The Bible is our Source of Life as Christians.
It is also the most attacked book in all of history by those who reject God.
Yet, time and time again, archaeological discoveries provide more and more evidence of its truth.
Now, a 2,600-year-old stone stamp is doing so again.
Have you ever heard the name of Nathan-Melech?
Chance are unless you’re a Bible trivia champion, you have not.
But Nathan-Melech is a man mentioned in 2 Kings 23 which recounts the “Reforms of Josiah.”
Josiah was a king over Jerusalem who is known for leading the people of Judah back to repentance. He had heard that the judgment of God would surely come if they continued as they were going.
He started with the elders and priests — the leaders under him, over the people — reforming them all from headship down through reading and aligning to the Words of Scripture.
Josiah then created a pillar of dedication and called the people of Judah to join the reform. He started in Judah because the temple of the Lord had become defiled with all matters of godlessness.
After getting the hearts of God’s children right, he made every effort “to bring out of the temple of the LORD all of the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven.”
Evidently, the kings of Judah now under the direction of Josiah had perverted God’s people and all holy places to the LORD for idols and false gods. One by one, Josiah had them by their own hands tear down ritual booths and remove artifacts to be burned.
In this part of the story, we find Nathan-Melech.
All that is mentioned of him is in one verse during this reformation process:
“He [Josiah] removed from the entrance to the temple of the Lord the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun” (2 Kings 23:11).
While this seems like a small thing compared to the book’s entirety, or even to this storyline… It has recently become a huge topic in current day religious discussion.
Regardless, this man was important — an official of the court. He was also debatably in charge of the horses, as they were apparently located near his room in the court itself.
How can such a seemingly small role play such a huge part in the veracity of our Christian faith?
How do historians know whether a man named Nathan-Melech ever existed?
For many names mentioned in the Bible there is no other evidence of their existence.
But archaeologists just found an artifact that provides outside evidence that this man mentioned in scripture really did exist, making the Biblical account much more credible even to secular historians.
The discovery was of a “rare clay seal mark and a 2,600-year-old stone stamp bearing Biblical names amid the ruins of a building destroyed by the ancient Babylonians.”
Experts are saying that these artifacts were from the First Temple period of the City of David, even made in Jerusalem.
This would match the expected timeframe in 2 Kings 23.
The temple was likely destroyed, according to other determinations by archaeologists, around 6th century B.C. This also matches Biblical scholars’ assessment which states that the Babylonians destroyed the temple in 586 B.C.
Professor Yuval Gadot, who oversaw the dig, is professor at Tel Aviv University in Jerusalem, as well as the Israel Antiquities Authority.
From these findings, there is reason to believe fire was involved in the destruction, as “charred pottery shards were found in the building, indicating that the seal mark and stamp survived a major fire.”
The seal-stamp, or “bulla” as known in ancient times, is small. Only about 1cm, yet this document-authentication device would have been used often by its owner.
Nathan-Melech would have kept this clean and safe, as it had his personal signature engraved in the stone. In fact, these stamps were often set into rings due to high frequency of use, and an additional symbol of authority.
The words “(Belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” have been translated with no discrepancy.
The report on the second finding is as follows: “A 1 cm stamp-seal made of bluish agate stone was also found in the ruins. The stamp is engraved with the name: ‘(Belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu.’ The name ‘Matanyahu’ appears in the Bible and on other stamps and seal marks, but the name ‘Ikar’ has not been seen before.”
Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem is also a part of this dig on the assessment and research for all items found.
He believes that “‘Ikar,’ which can be translated as ‘farmer,’ likely refers to a private individual, as opposed to a description of the person’s occupation.”
Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University helps us understand the intense and beautiful gift of this discovery.
“These artifacts attest to the highly developed system of administration in the Kingdom of Judah and add considerable information to our understanding of the economic status of Jerusalem and its administrative system during the First Temple period, as well as personal information about the king’s closest officials and administrators who lived and worked in the city.”
The fact that we cannot only attest to Scriptural authenticity, but also the cohesiveness, the reason, the fullness of its characters, is something worth praising God over.
Pray that those still working at this archaeological site will be safe as they keep digging.
Praise God for blessings over the leaders of this dig, and for leading them to these findings.