Researchers have found an ancient clay seal from around the time he was reportedly alive, marked with the Biblical figure Isaiah’s name.
Called a bulla, the seal was retrieved from a 2,700-year-old midden in the Ophel, dating it to around 8th century BCE, and it’s inscribed with the Jewish prophet’s name.
It was found just 3 metres from where the bulla of King Hezekiah of Judah, to which Isaiah was an adviser, was found in 2015.
The bulla, sadly broken, is about a centimetre (0.4 inches) in diameter, stamped with the name Yesha’yah[u] (Isaiah) in Hebrew letters.
Following it were the letters NVY, which are the first three letters of the Hebrew word for prophet, which is spelled nun-beit-yod-aleph.
Whether or not the aleph was present is impossible to determine, since the bulla is broken after the yod.
But if it had been, the seal would have read, in its entirety, “Isaiah the Prophet.”
“The absence of this final letter … requires that we leave open the possibility that it could just be the name Navi,” lead author Eilat Mazar said.
“The name of Isaiah, however, is clear.”
The seal could have belonged to some other Isaiah hanging around at the time, since the name was a common one, and bullae commonly reference the signatory’s father.
Isaiah’s father was not Navi, but Amoz.
However, if the bulla does refer to Isaiah the Prophet, it would constitute the first evidence for his existence outside of religious texts, including the Bible, where his exploits are described in the Book of Isaiah.