Seal of Shema, Servant of Jereboam

Seal of Shema, Servant of Jereboam

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Archaeology news: Clay trinket sold at market verified as seal of Bible's king Jeroboam II

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The archaeological treasure was purchased by Professor Yuval Goren of Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, who bought the seal from a Bedouin merchant at a bargain price of just 10 Israeli Shekels (£2.29). Professor Goren was intrigued by the seal's imprint of a roaring lion and ancient script bearing the word "l'Shema" or "To hear". Experts have since dated the seal, also known as a bulla, to the Iron Age, about 2,300 years ago.


Even more incredibly, the seal appears to contain the earliest known writing on a seal found in Israel.

Because of the seal's suspiciously cheap price tag, Professor Goren suspected it might have been a counterfeit artefact.

But an effort led by Ben Gurion University, the Geological Survey of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority has dated the object to the eighth century BC.

The seal measures 23.4 by 19.3mm, with the inner stamp measuring about 20 by 15mm.

Archaeology news: This ancient seal belonged to the Biblical king Jeroboam II (Image: GETTY/Dani Machlis/Ben Gurion University)

Archaeology news: The seal was sold at a Bedouin market in Beersheba, Israel (Image: GETTY)


Laboratory tests of the seal's composition have determined the soil used in its manufacture most likely originated in the Lower Galilee and the Jezreel and Beit She'an valleys.

The stamp was sealed in a linen cloth and then fired up at about 750C.

Professor Goren said: "This bulla is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, inscribed bulla in the land of Israel."

And although the seal's inscription has only been partially preserved, it bears a striking similarity to a seal discovered in 1904 in the ancient city of Megiddo.

Archaeology: Israel's greatest archaeological wonders mapped out (Image: EXPRESS)

The Megiddo seal also bears the imprint of a lion and an inscription reading "l'Shema eved Yerov'am".

The paleo-Hebrew script reads as "Belonging to Shema the servant/minister of Jeroboam".

Jeroboam II was an eighth-century king of Northern Israel whose reign, according to some estimates, fell between 788 and 748 BC.

His named features in the Old Testament's Book of Kings, Book of Chronicles, Book of Hosea and Book of Amos.

Archaeology news: Beersheba sits in the Negev Desert, southern Israel (Image: GETTY)

Archaeology news: Groundbreaking discoveries mapped out (Image: EXPRESS)


The Bible's 2 Kings 14 names Jeroboam as the son of Jehoash, king of Israel.

The scripture reads: "Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

"And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead."

Professor Goren has since handed the seal over to the Israel Antiquities Authority to be interred at the Israel Museum.

And although rare, archaeologists have been discovering similar seals and artefacts linked to prominent figures in the Bible.

Related articles

In 2015, for instance, an excavation at Jerusalem's Ophel uncovered a clay seal belonging to the Biblical king Hezekiah.

Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, was the 13th king of Judah who ruled between the eighth and seventh century BC.

  Paul W. Manuel

Historians have traced glyptic art (engraving or carving of seals or gems) in the Ancient Near East back as far as the 4th millennium B.C. When other sources are lacking, the medium of these seals reveals a great deal about the people of the past and provides invaluable insights into their developing thought: how they dressed, how they worshipped, and how their political system may have functioned.

Amulets were the earliest type of seals. Usually ornately carved, individuals wore them around the neck to repel evil spirits. When the wearer pressed the amulet into wet clay or hot wax, he believed the power of the amulet transferred to the impression left by the carving. The impression would deter anyone from breaking open the sealed object for fear of the evil that might overtake him. Later, an unbroken seal served to indicate that the protected article was undisturbed. When the Babylonian king cast Daniel into the lion's den, he sealed the den to prevent tampering:

Likewise, in the New Testament, when the Romans closed Jesus' tomb: "They went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard" (Matt 27:66).

The use of seals eventually developed into more than just ritual protection. The earliest known legal method of distinguishing property was by applying a personal seal. The most common use of the seal was to authenticate written documents: letters, bills of sale, and receipts for goods or money. It was also common to wear the seal as a ring. When Pharaoh promoted Joseph to vizier, he gave Joseph "his signet ring" (Gen 41:42). With the ring, Joseph had the authority of Pharaoh and could govern in the king's absence. The seal, thus, became the signature of the owner.

A seal of authentication is still very much a part of many cultures today. In western society there is the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" that ensures the quality of some retail products. The seal of a "notary public" is necessary on many official documents. Even a birth certificate is invalid in some states if it lacks the original seal affixed by the hospital.

Significance for Biblical Studies: The Shema Seal was the signature of a servant in Jeroboam's court. Shema probably used it for official business as well as for personal correspondence. The seal is a window into the life of one man who worked for a biblical king and whose clerical practice was not unlike our own.

The Seal of Jeroboam

THE PICTURE OF the seal shown with this article, carries the inscription `Belonging to Shema, servant of Jeroboam’. The seal was found in archaeological excavations at Megiddo in Northern Israel during the Turkish occupation of the land. The original seal is carved in jasper, while the picture is of a bronze cast taken from it. But the striking feature of the seal is the roaring lion that was used as a symbol for the southern kingdom of Judah.

The seal belonged to Shema a servant of Jeroboam. Now most biblical scholars accept that this refers to king Jeroboam II of whom we read:

“In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned for forty-one years.” 2 Kings 14:23 NIV

But, what was the servant of a king of Israel doing with the royal symbol of the rival kingdom of Judah? We believe the explanation could be that there had previously been war between kings Jehoash and Amaziah, for the Bible tells us:

“Judah was routed by Israel…Jehoash…captured Amaziah king of Judah…Jehoash went to Jerusalem…He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the LORD…He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.” 2 Kings 14:12-14 NIV

Jeroboam has been acknowledged as a powerful ruler who put into effect building projects throughout the land. The archaeologist, professor Yadin, has said of the buildings uncovered at Hazor and attributed to Jeroboam, that they are `among the finest of the entire Israelite period.’ But the biblical record also tells us that he took back a lot of territory lost to previous invaders. We read:

“He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath (Northern Syria) to the Sea of the Arabah,…(Dead Sea)” 2 Kings 14:25 NIV

These conquests were the outcome of a prophecy from God through Jonah. But this same record tells us:

“As for the other events of Jeroboam’s reign, all he did, and his military achievements, including how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Yaudi (Judah), are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?” 2 Kings 14:28 NIV

The conquest of Judah and the carrying to Samaria of the contents of the Jerusalem temple, along with the recovery of large tracts of Judaean land, would have made Jeroboam feel that he was entitled to exercise his power over the southern kingdom and use its symbol on a seal as his own. This is another amazing way that an archaeological find not only confirms the accuracy of God’s Word, but also how a little further study of the scriptural record gives us the answer to what appears to be a difficulty.

Jeroboam II

JEROBOAM II, son of *Joash , king of Israel (789� B.C.E. see ʬhronology ). He was the greatest ruler of the dynasty of Jehu. It seems that his father associated him in the kingship in the last two years of his reign and that these years are included in the 41 regnal years ascribed to Jeroboam. During those two years, his father probably entrusted him with the command of the Israelite armies in their wars against ʪram-Damascus . Aram-Damascus's decline in power after the campaigns of kings Adad-Nirari III and Shalmaneser IV, the kings of Assyria, into northern and central Syria enabled Joash and his son Jeroboam not only to capture for Israel those territories which had been conquered from her near the end of the reign of Jehu and during the reign of Jehoahaz, but also to gain supremacy over non-Israelite territories which had probably come under the rule of Aram close to the time of Solomon's death. The biblical tradition relates about his war against Aram-Damascus that Jeroboam "restored the border of Israel from Lebo-Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah [i.e., the Dead Sea] in accordance with the word of the YHWH, the god of Israel … YHWH … delivered [Israel] through Jeroboam the son of Joash" (II Kings 14:25�). Jeroboam's expansion as far as Hamath in central Syria would have required Assyrian acquiescence (Cogan and Tadmor, 163.) His victories reestablished the territorial limits attributed to *Solomon . (It is not impossible that Jeroboam's victories inspired the exaggerated claims made for Solomon). These expansionist wars probably took place in the early and middle years of Jeroboam's reign (Cogan and Tadmor, 164).

According to one opinion, the relations between Jeroboam and his other neighbors were not orderly. There is no evidence that the strained relations with Tyre, following Jehu's liquidation of the revolt of the Omri dynasty, which was allied to the kings of Tyre by marriage, ever improved. Moreover, there was no economic incentive for the renewal of relations between Tyre and Israel (see ʪhab , *Jehoshaphat , *Solomon ). In addition, the relations between Israel and Judah had been complicated ever since Joash's victory over King ʪmaziah of Judah on the battlefield and the destruction of a section of Jerusalem's fortifications after his victory. In the meantime Judah had gained in strength during the reign of *Uzziah , especially during the period of *Jotham 's regency. It also seems that Judah conquered Rabbath Ammon and even gained control over the southern part of the King's Highway in Transjordan by which commerce was led from southern Arabia to Syria and Mesopotamia. *Pekah son of Remaliah, who was a Gileadite and governor of Transjordan under Jeroboam, had gained control of Transjordan as early as in the reign of Jeroboam. This division of Israel was desired by Aram and Judah, and they probably incited Pekah in this direction. According to other opinions, there were peaceful relations between Israel and Judah – hence the prosperity of Judah and the beginning of its political and military importance. Some argue that extensive cooperation between the two kingdoms can also be proved from the combined census carried out on the territory east of the Jordan (I Chron. 5:17). But while not chronologically impossible, the Chronicles passage is historically dubious (Japhet, 137�). It would seem that the signs of prosperity increased with the influence over these widespread territories. The king distributed the lands among his loyal friends and favorites, and this probably spawned a wealthy class of landowners in Transjordan and other places against whom the prophet ʪmos protested. According to the testimony of Amaziah the priest in Amos 7:11 (cf. Amos 7:9), the prophet prophesied (inaccurately, it turns out) that Jeroboam would die by the sword. The Book of Amos gives us an insight into the social and economic conditions during the reign of Jeroboam.

From the limited information given in the Bible, it seems that Jeroboam II was a gifted commander and an able organizer who succeeded in elevating the kingdom of Israel to a last climax before its fall. In the tradition of the Judahite redactors of the northern sources preserved in the Bible, Jeroboam is adjudged a king who ⋞parted not from all the sins that Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, made Israel to sin" (II Kings 14:24). However, his loyalty to YHWH can be deduced not only from the name of his son Zechariah (Heb. "Remembered by YHWH") but also from the prophecies of "the prophet Jonah son of Amittai of Gath-Hepher" (ibid., 14:25), who encouraged Jeroboam in his wars and prophesied his victory. It is unfortunate that these prophecies are not preserved. A stamp seal depicting a lion and reading lšm ʿ ʿ bd yrb ʿ m, "Property of Shema, servant of Jeroboam," was found at Megiddo (Cogan and Tadmor, pl. 12a).


Bright, Hist, 238𠄹, 244𠄵, 252𠄳 E.R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (1951), 69, 288ff M. Vogelstein, Jerobeam II (1945) M. Noth, Geschichte Israels (19563), 227𠄸 Kittel, Gesch, 2 (1922), 346𠄷 E. Auerbach, Wüste und gelobtes Land, 2 (1936), 86ff. Haran, in: VT, 17 (1967), 266�. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB 1988) S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles (1993) K. Whitelam, in: ABD, 3:75�.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

2. Scholar Claims to Authenticate the Bulla of Servant of King Jeroboam II

The clay impression from a seal of a servant of the Israelite King Jeroboam II (8th century BC). Photo: Dani Machlis/Ben Gurion University

Ben-Gurion University Professor, Yuval Goren, recently announced his authentication of a clay seal impression (bulla) of a servant of King Jeroboam II. This announcement comes ahead of the publication of his scientific study in the Eretz Yisrael journal, which will later to be published in English in the Israel Exploration Journal. The bulla’s impression is almost identical to the much larger jasper seal that was discovered at Megiddo in 1904, and subsequently lost. It bears the image of a roaring lion and a paleo-Hebrew inscription, “l’Shema eved Yerov’am” (Belonging to Shema the servant of Jeroboam). Scholars believe Shema was a servant in the courts of the Israelite king Jeroboam II, who reigned in the 8th century BC. The clay bulla was purchased in the 1980’s without provenance from a Bedouin antiquities dealer for only 10 old Israeli shekels. Given the lack of provenance, and the fact it was purchased so cheaply on the antiquities market, it was believed the seal impression was a forgery. However, Goren developed a strict set of testing protocols involving a series of overlapping tests from a variety of disciplines. One test involved removing a fragment of the clay to examine the mineral makeup and another analyzed the isotopic composition of the patina. He assembled an interdisciplinary team and studied hundreds of authentic seal impressions discovered in excavations to secure a reference point. Goren began testing the artifact five years ago on the condition that it be turned over to the Israel Antiquities Authority if it proved authentic. The authentication of the seal impression of Shema, the servant of Jeroboam, if accurate and properly understood, affirms the historicity of King Jeroboam II, son of Joash (2 Kings 13:13).

2,700-year-old clay seal of Biblical King Jeroboam II unearthed in Israel

What is arguably the earliest inscribed clay seal impression from the Land of Israel — used at the court of Israelite King Jeroboam II — has been authenticated after years of strict laboratory testing under the supervision of Ben-Gurion University Prof. Yuval Goren. The inscribed clay, known as a bulla, was purchased without provenance from a Bedouin antiquities merchant in the 1980s and is now thought to be from Jeroboam II’s 8th century BCE reign.

“This bulla is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, inscribed bulla in the Land of Israel,” Goren told The Times of Israel ahead of the publication of a scientific study in Hebrew in a special edition of the Eretz Yisrael journal dedicated to epigrapher Ada Yardeni. It will later appear in English in the Israel Exploration Journal.

The oval bulla is almost identical to a rare — and now lost — much larger jasper stone seal that was found in 1904 by an archaeological excavation at Tel Megiddo led by Gottlieb Schumacher. Both the remarkable lost seal and the newly authenticated seal impression are adorned by a roaring lion that stands with his tail raised, over which is a paleo-Hebrew inscription, “l’Shema eved Yerov’am” (Belonging to Shema the servant/minister of Jeroboam). Jeroboam II is historically understood to have ruled from 788 BCE to 748 BCE.

The bulla has only a partial impression of the inscription, but Goren said it is clearly the same as what was incised on the jasper seal. The fact that the royal seal came in varied sizes is noteworthy and novel to this study, according to a Ben-Gurion University press release.

Israeli Market Object Purchased for $3 Identified as Iron Age Royal Seal

A professor snatched up the find nearly 50 years ago.

BEER-SHEVA, Israel — Researchers have just authenticated a clay seal believed to be the earliest discovered in Israel.

The oval-shaped clay object, which bears the image of a lion standing on all fours, has been identified as a royal seal thought to be from Jeroboam II’s 8th century BCE reign after years of laboratory testing, Ben Gurion University announced on Dec. 10.

The seal was purchased by Yigal Ronen, a professor at the school, at a local Bedouin market in Beer-Sheva, the largest city in southern Israel’s Negev desert, nearly 50 years ago. While the seller was unable to confirm the origins of the seal, he agreed to sell it to Ronen for the low price of 10 shekels, roughly $3.

The sales price immediately raised concerns about the seal’s authenticity, leading Ronen to hand it over to colleagues to check its originality.

Laboratory tests on the object’s composition linked it to soil corresponding with the areas of lower Galilee. Its 2.3 cm by 2 cm oval, known as a “bulla,” had been stamped onto it at a temperature of around 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similar to another seal discovered at the site of the ancient Israeli city of Megiddo in 1904, its paleo-Hebrew inscription reads: “l’Shema eved Yerov’am,” or “belonging to Shema, the servant/minister of Jeroboam.”

The discovery makes the seal the earliest found in Israel, dating back to the Iron Age, around 2,300 years ago. Given its value, Ronen agreed to donate the seal to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which plans to transfer it to an exhibition at the Israel Museum.

Seals, or small impressions stamped into clay or wax, have been used throughout history as a means of verifying authenticity, ownership or authority. In ancient Israel, they were often fashioned into possessions or documents and are regarded as the equivalent of the modern-day signature.

Jeroboam II was the son and successor of Jehoash, and the fourteenth king of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Similar to another seal discovered at the site of the ancient Israeli city of Megiddo in 1904, its paleo-Hebrew inscription reads: “l’Shema eved Yerov’am,” or “belonging to Shema, the servant/minister of Jeroboam.” (“Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum”, U.S. Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

The son of Joash, Jeroboam II is believed to have ruled over Israel from 789–748 BCE. His reign saw the greatest success and prosperity since the days of Solomon, bringing an end to struggles between Syria and Israel and asserting the latter’s dominance over the former. He was the 13th king of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and was the last of the great kings of Israel. Following his death, the country fell into servitude to neighboring nations.


he did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit (2 Kgs 14:24).

Jeroboam son of Nebat was the first king to rule the breakaway Northern Kingdom following the death of Solomon. He established calf worship at the two religious centers of Dan and Bethel.

The relatively long reign of Jeroboam II is summarized in only 7 verses of Scripture, 2 Kings 14:23–29. The prophet Jonah predicted that the boundaries of Israel would be restored during his reign and this was fulfilled. Jeroboam maintained his independence from Aram to the north, ruling the area from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea. Hamath was a city state in central Syria, with its capital at ancient Hamath, modern Hama.

There is one reference to Jeroboam II outside the Bible—the famous “Shema’ Seal.” This seal, made of jasper, was discovered in excavations at Megiddo in 1904. Unfortunately, it was sent to the Turkish Sultan in Istanbul and has since disappeared. Before it was sent off, a bronze cast was made which is now at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. The seal measured 3.7 cm x 2.7 cm (1.5 in x 1.1 in) and was elliptical in shape. In the center was a roaring lion with tensed muscular legs and raised tail. Above the lion was the name of the seal owner and below it his title.

(Belonging) to Shema’ servant (of) Jeroboam

The style of the letters is that of the early eighth century BC (Lemaire 1995: 52, n. 4). This is the earliest of a raft of seals and seal impressions that record the names of Biblical figures. With such a large and beautifully-made seal, Shema’ was evidently a high official in the administration of Jeroboam II. Since Shema’ is not mentioned in the Bible, we do not know what his duties were.

Uzziah, called Azariah in 2 Kings 14:21 and 15:1–7, had the second-longest reign of all of the kings of Israel and Judah. He ruled Judah for 52 years, ca. 792–740 BC, being surpassed only by Manasseh who sat on the throne of Judah for 55 years a century later. Uzziah’s reign is recorded in 2 Kings 15:1–7 and 2 Chronicles 26.

Amaziah, father of Uzziah, appointed Uzziah coregent when he was only 16 years of age. Later, when Amaziah fell victim to a conspiracy, Uzziah became sole ruler. Although he failed to remove the high places (2 Kgs 15:4), Uzziah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and God blessed him (2 Kgs 15:3 2 Chr 26:4–5). He built up a professional, well-equipped army and became very powerful (2 Chr 26:11–15). As a result, he subdued the nations around him, including the Philistines, Arabs of Gur Baal, Meunites and Ammonites (2

Impression of the seal of Shema’, an official during the reign of Jeroboam II. The inscription on the seal reads “(Belonging) to Shema’, servant of Jeroboam.” Found at Megiddo in 1904, this is the earliest of a number of seals and seal impressions that bear the names of Biblical personages.

BSP 13:4 (Fall 2000) p. 120

Chr 26:6–8). The location of Gur Baal is uncertain, and the Meunites were desert peoples involved in trade in Transjordan.

Uzziah was a prolific builder. He rebuilt the important port of Elath, rebuilt towns in Philistia, and fortified Jerusalem (2 Chr 26:2, 6–10). In addition to these military projects he commissioned domestic ventures as well. Uzziah had much livestock, so he built towers in the desert to protect them and dug cisterns to provide water for them (2 Chr 26:10a). Since he loved the soil, he established fields and vineyards (2 Chr 26:10b). In spite of his accomplishments, Uzziah made one serious error that cost him dearly. He attempted to unlawfully burn incense in the Temple and for that he contracted leprosy (2 Chr 26:16–20). As a result, he was banned from the Temple, quarantined, and his son Jotham had to take over the affairs of state (2 Kgs 15:5 2 Chr 26:21). Uzziah died at age 68. Because he was a leper, he was not buried with the other kings of Judah, but “near them” in the City of David (2 Kgs 15:7 2 Chr 26:23).

Two seals of officials of Uzziah have survived. Both of them are of unknown origin and are in the Louvre in Paris. One is a ring seal made of agate. It has an Egyptian motif with an inscription reading,

(Belonging) to Abiah servant (of) Uzziah.

Both names on the seal end in a shortened form of the name Yahweh. Abiah means “my father is Yahweh” and Uzziah means “my strength is Yahweh.” The name Abiah does not appear in the Bible (Bordreuil 1986, No. 40).

The second seal is two-sided and is 2.1 cm x 1.6 cm x 1.0 cm (0.87 in x 0.63 in x 0.40 in) in size. One side depicts a man carrying a staff with the name “Shebaniah” written vertically behind him. The other side has two lines of writing with solar winged disks above and below:

(belonging) to Shebaniah servant (of) Uzziah.

The name Shebaniah appears in 1 Chronicles 15:24 as the name of an official from the time of David. It means “return, pray, O Yahweh” (Bordreuil 1986, No. 41).

Seal of Abiah, servant of Uzziah. It is 1.61 cm x 1.20 cm x 0.38 cm (0.63 in x 0.47 in x 0.15 in) in size. The seal depicts the Egyptian infant sun god Nefertoum kneeling on three lotus flowers. On either side of the figure is the inscription “(belonging) to Abiah servant (of) Uzziah.”

An Inscription Mentioning Uzziah

Uzziah’s name also appears on an inscription from the end of the Second Temple period, ca. 130 BC-AD 70. The origin of the inscription is not known. It is part of the antiquities collection at the Russian Convent on the Mount of Olives that was acquired in the late 1800s (Albright 1931). It states,

Uzziah inscription, ca. 130 BC-AD 70. The inscription is incised on a stone tablet 35 cm x 34 cm (14 in x 13 in). It is well-carved in square Aramaic characters surrounded by a neatly carved border. It reads “Hither were brought the bones of Uzziah king of Judah—do not open!”

Hither were brought the bones of Uzziah king of Judah—do not open!

We can only speculate as to the reason for moving the bones of Uzziah some 600-700 years after his original interment. Could it be related to the fact that he was a leper? Perhaps his remains were considered unclean and as such needed to be moved outside the City of David.

The discovery of the names of these eighth century BC Biblical kings in contemporary inscriptions attests to their reality and the accuracy of the Biblical record.

1931 The Discovery of an Aramaic Inscription Relating to King Uzziah. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 44: 8–10.

1986 Catalogue des sceaux auest-sémitiques inscrits de la Bibliothque Nationale, du Musée du Louvre et du Musé biblique de Bible et Terre Sainte. Paris: Bibliothque Nationale.

1995 Name of Israel’s Last King Surfaces in a Private Collection. Biblical Archaeology Review 21.6:49–52.

1954 The Ancient Near East in Pictures Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

Seal of Shema, Servant of Jereboam - History

T he return of the Jews to the land of Israel and the establishment of the modern state has been a huge boost to apologetics.

Since the twentieth century, archaeologists have discovered site after site and artifact after artifact pertaining to and confirming biblical history.

Following are some prominent examples:

Dead Sea Scrolls - discovered in the 1940s, the biblical scrolls, such as the Great Isaiah Scroll, are the oldest Hebrew Scriptures extant and prove that the Hebrew Bible has been preserved in great detail. The Great Isaiah Scroll was discovered in 1947, one year before the founding of modern Israel. It is preserved at the Israel Museum&rsquos Shrine of the Book.

Temple Mount Excavations. The excavations on the southern end of the Temple Mount since 1967 have unearthed the Titus Stones, the Trumpeting Place stone, the Southern Steps, and the ancient Pilgrim&rsquos Way from the City of David to the Temple, among many other things dating to the Second Temple era.

Roman Siege of Jerusalem. In 2016, a portion of a &ldquothird wall&rdquo mentioned by Josephus was found, and outside the wall the ground is still littered with ballista and sling stones from the battle of AD 70.

Hezekiah&rsquos Tunnel. This tunnel from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam was built by King Hezekiah to supply water to Jerusalem during the Assyrian siege and is mentioned in 2 Ki. 20:20 and 2 Ch. 32:30. The 1,750-foot tunnel (one-third of a mile) is from 2 to 3 feet wide and from 5 to 15 feet high. The building of the tunnel was an amazing engineering feat. Teams of men tunneled from both directions through solid rock, and yet a near constant gradient of .6% was maintained. The tunnel was discovered in 1867 by Charles Warren, a British explorer and army officer, when the land of Israel was under control of the Ottoman Empire. In 1880 an inscription was discovered that had been chiseled in the tunnel to commemorate its completion. It was removed and taken to Istanbul, where it resides in the archaeological museum. The inscription reads: &ldquo[The day of] the breach. This is the record of how the tunnel was breached. While [the excavators were wielding] their pickaxes, each man toward his co-worker, and while there were yet three cubits for the brea[ch,] a voice [was hea]rd each man calling to his co-worker because there was a cavity in the rock (extending) from the south to [the north]. So on the day of the breach, the excavators struck, each man to meet his co-worker, pick-axe against pick-[a]xe. Then the water flowed from the spring to the pool, a distance of one thousand and two hundred cubits. One hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the excavat[ors].&rdquo

Hezekiah&rsquos Wall. In 1970, a remnant of the wall built by Hezekiah in preparation for the siege of Assyria was discovered. It is about 23 feet thick and still stands up to 10 feet tall. It is mentioned in 2 Ch. 32:5.

Hezekiah&rsquos Seal. In 2009, a seal (bulla) bearing the name of King Hezekiah was discovered in the Ophel area between the Temple Mount and the City of David. It was discovered in the area of the ancient royal bakery. The inscription says, &ldquoBelonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah.&rdquo The seal was identified in 2014. Dr. Eilat Mazar called this the most important individual discovery of her career, which is saying a lot, since she discovered David&rsquos palace.

Isaiah&rsquos Seal . In 2018, it was announced that a seal bearing the name of &ldquoIsaiah&rdquo had been found in the same area as the aforementioned Hezekiah seal. The name is followed by a word that is probably &ldquoprophet,&rdquo though a missing letter means the identification is not 100% certain. The date and location point to the biblical prophet Isaiah. We know that Isaiah was intimate with the palace and was a close advisor to the king. The Isaiah seal was found in 2009 at the same time as the Hezekiah seal, but it was not identified until 2018. An interview with Dr. Mazar can be seen at the following link -

Pool of Siloam. The ancient Pool of Siloam was discovered in 2004 and has been partially excavated. This pool is mentioned three times in the Bible (Ne. 3:15 Isa. 8:6 Joh. 9:7).

Solomon&rsquos Gates. The Bible says Solomon built Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer into royal military cities (1 Ki. 9:15), and the ruins of the massive six-chambered gates built by Solomon have been found at each of these places.

David&rsquos Palace. In 2005, Dr. Eilat Mazar, granddaughter of Benjamin Mazar and a prominent authority on Jerusalem&rsquos ancient archaeology in her own right, discovered the ruins of what is believed to be David&rsquos palace. It is located in the right place in the ancient City of David, and she found evidence that the building was occupied up until the destruction of Solomon&rsquos temple by the Babylonians. The palace was built above a massive stepped-stone structure that is still partly intact. This is probably the &ldquoMillo&rdquo mentioned seven times in Scripture (2 Sa. 5:9 1 Ki. 9:15, 24 11:27 12:20 1 Ch. 11:8 2 Ch. 32:5). The building discovered by Mazar is a large, complicated structure of engineering excellence and its date is confirmed by pottery shards, storage jars bearing the royal seal of the king of Judah, and an Proto-Aeolic capital, among other things.

Uzziah&rsquos Inscription . This plaque was made to mark the new burial place of King Uzziah. He died in the 8th century BC and his tomb was moved in the 1st century BC. The inscription is in Aramaic and reads, &ldquoHither were brought the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah. Do not open!&rdquo

Shema&rsquos Seal Mentioning Jeroboam . There is a seal inscribed with &ldquoBelonging to Shema servant of Jeroboam.&rdquo This is King Jeroboam. It was found at Megiddo and has been dated to the first half of the 8th century BC.

Jeremiah Bullae. Discovered in the area of David&rsquos Palace and the City of David are bullae (clay document seals) bearing the names of people mentioned in the books of Jeremiah, Kings, and Chronicles who lived or worked in the palace just before it was burned by Nebuchadnezzar. These include Jehucal the son of Shelemiah (Jer. 37:3), Gedaliah, son of Pashur (Jer. 38:1), Gemariah the son of Shaphan (Jer. 36:10), and Azariah the son of Hilkiah (1 Ch. 9:11). The most recent find of this type, announced in April 2019, is a seal impression that reads &ldquoBelonging to Nathan-Melech, servant of the king.&rdquo He is mentioned in 2 Kings 23:11 as having a chamber in the Temple that was associated with the worship of the sun in the court of Josiah. The 7th century BC seal impression was found on the western slope of the City of David south of the Temple Mount in a building that shows evidence of having been destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century.

Jeremiah Ostraca . In the 1930s an archaeological team led by J.L. Starkey discovered 21 ostraca (letters written on pieces of pottery) in the excavations of the ancient city of Lachish, which was one of the last cities to fall to the Babylonians in Jeremiah&rsquos day (Jer. 34:7). Most of the letters are written by Hoshaiah, a military officer stationed at an observation point not far from Lachish, and are addressed to his commanding officer, Yaosh. They are written in &ldquoperfect classical Hebrew.&rdquo They mention Gemariah (Jer. 36:10), Jaazaniah (Jer. 35:3), Neriah Baruch (Jer. 36:4), and Mattaniah (King Zedekiah, 2 Kings 24:17). Letter No. 3 mentions &ldquoa prophet&rdquo who was demoralizing the people by calling on them to submit to the Babylonians. This is eerily reminiscent of events in Jeremiah&rsquos life. See Jeremiah 38:1-4. The letters witness to the same situation described in Jeremiah 34:7, that Lachish and Azekah were the last cities to fall to the Babylonians. &ldquoStriking confirmation of the fact that these two cities were among those still holding out is furnished by the Lachish Letters. Letter No. 4, written by an army officer at a military outpost to his superior officer at Lachish, says &lsquoWe are watching for the signals of Lachish according to all indications which my Lord has given, for we cannot see Azekah.&rsquo This letter not only shows us how Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos army was tightening its net around the land of Judah, but also evidences the close relationship between Lachish and Azekah, which are similarly linked in the book of Jeremiah&rdquo (J.P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History ).

Hazor. Evidence of the destruction of Hazor by Joshua as recorded in Jos. 11:11-13 was found in the 1990s. The heat of the burning was so great that it cracked heavy stone slabs. A one-meter thick layer of ash was found. Also found at Hazor are idols, olive and wine presses, city walls, ruins of houses, and a cuneiform tablet addressed to the pagan king of Hazor who lived in the 18th century BC, the time of Abraham.

The Mesha Stele (also called the Moabite Stone ). In 1993 the phrase &ldquothe House of David&rdquo was found inscribed on the Mesha Stele that describes the exploits of Mesha, a ninth-century BC Moabite king who is mentioned in 2 Ki. 3:6-27. The stele also mentions many other names and places found in the Bible, including Omri, Ahab, the tribe of Gad, Chemosh, Nebo, Ataroth, Jahaz, Dibon, Kirjathaim, Kerioth, Aroer and Arnon, Bezer, and Diblathai.

Dan. Many things have been unearthed at the ancient site of the city of Dan to confirm biblical history, including a triple-arch gate dating to 1750 BC, near the time of Abraham, images of Baal, the place of the worship of the golden calf (1 Ki. 12:28-29), and a portion of a monument with the words &ldquoBeit David&rdquo (&ldquoHouse of David&rdquo). The Tel Dan Stele, which dates to the ninth century BC, also mentions Israel&rsquos kings Jehoram, Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram.

Jezreel. Archaeological excavations in ancient Jezreel, the summer palace of the kings of northern Israel, have unearthed a large rock-cut wine press that could be Naboth&rsquos, the casemate wall and four towers of a fortress that enclosed almost 11 acres, a 20-foot deep moat, and remnants of the city gate.

Lachish. The ruins at Lachish confirm the existence of the ancient Israeli city here and its siege and destruction by the Assyrians as mentioned in Scripture (2 Ch. 32:9).

Herod&rsquos palaces and tomb. Palaces built by Herod have been unearthed in Caesarea Maritima, Masada, Jericho, and Herodium, and what is possibly his tomb was found on the side of the Herodium in 2009.

Pilate Inscription - In 1961, a limestone block was found at Caesarea Maritima proving that Pilate was the governor of Judea as the Bible says. Written in Latin, the inscription reads &ldquoPontius Pilatus prefect of Judea erected the Tiberium to the august gods.&rdquo This agrees with Luke&rsquos statement that Pilate ruled during the lifetime of Tiberius (Luke 3:1).

Caesarea Maritima. Built by Herod, this was one of the foremost cities of the Roman Empire. It is mentioned many times in Scripture. Excavations have discovered the 100-acre man-made harbor, one of the wonders of the ancient world, the hippodrome, the gymnasium with its baths and sophisticated hypocaust heating system, the cardo, the aqueduct, the 4,000-seat theater, fountains, mosaic floors, and temples.

Samaria . Found in the ruins of ancient Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, are remnants of Ahab&rsquos ivory palace, the city gate mentioned in 1 Ki. 22:10, and Herod&rsquos Roman city. Ivories from Samaria are in the British Museum, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and elsewhere.

Caesarea Philippi. Excavations of the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi, mentioned in Matthew 16:13, have unearthed pagan temples (to Pan and other gods) and the palace of Philip the Tetrarch, Herod&rsquos son, mentioned in Luke 3:1.

Elah Valley. The valley where David fought Goliath has been discovered and the layout fits the biblical account perfectly, including the Philistine town of Shaaraim in the hills on the north side of the valley. The town, mentioned in 1 Sa. 17:52, means &ldquotwo gates,&rdquo and archaeologists have found both gates.

Gath. In 2005, a piece of pottery was found during excavation of Gath inscribed with a name similar to Goliath . It was written in early Hebrew script and has been dated to the 10th-9th BC, which is David&rsquos time. This proves that such names were in use by the Philistines in that era. In 2015, the ruins of Gath&rsquos ancient gate was unearthed. The gate is the largest ever found in Israel. It is mentioned in 1 Sa. 21:13.

Philistine temples. The ruins of ancient Philistine temples have been found at Gath, Ekron, and Tel Qasile. The roof was supported by two central pillars made of wood standing on stone bases. The pillars were close enough so that a large man could push against them as the Bible says Samson did (Judges 16:29-30).

Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin. The ruins of these cities on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee remain as mute witnesses to the woe that Christ spoke against them 2,000 years ago (Matthew 11:21-24).

Ancient Synagogues. Ancient Jewish synagogues have been discovered at Beit Alfa, Magdala, Chorazin, Capernaum, Ein Gedi, Migdal, and many other places. The synagogue at Magdala, discovered in 2009, is first century, meaning that Jesus spoke there. &ldquoAnd Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues&hellip&rdquo (Mt. 4:23). In one room of the synagogue was found a coin dating to AD 29, which was at or near the time of Jesus&rsquo public ministry. Also found in the synagogue was a carved stone that appears to be a depiction of the temple in Jerusalem. On the front is the image of a seven-branched menorah. Since this is a first century synagogue, some of the priests who attended would have seen the actual menorahs in Herod&rsquos Temple. This the oldest menorah so far discovered in Israel.The Magdala Stone is considered by many experts to be &ldquoone of the most outstanding discoveries of the last 50 years.&rdquo

These are only a few of the astonishing archaeological discoveries in the land of Israel pertaining to biblical history, and the presence of the Jewish state has encouraged and hastened this work. The state of Israel sponsors, oversees, and protects the archaeology. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem contains a wealth of artifacts unearthed from the digs.

Never has there been so much evidence of the divine inspiration of Scripture. Thousands of archaeological discoveries have confirmed the accuracy of biblical history. In His grace, God has allowed these discoveries to be made for those who have eyes to see. Man has no excuse for not believing in the Bible and in the Christ of the Bible.

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Goal: Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.


An important discovery was documented recently by a team of respected Israeli researchers. A small clay seal (called a bulla) was authenticated to date to the reign of King Jeroboam II of the ancient biblical kingdom of Israel. This scholarly team was able to prove that the seal truly was an authentic artifact from that very ancient time. The seal bore the name of an apparently high-ranking staff member in the court of Jeroboam II, who ruled ancient Israel from the early to the mid 8th century B.C. It needs to be emphasized that this king was not the Jeroboam who broke away from King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, in the ninth century B.C., but rather a later king with the same name. This artifact was authenticated after an exhaustive scientific examination which included tests of the clay’s content and aging to accurately determine its age as well as epigraphic analysis of the Paleo-Hebrew inscription it contained (first link and second link). These links mention a previous similar and larger artifact discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, but which was later lost somehow. The third link offers more information about that lost artifact from the ancient kingdom of Israel. In a related archaeological discovery, the fourth link offers information about another discovery.

The Bible says little about Jeroboam II’s reign, but what it does say is important. His reign was at a time when God decided to show mercy to the northern kingdom of Israel and strengthen and prosper it even though they were in a steady decline due to growing sins and violations of the covenant the Israelite tribes made with God at Mt. Sinai. II Kings 14:23-29 records very important information for us. It relates that even though Jeroboam II was an evil king like the other kings of the northern kingdom, his reign was nevertheless blessed as God had mercy on the northern kingdom and gave it a respite (verses 26-27). The account even states that God “saved [Israel]…by the hand of Jeroboam,” and gave Israel military victories and an expansion of their kingdom’s domain. This is an important lesson for modern believers as it shows God can use a sinful leader to rescue his people in an evil time, and that God sometimes just decides to have mercy on a nation even if no national repentance occurs.

The discovery and authentication of this important artifact also proves that King Jeroboam II really did exist–he was not the product of the imagination of some ancient historian. Given the many attacks on the Bible’s credibility, the fact that it accurately recorded events about a king who now provably existed boosts the Bible’s credibility. It gives credence to all the Bible’s historical narratives each time an artifact or inscription is found which affirms a biblical event or person. King Jeroboam’s power and the strength of ancient Israel under his reign was much greater than even the Bible records. As the cited links indicate, excavations at ancient Samaria, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Israel, reveal that it had a fortified double-wall which was 33 feet thick! This is a very large defensive city wall by any ancient standard. So huge a wall can only be made possible with a large work force and the wealth to pay for the materials and workers to construct so big a defensive bulwark. As one link notes, such a huge wall helps explain how the city of Samaria could endure a 3 year siege by the Assyrian army before it was forced to surrender (II Kings 17:5).

The Israelites and the Assyrians fought many wars as they competed for dominance in what we call the Mideast today. The united tribes in the Israelite kingdom under Kings David and Solomon were completely dominant over Assyria as secular records record Assyria was crushed and eclipsed then. Assyria regained its power after an incredibly costly civil war between the Israelite tribes when it split into two hostile kingdoms. The Bible records a number of Assyrian-Israelite wars, and Assyrian and other secular historical records mention even more such wars. One occurred in the reign of King Ahab wherein Ahab and his allies fought Assyria essentially to a draw at the battle of Qarqar, and King Omri made such an impression on the Assyrians that the Assyrians records mention him with respect. This historical information is detailed in my printed book, Israel’s Lost Empires and my E-book, The “Lost” Ten Tribes of Israel…Found!, both of which can be obtained at my website’s home page.

Another key item in this account is that the prophet, Jonah, was a contemporary of Jeroboam II and that he had prophesied that the king would prosper in his effort to recover some of the northern kingdom’s lost territories. This would undoubtedly have made Jonah a favorite at Jeroboam’s royal court, and Jonah would have been a popular prophet in Israel as he was pronouncing good things for the nation from God. That his prophecies came to pass would have made Jonah something of a celebrity in ancient Israel, so Jonah was a rare prophet–one who was popular! The resurgence of Israel under Jeroboam also would have made Jonah personally invested in the success of Jeroboam II’s reign. Given that the entire nation was basking in the military successes under Jeroboam II, many were likely hopeful that Israel would regain ascendancy even over Assyria. In the midst of this national euphoria, Jonah received a word from the Lord which he really did not want to receive. Jonah was told by God to go to Assyria and warn them that God was about to destroy the capital of the Assyrian Empire due to its wickedness (Jonah 1:1-2, 3:1-4). Jonah flat out refused to go and sailed in a ship going elsewhere. Jonah fully expected to be slain by God for his disobedience, but God preserved his life by having him swallowed by a “great fish” (Jonah 1:15-17). Jonah was transported by God via the fish to Assyria’s shores and Jonah fulfilled his mission, but was shocked when Nineveh humbled themselves before God sufficiently to avert God’s wrath. Jonah was furious afterward, because he knew Israel’s kingdom would have again become much more ascendant if God had destroyed Nineveh much as he had Sodom and Gomorrah.

There is much that is misunderstood about the prophet Jonah. He is often called the “disobedient prophet,” but God saw something redeeming in Jonah’s motivation and saved his life. Indeed, Jesus Christ later compared himself and his calling directly to the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12:38-40). Why would Jesus do this if Jonah was merely a disobedient prophet? There is clearly much more to this story than first meets the eye, and the motivation for Jonah’s disobedience and why God refused to kill him for his disobedience is explained in my article, Jonah–The Misunderstood Prophet, which is included as the fifth link. I urge you to read it as I think you will find it enlightening as well as historically interesting. Now that we have an artifact confirming Jeroboam II really did exist, it also strengthens the faith of those who read the Bible that Jonah, the contemporary of Jeroboam II, really existed as well.

Watch the video: JINSI YA KUTULIZA NYEGE (December 2022).

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