Jerusalem, Jan 19 : Archaeologists have excavated a 2,500 year old stone seal in the First Temple in Jerusalem's city of David, which bears the name of one of the families who acted as servants at the temple.
"The seal of one of the members of the Temech family was discovered just dozens of meters away from the Opel area, where the servants of the Temple, or "Nethinim," lived in the time of Nehemiah," said archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who is leading the dig. report in The Jerusalem Post says that the seal, black in colour, dates back to 2,500 years and has the name "Temech" engraved on it.
According to the Book of Nehemiah, the Temech family were servants of the First Temple and was sent into exile to Babylon following its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.
However, the family was among those who later returned to Jerusalem, a verse in the Bible recounts.
"The seal, which was bought in Babylon and dates to 538-445 BCE, portrays a common and popular cultic scene," said Mazar. "Under this scene are three Hebrew letters spelling 'Temech'," she added.
The 2.1 x 1.8-cm. elliptical seal is engraved with two bearded priests standing on either side of an incense altar with their hands raised forward in a position of worship. A crescent moon, the symbol of the chief Babylonian god Sin, appears on the top of the altar.
According to Mazar, the fact that this cultic scene relates to the Babylonian chief god seemed not to have disturbed the Jews who used it on their own seal.
"The seal of the Temech family gives us a direct connection between archeology and the biblical sources and serves as actual evidence of a family mentioned in the Bible," Mazar told The Jerusalem Post. "One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find," she added.