Part 1 of this Blog discussed how The Book of Nehemiah recounts the story of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem in 445/444 BC from their exile in Babylon, including details of how Ataxerxes, the Babylonian Emperor, issued orders allowing them to reoccupy and rebuild the city and its walls. Skeptics had long dismissed the story as later day propaganda made up by the Jewish exiles in Babylon for political reasons. This line was maintained despite the stunning fact that in 1997, Mazar using references in The Book of Samuel located David’s Palace exactly where the Bible placed it.
However in November of 2007 a team of Israeli archaeologists again led by Eilat Mazar announced that they had now discovered Nehemiah’s Wall. Predictably the initial reaction of critics was that, “the evidence did not support the claim.” However as this research continues the critics have been silenced because of the astounding level of correspondence between the descriptions in the Bible and the materials uncovered by the archaeologists.
Part 1 of this Blog reported the confirmation of the walls existence and in the location where the Bible placed it. The archaeology has also confirmed the Biblical dates for the reconstruction of the wall. Even the Biblical description of the quality (or lack there of) of the reconstruction was confirmed. However the discoveries contained some additional finds of truly breath taking significance. The Mazar team has amazingly recovered seal impressions with “names” and “scenes” of “people actually mentioned in the Bible.” “Shelomit” the daughter of Zerubbabel (appointed Jerusalem’s Governor by Ataxerxes the heir to the Judean throne mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:19) is depicted and named on one of these seals. Two other clay seal impression were found one mentioned Gedalyahu and the other Yehuchal. These two were court officials of King Zedekiah who reigned from 597 – 587 BC. They are mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1-2. Tellingly the two separate seals were found in close proximity. In Mazar’s own words, “How amazing these finds are!”
Reading the below source is strongly recommended because there was much more intriguing evidence uncovered that is not discussed here.
Source: “The Wall That Nehemiah Built”, by Eilat Mazar, Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2009, pp 24-33.