Isaiah Bulla

Isaiah Bulla

Friday, April 13, 2018

Hezekiah´s Bullae

Hezekiah´s Bullae
King of Judah from 715 BCE to 686 BCE. Hezekiah is described as a warrior by the Philistines and a rebel in Assyria, but at the head of his actions is the religious reform he performed in Judah, mainly the eradication of idolatry and the concentration of worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Bible, Hezekiah uprooted the worship of Ashera, He also cancelled the idolatrous worship on the high platforms. It is accepted in the opinion among scholars that he did so in the spirit of the book of Deuteronomy. According to the scripture, Hezekiah went far with his religious reform and grained the copper snake that Moses made in the desert. The Bible tells that the people worshipped the snake as an independent entity god by the name of Nehushtan. This description corresponds to the deuteronomistic approach that views the idolatrous worship as a sin.
2 Kings Chapter 18 “1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. 4 He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah; and he broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did offer to it; and it was called Nehushtan”.

The name Hezekiah in extra biblical sources
the Ophel excavation where Hezekiah bulla was found
The first bulla that was found by archaeologist was discovered along many potsherds, figurines, seals, bullae and various finds at the end of the 2009 season in the Ophel excavation. The finds were discovered in a dump that was thrown in the days of Hezekiah or shortly after it, from a royal building that served to store food products. After wet filtration, the findings were cataloged and stored. In the beginning of  2011, during processing of the findings, the archaeologists found a bulla with two lines of scripts with a picture of a winged sun between them. The bulla bore the inscription to Hezekiah Ahaz king of Judah.

Seal imprints with Hezekiah's name have been known in the antiquities market for decades. Some of them bore a symbol of a winged scarab (beetle); others bore a winged sun symbol. As mentioned above, the Ophel bulla of King Hezekiah represents the first time that a Judaic king's bulla was found in organized archaeological excavations.

[לחזקיהו א[ח]ז מלך יהוד[ה
To Hezekiah Ahaz king of Judah.
לחזקיהו א[חז] מלך
To Hezekiah Ahaz king 

 ל]חזקיהו [בן א]חז]
To Hezekiah son of Ahaz 

ל]אשנא עבד חזקיהו]
To Ashna servant of Hezekiah 

לדמלא עבד חזקיהו
To Domla, servant of Hezekiah

ליהוזרח בן חלקיהו עבד חזקיהו
To Yehozarah son of Hilqiyahu servant of Hezekiah

לדמלא עבד חזקיהו
To Domla, servant of Hezekiah

King Hezekiah in Assyrian inscriptions 

Inscription 26 of Sargon II

The tablet was discovered in the ancient ruins of Nineveh. The inscriptions is dealing with many subjects, among them the inscription reports a military campaign by Sargon II against Hezekiah king of Judah, which included the conquest of the city of Azeka.
"[ god of Assyria supported] me, and to the land of Hezekiah the Judah j[udah I went. In] the course of my journey, the offering of king ........................] Lord of the Assyrian my master, the province of Hezekiah the Judaite as [...................... the ... horses] See, the voice of the mighty armies of Assyria Hear the fear in [their hearts ... "

Sennacherib's Annals

Assyrian chronicles were written on prism stones by the kings of Assyria. The inscription describes the journey of Sennacherib in the land of Israel at the end of the eighth century BC. The prism of Sennacherib was famous for mentioning the third journey of Sennacherib to the West, in which he describes his war against the kingdom of Judah with Hezekiah. This event is documented in the Bible in three books: Kings, Chronicles and the book of Isaiah.

"As for Hezekiah, the Judean, he did not submit to my yoke. I laid siege to 46 of his fortified cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity …. I led off 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horse, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and counted them as booty."

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Isaiah Bulla

The Isaiah Bulla 

During the 2009 excavation season at the foot of the southeastern wall of the Temple Mount (the Ophel), a small area (that was left undisturbed in previous seasons) was excavated. The area included mostly remains of debris and other objects that were thrown from the large ancient building next to it. The excavation yielded fragments of pottery vessels, figurines, and two types of anthropomorphic icons. The assemblage also included stamps prints on jug handles seals and some seal impression (bulla), most of them bore Hebrew names. 

The names on the seals and the bullae are of the people to which they belonged to. One of the seal impressions bore the name and title King Hezekiah. Seven of the bullae were of an important family where the father’s name was Bass. This name have no biblical equivalent. Along with the bulla of Hezekiah and the Bass family, 22 additional bullae with Hebrew names were found in the excavation. Among these was a bulla bearing the inscription Yesha‘yah[..] Nvy[..] (ישעיה[..] נבי[..]). It should be noted that this bulla was found only a few meters from of King Hezekiah’s bulla. 

The bulla is divided into two parts. 

1. On the upper part of the bulla, was a drawing that was severely damaged; only the lower end of the drawing was preserved. 

2. The lower part of the bulla is mostly complete except a portion of the left section that is missing. 
The only part that could be recognized from the drawing, are legs of an animal, possibly a deer (another bulla from the same area bore a drawing of a deer). 
In the lower half of the bulla (where the writing starts), the word leyeshaya [...](לישעיה) was written at the first line. The initial letter Lamed ( ל) means in Hebrew belong to, the name after the letter ל is yeshaya [...](ישעיה) Which means "Isaiah"
Therefore, the script of the upper line is to Isaiah [...](לישעיה). 

As stated above, the bulla is damaged, and its elliptical shape is incomplete. The bulla has room for one or two letters more at the end of the script to Isaiah (לישעיה)
In the Hebrew Bible the name Isaiah is written as ישעיהו. Since it is clear that the name is a Judean Hebrew name from the end of 8th-century BCE, it is almost certain that the damaged letter / letters after to Isaiah (לישעיה), is the letter vav (ו), which will give the name of the biblical prophet Isaiah (ישעיהו)

The lower line of the bulla bears the title/name nabi[.] (נבי). In Hebrew this title means prophet. The Hebrew word prophet is written as נביא. As in the line above, the left part is damaged, and it looks like the last letter was not preserved. In case the last letter was "א", the word at this line would have been נביא (prophet)

If the damaged letters are as written above, the bulla bore the inscription leyesha‘yah[u] [h]navi (לישעיהו [ה]נביא)

The bible mentions only one prophet by the name of Isaiah ישעיהו (the son of Amoz בן אמוץ). This prophet is a well known figure in the 8th-century BCE, Isaiah was the prophet who prophesied and acted in Judah during the reign of four kings Uzziah , Yotam , Ahaz and Hezekiah.

Hebrew seal (not found at the Ophel) that bears the names  
לישעיה ואמריהו  yesha‘yahu and Amaryahu                                   

The word prophet נביא appeared in Lachish letter no 3, the word was written in Hebrew as  נבא

As mentioned above, the bulla was found in the same room as Hezekiah’s bulla (3 meter distance). According to the Bible, it appears that both the king and the prophet took the burden of the nation's leadership side by side. 

This claim is confirmed in the Bible, where the name Isaiah (referring to the prophet) appears 32 times, and in 16 times (of the 32) the name of King Hezekiah appears in the same verse. 

A second alternative is: that the word Nubi refers to the name of Isaiah's father (although there is no additional "son of  בן” before the word Nabi). The epithet "son of Nubi", has been found on the handle of a jug and on two seals. 

The third option is: that the name "Nabi" refers to the city of the seal owner, and therefore the text is ” to Isaiah Nubi = " to Isaiah the man of Nuv", 1 Samuel 22 "19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen and asses and sheep, with the edge of the sword."

Eilat Mazar – The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009–2013 Final reports volume 1.