Clay Seal Offers Another Physical Connection to the Bible


It may not seem like a discovery of biblical proportions, but a clay seal found in Israel adds yet another physical connection between the Bible and the present.

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The tiny clay impression was found near the ruins of what has been identified as the palace of King David. According to the Hebrew name inscribed on it, the seal belonged to Gedalyahu ben Pashhur. While the name may not be as easily recognized as Moses or Solomon, ben Pashhur is nonetheless a biblical figure. Jeremiah 38:1 reports:

Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur [“ben” means “son of”], and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying . . . .

This discovery parallels the discovery two years ago of a similar seal belonging to Yehuchal ben Shelemayahu—that is, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, as mentioned in the same verse. That seal was found at the same excavation site, at the location of the biblical Siloam.

“It is not very often that archaeologists have surprises that bring them so close to the reality of the biblical text,” said Eilat Mazar, discoverer of the ben Pashhur stamp. “One could not have asked anything more than this.”

The clay impressions are now all that remains.

Gabriel Barkay, a colleague of Mazar, has suggested the stamps were attached to royal documents that were burned, possibly during the Babylonian siege of Judah. The clay impressions are now all that remains.

Other seal impressions have been found at the excavation site as well, though this is the first such discovery of two seals referenced in the same Bible verse. Sadly, Barkay reports that due to construction and other factors, many archaeological finds from the First Temple period are probably lost forever.

As Christians, we axiomatically begin with the Bible and, thus, do not rely on archaeology to “prove” the Bible; if we did, that would indicate that there was some greater epistemology outside of the reality of God’s Word that the Bible was itself beholden to. That said, archaeological discoveries remind the unbeliever of the accuracy of God’s Word and excite the believer by making every verse that much more immediate.

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