The bulla of the 8th century BCE King Hezekiah has been discovered as part of the artifacts being unearthed in the Ophel excavations in Jerusalem. The excavations have discovered multiple bullas, but it is the bulla of King Hezekiah which is being hailed as an incredible find. The ancient seal reads, “Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.”
This is a big deal: Imprint of 2,800 y/o seal “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah” revealed today https://t.co/Sh4YqwC3bD
— David Hamstra ن (@djhamstra) December 2, 2015
Dr. Eilat Mazar is the leader of the Ophel excavations. Mazar spoke at a press conference about the historic find and said the bulla was “the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.” She also said that the discovery “strengthens what we know already from the Bible about [Hezekiah].”
— PCG (@PCG_News) December 2, 2015
King Hezekiah ruled from 715 and 686 BCE. In the Book of Kings II 18:5, King Hezekiah is spoken of as a man who was like no other king. The passage states that “after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were before him.”
The bulla with the seal of King Hezekiah is only a few centimeters across. The symbols on the bulla are Egyptian in style. Mazar commented more on the Egyptian symbols.
“The Egyptian motifs were spread over the second millennium BCE all over the region. It was nothing like what it meant to the Egyptians.”
King Hezekiah’s bulla was actually found in 2009, but not deciphered until recently by Reut Ben Arieh, an archeologist from Hebrew University. While Reut was studying the bulla, the location of the punctuation marks told her that it read “king” and “Judah.” She knew that this meant it belonged to the king of Judea, King Hezekiah.
This is not the only seal in the world that was from King Hezekiah. The fact that makes this seal special is that it is the first one discovered as part of an archaeological dig at an ancient site. Mazer states that this seal gives authenticity to the other seals of King Hezekiah that are out in the world.
“Although seal impressions bearing King Hezekiah’s name have already been known from the antiquities market since the middle of the 1990s, some with a winged scarab (dung beetle) symbol and others with a winged sun, this is the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever come to light in a scientific archaeological excavation.”
The location of the archaeological dig, the Ophel, is south of the Temple Mount and is considered to be the holiest site to the Jews. The Ophel dig is a collaboration between Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Beside the bulla of King Hezekiah, the Ophel dig has produced ancient artifacts that date as far back as the 12th century BCE. These ancient artifacts give credibility to the reigns of King David and King Solomon.
In 2013, Mazar announced another discovery from the ancient archaeological site. Mazar and her team found a treasure trove of gold and silver dating back to the 7th century BCE. Some of the gold found were coins from the Byzantine Empire. The treasure is currently being displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
What other things will Mazar and her team discover at the Ophel site besides the bulla and seal of King Hezekiah?
[Image via Twitter]