Monday, July 31, 2023

Metal Plates and The Words of Gad the Seer


One aspect of the story of ancient texts among the Jews at Cochin, India, is the issue of writing on metal plates. The Jews at Cochin were said to have kept their ancient history on copper or brass plates, consistent with traditions of using copper plates in India for important legal documents going back at least to the third century bc.22 A hint about scriptures written on metal comes from one source who visited the Cochin colony several times early in the 1700s, Captain Alexander Hamilton23 (a British sailor, not the US statesman). In his A New Account of the East Indies, he stated that they had kept their history recorded on copper plates stored in a synagogue.24 He reports:

They [the Jews in Cochin, India] have a Synagogue at Couchin, not far from the King’s Palace, about two Miles from the City, in which are carefully kept their Records, engraven in Copper-plates in Hebrew characters; and when any of the Characters decay, they are new cut, so that they can shew their own History from the Reign of Nebuchadnezzar to this present Time …

They declare themselves to be of the Tribe of Manasseh.25

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