A Seal ‘Belonging to Jucal’
IN THE seventh century B.C.E., the Chaldean ruler Nebuchadnezzar overcame Jerusalem’s defenses, burned the city, and demolished its walls. He captured and blinded Zedekiah, the king of Judah. Moreover, “all the nobles of Judah the king of Babylon slaughtered.”—Jeremiah 39:1-8.
One of Judah’s nobles, or princes, who likely met death at Babylonian hands was Jucal, the son of Shelemiah. Jucal’s story has a sort of epilogue. Before considering it, though, let us see what the Scriptures say about Jucal and his day.
“They Will Not Prevail Against You”
Jehovah commissioned the prophet Jeremiah to deliver a judgment message against Judah and Jerusalem. God told Jeremiah that Judah’s kings, princes, priests, and people would “fight against” him. “But they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’” said Jehovah.—Jeremiah 1:17-19.
During the Babylonian siege against Judah’s capital, Jerusalem, King Zedekiah twice sent messengers to Jeremiah to find out whether Nebuchadnezzar would withdraw from the city and to ask the prophet to pray for that outcome. One of the king’s emissaries was Jucal, also known as Jehucal. Jeremiah’s God-given message was that the Babylonians, or Chaldeans, would destroy the city. Any residents of Jerusalem who remained in it would die by famine, pestilence, and the sword. On the other hand, those going out to the Chaldeans would survive. How Jeremiah’s words enraged the princes of Judah!—Jeremiah 21:1-10; 37:3-10; 38:1-3.
Jucal was one of the princes who urged Zedekiah: “Let this man [Jeremiah], please, be put to death, for . . . he is weakening the hands of the men of war.” Wicked Jucal was also among those who threw Jeremiah into a miry cistern, from which the prophet was later rescued. (Jeremiah 37:15; 38:4-6) For obeying Jehovah, Jeremiah survived Jerusalem’s destruction, but Jucal apparently died when the system in which he trusted was destroyed.
An Interesting Epilogue
It might be said that the epilogue to the account about Jucal was “written” in Jerusalem as recently as the year 2005. Archaeologists were digging at a site where they hoped to find King David’s palace. What they found was an extensive stone structure that they believe was destroyed when the Babylonians took Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day.
Whether this is David’s palace or not remains uncertain. Yet, archaeologists did identify one object found—the 0.4-inch-wide [1 cm] clay seal impression shown on page 14. It once sealed a document that has long since decayed. The impression reads: “Belonging to Yehuchal son of Shelemiyahu son of Shovi.” This impression evidently was made with the seal of Jeremiah’s opponent Yehuchal, or Jucal, the son of Shelemiah.
Archaeologist Eilat Mazar, who deciphered the impression, writes that Jehucal is only the “second royal minister,” after Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, whose name appears on a seal impression found in the City of David.a
Faith in God’s Word does not depend on the discovery of any artifact; but the fulfillment of inspired prophecy is a sound basis for belief in the Bible. Historical facts prove that Jeremiah accurately foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. The inglorious end of Jeremiah’s opponents should strengthen our conviction that if we are faithful like Jeremiah, our enemies ‘will not prevail against us because Jehovah is with us.’
[Picture on page 15]
Jeremiah did not bow to pressure to water down God’s message
[Picture Credit Line on page 14]
Gabi Laron/Institute of Archaeology/Hebrew University ©Eilat Mazar