy - Chapter 30:15-20: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."

Blessings and Cursings song - Choose Life


This article on Joshua's Altar on Mount Ebal History is taken from our 4 volume book series "Bible Believer's Archaeology" which can be downloaded for your ebook reader by visiting our resource download page by Clicking Here.

READ More Evidence on Joshua

Sources used in compiling data and illustrations for this article:

The Holy Bible, Author: The Lord God. Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless noted.

Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement, Author: James Pritchard ISBN: 0691035032 Third edition 1969. Anet 22-23- Account of an officer in the army of Thutmoses III taking the city of Joppa located on the coast.  Anet 234 - Thutmoses iii campaign against Megiddo in the land of Djahi (Cannan - Syria) to attack traitors nations, and to give things to those loyal to him. Asiatics brought him tribute. Anet 235 -Thutmose III campaign against Sharuhen in southern Canaan to Syria had become rebellious. He took Gaza, Kadesh, Megiddo, as far as Naharin (North of Israel) Anet 237 - Lake Huleh area (North of the sea of Galilee) Yanoam, Nuges, Herenkeru. Anet 238 - Lebanon, Djahi (Cannan - Syria).  Anet 239 - Mentions the towns of Ardata (Adadah) & Kadesh. Anet 241 - Kadesh - Djahi. Anet 242 - Thutmose III List of Asiatic cities under Thutmoses III  near 'Ai" =  Geba, Beeroth, Beth Anoth (South) on route to Ai.

Biblical Archaeology Review 42:5, September/October 2016 - Strata: Childs Eagle Eyes Spy Egyptian Amulet. Amulet bearing the name of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III at Jerusalem.

Bible Archaeology Report - May 17, 2019 - Bryan Windle. When Garstang excavated Jericho in the 1930s he discovered several Egyptian scarabs in tombs to the northwest of the city. The scarabs bore inscriptions with the royal names of three Pharaohs:  

Photo: Archaeologist John Garstang discovered several scarabs and a seal in a cemetery near Jericho (found in the 1930s). Pictured (from left to right): a scarab of Hatshepsut (c. 1503-1483 BC), a scarab of Thutmose III (c. 1504-1450 BC), the reverse side of a seal of Thutmose III, and a scarab of Amenhotep III (c. 1386-1349 BC). Collectively they demonstrate that the citys cemetery was in active use during the time that Kenyon believed that Jericho was abandoned. Photo Credit, Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem

Associates for Biblical Research Article from ABR Researchers Discover the Oldest Known Proto-Hebrew Inscription Ever Found - 'News from 24 March 2022.'  Translation of Cursed amulet - "Cursed, cursed, cursed cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW cursed, cursed, cursed."

Associates for Biblical Research - Press Release Video "Oldest Known Proto-Hebrew Inscription From Mount Ebal Discovered by ABR Researchers." video url:

Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) announce the discovery of a formulaic curse inscription recovered on a small, folded lead tablet. The ancient Hebrew inscription in proto-alphabetic script consists of 40 letters and is centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel. It reads: "Cursed, cursed, cursed - cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW cursed, cursed, cursed."

Artwork - Ink Sketch based upon a photo of the Upper Part of a Statue of Ttutmoses III located at The Met Museum -  New York, NY. Fifth Avenue in Gallery 117.

Artwork - Ink Sketch of Scarab of Thutmoses III throne name (Men Kheper Ra)- Illustration based upon Photo of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Artwork - Israelites bring burnt offerings and sacrifices on Mount Ebal and Gerizim, print maker: Jan Luyken, Willem Goeree, 1683

Artwork - Ink Sketch based upon a photo of Joshua's altar at Mount Ebal

Artwork -  Ink sketch based upon a photo of Scarab of Thutmoses III throne name (Men Kheper Ra) found at Mount Ebal Altar site. As well as the cartouche illustration showing the Egyptian hieroglyph of the name Men Kheper Ra.

Artwork - Ink sketch based upon a photo of the "Cursed by the God YHW" Lead folded Tablet found on Mount Ebal.

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