The First Archaeological Evidence of the Existence of the City of Bethlehem from the First Temple Period
While sifting soil from archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David, in the Jerusalem Walls National Park, a bulla was discovered bearing the name of the city, written in ancient Hebrew script.
The first ancient artifact constituting tangible evidence of the existence of the city of Bethlehem, mentioned in the Bible, was recently discovered in Jerusalem.
A bulla measuring about 1.5 cm was found while sifting soil from archaeological excavations being performed in the Spring House in the City of David, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ir David Foundation. A bulla is a piece of clay that was used for sealing a document or object. The bulla was impressed with the seal of the person who sent the document or object, and its integrity was evidence the document or object had not been opened by anyone unauthorized to do so.
Three lines of ancient Hebrew script appear on the bulla:
בת לים Bat Lechem
According to Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (it is unclear if the king referred to here is Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem. The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E. The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat.” Shukron emphasizes, “this is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods.”
In the Bible, Bethlehem is first mentioned in a verse that states, “in Ephrath, which is Bethlehem,” describing how Rachel died on the way there and was buried there (Genesis 35:19; 48:7). The descendants of Judah settled there, among them the family of Boaz (Book of Ruth).
Bethlehem’s greatness began with the anointing of David, son of Jesse, as king (I Samuel 16).
Wed, 2012-01-18 15:30 — admin
Eli Shukron from the Israel Antiquities Authority has excavated in the City of David for over fifteen years and is considered one of the leading experts on archaeology in Jerusalem
The Spring House
Wed, 2012-01-18 12:53 — admin
In 1995, Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron began to excavate near the Gihon Spring and forever changed our understanding of Ancient Jerusalem.
Mon, 2012-05-28 14:22 — admin
Bulla bearing the name Bethlehem
Wed, 2012-01-18 15:04 — admin
Wed, 2012-01-18 12:48 — admin