The proximity of production dates led Cross, in his BAR article, to compare the icon on the Hezekiah bulla with the four-winged beetle on a Phoenician bowl, also from the Moussaieff collection. Raphael Giveon finds that the four-winged motif originated in the Mitanni Kingdom and was later absorbed into Phoenician art. (Giveon, Footsteps of Pharaoh, pp. 140–4 [Hebrew]). Nahman Avigad assumed that the Hebrew artisans adopted the four-winged scarab from the Phoenicians who had used Egyptianized themes. He admits, however, that the “two-winged scarab and the two-winged uraeus of Egypt [my emphasis] were often depicted as four-winged on Hebrew seals.” Nahman Avigad, Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1997), p. 45.
Both two-winged and four-winged flying beetles with or without a solar disk were found in Jerusalem on jar handles during the period of Hezekiah. Almost all—60 out of 61—of these l’melekh (“belonging to the king”) seals were of the two-winged variety. Very few of the four-winged type were discovered. A.D. Tushingham, an expert in lmlk seals, maintains that the latter was the royal symbol of the Northern Israelite kingdom. Although rarely found on lmlk jars, the four-winged beetle was absorbed as a symbol by Judah, which already had the two-winged scarab as its royal symbol, because of King Hezekiah’s insistence that he was the legitimate heir to the defunct Northern Kingdom. This iconography was not original, but derived from Phoenicia, with which the Israelite dynasties had close ties. See A. D. Tushingham, “New Evidence Bearing on the Two Winged LMLK Stamp,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 287 (1992), pp. 61–64.
The two-winged icon, either alone or with the solar disk, emerged from a version of the old Egyptian solar disk motif that was prevalent in the entire Levant during the monarchical era. The origin of the two-winged variety of lmlk cannot be determined because the prototypes were crude representations with clumsy inscriptions.