Using established criteria, this article identifies nine persons mentioned in the book of Jeremiah and two high priests in 1 Chronicles, all of whom were contemporaries of Jeremiah. These persons are identified with virtual certainty in inscriptions of known authenticity contemporaneous with that prophet. Some these inscriptions came to light as recently as 2005 and 2008.
Authentic bullae from excavations in the City of David refer to several Hebrew people named in the Bible. These are: Gemaryahu the king’s minister and his father Shaphan the scribe, Yehukal the king’s minister and his father Shelemyahu, Gedalyahu the king’s minister and his father Pashḥur, and two high priests: Azaryahu and his father Ḥilqiyahu.
A well-known neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablet lists two courtiers of Nebuchadnezzar II who are also mentioned by name and title in the book of Jeremiah: Nergal-sharezer the samgar official and Nebuzaradan the rab-ṭabāḥîm (variously translated as “captain of the guard” and “chief cook”). Nebuzaradan oversaw the exile to Babylonia. Finally, a recently-translated neo-Babylonian clay tablet records a temple offering made by a third official of Nebuchadnezzar II, Nebo-sarsekim the rab-saris, to whom the book of Jeremiah also refers by name and title.
“If the authors of the book of Jeremiah had not intended to produce such historically accurate work as they did, these precise identifications would be inexplicable” (p. 61*).
Identifications of officials reach a level of detail that has even greater credibility than identifications of the five kings in the book of Jeremiah also named in ancient inscriptions.
Jeremiah, biblical historicity, historical reliability, people in the Bible, history of Israel
Date of this Version
Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, “Eleven Non-Royal Jeremianic Figures Strongly Identified in Authentic, Contemporaneous Inscriptions,” in Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical, and Geographical Studies: Joseph Naveh Volume, vol. 32 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and The Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2016), pp. 57*–64*.