God, Science and the Bible: Seal impression of prophet Jeremiah's accuser found

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Seal impression of prophet Jeremiah's accuser found

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God, Science and the Bible: Seal impression of prophet Jeremiah's accuser found

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An impression from the seal of an official in the court of the biblical King Zedekiah has been found during an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem 's ancient City of David area in strata dated to the time of Jerusalem's destruction at the hands of the Babylonians.

The clay impression, which likely once sealed an official government document, bears the name "Gedaliah the son of Pashhur," one of the government officials who tried to have the prophet Jeremiah executed for treason when Jerusalem was being threatened by Babylonian armies before its destruction around 587 B.C. He is mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1-4 Jeremiah 38:1-4 [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 to all the people, saying, [2] Thus said the LORD, He that remains in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goes forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. [3] Thus said the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it. [4] Therefore the princes said to the king, We beseech you, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them: for this man seeks not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
American King James Version×
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"Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people . . . Therefore the princes said to the king, 'Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm'" (emphasis added).

The story in the book of Jeremiah goes on to describe how the biblical prophet was lowered into a muddy, abandoned cistern and left there to die before he was rescued by a different official sympathetic to him. Jeremiah survived the siege. The king, Zedekiah, didn't fare so well. He was captured, his sons murdered, and he was taken captive to Babylon where he later died.

Several things are remarkable about the discovery of this seal impression. Perhaps most astounding is the fact that it is the second discovery proving the existence of a biblical figure mentioned in this same passage.

Three years ago a seal impression bearing the name "Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi" was found a few yards away in the same excavation. This same Jehucal, or Jucal, is mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1 Jeremiah 38:1Then 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 to all the people, saying,
American King James Version×
right after Gedaliah, as we saw quoted above, as well as in Jeremiah 37:3 Jeremiah 37:3And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now to the LORD our God for us.
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. (See "Discovery proves existence of another biblical figure," The Good News, November-December 2005, p. 26.)

Even more amazing is the fact that this is the sixth individual mentioned in the book of Jeremiah (not counting Babylon 's King Nebuchadnezzar) whose existence has been confirmed by archaeology.

Two seal impressions have also been found with the name of Jeremiah's scribe, Baruch son of Neriah, and one was discovered of another Jewish government official, Gemariah son of Shaphan, both mentioned in Jeremiah 36. A cuneiform tablet excavated in the ancient Babylonian city of Sippar early in the last century was recently found to bear the name of the Babylonian official Nebo-Sarsekim, mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3 Jeremiah 39:3And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.
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(see "Archaeological discovery confirms the Bible (yet again)," The Good News, September-October 2007, p. 27). And four tablets excavated in Babylon around the same time refer to King Jehoiachin (mentioned in Jeremiah 52:31-33 Jeremiah 52:31-33 [31] And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison. [32] And spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, [33] And changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.
American King James Version×
) and his family.

Bible critics have no answer for the remarkably accurate prophecies found in the writings of biblical prophets like Jeremiah, so they claim that these must have been written long after they say they were.

Now those critics arguing for a late date are faced with a huge and growing problem: How can they explain away the recording of the names of relatively minor government officials and foreign figures in those books, and then proof being discovered of the existence of those same individuals 2,600 years later—in exactly the specific locations the Bible describes for them?

Clearly the author of the book of Jeremiah was knowledgeable of minor and specific details regarding the times in which he wrote. The obvious conclusion from these many archaeological discoveries is that this book was indeed authored by the prophet Jeremiah around the time of the Babylonian invasion of Judah just before Jerusalem's destruction. The evidence is clear that the book of Jeremiah is describing real history as it unfolded at the time. GN