I was reading a translation of Josephus many years ago that mentioned the tzitz (the crown of the high priest with Qdosh Yisrael engraved on it). The commentary to this Josephus said that the tzitz was written in Paleo Hebrew and this had been confirmed because the tzitz had only gotten lost much later after the destruction of the temple and so people had written descriptions of it.

Unfortunately I don't have access to this Josephus anymore, and I have tried googling to find out when the tzitz was lost and where it was being kept but I can't find any information. Does anyone here have any knowledge? Obviously if the tzitz was written in Paleo it would have religious significance.

  • 2
    Check the Schottentstein Mas. Kiddushin 5a2, note 23 which implies (or at least, I infer) that there was more than one tzitz. Which one did you mean?
    – rosends
    Aug 26, 2019 at 20:48
  • As @rosends said, my understanding is only the aron is unique. For the other vessels, we can just make new ones as needed, and I assume that's what was done.
    – Heshy
    Aug 26, 2019 at 21:16
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    So maybe we can ask, when was the LAST tzitz lost?
    – Aaron
    Aug 26, 2019 at 21:17
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    I wonder if the tzitz has to be written in a specific script or language. The Rambam doesn't say anything about that like he does for Sta"m, and there's some flexibility to the arrangement of the words.
    – Heshy
    Aug 26, 2019 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


What you were reading was the English translation of the complete works of Josephus by William Whiston. It was published by Kregel Publications in 1960 and the last edition in 1984.

Whiston’s translation was published by William P. Nimmo of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1867.

The footnote you remember was in Antiquities of the Jews, book 3, chapter 7:6.

Whiston makes the claim that the Tzitz was written in Samaritan script (the script used by the Shomronim in their holy writings.)

Checking the citations he points to in Josephus along with several other places in Josephus’ writings (for example Wars of the Jews, book 5, chapter 5:7, and Against Apion, book 2:8), do not confirm his claim. Whiston also points to Origen as an outside source for this statement.

I have not checked what is left of Origen to see if it makes that claim.

It is worth noting that both the footnote and the Torah say what was written on the Tzitz was, “Holy to G-d”.

Concerning the Tzitz itself, the one made at the time of Moshe Rabbeinu was hidden by Yirmiyahu HaNavi before the destruction of the first Temple like is recorded in the Copper Scroll discovered at Qumran in 1952 and as independently recorded in Sefer Emek HaMelech by Rabbi Naftali Bacharach which was published in 5408 (1648) in the 3rd introduction, chapter 11, Mishnah 1.

  • The footnote you refer to says "See Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 3. sect. 8" Josephus says there as promised: "But the crown upon which Moses wrote [the name of God], was only one, and hath remained to this very day." The point about it being in ketav ivri is presumably mentioned in the other sources he quotes. (Also: Whiston translated from Greek, not from Latin; he was published long before 1960; and Nimmo is a publisher, not an earlier translator.)
    – b a
    Aug 27, 2019 at 0:06
  • @ba Sorry for misreading the paragraph on the back of the title page. I will correct the comment about Nimmo. What threw me off was that it says the 1984 edition is a combination. The Whiston translation was published by Nimmo in 1867. The 1984 edition was combined with the Porter & Coates standard edition. Josephus mentions the Tzitz not only Antiquities B, but also Antiquities of the Jews, book 3, chapter 7:6, and Wars of the Jews, book 5, chapter 5:7 which says G-d’s name is 4 vowels! None of the citations from Josephus mention Samaritan script or paleo-Hebrew. Aug 27, 2019 at 1:16
  • Finally getting somewhere. Thank you! Although I'd love to find the source in Origen
    – Aaron
    Aug 27, 2019 at 2:06
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    Sounds legendary. I don't know where the object in Jordan was found, but all archaeological sources say the Copper Scroll was found naked by itself, in two pieces, some write on a low shelf, in a separate area of cave 3 from where its other scrolls were found. Absolutely positively not found in a container of any sort.
    – Gary
    Aug 27, 2019 at 3:14
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    All translations I've seen have "vessels of contribution" etc and "priestly vestments" listed for some locations, but never the tzitz. If you have a Hebrew transcription of it that says it, please let me know where/which location it's mentioned as being buried at.
    – Gary
    Aug 27, 2019 at 3:19

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