Bible and Archaeology News
An Israel Antiquities Authority excavation in Jerusalem uncovered a small stone seal dating to the First Temple period earlier this week. The 8th-6th century B.C.E. personal seal was used to sign letters, and its inscription “Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho…” traces a direct line to its owner and usage in the First Temple period. The name Matanyahu means “giving to God.” Only the “Ho” syllable from the start of his father’s name was preserved.
The excavators found the artifact while working in a Roman-era drainage tunnel beneath Robinson’s Arch in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. The seal, which is made from semi-precious stone, was uncovered in the rubble on the floor of a First Temple structure nearby the Temple Mount.
Excavation director Eli Shukron commented “Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period – from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE. To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting. This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago. We also found pottery sherds characteristic of the period on the floor in the ancient building beneath the base of the drainage channel, as well as stone collapse and evidence of a fire.”
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