Letters of Lachish

Date: 7th century B.C.


Lachish in the earlier days of Israel (now Tell ed-Duweir) was a fortified city, which in the history of Israel was of great importance. Explorations revealed that the city was apparently destroyed twice by fire - assumedly in 618-619 and in 609-607 B.C. Between 1935 – 1938, 21 written potsherds were found in the ashes of the second fire. These potsherds are also called ostraka (singular: ostrakon). These ostraka were in fact written letters. The letters were written from an outpost of Judean forces and were meant for Ya'osh, a military commander in Lachis. The background of the letters has to do with threats coming from Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. Because of the uprising of Israel he marched upwards to Jerusalem.


Letter IV :

“May YHWH cause my lord to hear good news,... we are watching the fire signals of Lachis, according to the signs my lord gives, because we can not see Azekah” -

It is interesting to know that the Bible also speaks of this situation in Jeremiah 34:6, 7: "Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedeki'ah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, Lachish and Aze'kah; for these were the only fortified cities of Judah that remained." (Revised Standard Bible)


Facsimile made by B. Bonte


As relates to the Divine Name, it’s interesting to see that on all readable ostraka we find expressions such as: “May YHWH cause my lord to hear good news"! A proof that the Divine Name was often used!



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