Archaeologists have found a seal they say belonged to King Hezekiah – a ruler described in the Bible as one who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD”.
The tiny clay piece, known as a “bulla”, has an inscription reading: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah”.
It is said to be the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever been discovered in a “scientific archaeological excavation”.
The archaeologist leading the dig, Dr Eilat Mazar, described the seal as unique and explained that the location of the find was significant.
Dr Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the item was a “private seal impression of King Hezekiah”.
The seal measures just 1cm wide and is thought to have originally sealed a document written on papryrus.
“It is so tiny but we can see very easily the name of King Hezekiah and the symbols he chose to put on his impression”, Dr Mazar continued.
She said that the seal was found in a royal area, meaning the archaeologists had “got as close as possible to King Hezekiah”.
The book of 2 Kings in the Bible describes how Hezekiah began to reign at 25 years old and was on the throne for almost three decades.
“He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done”, it adds, before outlining his action against pagan practices.
2 Kings 18:5-7 continues: “Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.
“He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.
“And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.”