Seals discovered from Jeremiah’s nemeses

Archeologists have discovered two clay seals bearing the names of two courtiers mentioned in the Bible who opposed the prophet Jeremiah. From Clay seal connects to Bible :

“It is not very often that archaeologists have surprises that bring them so close to the reality of the biblical text,” said Eilat Mazar, whose pinpoint dig in a relatively small site this summer led her to a clay bulla whose ancient Hebrew script identifies its owner as Gedalyahu ben Pashhur.

Speaking to an enthusiastic audience of 1,500 Israelis who converged on the Palestinian-Arab Silwan quarter, known as Kfar Hashiloah, or Siloam in the Bible, Mrs. Mazar said, “One could not have asked anything more than this.”

Ben Pashhur’s name is cited in the Book of Jeremiah 38:1 together with that of Yehuchal ben Shelemayahu, whose bulla was discovered at the same site two years ago.

The two were ministers in the court of King Zedekiah, the last king from the Davidic dynasty to reign in Jerusalem. His reign, from 597 to 586 B.C., ended with the Babylonians’ destruction of the First Temple on nearby Mount Moriah.

Because both bullae were perfectly intact and their inscriptions easily legible by anyone familiar with the ancient Hebrew script, Gabriel Barkay, one of Mrs. Mazar’s veteran colleagues, surmised they were attached to documents that were burned, possibly during the Babylonian siege, but that they survived because they were made of clay.

“They were baked and thereby preserved in mud and silt, which could be dissolved in water,” he said. The two bullae resemble each other except for the names they bear.

Mrs. Mazar said the two courtiers opposed the prophet Jeremiah’s pleas to Zedekiah that Judea surrender to the Babylonians.

“They wanted him executed,” she said, “but the king refused.” Jeremiah was imprisoned twice and confined to a pit. Ultimately, they asked him to pray for the kingdom.

It is the first time in the annals of Israeli archaeology that two 2,600-year-old clay bullae with two biblical names that appear in the same biblical verse have been unearthed in the same location, she said.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Historicity!
    It’s not just a concept.
    Makes me think of the words of the old song:
    No, no, they can’t take that away from me!


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