The Tanach was right: Jerusalem did have a governor in biblical times

Israeli archaeologists unveil a clay seal impression that verifies two references to the job title in the Hebrew Bible


A clay seal impression found in Jerusalem is evidence that the city had a governor in biblical times, Israeli archaeologists have said.

The 2,700-year-old find, which bears an inscription in biblical Hebrew referencing the “governor of the city”, was unearthed during excavations near the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem.

Dr Shlomit Wexler-Bdolah, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s director of excavations at the Western Wall, said it was “the first time that such an impression was found in an authorized excavation.

“It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago.”

The seal impression shows two people facing each other, while below the word “sari’r” can be seen in ancient Hebrew script.

It is believed to be a shortened form of “sar ha’ir” – “governor of the city”.

The role of governor of the city of Jerusalem is referenced twice in the Tanach – the Hebrew Bible – in Kings II and in Chronicles II.

It is far from the first seal impression to be found during excavations in the city.

Three years ago, archaeologists near the Western Wall discovered an impression bearing the name of King Hezekiah, the Biblical king said to have ruled the Kingdom of Judah, of which Jerusalem was the capital 2,700 years ago.

In an official presentation on Monday, the seal was handed over to Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem, in his capacity as the modern-day “governor” of the city.

Mr Barkat described it as “overwhelming to receive greetings from First Temple-period Jerusalem.

“This shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city.”

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