THE PICTURE OF the seal shown with this article, carries the inscription `Belonging to Shema, servant of Jeroboam’. The seal was found in archaeological excavations at Megiddo in Northern Israel during the Turkish occupation of the land. The original seal is carved in jasper, while the picture is of a bronze cast taken from it. But the striking feature of the seal is the roaring lion that was used as a symbol for the southern kingdom of Judah.
The seal belonged to Shema a servant of Jeroboam. Now most biblical scholars accept that this refers to king Jeroboam II of whom we read:
“In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned for forty-one years.” 2 Kings 14:23 NIV
But, what was the servant of a king of Israel doing with the royal symbol of the rival kingdom of Judah? We believe the explanation could be that there had previously been war between kings Jehoash and Amaziah, for the Bible tells us:
“Judah was routed by Israel…Jehoash…captured Amaziah king of Judah…Jehoash went to Jerusalem…He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the LORD…He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.” 2 Kings 14:12-14 NIV
Jeroboam has been acknowledged as a powerful ruler who put into effect building projects throughout the land. The archaeologist, professor Yadin, has said of the buildings uncovered at Hazor and attributed to Jeroboam, that they are `among the finest of the entire Israelite period.’ But the biblical record also tells us that he took back a lot of territory lost to previous invaders. We read:
“He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath (Northern Syria) to the Sea of the Arabah,…(Dead Sea)” 2 Kings 14:25 NIV
These conquests were the outcome of a prophecy from God through Jonah. But this same record tells us:
“As for the other events of Jeroboam’s reign, all he did, and his military achievements, including how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Yaudi (Judah), are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?” 2 Kings 14:28 NIV
The conquest of Judah and the carrying to Samaria of the contents of the Jerusalem temple, along with the recovery of large tracts of Judaean land, would have made Jeroboam feel that he was entitled to exercise his power over the southern kingdom and use its symbol on a seal as his own. This is another amazing way that an archaeological find not only confirms the accuracy of God’s Word, but also how a little further study of the scriptural record gives us the answer to what appears to be a difficulty.