The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and the second of the Prophets in the Old Testament. It tells the story of one of the major characters of the text, Jeremiah, including his private life, his experiences, and his imprisonment, which almost saw him killed. During the last days of the Kingdom of Judah, the prophet warned the residents of Jerusalem of their impending captivity at the hands of the Babylonian army.
But instead of heeding that warning, the princes of King Zedekiah’s administration attacked the messenger and plunged him into a dungeon.
And, incredibly, historian Shahar Shilo detailed how the story was given credibility by the discovery of a hardened clay seal impression in the City of David.
He said: “Historical documents are affirming the Biblical story, the texts from the Bible are as clear as it gets, but we, historians, can actually prove it.
“This is bulla, which is an impression, and it belonged to a certain minister in the Kingdom of Zadok.
“He was called Jehucal ben Shelemiah (Jehucal the son of Shelemiah).
“This is the guy who grabs Jeremiah up by the arm and throws him to the pit when he sees a terrible prophecy.”
Measuring just one centimetre in diameter, the artefact was almost missed by excavators.
But leading archaeologist Dr Eilat Mazar deciphered its message, which read: “Belonging to Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shovi.”
The Bible describes that this Jehucal was one of the princes who interacted with Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s warnings continued to go unheeded by Judah’s rulers, priests and people.
Rather than turning many to safety, Jeremiah’s work almost got him killed.
The incredible document helps vindicate the accuracy of the Bible, but Dr Mazar, who was a key figure in its discovery, sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 64.
In her five decades of excavating the Holy Land, she discovered the remains of a palace believed to belong to King David, a gate identified with King Solomon, a wall thought to have been built by Nehemiah and a seal that may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah.
Once called the “queen of Jerusalem archaeology,” Dr Mazar took the Bible seriously as a historical text and quarrelled with scholars who thought it was unscientific to pay too much attention to it.