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Over 250 Type 484 jar handles were stamped with personal seals of at least 56 variations. Only 3 known handles have both a LMLK impression & a personal seal ( a Z2U with #673; an unprovenanced H2U with #687 pictured below; an H2D from Ramat Rahel with #686; note that #686 & #687 have the same inscription but are different styles); only 2 restored jars have personal seals on some handles with LMLK impressions on the other ones (Jar 10457 & Jar 10074)--note that they are all 2-winged LMLK seals. One unprovenanced handle has impressions from 2 different personal seals (Vaughn's numbers 1a & 1b). Although some of the Biblical texts quoted below are from time periods long before the LMLK handles, they give a sense of what the Judean administration was like to help understand why the personal seals were on LMLK jars:
25_And Azmaveth the son of Adiel was over the king's treasuries; & Jehonathan the son of Uzziah was over the storehouses in the field, in the cities, in the villages, & in the fortresses.
26_Ezri the son of Chelub was over those who did the work of the field for tilling the ground.
27_And Shimei the Ramathite was over the vineyards, & Zabdi the Shiphmite was over the produce of the vineyards for the supply of wine.
28_Baal-Hanan the Gederite was over the olive trees & the sycamore trees that were in the lowlands, & Joash was over the store of oil.
29_And Shitrai the Sharonite was over the herds that fed in Sharon, & Shaphat the son of Adlai was over the herds that were in the valleys.
30_Obil the Ishmaelite was over the camels, Jehdeiah the Meronothite was over the donkeys,
31_and Jaziz the Hagrite was over the flocks. All these were the officials over King David's property.
Though prophetic with no specific reign referenced (unless it is interpreted in a limited fashion for Saul), this text also describes the allotment of government workers:
14_And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, & your olive groves, & give them to his servants.
15_He will take a tenth of your grain & your vintage, & give it to his officers & servants.
This text is the one most closely related to the actual LMLK personal seals:
4_Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD.
5_As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
14_Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the East Gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to distribute the offerings of the LORD and the most holy things.
15_And under him were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, his faithful assistants in the cities of the priests, to distribute allotments to their brethren by divisions, to the great as well as the small.
19_Also for the sons of Aaron the priests, who were in the fields of the common-lands of their cities, in every single city, there were men who were designated by name to distribute portions to all the males among the priests and to all who were listed by genealogies among the Levites.
20_Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God.
Yet this other text may indicate that these seals named royal potters:
23_These were the potters & those who dwell at Netaim & Gederah; there they dwelt with the king for his work.
Scholars have referred to these seals as belonging to both private individuals (such as potters) & officials (such as government bureaucrats) but they could have also belonged to priests &/or Levites. So since the vast majority of the known examples simply contain personal names, they are designated "personal seals" throughout this website.
Almost all the personal seals found on LMLK jars are designed similar to the one seen in the photo above; namely, they contain 2 lines of text separated by 1 or 2 horizontal lines in an oval (typically 13 x 11mm). Four notable exceptions are:
The following 3 sorted lists of the inscriptions are courtesy of:
Note: The English translations are taken from Sass/Avigad only because Vaughn didn't provide any. Some of the readings differ slightly between the 2 books, & a few of them are superceded by new readings from Vaughn/Barkay in BASOR 304. The "Sorted Alphabetically" list duplicates the alternative readings by both pairs of scholars. Please refer to all 3 of these excellent resources for details about where the seals were excavated.
SORTED BY SASS/AVIGAD
SORTED BY VAUGHN
SORTED ALPHABETICALLY (by English convention)
"Have you commanded the morning since your days began, & caused the dawn to know its place...? It takes on form like clay under a seal..."--Job 38:12, 14
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||This page was created on February 25, 2002, & last updated on August 28, 2010|