ISRAEL - Pilate’s Ring Discovered by Archaeologists

Arno Froese

An inscription on a copper-alloy stamping ring found 50 years ago has been deciphered, and is likely to have belonged to Pontius Pilate.

The Roman prefect, who was infamously credited with sentencing Jesus to die by crucifixion, ruled the province of Judea from 26 CE to 36 CE. The Greek inscription, which was published in the latest edition of the Israel Exploration Journal, includes the word “Of Pilate” [πιλατο].

Pilate’s name was not considered to be common during this time, and the seal is typical of the status of cavalry in Roman society, which is why the authors of the publication believe it belonged to the prefect. Though the ring is simple, it was likely used for daily functions, such as stamping documents by officials or court staff who would have signed documents in Pilate’s name.

Pilate was the fifth Roman prefect stationed in Judea. Archaeologists assume he used Herodium—originally built in the first century BCE by King Herod the Great—as an administrative center. The fortress palace and adjoining town were conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Jewish revolt.

The only other archaeological evidence confirming Pilate’s existence is a Latin inscription found on a limestone block that is Pilate’s tribute to Tiberius. It was found in 1961 as a reused block within a staircase at the Roman theater in Caesarea, and is now housed at the Israel Museum. The inscription on the stone also references Pilate as the prefect of Judea., 29 November 2018

Arno's commentary

Pilate was the political authority and opposed the religious authority. Yet his final conclusion was: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24). He certainly believed Jesus to be innocent by his statement: “…this just person.” Verse 25 reads: “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” That has also been fulfilled, as some historians estimate that more than 14 million Jews were killed since the death of Jesus. But this blood will also be the saving element of the Jews one day. That day will come, as we read in Romans 11:25b-26a: “…blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved…”

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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