Apologetics, Archaeology, Main, z173
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Seal found confirming the existence of King Jeroboam II


Tel Megiddo, Northern Israel Credit: Avram Graicer/Wikipedia/Creative Commons 3.0

Archaeology keeps confirming the Biblical record by not only finding evidence of the good guys, but the bad ones as well. In 1904, archaeologists discovered a seal of Jeroboam II at an archaeological dig in Megiddo located in Northern Israel. Jeroboam II ruled Israel for about 41 years between 786 BC and 746 BC.

He was the 13th King of Israel after the nation split apart into the Northern Kingdom, Israel and the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Jeroboam II should not to be confused with Jeroboam, who was Israel’s first king after the separation.

The small seal actually did not belong to Jeroboam but rather a man named Shema. The seal reads: “Belonging to Shema, the servant of Jeroboam.”

The seal with a roaring lion reads: “Belonging to Shema, the servant of Jeroboam”

Only the important or the wealthy had seals, and Shema’s description as “servant of Jeroboam” indicated he was a very senior bureaucrat at Jeroboam’s palace in Samaria.

Throughout the Bible, the Hebrew word “ebed,” translated “servant” on the seal, was used to describe important government officials as we see it used in 2 Kings 22:12. The description and the seal suggest that Shema was probably the King Jeroboam’s right-hand man.

The seal, made of Jasper, was intricately carved with a roaring lion on it. It was used to imprint an image onto either the wet clay or wax that was used to seal official documents. The imprint indicated who the sender was.

The Bible refers to Jeroboam II as an ungodly king:

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (2 Kings 14:23-24 NIV)

And God raised up several prophets to speak against Jeroboam II. One of them was Amos, a shepherd from Judah. He had no formal training and was not a priest, yet God raised up Amos to be God’s voice to Jeroboam II.

It is probably not a coincidence that Amos also referred to a roaring lion in several of his prophecies against Israel. If the roaring lion was the so-called trademark of Jeroboam, one of the Amos’s prophecies against Israel clearly contradicts this revealing that God is the true Lion who roars through his prophets, not some reprobate King:

The lion has roared—
    who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken—
    who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:8 NIV)

Amos prophesied against the idolatrous worship of a gold calf at Dan and Bethel, but the prophet also condemned the wealth of the ruling elite in Israel.

And what makes this unique is that God raised up a commoner to be the voice for the people:

You lie on beds adorned with ivory
    and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
    and fattened calves. (Amos 6:4)

So where did that wealth come from?

Amos prophesied against Jeroboam II’s high taxes that were impoverishing the people and the prophet connected these excessive taxes to the building of elaborate homes or palace. The plural indicates the ruling elite (this probably included Shema) had several palace residences spread throughout the country:

Therefore because you trample on the poor
    and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
    but you shall not dwell in them; (Amos 5:11 NIV)

But notice how Amos said, that they would not be able to dwell in them.

Curiously this prophecy is connected to another discovery that indirectly confirms both Jeroboam and Amos. In the Book of Amos, there are several references to an earthquake (Amos 3:14; 8:8; 9:1) and Amos 1:1 tells us that God called the prophet to service two years before the earthquake hit.

All these earthquake prophecies were delivered as judgments against Israel and in Amos 6:11, the prophet specifically said that the earthquake would topple the elite’s grand homes built on the backs of the common people.

Archaeologists and geologists have now found concrete evidence of this earthquake that took place around 760 BC. They not only discovered stratigraphic evidence but as well the sudden destruction of buildings.

In an article in International Geology, geologist Dr. Steven Austin estimated that the earthquake was somewhere between 7.8 and 8.2 in magnitude. According to modern earthquake rankings an 8.0 magnitude earthquake today will “destroy all buildings” and that is with our modern construction methods. So one can only imagine the devastation after it struck Israel.

One small seal tells a big story of government excess and over taxation.

Sources:

Ancient Seal Proves Biblical King Jeroboam

Jeroboam II: Wikipedia

Geologists confirm Amos 1:1: Opentheword

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