As the world questions the Jewish claim to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital following President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City, archaeologists have unearthed a “unique and significant discovery” of a “sealing” that belonged to the city’s Jewish governor 2,700 years ago.
The “stamped piece of clay” is an artifact from Israel’s First Temple period (1006–586 B.C.) that was owned by “the governor of the city” of Jerusalem – the highest-ranking local title held in the city during biblical times nearly 3,000 years ago.
“The Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, and this finding thus reveals that such a position was actually held by someone in the city some 2,700 years ago,” lead excavator Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah explained, according to CBN News.
A look at the evidence
The find was reported by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) as being just half an inch wide, a little longer in length and about one-eight of an inch in thickness. with an impression of two people facing each other next to an ancient Hebrew script inscription.
“[It was] attached to an important transport and served as some sort of logo – or as a tiny souvenir – which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city,” Weksler-Bdolah added. “It is likely that one of the buildings in our excavation was the destination of this transport sent by the city governor.”
For more than a decade, digs in the area have worked to substantiate the Jewish claim on what many refer to as East Jerusalem.
“The impression, the size of a small coin … was unearthed near the plaza of Judaism’s Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem – where excavations have been underway since 2005,” Fox News reported.
Hebrew University Professor Tallay Ornan and Tel Aviv University Professor Benjamin Sass scrutinized the sealing and provided a more detailed description of the imprint, and revealed that the articulation of the figures is evidence that they were Israel Jews.
“[The sealing portrays] two standing men, facing each other in a mirror-like manner,” Ornan and Sass described, according to CBN News. “Their heads are depicted as large dots, lacking any details. The hands facing outward are dropped down, and the hands facing inward are raised. Each of the figures is wearing a striped, knee-length garment.”
They translated the inscription located below a double line as reading “belonging to the governor of the city,” and noted its importance and connection to Old Testament Scripture.
“The title ‘governor of the city’ is known from the Bible and from extra-biblical documents, referring to an official appointed by the king,” the Israeli professors continued. “Governors of Jerusalem are mentioned twice in the Bible: in 2 Kings, Joshua is the governor of the city in the days of Hezekiah, and in 2 Chronicles, Maaseiah is the governor of the city in the days of Josiah.”
In archaeological terms, this find was unprecedented and adds more proof to confirm Israel’s legitimate claim to the city that has been disputed by the Palestinians, the United Nations and dozens of other nations around the world that have adopted an anti-Semitic stance on the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has essentially endured for millennia.
“It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago,” Weksler-Bdolah noted, according to Fox News. “This is the first time that such a sealing is found in an authorized excavation. This docket adds to the find of seven seals that we’ve found here carry the names of Netanyahu son of Yaush, Hagav, Yeda-ayahy Usha, and more.”
History on Israel’s side
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat publicly decried the significance of the discovery that further establishes the Jewish history of Jerusalem.
“It is very overwhelming to receive greetings from First Temple-period Jerusalem,” Barkat announced at the presentation of the recently excavated artifact, according to CBN News. “This shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city. Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals of the world, continually populated by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. Today, we have the privilege to encounter another one of the long chain of persons and leaders that built and developed the city. We are grateful to be living in a city with such a magnificent past, and are obligated to ensure its strength for generations to come.”
The specific location of the find is just footsteps from where a Jewish synagogue was recently opened underneath the Temple Mount, and the fact that the “sealing” was owned by such a prominent Jewish figure of the time – compiled with numerous earlier discoveries of actual seals in the same building – indicate that Jerusalem was under Jewish authority in ancient times.
“[This discovery – along with those before it] – supports the assumption that this area – located on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem, some 100 meters (yards) west of the Temple Mount – was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period,” Weksler-Bdolah pointed out, according to CBN News.
A miracle it’s still there …
Archaeological expertise indicates that the house where the artifact was found belonged to a very high-ranking Jewish official who would regularly have to seal and sign important documents, but the fact that it has survived numerous destructive sieges on Jerusalem over the millennia amazes historians.
“Back when, this building had been on prime real estate,” the Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported from an account given by Weksler-Bdolah, who noted that much of the city around it was razed. “It was located on a hill slope facing the First Temple, which legend says was built by King Solomon. Though it was positively monumental – with walls more than five meters in height – the archaeologists believe it was a house, not some sort of administration building or palace. Its plan is typical of houses of the era.”
Since most of Jerusalem was destroyed back in 70 A.D. – when the Jewish people were scattered around the world – many marvel that such an artifact was recovered in the ancient city.
“How exactly was this ancient house preserved in Jerusalem – a city destroyed more than once, where the very stones get repurposed time and again?” Haaretz’s Ruth Schuster posed. “After quelling the Jewish Revolt, destroying Jerusalem (again) and rebuilding it as capital of the province, ‘Aelia Capitolina,’ the ancient Romans paved their famous Cardo road cutting through the city – smack on top of this building. To wit, the Romans efficiently flattened the ground, and when they got to this building, they lowered the walls to the height they found convenient. Then they filled in holes here and there with dirt, and paved the Cardo with stone blocks above it.”