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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Archeological Discovery in Jerusalem -- Confirms 2nd Temple Practices

One of the many sensational archeological discoveries in Jerusalem in recent years, in and around the Temple Mount, was a seal inscribed with the Aramaic words Daka l'adonay [דכא ליה]. These words mean "Pure for God." The Aramaic daka is equivalent to the Hebrew zakh, meaning pure. The la [ל] means "for." The two letters YH [יה] are an abbreviation for the name of God, usually written YHVH in English by Jews. The ancient Jews did not want to write out the full name of God out of respect for holiness. Here is the story in brief with a nice, big photo:

Ancient Seal with Hebrew Inscription 'Seal of God'

Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of a rare clay seal – likely used to certify the purity of ritual objects used in the Second Temple – at an excavation site under the Old City of Jerusalem.The coin-sized seal, measuring about two centimeters in diameter, bears two Aramaic words meaning “pure for God.”

It is the first “direct archaeological evidence of activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period,” according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Archaeologist Ronny Reich of Haifa University said the seal dates from between the 1st century B.C. to 70 A.D.

“It seems that the inscribed object was used to mark products or objects that were brought to the Temple, and it was imperative they be ritually pure. This stamped impression is probably the kind referred to in the Mishnah as a chotem, or seal. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that such an object or anything similar to it was discovered in an archaeological excavation and it constitutes direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period,” archaeologists Eli Shukron of the IAA and Prof. Reich said in a statement.
The rare seal was unearthed at the City of David excavation site just outside the Temple Mount compound. Last month, archaeologists found four bronze coins stamped around 17 A.D. by the Roman official Valerius Gratus during an excavation at the site.

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The photo and text below it come from the Land of Israel blog. We know that the seal is from the Second Temple Period since it uses the Hebrew letters in the form that we still use today, with slight differences. In the First Temple Period, Jews/Israelites used an alphabet [כתב עברי קדום] much like that used by the Phoenicians/Canaanites which became the model for the Greek alphabet. The first version of the Greek alphabet was called Phoinikia after the Phoenicians. Alphabet is of course a word derived from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta, which names are taken from the first two letters of the Hebrew/Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet, alef and beyt.

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