Proof of Jeremiah Unearthed in Jerusalem

Archaeologists have unearthed proof of another Biblical story at Jerusalem's ancient City of David, this time corroborating the Book of Jeremiah.

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Hana Levi Julian,

The "bula" of Gedaliahu ben Pashur
The "bula" of Gedaliahu ben Pashur
Israel News Photo: (courtesy of Dr. Eilat Mazar)

Archaeologists have unearthed proof of another Biblical story at Jerusalem's ancient City of David, this time corroborating the Book of Jeremiah.

A completely intact seal impression, or "bula", bearing the name Gedaliahu ben Pashur was uncovered. The bula is actually a stamped engraving made of mortar.

Gedaliahu ben Pashur's bula was found a bare few meters away from the site where a second such seal, this one belonging to Yuchal ben Shlemiyahu was found three years ago, at the entrance to the City of David.

In the Book of Jeremiah (38:1-4), both men are mentioned as ministers to King Tzidkiyahu, who reigned from 597-586 BCE. The two, along with another pair, demanded the death penalty for the prophet Jeremiah in response to his plea for the king to surrender the city to the oncoming hordes of the Babylonian conqueror Nebuchadnezzer. 

According to Professor Eilat Mazar of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, who led the dig, the ancient Hebrew letters "are very clearly preserved." The seal impression was found in clay, she said.

The verses read as follows:

Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashur, Yuchal son of Shelemiah and Pashur son of Malchiah heard the things that Jeremiah was speaking to the people saying:

"Thus said Hashem: Whoever remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine or by the pestilence, whereas whoever goes out [in surrender] to the Chaldeans will live; he will have his life as a booty, and he will live.

"Thus said Hashem: This city will surely be delivered into the hand of the army of the king of Babylonia, and he will capture it."

And the[se] officers said to the king, "Let this man be put to death now, because he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking to them such things. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but rather [their] detriment."

“How absolutely fantastic and special this find is, can only be realized when you hold in your hand this magnificent one-centimeter piece of clay and know that it survived 2,600 years in the debris of the destruction, and came to us complete and in perfect condition,” said Mazar.

Mazar's team of archaeologists focused its efforts on the layer of artifacts from the First Temple period located just outside the walls of the Old City, near Dung Gate.

The seal impression that was found three years ago was uncovered inside a stone structure that Mazar said she believed was the Palace of David. Gedaliahu's seal impression was unearthed at the foot of the external wall of the same structure, under a tower that appeared to have been built in the days of Nechemia in the fifth century BCE.

Mazar has been excavating the site since 2005. She is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research and educational institute, and heads its Institute of Archaeology. The Ir David (City of David) Foundation was the principal sponsor of the excavation, together with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Hebrew University, and the Shalem Center.