King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah worked together in biblical times and now, thanks to archaeology, they're together again... in Oklahoma of all places!
Personal seal impressions that likely belonged to the two men are on display together for the first time. A simulcast linking Jerusalem with Oklahoma's Armstrong Auditorium marked the debut.
"This is a celebration day for all our friends and especially for the lovers of Israel and the Bible," Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar told participants in both Jerusalem and Oklahoma during the opening of the exhibit.
Mazar helped uncover the artifacts in 2009.
"This is one of the bullae that we found," Mazar said pointing to a large poster of the artifact. "It's a seal impression, very tiny, as large as you can see it now but this is all of one centimeter [less than half an inch] in diameter, even not the nail on my finger."
Workers uncovered both items just a few feet apart at the foot of the Temple Mount, just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City. Historically that area has been called the "Ophel" meaning "a high place to climb to."
King Hezekiah, considered one of Judea's greatest leaders, and the prophet Isaiah lived some 2,700 years ago.
"When people wanted at that time, biblical times, to seal a document, they tied the document with a string and then they took a little tiny mud and pushed their private seal to the soft mud and made [a] seal impression. You could read their names," Mazar told CBN News.
Hezekiah's reads, "Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, King of Judah."
"To find such a private item, that relates to one of the Judean kings, I believe we've reached kind of a peak in that matter. We came so close to that kind of figure," Mazar said.
Isaiah's isn't as clear. It reads: "Belonging to Isaiah"... but the second word is missing a letter that could complete the Hebrew word for "prophet."
Exhibit Curator Brad McDonald, from the Armstrong International Foundation, said it sends a message when artifacts back up the Bible.
"Whenever you find discoveries like this, actual physical items that people can touch and they have inscribed on them the names of biblical figures, it's always powerful. This is science proving the Bible," McDonald told CBN News.
Mazar's grandfather Benjamin Mazar, led the first excavation after the 1967 Six-Day War that reunited Jerusalem.
"My grandfather excavated 10 continuous years without stopping," Mazar said. "This was a fantastic project – almost no parallel in dimensions. Hundreds of people worked. They revealed fantastic remains of ancient Jerusalem from all periods."
Stephen Flurry, vice president of the Armstrong International Foundation and president of the Herbert W. Armstrong College in Edmond, Oklahoma, where the exhibit opened, said the foundation has been working with the Mazar family for decades.
"We've had a partnership with Dr. Eilat Mazar since 2006, but our relationship with the Mazar family actually goes back to 1968 when her grandfather worked with the name sake of our college, Herbert W. Armstrong," Flurry told CBN News.
"Since that time we've sent students to volunteer on the excavations, and we've also provided funding for some of her work," Flurry said.
Dr. Michael Oren, Israel's minister of diplomacy calls Eilat Mazar "a hero."
"She's fought for Israel's future by fighting for its past in the face of a lot of naysayers and particularly people in the world today who deny a historical connection between Israel and the city of Jerusalem, people who deny there ever was a King David or King Hezekiah or a Prophet Isaiah," Oren told CBN News.
"Eilat digs down and she finds it and she proves them all wrong," Oren said.
Ten years ago, while digging in the City of David, Mazar believed she discovered King David's palace.
"It's monumentality is obvious. Everybody can see," Mazar said at the time.
"Also its date - [it has] been constructed sometime around 1,000 BC, the time of King David in general based on the pottery that we found underneath and within. These facts brought us to understand that we have got [a] fantastic monumental construction," she said.
While many archaeologists dismiss the Bible, Mazar maintains it to be an "important historical source."
"The biblical stories and the New Testament stories by the way, it goes together because [it] just prove[s] quite accurately the development of Jerusalem and the way Jerusalem is described is quite accurate," Mazar said.
The Oklahoma exhibit provides other artifacts, including a life-size replica of Hezekiah's underground water tunnel. It's open to the public through mid-August.
Oren believes the significance of these pieces go way beyond science.
"Archaeology is not just about revealing the past. Archaeology is about securing our present. Archaeology is about ensuring our future. Archaeology is about richness; it's about rootedness; and as Eilat Mazar will tell you, it's about truth," Oren told participants at the exhibit's opening.
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