God, Science and the Bible: Seal with biblical name found in Jerusalem

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Seal with biblical name found in Jerusalem

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Archaeologists excavating near Jerusalem's Temple Mount south of the Western Wall have discovered an ancient stone seal bearing the name Matanyahu—or "Mattaniah," as it appears in most English-language Bibles. It's been dated to near the end of the First Temple period (8th to 6th century B.C.).

The seal, made of semiprecious stone and of a type commonly set in signet rings, was used to stamp letters and other documents with the owner's name. The Hebrew inscription reads, "Belonging to Matanyahu Ben [son of] Ho . . ."—with the last portion missing.

In Hebrew, Matanyahu means "giving to God"—the ending yahu denoting God's divine name Yahweh, presented as "Lord" (with small caps) in most English Bibles. Nine different men named Mattaniah are mentioned in the Bible, the most notable being the individual appointed king of Judah by the Babylonians who had his name changed to Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17 2 Kings 24:17And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
American King James Version×
). He later rebelled, bringing about the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish exile to Babylon.

As near as we can tell, this seal belonged to a Mattaniah other than those mentioned in Scripture, since none of them had a father whose name began with "Ho . . ." as found on the inscription.

The find is nevertheless significant since it proves the name Mattaniah was in use in the kingdom of Judah at the exact time and location specified in the Bible, thus undermining critics' claims that the Bible was fabricated centuries later than it purports to have been written.

And as reported in our free booklet Is the Bible True? and previous issues of The Good News, seals and seal impressions of a number of individuals mentioned in the Bible have been found where the identification is precise—confirming again the accuracy of Scripture.