[b-hebrew] City of David excavated seal

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Aug 1 12:30:13 EDT 2005

The following is my translation of excerpts (much of the body,
actually) from the Maariv

An important archaeological discovery that was found in digs in the
City of David is
causing great excitement amongst those who found it and is kept secret
but Maariv
has discovered that the find is a bulla from around 580 BCE.  ... The
bulla carries the
name of Yehokal son of Shelemyahu son of Nubi (yhwkl bn $lmyhw bn nwby).  This
Yehokal appears twice by his name and his father's name in the book of Jeremiah
(once as Yehokal and once as Yokal) ...  Maariv has found out that the bulla was
found in the context of digs that are being carried out a few months
now in the upper
part of the City of David complex where many archaeologists believe
was the palace of
the kings of Judah.  The place was identified by the late Yigal Shiloh
already in 1980,
but for political and budgetary reasons was not excavated yet.  Now,
excavations are
underway under the management of Dr. Eilat Mazar, the granddaughter of Professor
Benjamin Mazar, the reknown excavator of the Wailing Wall.

A few years ago, not far away from the place of the new discovery was
found also the
bulla of Gemaryahu son of Shaphan, who is also mentioned in the book
of Jeremiah.
... The discovery of the bullae in this area of personalities who were
likely court officials
supports the theory that this is the palace of the kings of Judah.

... Another discovery, not far away, at the feet of the Tell, which
excites the excavators
as well, might change the current identification of the Siloam pool. 
Until now, for over
1500 years, the Siloam pool, where pilgrims cleansed before
approaching the Temple
Mount, has been identified at the end of the Hezekiah tunnel.

... Recently, though, a much larger pool was discovered not far away
with hewn rock
from the Second Temple period, very wide and long steps to easen the
descent into
the water, rails and pillars upon one of which was written "xwny"
(Honi), a common
name in the Second Temple period.

The large pool borders a large orchard, underneath which, according to the
speculations of archaeologists, is the continuation of this large pool
and assessments
indicate that it is a very large pool.  The pool was found when a
tractor clearing the
ground revealed one of the hewn rocks, whereupon it was decided to conduct a 
careful dig by hand.

Archaeologists involved in the dig say that the identification of the
large pool as the
Siloam pool fits its description as a pool that could contain
thousands and tens of
thousands of pilgrims wishing to cleanse.  The currently identified
Siloam pool is too
narrow and very limited and cannot contain this amount of people.

Underneath the pool, the archaeologists discovered yet another pool which was
identified with the First Temple period.  Some who are involved in the
dig believe that
the steps at the side of this pool served King Zedeqiah in his secret
escape from
Jerusalem, before being caught by the Babylonians.

The remnants of a road are clearly discernable nearby the Second Temple period
pool, going up the Tell, and the speculation is that this road is the
Herodian road
upon which the pilgrims went on their way to the Temple, and its end is the part
currently revealed in the Western Wall Tunnels.

Another small and individual cleansing place with a well hewn gate where the 
remnants of a hinge found nearby are discernable is also causing great
People close to the project suggested that because of the high cost
for individual
use, it is possible that this is the cleansing place of the High
Priest before his work
on the Day of Atonement.  It is described in the Mishnah with
reference to the High
Priest Ishmael son of Elisha.



Perhaps the confusion between Yehokal and Yehudi is because "Yehudi" is the one
mentioned as son of Shelamyahu son of Kushi, and Yehokal son of Shelamyahu (in
Jeremiah) is on the bulla mentioned as "son of Shelamyahu son of Nubi."  If this
would have been the same Shelamyahu then it suggests that Kushi (of the book of
Jeremiah) is a "translation" of Nubi, and is not a real name but more
of a nickname,
"the Ethiopian."  Maybe "Yehudi" is also such a name.  "Shelamyahu"
also sounds to
me more likely than "Shelamyah" (ie, a full Yahwistic ending) if the
First Temple period
is involved.

Yitzhak Sapir

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