Some questions about the recent news of the discovery of a seal bearing the name of King Hezekiah in Jerusalem

Given the recent news of the discovery of a seal bearing the name of King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, I have a few questions pertaining to the details, the timing, and the relevance of the announcement.

The main question I’m asking is why now? Why issue a press release now? This seal was discovered in 2010 after wet sifting dirt from the Ophel Excavation in 2009. No one disputes Hezekiah’s historicity, especially given the extra-biblical corroboration in Sennacherib’s Annals. And there are previous known seal impressions with the name of Hezekiah on them. So why again? Why now?

Is it because it is Christmas?

Is it for political purposes to combat the annual (false) Palestinian claim that there is no evidence of a Jewish presence on the Temple mount?

Is it to draw a distinction between the Ophel Excavation (Dr. Mazar’s excavation) and the Temple Mount Sifting Project whose sifting facility it shares?

Does suggesting that this is the first seal impression of Hezekiah discovered in a “scientific excavation” imply that previous discoveries of Hezekiah bullae are not credible? Or, is it designed to suggest that they are, in fact, credible because a similar discovery has now been made in a controlled context?

Is suggesting that this is the first seal impression of Hezekiah discovered in a “scientific excavation” designed to counter those claiming that since the seal impression was discovered in an ancient garbage pit (which by nature means that the archaeological stratigraphy is compromised in antiquity), that we can’t trust the dating? If it bears the name of Hezekiah, that’s a pretty good indication of its date, even if the stratigraphy is compromised. (And is the claim of a garbage pit theorized to explain why 8th C. BCE remains are located beneath proposed 10th C. BCE remains? Dr. Mazar explains her thinking in the video, but many archaeologists are not convinced by her claims dating certain structures to the 10th C. BCE.)

The press release states,

“This bulla came to light, together with many pottery sherds and other finds such as figurines and seals, in Area A of the excavations (2009 season), supervised by Hagai Cohen-Klonymus.”

I accept that the bulla is from where Dr. Mazar says it was discovered. I don’t think they mixed up the buckets with the Sifting Project. From what I can ascertain, the dirt from the 2009 Ophel Excavation garbage pit was sent to the Sifting Project’s wet sifting facility (which the Sifting Project claims they share), and in 2010 they discovered the bulla, in the dirt, from the sifting of the garbage pit. There is, or course, the obvious stratigraphical problem of digging in a garbage pit (see 4:15 onward), but that doesn’t mean we discount everything discovered in an ancient dump.

My question has to do with the timing of the new YouTube video and the new press release? Is it to promote the new reading of the Ahaz portion of the seal? If so, should we expect an article discussing the new reading?

And if that’s what this is about (the new reading of the inscription), then what do other epigraphers say about this reading? No “ben” in between Hezekiah and Ahaz? And does it really say Ahaz? Does it fit within the border of the seal?

And is this announcement–especially given the highly charged and controversial location of these two excavations–done for any political purpose?? This is the problem that many people have had with the Ophel and City of David excavations. I can only hope that the timing of this announcement isn’t for any modern political purpose.

 

These are my questions. I have no problem with the discovery. I have no reason to believe it is a forgery. I don’t have a problem with the new reading (but I’d like to know what others think). As far as I know, it’s a nice discovery of a seal of Hezekiah.

The problems is that the discovery is 5 years old, and that at the end of the day, this discovery tells us nothing new. The only real claim from Dr. Mazar is that this is the first Hezekiah bulla to be discovered “in a scientific context”.

My question is why recycle this discovery now? The discovery (from 5 years ago) doesn’t tell us anything new. So why now?

19 Responses

  1. “I accept that the bull IS from where …” just try to help

  2. thx. fixed. appreciated. -bc

  3. UPDATE: Barnea Selavan has left an informative update over on my Facebook Page. I’ll not repost it here, but it provides answers to many of my questions, including some details and the timing.

    However, the question of what we learn from this discovery is still open. It seems to be a very nice discovery of a seal impression of Hezekiah.

  4. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the news of the discovery of another seal of Hezekiah is telling.

  5. I’m curious as to why a winged solar disc and an ankh would be found on a seal of Hezekiah.

  6. He (and Judah) was in league with Egypt. We also know that Egyptian symbolism was popular throughout southern Cana’an. This is evident in seal impressions on jars as well.

  7. The loyal Hezekiah King of Judah never ever will decorate his personal royal seal with such idolatric religious symbols such as the “ansada” cross or the winged sun. Those symbols are crearly egyptians and that relgious syncretism were common among the Canaanites and the Egyptians both of the hamitic race. Other matter to take in consideration is the circunstances of any Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. Though much research and excavation have been carried out, few concrete facts have been determined as to the city of Bible times. Various factors have restricted investigation or limited its value. Jerusalem has had almost continuous occupation in the Common Era, thus severely reducing the area available for excavation. Then, too, the city was destroyed a number of times, with new cities built on top of the ruins and often made, in part, from material of those ruins. The piling up of debris and rubble, in some places about 30 m (100 ft) deep, has obscured the early contours of the site and made the interpretation of the excavated evidence a precarious task. The bull can be Canaanite and different propposals to the meaning of the phoenician writing of it should be analized.

  8. Sir, Hezekiah was faithful to יהוה Elohim, The Almigthy God that requires exclusive devotion from his servants. According to the Jewish tradition the cross is the representation of Tamúz an ancient Babilonian God who was a deification of Nemrod the powerful hunter in oposition of יהוה. Hezekiah will not decorate his royal seal with those symbol. That bull is canaanite or a hoax.

  9. Hezekiah was a faithful Jewish. The cross is according to the Jewish tradition the symbol of Tamúz the deification of Nemrod a declared enemy of יהוה Elohim. He never ever will use any of those sumbols of that bull. There are two options that bull is Cananite or a hoax.

  10. You have the power of veto not of reasonng.

  11. You have the power of veto not of reasoning.

  12. Faithful?? Hezekiah was a vassal of Assyria until he rebelled and joined Egypt:

    2 Kings 18:13-15:

    In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace.

    He paid off the king of Assyria with the gold of the temple of YHWH. The Bible says so.

  13. What are you talking about veto? I have the power of the ability to read the text in front of me. Hezekiah paid off Sennacherib. The Bible says so.

  14. Sir, Does it makes sense that a king like Hezekiah that observed Mosaic law which devotion and fought wholeheartedly to erradicate false worship within his dominions would use such idolatric religious symbols as a decoration of his royal seal a symbol of his authority? It’s totally absurd. The bull could be authentic but I’m convinced it is not jewish. The bull is canaanite and the translation of the phoenician scripture on it is incorrect.

  15. The loyal Hezekiah was a human being that committed sins like you and me but he did the most to serve faithfully to יהוה God and his people. He was interred in the toumb of his forefathers in the city of David. This is an indicator that he died faithfully and that he had the approval of יהוה and his people. Yes, he was force to make a payment to save the city of Jerusalem but why you don’t mention what he did later to face courageously Senacherib and his armies. Why you don’t mention the amazing tunnel he made and how the mighty hand of one Angel saved the city?

  16. There is a time lapse between the time I post a comment and the time it appears published in your blog. It does not facilitate a discussion.

  17. Sir, when I said loyal and faithful I meant that Hezekiah was faithful and loyal to יהוה Elohím, the Universal Sovereign and not to any human ruler.

  18. That’s no “winged solar disc”, it’s clearly King Ghidorah.

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