A seal impression belonging to a minister of the Biblical King Zedekiah which dates back 2,600 years has been uncovered completely intact during an archeological dig in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said on Thursday.
The seal impression, or bulla, with the name Gedalyahu ben Pashur, who served as minister to King Zedekiah (597-586 BCE) according to the Book of Jeremiah, was found just meters away from a separate seal impression of another of Zedekia's ministers, Yehukual ben Shelemyahu, which was uncovered three years ago, said Prof. Eilat Mazar who is leading the dig at the site.
The excavation at the City of David, which is located just outside the walls of the Old City near Dung Gate, has proven, in recent years, to be a treasure trove for archeologists.
"On the one hand it is so unexpected to find such a fragile bulla in such harsh conditions of excavation, while on the other hand it was logical to find precisely here the bulla of Gedalyahu ben Pashur - only meters away from the place where we found the bulla of Yehukhal ben Shelemyahu - since these two ministers are mentioned side by side in the Bible as having served together in the kingdom of King Zedekiah," Mazar said.
The first bulla was uncovered inside an impressive stone structure, which Mazar believes is the Palace of David, while the second bulla was found at the foot of the external wall of the same structure, under a tower that was built in the days of Nehemiah.
Both of the bullae with the names of the two ministers, measuring 1 cm. in diameter each, were found among the debris of the destruction of the First Temple period.
The letters are in ancient Hebrew and are very clearly preserved, Mazar said.
Both ministers are mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38 1-4) along with two other ministers when they came to King Zedekiah demanding the death of the prophet Jeremiah for preaching to the besieged city to surrender.
Mazar said it was "absolutely fantastic" to have uncovered the seals "complete and in perfect condition" after 2,600 years, affording scholars a clear read of the names that were impressed on them.
"It is not very often that such a discovery happens in which real figures of the past shake off the dust of history and so vividly revive the stories of the Bible," she said.
The archeologist, who rose to international prominence for her excavation that may have uncovered the Biblical palace of King David nearby, has been at the forefront of a series of back-to-back Jerusalem archeological finds, including the remnants of a wall from the Biblical prophet Nehemiah, also in the area.
Other Biblical-era bullae were previously found a quarter century ago at the City of David site. In 1982, the Israeli archeologist Yigal Shiloh discovered a cache of bullae in a nearby site, including one with the name of Gemaryahu ben Shaphan - mentioned in the Bible as a minister and scribe during the reign of King Jehoiakim (608-597 BCE).
The current dig is being conducted on behalf of the Shalem center, a Jerusalem research institute, and the right-wing City of David Foundation, and was carried out under the academic auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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