King Hezekiah’s Seal Revisited
Small object reflects big geopolitics
Some two years ago, Harvard professor Frank Moore Cross published an article in BAR that described for the first time an extraordinary lump of clay.a Known as a bulla, the clay was impressed with a seal belonging to King Hezekiah, who ruled Judah from c. 727–698 B.C.E. It was Hezekiah who saved Jerusalem from a siege by the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib by fortifying and expanding the city’s walls and by building the tunnel that still bears his name to ensure a steady supply of water.b And it was he who instituted a major religious reform in which he sought to centralize worship in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, eliminating the shrines and sacred pillars in outlying areas of the country, by then divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Indeed, as we shall see, Hezekiah even wanted to reunite the country again, as in the days of David and Solomon.
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