An Israeli professor claims that a recent translation of an eighth-century B.C. inscription containing the name of Judean King Hezekiah in Jerusalem's City of David is "one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Israel of all time."
Prof. Gershon Galil, head of the Institute for Biblical Studies and Ancient History at Haifa University in Israel, alongside Eli Shukron, from the Bible and Ancient History research institute, deciphered Hezekiah's name on a palm-sized limestone tablet discovered in 2007.
The inscription also summarizes the first 17 years of Hezekiah's reign and his accomplishments, as described in 2 Kings 20 of the Bible. The verse describes how Hezekiah brought water to the city through the discovery of a pool and a tunnel, and the inscribed stone was found at a pool in the Gihon Spring area.
As Arkeonews reported Monday, Shukron and archaeologist Ronny Reich found the fragment near a man-made pool in the Siloam tunnel. The discovery was made during excavations at Jerusalem's City of David National Park in 2007, with Shukron and Galil spending over a decade deciphering it.
The inscription measures about 5.3 inches long by 3.8 inches wide, and there are two lines of writing containing six letters inscribed in Old Hebrew script. Galil and Shukron concluded that the full inscription reads: "Hezekiah made the pool in Jerusalem."
"This is an extremely important discovery that changes [some basic assumptions of] research, since until today it was commonly accepted that the kings of Israel and Judah, unlike the kings of the ancient Middle East, did not make themselves royal inscriptions and monuments… to commemorate their achievements," Galil was quoted as saying.
The professor explained that these inscriptions are the "earliest manuscripts of the Bible," noting that they predate other ancient artifacts, such as Hinnom silver amulets by 100 years and the Dead Sea Scrolls by hundreds of years.
"They also support the claim that scriptures in the Book of Kings are based on texts originating from chronicles and royal inscriptions and that the Bible reflects historical reality and not imagination," he added.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the researchers deciphered five royal inscriptions of King Hezekiah, which include dozens of lines and hundreds of letters.
According to Galil, the inscriptions indicate the date the water project was completed in the 17th year of Hezekiah's reign, around 709 BCE.
The researchers believe that the stone was attached to a public building and that the inscription was much larger.
The inscription carries a link to another fragment discovered at the Gihon Spring in 1978 by archaeologist Yigal Shiloh.
The text includes the word "seventeen/seventeenth," which could be a reference to the length of Hezekiah's reign. Notably, both inscriptions are of the same type of limestone and have the same lettering.
The letters also look similar to the Siloam Inscription, which describes how the tunnel was constructed to carry water into the city to prevent the Assyrians from cutting off Jerusalem's water supply.
Other archaeological discoveries have claimed to provide further context about events in the Old Testament.
As The Christian Post reported, a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described a new dating technique that enabled researchers to date several military conquests mentioned in the Bible properly.
Twenty researchers from different countries and disciplines utilized archaeomagnetic dating to gather readings from ancient geomagnetic fields preserved through time to track changes. The study, conducted by Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, dated 21 destruction layers at 17 archaeological sites in Israel.
The researchers claim their findings indicate that King Hazael of Aram-Damascus' army was responsible for the destruction of the cities of Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit and Horvat Tevet, in addition to Gath, a Philistine state. However, the team also stated that their research shows that Hazael did not conquer Tel Beth-Shean.
Other geomagnetic findings appear to confirm theories that Edom took advantage of Jerusalem's fall and razed parts of Southern Judah to the ground.