Archaeologists discovered the impression of a seal that bears the name of King Hezekiah and was found during recent excavations by Jerusalem.
“[It’s] the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself,” said Eilat Mazar, the leader of the excavation project, during a press conference at Mount Scopus campus, the Times of Israel reported. “[The find] strengthens what we know already from the Bible about [Hezekiah].”
The stamp seal impression, or bulla, was one of dozens discovered in the last few years at a building in the Ophel, a section of Jerusalem by the Temple Mount that was used for royalty. The seal bears this inscription: “Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.”
Excavators originally discovered the seal in 2009, but overlooked its significance. Hebrew University archaeologist Reut Ben Arieh actually deciphered the inscription just this year, and uncovered its true value.
At first, researchers read the bottom register on the seal as the name of “Melkiyahu,” but then Ben Arieh noticed tiny punctuation marks in the middle – marks that actually separated the letters into the words of “king” and “Judah,” she said, to the Times of Israel.
“Immediately we understood [it read] king of Judah,” she said.
The global antiquities market does have other seals that bear King Hezekiah’s name. But as Mazar said, none are so valuable as what was just discovered.
“None is from an archaeological excavation, and that makes all the difference,” in terms of underscoring its authenticity, Mazar said, to the Times of Israel.
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Hezekiah ruled Judah in the eighth century B.C., at a time when the kingdom was invaded by the Assyrian empire. Fourteen years into his rule, Jerusalem was also attacked by King Sennacherib’s military.
The biblical book of 2 Kings shines favorably on Hezekiah.
2 Kings 18 states, in its Revised Standard Version: “[Hezekiah] was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. … And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in piece the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had burned incense to it; it was called Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he head fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went forth, he prospered.”