Shlomo Moussaieff

“Gift of the king.” As part of his sweeping religious reforms, King Josiah (ruled 640–609 B.C.E.) “did away with the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, near the chamber of the eunuch Nathan-melech, which was in the precincts” (2 Kings 23:11). This eunuch is a minor figure in the Bible, to be sure—he isn’t mentioned again—but a bit of clever archaeological detective work has turned up evidence of him. The bulla, which P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., author of the accompanying article, dates from the time of Josiah’s reign, bears the impression of a seal that reads: “Belonging to Nathan-melech, servant of the king.” It’s more than a coincidence, McCarter suggests: Nathan-melech was a rare name (though it has a common meaning: “gift of the deity”), so the Biblical eunuch and the courtier who owned this seal are very likely the same person.