Misidentified: "Belonging to Jotham" and "Belonging to Eliakim servant of Jehoiachin"
Two misidentified finds corrected (sometimes mistakes are made)
These are 2 genuine antiquities that have misidentified names and origins.
Wrong: "Belonging to Jotham"
Right: "Belonging to Ytm or Jtm"
The ring is Edomite not Judean
Wrong: "Servant of Jehoiachin"
Right: "Servant of Yokan"
Many have been found and have now been firmly dated to 701 BC before Jehoiachin was even born.
Archaeologists are digging up bible stories!!!
Archaeology is an important science that confirms the historical accuracy of the Bible. Since the Bible refers to hundreds of cities, kings, and places, we would expect to find evidence from on-site excavations. And this is exactly what we have found. The Bible is the most historically accurate book of history on earth. Read the Bible daily!
1. I am passionate about proving the inspired Bible is a reliable record of history and verified by archeology. This is a story of 75 years of misinformation of two archeological finds that were misidentified.
2. It came quite a surprise when I began reading two articles that demolished the connection of two high profile archeological finds used by Christians to prove the Bible with two kings of Judah:
a. "Belonging to Jotham" (now misidentified and wrong national association being Edomite not Hebrew)
b. "Belonging to Eliakim servant of Jehoiachin"(now misidentified)
3. In fact, I had highlighted one for close to a decade, "Here is the signet ring of Jotham… the same King Jotham in the Bible!
a. I had said: "One of the valuable finds that confirms the Bible is as signet ring used to seal documents with this inscription on it: "Belonging to Jotham". King of Judah: 2 Ki 15:32-38; 2 Chron 27:1-9"
4. To make matters worse, I searched my library and found 15 different reference books that wrongly used "Belonging to Jotham" and 0 that questioned it. I found 9 resources that wrongly used "servant of Jehoiachin" and only one that questioned it. It was that one reference that caused me to investigate the truth.
5. Upon through investigation, I have now concluded that these genuine archeological objects are not important to the Bible student and should actually be forgotten and not used any more. The clay seal, for example, is one of hundreds of genuine ones that have been found that have names on them we cannot connect with the Bible.
"In 1978, by examining the seal's paleographic traits, Larry G. Herr identified it as Edomite, from the first half of the seventh century, rather than mid-eighth century and Hebrew. This correction has withstood scholarly scrutiny. As early as 1971, Glueck tacitly abandoned the ID he had originated for this seal's owner." (Mykytiuk, p21, 2004 AD)
I. The history of the discovery of the Edomite signet ring in 1965:
1. Two famous heavyweights of pioneer archeology had both come out with a solid identification of the seal with King Jotham:
a. Nelson Glueck was the excavator at Tell el-Kheleifeh (Elat), at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba and immediately identified it with King Jotham.
3. "The seal of "Jotham"' is the simpler of the two misidentifications to be considered. It was discovered in 1940 at the last minute of the last day of the last of three seasons of . . . excavations"" at Tell el-Kheleifeh, at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Pioneer archaeologist Nelson Glueck believed it to be the site of the biblical cities Ezion-Geber and, later, Elath. Abbas. the Arab foreman of Glueck, found a seal ring under a mud brick wall. Believing that this beautifully executed seal ring most likely belonged to Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Glueck wrote, In a room belonging to Period III /which he assigned "to the eighth century B.C.'''. was found a beautiful signet ring (Figs. 8-9). The seal itself, enclosed in a copper casing. had incised on it in retrograde. in the clearest possible ancient Hebrew characters, the following inscription: LYTM. "belonging to Jotham." Below the inscription is a beautifully carved, horned ram, which seems to be Syrian in style. In front of the ram seems to be the figure of a man. It cannot definitely be proven that the YTM of the seal is the very king of Judah, whose dominion included also Elath, but the likelihood is a strong one [Glueck's footnote 9]. Even if this JOTHAM was merely the governor of Elath, he was apparently a Judaean. In all events, it is quite appropriate that during the period of Judaea,' control over Elath extending throughout the reigns of Uzziah. Jotham. and the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, the Hebrew name of JOTHAM should be found ." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p19, 2004 AD)
4. A second Edomite inscription was found that read: "Belonging to Qausanal, the servant of the king."
a. Tell el-Kheleifeh (Elat) historically was alternately under Judean and Edomite control down through the ages.
b. We know that Edom did not move into southern Judah until after the 587 BC deportation to Babylon.
II. Misidentification corrected: 1971, 1978
1. The national association and the date were wrong:
a. The signet ring turned out to be Edomite not Judean which makes it impossible for "YTM" to be "Jotham". (YTM = Jotham = Yotham = YTM) Remember there is no J in Hebrew, Greek or English before 1700. (The 1611 KJV has no J, Jesus = Iesus)
b. Jotham was king 750-731 BC but the Edomite ring is now correctly dated to 675 BC making it impossible for YTM to be King Jotham.
2. "In 1978, by examining the seal's paleographic traits, Larry G. Herr identified it as Edomite, from the first half of the seventh century, rather than mid-eighth century and Hebrew. This correction has withstood scholarly scrutiny. As early as 1971, Glueck tacitly abandoned the ID he had originated for this seal's owner." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p21, 2004 AD)
3. "Albright and Glueck cannot be held responsible for not dating the seal accurately and for not discerning its "nationality" [ie Edomite not Judean] since they did not have the information at their disposal that we do. Nevertheless, the specific categories of information which contributed to this misidentification point to the importance of patronymic and title as well as date and socio-political classification' of inscriptions in the identification process." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p23, 2004 AD)
"They [the identical seals] are found in large numbers in the destruction layers related to the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s campaign of 701 BCE." (Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
I. The history of the discovery of the clay seal in 1928:
1. "In the winter of 1928, in his excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, W. F. Albright discovered a stamped jar handle bearing a paleo-Hebrew inscription: l˒lyqm n˓r ywkn (1928: 9). A second stamped handle with the same impression, “Eliakim na˓ar Yokan,” was found two years later in Elihu Grant’s excavations at Beth Shemesh (Albright 1932a: 77–78). A few months later, in the summer of 1930, a third, identical seal impression on another jar handle was found at Tell Beit Mirsim (Albright 1932a).* Because Eliakim and Yokan are personal names, and because the term na˓ar was interpreted in accordance with biblical parallels as “servant,” the seal impression was understood to mean “belonging to Eliakim servant of Yokan.” Two jar handles with royal (lmlk) stamps were also found at Tell Beit Mirsim in the vicinity of the two Eliakim stamped handles (Albright 1932a). This type of royal stamped handle, now a common find at biblical sites (Welten 1969; Avigad 1979; Lemaire 1981), was at that time known from only seven sites: Jerusalem, Azeka, Tell Judeideh, Tell es-Sag, Tell Sandahana (Maresha), Gezer, and Beth Shemesh. In addition, many handles stamped with seals bearing personal names (the so-called private seal impressions) were found at these sites. The royal, private, and Eliakim na˓ar Yokan stamps were all impressed on the same type of double-ridged handles, which were dark, reddish brown in color. Using these three elements—Eliakim the servant, Yokan his master, and the royal stamps—Albright unhesitantly related Yokan to King Jehoiachin, the penultimate king of Judah." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
2. "While excavating Tell Beit Mirsim in 1928 and 1930, Albright found two stamped jar handles that read, in paleo-Hebrew, 131' "VD / 0779'7, "belonging to Eliakim, the steward of Yokan." In 1930, before Albright's second such inscription was found, Elihu Grant, digging at Beth Shemesh, unearthed a jar handle with this same inscription. All three of these impressions were made with the same seal. Near the two stamped jar handles at Tell Beit Mirsim, Albright also found two jar handles bearing the royal seal impression, "Imlk." Along with many seal impressions of private individuals, all of these were stamped on double-ridged jar handles made of the same dark, reddish-brown clay. Combining the three factors, that Eliakim was the servant, that Yokan was the master, and that the royal stamp seemed to be used on the same jars, Albright concluded that the name Yokan most somehow be related to that of Jehoiachin, king of Judah. Albright's colleague, Father Louis Hustles Vincent, explained the form yirkn to him as "Jochin," a hypocoristicon of ywykyn (in the Hebrew Bible, the consonants ywykyn form King Jehoiachin's name only in Ezek 1:2)." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p23, 2004 AD)
II. Misidentification corrected: 1971, 1976
1. The date was proven off by about 100 years:
a. The correct date is 701 BC not 597 BC. Jehoiachin was king 597-608 BC and went into exile in Babylon for the next 40 years.
b. Others voiced the theory that the seal was produced by Zekekiah for 5 years he reigned (592-587 BC) knowing that Jehoiachin was alive and well in Babylon and could return at any time.
c. In 1953, many of these identical seals were found in an iron age destruction layer at Lachish directly associated with the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s campaign of 701 BC.
d. However, as we will see, this small clay seal made a huge negative impact on all archeological interpretation because is shifted the strata by over 100 years younger than it really was.
2. "Nahman Avigad was the first scholar who suggested severing the accepted link between Yokan and King Jehoiachin—almost 50 years after the first Eliakim na˓ar Yokan stamped handle was found. By studying other seals bearing the title n˓r, he showed that this word was never used for royal officials but only for servants of private individuals (Avigad 1976, 1981)." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
3. "It was Nalunan Avigad who in 1976 first called for an end to the identification of Eliakim's master with King Jehoiachin. He was able to do so because, on the basis of the study of other seals (many of which were not available to Albright in 1932), it had by then become clear that the title na'ar was not a guarantee that the title holder was an official in the royal household. Rather, it was a title bestowed on a certain class of servants, apparently private stewards, who served individuals who were not necessarily connected to the palace at all." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p24, 2004 AD)
4. "Today there is no doubt that jars with handles of this type stamped with either royal seals or with seals bearing personal names were manufactured in Judah in the eighth century BCE. They are found in large numbers in the destruction layers related to the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s campaign of 701 BCE. We also now know that Albright’s interpretation of the Eliakim na˓ar Yokan stamped jar handles—that Yokan referred to King Jehoiachin—was incorrect. Unfortunately, this misinterpretation was not corrected for almost 50 years and resulted in a great deal of confusion over the chronological sequence and stratigraphical analysis of the archaeology of Judah from the time of the Divided Monarchy." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
5. "The dating of these finds was a corollary of the dating of the lmlk jars, about which a major debate was settled much later. This argument about their stratigraphic dating spanned half a century,' and it was not settled until David Ussishkin's excavation of Lachish Level III. This stratum at Lachish corresponds approximately to the levels at Tell Beit Mirsim and Beth Shemesh in which the Eliakim-steward-of-Yokan jar handles were found. In 1977, Ussishkin showed that this level was destroyed by the Assyrian invasion of 701, not the Babylonian invasions of 597 or 587/586, as Albright and other leaders had contended." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p24, 2004 AD)
6. "David Ussishkin published new data from his excavations at Lachish (1976). It now became clear that the various types of royal seals all came from stratum III. By presenting complete jars and not only handles, he demonstrated that on the same jars some handles were stamped with royal seals while others bore the impressions of private seals (Ussishkin 1976). Ussishkin suggested that the two Eliakim na˓ar Yokan handles and the two royal handles found by Albright in the same area in Tell Beit Mirsim all belonged to the same jar. He concluded, “The acceptance of our suggested reconstruction of the Tell Beit Mirsim royal storage jars means that the Elykim handles antedate Jehoiachin’s reign. In that case, Albright’s identification of Ywkn with Jehoiachin becomes impossible” (Ussishkin 1976: 11)." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
7. "Ussishkin clearly demonstrated that the so-called private seals were impressed alongside the royal seals on the same jar handles; he also suggested that the two Eliakim na˓ar Yokan stamped handles and the two royal stamped handles that were found together in the same area of Tell Beit Mirsim had actually come from the same royal jar (1976)." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
8. "In 1984, Hans Mommsen, Isadore Perlman, and Joseph Yellin published a new archaeometric research on the provenance of the royal jars. From an examination of the chemical compositions of some 120 handles with royal and private seal impressions, it became clear that the handles were all produced from the same clay and therefore must have been manufactured at the same place. The Eliakim na˓ar Yokan stamped handle from the palace at Ramat Rahel also was examined and was shown to have the same chemical composition as the others. This research proves that the handles stamped with Eliakim’s seal are in fact connected to the royal jars. The data were reinforced by the geographical distribution of the four Eliakim na˓ar Yokan stamped handles. Together with about 120 handles stamped with personal names, all from royal jars, they fit well into spatial patterns based on central places and hierarchies theories (Garfinkel 1984, 1985)." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
III. Huge consequences of misdating and misidentifying the seal: "The 100 year distortion"
1. With the seal misdated to Jehoiachin initially, it seriously warped and skewed the archeological interpretations for all site in Israel.
a. Since the identical seal was found in two other sites, made by the same single stamp, when they found it, they assigned that layer (archeological "locus") to the same date.
b. The chronological mistake caused almost all archeologists to misdate "Lachish strata 3" (known as the Lachish III controversy) to 597 BC instead of 701 BC. In other words, this "Lachish strata 3" destruction was wrongly ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar instead of Sennacherib in 701 BC.
c. This 100 year "mis-gap" distorted archeological interpretations for decades.
2. "In 1953, a quarter century after the first Eliakim na˓ar Yokan handle was found, Olga Tufnell published the final excavation report on the Iron Age strata at Lachish. Tufnell concluded that stratum III was destroyed in 701 BCE . and not in 597 BCE as had been previously supposed, and a hot dispute ensued. The 597-BCE date was supported by Albright (1953), G. Ernest Wright (1955), Kathleen Kenyon (1957: 206–08), and their followers, including Paul Lapp (1960), Peter Welten (1969), H. Darrell Lance (1971), A. Douglas Tushingham (1970, 1971), and John Holladay (1976), and constituted the official version of those days. The earlier date of 701 BCE was supported primarily by Tufnell (1953), Aharoni, and Ruth Amiran (Aharoni and Amiran 1958: 182, note 42), and Benjamin Mazar (1964: 295, note 18), who formed a small minority. This controversy, known as “Lachish III,” has been discussed so frequently in the literature (Ussishkin 1977) that it is unnecessary to repeat the arguments for and against the two suggestions. The debate was so self-perpetuating that the basis of all chronology, namely the Eliakim na˓ar Yokan seal impressions, was virtually forgotten. These objects, the source of the confusion, still enjoyed a consensus of opinion regarding their connection with King Jehoiachin." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
3. "Albright had used the Eliakim-steward-of-Yokan jar handles as part of the basis of his date for this stratum, which was incorporated into an overall scheme of stratigraphic dating for all of Palestine that dominated the field for about half a century of modern scholarly work. As a result, a mysterious gap between the tenth and seventh centuries seemed to appear at most of the excavated sites in Judah. In this way a distorted picture emerged, not only of the archaeology of the kingdom of Judah but also of other related disciplines such as ancient Hebrew epigraphy, the historical geography of the Bible, and biblical studies." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p19, 2004 AD)
4. "Only in the late 1970s, a century after the first royal handles were discovered by Charles Warren in Jerusalem and about half a century after the first Eliakim na˓ar Yokan handle was found by Albright at Tell Beit Mirsim, was the chronological position of these finds finally resolved. A whole series of studies and dozens of excavation reports had to be revised in the wake of this chronological revolution, but from that point on the chronology of the kingdom of Judah was established on solid ground." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
1. The Seal of "Eliakim na˓ar Yokan" is found on many jars in many archeological sites and were all produced with the same clay in the same location in 701 BC.
a. This is quite an incredible fact and perhaps one day we will have a better understanding as to who, why and where this seal was placed on pottery handles.
b. "It is still unclear which is the best explanation for all the problems connected with the royal jars, the private stamps, and the Eliakim na˓ar Yokan impressions. … The Eliakim na˓ar Yokan seal impressions are a unique phenomenon, and no satisfactory explanation for them has as yet been proposed. It is quite possible that some adequate explanation of the function of the royal jars and of the title na˓ar may yet appear." (The Eliakim Na˓ar Yokan Seal Impressions: Sixty Years of Confusion in Biblical Archaeological Research, Yosef Garfinkel, Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 53, 1990 AD)
c. "To summarize, even in 1932, the ID could have been questioned. The biblical evidence did not support the conclusion that the title na'ar always implied the master was a king." (Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E., Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p25, 2004 AD)
2. The signet ring "belonging to Yokan" (misidentified as Jotham, King of Judah 750-731 BC) is one a single archeological object found in modern Elat, Israel. Who it belonged to and other details are currently a mystery.
3. These two archeological finds (seal and ring) have been wrongly used by Christians to validated the historical accuracy of the Bible.
a. There are hundreds and hundreds of others that are valid and Christians are correct in using these to prove the Bible.
b. These two finds are not fake, but real archeological objects that were misidentified, which in the case of the seal of "Jehoaichin" caused a 100 year distortion in all the archeology of Israel for decades.
c. Whenever a mistake is made in archeology, it is important for Christians to be careful in correcting these mistakes.
d. It is in this spirit that this page has been contributed to make sure no Christian ever again uses either the seal or the ring again as evidence except in their correct and truthful context.
By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.