Ancient clay seals were used to secure documents by the personal authority of an official or a king. These bullae were created by the impression of a signet on a lump of clay. A rolled papyrus or parchment document was tied with a cord and the cord was sealed with the piece of clay.
Ancient seals testify to trade relations between peoples living a great distance apart. There is a similarity in the seals of the Indus, Mesopotamian and Nile civilizations. In fact, linguistic study of ancient seals and ostracon suggest a vast Afro-Asiatic Dominion before the rise of kingdoms like Babylon, Assyria and Persia. Contemporaneous seal inscriptions are sufficiently analogical as to be read and understood. The seals contain proper names and attributes such a pure. Often there are titles such as servant, priest or judge. Proper names were mostly theophoric, i.e. they contained divine names. In the case of the priest caste, the seals indicates the deity served by the priest. This is the case in the Har-appa and Mohenjo-daro civilization also. Harappa means "Horus is Father" in Dravidian.
Numerous ancient seals name the owner and include the holy name YHWH or the theophoric element Yahu, often found in ancient names in Judah. Here are seven seals that bear such inscriptions.
#1 Clay seal been found in the area of King David's Palace.
Another found there bears the name of l'galyahu [ben] immer'
Here the divine name is Yehu, and resembles the name Yeha preserved on a sacrificial altar with a royal Dedanite inscription found in Ethiopia.
|#2 This seal says "Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Yehotam, King of Judah."|
|#3 Seal found in Samaria bearing the words Oniyahu, son of Merav|
This refers to an individual, but could also refer to a ship dedicated to YHWH. Oniah is the Hebrew word for ship. Two High Priests were named Onias: the 44th and the 61st. Oni or Onias/Ananias might also refer to On or Anu. The Anu/Ainu were a sea-faring people who originated in the Nile Valley. The Ainu and Hebrew scripts are virtually identical.
|#4 Lower portion reads "Belonging to Mashe-yahu, the Judge"|
Mashe is a variant of the name Moses.
#5 Seal of Paltayahu or Palta, official in time of King Zedekiah of Judah (Ezekiel 11:1,13)
Zedekiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II in 597 BC at the age of twenty-one.
|#6 Belonging to Shebnayahu, servant of the King|
This seal appeared on the lintel of a tomb at Siloam in Jerusalem. Shebna-yahu may have been the High Priest Shebna. Another seal from the 7th century B.C. names Hanan, son of Hilqiyahu, the priest. Hilqiyahu is better known as Hilkiah the High Priest during the reign of Josiah.
#7 Paleo-Hebrew inscription reads "Belonging to Asayahu, servant of the king"
Dates to the 7th century B.C.