The minuscule, centimeter-long artifact is decorated with Egyptian-style motifs — a winged sun disk and an ankh, symbol of life. Iconography of this sort had already been appropriated by Judean leaders and appear on other contemporary seals across the ancient Near East.
“The Egyptian motifs were spread over the second millennium BCE all over the region” and no longer bore their original significance, Mazar explained. Ancient Judeans employed the sun disk to denote the Almighty, and its bowed wings may connote Hezekiah’s expression that “my power is thanks to God’s protection,” she said.
“It was nothing like what it meant to the Egyptians,” she said.
The bulla was found during excavations in 2009 but its significance was initially overlooked by researchers. Only this year did Hebrew University archaeologist Reut Ben Arieh decipher the inscription on the seal impression and determine its significance.
An initial study of the seal read the bottom register as the name “Melkiyahu,” but once she noticed tiny punctuation marks in the middle, separating the letters into the words “king” and “Judah,” Ben Arieh told The Times of Israel, “immediately we understood” that it read “king of Judea.”
Although it might seem immediately obvious that the Egyptian archaeological record is vastly more informative and vastly more important, Israeli scholars are working overtime to convince anyone who will listen that the Old Testament is the Most Important Narrative Ever Framed.