Royal seals from the time of Hezekiah

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of several impressive artifacts from Umm Tuba, in the southern hill of Jerusalem. These items include royal seal impressions from the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah (c. 716-687 BC; Schultz, ISBE).

A large building that dates to the time of the First and Second Temples, in which there was an amazing wealth of inscriptions, was discovered in a salvage excavation conducted by Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem (between Zur Bahar and the Har Homa quarter), prior to construction work by a private contractor.

Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four “LMLK” type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom’s government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.

Royal seal from the time of Hezekiah. Photo: Mariana Saltzberger, IAA.

Royal seal from the time of Hezekiah. Photo: Mariana Saltzberger, IAA.

The site of this discovery has been identified as Biblical Netofa (English Netophah). Two of David’s “mighty men” (or warriors) were from Netophah.

Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heleb the son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin (2 Samuel 23:28-29).

The full press release may be seen at the IAA site at the bottom of the page.  A ZIP file of the seven pictures is available here for those interested.

HT: Joseph Lauer and several bloggers.

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