Clay Seals Give Clues to Wealth of Biblical Jerusalem

Also reveal possible evidence for biblical figures from the time of the Jerusalem Temple

Clay Seals Give Clues to Wealth of Biblical Jerusalem

Clay seal (bulla) of Hisilyahu son of Immer, member of a priestly family of the Jerusalem Temple.
Credit: Zachi Dvira

A new study, published in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, has examined fresh evidence of the treasuries and storehouses of Jerusalem during the First Temple period (c. tenth–sixth centuries B.C.E.). The study focused on clay seals, or bullae, recovered from the Temple Mount Sifting Project and other recent excavations in the area of the City of David. Analysis of the bullae, which were commonly used to sign and seal valuable documents and containers, revealed that Jerusalem likely had substantial royal and cultic treasuries in the decades prior to the Babylonian destruction of the city in 586 B.C.E. One seal might even shed new light on a particular biblical figure from the Book of Jeremiah.

All-Access Members, Read More About The Temple Mount in our Library Explorer.
Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

For the study, more than 60 clay seals recovered from both the Temple Mount and a royal building from the City of David were analyzed. The team noted that as many as 40 percent of these seals from the royal building bore imprints of textiles, indicating that they were likely used to store valuable goods, including silver and other metals that were used to pay taxes and temple dues. The seals from the royal building date to the Iron Age IIB (c. 925–700 B.C.E.). Interestingly, many of the seals bear the Egyptian name Bes, which fits with other evidence that the Judahite kingdom hired Egyptians to perform administrative duties. Additionally, one seal appears to be the personal seal of King Hezekiah, while some have suggested another may be the seal of the prophet Isaiah. Given the high percentage of such seals and the prominent positions and names they contain, the team concludes the seals most likely originated from the city’s royal treasury.

FREE ebook: Israel: An Archaeological Journey. Sift through the storied history of ancient Israel.

* Indicates a required field.

A large percentage of seals recovered from the Temple Mount also bore fabric imprints. One seal, which dates to the Iron Age IIC (c. 700–586 B.C.E.), bears a name that has been read Hisilyahu son of Immer. The name Immer is known from the Bible, as well as other seals from the time, and was the name of a major priestly family during the First Temple period. The study suggests that the Hisilyahu referenced by the seal might even be the brother of Pashhur son of Immer, a chief officer of the Temple who, according to the Bible, attacked the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:1–6). As chief officer of the Temple, Pashhur would have been closely involved with the Temple’s administration and treasury. If Hisilyahu was indeed the brother of Pashhur, they would have worked closely together, overseeing the Temple treasury in its final days before the Babylonian destruction.

Read more in Bible History Daily:

First Temple Seal Impression Found by Western Wall

Persian Period Bullae Found

Sifting Project Reveals First Temple Bulla

Get more biblical Archaeology: Become a Member

The world of the Bible is knowable. We can learn about the society where the ancient Israelites, and later Jesus and the Apostles, lived through the modern discoveries that provide us clues.

Biblical Archaeology Review is the guide on that fascinating journey. Here is your ticket to join us as we discover more and more about the biblical world and its people.

Each issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features lavishly illustrated and easy-to-understand articles such as:

• Fascinating finds from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament periods

• The latest scholarship by the world's greatest archaeologists and distinguished scholars

• Stunning color photographs, informative maps, and diagrams

• BAR's unique departments

• Reviews of the latest books on biblical archaeology

The BAS Digital Library includes:

• 45+ years of Biblical Archaeology Review

• 20+ years of Bible Review online, providing critical interpretations of biblical texts

• 8 years of Archaeology Odyssey online, exploring the ancient roots of the Western world in a scholarly and entertaining way,

• The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land

• Video lectures from world-renowned experts.

• Access to 50+ curated Special Collections,

• Four highly acclaimed books, published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution: Aspects of Monotheism, Feminist Approaches to the Bible, The Rise of Ancient Israel and The Search for Jesus.

The All-Access membership pass is the way to get to know the Bible through biblical archaeology.

Related Posts

Machaerus Rendering
Jun 18
Machaerus: Beyond the Beheading of John the Baptist

By: Biblical Archaeology Society Staff

Cuneiform tablets from the site of Nuzi in northern Iraq. Zunkir, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Jun 17
The Nuzi Tablets

By: Philippe Bohström

Jun 16
High Places, Altars and the Bamah

By: Ellen White

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend