Has the seal of Isaiah the prophet been found?

The discovery of a bulla (seal impression) possibly bearing the name of the prophet Isaiah is announced by Eilat Mazar in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (44:2, March/April; May/June 2018). I am not sure if this article is available to non-members of the BAS Library, but you may try this link.

This discovery was made nearly 10 years ago in the Ophel area south of the Temple Mount. Mazar announced the discovery of a bulla bearing the inscription “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah” in 2015, and we reported it here with a nice photograph of the seal impression.

Now, imagine the excitement when the researchers found the name Isaiah on a bulla. Mazar says that Isaiah was a common name, but with the possibility that this particular Isaiah is called the prophet, that is super exciting.

Just one problem. One, or possibly two letters, are missing from the word for prophet. A National Geographic article by Kristin Romey explains,

The seal is impressed in Old Hebrew script with the name Yesha‘yah[u] (the Hebrew name of Isaiah), followed by the word nvy.

Because the seal is damaged at the end of the word nvy, Mazar suggests that our reading may be incomplete. If nvy was originally followed by the Hebrew letter aleph, the result would be the word “prophet,” rendering the reading of the seal as “Belonging to Isaiah the prophet.”

Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

Could this last word on the bulla be the name of the Novi family, or the name of a town (Nob, is suggested)?

The discovery of the bulla with the name of Isaiah just ten feet from the one bearing the name of Hezekiah is significant. Mazar is quoted as saying,

The names of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah are mentioned in one breath 14 of the 29 times the name of Isaiah is recalled (2 Kings 19–20; Isaiah 37–39). No other figure was closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah. (TOI)

The Trumpet has published a well-done YouTube 13 minute video that will be of interest to some readers. The article in The Trumpet contains photos and drawings of the bulla.

The article in today’s The Times of Israel contains several good photos here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer, et al.

2 responses to “Has the seal of Isaiah the prophet been found?

  1. Pingback: A Bulla Day | Braman's Wanderings

  2. Pingback: Did archaeologists uncover Isaiah’s signature? | OpentheWord.org

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