TEL AVIV – A first ever royal seal impression of Judean King Hezekiah from the First Temple period was discovered in excavations near the Temple Mount, the Jerusalem Post reported.
In an unprecedented archeological discovery that shines a light on Biblical narratives of Jerusalem’s First Temple period, an impression of King Hezekiah – one of the Bible’s most important Israelite kings — was discovered on a piece of clay in the Ophel excavations by the southern wall of the Temple Mount.
“This is the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever come to light in a scientific archeological excavation,” said Dr. Eilat Mazar, the archeologist leading the team from Hebrew University’s archeological department at the excavation site.
Dating back to 727–698 BCE, the astonishing discovery is more evidence of Israel’s ancient Jewish history. The oval impression was imprinted on a 3-mm.- thick piece of clay, measuring 13 mm. by 12 mm. A video of the discovery can be seen here.
The impression bears an inscription in ancient Hebrew script that reads: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah,” accompanied by a sun with wings turned downward and two ankh symbols which were the emblems of life.
The seal impression was used to seal rolled-up documents and the mark left by the tying cords can be seen on the reverse. The impression “vividly brings to life the biblical narratives about King Hezekiah and the activity conducted during his lifetime in Jerusalem’s royal quarter,” the Hebrew University said in a statement.
“The bulla [seal impression] was discovered in a refuse dump dated to the time of King Hezekiah or shortly after, and originated in the royal building that stood next to it, and appears to have been used to store foodstuffs,” the university explained.
“This building, one of a series of structures that also included a gatehouse and towers, was constructed in the second half of the 10th century BCE (the time of King Solomon) as part of the fortifications of the Ophel – the new governmental quarter that was built in the area that connects the City of David with the Temple Mount.”
The bulla was found along with 33 additional bullae imprinted from other seals, most bearing Hebrew names, their reverse showing marks of cords that probably sealed sacks of food.
King Hezekiah is portrayed favorably in the Bible (II Kings, Isaiah, II Chronicles) as well as in the chronicles of the Assyrian kings Sargon II and his son, Sennacherib, who ruled during his time.
“Hezekiah is depicted as both a resourceful and daring king, who centralized power in his hands,” the university said.
“Although he was an Assyrian vassal, he successfully maintained the independent standing of the Judean kingdom and its capital, Jerusalem, which he enhanced economically, religiously and diplomatically.”
The Bible states of Hezekiah: “There was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him” (II Kings 18:5).