Digital image from a photograph by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research/Shlomo Moussaieff Collection
A clay bulla and seals show how ancient names reflect religious beliefs. Shown here, the bulla, or lump of clay impressed with a seal and used to close a document, reads, “Belonging to Berekhyahu, son of Neriyahu, the scribe.” Baruch, as Berekhyahu is called in the Bible, was the prophet Jeremiah’s scribe. The shortened form of his name means “blessed.” The –yahu in the longer form stands for Yahweh, the personal name of the Israelite God, so that the full name means “blessed of Yahweh.” In Baruch’s father’s name, similarly shortened to Neriah in the Bible, the suffix –iah acts as a contraction for Yahweh. A fingerprint embedded in the top left of the bulla may have been Baruch’s.