A 2,600-year-old seal bearing a Hebrew name was uncovered in dirt excavated in 2013 near the Western Wall, archaeologist Eli Shukron said on Monday.
The seal is inscribed with the name of “Adoniyahu Asher Al HaBayit,” meaning “Adoniyahu by Appointment of the House,” the most prominent role in the king’s court in the Kingdom of Judea that appears for the first time on the list of ministries of Solomon.
The one-centimeter-wide bulla, which dates to the seventh century BCE – the period of the Kingdom of Judea – and was used to sign documents, bears a term widely used throughout the Bible to describe the most senior minister serving under kings of Judea or Israel.
“This is the first time this kind of archaeological discovery has been made in Jerusalem,” said Shukron, who conducted the initial excavations at the foundation stones of the Western Wall
on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The biblical term ‘Asher Al HaBayit’ was the highest ranking ministerial position beneath the king during reigns of the kings of Judea and Israel, it is undoubtedly of great significance.”
“This tiny bulla has immense meaning to billions of people worldwide,” said Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation, which operates the site where the bulla was discovered. “The personal signet of a senior official to a biblical king from the First Temple period. This is another link to a long chain of Jewish history in Jerusalem that is being uncovered and preserved at the City of David
on a daily basis.”
According to the City of David Foundation, there are three people with the name Adoniyahu in the Bible, the most famous being King David’s son, as mentioned in the Book of Kings. The bulla was uncovered three weeks ago as part of the City of David’s volunteer Archaeological Experience by Israeli teenager Batya Howen.
“I began shifting through the bucket of dirt by washing it under a stream of water, and suddenly I recognized a small black-colored piece of metal,” Howen recalled. “To hold such a significant find from 2,600 years ago, from the time of the Kingdom of Judah, is an amazing thing.”