Great Archeological Finds: Coins, Seals, Fragments and Steles Unearthed in Israel
Archeological finds from Palestine, Mesopotamia and other countries in the Lavant have been made for a couple of centuries or more. But of late they have been coming thick and fast, one reason being that Israel now controls its own land—its own ground.
Let’s focus on the little stuff, like coins, seals and fragments of which there are tens of thousands being collected and preserved. They shed a lot of light on the bureaucracy and governments of ancient Israel, the nations surrounding it and the empires controlling it.
The sealings—bullae—from which the Hebrew word for stand (“bul”) is derived are small pieces of clay which in ancient times served a seals for letters and official documents. A letter which arrived with its seal broken was a sign that the letter had been opened.
These seals bear the names of people involved in transactions, notarizations, agreements and burial places. The senders used moist clay that would be imprinted with a seal.
Although the letters in Palestine themselves did not survive the fires of destruction from the Roman armies in 70 A. D., the seals that were made of clay did survive, thus attesting to the existence of the letters, the senders and receivers. Also, seals might be made to be pendants.
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Just recently, Israel News Digest reported that “several dozen seals and seal impressions from the First Temple period (Solomon’s Temple which lasted until the time of Jeremiah and the Babylonian) have been found….where?...right in their capita of Jerusalem.
Many influential archeologists have insisted that Jerusalem in biblical times was simply a small town—perhaps nothing more than a chieftain’s center, not a buzzing capital of an Israelite kingdom. And….nowhere and at no time was there to be found the name of a “King David.” Stories about him were possibly just folktales.
So they said.
But there is an archeologist, heading up the work in “The City of David” in that south part of Jerusalem named Dr. Eilat Mazar, a woman, of the Hebrew Institute of Archeology. Her work has been extraordinarily productive. One important find is a fragment which appears to be part of a larger tablet.
SEAL. In that ancient Royal Quarter where Dr. Mazar works, there has been much digging activity where structures built by King Solomon are preserved. Seal impressions were found in the debris on jar handles and on a piece of clay. Pieces of clay called “bullae” were found with names on them—stamped on soft clay. One of them had the name of King Hezekiah on it, and close by, the name of Isaiah! The name for “prophet” is likely there too, except for one missing letter caused by damage. So, the probability is that the names of both Hezekiah and Isaiah are close together there in that damaged room. So meaningful is it given the fact that, according to scripture, there was no one closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah, both names in English ending with “iah” signifying “the Lord.”
This amazing discovery reinforces interest in the crucial incident when the Assyrians came and threatened Jerusalem and the king at the very gates. Hezekiah appealed to Isaiah, Isaiah prayed, and the Lord delivered His people.
Hezekiah is described in II Kings 18:5 as the greatest: “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah.” (ESV) He trusted in the Lord, and his closest confidant was Isaiah the prophet. Thank God for this archeological find as a remembrance of that great victory over the Assyrian host.
(This information taken from Biblical Archeology Review, March-June, 2018.)
ANOTHER SEAL. In the Wall Street Journal in October of 2015, there was the story of a 10-year-old Russian boy who made an “extraordinary discovery in Jerusalem while working as a volunteer in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. FOUND: a 3,000-year-old seal of engraved limestone about the size of a thimble, buried in hundreds of tons of earth and rock. It is dated from the time of King David and confirms the Jewish presence there more than a thousand years before the Muslim Dome of the Rock was constructed.
It had been illegally excavated from below the Temple Mount in the late 1990’s by the Muslim Waqf who has been given authority by the Israelis. But that illegal excavation turned to be a blessing for Israel. It dates from the era of David’s conquest of Jerusalem and the building of the first temple by Solomon. The Muslims, of course, contend that there is no historic Jewish connection with the Temple Mount. But there it was—a three-millennial old artifact that refutes that lie of Muslim officials.
STELE FRAGMENT IN THE NORTH
At Tel Dan (“Tel” is a mound where there is digging by archeologists)….at the foot of Mount Hermon a team of archeologists found a fantastic inscription from the 9th century B. C. that refers both to the “House of David” and to the “King of Israel” This is the first time that the very name of David has been discovered in any ancient inscription outside the Bible. The inscription refers both to the “House of David” and to the “King of Israel.” Therefore, it has to refer to THE David of the Bible. The “House of David” refers to the dynasty of the great King David. So awesome!
So now there is a seal with the name of David on it, and the evidence from all these seals lends credence to the idea of a major administrative capital of the Judean kingdom--JERUSALEM!
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