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The winged sun is an ancient symbol that originated in Egypt and Assyria. Why is it then that coins (or seals?) from Hezekiah have this symbol from gentile nations? Also Malachi 3:20 shows the adoption of this symbol. Edit: Also Zoroastrian Persia has this symbol.

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The text is in Paleo Hebrew. The top line of the first image says Chizkiyahu, and the bottom line of it says King [of] Yehudah. The bottom image has the tetragrammaton on top and Chizkiyahu King on the bottom. (h/t Aaron)

Frank Moore Cross's article from Biblical Archaeology Review from around the time they first recognized it as Hezekiah's is here: http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/king_hezekiah.htm And here's a nice list with pictures of bulla with some Biblical personages there, like Gedaliah: http://www.specialtyinterests.net/seal_impressions_ostracon.html . (h/t Gary)

  • relevant? publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/… – Baby Seal Mar 1 '15 at 4:04
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    For the record, what you have pictures of there are not of coins, but bullae(singular: bulla) Bullae are like "signatures" of the people that used them. Originally seals were cylindrical, in Mesopotamia, and they rolled them in clay. In Judah/Israel/Edom/Ammon/etc the bullae were clay impressions made with seals, which were usually ovoid semiprecious stones engraved with the person's name and sometimes title. Hezekiah evidently used the Phoenician imagery of a winged scarab a LOT - on his seals and on the "l'melech" seals used to stamp storage jars in preparation for the Assyrian attack. – Gary Mar 1 '15 at 19:21
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    Why do people assume these symbols are pagan? Yes, they look similar to Egyptian and Mesopotamian designs, but IIRC Isaiah's vision of the Seraphim was during Hezekiah's reign. An artist could have used the conventional imagery but understood it in a monotheistic way. – Mike Supports Monica Dec 2 '15 at 22:14
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    @Micah I approved your edit because it added Hebrew text. In general I'd discourage you from just changing links accd to your preferences as we don't want any link-changing wars. See too chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/25881020#25881020 – Double AA Dec 3 '15 at 17:11
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    Just reread this and noticed - on the bottom picture, the top four letters are not the Tetragrammaton, they are Yud Hey DALED Hey, "Judah", so reading the bottom line first it reads "L'Chizquiyahu Achaz Melech Yehudah/Yuhdah"/Of Hezekiah("son of"omitted)Achaz King of Judah" Also - the bottom figure is not a winged sun disk but a dung beetle..kind of an odd choice for a king's seal, but he might have borrowed it from Egyption iconography, to show affinity/solidarity with Egypt and not Assyria. – Gary May 15 '16 at 21:59
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In Ancient Egypt the winged sun or Winged Disk it started probably as a Divine symbol , but later it became a Royal symbol , it meant the king him self and it was used by many ancient cultures worldwide ( with different meanings you can find it in bassicly in all civilizations of those days with all sorts of diferent meanings ).

As one of the most well renowned and respected Egyptologists Sir Alan Gardiner, who argued that the disk represented the ‘actual person’ of the of the king, (Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. Shaw & Nicholson, 2002, p305)

So Later it became a common symbol for kings and their families and no longer a Idol or Pagan specific identity

Like The seal of Tudhaliya IV used also the winged sun as a symbol of Royalty as many others in Egypt Babylon or Assyria

Probably it became the Symbol of King David Jewish House of Kings (like coat of arms) So you find this Symbol in many seals Like the Solomon Seal in Jezebel Seal in Shebnaiah the servant of Uzziah and many others (all probably from the Kings Family )

In the begging Jewish seals had no drawings at all, later you find many of them with drawings with the symbol of their respected family:

Like the famous Yerovam Seal with a lion Or others with a boat or animals or flower etc..

The other Seal with the Beetle and the wings , it was the official Symbol of the Kingdom of Egypt in those days who Chizkiyahu was alied and was rebuked by Isaiah for doing so and trusting that they would come and help him against Sennacherib

As you cans see that Isaiah calls Egypt as "land of the beetle with wings" (Isaiah 18:1) and you can find in many places in Egypt these Symbol as the Symbol of the Kingdom of Egypt of those times

Therefore Chizkiyahu he probably used this Seal to Celebrate the Aliance with Egypt or to show trust etc.. With no Idol intentions

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The specific significance of the winged sun / scarab motif has been debated, with Robert Deutsch claiming that:

"by the eighth and seventh centuries BCE, when they appeared on Hebrew seals, they were already quite old and bereft of any religious significance. They were used solely for their decorative value and their connotation of power and should be regarded as Israelite/Judahite."

While other researches such as Glen Taylor have suggested that the motif symbolises the Egyptian sun god Khepri, connecting this to the many passages in the Bible ascribing sun-like properties to god, as well as warnings from the later prophets regarding widespread sun worship.[1][2]

Keep in mind, that although the impression one gets from the Bible is that monotheism was practised (at least by the "righteous" kings), as an unchanging religion where idols and visual symbols of god were strictly prohibited, a critical view will suggest that this was not necessary the case at the time of Hezekiah.

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    A "critical view"? Tanakh is replete with examples of huge swaths of Jews worshiping idols. – Double AA Dec 2 '15 at 17:49
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    @DoubleAA - Of course. The question is, did the righteous kings also practice what would in the bible's terms be considered idolatry? was that perhaps the canonical Judaism at the time? Various researches would suggest the answer to be affirmative, and Orthodox Jews will probably not accept that view.' – nbubis Dec 2 '15 at 17:53
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    @DoubleAA Hezekiah was considered a righteous king. If the reighteous king was plastering a pagan Egyptian symbol everywhere, it creates quite the paradox. Especially when Hezekiah is putting the Tetragrammaton next to pagan symbols. There is a lot there that would be very upsetting to the Orthodox movement of today. So the question is, did the authors of Tanakh not consider such practices to take away from his righteousness? What should we learn from this? – Aaron Dec 2 '15 at 18:12
  • @Aaron - you assume that the authors of the Tanakh, who consolidated and edited the texts many hundreds of years later knew about Hezekiah, and even if so, were more interested in historical accuracy than handing down their version of Judaism. I'm not familiar with evidence supporting either of those two assumptions. – nbubis Dec 2 '15 at 18:14
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    @Aaron The last two letters on top are אח and the first letter on the bottom row is ז, together reading אחז. The whole text reads: לחזקיהו אחז מלך יהדה. – magicker72 Dec 3 '15 at 17:28
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Maybe this would be better as a comment, but I'm not able to comment.

The first thing I noticed when I saw a picture of the original seal (example) is the left wing covering a bit of the sun, which avoids (page 112) the prohibition to draw celestial bodies. If it was done intentionally, this would be strong evidence that, whatever his reasons for using the sun with wings, Chizkiyahu was careful to avoid halachic problems and definitely didn't use the symbol for the the purpose of idolatry.

I'm not sure why the reconstructed image of the seal removes this feature.

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My view is simple on this, but as the findings are progressing, and we have more data on the ancient world, the views of Zechariah Sitchin seems to be more and more validated. The image of the disk with wings, and many cases the disc has a man as riding it, it is not the case here, because perhaps ancient Judaism was less iconographic then the other peoples from that time, but the idea still very much the same.

  • Hello and welcome to MiYodeya. It is not really clear to me how this answers the question. Also when providing answers it is best to provide sources to support your point (consider editing your answer to add sources). Otherwise maybe this is best submitted as a comment to the question. In any case we hope you will stick around and keep contributing – mbloch Jan 8 '16 at 3:50
  • Fair enough, the symbols may be pointing towards a few different points. A - The kingdom of Judah was a vassal of Egypt and was using its symbology. B - This symbology was almost universal at those times, as it is not too far removed from the persian symbols, meaning, the use of a circle with a wing to symbolise the gods or Elohim, using a hebrew terminology, they may have been expressing the same sort of "religious truths", it also makes it clear that Judaism was not really iconoclastic at that time. – Carlo Sansolo Jan 9 '16 at 13:20

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