Lachish Letters
Lachish Letters
Did the Lachish letters reveal the turmoil in Judah just before the Babylonian captivity?

The discovery of the Lachish Letters in 1935 of eighteen ostraca (clay tablets with writing in ink) written in an ancient Hebrew script, from the 7th century BC reveal important information concerning the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah. 

They were discovered at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) among the ruins of an ancient guard room just outside the Lachish city gate.

Then a few years later three inscribed potsherds were also found at the site, and like the others, they contained names and lists from the period just before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. 

Most of the letters were dispatches from a Jewish commander named Hoshaiah who was stationed at an outpost north of Lachish, who apparently was responsible for interpreting the signals from Azekah and Lachish during the time when the Babylonians came against Jerusalem: 

Jer 34:7 "when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah."

The ostraca read: "To my lord Ya'osh. May Yahweh cause my lord to hear the news of peace, even now, even now. Who is your servant but a dog that my lord should remember his servant?'"

These final communications which mentioned the political and religious turmoil of the last days of Judah reveal the intensity of this time period and confirm that which was written in the Bible by the prophet Jeremiah.

The Lachish Letters are an important discovery in the study of Biblical Archaeology and shed much light on the last days of Judah.

British Museum Excerpt

Lachish Letter II

Israelite, 586 BC
From Lachish (modern Tell ed-Duweir), Israel

A letter written on a piece of pottery

This is one of a group of letters written on ostraka (pot sherds) found near the main gate of ancient Lachish in a burnt layer which archaeologists have associated with the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 586 BC. It is written in ink in alphabetic Hebrew. The letters are a poignant record of the city's last days. 

In 598 BC Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, invaded Judah after it had rebelled against him. He captured Jerusalem and took the royal family captive. He installed Zedekiah, the former king's uncle, as his choice of ruler. However, rebellion broke out again. Nebuchadnezzar showed no mercy this time and in 587 BC he beseiged and then destroyed Jerusalem.

This was the period at which this letter was written. It came from an officer named Hosha'yahu who was in charge of a military outpost. He was writing to Ya'osh, military commander at Lachish, as the situation worsened. 

'To my lord Ya'osh. May Yahweh cause my lord to hear the news of peace, even now, even now. Who is your servant but a dog that my lord should remember his servant?'

Peace was not to be. Nebuchadnezzar moved on to Lachish and nearby Azekah, the last two major cities of Judah to be subdued by the Babylonians. There followed a large-scale deportation of a part of Judah's population. Thus began the exile, a period of great significance for the Jews spiritually, and one which would profoundly influence later religious ideology and teaching. 

Height: 9 cm 
Width: 10 cm 

Excavated by J. L. Starkey, Wellcome-Marston Research Expedition.

ANE 125702

Room 57, The Ancient Levant

The British Museum


The Kings of Israel (all wicked)

Jeroboam I (933-911 BC) twenty-two years

Nadab (911-910) two years

Baasha (910-887) twenty-four years

Elah (887-886) two years

Zimri (886) seven days

Omri (886-875) twelve years

Ahab (875-854) twenty-two years

Ahaziah (855-854) two years

Jehoram (Joram) (854-843) twelve years

Jehu (843-816) twenty-eight years

Jehoahaz (820-804) seventeen years

Jehoash (Joash) (806-790) sixteen years

Jeroboam II (790-749) forty-one years

Zechariah' (748) six months

Shallum (748) one month

Menahem (748-738) ten years

Pekahiah (738-736) two years

Pekah (748-730) twenty years

Hoshea (730-721) nine years

 

The Kings of Judah (8 were good)

Rehoboam (933-916 BC) seventeen years

Abijam (915-913) three years

Asa (Good) (912-872) forty-one years

Jehoshaphat (Good) (874-850) twenty-five years

Jehoram (850-843) eight years

Ahaziah (843) one year

Athaliah (843-837) six years

Joash (Good) (843-803) forty years

Amaziah (Good) (803-775) 29 years

Azariah (Uzziah) (Good) (787-735) fifty-two years

Jotham (Good) (749-734) sixteen years

Ahaz (741-726) sixteen years

Hezekiah (Good) (726-697) 29 years

Manasseh (697-642) fifty-five years

Amon (641-640) two years

Josiah (Good) (639-608) thirty-one years

Jehoahaz (608) three months

Jehoiachim (608-597) eleven years

Jehoiachin (597) three months

Zedekiah (597-586) eleven years

 


Related Pages:

Lachish in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Lachish in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia

Lachish in Smith's Bible Dictionary

The Fall of Judah

The Babylonian Captivity and Archaeology

The Babylonian Captivity in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia

David in Easton's Bible Dictionary

David in Nave's Topical Bible

Map of the Kingdom of David and Solomon

David - The Rightful King

Tomb of David

Tel Dan Stele

Map of David's Kingdom

Solomon

Solomon in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Solomon's Temple in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Solomon's Temple History

Beersheba in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia

Biblical Definition of Beersheba

Altar - Background Bible Study

Altar in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Altar in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia

Israel - The Center of the Ancient World

Israel - Archaeology Links and Resources

The Destruction of Israel in the Old Testament

Archaeological Resources - Israel

Map of Old Testament Israel

Map of New Testament Israel

Bible History Online - Fallen Empires (Biblical Archaeology)

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East : Art & Images

Bible History Online - Ancient Art

The Destruction of Israel - Kings of Israel, Judah and Assyria

Timeline 800 - 700 BC

The Assyrians

The Captivity of Israel

Hebrew History

Ancient Jerusalem

First Century Jerusalem

The Impregnable Strength of Jerusalem

Map of Jerusalem

Jerusalem - Heart Message

Ancient Sketches

 

Fallen Empires - Archaeology and the Bible

Archaeology Discoveries and the Ancient Biblical World 

The Black Obelisk. In the 1840's a British man named Austen Henry Layard had a desire to travel to the Middle East and dig around some of the strange looking mounds near the City of Mosul. He had heard many tales about things being found in these mounds. He was looking for any trace of evidence that would lead him to the lost city of Nineveh, the capital of the ancient Assyrian Empire. Little did he know that one of his discoveries would turn Europe upside down with excitement. He discovered a black limestone monument which is known today as The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. This discovery brought a new authenticity and historicity to some of the stories in the Bible. It also gained him the support of the British Museum, and all the finances he needed to continue his excavations, and become known as "The Father of Assyriology."

The Pilate Inscription. It wasn't long ago when many scholars were questioning the actual existence of a Roman Governor with the name of Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus' crucifixion. In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the worn face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea."

The Megiddo Seal Bearing King Jeroboam's Name. It is very interesting that the Jasper Seal, found at Tel Megiddo bearing the name of King Jeroboam who ruled in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, would contain the symbol for their rival, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. But in examining all of the circumstances involved and seeing what the Bible says it is no wonder that the prosperous and victorious Northern Kingdom of Israel would boast with a symbol of their enemy.

The Tomb of Cyrus the Great. An inscription on the tomb of the great Persian monarch read: "O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know that you will come--I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of the Persians and was king of the East. Do not grudge me this spot of earth which covers my body." - Cyrus". Is it true that Isaiah the Hebrew prophet mention Cyrus by name almost 200 years before he was born?

Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism. This amazing discovery excavated in Nineveh in the 1830 records the Assyrian king Sennacherib's 8th campaign, which includes his siege of Jerusalem during the reign of "Hezekiah the Judahite" in 701 BC. There are 500 lines of writing in the Akkadian language on this magnificent clay prism. Is the story true that it was purchased by an American from an antiquities dealer in Baghdad?

Coming Soon The Ishtar Gate of Babylon. During the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah the Jews were taken captive to a distant land called Babylon at the latter part of the 6th century BC. They passed through a beautiful entrance gate made of mud brick masonry and glazed skin which stood 47 feet tall, commonly referred to as the Ishtar Gate since its discovery at the turn of the 20th century near modern Baghdad, Iraq. The tall gate was dedicated to the gods by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylonia who reigned from 605—562 BC). Is it true that Hitler had it transported to Berlin? Where is the Ishtar Gate now?

[Next] The Remains of Solomon's Temple

Biblical Archaeology

The Bible mentions many things about people, places and events that happened in history. The Bible also gives an accurate chronology of those people, places and events. What is amazing is that modern archaeology has confirmed that the Bible has never made one error, or given any clear contradictions in all of its text in matters of historical fact. The paintings and illustrations below of archaeological discoveries and ruins illustrate this emphatically.

Paintings By Bjanikka Ben and Maliyah Weston

Assyria

Weld Prism

Sargon I Bust

Hammurabi Stele

Colossal Lion of Assyria

Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Close up of Jehu - Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Tiglath Pileser III (Pul)

Enemy Trod Under Foot

Sargon II with Staff in Hand

Sargon II Relief

Winged Bull - One Sided

Winged Bull - Two Sided

Assyrian Royal Guard Soldiers of Sennacherib

Lachish Captives Being Skinned Alive

Israelite Captives from Lachish

Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)

Stela of Ashurbanipal

Ruins of Ancient Assyria

Painting of Ancient Ashur

Israel

Moabite Stone

Beersheba Altar

Ivory Pomegranate Fake

Ossuary of Caiaphas

Proto Ionic Capital

El Amarna Letters

House of David Inscription

Korban Inscription

Lachish Letters

Megiddo Seal - Jeraboam Inscription

Pilate Inscription

Place of Trumpeting Inscription

Qumran Jar (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Siloam Inscription

Tel Dan Stele

Temple Warning Inscription

Uzziah Tablet Inscription

Stela of Baal

Gold of Ophir Inscription

Hazael King of Syria Statue

Ancient Caesarea Harbor

Ancient Caesarea Ruins

Ancient Hittite Ruins

Babylon

Striding Lion of Babylon 

Nebuchadnezzar II Cylinder

Lagash Rations Tablet

Ishtar Gate

Nebuchadnezzar II Brick

Babylonian Chronicle

Dragon of Marduk

Lion of Marduk

Detail of the Lion of Marduk

The Royal Standard of Ur

Persia

Tomb of Cyrus

Cyrus Cylinder

Ancient Persian Soldiers

Persepolis Lion

Darius Seated

Darius the Great (Up Close)

Ancient Persians

Ancient Persian Warriors at Susa

Egypt

Pharaoh Kneeling Before Bull

Amenophis II (Also Known as Thutmose-III)

Ramesses II

Shishak Smiting His Enemies

Apis the Sacred Bull of Memphis

Rosetta Stone

The Pyramids

Ramesses II Colossal Statue Painting

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

The Israel Stela

Pharaoh Merneptah Statue

Ancient Egyptian Sphinx

Ancient Egyptian Obelisk

Rome

Bust of Julius Caesar

Bronze Bust of Augustus

Bust of Augustus Caesar

Bust of Tiberius Caesar

Arch of Titus Menorah Relief - 1

Arch of Titus Chariot Relief - 2

Bust of Vespasian

Bust of Titus

Bust of Nero

Roman Legionary Camp

Roman Legion Bricks with Stamp

Ancient Roman Eagle

Ancient Roman Aqueduct

Ancient Roman Legions

Ancient Roman Milestone

The Arch of Titus

The Colosseum

Greece

Alexander the Great Bust

Antiochus IV Epiphanes Coin

The Parthenon Ruins

The Ancient Parthenon of Athens

Antiochus IV Epiphanes Bust

Alexander the Great Coin

Greek Macedonian Infantry Helmet

Ancient Persian Soldiers

Peoples

Canaanite

Chaldean

Cilician

Indian

Ionian

Mede

Persian

Philistine

(More to come)

Illustrated Bible History A growing database of images and sketches of the ancient world.
Bible Maps A growing database of maps for study and teaching.

Reconstructions Sketches of ancient cities & monuments from archaeology.

Archaeology Resources:

The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Holden and Geisler. 352 Pages, 2012

Biblical Archaeology

Bible History Online

The Story of the Bible


© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)

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