A team of archaeologists in Israel has unearthed what’s believed to be the royal seal of an Old Testament prince who is said to have tossed the prophet Jeremiah down a well.
Royal seal bears name of Gedaliah, a prince to Judah’s King Zedekiah, mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah. (courtesy Dr. Eilat Mazar)
The stamped engraving, known as a “bulla,” was discovered earlier this year about 600 feet south of the Temple Mount, but is just now making headlines.
Team leader Dr. Eilat Mazar of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University says the imprint was found in clay, astonishingly well-preserved, bearing the name of Gedaliah, the son of Pashur.
“How absolutely fantastic and special this find is can only be realized when you hold in your hand this magnificent one-centimeter piece of clay and know that it survived 2,600 years in the debris of the destruction, and came to us complete and in perfect condition,” Mazar said.
Gedaliah is mentioned by name in Jeremiah 38:1 as he served Judah’s King Zedekiah in the final days before Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.
The excavation area in the section of Jerusalem known as the City of David, looking east. (courtesy Dr. Eilat Mazar)
The prophet’s writings tell of the actions that Gedaliah and his fellow princes took against him:
“Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.” (Jeremiah 38:6)
The prophet was rescued after an Ethiopian eunuch pleaded with the king on Jeremiah’s behalf, saying, “he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.” (38:9)
The king then ordered 30 men to hoist up the prophet before the city fell to the Babylonians.
A 19th century Bible depicts the prophet Jeremiah being lifted out of a well.
The letters on the seal are in ancient Hebrew, and Mazar told WND the relic was recovered through a wet-sifting process. She says the method was learned after the “illegal excavations” by the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount, who have been dumping debris in huge mounds.
Dr. Eilat Mazar
“The wet sifting that we did for the destruction debris from our excavations indeed allowed us to uncover hundreds of different kinds of small finds such as tiny fish bones, Phoenician glass beads, Hebrew, Babylonian and Egyptian bullae and seals, pits and seeds, hematite and limestone weights, arrowheads, figurines, jewelry and more,” she said.
This is actually the second recent discovery of an ancient bulla from the time of Jeremiah.
In 2005, Mazar found another seal with the name of Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, who is mentioned twice in the prophet’s book. That artifact was found in a stone structure Mazar believes was part of King David’s ancient palace.
She added, “It is not very often that such a discovery happens to archaeologists in which real figures of the past shake off the dust of history and so vividly revive the stories of the Bible.”
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