The question of Isaiah’s signature that Deseret News, writer Daniel Peterson, asked in his weekly column “Defending the Faith” is a story has been carried by many dozens of news outlets, including our own blog. However, Peterson added some very interesting background information regarding the relationship of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah.
Peterson naturally began by pointing to Eilat Mazar’s article “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” in the Biblical Archaeology Review. The special double issue for March–June 2018, celebrates the contributions of Hershel Shanks, who is stepping down after 43 years as its founding editor. But, the centerpiece of the journal is Mazar’s find, a bulla (clay imprinted “signature”) that might have belonged to the prophet Isaiah.
In the week since the announcement, there has been speculation world-wide by archeologists and Old Testament scholars alike whether this is real or not. Mazar shares in the excitement, but cautions, “This seal impression of Isaiah is unique, and questions still remain about what it actually says. However, the close relationship between Isaiah and King Hezekiah, as described in the Bible, and the fact the bulla was found next to one bearing the name of Hezekiah seem to leave open the possibility that, despite the difficulties posed by the bulla’s damaged area, this may have been a seal impression of Isaiah the prophet, adviser to King Hezekiah.”
The seal impression with the name Isaiah on it (see image on the right), has several missing characters broken off. The drawing blue in the image on the right would make this the prophet Isaiah’s bulla or signature. Because it is missing that portion, there is no sure way to know that this belonged to the prophet for sure.
In Peterson article, he writes: “Fully 14 of the 29 times that Isaiah’s name is mentioned in the Bible (in 2 Kings 19-20 and Isaiah 37-39), it’s mentioned in connection with Hezekiah. So it’s intriguing and significant that ancient bullae or clay seals dating to the appropriate time and bearing the names ‘Hezekiah’ and ‘Isaiah’ were recently discovered within 10 feet of each other in excavations of the ‘Ophel,’ an area located just a few yards from the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. These two seals are among 34 found at the site. They are tiny, measuring about 0.4 inches in diameter, and it’s remarkable that they were found at all.”
To understand the roles that Hezekiah and Isaiah played in the Old Testament, you may find Person’s background information interesting; to read it click “Defending the Faith: Has the ‘signature’ of the prophet Isaiah been found?“