As Caitlin McFall, reporter for Fox News Digital covering Politics and U.S. and World News explains, the significance of this small stone is immeasurable:
A small fragment of a stone tablet was found with the name "Shimon" inscribed in Hebrew, reportedly accompanied by lines of letters and numbers suggesting a financial record was taken and indicating that money was involved in a transaction.
"At first glance, the names and numbers may not seem exciting, but to think that, just like today, receipts were also used in the past for commercial purposes, and that such a receipt has reached us, is a rare and gratifying find that allows a glimpse into everyday life in the holy city of Jerusalem," the IAA said in a statement posted to Facebook.
Four other similar Hebrew inscriptions dating to the Early Roman period, the era also known as the time of Jesus Christ, have also been found in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh, according to Excavation Director Nahshon Szanton and Esther Eshel, an epigraphist and a professor with Bar-Ilan University.
But the most recent discovery is the first of its kind to have been found from this historic period within boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.
According to researchers, the inscription was carved using a sharp tool on a chalkstone slab, which was traditionally used as an ossuary or burial chest in Jerusalem and Judea between 37 B.C. to 70 A.D.
The historic receipt was found in the lower city along the Pilgrimage Road, roughly one third of a mile in length and connecting the city gate from the south of the City of David to the Temple Mount. This road "essentially served as the main thoroughfare of Jerusalem at the time," the IAA said.
"Each piece of information, and certainly an ancient inscription, adds a new and fascinating dimension to the history of the city… It is not a coincidence that the many discoveries which are being revealed in the excavation shed light on the centrality of this road even during the Second Temple period. With every discovery, our understanding of the area deepens, revealing this street's pivotal role in the daily lives of Jerusalem's inhabitants 2,000 years ago."
As one who has been privileged to travel to Israel on multiple occasions, I am not surprised by this discovery. Sitting at the conjunction of three continents, the city of Jerusalem has a long and varied history. It follows that it contains innumerable hidden records.
Many significant names have been associated with this one city: Abraham, David, Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander, Pompey, Herod, Pilate, Jesus, Peter, James, Stephen, Paul, Godwin, Baldwin, Saladin, Suleiman, Allenby, Ben Gurion, and Netanyahu, to name but a few. But for every name remembered by history, there are doubtless untold millions not remembered.
And that is precisely why discoveries like this carry such great significance. They speak, not to the great, but to the diminutive; not to the significant, but to the insignificant; not to the famous, but to the so often overlooked and otherwise forgotten. For this small receipt represents the day to day interaction of untold billions of people throughout history.
Think about it. We live our lives and go about our daily activities. As we do, we leave behind a seemingly insignificant record of where we went, what we did, who we saw, and how we lived. And from the world’s perspective, that is all there is.
But from God’s perspective, there are no insignificant things, no insignificant actions, and above all, no insignificant lives! Indeed, every single thing each and every one of us thinks, says, and does is seen by Him. And yes, they are also recorded by Him!
The Bible tells us that “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, observing the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3.) It also tells us that “He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” (Job 28:24.) And it also tells us why this is: “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!” (Hebrews 4:13.)
My strong suspicion is that, whoever “Shimon” was some two thousand years ago, he never dreamed that his little transaction would one day out there in the future be made known to the entire world. And by that, I mean (in the words of Jesus) unto all of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even unto the uttermost part of the earth!
For what it’s worth, Shimon (whoever he was) is not alone here. Jesus once told us that each and every one of us will one day give an account for every seemingly innocuous word we ever uttered!
Be honest, my friend. If you knew that there would eventually come a day in which any and every interaction (whether as word and deed) you ever had with your fellow man would be made known to everyone who ever lived in the history of entire world, how would that affect your behavior this day?
More to the point, how would (and should) it affect your current behavior given that it would one day be revealed in the halls of eternity?!