Courtesy of Larry Herr

All four wings outstretched, a scarab beetle occupies the middle of three zones on an Ammonite seal impression from about 600 B.C.E. The impression (shown here, compare with drawing) was discovered in 1984 at Tell el-‘Umeiri, in Jordan, 37 miles east of Jerusalem. A two-line inscription, above and below the scarab, reads, lmlkm’wr ‘bd b‘lys‘. The excavators translate it as, “Belonging to Milkom’ur, servant of Ba‘alyis‘a.” Milkom was the god of the Ammonites and the seal owner’s name most likely meant “Milkom’s Flame” or “Milkom is flame.” This is the first known Ammonite name to contain the divine element. The Ba‘alyis‘a whom Milkom’ur served is very likely the same as the Ammonite king Baalis mentioned in Jeremiah 40:14.

Frank Moore Cross notes that ancient Israel was a tribal league based on kinship; similar leagues existed south of Israel, in Edom, Ammon, Moab and Midian, for example. These leagues typically were named for their patron god, who was conceived of as a Divine Kinsman. Israel’s league was called the “Kindred of Yahweh”; the Ammonite tribal society, of which our seal’s owner was a member, was known as the “Kindred of Milkom.”