Archaeology

The Seals of Jeremiah

During excavations in Israel, a large collection of clay seals had been discovered. Many of the seals (also known as bullae) that have been discovered throughout the 20th Century contain the names of Biblical figures, which until only recently were exclusive to the Bible and considered totally unreliable by Biblical minimalists. These Biblical figures are all named in the book of Jeremiah.

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The Seals of Jeremiah

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One of GodSaidManSaid’s researchers recently related a story of his trip to a juvenile corrections facility.  The believer was ministering to the young offenders and asked one young man if he was ready to give his heart to Christ.  The teenager seemed apprehensive, even though he said that he lived in a Christian home and regularly attended church.  But his faith was challenged when he entered high school.  Teachers there displayed “evidence” showing that we, in fact, evolved from ape-like creatures. 

After hearing this, the visitor opened his Bible and read the account of the conversation between Eve and the serpent.  He showed the young man that Satan works to destroy a believer’s faith through subtlety and an appeal to greater wisdom.  He told the young man that the teacher probably didn’t tell him (and didn’t even know himself) that he was there to attack his faith; instead he probably said, “You can believe whatever you want to believe.  I’m just showing you the facts.” 

After hearing this, the young man replied, “Yes.  That’s right.  That’s what he said.”  Although the young man was moved by the conversation, it was obvious that the doubt planted in him was too strong for him to shrug it off just yet.  The GodSaidManSaid researcher had to move on. 

Do you have doubt and confusion in your life?  Would you like answers to life’s toughest questions?  Would you like to know for sure that the God of the Bible lives, and have His Spirit dwell in you?  Would you like to have your steps ordered by the LORD, and His angel to encamp around you?  Would you like glorious certainty and safety in this very uncertain, unsafe, and wicked world?  Then GodSaidManSaid has good news for you.  Today is your day of salvation and it’s just minutes away.  Are you ready?  Click onto “Further With Jesus” for simple instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God. NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Jeremiah 36:12:

Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes.

GOD SAID, Jeremiah 40:13-14:

13  Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,

14  And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.

 GOD SAID, Jeremiah 41:1-2:

Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah.

Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

MAN SAID: The Bible is not meant to be taken as an actual historical account.  The stories in it are just fairy tales designed to tell a moral story.

Now THE RECORD.  Whether speaking in scientific terms or giving a historical account, the result is the same.  The words written in your Masoretic-text King James Bible are the truth.  Many rebellious sons and daughters have taken counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed, but unfortunately for their sakes, the God of the universe never loses.

Dr. Robert D. Wilson was a man who had set his heart to prove the veracity of the Scriptures, as well as the ignorance and depravity of its detractors.  The following passage concerning Dr. Wilson is taken from Dr. Otis Fuller’s book, Which Bible:

He made up his mind that he wanted to read the great classics in the originals.  In order to answer a single sentence of a noted destructive critic of the Bible, Professor Wilson read all the extant ancient literature of the period under discussion in numerous languages and collated no less than one hundred thousand citations from that literature in order to get the basic facts, which when found showed the basic critic was wrong.  One reason why Dr. Howard (the man who was interviewing Dr. Wilson) was so stirred by his many personal talks with this stalwart scholar was Dr. Wilson’s habit of presenting proof for each statement he made.  [End of quote]

Speaking of man’s attempt to discredit God’s Word, Dr. Wilson put the issue this way:

“…the assured results of modern scholarship,” are nothing more than the quicksand footsteps of inexcusable ignorance.  “Criticism,” says Dr. Wilson, “is not a matter of brains, but a matter of knowledge….But there are many whose faith in the veracity of the Scriptures has been shaken; and in some cases, the only way to re-establish their faith is to show them that the charges that are brought against the Bible are untrue and unwarranted….I have come to the conviction that no man knows enough to attack the veracity of the Old Testament.  Every time when anyone has been able to get together enough documentary ‘proofs’ to undertake an investigation, the Biblical facts in the original text have victoriously met the test.”  [End of quote]

As time progresses, more and more discoveries are made, proving the veracity of the Scriptures and leaving critics with a bag full of holes.  During excavations in Israel, a large collection of clay seals had been discovered.  In ancient times, small lumps of clay were impressed with a seal and affixed to letters so the writer could be identified.  Also, an unbroken seal certified the content of the correspondence was not read by another.  It was similar to one’s signature.  Many of the seals (also known as bullae) that have been discovered throughout the 20th Century contain the names of Biblical figures, which until only recently were exclusive to the Bible and considered totally unreliable by Biblical minimalists.  These Biblical figures are all named in the book of Jeremiah.  The names include Baruch, the prophet Jeremiah’s scribe; Seraiah, Baruch’s brother; Elishama the scribe; Jerahmeel, son of King Zedekiah; Gemariah, one of Zedekiah’s princes; Gedaliah, governor of Judah; Baalis, king of the Ammonites; and Ishmael, the servant of Baalis.  The following excerpt is from Philip J. King’s book, Jeremiah:

The House of the Bullae was perhaps the most extraordinary discovery in Jerusalem’s City of David excavations.  In 1982, [Archaeologist Yigal] Shiloh unearthed a hoard of 51 bullae, which, until then, lay stacked away for more than 2,500 years in this house which archaeologists dubbed the House of the Bullae…

When Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, the House of the Bullae was burned in the resultant conflagration.  The intense fire destroyed the papyrus scrolls stored in the House of the Bullae but baked and thereby preserved the precious bullae…

The date of the bullae, the mid-seventh to the early sixth century BC, has been established by three criteria: their stratified context in a controlled excavation, the script in which they were written, and the personal names on the bullae.

Among the 51 bullae found on the plastered floor of the City of David’s House of Bullae was this small clay disk inscribed “Gemaryahu son of Shaphan” (actually “Gemariah” as translated in your KJV).  [End of quote]

We see Gemariah as a figure supporting Jeremiah against King Zedekiah, who burned the written prophecy delivered unto him by Jeremiah.  Jeremiah 36:25:

Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.

We also see that Gemariah was one of the King’s officials.  Jeremiah 36:12:

Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes.

Another Bible figure mentioned in that verse is Elishama the scribe.  A seal bearing his name, dated to the 6th century BC (which is exactly when Jeremiah prophesied) has also been discovered.  The seal reads, “Elishama servant of the king.”

Keith Schoville, professor of Hebrew and Semitic studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison speaks concerning the seals of Baruch and Seraiah:

Sometime during the 1970s, a bulla containing the stamp and name of the scribe of Jeremiah appeared on the antiquities market and was acquired by a collector, Dr. R. Hecht.  He permitted Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad to publish the bulla, which came from an unidentified place, not thought to be the “burnt house” excavated by Yigal Shiloh.  The bulla is now in the Israel Museum.  It measures 17 by 16 mm, and is stamped with an oval seal, 13 by 11 mm.  A single line borders the impression, and it is divided by double horizontal lines into three registers bearing the following inscription:

Ibrkyhw – “Belonging to Berechiah”

bn nryhw – “son of Neriah”

hspr – “the scribe”

 This bulla was without doubt from the impression of Baruch ben Neriah, the scribe who wrote to the dictation of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:4).  Dr. Avigad expressed his personal feelings as he worked with the Baruch Bulla as having the feeling “of personal contact with persons who figure prominently in the dramatic events in which the giant figure of Jeremiah and his faithful follower Baruch were involved at a most critical time preceding the downfall of Judah.”

Avigad also published a seal bearing the inscription “Belonging to Seraiah (ben) Neriah.”  Seraiah was the “chief chamberlain” in the court of King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 51:59).  He accompanied the king to Babylon, and he carried a written oracle from the prophet Jeremiah looking for the ultimate destruction of Babylon, which he was to read aloud on his arrival in the city, then to throw the document into the Euphrates (Jeremiah 59:60-64).  Seraiah ben Neriah was the brother of Baruch ben Neriah, and both were close friends of the prophet Jeremiah.  [End of quote]

Baruch’s name simply means “blessed,” and Baruchiah’s name means “blessed of Jehovah.”  This is quite possibly Baruch’s full name.  Again, quoting from King:

Three other seal impressions relating to the failed anti-Babylonian revolt at Mizpah, immediately following the Babylonian destruction of Judah in 586 BC, have turned up in different places.  The three names appearing on these seals – Gedaliah, Ishmael, and Baalis – are also found in Jeremiah (40:13-14):

13  Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,

14  And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.

In the destruction debris of Lachish, the excavator James Starkey discovered in 1935 a stamp seal bearing the two-line inscription, “Belonging to Gedalyahu (actually “Gedaliah” as in the KJV), the one over the house.”  The fiber marks of the papyrus document it sealed are still evident on the underside of this clay bulla.  Like Jerusalem and most of the other cities of Judah, Lachish was destroyed by the Babylonian army…

A clay bulla reading, “Belonging to Ishmael the son of the king,” is part of a private collection in Jerusalem, and its provenience is unknown.  The Hebrew script dates from the end of the seventh or early sixth century BC.  The name Ishmael occurred frequently on seals and seal impressions of that period.  Barkay, who studied this bulla in detail, is convinced that its owner was Ishmael son of Nethaniah, a member of the royal family…

A third bulla, inscribed with the words, “Beloning to Milkmour servant of Baalis,” was discovered in 1984 at Tell el-Umeiri, an Ammonite city in the Madaba Plains of central Transjordan.  This Ammonite seal impression dates about 600 BC.  The name Milkmour may possibly mean “light of Milkom,” the national god of Ammon.

Instead of the generic title, “servant of the king,” here the king is actually named.  He is Baalis, an Ammonite king, mentioned in Jeremiah and appearing here for the first time in an extrabiblical inscription.  [End of quote]

As we study archaeology, a picture emerges behind the events in the Bible.  We see the stories contained within it as actual eyewitness accounts of history instead of just old legends in a book.  Carnal man continues to ridicule the accounts in the Bible as fairy tales, but the facts speak otherwise.  This feature is just one more proof that the Bible is true and righteous altogether.  Choose Christ and live.

GOD SAID, Jeremiah 40:13-14:

13  Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,

14  And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.

GOD SAID, Jeremiah 41:1-2:

Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah.

Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

MAN SAID: The Bible is not meant to be taken as an actual historical account.  The stories in it are just fairy tales designed to tell a moral story.

Now you have THE RECORD.

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

Fuller, O., PhD, Which Bible, Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, August 1997, p49

King, Philip J., Jeremiah, Westminster John Knox Press, 1st edition, October 1993, pp93-99

Schoville, K., “Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries of the Twentieth Century Relating to the Biblical World,” www.biblicalstudies.info           

  

            

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