Marjo Korpel, an expert on the Old Testament at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, conducted a recent investigation into a seal dating back to the ninth century BC, concluding the seal belonged to King Ahab’s Phoenician wife Jezebel. The results were published in the Journal for Semitics.
Although “initially assumed” to have belonged to Jezebel, researchers also considered the possibility that the seal belonged to a less famous Jezebel.
The seal, which includes the engraved name yzbl in ancient Hebrew, was unearthed in Israel by Nahman Avigad in 1964. Although “initially assumed” to have belonged to Jezebel, researchers also considered the possibility that the seal belonged to a less famous Jezebel.
Korpel analyzed the symbols on the seal, concluding that the markings indicate not only a woman, but specifically a “royal female owner.” The seal’s exceptionally large size, atypical for the seals of commoners, also supports the Queen Jezebel hypothesis.
Korpel also showed that a broken-off fragment of the seal likely contained two letters that “point to Jezebel as owner and lead to a correct spelling of Jezebel’s name.”
Ironically, the Bible specifically refers to Jezebel’s use of her husband Ahab’s seal to forge letters (1 Kings 21:8). The ScienceDaily article acknowledges this and states: “Nonetheless, she now appears to have possessed her own seal, which enabled her to deal with matters independently of Ahab.” This is certainly not out of her character, both as described in the Bible and in this article with reference to two verses in 1 Kings.
Archeological finds, such as this one, can never independently confirm or deny the Bible’s authenticity; rather, they remind us that the Bible is not only accurate when it speaks of heavenly things; it is also accurate when it speaks of earthly things—as we pointed out in last week’s item "#5".
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