Avraham Hay and Michal Roche

An inscribed ostracon records the death throes of Lachish, just before the Babylonians razed the city in 588/6 B.C. Twenty-one ostraca, written in clear Biblical Hebrew, were buried under the debris of the Level II outer gate guard room. Lachish Letter IV poignantly portrays the last days of Lachish in a letter from a soldier (Hoshaiah) at a settlement some distance from Lachish to his commander at Lachish (one Yaosh): “And let (my Lord) know that we are watching for the beacons of Lachish … we cannot see [the beacons from] Azekah.” Hoshaiah assumes that, since the beacons of Azekah no longer burn, it has already fallen. Azekah is just 11 miles northeast of Lachish. Jeremiah (34:7) records that Azekah and Lachish were the last Judean strongholds to be taken by the Babylonians.