Lachish Letters – glimpse of Babylonian dominance in 586B.C. – Nebuchadnezzar’s threat results in Military Letters
The Lachish Letters confirm the conditions described by Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in 586 BC destroying Jerusalem, its Temple and taking thousands of people into captivity.
Jeremiah warned King Zedekiah of the disaster to come. The fortified Lachish had been rebuilt after it was destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 BC
The letters were found in 1935 in the ruins of a guardroom by the main gate of Lachish
A total of 21 letters were found, written in joined up writing in black in on pieces of pottery (ostraca)
The letters are urgent messages written by Hosha’yahu (Hoshaiah), the commander of a military outpost. He wrote to Ya’osh, the Lachish military governor. Written in alphabetic Hebrew as Nebuchadnezzar’s army closed on Jerusalem.
‘Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the remaining cities of Judah, that is, Lachish and Azekah, for they alone remained as fortified cities among the cities of Judah.’ (Jeremiah 34:6-7).
A quote from one of the letters:
`May Yahweh cause my lord to hear this very day tidings of good. And now, in accordance with everything my lord has written, so has your servant done. I have written on the door everything which my lord has written to me… and I report that we are watching for the fire signals of Lachish according to the directions which my lord has given, because we cannot see Azekah.’
British Museum Quote:
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.