In the BAR article, Mazar leaves room for the possibility that the inscription on the Isaiah bulla does not refer to the biblical prophet. “Without an aleph at the end, the word nvy is most likely just a personal name. Although it does not appear in the Bible, it does appear on seals and a seal impression on a jar handle, all from unprovenanced, private collections.”
“The name of Isaiah, however, is clear,” she said.
It was found only 10 feet away from where in 2015 Mazar’s team discovered an important, intact bulla with the inscription “of King Hezekiah of Judah.” The 12th king of the Kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah ruled from circa 727 BCE-698 BCE, during the period in which the northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BCE. Some 20 years later, Hezekiah successfully fought off the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, in part due to fortifications and a water channel which can still be seen today.
Upon the discovery of the Hezekiah bulla in 2015, Mazar called the artifact “the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.”
There are several biblical instances of interactions between Isaiah and Hezekiah which indicate the prophet was a spiritual advisor to the king. He consoled the ruler that the Israelites would survive the siege. In the BAR article, Mazar writes, “The names of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah are mentioned in one breath 14 of the 29 times the name of Isaiah is recalled (2 Kings 19–20; Isaiah 37–39). No other figure was closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah.”
The Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae join other similar finds from previous excavations. Digging in 2005-2008 at the summit of the City of David in a large structure which may have been the palace of biblical King David, she discovered a clay impression with a First Temple Hebrew inscription bearing the name of a high-ranking Israelite official who is recorded by the biblical Jeremiah, “Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shovi.” Years later, a few meters from the Jehucal bulla, she found a seal impression belonging to a second high-ranking official, “Gedaliah, son of Pashur,” who is also found in Jeremiah. Dozens more bullae have been discovered.