Seemingly hurried to make a public statement following Clermont-Ganneau’s report published in The Times on 21 August, Dr. Ginsburg turned in a report to Mr. Bond on the next day. Like Clermont-Ganneau, Ginsburg also declared that the strips were forged. The findings of Dr. Ginsburg would not be published until 27 August, but word quickly reached Shapira. We don’t know if Ginsburg gave him a heads-up, or if Bond informed him, but on 23 August, Shapira wrote a note to Ginsburg expressing his displeasure.  Meanwhile, a member of the press, a reporter from The Echo expressed the opinion that the forgery charge may have been premature and motivated by an egotism from members of the academy. The reporter said:

“Whatever the final verdict – by no means pronounced as yet – upon the Shapira manuscript may be, one point is left in no uncertainty at all. From the moment that the discoveries – so-called – were declared to the world there was an eagerness in many quarters, quite inconsistent with the true spirit of criticism or scholarship, to stigmatise them as forgeries. This impatient revolt against the possibility of any new light being thrown upon the Sacred History is very much in harmony with the skeptical welcome given to many narratives of the earlier travellers which, nevertheless, in the long run, proved authentic. Meanwhile, the real question is still at issue; the British Museum judgment – which, indeed, must not in itself be pronounced beforehand infallible, unless the evidences are absolute – has still to be put on record; and the flippant offer of a French archæologist to provide us with an entire Pentateuch of similar apparent antiquity is about equal in value to Dr. Lardner’s promise that he would swallow the first steamship that succeeded in traversing the Atlantic. The Ninevite inscriptions are not doubted now, yet they were by no means received, at first, with implicit faith; still less were Forster’s inscriptions from the Sinaitic rocks. There is, moreover, among the Bloomsbury pundents themselves one who believes himself to have traced the foundations even of the Tower of Babel itself, and to have brought away fragments from that traditionary ruin. In these circumstances it may surely be permitted that some patience shall be shown before a question of profound interest, in far more than a merely scholastic sense, is determined in that hostile spirit which exhibits itself too often and too clamorously when discoveries are announced that may, or may not, be disagreeable to the egotism of the learned world.”[1]

According to a report published in The Daily News, the two fragments were pulled from the public display in the King’s Library of the British Museum at the beginning of the week and one must assume that this was due to the charge of forgery advanced by Clermont-Ganneau.[2]

With the wind knocked out of him from the public accusations by Conder and Clermont-Ganneau on Tuesday, the news of Ginsburg’s rejection on Wednesday, 22 August, felt like a fatal blow to Shapira. From his hotel room he wrote the following to Ginsburg on Thursday, 23 August: “Dear Dr Ginzberg! [sic] You have made a fool of me by publishing and exhibiting things that you believe them to be false. I do not think I shall be able to survive this shame, although I am yet not convince[d] that the MS is a forgery unless M. Ganneau did it. I will leave London in a day or two for Berlin. Yours truly, M.W. Shapira.”

The note was at that time, and by most researchers since, taken to be a farewell or suicide note, but despite Shapira’s desperate tone, he was not giving up. It seems that he intended to express in the strongest terms his displeasure with Ginsburg and his utter disbelief at what he viewed as a betrayal. In the upper left-hand corner of this note, one can make out a few grammatical points – hardly what one would expect from someone who had totally given up.

[1] The Echo, Thursday, 23 August 1883.

[2] “Mr. Shapira’s Deuteronomy,” The Daily News, 22 August 1883 stated, “The portions of Mr. Shapira’s manuscript exhibited last Friday and Saturday have been this week withdrawn from view.”