A clay seal contains the oldest reference to Bethlehem

A clay seal contains the oldest reference to Bethlehem

A group of Israeli archaeologists has discovered just outside the Old City of Jerusalem a 2,700-year-old seal bearing the inscription "Bethlehem". The Israel Antiquities Authority believes it to be the oldest found object that reflects the name of the biblical city.

The leader of the excavation group, Eli shukron, comments that the meaning of the discovery is given because It is the first time the city of Bethlehem is named outside the biblical texts. It is a small 1.5-centimeter-diameter clay seal that dates back to the period of the first Jewish temple, that is, between the 8th and 7th centuries BC, and that would help support the theory of experts that Bethlehem would not be just the name of a legendary biblical city, but also a commercial city very close to Jerusalem.

The Ben-Gurion University Ancient Scripture Expert (Israel), Shmuel Achituv, explains that There are only 40 stamps from this historical period, so this discovery is doubly relevant. Analysis of the seal reveals that it was engraved with the ancient Hebrew script that appears on pottery that has been found nearby. It is believed that it was a «fiscal noise«, That is, it was probably used to seal an administrative or fiscal document sent from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, which was the seat of Jewish power at that time.

According to Shukron, the first line would say "Beshava’at"in the seventh«), Referring most probably to the year of reign of a monarch; the second line has the ruined letters of the word «Belen«; while the third bore a «ch«, Which is believed to be was the last letter of the Hebrew word for“king”. It is important to clarify that Hebrew words often do not have vowels and have to be understood from the context, so that several plausible interpretations of the same word can be made.

The identity of the object found, in terms of its dating and content is not in doubt thanks to the work of the researchers. Shukron claims that the seal was found a few months ago, but that it took all this time to confirm that it was actually a inscription referring to the city of Bethlehem.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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