Robert Deutsch on the ‘Temple Seals’

Robert writes, quoting the earlier report (see the link below)

“The team believes the tiny seal was put on objects designated to be used in the temple, and thus had to be ceremonially pure.”

To which he responds

Very interesting BUT the interpretation has to be different: The seal impression (the bullae) has two finger prints on the back and there is no evidence that it served to seal or to be attached to an artifact.

In the Mishna (Kedoshim, Tamid 3:3) is mentioned the “chamber of the seals” which was in the temple. There the seals were kept, whose impressions on bullae served as evidence of the payment for sacrifice.

The purchase of “seals” which are probably Bullae, is also mentioned in the Mishna:  “Who wishes to get libations, goes to Yohanan who is over the seals, hands him over coins and receives a seal. He goes to Ahiya who is over the libations, hands him over a seal and receives libations. At evening they meet, and Ahiya presents the seal and exchanges them for coins”. (Moed, Shekalim 5:4).

Therefore the bulla discovered by Shukrun and Reich is in fact a receipt, or the means of payment which was used to buy offerings.

Robert Deutsch

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4 thoughts on “Robert Deutsch on the ‘Temple Seals’

  1. arenmaeir 25 Dec 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I tend to agree with Robert. This is what I was thinking when looking at the not-that-clear photos, but to be sure we will have to wait for the full publication.



    • Jim 25 Dec 2011 at 4:49 pm

      i’m intrigued by the mishnah’s mention of such objects. would that have been the practice, though, in the second temple period? i’m wondering if the mishnah might be idealizing.


  2. arenmaeir 26 Dec 2011 at 1:23 am

    Time and again in the Mishnah and Talmud there are discussions of the memories of practices in the 2nd Temple, which clearly combine the memory actual practices that were conducted – along with traditions of such practices which were not necessarily based on fact – due to the fact that most sources quoted are post-2nd Temple.
    And btw, this combination of historically accurate data and memory of praxis, along with later creations, in written sources that are later to the period which is discussed, can be very nicely paralleled with the relationship between historicity and lack thereof in the biblical text. Just because major parts of the biblical text are post-Iron Age, does not mean that the biblical text does not retain some accurate historical and/or cultural data.



  3. Matthew Kalman (@MatthewKalman) 26 Dec 2011 at 1:53 am

    Robert’s comments echo exactly what we were told by Ronny Reich and his colleagues at the press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday. Ronny even quoted the same passage from the Mishnaj. The Haaretz reporter simply misunderstood, and the English translation of Haaretz compounded the mistake further.


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