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“David King of Judah” Seal Uncovered (April Fool’s Day 2006 Post)

1st April 2006

N.B. This is a post I wrote for April Fool’s Day 2006 (April 1st). To set the record straight in case anyone was fooled, there was no “David King of Judah” seal discovered from Eliat Mazar’s (note spelling) Jerusalem dig. The actual seal below is a doctored image of a royal seal impression of Hezekiah from the Kaufman Collection. I left a number of subtle (perhaps too subtle for some!) hints that the post was a hoax: (1) the spelling of Haaretz and Mazar’s name; (2) the plene spelling of “David” in the seal; and (the most obvious) (3) the tag “AF’s Day.” If I offended anyone by my April Fool’s Day prank, then I am sorry. I meant it to be a joke and I hope everyone — even those fooled — may take it in the spirit in which it was intended — and I promise to only do it once a year! (and hey, what do you expect? I was born on April Fool’s Day!).

The Israeli newspaper Haarets reported this morning a significant discovery among the Eliat Mazur’s Jerusalem “City of David” archaeological dig (for more on some other discoveries from the same dig, see my posts here, including my posts on the Yehukal Seal also discovered at the site). It appears that a bulla/seal was recently discovered among the excavation remains from last summer. Most significantly, it was discovered among the rubble from the part of the excavation that she has identified as the remains of a 10th century royal palace.

The clay seal impression measures about 12 mm by 10 mm and is in a remarkably good state of preservation. The centre of the seal has what appears to be a two winged sun disk, which is probably some sort of royal emblem. The article has a good image of the seal along with a great line tracing:

David_Bullae.jpg

David_Bullae_tracing.jpg

The inscription is on two lines (above and below the sun disk) and reads in a clear paleo-Hebrew script: לדויד ישי מלך יהדה “[Belonging] to David, [son of] Jesse, King of Judah.”

This find is highly significant for a number of reasons, not least being that it appears to have been found in situ in the building Mazur has been excavating and thinks is King David’s palace (at least it was discovered among the rubble from that part of the excavation). While it is too early to speculate, it seems to me that the so-called “minimalists” will have a hard time denying this clear reference to what must be the biblical David.


20 Responses to ““David King of Judah” Seal Uncovered (April Fool’s Day 2006 Post)”

  1. Christopher Heard Says:

    And the winged solar disk and ankh symbols testify amply to just the sort of contact between Judah and Egypt that would enable Solomon to marry Pharaoh’s daughter! Those minimalists can’t fool us any more!

  2. steph Says:

    Happy 40th Birthday

  3. Kevin A. Wilson Says:

    Obviously this is just referring to a god Dwd who is previously unknown except for the Tell Dan Inscription.

    Happy 40th! Sorry to see you won’t make your 40,000th visitor today. I’ve been visiting as often as possible (instead of just reading RSS) to drive the numbers up, but it looks like you still have a week or two to go.

    But in our hearts we know you have already reached 40,000!

  4. James Says:

    And I thought it was a mosquito!

    James

  5. Claude Mariottini Says:

    This is an important discovery. I am sure that those who deny the reality of the Israelite monarchy may find a way to say that the seal is also a forgery.

    Happy Birthday. Oh, to be forty again!

    Claude Mariottini

  6. Christopher Heard Says:

    I don’t really have a comment, I just need to close that pesky em tag.

  7. Arman Says:

    I hope this not an elaborate April fool’s joke. If not, then it must rank in the top 10 biblical archaeology discoveries.

    -arman

  8. Daniel Frese Says:

    Plene spelling in the 10th Century? This ought to really shake things up…

  9. Christopher Heard Says:

    Arman, look at the category tags …

  10. Danny Zacharias Says:

    As some would say, you are quite the $#!& disturber. You’ve fooled Claude Mariottini, he’s even posted it on his blog! Now it would have been really great if you fooled Jim West!!

    Happy Birthday, may there be many more to come!

    Danny Zacharias

  11. Kevin P. Edgecomb Says:

    And 9th/8th cent. transitional script? Curiouser and curiouser….

  12. Tyler F. Williams Says:

    Hey everyone… I hope you all figured out that this post was an April Fool’s Day hoax! One benefit of being born on April Fool’s day is that you are always aware when the day is approaching! Over the years I have pulled a number of good tricks. Stay tuned for the real bulla in a coming post. (If I did fool anyone, I hope you still like me! :-) )

  13. JPvdGiessen Says:

    It was the most beatiful yoke I found, I hope to see more of these in the future (no more then 1 a year)

  14. Jim Linville Says:

    You are a VERY naughty boy, Tyler!

    But I wonder what would the maximalists would have said about a Jerusalem seal which had Dave as king of Judah, not Israel?

    I always thought it would be fun to give students an exam on April Fool’s day just to watch them panic about which questions might be “trick” questions.

  15. Jeremy Says:

    Grr… Haha. I fell for it, but I kept wondering why I couldn’t find it on Haarets. I like to “check” the firsthand sources, not relying so much on secondhand ones, but I posted about it and found out this morning you pulled a fast one on us! Needless to say I deleted my post.

  16. Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » The Real Seal: Hezekiah Royal Bulla Impression Says:

    [...] “David King of Judah” Seal Uncovered (April Fool’s Day 2006 Post) [...]

  17. Antonino G. Vetrano Says:

    Thank the Lord Jesus Messieh and CHrist you weren’t born on April 2 “Taily Day”. You might have to pay dearly for the “infraction” with a posterior “infarction”.

    Actually you are quite better off born on April 1, because at least you can say, for you, quite accurately and Pope Gregory the Great most inaccurately “Happy New Year”!

    You by chance have been found more infallible than the epitome of infallibility.

  18. Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » Happy Fool’s Day! Says:

    [...] of Toronto. Another prank that I am quite fond of is my blog post from one year ago today: “David King of Judah� Seal Uncovered (April Fool’s Day 2006 Post). Since my actual birthday is on April 1st, I have the advantage of always being aware that April [...]

  19. Mimi Says:

    Actually the seal was found last summer, in Jordan. Look it up.

  20. Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » Fools in the Book of Proverbs Says:

    [...] it’s April Fool’s Day and I thought rather than trying to fool everyone with a clever post, I would do a post on the different types of fools in the Hebrew Bible, and more specifically in [...]