"Dramatic Discovery" Bethlehem was Part of Kingdom of Judah
First Extra-Biblical Evidence of the oldest artifact with the name of Jesus’ traditional birthplace.
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old seal that bears the inscription “Bethlehem,” the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday 23 May, in what experts believe to be the oldest artifact with the name of Jesus’ traditional birthplace.
A half-inch clay seal was discovered in Jerusalem across the road from the Western Wall this week that proves the town of Bethlehem was part of the Kingdom of Judah.
As reported in Israel National News, the ancient Hebrew script on the seal indicates the stamp was sent from Bethlehem to the King in Jerusalem in the seventh year of his reign.
The seals reportedly were used to seal tax shipments to the King of Judah in the late eighth century and seventh century B.C.
Elie Shukrun, director of the excavation, said it's unclear if the reference is to King Hezekiah, Manasseh, or Josiah. The tiny clay seal’s existence and age provide vivid evidence that Bethlehem was not just the name of a fabled biblical town, but also a bustling place of trade linked to the nearby city of Jerusalem, archaeologists said.
"This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible in an inscription from the First Temple period," he said, "which proves that Bethlehem was, indeed, a city in the Kingdom of Judah."