“The ongoing archeological excavations at the City of David continue to prove that ancient Jerusalem is no longer just a matter of faith, but also a matter of fact.” Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation.
In a rare and exciting discovery, a bulla (seal impression) and a 2,600-year-old stone stamp bearing Hebrew names were uncovered in the City of David. The artifacts were discovered inside a public building that was destroyed during the destruction of the First Temple and were uncovered in archaeological excavations of the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.
These special artifacts were found inside a large public building, that was destroyed in the sixth century BC – likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards were discovered in the building, all indications that they had survived an immense fire. The importance of this building can be discerned, among other things, from its size; the finely cut ashlar stones from which it was built; and the quality of the architectural elements found in the layers of destruction. Bullae were small pieces of clay impressed by personal seals, used in ancient times to sign letters. While the parchment that they sealed didn’t survive the fires that devastated ancient Jerusalem, the bullae, which are made of ceramic-like material, were preserved, leaving evidence of the correspondence and those behind them.
The stamp and bulla, which are about one centimeter in size, were deciphered by Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem, who, according to the script, dates them to the middle of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixth century BCE.
The seal impression, dated to the First Temple period, features the words: “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” (LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech). The name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Bible, in the second book of Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who took part in the religious reform that the king was implementing: “And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech the officer, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.” This seal impression is the first archaeological evidence of the biblical name Nathan-Melech.
The stamp-seal was also in discovered the same place, made of bluish agate stone, engraved with the name – “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu” (LeIkar Ben Matanyahu). According to Dr. Mendel-Geberovich,” The name Matanyahu appears both in the Bible and on additional stamps and bullae already unearthed. However, this is the first reference to the name “Ikar,” which was unknown until today.”
Having evidence to verify accounts in the Bible gives us a powerful case for its authenticity and validity. As Christians we believe that the Bible is in fact the “Word of God” and having this verified by physical evidence only serves to strengthen our faith.