The Lachish Letters

Did the Lachish letters reveal the turmoil in Judah just before the Babylonian captivity? The discovery of the Lachish Letters in 1935 of eighteen ostraca (clay tablets with writing in ink) written in an ancient Hebrew script, from the 7th century BC reveal important information concerning the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah. They were discovered at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) among the ruins of an ancient guard room just outside the Lachish city gate. Then a few years later three inscribed potsherds were also found at the site, and like the others, they contained names and lists from the period just before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Most of the letters were dispatches from a Jewish commander named Hoshaiah who was stationed at an outpost north of Lachish, who apparently was responsible for interpreting the signals from Azekah and Lachish during the time when the Babylonians came against Jerusalem: Jer 34:7 "when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah." The ostraca read: "To my lord Ya'osh. May Yahweh cause my lord to hear the news of peace, even now, even now. Who is your servant but a dog that my lord should remember his servant?'" These final communications which mentioned the political and religious turmoil of the last days of Judah reveal the intensity of this time period and confirm that which was written in the Bible by the prophet Jeremiah. The Lachish Letters are an important discovery in the study of Biblical Archaeology and shed much light on the last days of Judah.

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