The Mattanyahu Seal

 

Image: The Mattanyahu Seal
Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

 

 

 

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced that a Hebrew seal bearing the name “Mattanyahu” has been discovered in Jerusalem in a site adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. According to archaeologists, the site where the seal was found is the closest structure to the First Temple found to date in archaeological excavations.

According to a report released by the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The seal is made of a semi-precious stone and is engraved with the name of its owner: Lematanyahu Ben Ho… ( למתניהו בן הו meaning: “Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho…”). The rest of the inscription is erased.

The name Mattaniah (Mattanyāhȗ,  מַתַּנְיָהוּ ) appears ten times in the Old Testament. In most places where the name appears in the the Bible, the names refer to temple officials, to priests, or to prominent individuals in the government. Of the ten people named Mattaniah in the Old Testament, five were priests, one was a member of the royal family, and the other four were members of the postexilic Jerusalem elite.

Although the last name of Mattanyahu is not given, it is possible that the Mattanyahu whose name appears on the seal could have been one of the persons mentioned in the Bible.

For instance, in 1 Chronicles 25:4 Mattanyahu (Mattaniah) appears as one of the sons of Heman. The sons of Heman were a group of Levites appointed by David to serve in the temple. According to the Chronicler, the duty of Mattanyahu and his brothers was to “prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals” (1 Chron. 25:1).

I believe that it will be impossible to identify the Mattanyahu whose name appears on the seal. However, this discovery brings us closer to people who actually served in the temple built by Solomon.

Note:

If you are unable to see the Hebrew letters in the essay, download the Biblical fonts and install them on your computer. Download the fonts here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

 

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2 Responses to The Mattanyahu Seal

  1. Pingback: The Mattanyahu Seal | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament | Bible News | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: The Mattanyahu Seal | Biblical Studies | Scoop.it

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