Biblical Archaeology Review 41:5, September/October 2015

Strata: Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Who Urged Imprisonment

In 2005, Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem uncovered a bulla (seal impression in clay) at her excavations in the City of David, Jerusalem. Three years later in 2008, she discovered another bulla. Impressed on the bullae were the names Jehucal son of Shelemiah and Gedaliah son of Pashur.a These names are also recorded in Jeremiah 37:3 and 38:1. Gedaliah and Jehucal were Judahite officials, and, most notably, they were two of the four men who petitioned King Zedekiah of Judah to imprison the prophet Jeremiah when he was encouraging the inhabitants of Jerusalem to surrender to the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Jeremiah 38:1–6).

With the intent of killing Jeremiah, the four men threw him in a cistern that had no water—only mud—at its bottom and left him there without food or water. Fortunately for Jeremiah, Ebed-melech (which literally means “servant of the king” in Hebrew) entreated King Zedekiah to allow him to free Jeremiah, and Zedekiah agreed. Jeremiah then resided in the court of the guard.

Through October 2015, these seals will be on display in the exhibit Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered at Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, Oklahoma.

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