The term “Asher Al Habayit” describes the most senior role in the royal hierarchy in the kingdom of Judah and Israel and it appears for the first time on the list of ministers of Solomon. This role is mentioned in the Bible in reference to a number of figures that have a considerable influence in the kingdom and it describes a senior minister who was very close to the king.
For example, “Abdihu Asher Al Habayit,” in the Book of Kings I, is mentioned as having served in that role in the Kingdom of Israel, under the reign of King Ahab during times of Elijah the Prophet. As part of his tenure, Abedihu acted against Isabel in administering the kingdom and even saved a hundred of the prophets of the Lord after hiding them in a cave.
Also in this role in the Kingdom of Judea during the reign of King Hezekiah was “Elyakim son of Partiah Asher Al Habayit”. According to the book of Isaiah, Elyakim negotiated with Rabshka, one of the ministers of King Sennacherib King of Assyria, who threatened to conquer Jerusalem.
The name Adenayahu that appears on the bulla appears throughout the Bible:
This name belonged to one of King David’s sons as mentioned in the Book of Kings. Another individual with that name is mentioned as one of the Levites in the days of Jehoshaphat. Lastly, in the days of Nehemiah, he is mentioned as one of the “Heads of, the people…(Nehemiah, 9:16).
It should be noted that some 150 years ago, French archeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau discovered a burial cave with the inscription: “Tomb of …..yahu Asher Al Habayit.” The beginning of the name had been erased, but the burial site, on the outskirts of the City of David were also dated to the seventh century BC, much like the recent bulla. Although discovered by Clermont-Ganneau, the inscription was only deciphered by Prof. Nachman Avigad some eighty years later.
The bulla was covered in dirt that was excavated in 2013, until three weeks ago, when it was uncovered as part of the City of David’s volunteer Archeological Experiance, by an Israeli teenager named Batya Ofan, who described the moments of the discovery: “I began sifting through the bucket of dirt by washing it under a stream of water, and suddenly I recognized a small piece of black colored piece of metal. To hold such a significant find from 2600 years ago, from the time of the Kingdom of Judah, is an amazing thing.”
The bullae stamps – were small pieces of tin used in ancient times to sign documents, and were meant to keep the letters closed en route to their destination.
For more information contact Avi Hyman: [email protected] or ++972 546 330 768