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Maurine Proctor
Monday, April 28 2014

Stumbling upon a Treasure in Jerusalem

By Maurine Proctor Notify me when this author publishesComment on Article
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We gave our daughter a necklace from Jerusalem when she graduated from high school that had so much meaning to her, she has worn it nearly constantly since. When our friends saw it, they wanted necklaces like it for every woman in their families, too. Here's why.

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Jerusalem is a city of mysteries. Beneath its golden walls are layers and layers of civilization and lost there are relics of another time, almost another world. Still nothing is so sacred as the temple that once stood there where a covenant people worshipped and Jesus taught. It was destroyed and burned to the ground by the Romans in 70 AD, but it still stands with power in the mind's eye of anyone visiting the Holy City.

Just as you can feel that Jerusalem is a city where Jesus walked, you can feel that once a temple stood at its heart.

Any small remnant found of that ancient temple and its symbol of devotion to God is a treasure beyond belief. Now, a few remnants are being unearthed.

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Just south of the city wall and the Temple Mount, a new excavation has begun. We've watched it with great interest, because the parking lot where we used to stash our car has disappeared and beneath it is a whole complex of ancient homes. Near that is the broad way traveled by worshippers that used to lead to the temple gates.

Two years ago in the rubble of another era, an extremely rare bullae from the Second Temple period was sifted out. A bullae is an ancient clay seal about the size of a coin, and hundreds of these are found, but this one caused a stir because on it were these significant words "deka leyah." In Aramaic, this means "pure for God."

Why did this one matter so much? This seal gave us a critical glimpse into ancient temple worship. This was a seal of purity required to mark any products that could be brought into the temple and used in worship. They had to be "pure for God" or they could not be brought into the temple, into that holy place. They had been marked, sealed, approved as pure, ready for the Lord's house. Nothing profane was allowed there.

A familiar example is the oil jug from the Hanukkah story, which was sealed with the seal of the High Priest. Tradition has it that it burned the extra days needed because it was "pure for God."

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Now, at the City of David, a beautiful necklace has been made based on this bulla. They are "pure for God" necklaces. We were in love with them when we saw them because it reminded us that anciently the standard of being in the temple is the same as it is today. Not only did items that came into the ancient temple have to be marked with a "pure for God" seal, but, of course, the people had to be striving to be "pure for God" as well. Entering his presence has always involved sanctification. It is what is written on our souls as temple-attending Latter-day Saints.

Meridian has a limited-time, limited-quantity offer for these significant symbols from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Click here to see.

All of us in our group suddenly wanted "pure for God" necklaces, as a something to wear, like a signature or a seal that marked what we wanted to be. Oh, it would be our heart's desire to be "pure for God". We knew that this ancient "pure for God" bullae had a unique meaning for us who were covenant people who attended modern temples. Like the seal, we had our temple recommends allowing us entrance.

Then came a moment we will never forget. In our group that day was Dr. D. Kelly Ogden, a speaker of Hebrew and BYU professor of ancient scripture. He looked at the inscription again and said that another translation of "pure for God" was "Holiness to The Lord." We gasped with the resonance between the ancient and modern, of a God who is the same yesterday, today and always. We have seen the words "Holiness to The Lord" inscribed in gold on our temples and now we understood it better.

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It wasn't only the temples that were consecrated to His glory and holiness. The temples are His gift to make His consecrated, covenant people holy as well. Our attempts to become pure are our gift to Him as His children. We needed to become "pure for God," and wear His gift like a seal upon our hearts.

We were truly stunned at how much meaning the "pure for God" necklaces had for us. Then later we received a tender mercy, a small blessing that seemed to tell our hearts that The Lord understood we had been impressed with His gift of a temple and the expectations He gives us to be "pure for God."

Several months later we were leading a tour in Jerusalem and we took them one bright morning to a dig of Temple Mount debris. We were each given several buckets of dirt that we washed through a screen. Left behind on the screen when the water washed through were pieces of mosaic, plaster, bones, sometimes coins and various other debris. We divided these bits left on our screen into separate cups, looking for anything significant. Then a staff member would come by and check our work.

Each time he came by, we asked the young man checking our work what was the most significant thing he had ever found. He modestly demurred to answer. Still, because our buckets of dirt yielded so little of worth, again and again we asked him. “How long have your worked here?” we asked him. “Eight years.” "What is the most significant thing you've ever found?" Finally, he relented and led us through the groups of people rinsing debris, across a small plaza and to the office of the dig. He motioned toward a newspaper clipping from the Jerusalem Post hanging there on a window. "It was important enough it made the paper," he said. "It was a bulla."

"What did the bulla say," we asked. He answered quietly: "Translated it means 'pure for God.'"

It was one of those moments when we felt so personally that God remembered us.

Later we talked with the director of The City of David.


20 Comments

  1. It came to my mind that brothers, too, have to strive to be "pure for God". A pin with a reproduction of the bullae could make a nice item to wear on our jackets or ties, and to offer to our sons for special occasions.
  2. Do you plan on making duplicates when those are gone?
  3. I'd love to have one of those necklaces--or a pin. Any chance an affordable version will be available some time soon? $85 is is way out of range for some of us.
  4. I think it would make a great looking bracelet for the young men. Rugged and manly. Probably already been thought of.
  5. Dear Toni, we will procure additional necklaces as needed based on orders (and it looks like we will need to!). Thanks so much for your support! If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me at webmaster@ldsmag.com
  6. It isn't a big deal but the last word is not "levah." The three letters are Lamed, Yod and Hey. The letter Lamed is translated in the Old Testament as the preposition "to, toward or for" and the last two letters are the short form of Jehovah or Jah (Yah). Jews don't say the long or the short form of the word because it is too sacred. They substitute the Hebrew word for Lord.
  7. I feel as Sharee does - I would love to buy one for each of my daughters or sons, but I have to agree with Sharee, $85 is a lot to pay for LDS members with large families. Any chance of getting it made into more affordable jewelry of some type such as pins, tie tacs or a less expensive necklace -- perhaps a pin that can be attached to a chain we buy ourselves for a lower priced necklace? Those of us on budgets would love to be able to share the joy of having such a gift for family members. Can you bring that about? Thanks so much!
  8. Helpful to have more details especially a closeup on the chain and a description of the length.
  9. I am interested in buying 3 of the necklaces, but I live in Pleasant Grove, Utah and would like to save the shipping cost and pick them up. Is that a possibility? You don't post a phone # on your website. I also didn't see anything that tells the size.
  10. I have to agree with the several other posts. The necklace is beautiful and its meaning very symbolic but the cost is just too much for those of us that are on tight budgets. Hopefully there will be one that is more affordable for those of us who would treasure wearing and giving them as gifts. Thanks for the great article.
  11. I am currently in tough financial times, but if you had these in a less expensive material, l would be very interested in purchasing one for my dear wife.
  12. I love the idea of the "Pure for God" necklaces for women, but men need these too. How about using the same symbol to create a tie holder?
  13. We ordered 2 a couple of weeks past. Still no product . When will you ship them? I was hoping for mothers day!
  14. I ordered 1 over a week ago. Still no product. When will you ship them? I was hoping for Mother's day! I have sent emails to webmaster@ldsmag.com without a response.
  15. I would like to see a better rendering of the Hebrew inscription. Has anyone done such?
  16. I thought I was ordering a gold plated pendant, but had some questions that haven't been answered. What happened ? Now, I understand you are out. I'm disappointed ? I wanted details...length of chain, size (approx) of pendant etc. Please contact me at above email address
  17. I ordered 5 necklaces for daughter-in-laws and granddaughters. They did not arrive by Mother's Day and now it looks like we will miss a birthday. Do you have a general idea when you might be shipping? I am so anxious to receive these beautiful & meaningful necklaces.
  18. After reading this article, I immediately ordered my necklace. Loved it! BUT after wearing it the first time, I noticed that the "claw clasp" would not open properly. The second time I wore it it I was struggling to get the clasp open when the necklace chain came out of the decorative piece it is connected to. Broken and can not be fixed. Will have to buy a new chain. Buyers beware, the chain is very nice looking but not well made, or I just happened to get a defective one.
  19. I read this lovely story and enjoyed it. at first when I saw the title I didnt think much of it...becuase I was raised catholic and we had medals etc. but as I read the story ..I began to feel a significance of this reminder of being pure and then I went a step further..what about our young men as well. young men wear medals ...I mean our soldiers use to wear dog tags with their information on it...it would be lovely to have these necklaces for the young women with their name and information on them on the back and the young men have their necklace look manly with the same. I would like one myself and will most likely get one. as a catholic I use to wear a scaplula which is made out of cloth and it had holy things on it and I wore it all the time. I would like this medal with my info on it on the back and it would be a statement of how I feel and what I believe in.
  20. This is so interesting, I enjoy learning about archeology. Are you aware that there is another interpretation to the meaning of the seal and inscription? Hebrew University professor Shlomo Naeh says the object is a kind of voucher or token which enabled the Temple administrator to keep track of commerce related to sacrificial offerings. In Temple times, every animal sacrifice was accompanied by additional offerings consisting of flour, wine and oil, in varying proportions depending on the type of sacrifice. These offerings had to be purchased in the Temple to ensure they were kosher and pure. According to Professor Naeh, the newly-discovered artifact was used to track these transactions by indicating in shorthand the type of additional offering the buyer was entitled to, and the date on which he was entitled to it. In this instance, Naeh explains, the letters are an abbreviation of three words: “Dekhar Aleph Le-Yehoyariv,” signifiying that the buyer was entitled to the additional offerings for a ram sacrifice, on the first day of the Temple work shift of the Yehoyariv family of priests. I took this info from a Hebrew U.online publication found at http://bit.ly/1m9LPUE

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