ISRAEL - Kingdom of Judah Government Compound Found

Arno Froese

Uncovered only three kilometers (1.8 mile) outside the Old City, the compound is believed by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists to have served as an administrative center during the reigns of Judean kings Hezekiah and Menashe (8th century to the middle of the 7th century BCE).

Over 120 jar handles stamped 2,700 years ago with ancient Hebrew script seal impressions were discovered at the site, clearly indicating the location’s use as a storage and tax center, according to an IAA press release. Prevalent among the stamped inscriptions is “LMLK,” “LamMeLeKh,” or “Belonging to the King,” a way of marking that the foodstuffs stored in the jars had been tithed to the Judean ruler.

“This is one of the most significant discoveries from the period of the Kings in Jerusalem made in recent years. At the site we excavated, there are signs that governmental activity managed and distributed food supplies not only for shortage but administered agricultural surplus amassing commodities and wealth,” said IAA excavation co-directors Sapir and Nathan Ben-Ari in a press release. 

“The archaeological discoveries at Arnona identify the site as a key site—the most important in the history of the final days of the Kingdom of Judah and of the return to Zion decades after the destruction of the Kingdom. This site joins a number of other key sites uncovered in the area of Jerusalem which were connected to the centralized administrative system of the Kingdom of Judah from its peak until its destruction,” said Baruch. 

Usually the ancient Hebrew LMLK inscription appears above the sun disc; in the case of the Arnona impressions and also some of those found at excavations elsewhere, below the sun disc is recorded one of four cities in the kingdom of Judah: Hebron, Ziph, Socho or Mmst.

According to the archaeologists, the Arnona site is dated to a period in which the Bible documents tumultuous upheavals, including the failed Assyrian King Sennacherib campaign to conquer Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah. The artifacts at the site, including the stamped seals, show that taxation likely remained uninterrupted during this period.

With the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE and Babylonian exile, the site was abandoned, said the researchers. However, shortly thereafter, “the site was resettled and administrative activity resumed. During this time governmental activity at the site was connected to the Judean province upon the Return to Zion in 538 BCE under the auspices of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which then ruled over the entire ancient Near East and Central Asia.”

“These artificial stone hills have been identified at several sites in Jerusalem and are a phenomenon of the end of the First Temple period and have aroused the curiosity and fascination of Jerusalem researchers since the beginning of archaeological research in the area,” said the archaeologists.

“Nevertheless, the reason for the huge effort made in stacking them over many acres remains an unresolved archaeological mystery,” they said., 22 July 2020

Arno's commentary

It is virtually impossible to start a building project in Israel without uncovering history. 

We note that the destruction of historical Jewish identity was made complete, to fulfill the words of Jesus: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2b).

This is quite unusual, because throughout the European continent, one can find many buildings dating back to Jesus’ time. Aqueducts, colosseums, catacombs, and artwork testify to the glory of the Roman Empire. 

The future, however, belongs to Jerusalem. “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory” (Psalm 102:13-16).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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