Tag Archives: Mishna

Clay Seal Confirms Ancient Temple Service: Archaeologists

Making headlines around the world this week, archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron have announced a major find in Jerusalem. They have gone from strength to strength this year already; their most recent major find is a small clay seal which seems to confirm the historical accuracy of the Jewish tradition. It was inscribed with the words “דכא לי–ה” which means “Pure to God” in Aramaic. The find, discovered during Hanukah, is reminiscent of the seal of the Cohen Gadol that the Hasmoneans found stamped on a small jar of oil, about 2200 years ago.

Pure to God Seal
Pure to God Seal. Image Credit: Daily Mail

The serendipitous discovery was made during the course of an Israel Antiquities Authority survey of the area of Robinson’s Arch, a few steps from the Western Wall. The Authority said that the seal provides the first “direct archaeological evidence of activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period” meaning that it confirms the rabbinic tradition of the Mishna (specifically, shekalim chapter 5), the Jewish legal document which underlies today’s Judaism. The laws of Tahara (“ritual purity”) pertaining to the Temple service were more particular than those for everyday life, due to the sensitive spiritual workings of the Temple.

The remains of Robinson's Arch on the western ...
Robinson's Arch in the Western Wall. Image via Wikipedia

The survey also revealed various small vessels and coins bearing the images of Hasmonean kings Alexander Yannai and John Hyrcanus.