A Newly Discovered Clay Seal May Have Belonged to a Minor Biblical Character

April 1 2019

While excavating the area underneath Jerusalem’s Givati parking lot, in the oldest portion of the city, archaeologists have found two ancient seals, both dating from the 8th century BCE. One, made of agate, bears the stamp of “Ikkar ben Matanyahu”; the second, made of clay, belonged to “Nathan-Melekh, servant of the king.” Amanda Borschel-Dan reports:

Nathan-Melekh is named in 2Kings as an official in the court of King Josiah. The burnt clay impression is the first archaeological evidence of the biblical name. . . . According to [the archaeologist Yiftaḥ] Shalev, while both discoveries are of immense scholarly value as inscriptions, their primary value is their archaeological context. . . .

According to the archaeologist Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University, in the 8th century this area of the City of David became the central administrative center of Jerusalem. A newly unearthed two-story public building, constructed with finely cut ashlar stones, illustrates the beginning of a westward move of the administration area in the large, sprawling city. [This structure], said Shalev, is further down the slope of the City of David than where some archaeologists had envisioned a First Temple-period city wall. Through this evidence of a large administrative center, scholars are beginning to understand that [around this time] Jerusalem saw the beginning of the western spread [of its borders] that continued in later eras, including the Persian and Hellenistic periods. . . .

The name Nathan-Melekh appears once in the Bible, in 2Kings 23:11. An official in the court of King Josiah, the biblical Nathan-Melech took part in the implementation of widespread religious reform. . . . While the biblical account uses a different title [translated as “officer”] from the impression on the ancient clay, the title “servant of the king” does often appear in the Bible to describe a high-ranking official close to the king.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, Jerusalem


Only a Clear Message to Iran Can Restore Israel’s Deterrence

Aug. 19 2019

Currently the greatest threat facing the Jewish state is an attack on three fronts, in which Hizballah and other Iranian forces launch tens of thousands of missiles simultaneously from both Lebanon and Syria, while Hamas—now also taking orders from Tehran—does the same from Gaza. Such a barrage would likely overwhelm Israel’s storied missile-defense systems, severely disrupt civilian life and possible result in high casualties, and gravely interfere with the IDF’s ability to counterattack. Noting that the Islamic Republic could unleash this mayhem at the time of its choosing, Benny Morris suggests a straightforward preventative measure. (Free registration required.)

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Syria