Gedaliah, governor of Judah, and Baalis, king of Ammon (Jeremiah 40)

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Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah, who came from a family of royal administrators, as governor of Judah in 587 B.C. (2 Kings 25:22). Gedaliah attempted to rebuild the country following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 40:9-12). Unfortunately, he became a victim of the political forces of the day when Baalis, king of Ammon, recruited Ishmael to assassinate him (40:13-14, 41:1-2). Ishmael, of the line of David (2 Kings 25:25), may have had designs upon the leadership of the country, and Baalis may have wanted to set up a puppet king whom he could control.

Archaeologists have found a bulla of Gedaliah on the surface at Lachish, 44 km southwest of Jerusalem. The inscription reads “Belonging to Gedaliah Over(seer of) the (royal) house”, a title designating the chief steward of the royal palace. Individuals bearing this title took on major state responsibilities and were active in political and diplomatic activities. Eventually Gehaliah held this post prior to the fall of Jerusalem.

A seal and an impression with the name of Baalis have been discovered as well (pictured above).

  • The seal, acquired on the antiquities market, is that of Baalis himself. It depicts a winged sphinx with the words “Belonging to Baalis” above it, the letters for “king” on either side and “Sons of Ammon” (i.e. Ammonites) below it.
  • The seal impression was unearthed at Tell el-Umeiri, just south of Ammon in Jordan. It reads “Belonging to Milkomor servant of Baalis”.

 

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