▪ In antiquity, those who handled official documents rolled and tied them with a cord and then placed a lump of wet clay on the knot and stamped it with a seal. They used seal impressions to sign, witness, and authenticate the documents.
Seals were sometimes incorporated into signet rings and were considered precious objects. (Genesis 38:18; Esther 8:8; Jeremiah 32:44) Often, the seal carried the name of the owner, his official title, and the name of his father.
Researchers have found hundreds of ancient seal impressions, known as bullae. Some of these carry the names of people mentioned in the Bible. For example, archaeologists have found impressions made from what are believed to be the personal seals of two Judean kings. One text reads: “Belonging to Ahaz [son of] Yehotam [Jotham], King of Judah.” Other texts read: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, King of Judah.” (2 Kings 16:1, 20) Ahaz and Hezekiah reigned during the eighth century B.C.E.
Scholars have examined a number of other bullae impressed with seals believed to have been owned by Bible characters. Among these are people mentioned in Jeremiah’s writings, such as Baruch (Jeremiah’s secretary), Gemariah (“son of Shaphan”), Jerahmeel (“son of the king”), Jucal (“son of Shelemiah”), and Seraiah (Baruch’s brother).—Jeremiah 32:12; 36:4, 10, 26; 38:1; 51:59.