Last Sunday, Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of a 2,600 year old clay seal with the words in ancient Hebrew, “belonging to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the king.” This seal is the most recent of many that have been found, and they are called “bullae.” A bulla is a small round piece of clay that was used to seal a scrolled document. The author would then press their seal, like a signet ring, into the clay to identify who it was that sent the document. When Jerusalem was destroyed and burned by the Babylonians, the fire was so intense, it functioned like a kiln, baking these clay seals and thus preserving them. Many of these bullae have been found in the same area. Let’s talk about this important find from last week and how it relates to you and me.
The seal was found in the City of David, the original city of Jerusalem, as established by King David. It lies just South of the Old Walled City of Jerusalem, having been mistakenly left outside the walls when they were rebuilt in the 16th century by Suleiman, the Turkish Sultan. The city of David is part of the original mountain, and it slopes downward to the pool of Siloam.
Another important archaeological find there was by archaeologist Eilat Mazar. She reasoned that if it were indeed the original city of David, that if she excavated near the top of the city, just below the Temple Mt, she would find the remains of David’s palace. So, she dug there, and found a very large stone house, much larger than a ordinary person would have. The ancient shards of pottery found there confirmed that the large stone house was from 1,000 BC. She concluded that this indeed was the palace of King David. Of course there are Bible skeptics who say that King David is a mythic figure, like King Arthur of England. And since Mazar did not find a nameplate saying, “King David’s Palace,” it can’t be his house. But in light of Bible history identifying David as king from 1010-970 BC and the location of this large stone house, it seems that Eilat Mazar’s conclusion, that this is indeed David’s palace, is correct.
In the past, other finds in this area confirm that this was a royal governmental area in the kingdom of Judah, before the captivity that began in 586 BC. For example a seal was found with the name Gadaliah, son of Pashhur and another with the name Jucal, son of Shelamiah. They are both mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1, as servants of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, in the 6th century BC. They were both involved in a plot against Jeremiah.
This most recent seal, with the words, “Belonging to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King,” seems to relate to 2 Kings 23:11, where Nathan-Melech is identified as a royal official of King Josiah who reigned from 640 to 610 BC.
So what does this have to do with us? It’s just another archaeological confirmation of the truth of Scripture. In John 17:17, the Lord Jesus prayed for His disciples and asked the Father to “sanctify them in the truth. Your Word is truth!” Too often people want to minimize the truth of Scripture by saying it’s only true when it speaks of spiritual matters but not when it addresses history or science. But when the Lord Jesus said that God’s Word is truth, He was affirming that it’s all accurate, that everything the Bible affirms as true, is true, down to the historical details. That’s why we can trust the Bible for spiritual truth—because all of it is true. We don’t have archaeological confirmation for everything in Scripture, but consistently archaeological finds support the words of Jesus and show that the Bible is really God’s Word. It it is true, and we can depend on it for everything in our lives.