Royal seal from Umm Tuba
According to a news release issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority, several royal seal impressions were discovered in excavations at Umm Tuba, in the southern hills of Jerusalem. The following is an excerpt from the news release:
Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four "LMLK" type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom's government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.
According to the press release, the name of the Arab village, “Umm Tuba” is derived from”Metofa”, which is Biblical “Netophah.”
Netophah was a town located near Bethlehem in the hill country of Judah. Two of David’s mighty men, Maharai and Heleb were Netophathites (2 Samuel 23:28-29). Netophah was also the place where some Levites lived (1 Chronicles 9:16). According to the list of the people who returned from Babylon, fifty-six Netophathites returned from captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26).
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: LMLK Seals, Netophah, Netophathites, Royal Seals, Umm Tuba