In this latest archaeological discovery, together with others recently unearthed, is raising a new wave of interest in the field of biblical archaeology. This latest find is the 1st ancient artifact constituting tangible evidence of the existence of the city of Bethlehem, at least from the 1st Temple period, found during excavations in Jerusalem.
A very long & heated battle has raged in the archeological world about the validity of the Biblical narrative & archeological evidence supporting it. One camp says that the archeological discoveries do not prove the narrative and are notoriously skeptical when new finds are announced. The other camp believes that when artifacts are discovered they validate the Bible as a historical account of ancient days & use it as their guide to discover more.
Without a doubt those archeologist in the “pro” camp are gaining more support in their quest as further archaeological evidence emerges supporting the Biblical account.
Until recently any suggestion that King David was real person and not just a mythical figure was laughed at even though the cities attributed to him in the Bible have been discovered. However when the archeology discovery of a clay seal mentioning the Kingdom of David was recently brought to light the naysayers were left speechless.
Recently as a whole slew of new discoveries have been found e.g. the recent discovery of ancient jewelry at Tel Megiddo this year along with a horde of gold coins found in an ancient crusader fortress at Appolonia.
This most recent discovery which proves Bethlehem was a thriving city with organized systems of justice and taxation at least from the 1st Temple period is leaving those archeologist who believe in the historical validity of the Bible with huge grins on their faces. In addition wealthy philanthropists who have an interest in biblical archeology are now stepping up their funding.
This latest discovery was a bulla measuring c. 1.5 cm found during the sifting of soil removed from archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David. A bulla is a piece of clay that was used for sealing a document or object very much like the wax used to seal official letters.
The following account was published earlier in the Israel Antiquities web site:
There are three lines of ancient Hebrew script that appear on the bulla:
בת לחם Bat Lechem
The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE. The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”. Shukron emphasizes,” this is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible, in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods”.
According to Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (it is unclear if the king referred to here is Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.
In the Bible, Bethlehem is first mentioned in the verse “in Ephrath, which is Bethlehem”, and it was on the way there that Rachel died and it is where she was buried (Genesis 35:19; 48:7). The descendants of Judah settled there, among them the family of Boaz (Book of Ruth).
View original OTBT publication at: http://www.offthebeatentrackisrael.net/biblical-archaeology-proves-exsistence-of-bethlehem/