Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kings of Judah: Jotham

Earlier this week I posted a picture of the seal of Jotham, one of the kings of Judah and an ancestor of Jesus. The picture I’ve posted today is a signet ring also bearing the seal of Jotham. If you travel to the Smithsonian you can see this signet ring along with other artifacts from the expedition of Nelson Glueck to the Red Sea port of Akaba (Aquaba), Jordan.

Some sources indicate the ring is copper….others say it is fashioned from bronze. All agree, however, that the ring is inscribed in Hebrew indicating the ring “[belonged] to Jotham.” More than likely the ring was actually in the possession of the king’s seal bearer.

Seal stamps were possibly used to stamp clay vessels as they were made so that anything that the vessel contained such as oil, wine, or grain could be easily identified as belonging to the king. Seals were also used on documents and between the jamb and doors of full storerooms to show no one had opened them. At one point Jotham defeated the Ammonites and received tribute from them for three years. Sealed storerooms would have protected the tribute as it was collected and stored.

Jotham began his reign before his father, King Uzziah, went on to his reward. Uzziah had been stricken with leprosy for sinning against God and basically retired leaving his son to reign in his stead. 2 Chronicles 26 relates this fact. Jotham also ruled for a few years after Uzziah’s death as well. Toward the end of his reign around 735 B.C. a combined Syrian-Israelite coalition marched against Jerusalem, but it was left up to Jotham’s son, Ahaz, to face them down.

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