Is Jerusalem Bulla Really the Oldest Evidence of Bethlehem?

A vaguely contemporaneous bullaArchaeologists discovered a clay “bulla” in an excavation around the walls of Jerusalem. ICR News called this “the oldest indication of Bethlehem among archaeological artifacts.” But clear evidence shows that other artefacts hold the real record.

Researchers have gleaned a wealth of information from the small fragment of clay. For example, they have determined that the bulla had an administrative purpose, being used to mark goods being sent to Jerusalem as tax payment. They have also pinned down the date that it was used – the seventh year of a King, either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah. This dates it to the seventh or eighth century BCE.

But mentions of a town called Bethlehem from even earlier have been discovered by archaeologists. The Armarna letters, from the 1300s BCE, refer to a rebellion in “Bit-Lahmi.” … Continue reading