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Researchers believe they may have found the direct evidence of the Prophet Isaiah on a 2,700-year-old clay seal discovered in Jerusalem, which bears the signature of the ‘Biblical Figure.’
According to researchers, the Hebrew script located on the clay seal reads: ‘Belonging to Isaiah the prophet,’ according to a new article in Biblical Archeology Review.
If this is indeed true, it would be the first ever evidence of the existence of Isaiah outside of the Bible. Furthermore, this would be the oldest reference to the prophet outside the Bible.
If researchers are able to confirm that the seal impression was for the Prophet Isaiah, it ‘would be the first archaeological and the earliest extra-biblical reference to the prophet Isaiah ever discovered,’ Robert Cargill, an archaeologist, and professor of classic and religious studies at the University of Iowa told Live Science.
In the article, titled ‘Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?’ author, archaeologist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Eilat Mazar suggests that the ancient Hebrew inscription appearing in the damaged clay seal of 1.2 centimeters could have read “Belonging to the prophet Isaiah.”
‘We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation,’ said Mazar.
A Great discovery, open to interpretation?
If the interpretation of the characters of the 2,700-year seal is correct, it would be the first reference to Isaiah outside of the Bible. The Hebrew prophet is described as a counselor to the Jewish king Hezekiah, who ruled between the late eighth century and the early seventh century BC.
This important piece of history was recovered by archaeologists during excavations at the Ophel, an archaeological site between the ‘City of David’ and the ‘Temple Mount’.
The Hebrew Bible tells us that Isaiah’s call to prophecy roughly coincides with the beginning of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire. According to the Torah, the Prophet Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ.
The name of Isaiah (‘Yesha’yahu’ in Hebrew) is visible on the seal. However, the damage to the seal means that archaeologists are not sure whether it refers to the biblical prophet Isaiah or another person with the same name that lived during that period.
As noted by Mazar, the clay seal, or bullae, was one of the 34 discovered during the excavations carried out by Mazar at the base of the south wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The seals, or bullae, were recovered in small Iron Age waste pits (1200-586 B.C.), outside the wall of what Mazar describes as a royal bakery, razed during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Mazar further noted that the word ‘nvy’ was also visible on the seal, but archaeologists are uncertain as to what meaning the word may bear, suggesting that it could be a personal named making reference to another Isaiah, and not the prophet.