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The discovery of an ancient seal in the City of David, Jerusalem, has been put forward as proof of the Bible’s historicity. Although most people look to the Bible as a source of spiritual guidance, some see within its pages a source of historical information about the Holy Land and its people. The Old Testament, in particular, documents the history of the Israelites, from the Exodus out of Egypt to the Conquest of Canaan and the siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC.
But what about the Bible’s prophetic books? Where the Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Joshua and Ezekiel real figures?
Tom Meyer, a professor in Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, believes this is the case.
Professor Meyer has previously highlighted the discovery of an ancient seal in Jerusalem, which he said belonged to the prophet Isaiah (749 to 686 BC).
The Bible expert has now discussed similar archaeological treasures, which he believes are linked to the Bible’s prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah, the so-called Weeping Prophet, was one of the major prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament.
Historians estimate he was born around 650 BC during the reign of King Josiah of Judah.
Professor Meyer told Express.co.uk: “Archaeological evidence from the City of David in Jerusalem has been unearthed that confirms the existence of even the most obscure persons mentioned in the Bible, thus proving once again that the Bible’s historical accuracy stands up to the keenest of scrutiny.
“In 1982, Israeli archaeologists were excavating the layer of ruins from the time of Jerusalem’s destruction by Babylon in 586 BC.
“In a place that has now been labelled ‘The Bullae House’, archaeologists discovered over 50 bullae or seals dating to the time of the famous Jeremiah the prophet.”
This room is believed to have stored in the past a number of papyrus documents.
The documents themselves, unfortunately, did not survive but their clay seals did.
A bulla was a seal fashioned from a lump of clay that bore the impression of its owner.
In this particular case, Professor Meyer said one of the discovered seals was stamped with the name of an individual who had a connection to Jeremiah.
He said: “Bullae were used for the purpose of sealing or authenticating documents of importance.
“One of these seals mentions a person named ‘Gemariah the son of Shaphan’.”
Gemariah is mentioned in passing in Jeremiah 36, as an official scribe under King Jehoiakim.
The Bible expert added: “He is probably most famous for pleading with that wicked king not to burn the scroll of Jeremiah which contained prophecies concerning the disasters YHWH was about to inflict upon the kingdom of Judah.”
But the discoveries do not end there. Two more seals linked to the Biblical prophet were discovered in a private collection housed in London.
The seals were stamped with the name of “Baruch son of Neriah” who is described in the Bible as a friend and scribe of Jeremiah.
One of these seals even contained a fingerprint, which may have even belonged to Baruch himself.
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Professor Meyer said: “The discovery of objects bearing the names of Gemariah and Baruch are just two examples from over 100 cases where archaeologists have found the very name of a person mentioned in the Bible written upon an object buried in the sands of time.
“The discoveries of these artefacts mentioning lesser-known Bible characters demonstrate that these people really did exist, and the events surrounding their lives, in this instance the destruction of Jerusalem by fire in 586 BC, really did occur.”
There has, however, been some controversy surrounding the Baruch seals and their identity has been disputed.
A 2016 article published by The Israel Exploration Society determined the seal used to make the Baruch bullae was a modern forgery.
Author Christopher Rollston wrote: “The seal used to make the Baruch Bullae is actually a modern forgery; therefore, the Baruch Bullae are modern forgeries as well.”
Namely, the expert said the forger failed to properly position the Hebrew letters on the seal, as they likely relied on script charts and missed all the nuances of a genuine seal.
Other analysts have also determined unusual Hebrew spellings and grains on the bullae that did not match papyrus were even more damaging evidence against their authenticity.
These issues were, however, challenged in 2017 in a paper published by the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.
The paper’s authors claimed that the seals cannot be entirely dismissed based on their oddities.
They determined unusual grains could be explained by the seals being pressed against wooden boxes, for instance, and any unusual spellings may have been a matter of misprints, considering the small size of the seals.
The researchers wrote: “Rather the very fact that the Bullae were impressed on wooden objects, and that plausibly they had been used to seal wooden writing boards (the thorough study of which has only become more widely known since 1992) adds considerable weight to these bullae being genuine ancient artefacts.”
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