History

King Seal Artifacts Attest to Hebron's Jewish History

Jugs embossed with "To the King, Hebron" found in Tel Hevron hilltop.

7.5.17, 16:11
(Photo: LMLK seal. Handle of a storage jar with "belonging to the king, Hebron" (Lakish, late 8th BCE). Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Source: WikiCommons.)
 
The ancient "king seals" discovered thorough Israel have sparked the imagination of religious leaders, archaeologists and historians. The clay jars are embossed with words in Paleo-Hebrew, a variant of Hebrew similar to Phoenician, that read LeMelekh or "To the King." These are often referred to in English as the LMLK seals, for the English transliteration of the letters. 
 
Five of the jugs were found in Hebron in the Tel Hevron area, which was later renamed Tel Rumeida. These read "To the King, Hebron." The words were embossed on the bottom of the handles apparently to indicate they were royal property and their location.
 
The jugs not only have words but also a shape that looks like either a bird, or a beetle (scarab). Researchers believe the clay jars contained food to be distributed to soldiers in the Judean army who were fighting a war against Sennacherib, who invaded Hebron and burned it to the ground. Stone pillars discovered in Tel Rumeida are stained with patches of black, which indicate fire damage. 
 
Other jug handles with the words "To the King, Hebron" have been found in other locations, such as in Lachish, another ancient location in the Hebron Hills region by Prof. David Ussishkin between 1973 and 1977.
 
The LMLK seals were first discovered by the famous British archaeologist Sir Charles Warren of the Palestine Exploration Fund who published his findings in 1870. Today, finds are displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and at the Land of Judah Museum in Kiryat Arba (Museum Eretz Yehuda) and Israeli postage stamps depict the pottery.
 
There have also been different LMLK discoveries inscribed with the words  "To the King, Ziph," "To the King, Socoh" and "To the King, MMST." The city of Ziph is an ancient location near Hebron mentioned in the Bible as where David hid from King Saul. Today, archaeological ruins are located near the modern Palestinian Authority settlement of Zif. 
 
Socoh, or Sokho, refers to an ancient community in the Hebron Hills region. However the fourth location, MMST, remains debated by scholars with many beleiving it refers to a place called Mammeshet.
 
Pottery with the word "Hebron" actually located in Hebron was first discovered by Prof. Emmanuel Eisenberg of the Israeli Antiquities Department in 1999 found in the remains of a standard "four room house," or "Israelite house," typical of the era. Among his other finds were a 4,500 year old wall from he early Bronze era, and a flight of stairs over 4,000 years old. These finds were all discovered in the Tel Rumeida / Tel Hevron / Admot Yishai neighborhood and can be viewed today.
 
REFERENCES:
 
LMLK seal (Wikipedia)
Rediscovering Hebron's Past (Israel National News)
Theology, History, and Archaeology in the Chronicler's Account of Hezekiah by Andrew G. Vaughn
* Charles Warren (1870). "Phoenician inscription on jar handles". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 2 (September 30): 372
 
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