This past week on December 4th 2015, it was announced that an impression depicting a double winged sun with two ankh symbols on both sides, happened to be once used to seal papyrus documents in relation to King Hezekiah, who once ruled Judea from 727 B.C. to 698 B.C.
The seal wasfound in a trash heap near the walls of the ancient Temple Mount. The seal was found using forensic science techniques such as archaeology. Archaeologist Eilat Mazar, an archaeologist at the University of Jerusalem led the excavation and said, “This is the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever come to light in a scientific archaeological excavation.”
For those who do not know, King Hezekiah was one of the most famous Israelite kings to be mentioned in the Old Testament. During his reign he did away with idol worship, spruced up the decrepit temple, and centralized power, which is told in biblical accounts. His reign is also one of the best documented by nonbiblical sources. The seal was found while the team of archaeologists was sifting through archaeological remains from the trash heap found directly outside what was once the Royal Building, essentially the food pantry for the ancient kingdom.
The seal measured out to be 0.5 inches across and bears the imprint of the ring that would have encircled the seal of soft clay. Similar seals have popped up in local markets for two decades, but this is the first time an official excavation has uncovered a seal from Hezekiah’s reign. With the winged sun image, it is said that this came from later in his rule. He used a scarab, or beetle like image earlier in his reign since that was the typical symbol of power in the Middle East at that time. Later on he used the winged sun imagery that represented the protection and refuge of God.
Researchers hypothesized that the transition occurred after Hezekiah was struck with a mortal illness. He faced a near death experience from what is called Shehin, which a study in 2002 in the Hebrew Journal Harefuah suggested that it was actually anthrax.
Archaeologists use dating methods when something is found, especially from something biblical, and the dating method showed that the seal happened to be 2,700 years old. Hezekiah reigned for twenty-nine years which is stated In 2 Chronicles 29:1, and 2 Kings 18:2. The seal with the most recent image must have been created around 681 B.C. simply because Hezekiah was offered 15 more years of life, and ended his reign in 686 B.C. with his death following in 687 B.C, in Jerusalem Israel.
It’s always amazing when something is discovered within biblical context. It creates a better understanding of history for those who don’t really know, to identify actual people and places recorded in historical documents today that are stated in the Bible years ago.