Jerusalem: 2,600-year-old seal bearing biblical name uncovered in City of David

A 2600-year-old impression and a stamp bearing Hebrew names from the First Temple period were uncovered in the City of David.

The owner of the seal, “Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King”, is mentioned in the Bible as a high-ranking official in the court of King Josiah.

Archaeologists digging in Jerusalem fist uncovered the ruins of a massive building that seem to have burned down when the Babylonians conquered the city and razed the First Temple in 586 B.C.E.

Then, among the charred debris, they found the tiny seal impression.

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The name Nathan-Melech appears only once in the Bible, in II Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who participated in a cleansing of the Temple precincts that King Josiah initiated. “And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech the officer, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.”

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The title “Servant of the King” appears often in the Bible and describes a high-ranking official close to Israel’s kings, explains Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem, who deciphered the text.

These kinds of seals were used to sign documents and were often set into signet rings worn by their owners. In biblical times these stamps noted the identity, lineage, and status of their owners. In this case, the servant of the king.

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