Seal of Hezekiah

The Seal of Hezekiah is a small baked-mud bulla, dating back to the reign of biblical king Hezekiah. The stamped clay seal, was found close to the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This clay bulla featuring the seal of King Hezekiah was found in the same excavation area, just 10 feet from where the 'Isaiah' seal was discovered. The bulla, excavated in 2015, was dated to the reign of Judean king Hezekiah between 715 and 686 BCE.

Overview

One of the Hezekiah's seals found in Ophel excavations by Eilat Mazar. The bulla measures just over a centimeter in diameter bears a seal impression depicting a two-winged sun disk flanked by ankh symbols and containing a Hebrew inscription that reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, king of Judah.” The bulla was discovered along with 33 other stamped bullae during wet-sifting of dirt from a refuse dump located next to a 10th-century BCE royal building in the Jerusalem Ophel.

Furthermore, this bulla is the first and only one ever discovered by archaeological excavation to have belonged to a king of Judah or Israel.

circa 700 BCE

The King Hezekiah bulla is a 3 mm thick soft bulla (piece of clay with the impression of a seal) measuring 13 × 12 mm (½ in × ½ in). It was found in an archaeological excavation together with 33 other seals, figurines and ceramics, in an ancient refuse dump adjacent to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar.

Inscription Text and Translation

circa 700 BCE

The mud-seal bears an inscription in Paleo-Hebrew script: "Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah," and a two-winged sun, with wings turned downward, flanked by two ankh symbols symbolizing life.

[Text]
[Transliteration] lḥzqyhw ’ḥz mlk yhdh
[Translation] of Ḥizqiyahu (son of) ’Aḥaz, king of Judah
It was found some three meters away from the Seal bearing the name Isaiah, (possiblly) the prophet.

Location of Discovery

circa 700 BCE

Administrative Building
The building in which the bulla was found had been an administrative or royal building that the Babylonians destroyed when they conquered Jerusalem in 586 BCE. According to Mazar, "although seal impressions bearing King Hezekiah's name have already been known from the antiquities market since the middle of the 1990s, some with a winged scarab (dung beetle) symbol and others with a winged sun, 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.

circa 700 BCE

Jerusalem Ophel
The Jerusalem Ophel is part of the ancient city of Jerusalem situated immediately south of the Temple Mount, the site of two Jewish temples in antiquity, considered to be the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site of Islam. Excavations at the site, a collaborative effort by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Hebrew University had unearthed some of the earliest artifacts ever found in Jerusalem dating as far back as the 12th and 11th centuries BCE.

Other Hezekiah Bullae

circa 700 BCE


At least six other bullae are known to exist, bearing the name of King Hezekiah. But all of these had turned up on what is known as the “antiquities market”, without any knowledge of their provenance. So it could not be established if they were genuine of forgeries.

a) The seal impression, or bulla, reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) ’Ahaz, king of Judah.” Hezekiah ruled from 715 to 687 BCE. At center on the impression, a two-winged beetle pushes a tiny ball of mud. The bulla is the second Judahite royal seal impression to come to light in recent years; as it happens, the first belonged to the same ’Ahaz mentioned here, Hezekiah’s father and predecessor to the throne. The seals of both rulers shared a telegraphic style made necessary by limited space: Both omit the phrase “son of” between the name of the king and his father. In another important respect, however, the two seal impressions differ markedly: The seal of ’Ahaz was aniconic, consisting of words only, while the seal of Hezekiah bore an illustration.

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