Artifact Spotlight–Royal Storage Jar Handle

Royal Storage Jar Handle

This jar handle is from the age of King Hezekiah of Judah–about 725-698 BC.  It is made of Terracotta and is an original from Hebron, a city of Judah.  It has been a part of our collection since 2011.

jar-handleIn the center of the seal impression is a winged sun disc, the symbol of the Judean king. Above is stamped with the inscription, “Belonging to the King—Hebron.” Below are the letters (right to left) NRBH, indicating it was made for Hebron. More than 500 example of such handles have been found throughout Judah, suggesting that Hebron was a royal administrative and distribution center.

History

In 701 BC, near the end of the reign of Hezekiah, Judah as attacked by Sennacherib, King of Assyria. In preparation, large jars were filled with wine and olive oil. On Sennacherib’s Prism, a stele cataloging the battle during his campaign on Judah, it is boasted that the Assyrian troops destroyed forty-six of Judah’s cities. The siege on Jerusalem is mentioned, but it is not said to have been destroyed. Biblical accounts in Isaiah, Second Kings, and Chronicles corroborate this. Under siege, the Assyrian troops surrounded Jerusalem’s city walls. In 2 Kings 18, Hezekiah offers tribute to Sennacherib in exchange for Assyrian withdrawal. The Assyrian king agreed and Hezekiah gave him three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. Hezekiah had to empty the temple and take the gold from the doors and pillars to make such a large bribe. The Assyrian king did not keep his word and continued to lay siege on the city.

In 2 Kings 19, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that Sennacherib would fall and the city of Jerusalem would be safe from destruction. In the night, an angel slayed 185,000 Assyrians, making the city safe once more. Modern historians believe that the Assyrian troops may have been taken by disease, possibly cholera. Others suggest that the siege was so long and supplies were scarce so the troops retreated.

Although Sennacherib did not capture Jerusalem, he did capture Hebron. Over 200,000 Judeans were deported to Mesopotamia to work as slaves.

Source:

Malamat, Abraham, and Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson. A History of the Jewish People. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1976. Print.

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