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Ancient Seals and Signets


Signet Cylinder
(Original is in British Museum)


Signet Cylinder of Sennacherib
(Original is in British Museum)

The ancient seal was a stamp or engraving set in stone, metal or some hard substance like crystal. It was usually a symbol or a figure that was used to make an impression on clay or wax, or some other soft substance.

It was usually attached to an object like a possession or a document, in order to give it authenticity, ownership or authority. It was used often in the ancient world, especially in Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria and surrounding nations including Israel.

"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm." 
- Song of Solomon 8:6     
 

"And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed." 
- Isaiah 29:11     

"And Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe." 
- Romans 4:11      

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." 
- Ephesians 4:30      

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." 
- Ephesians 1:13-14   


Signet Cylinder
(Original is in British Museum)

Signet Cylinder of Sennacherib
(Original is in British Museum)

Seal of Chalcedony, with Phoenician Inscription
(Original is in British Museum)


Seal of Sapphire Chalcedony, with Assyrian Inscription
(Original is in British Museum)


Seal of Chalcedony, with Persian Inscription
(Original is in British Museum)


Seal in the form of a duck, with her head resting on her neck
(Original is in British Museum)


Clay Impression from Seal of Esarhaddon
found at Kouyunjik (Original is in British Museum)


Clay Impression from Seal - Ear of Wheat
found at Kouyunjik (Original is in British Museum)


Clay Impression from Seal - Scorpion
found at Kouyunjik (Original is in British Museum)


 
Heart Message 

The Signet and Seal

The signet makes a deep impression in clay forming an official seal. The imprinted seal carries the full authority of the office it represents and no one dare question it. His design is well known, his symbol without any doubt authentic, his mark indelibly declares the full authority of royal ownership. There is the pain of death to those who violate it. 

Graphics, like drawings on a cave wall, look primitive and now sit safely on shelves in museums, yet were we the ones bearing up under the ancient powers, we would know well the authority of the imprint left in wax. Perhaps we might disguise our tremble when encountering a magistrate able to open an emperor's seal providing him legal right to tax our possessions, drag us to court, or conscript us into his service.

In scripture we find, somehow we are sealed. A metaphor which would ring powerfully to those under Roman rule. Yet God's sealing is never coercive. Never forced. A free will decision is made. An imprint is then formed within us. Our souls bear his mark, His letters, His image, and all powers are duly informed: we belong to God. In His timing, many times unknown to us, He opens us as a scroll, and reads aloud what He has written inside, we become a living decree, a love letter and invitation for others to receive the forgiveness offered in Christ, and to be sealed forever by the gentle all-powerful Holy Spirit of God. 

The Signet is hard and makes a deep impression, but only on soft substances like clay, wax or humility. It cannot leave its mark on stone, or metal or pride. 

In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 

The Bible mentions a lot regarding the word "seal":

Revelation 10:4 - And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Esther 8:8 - Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal [it] with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.

Jeremiah 32:44 - Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal [them], and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.

Daniel 9:24 - Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

John 3:33 - He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Revelation 6:7 - And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

1 Kings 21:8 - So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed [them] with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that [were] in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

Romans 4:11 - And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Revelation 20:3 - And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Revelation 6:12 - And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

Revelation 7:2 - And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

Revelation 6:5 - And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

Daniel 12:4 - But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

2 Timothy 2:19 - Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Revelation 9:4 - And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Revelation 6:9 - And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

Revelation 8:1 - And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Nehemiah 9:38 - And because of all this we make a sure [covenant], and write [it]; and our princes, Levites, [and] priests, seal [unto it].

Revelation 22:10 - And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

1 Corinthians 9:2 - If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

Job 38:14 - It is turned as clay [to] the seal; and they stand as a garment.

Job 41:15 - [His] scales [are his] pride, shut up together [as with] a close seal.

Isaiah 8:16 - Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Revelation 6:3 - And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

Song of Solomon 8:6 - Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love [is] strong as death; jealousy [is] cruel as the grave: the coals thereof [are] coals of fire, [which hath a] most vehement flame.

 

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