Tag Archives: seal

Gedaliah at Mizpa

Today is the Jewish Fast of Gedaliah in which we remember the assassination in the town of Mizpa, in about 582 BCE, of the Babylonian appointed Jewish governor of Judah. Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shafan and many of his followers were murdered by ten men led by Ishmael son of Nethaniah of the Davidic line with the connivance of the Ammonite king (Jeremiah 41:1-3). There are two candidates for Mizpa, Nebi Samuel and Tell en-Nasbeh. See Todd Bolen’s very interesting post about why Nebi Samuel is not Mizpa.

Archaeological excavations at Tell en-Nasbeh go back to 1926; see Zorn for more recent analysis of the site. Uncovered was a monumental inner and outer gate complex from Iron Age II. The city plan, which is characteristic of many other Israelite settlements, like Khirbet Qeiyafa, follows basically a ring-road arrangement: a town wall often with houses or other structures built up against it in a casemate manner. At least six spacious four-room houses have been identified as well as what may be remains of a Babylonian residence. Epigraphic finds include inscribed ostraca, in cuneiform and one with a Mesopotamian name written in Hebrew characters, weights, scarabs, a cylinder seal, and eighty-seven LMLK seal impressions.

The prize was the seal of Jaazaniah, which possibly belonged to the officer of the same name who reported to Gedaliah at Mizpa (II Kings 25:23). This seal has the image of a cock in a fighting stance, one of the earliest representations of this bird ever recovered.
Jaazaniah onyx seal found at Tell en-Nasbeh with (modern) impression, Center for Online Jewish Studies

A clay bulla (seal impression) was found in the City of David that has the name Shafan.
Gmaryahu ben Shafan seal

A bulla with the name “Gedaliah who is over the house” was found at Lachish.
Gedaliah seal, Lachish

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Israel Roundup

ARTIFAX magazine and The Book & The Spade radio program have published the Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2012. At #3 is a First Temple period cistern with a 250 cubic meter capacity that was discovered by chance during the ongoing clearing of the drainage channel near Robinson’s arch. Press release at http://www.antiquities.org.il/article_Item_eng.asp?sec_id=25&subj_id=240&id=1958&module_id=#as

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Vladimir Naykhin

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Vladimir Naykhin

Found while sifting material from City of David, at #4 is a fiscal bulla, a clay seal impression with three lines of script, related to the taxing of shipments at the time of King Hezekiah, the earliest mention of Bethelehem. Found while sifting material from drainage channel near Robinson’s arch, at #5 a personal seal with the name Matanyahu inscribed on it dated to the end of the First Temple period, see https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/first-temple-period-seal/

Jewish National Fund (JNF) has published a map of Israel with 110 “great old” trees marked. One example, #91, a Common Oak, called the “Lone Tree” symbolizing the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem that has a height of 10 meters, trunk circumference of 3.5 meters and is estimated to be 500 years old. I do a tour that includes the moving audio-visual presentation on the history of the Gush at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, gourmet lunch at Gavna in the forest with a view all the way to the Mediterranean and a tour of the Lone Tree microbrewery.

Lone Oak

Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey exhibit at the Israel Museum is an exceptional opportunity to encounter the material opus of Herod the Great – his architecture and aesthetics, and the work of his chief archaeologist, Professor Ehud Netzer. Evidence of Herod, the meaning, struggles, and accomplishments of his life beckon beyond the exhibit halls, to the sites where he fought, ruled, dreamed, and built – Herodium, Masada, CyprosSebasteCaesarea, Banias and Omrit

Herodium-4colourFor those who will be in Israel, I am leading in-depth full-day tours of Herodium and the Israel Museum’s Herod exhibit, for details see https://israeltours.wordpress.com/herod-the-great-tour

For those who will not be able to visit Israel, I posted a few articles with photos of the exhibit.
Here are the links to check for photos:

The Israel museum has published a 277 page hardcover catalog of the exhibit. You can order a copy by sending an email to shop at imj.org.il
ARIEL has released volume 201-200 Art and Architecture in Jerusalem and Israel in the Second Temple Period (in Hebrew) in memory of Prof. Ehud Netzer.

From the pantry at Herod’s palace-fortress at Masada, amphorae – large clay jars that held imported delicacies – attest to the luxury and sophistication of Herod’s palate: apples, honey, fine wine, and garum, a savory Roman fish sauce. One amphora bears an inscription of Herod’s name in Latin and Greek. For more about garum, https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/food-discoveries-masada-garum/

Film documentary: Volunteers with military experience, many from America, came to Israel around 1947 to help the fledgling Jewish state. Their acronym, Mahal (MH”L}, stands for מתנדבי חוץ לארץ. The 3 large Hebrew letters, מח’’לֹ, stand as a monument at Sha’ar Hagai, on the road to Jerusalem. Playmount Productions has released a sample from their upcoming documentary Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force.

Emek Habacha project: Estimated at €250 million to install 50 130 meter tall (height of the Azrielli Towers in Tel Aviv) wind turbines able to produce 120 megawatts has received approval. These will replace the 10 wind turbines that produce 6 megawatts at Tel Asania. I blogged about the old wind turbines in May 2011 at https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/wind-turbines-on-golan-trail/