The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced that they have discovered a 2,000-year-old seal bearing the name Matanyahu which is extremely similar to that of Israel’s prime minister, Netanyahu. The seal was discovered during excavations near the Western Wall, the retaining wall of Herod’s Temple which was built over the ruins of Solomon’s Temple.
The find was made near the remains of a building dating to the end of the First Temple period, discovered below the base of an ancient drainage channel that is currently being exposed in excavations in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden.
Eli Shukron, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told the media,
“The name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period – from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE,”
The seal was discovered on the floor of the ancient building. Pottery which was common during the time period was also found there. The seal is made of a semi-precious stone and is engraved in Hebrew with the name of its owner: “Lematanyahu Ben Ho…” meaning: “Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho…”). The rest of the inscription is illegible.
People set seals inside rings and used them to sign letters as a seal of personal identification.
To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting. This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago.”