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Shaphan is a scribe mentioned in the Old Testament (II Kings 22:8-10).

Biblical account

When the chief Temple priest Hilkiah discovers an ancient Torah scroll, he gives it to the scribe Shaphan, who in turn brings in to King Josiah. Josiah reads it aloud to a crowd in Jerusalem, resulting in a great religious revival. Many scholars believe this was either a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy or a text that became a part of Deuteronomy as we have it; as a result the event is known as the Deuteronomic reform.

According to the Bible, Shaphan had a son named Ahikam.[1]

Bullae of Shaphan

During the excavations of the excavations at the City of David headed by Israeli archeologist Yigal Shiloh's , a number of bullae were discovered in stratum X, a stratum that was destroyed by the Babylonians in ca. 586 B.C.E. Bulla 2 reads: belonging to Gemaryahu ben Shaphan. Shiloh posited that the Gemaryahu of this bulla is to be identified with "Gemaryahu son of Shaphan the scribe" who is mentioned in a biblical text, a figure during the reign of Jehoiakim (r. 609-598 B.C.E.).[2] If this is the case, Ahikam and Gemaryahu are both sons of Shaphan. However, archaeologist Yair Shoham notes: It should be borne in mind, however, that the names found on the bullae were popular in ancient times and it is equally possible that there is no connection between the names found on the bullae and the person mentioned in the Bible.[3]

Shaphan's grandson is Gedaliah, the short-lived governor of Judah appointed by Nebuchadnezzar after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.

See also


  1. see Jeremiah 40:5 and II Kings, 25:22.
  2. Jer 36:10 et passim
  3. Yair Shoham, "Hebrew Bullae" in City of David Excavations: Final Report VI, Qedem 41 (Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2000), 33.

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