2 Chron 32:9a  Afterward King Sennacherib of Assyria, while attacking Lachish with all his military might, sent his messengers to Jerusalem. (NET)

Jer 34:6-7  The prophet Jeremiah told all this to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem. 7 He did this while the army of the king of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem and the cities of Lachish and Azekah. He was attacking these cities because they were the only fortified cities of Judah which were still holding out. (NET)

In the 1930s archaeologists discovered 21 ostracons in a guard room next to the outer gate at Lachish(~25 miles southwest of Jerusalem).  The ostracons were written by Hoshaiah (Nehemiah 12:32, Jeremiah 42:1, 43:2), a military officer stationed near Jerusalem, and addressed to Joash, the commanding officer at Lachish.

They are dated to 588 BC, which is just a couple of years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The letters describe conditions at Jerusalem during this time.

Letter IV reads:

May YHWH cause m[y lord] to hear good news on this day. And now, everything which my lord sent (me instructions to do), so your servant has done. I have written in the record according to all (the instructions) which you sent to me. And as my lord sent (asked) concerning the matter of Beth-hrpd: there is no one there. As for Semakyahu, Shemayahu seized him and made him go up to the city. Your servant is not able to send the witness there [today]. If (my lord) [cam]e during the morning watch, he would know that we are watching the signal (-fires) of Lachish according to all the signs (code) which my lord has given (us), for we cannot see Azeqah.

Jeremiah 6:1 actually mentions such fire signals: “Run for safety, people of Benjamin! Get out of Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa! Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem! For disaster lurks out of the north; it will bring great destruction.” (NET)

Letter VI refers to sinking morale:

To my lord, Yaush (Joash), may Yahweh cause my lord to see peace at this time! Is your servant a dog, that my lord sent him the king’s letter and the letters of the officers, saying, “Please read!” And behold, the words of the officers are not good; to weaken your hands and to weaken the hands of the men. I know them. My lord, will you not write to them saying, “Why are you behaving this way? … well-being … Does the king … And …” As Yahweh lives, since your servant read the letters, your servant […].

Significance:

  1. The messages are consistent with events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
  2. This confirms Jeremiah’s description of the use of fire signals as accurate.
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