Archaeologists have discovered a seal impression dating from the 8th century BC which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah. The prophet lived in the time of Ahaz and Hezekiah, which was indeed during the 8th century BC.
This seal was found at a scientific archaeological excavation in Jerusalem, at the Ophel, which is at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount. This was reported yesterday (22 February) in ‘The Times of Israel’. This seal was found near a seal identified with King Hezekiah, which makes it likely that this is indeed the prophet Isaiah. 14 of the 29 times that Isaiah is being mentioned in 2 Kings 19-20 and Isaiah 37-39, his name is being used together with the name of king Hezekiah.
There is still some doubt because the seal is damaged. The first line spells out ‘Belonging to Isaiah’, while the second line has a partial word ‘nvy’, which means ‘prophet’ if the missing letter is an aleph. Then it would definitely be the seal of the prophet Isaiah. However, there is a possibility that no letter is missing at the end and then ‘nvy’ is just a personal name.
The article in ‘The Times of Israel’ reports what was written in a longer article published by the Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive (BAS Library) as the Biblical Archaeology Review 44:2, March/April May/June 2018, written by Eilat Mazar, the director of the Ophel excavations since 2009. This review gives a lot of information about the entire archaeological excavation which also discovered the seal of king Hezekiah together with the ruins of structures built by king Solomon, all in an area in the northeastern outskirts of the Ophel. This review also discusses the possible meanings of these words and the likeliness of it meaning ‘Belonging to Isaiah the prophet’.
what if …
Assuming that this seal is from the prophet Isaiah, does this prove that the Bible is true?
Not so fast. If this is truly the seal of Isaiah the prophet, it only proves that Isaiah did exist. This doesn’t prove much more. Modern Theologians believe that the first 39 chapters of the book of Isaiah were indeed written by Isaiah and not many people will have difficulties believing that there was a prophet Isaiah, who wrote the first part of the book Isaiah. The difficulty starts with the second part. Many modern theologians believe that the chapters 40 – 66, which speak about exile and promises about the time after the exile, were written by someone else, living during or after the exile, and it was added to the book of Isaiah to give it more credibility.
Orthodox Christians don’t go along with that and believe what the Bible says, that all the 66 chapters were written by the prophet Isaiah. The discovery of the seal of Isaiah, if it is from the prophet, is with that just an interesting find but doesn’t prove anything. It is exciting for Christians to know that there are some traces left of Isaiah and of Hezekiah. Just as there are also some archaeological discoveries which may indicate that Solomon and David existed. But it doesn’t prove anything for non-Christians.
by faith only
It still is and will always remain by faith that we believe that the Bible, the entire Bible, is the Word of God and is truth. If we are still hoping that some archaeologists will find proof that the Bible is true, let us then remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 16:31. The Lord Jesus is telling the parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus. When the rich man after his death finds himself in hell and Lazarus in heaven, and he begs Abraham to send Lazarus to the earth to warn his brothers (so that they will believe that what the Bible says is true), then Abraham responds to him: ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’