By Aaron Earls
A newly discovered small piece of clay may contain the signature of Isaiah, the biblical prophet.
Biblical Archaeology Review announced the findings in its latest issue.
Eilat Mazar, an archaeologist and author of the BAR piece, suggests the damaged half-inch clay oval may have contained Isaiah’s name and title.
According to National Geographic, the clay seal, or bulla, was one of 34 found during a 2009 excavation by Mazar.
Because the seal is broken, the text contains the Hebrew name of Isaiah “Yesha’yah[u]” followed by the word “nvy.” If the Hebrew letter aleph originally followed nvy, then it would be translated “Belonging to Isaiah the prophet.”
But without knowing if the final word actually is “prophet,” some experts are unconvinced.
“Of course, the assumption that this is a [seal] of Isaiah the prophet is scintillating, but it is certainly not something we should assume is at all certain,” Christopher Rollston, professor of Semitic languages at George Washington University, told National Geographic.
However, Robert Cargill, editor of BAR and a self-described skeptic, told The Daily Beast he believes the seal is “the first archaeological and extra-biblical reference to the prophet.”
Mazar cites the location of the discovery as evidence the artifact is from the famous prophet.
Previous bullas from the same excavation bore the personal seal of King Hezekiah, who the Bible records as a king of Judah during the time Isaiah served as a prophet.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.