Archaeologists have made a discovery which they believe is more evidence of the historicity of the Bible. In 2015, archaeologists discovered what they believe to be the seal of the Prophet Isaiah, during excavations just below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The mark bore the name of the Old Testament prophet, providing more archaeological evidence of the Bible’s validity.
Seal of the Prophet Isaiah
Isaiah was a prominent figure in the Old Testament of the Bible. He was a prolific prophet who had immense influence on kings and rulers because of his God-given foresight. The prophet made numerous predictions, including his Isaiah 53 prophecy about the coming Messiah.
During excavations in the Ophel, located just below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, archaeologists found what they believe to be the personal seal of the Prophet Isaiah. The seal or mark is estimated to be around 2,700 years old, dating back to the 7th century B.C.E. Dr. Eilat Mazar from the Hebrew University made the discovery directly next to the seal of king Hezekiah (pictured below).
Mazar commented on the discovery:
“We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation,”
Debate on the Incomplete Seal
The bulla (a clay impression of a seal) , which is only about half an inch wide, has the Hebrew name “Yesha’yah[u]” or Isaiah inscribed on it. However, the seal is partially damaged and missing a section of the inscription. Immediately following the name Isaiah are the letters “NVY”. Mazar speculates that the “NVY” is only part of a whole word beginning with the Hebrew letter “aleph”. Thus, the completed seal would spell out the Hebrew word for prophet.
However there is some dispute on whether or not the “NVY” was actually part of the Hebrew word for prophet. Skeptics speculate that it could have been a completely different word. A professor of Semitic languages at George Washington University named Christopher Rollston has issues with Mazar’s interpretation.
Rollston argues that the word “NVY” is missing a definite article. This means that the completed seal would say, “Belonging to Isaiah prophet.” Rollston goes on to explain that in the Bible, it is more common for people to have the title “the prophet”, rather than merely “prophet”.
However, the location where the seal was found only further substantiates it’s authenticity. Because the seal of the Prophet Isaiah was found directly next to King Hezekiah’s, we have further proof that the bulla did in fact belong to Isaiah.
Prophet Isaiah & King Hezekiah
The Prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah were contemporaries. Both figures lived during the same time period, as well as the same region. King Hezekiah reigned as the 12th king of the Kingdom of Judah, from around 727 B.C.E. to around 698 B.C.E. And if we read the Bible, we find that the two historical figures interacted with one another.
King Hezekiah was a vassal king of the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib. However the Jews rebelled and lead a revolt against the king. This revolt didn’t go as planned and lead to Jerusalem being besieged by the Assyrians in 701 B.C.E. Distraught, King Hezekiah went to Isaiah for guidance.
Isaiah 38:1 describes the interaction between the Prophet Isaiah and Hezekiah:
“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him: ‘Thus saith the Lord: Set thy house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live”.
After Hezekiah’s counseling with Isaiah, he repents of his wickedness and asks for forgiveness. Later in Isaiah 38:4-6 we read:
“Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying: ‘Go, and say to Hezekiah: Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will add unto thy days 15 years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city”.
The fact that the seal of the Prophet Isaiah was found directly next to King Hezekiah’s bulla, is compelling evidence of it’s validity. Historical evidence confirms that the two figures from the Bible were contemporaries, living in the same time period in the same location. We also see that the Bible clearly confirms a relationship between the two historical figures. When we take all of this into consideration, it seems to dispel most of the doubt surrounding the seal of the Prophet Isaiah.