A piece of clay dating back to 2,700 years ago and bearing a seal of the name 'Isaiah' has been discovered in Jerusalem. If the clay seal was for the Prophet Isaiah, a key biblical figure, it would be the first archaeological evidence of the prophet's existence

Clay seal found in Jerusalem may be from Prophet Isaiah

Israel World
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A 2,700-year-old clay seal found in Jerusalem may bear the ‘signature’ of the biblical prophet Isaiah.

Researchers  believe the Hebrew script impressed into the clay once read ‘Belonging to Isaiah the prophet.’ 

If it did, the clay would be the first direct evidence of the existence Isaiah outside of the Bible. 

Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal during excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the ‘City of David’ archaeological site and the ‘Temple Mount’.

As stated by the Hebrew bible, the Torah, Isaiah’s call to prophecy roughly coincides with the beginning of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire.

He was a counselor to Judean king Hezekiah and encouraged him to fight against the Assyrian army that arrived in Jerusalem in 701 BC.

A piece of clay dating back to 2,700 years ago and bearing a seal of the name 'Isaiah' has been discovered in Jerusalem. If the clay seal was for the Prophet Isaiah, a key biblical figure, it would be the first archaeological evidence of the prophet's existence

A piece of clay dating back to 2,700 years ago and bearing a seal of the name 'Isaiah' has been discovered in Jerusalem. If the clay seal was for the Prophet Isaiah, a key biblical figure, it would be the first archaeological evidence of the prophet's existence

A piece of clay dating back to 2,700 years ago and bearing a seal of the name ‘Isaiah’ has been discovered in Jerusalem. If the clay seal was for the Prophet Isaiah, a key biblical figure, it would be the first archaeological evidence of the prophet’s existence

Archaeologists found the impression of a King Hezekiah seal 10 feet (3 meters) from the Isaiah impression.

Isaiah’s name (‘Yesha’yahu’ in Hebrew) is visible on the seal, however damage to the seal has meant that archaeologists are unsure as to whether it refers to the Biblical Prophet Isaiah, or someone else with the same name who lived during that time. 

‘We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation,’ Eilat Mazar, an archaeology professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, stated.in an announcement in the Biblical Archaeology Review, which will publish the study associated with the research. 

If researchers are able to confirm that the seal impression was for the Prophet Isaiah, it ‘would be the first archaeological and the earliest extra-biblical reference to the prophet Isaiah ever discovered,’ Robert Cargill, an archaologist and professor of classic and religious studies at the University of Iowa, told Live Science. 

As stated by Mazar’s announcement, the clay seals, called bullae, were created by first placing soft clay on a tied ligature and linen sack or papyrus, whose negative impressions are seen on the bulla’s reverse side, and then pressing the seal against the clay.

Fresco of Prophet Isaiah, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. As stated by the Torah, Isaiah's call to prophecy roughly coincides with the beginning of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire, when Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah, the 13th kind of Judah, to fight against the Assyrian army that arrived in Jerusalem in 701 BC

Fresco of Prophet Isaiah, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. As stated by the Torah, Isaiah's call to prophecy roughly coincides with the beginning of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire, when Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah, the 13th kind of Judah, to fight against the Assyrian army that arrived in Jerusalem in 701 BC

Fresco of Prophet Isaiah, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. As stated by the Torah, Isaiah’s call to prophecy roughly coincides with the beginning of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire, when Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah, the 13th kind of Judah, to fight against the Assyrian army that arrived in Jerusalem in 701 BC

WHO WAS THE PROPHET ISAIAH?  

As stated by the Torah, the Prophet Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ.

He was the Prophet after whom the biblical Book of Isaiah is named, and is a contributor to Jewish and Christian traditions. 

His call to prophecy in 742 BC coincided with the beginning of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire, when Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah, the 13th kind of Judah, to fight against the Assyrian army that arrived in Jerusalem in 701 BC.

Isaiah claimed that the expansion of the Assyrian empire was a warning from God to godless people.

The earliest recorded event in his life is his call to prophecy, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

The vision that made him a prophet is described as a first person narrative, when he ‘saw’ God and was overwhelmed by his contact. 

As stated by the book, he became aware of God’s need for a messenger for Israel’s people, and he offered himself up to do this. 

At the top of the seal, the lower part of a grazing doe is visible, which Mazar wrote is ‘a motif of blessing and protection’. 

The word ‘nvy’ is also visible in the seal, however, archaeologists are uncertain as to what it means. 

Mazar wrote that if the word included had included the Hebrew letter ‘aleph,’ at the end, it would form a word that means prophet.

Ruins of the Ophel or Ophlas mound, upon which ancient Jerusalem was founded, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. This is the site where the ancient clay seal, containing the impression 'Isaiah,' was found

Ruins of the Ophel or Ophlas mound, upon which ancient Jerusalem was founded, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. This is the site where the ancient clay seal, containing the impression 'Isaiah,' was found

Ruins of the Ophel or Ophlas mound, upon which ancient Jerusalem was founded, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. This is the site where the ancient clay seal, containing the impression ‘Isaiah,’ was found

However, when the archaeologists inspected the damaged part of the seal, it didn’t show any signs of the letter ‘aleph’. 

Without the letter aleph, Mazar says it’s still possible that the word ‘nvy’ could mean prophet, as there are places in the Torah where prophet is spelled nvy without the alephy. 

Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal during excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the 'City of David' archaeological site and the 'Temple Mount'. Researchers believe the Hebrew script impressed into the clay once read 'Belonging to Isaiah the prophet'

Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal during excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the 'City of David' archaeological site and the 'Temple Mount'. Researchers believe the Hebrew script impressed into the clay once read 'Belonging to Isaiah the prophet'

Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal during excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the ‘City of David’ archaeological site and the ‘Temple Mount’. Researchers believe the Hebrew script impressed into the clay once read ‘Belonging to Isaiah the prophet’

Mazar wrote that ‘nvy’ could also be a personal name referring to a different Isaiah and not the Prophet.  

The Ophel site excavations were sponsored by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York.

Ophel archaeological park, with the al-Aqsa Mosque in the background, Jerusalem, Israel. Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal bearing the name 'Isaiah' during 2009 excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the 'City of David' archaeological site and the 'Temple Mount'

Ophel archaeological park, with the al-Aqsa Mosque in the background, Jerusalem, Israel. Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal bearing the name 'Isaiah' during 2009 excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the 'City of David' archaeological site and the 'Temple Mount'

Ophel archaeological park, with the al-Aqsa Mosque in the background, Jerusalem, Israel. Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal bearing the name ‘Isaiah’ during 2009 excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the ‘City of David’ archaeological site and the ‘Temple Mount’

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