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Archaeologists digging in Jerusalem unearthed a 2600-year old bulla (clay seal impression) and an ancient seal which bear biblical names. The paleo-Hebrew inscription on the bulla reads, "[belonging] to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King." Both the title "Servant of the King" and the name are found in the Bible, with Nathan-Melech being an official in the court of King Josiah in 2 Kings 23:11. While scholars cannot be certain that this bulla belongs to the Nathan-Melech of the Bible, three things point towards this identification: the rarity of the name, the reign of King Josiah in the mid-seventh century BC is relatively close to the time of the destruction, and the title testifies to the importance of the individual. The object found was a blue agate stone seal with the inscription, "[belonging] to Ikkar son of Matanyahu." The name Matanyahu is also in the Bible (spelled Mattaniah in 2 Kings 24:17; 1 Chronicles 9:15, 25:4, 25:16) and has been previously found on other seals and bullae. Both artifacts were discovered in situ in the remains of a building that was destroyed in the sixth century BC, likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Given the size of the building, the finely cut ashlar stones used in its construction and the remnants of a polished plaster floor, archaeologists have identified it as an administrative center. These finds attest to a highly organized administrative system in the Kingdom of Judah during the First Temple era.

Off-site Links:
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-seal-with-biblical-name-found-in-jerusalem-house-destroyed-by-babylonians-2-600y-ago-1.7068047
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/two-tiny-first-temple-inscriptions-vastly-enlarge-picture-of-ancient-jerusalem/
- https://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/jerusalem/seal-bearing-name-of-king-josiahs-court-official-uncovered-in-city-of-david/2019/03/31/

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ABRT 24 | 4/13/2019