A clay seal from the eighth century B.C. that used to be demonstrate in a Jerusalem excavation would possibly have the establish of the biblical prophet Isaiah, in accordance with a unusual article in Biblical Archaeology Review.
In the article, titled “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?,” creator and archaeologist Eilat Mazar means that the veteran Hebrew script impressed into the broken half-plod oval of clay would possibly want as soon as read “Belonging to Isaiah the prophet.”
If the interpretation of the lettering on the 2,seven-hundred-one year-feeble seal is honest, it’s miles also the main reference to Isaiah outside of the Bible. The Hebrew prophet is described as a counselor to the Judean king Hezekiah, who ruled from the unhurried eighth to the early seventh century B.C.
The clay seal, or bulla, used to be one of 34 discovered in some unspecified time in the future of Mazar’s 2009 Ophel excavations at the scary of the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif. The seals, or bullae, were recovered from minute Iron Age (1200-586 B.C.) garbage pits, outside the wall of what Mazar describes as a royal bakery leveled within the 586 B.C. Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.
The seal is impressed in Previous fashion Hebrew script with the establish Yesha‘yah[u] (the Hebrew establish of Isaiah), adopted by the phrase nvy.
For the reason that seal is broken at the cease of the phrase nvy, Mazar means that our reading will be incomplete. If nvy used to be first and major adopted by the Hebrew letter aleph, the would be the phrase “prophet,” rendering the reading of the seal as “Belonging to Isaiah the prophet.”
Reinforcing this interpretation, she writes, is the archaeological context whereby the seal used to be discovered.
In 2015, the announcement that one other clay bulla demonstrate within the Ophel excavations bore the non-public seal of King Hezekiah made worldwide headlines. In step with the latest article, the ‘Isaiah’ seal used to be discovered appropriate 10 toes from the Hezekiah seal in some unspecified time in the future of the identical 2009 excavation.
The shut relationship between the prophet and the king as described within the Bible, in conjunction with the proximity of the 2 seal finds “…appear to leave open the likelihood that, no matter the difficulties presented by the bulla’s broken home, this may seemingly want been a seal impact of Isaiah the prophet, adviser to King Hezekiah, ” Mazar writes.
As tempting because the interpretation will be, Mazar concedes there are “predominant barriers” within the identification of the seal, most notably the phrase nvy. With out an aleph at the cease, nvy is perchance appropriate a interior most establish (generally the establish of the person’s father) or a location (the set the person hails from).
Christopher Rollston, professor of Semetic languages at George Washington College, concurs that the reading of nvy is a subject.
“The severely principal letter that would be principal to substantiate that the 2nd phrase is the title “prophet” is an aleph. But no aleph is legible on this bulla, and so that reading can’t be confirmed in any respect,” he says.
Compounding the reading of nvy is a lack of the clear article “h“, notes Rollston. In the bulk of biblical references, references are to “the prophet” as adversarial to simply “prophet.” “In temporary, if this were the phrase ‘prophet,’ I would accept as true with most traditional to accept as true with considered the phrase ‘the,’ as in ‘Isaiah the prophet,’ he says.
While Mazar notes that the shortage of clear article is additionally a topic in decoding the seal, she comprises an offer that the clear article would possibly want first and major regarded in a broken home above the phrase nvy, or, citing other archaeological and textual examples, used to be simply no longer principal.
Apart from, Rollston notes, the Hebrew root yš‘ is the premise no longer appropriate for the establish of Isaiah the prophet, nonetheless for practically twenty diversified individuals within the Bible. “There were hundreds individuals walking around with the establish Isaiah or names that were in accordance with the true identical root-phrase,” he observes. And if the phrase nvy is indubitably a part of any individual’s father’s establish, or no longer it’s definitely no longer linked to the prophet, whose father, in accordance with the Bible, used to be Amoz.
The likely discovery of artifacts linked to both King Hezekiah and Isaiah, the biblical prophet who urged the king in some unspecified time in the future of a tumultuous time following the Assyrian conquest of the northern Kingdom of Israel and the persisted menace to the southern Kingdom of Judah, “is a uncommon opportunity to existing vividly this particular time within the history of Jerusalem,” Mazar concludes.
“Of direction, the theorem that right here’s a [seal] of Isaiah the prophet is scintillating, nonetheless it’s miles absolutely no longer one thing that we would possibly aloof take is in any respect clear,” Rollston cautions. “It’s no longer.”