Moussaieff Festschrift

A Hezekiah hoard. “Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz” reads a seal impression (photo and drawing at top) recently published in a festschrift for antiquities collector Shlomo Moussaieff. A festschrift is a collection of scholarly articles normally published to honor a distinguished academic, not a collector; the volume in Mousaieff’s honor may well be a first and indicates a deep split among academics over whether to shun collectors and their collections or to glean whatever can be learned even from artifacts that might have been looted.

Hezekiah ruled Judah in the late eighth century B.C.E. The seal above does not contain his royal title, however, perhaps because it was crafted for him while he was still a prince. The two other seals shown here also date to the same era. The seal at center reads, “’Ushna’, servant of Hezekiah”; the one at bottom says, “Ma ‘sheyahu, the Judge.” “Servant” was not a domestic employee but the title of a royal official, much like secretary of state, and “Judge,” which in pre-monarchic Israel meant a ruler or governor, was by Hezekiah’s time a judicial title, much as it is today.