Monday, April 21, 2014

Yahu Seals

Alice C. Linsley

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

These names are found in Jeremiah 38:1: "Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying ..."  Yehuchal is the same as Jucal with the theophoric yahu embedded in the name.

#2  This seal says "Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Yehotam, King of Judah." 

Ahaz is written as Yeho-ahaz, in the annals of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BCE), who received tribute from Ahaz. Yehotam appears 19 times in the Bible, but it is spelled Yotam.

#3 The paleo-Hebrew inscription reads, `Belonging to Eliyahu', (the son of) `yaqimyahu' and dates to 700 BC or thereafter.

#4  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.

#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.

Related reading:  The Nubian Context of YHWH; Biblical Sheba and Nubians Linked; Purity Seal From Herod's Temple; What We Learn From King Ahaz's Seal; A List of Seal Impressions and Ostracon

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