by Rich Deem
According to the Old Testament, Jeremiah was called to speak for God to the Hebrews.1 When Jeremiah began to predict that God’s judgment would fall on Judah and that Babylonians would capture the city of Jerusalem2 and send its inhabitants into captivity,3 he was persecuted by a number of King Zedekiah’s ministers, including Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchijah.4 According to the narrative, Jeremiah was lowered into a muddy well to die, but was rescued by Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch of the king.5 Bible skeptics often claim that the stories are made-up and that most of the people probably never existed. However, new evidence shows that at least one of Jeremiah’s persecutors did exist during the time specified in the Book of Jeremiah.
Did Jeremiah Exist?
The Bible says that Jeremiah was a prophet of the Lord, called from the womb to speak for God.1 As a youth, he began to preach of God’s impending judgment on the Hebrews. Did Jeremiah really exist and was he persecuted for foretelling of God’s coming judgment. The discovery of the seal of Gedaliah, Son of Pashur confirms the existence of one of Jeremiah’s accusers.
Dr. Eilat Mazar, one of Israelï¿½s top archaeologists, found a seal with the inscription, “Gedaliah the son of Pashur”.6 According to Mazar, the seal dates to the final years of the first temple period – during the reign of Zedekiah, Judah’s last king. Three years ago, Mazar also found the seal of Jucal the son of Shelemiah in a nearby location. Jucal is also mentioned as one of Jeremiah’s accusers in the same passage.
The seal of Gedaliah, the son of Pashur, has been found in a recent dig near the ruins of the first temple in Jerusalem. The seal confirms the existence of one of Jeremiah’s accusers, as described in Jeremiah 38:1, demonstrating the reliability
- Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:4-8)
- Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Thus you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come out for your assistance is going to return to its own land of Egypt. The Chaldeans will also return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it with fire.”‘ (Jeremiah 37:6-8)
- ‘And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into captivity; and you will enter Babylon, and there you will die and there you will be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have falsely prophesied.'” (Jeremiah 20:6)
- Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchijah heard the words that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘He who stays in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans will live and have his own life as booty and stay alive.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘This city will certainly be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and he will capture it.'” Then the officials said to the king, “Now let this man be put to death, inasmuch as he is discouraging the men of war who are left in this city and all the people, by speaking such words to them; for this man is not seeking the well-being of this people but rather their harm.” So King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands; for the king can do nothing against you.” Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchijah the king’s son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. (Jeremiah 38:1-6)
- But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, while he was in the king’s palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin; and Ebed-melech went out from the king’s palace and spoke to the king, saying, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city.” Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take thirty men from here under your authority and bring up Jeremiah the prophet from the cistern before he dies.” So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king’s palace to a place beneath the storeroom and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 38:11) Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits under the ropes”; and Jeremiah did so. (Jeremiah 38:12) So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the court of the guardhouse. (Jeremiah 38:7-13)
- Stephen Flurry, Royal Seal of Prophet Jeremiahï¿½s Accuser Found, theTrumpet.com, July 31, 2008.
- Ancient seal belonged to Queen Jezebel – Utrecht Old Testament expert finds conclusive evidence (Utrecht University)