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Article 39 - Archaeology And The Bible (Part 1)
Archaeology and the Bible
Part I - Old Testament
Jon Gary Williams
The word "archaeology" comes from two Greek terms which mean "the study of the ancients." Archaeology is the investigation of physical discoveries that were a part of the ancient world. The Century Dictionary gives the following description.
"That branch of knowledge which takes cognizance of past civilizations and investigates their history in all fields, by means of remains of art, architecture, monuments, inscriptions, literature, language, implements, customs, and all other examples which have survived."
Biblical archaeology deals with a study of such things as they relate to people, places, things and events recorded on the pages of both Old and New Testaments. It pertains to discoveries in the Bible lands of Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Italy and Asia Minor.
Archaeology reveals non-Biblical evidence which shows that Bible people lived, that Bible places and things existed, and that Bible events occurred. If the Bible is historically accurate, it is reasonable to expect that at least some of its record should be confirmed by archaeological findings. With the passing of time, more and more discoveries have been made which help to establish the credibility of the Bible.
Of course, the Bible, being the inspired word of God, does not depend on the verification of man. (II Tim. 3:16) However, it is encouraging to know there is an abundance of external evidence which corroborates the writings of divine scriptures. The spade continues to unearth historical details which correspond with the Biblical account, and this helps to strengthen the faith of Bible believers.
Through the years, Biblical critics have claimed that the Bible is not historically accurate. However, these claims continue to be dispelled by the discoveries of archaeology. Many Biblical accounts that were at one time considered to be unfounded are now established historical fact.
Joseph Free and Howard Vos state: "In addition to illuminating the Bible, archaeology has confirmed countless passages that have been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts. This aspect of archaeology forms a valuable part of the defense of the scriptures." (Archaeology And The Bible, p.13)
Hebrew scholar, Nelson Glueck, writes: "No archaeological discovery has ever been made that contradicts historical statements in the Bible." (Our Dependable Bible, p. 98)
In 1887, when Biblical criticism was raging, British scholar, C. H. Waller said: "All recent researches in Assyria, Babylonia, Palestine and Egypt show an extraordinary and increasing tendency to confirm the perfect accuracy of the word of God." (The Authoritative Inspiration of Holy Scripture, p. 36)
This archaeological confirmation of the Bible has continued on into the 20th century. As professor Alan A. McRae wrote: "During the past century and a half, archaeology has brought to light a tremendous amount of material enabling us to see the Bible, not as a book that stands entirely alone, but as one that describes events which occurred in the midst of a great world of many conflicting forces and tendencies." (Modern Science and The Christian Faith, p. 266)
The scope of archaeological evidence which has a direct bearing on the Bible is extensive, including discoveries of Biblical places such as the enormous palace of Sargon II, king of Assyria, (Isaiah 20:1) and the city of Nineveh (Gen. 10:11); discovery of Biblical empires such as the Hittites (Joshua 1:4); discovery of scrolls such as the Dead Sea Scrolls which confirm the ancient age of portions of the Old Testament; discovery of tablets such as the vast Ebla Tablets which shed light on world conditions during the time of Abraham; and discovery of ancient stones such as the Rosetta Stone which unlocked the secret of the Egyptian language, enabling men to learn that Jewish (Canaanite) people did live in the land of Egypt.
The above examples represent but a fraction of the discoveries which have been made. For example, in Palestine only about 3% of the 5,000 possible excavation sights have been unearthed, and only a small portion of these findings have been studied. No doubt there are many discoveries yet to come which will continue to add to the confirmation of the Bible.
Biblical archaeology also contributes much to our understanding and appreciation of the Bible. Wayne Jackson explains its overall benefit to our study of the scriptures: "The science of archaeology has been a multi-benefactor to the Bible student. Archaeology has: 1) Aided in the identification of Biblical places and in the establishment of Biblical dates; 2) Assisted in our understanding of ancient customs and obscure language idioms; 3) Shed new light on numerous Biblical words; 4) Enhanced our understanding of certain points of New Testament doctrine; 5) Progressively silenced the infidel critics of the inspired word of God." (Biblical Studies In The Light Of Archaeology, pp. 4, 5)
In this series of studies, our purpose is to see the extensive nature of Biblical archaeological discoveries. In so doing, we will look at the Bible historically, from Genesis to Revelation.
Genesis 1:1 - The Concept of One God
The Bible plainly teaches there is one God. (cf. Isa. 45:5; Eph. 4:6) Bible critics, however, advocate that man was originally polytheistic - - that is, he had many gods. It is claimed that the Jews (no sooner than 1500 B.C.) were the first to teach monotheism, or the belief in one God.
Archaeological discoveries near ancient Babylon and in Egypt have shown this position to be utterly false. Some of the earliest non-Biblical records reveal man's concept of God to be that of unity or oneness. The well-known Egyptologist Wm. Petrie wrote: "Monotheism is the first state traceable in theology. Wherever we can trace back polytheism to its earliest stages we find that it results from combinations of monotheism." (The Religion Of Ancient Egypt, pp. 3,4) And William Ramsey of Aberdeen University states: "Wherever evidence exists, with the rarest exception, the history of religion among men is the history of degeneration." (The Cities Of St. Paul, p. 17)
There is nothing to support the idea that man's first concept of God was polytheistic. The evidence contradicts this.
Genesis 1:1-31 - The Creation Account
The Bible presents a clear, concise account of how God created all things. Modernists, of course, discredit this story, putting it in the category of myth. However, archaeology has discovered that such a story is not isolated. Many accounts of a "creation" of the world have been unearthed in different areas of the world. Tablets containing such stories have been found in the regions of Babylon, Nineveh, Nippur, Assur and so forth.
The Babylonian account, for example, contains the following similarities with the Bible. They both relate that: 1) creation took place during seven days; 2) the earth was without form and void; 3) order followed chaos; 4) the moon, stars, plant life, animals, and man were created; 5) man was created on the sixth day.
Though many of these pagan accounts are distorted, yet they all have things in common with the Biblical story, and they illustrate the fact that people of many different cultures held to some kind of creation belief. As Henry Halley expressed it: "With so many points of similarity to the Genesis account, it would seem that they must have had a common origin." (Bible Handbook, p. 62) This is evidence that as men spread over the world, the Genesis account, though changed and corrupted, continued with them and became a part of their various cultures.
Genesis 3:1-6 - The Fall of Man
One of the most fundamental stories of Genesis is the sin and fall of man. The Bible plainly tells of Adam and Eve being led into sin by Satan. However, this account is rejected by those of liberal leanings on the grounds that it is myth. Do the findings of archaeology shed light on this?
Discoveries of several seals have revealed that ancient people outside the Bible knew something of this event. The "Temptation" seal found among Babylonian tablets depicts a man and woman sitting on each side of a fruit tree with a serpent behind the woman. The "Adam and Eve" seal, dated about 3500 B.C., found near Nineveh, pictures a naked man and woman, walking bent over and followed by a serpent. (Halley, op. cit., p. 66 and Ira Price, The Monuments Of The Old Testament, p. 89)
Harold Stigers has well noted: "Some writers have doubted that there is any real significance to these seals as evidence for the fall. However, the specific personages and elements cannot easily be dismissed in such fashion. For what reason should an artist select such a motif by which testimony is made as the cause of man's degradation?" (A Commentary On Genesis, pp. 67, 68)
These seals are more than coincidental. They demonstrate not only that people far and wide were aware of the fall of man, but that they must have had a common source.
Genesis 4:21, 22 - The Use of Metals
In this early chapter of Genesis is the record of man using copper and iron. For years, Bible critics claimed this as proof that the Bible was wrong, for until recently the oldest known use of iron and copper was only about 1200 B.C. However, archaeological findings have corrected this misconception.
In 1933, in the ruins of Asmar, 100 miles from Babylon, an iron blade was discovered and dated back to 2700 B.C. There are many inscriptions showing that ancient people were well acquainted with iron. In many such ancient cities, copper is shown to have been in common use. (Haley, op. cit. pp. 69, 71)
Genesis 6-9 - The Flood
The universal devastation of the world is the account revealed in the flood of Genesis. By many, this also has been discounted as a story invented by man. However, in addition to scientific reasons for believing there was a universal flood, archaeology also has something to tell us.
Throughout the world many flood accounts have been unearthed which show a common belief in such an event. These accounts, totaling more than two dozen, have been discovered in Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, the East Indies, Africa and even the south sea islands. The latest discovery was in New Guinea in 1975.
One of the best known is the Babylonian Flood Tablet found in the library of Ashurbanipal of ancient Assyria. (J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pp. 42ff) Another remarkable find is that of the Miao people of ancient China. This account has many similarities with the Biblical story. The names of a man and his three sons are given: Nuah, Lo Shen, Han, and Jah-hu. Note the similarity with Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Edgar A. Truax, Institute for Creation Research, Impact Series, No. 214, p. 2)
If the flood of the Bible occurred, this is what we would expect - that is, the flood story traveling with mankind as he spread over the earth. Alfred M. Rehwinkle observed: "If that awful world catastrophe, as described in the Bible, actually happened, the existence of the flood traditions among widely separated and primitive people is just what is to be expected. It is only natural that the memory of such an event was rehearsed in the ears of the children of the survivors again and again." (The Flood, pp. 127, 128)
Although these accounts have some differences, yet they contain many remarkable, vital similarities. The only reasonable explanation for such widespread belief in a flood is that there must have been an original source. As Harold W. Clark writes: "Preserved in the myths and legends of almost every people on the face of the globe is the memory of the great catastrophe. While myths may not have any scientific value, yet they are significant in indicating the fact that an impression was left in the minds of the races of mankind that could not be erased." (Outdoor Pictures, p. 45)
Genesis 10:11 - The City of Nineveh
The Bible speaks of an ancient city called Nineveh. It is mentioned several times throughout the Old Testament. It was completely destroyed in about 600 B.C. So completely obliterated was it that it became known as a myth, and Bible critics claimed this was evidence that the Bible was in error.
However, in the 19th century Nineveh was discovered by Sir Austen Layard. Since then, we have learned massive amounts of information about this city and its people. Of this find, Murrill F. Unger writes: "The site has now been extensively excavated....The actual walled city has been outlined to indicate an area three miles in length and a mile and a half in breadth...Layard did the first successful digging in 1847, uncovering the splendid royal residence of Sennacherib...The remains of Nineveh are a silent witness to the glory of Assyria under Sennacherib." (Unger's Bible Dictionary, p. 795, 796)
Genesis 10:21, 24, 25 - Eber
The gigantic library of the Ebla tablets was discovered in Syria in 1975. One of them, dated at about 2400 B.C., mentions Eber by name, identifying him as the greatest of Ebla's kings. (B. J. Humble, Proof From The Past, The Genesis Record, p. 6)
Genesis 11:1, 7, 8 - The First Language
The Bible states that all people of the earth were "of one language and of one speech." It
then relates that due to the sin of arrogance, God "confounded" their language and scattered them over the earth. That original language and those which resulted from God's action were not simple and crude but highly complex. However, those who reject the historical accuracy of the Bible would have us believe that man's first true language was simple, and that it became more complex as time advanced. But, is this what happened?
Here, again, archaeology has something to say. As far back as can be traced, the languages of man have been complex. There is no such thing as "simple" languages! In fact, many of the oldest languages known to man are more complex than most "modern" languages. S. H. Elgin points out: "The most ancient languages for which we have written texts - Sanskrit, for example - are often far more intricate and complicated in their grammatical forms than any contemporary languages." (What Is Linguistics? p. 44)
And as Les Bruce has said: "No group of human beings today, even those living in stone-age culture, speak what could be conceived of as a primitive language. Furthermore, no known language in all of history was in any sense primitive." (Institute for Creation Research, Impact Series, No. 44, p. 3) Bruce further says: "Either human languages have always existed with essentially the potential they exhibit now or they once exhibited greater potential for precise communication than they now do." (Op. cit., p. 4)
Genesis 11: 28, 31 - The Ancient City of Ur
Prior to the mid 19th century nothing was known about the city of Ur other than its mention in the scriptures. Since this was the only record of such a city, those who denied the Bible would not accept it as historical. But, that this city did exist, is now a matter of common knowledge made possible by the spade of archaeology.
In 1854, Ur was discovered by J. E. Taylor. Since then, the city has been extensively excavated. For example, C. Leonard Woolley with a crew of 200 men spent more than twelve years (1922-1934) conducting detailed research of Ur. As a result of their work and the work of other teams of archaeologists, more is known about this city than any other of its time. Volumes have been written about its great wall (80 feet high and 70 feet thick, covering more than two miles), its dwellings, and its elaborate temples. Documents discussing business and commerce abound. (Free and Voss, op. cit. p. 46) Indeed, this city, mentioned long ago in the Bible, did exist.
Genesis 12:16 - Camels in Egypt
For years critics of the Bible claimed that no camels were in Egypt during the time of Abraham (2000 B.C.) and, therefore, the Bible could not be true. However, it is now known that the Bible was right all along. Archaeologists have discovered that camels were in Egypt even beyond 3000 B.C. Again from the pen of Free and Vos: "Archaeological evidence showing early knowledge of the camel in Egypt includes statuettes and figurines of camels, plaques bearing representations of camels, rock carvings and drawings, camel bones, a camel skull and a camel hair rope. These objects...range from the seventh century B.C. back to the period before 3000 B.C." (op. cit. p.51)
There is no doubt that the Bible was accurate in recording the fact that such animals were in Egypt in Abraham's day.
Genesis 13:10 - The Plain of Jordan
Was the plain of Jordan a fertile area? In the days of Lot, was it "well watered" as the Bible states? Among Bible critics, it was once said this could not be true since it was known that this valley had always been desert. However, this claim, too, has been exposed. In 1929, more than forty cities were discovered showing this valley to be rich in vegetation and cultivation. (Stanley E. Anderson, Our Dependable Bible, p. 154) Moses made no mistake in recording the historical fact that this valley was, in ancient days, a fertile area.
Genesis 14:1 - Ancient Kings
Recent discoveries in ancient Mesopotamia have turned up the names of two kings mentioned in Genesis 14. King Arioch has been identified as Arriwuk and King Tidal has been identified as Tudhalias. Other names have been discovered which show promise as being people mentioned on the pages of the Bible. (Free and Vos, p. cit. p. 52)
Genesis 15:20 - The Hittite Nation (See also Genesis 23:10; 25:9; 36:2)
According to the Bible there existed long ago a people known as the Hittites. In fact, the Bible even refers to "the land of the Hittites." (Joshua 1:4) However, before the late 1800s, since such a nation was unknown to secular history, this was used by Bible critics as evidence that the Bible was in error.
Did these people actually live? Archaeologist have discovered not only that they lived, but that they were a mighty nation vieing with such powers as Egypt and Assyria. Their capitol, Hattusas, covering more than 400 acres has been discovered at Bogazkeui in Asia Minor along with the royal archive with over ten thousand clay tablets. Scores of Hittite communities have been found as well as many thousands of cuniform tablets relating much about their everyday life.
As Ira Price expressed it: "The lack of extra-biblical testimony to their existence led some scholars about a half century ago to deny their historicity. They scoffed at the idea of Israel allying herself with such an unhistorical people as narrated in II Kings 7:6. But those utterances have vanished into thin air." (op. cit. pp. 75, 76)
Also, records discovered in Egypt show that the Hittites lived there as well. B. J. Humble, while lecturing with archaeological slides, stated: "Since the discovery of Hattusas, records of the Hittites have been found in Egypt. This sculpture shows Hittite soldiers who were prisoners of the Egyptians. Archaeologists have learned that in 1286 B.C. the Hittites and Egyptians fought a great battle on the Orontes River in Syria, and these Hittites were taken prisoner in that battle." (Humble, op. cit. p. 9). The Hittite nation stands as marvelous testimony to the truthfulness of the Bible.
Genesis 17:9-14 - Circumcision
The Bible is clear in stating that circumcision was practiced as far back as the time of Abraham. However, over the years critics have suggested that such a ritual did not come into vogue until many years later. Is this true? Has archaeology produced any information on this?
It is now established that circumcision was, indeed, known to the ancient world by at least 2300 B.C. This surgical practice has been found pictured on Egyptian reliefs, and graves have been unearthed which contain bodies showing evidence of circumcision. (James Henry Breasted, The Ancient Near East, p.111 and James B. Prichard, The Oriental Institute, p.15)
Genesis 19:23-28 - Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah and their sister cities, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar were located in the "vale of Siddim." (Gen. 14:8) It is believed that the "vale of Siddim" was at the southern end of the Dead Sea, an area now covered by water. This area contains vast deposits of asphalt (or bitumen, a black petroleum) on both sides of the sea with great amounts on the bottom. This is evidence of a tremendous conflagration in the distant past. It is interesting to note that the remains of several cities are known to be in this area.
In the first century A.D., the noted Roman historian, Tacitus, mentions that their ruins were still visible. (History, v. 7) Also, the Jewish Historian, Josephus, wrote: "Traces of the five cities are still to be seen." (Wars Of The Jews, IV.8.4) Obviously, Josephus knew of, or was eyewitness to, these cities.
Genesis 23:16 - Weighed Silver
It has been discovered that the minting of coins did not begin until about 700 B.C., long after the time of Abraham. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 3:404) Instead of using coins as exchange, people would weight out silver in the form of bars or jewelry. This helps us to understand why the text states that Abraham "weighed" the silver in payment of the cave of Machpelah. This also shows that the period of history related here antedates 700 B.C.
Genesis 24:10 - The City of Nahor
When Abraham sent a servant to seek out a wife for Isaac, the Bible states that he went to a city named Nahor. Since for many years such a city was known only to the Bible, it was said that the Bible must be wrong. However, that this city did exist has been confirmed. It is mentioned on the Mari Tablets as Nakhur. (W. F. Albright, The American School Of Oriental Research, 67:27) Again, the Bible was right all along.
Genesis 25:29-34 - Selling of a Birthright
The story of Esau selling his birthright for mere "bread and pottage of lentils" has been questioned as unreliable, and, on the surface, this does seem to be a somewhat drastic step taken by Esau. However, discoveries of ancient tablets dating back to the time of Isaac reveal that this was not the only time such a thing occurred.
A very similar instance was found in the Nuzi Tablets in Mesopotamia telling of one selling his birthright of an expensive grove in order to obtain a less expensive possession. "In one Nuzi tablet, there is a record of a man named Tupkitilla who transferred his inheritance rights concerning a grove to his brother, Kurpazah, in exchange for three sheep. Esau used a similar technique in exchanging his inheritance rights to obtain the desired stew." (Cyrus Gordon, Biblical Archaeologist, Feb. 1940, p. 5). So, the Bible story of Esau virtually giving away his birthright is not that remote.
Genesis 27:6-33 - The Oral Blessing of Isaac
Rebekah devised a plan by which Isaac would bless her favored son, Jacob, instead of Esau. When Isaac discovered the deception, he was filled with remorse, yet he did not revoke the blessing. We are made to wonder why. Archaeological findings have shed light on the importance of oral blessings of that time.
One of the Nuzi Tablets of Mesopotamia relates that an oral blessing in patriarchal times was binding and had legal validity, even in a court of law. "This particular document recorded the lawsuit of a certain Tarmiya against his two brothers who contested the right of the younger brother to take a woman by the name of Zululishtar as his wife. Tarmiya won the case and was awarded his bride because the court recognized the validity of his father's blessing...(On his death bed the father said:) 'My older sons have taken wives, but thou hast not a wife, and I give Zululishtar to thee as wife.'" (Biblical Archaeologist, Feb. 940, p. 8). The fact is, in ancient times oral wills were legal and binding. There is nothing suspicious about this Biblical account.
Genesis 31:19, 34 - Stolen Images (teraphim)
When Jacob left the home of Laban, his father-in-law, his wife Rachael stole her father's images (teraphim). After they were well on their way, Laban overtook them and searched diligently for the teraphim and became angry when not finding them. Why was it so important to him to locate these small idols? This has been a troubling question to many. Some have suggested that they were made of gold or had some superstitious value. However, there must be another answer.
Through the research of archaeology, it is now known that the teraphim played an important role in land ownership and inheritance. Again, from the Nuzi Tablets, we read the following:v"One of the Nuzi tablets indicated that in the region where Laban lived, a son-in-law who possessed the family images could appear in court and make claim to the estate of his father-in-law." (W. F. Albright, Recent Discoveries In Bible Lands - Supplement, Youngs Analytical Concordance, p. 26)
The teraphim (household gods) stood for the title-deed to the family property; hence, these gods passed from generation to generation with the property. We can see why Laban was so intent on finding these objects. Rachael had run off with the deed (inheritance) to her father's property.
Genesis 40:9-11 - Grapes in Egypt
The Genesis record speaks of grapes in Egypt, indicating that grapes were cultivated in that land during the days of Joseph. However, until recent times, except for the Bible, there were no records of this. It was thought that grapes were not introduced into Egypt until several centuries after Joseph's time, and those who opposed the scriptures claimed this as proof that the Bible must be mistaken. However, again archaeology speaks out.
R. K. Harrison, addressing the fact that ancient Egyptians did make wine, writes: "Paintings found on the walls of Egyptian tombs depicted the various stages of winemaking, while inscriptions and sculptures attested to the importance of the vine." (Cited by Wayne Jackson, op. cit. p. 33). In addition, Sir G. Wilkinson states: "Wine was universally used by the rich throughout Egypt, and beer supplied its place at the tables of the poor, not because they had no vines in the country, but because it was cheaper." (George Rawlinson, Historical Illustrations Of The Old Testament, p. 52)
Genesis 41:40, 41 - Joseph, Ruler in Egypt
After telling the dreams of Pharaoh, Joseph was made ruler "over all the land of Egypt." Doubt has been put on this account by Bible critics, saying that no foreigner would be elevated to such an exalted position in Egypt. While we realize, of course, that God was guiding Joseph's life, yet, it can be demonstrated that, apart from this, such a rise to power was not improbable.
Egyptian archaeological discoveries relate several instances where foreigners, including Canaanites (from the land of Joseph), were placed in prominent positions. A. Erman notes that "amongst the court officials also we often meet with foreigners who may have been slaves." He also adds that one such Canaanite was the "first speaker of his Majesty." (Life In Ancient Egypt, p. 106)
Another Canaanite named Dudu rose to high favor in the Egyptian court. It was said of him, "Whatsoever is the wish of Dudu, let me know and I will do it...Thou sittest in the presence of the King my lord as a high dignitary." (W. F. Albright, cited by Free and Vos, op. cit. p. 71). Yankhamu, another Canaanite in Egypt, is very similar to the case of Joseph. He was deputy to one of the pharaoh's of Egypt. (S. L. Caiger, Bible And Spade, p. 104). Thus, Joseph's rise to power in Egypt should not be considered something unbelievable.
Genesis 50:2, 26 - Embalming
When Jacob and Joseph died, they were both embalmed. This was, of course, the Egyptian practice of burying those who were of great importance. The Genesis record states there was a span of "forty days" for the embalming period. Is there any significance to this?
Archaeology has revealed extensive discoveries of embalming in Egypt. It is now known that embalming was an elaborate process involving many steps. The historians Herodotus and Diodorus both relate the extensive nature of the embalming procedures, pointing out that many days were necessary to complete them. (Frank Knight, Nile And Jordan, 1:91, 2:86-89). This is but another instance wherein the Bible proves to be a reliable account of ancient practices.
Exodus 1:8 - The King Who "Knew Not Joseph"
As the Israelites began to multiply in the land of Egypt, there arose a king who "knew not Joseph" - that is, a king who did not regard the Israelites with any special favor as did previous kings. Being alarmed at the growth of the Israelites, he laid a heavy burden on them. For many years his identity was a matter of speculation. Recent discoveries lead us to believe that this was Ahmose I. (John A. Wilson, The Burden Of Egypt, p. 8)
Exodus 1:11, 14 - The Store-Cities
After the king arose who "knew not Joseph," the Israelites were put under harsh treatment. Among other things, they were forced to build "treasure cities" (store cities) identified in the Bible as Pithom and Ramses. The Bible states that the Israelites were made to serve with "hard bondage, in mortar and in brick." (In making brick, straw was an important ingredient.) This oppression was increased when the Israelites were forced to gather their own straw. Because of the difficulty created by this, the Israelites were caused to begin using "stubble." (Ex. 5:10-12)
That straw was essential to making brick is shown by the following statement from an Egyptian document, Papyrus Anastasi, in which an Egyptian officer complained about lacking supplies and personnel. "I am without equipment. There are no people to make bricks and there is no straw in the district." (A. A. Yahuda, The Accuracy Of The Bible, p. 75)
Remarkably, E. Naville (1883) and M. G. Kyle (1908) discovered at Pithom, buildings with different types of brick at different levels. The lower courses contained brick with good straw, middle courses contained brick with stubble, and higher courses contained brick made of pure clay. (Halley, op. cit., p. 117) Furthermore, in 1929 the other store city, Ramses, was found by French archaeologist Pierre Montet. From 1929 to 1932, he made extensive excavations of this site. (Jack Finegan, Light From The Ancient Past, p. 114)
Exodus 2:23 - The Oppressive King of Egypt
Because of killing an Egyptian taskmaster, Moses fled to the land of Midian. After "many days" the king of Egypt died. This was about 1500 B.C. What pharaoh ruled at that time? For years it was thought that Rameses II was this pharaoh. However, the best evidence shows this to be king Thutmose III who reigned in Egypt for thirty-two years. (S. L. Caiger, Bible And Spade, p. 68)
Exodus 17:14 - Writing
God's command to Moses to "write this for a memorial" is the first mention of writing in the Bible. Those who are hostile to the scriptures have argued that writing did not appear until many years after the time of Moses. As we have already shown on page six, complex languages existed long before this; but there can be no complex languages without complex written alphabets. A number of such alphabets have been found, including the Proto-Semitic alphabet dated older than the 15th century B.C. (W. F. Albright, Bulletin Of The American Schools Of Oriental Research, Vol. 110. 1958) and the Ugaritic alphabet containing 30 letters dated from 3500 B.C. (Wayne Jackson, op. cit. p. 32)
Albright writes: "Only a very ignorant person can now suggest that writing (in many
forms) was not known in Palestine and the immediately surrounding regions during the entire second millennium B.C." (op. cit. Vol. 60. 1935). That Moses could write is a foregone conclusion.
Exodus 20:4, 5 - Images
The making of images for worship was prohibited. The worship of God's people was to be different than the worship of the pagan nations all about them. An interesting note just here is that while the heathen people created images to their gods, there is no trace of the Israelites ever attempting to do this. Ernest Wright says: "We can nowhere place our hands on a figure of Yahweh." (The Terminology Of Old Testament Religion And Its Significance, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, October 1942. p. 413)
Exodus 23:19 - Seething (Boiling) a Kid
God's command to the Israelites was that they not boil a kid in its mother's milk. (cf. Ex. 34:26; Deut. 14:21) For many years this has been a puzzling statement, and numerous explanations have been offered. Now, however, due to archaeological findings, we can know why this command was given.
Among the Jews lived the Canaanites who practiced pagan religion. Describing their practices, an ancient Ugaritic text states: "Over the fire seven times the sacrificers cook a kid in milk." (G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths And Legends, p. 121, quoted by Jackson, op. cit. p. 24) So, it was to avoid copying a heathen practice that this command was given.
Exodus 38:8 - Mirrors of Brass
God told Moses to have a laver made of brass. The brass used to make the laver came from the women's donations of their brass mirrors. But, where did poor Israelite women obtain brass mirrors? Remember, they had just left the land of Egypt and had taken much of that land's wealth with them. No doubt, they had an abundance of everything, including mirrors.
It is now known that bronze items were greatly cherished by the Egyptians. Bronze especially could be polished with a clear surface which would give a high degree of reflection. Egyptian women apparently collected many of these mirrors. As Free and Vos write: "Such bronze mirrors from ancient Egypt may be seen in most of the large museums of the world." (op. cit. p. 95)
The book of Leviticus contains numerous laws pertaining to such things as: offering sacrifices, consecration of priests, purity in living, punishment for various sins, feasts, and so on. For many years those who criticized the Bible claimed that such a code of laws did not develop for another 1000 years (or about 500 B.C.). However, this view has now been dispelled.
The Ras Shamra tablets dated at about 1400 B.C. reveal that people in the region of ancient Canaan had codes which, in some respects, were similar to the laws of Leviticus. Millar Burrows points out: "Several of the terms employed in the Hebrew Old Testament for the various types of offerings also have appeared in the Ras Shamra tablets, for example, the burnt offering, the whole burnt offering, the guilt offering, and the peace offering." (What Mean These Stones? p. 234)
This information from outside the Bible shows that laws similar to those found in Leviticus did exist at the time of Moses. We are made to wonder how pagan people knew of laws so similar in nature to that contained in the Bible. No doubt, these laws were acquired and adopted from the Hebrews.
Numbers 20:1 - The City of Kadesh
After the Israelites had encamped at the foot of Mt. Sinai for about one year, God directed them to leave. Being guided by a pillar of cloud and fire, they traveled north and came to Kadesh. Kadesh (or Kadesh-Barnea) has been identified as the present day Ain-Kadis. (Halley, op. cit. p. 138)
Numbers 20:17, 19; 21:22 - The King's Highway
As the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness, the Bible states that at times they were on what was called "the king's highway." (Cf. Deut. 2:27) Did such a highway exist? Well-known archaeologist, J. A. Thompson, writes: "It is now established that this road existed from early times. It was used much earlier than the days of the Exodus. A string of Bronze Age fortresses, scattered here and there fairly close to the modern bitumen highway, shows that the road was in use even before 2000 B.C." (The Bible And Archaeology, p. 75)
The book of Deuteronomy reveals many social, ethical, and moral laws which Bible critics considered to have been too advanced for Moses' time. We realize, of course, that God was guiding Moses, enabling him to have an extraordinary insight into such matters.
Archaeology shows that other people of that day also had high moral and ethical laws.
The Code of Hammurabi is a classic example. This code, dating from 1500 B.C., found in
ancient Susa (modern Iran) in 1902, is a solid slate of black diorite eight feet high. It contains 282 paragraphs of highly advanced laws, some of them similar to the law of Moses. (James B. Pritchner, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating To The Old Testament, pp. 163-165)
There are other examples of advanced laws among the ancients.
"Scholars have sometimes supposed that the social and moral level of the laws attributed to Moses was too high for such an early age. The standards represented by the ancient law codes of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites, as well as the high ideals found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and the early Wisdom Book of the Egyptians, have effectively refuted this assumption." (Burrows, op. cit. p. 56)
Deuteronomy 8:9 - Brass (Copper)
In describing the land of Canaan to Israel, God, through Moses, told them it was a land "out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass (ASV copper)." For many years it was assumed that there never was copper in the region of Canaan, and this was used as evidence that the Bible must be in error. However, again, the critics are shown to be the ones in error.
In southern Palestine in the 1930s, Nelson Glueck discovered the remains of ancient copper mines. This led to the discovery of rich copper veins of which nothing had been recorded in modern times. After the discovery, he said, "How accurate were the words of scripture which spoke of 'a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper'." (The River Jordan
, p. 146)
Joshua 1:1 - "Benjamin" and "Joshua"
Of interest is the finding of an inscription in Palestine containing the name "Joshua." This appears on the Amarna Tablets dated at the approximate time of Joshua (1450 B.C.). It was written from Canaan to an Egyptian Pharaoh about the route of a kind of Pella and reads, "Ask Benjamin, ask Tadua, ask Joshua." (Halley, op. cit. p. 148) The Hebrew name "Benjamin" obviously refers to the Biblical tribe. The name "Joshua" in the same context as the tribe of Benjamin, together with the fact that there was no other person of renown at that time with this name, makes it very unlikely that this could be anyone else.
Joshua 2:1, 15 - Rahab's House
In Jericho, Rahab's house was built "upon the town wall" (ASV - "upon the side of the wall"). In her house there was a window facing the outside, and it was through this window that she helped the Hebrew spies escape. Jericho was not very large, and it must have been necessary to build at every possible location. Ruins of ancient Jericho reveal that some homes were, indeed, built on the walls; that is, upon the inner walls but attached to the higher outer walls.
Following World War II, archaeologists Ernest Sellin and Carl Watzinger, while excavating at Jericho, found a number of such houses within the fallen debris. (Bryant G. Wood, Biblical Archaeology, March/April, 1990, pp. 45, 46) Concerning this, J. A. Thompson writes:
"It is possible that one of these (houses), abutting to the wall, had a window through the brick walls that stood on the revetment. From such a window it would have been possible to lower the Israelite spies to the ground outside the city." (op. cit. pp. 109, 110)
Joshua 6 - The Destruction of Jericho
After the Israelites marched around Jericho the seventh day, its wall "fell down flat" ("in place," ASV footnote). Extensive research at Jericho has revealed much about the nature of its destruction. It has been observed that the wall did not fall inward (as would be expected if attacked by an outward force) but rather downward and outward. That the wall did, indeed, fall outward has been demonstrated by several excavations. John Garstang, who researched Jericho from 1930 to 1936, found that as the outer wall fell they dragged the inner walls and houses with them. He gave this report: "As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outward so completely that the attackers would be able to clamber up and over their ruins into the city." (The Story Of Jericho, p. 146)
Recently, more information has been found relative to the time of the fall of Jericho. As reported by Bryant G. Wood, carbon-14 samples support the date of about 1400 B.C., the approximate time of Joshua (Nashville Banner, A-8, Feb. 21, 1990). In addition, the Bible states that after its fall the city was burned (Joshua 6:24). Garstang adds: "Traces of intense fire are plain to see, including reddened masses of brick, cracked stones, charred timbers and ashes." (loc. cit.)
Joshua 8-12 - Conquest of Other Cities
This was a period of great conquest over widely scattered, independent, fortified cities in Canaan. The Amarna Tablets, found in Egypt in 1887, and dated about 1400 B.C., contain letters from various cities in Canaan to two Egyptian kings. They reveal that Canaan was ruled by small "city-states" and were vulnerable to attack, a condition so well described in the book of Joshua. (James B. Pritchard, op. cit. pp. 43-490 and F. F. Bruce, Archaeology And Old Testament Study, pp. 3-20) A list of thirty-one such cities is given in Joshua 12:9-24. One of these tablets speaks of an invasion by a people called the "Habiru." (Millar Burrows, op. cit. p. 271) The close resemblance between this name and the name "Hebrew" is surely more than coincidence. Excavation has been done on several cities of the conquest, such as Ai and Hazor. It has been discovered that the city of Hazor was burned just as the bible says. (Joshua 11:11, 13) (John Garstang, Joshua, Judges, pp. 197, 383)
Joshua 17:18 - Iron in Canaan
The Bible clearly states that the people of the land were in possession of iron. (cf. Judges 1:19) Is it true, as some have suggested, that at this time iron was not in use in Canaan? Archaeological diggings in this region over the past few decades have established the fact that iron was in common use. Murrill F. Unger writes: "Excavations have shown that the Philistines possessed iron weapons." (Archaeology And The Old Testament, p. 199)
The People of the Land of Canaan
The Bible speaks of a number of different pagan nations which inhabited the land of Canaan when conquered by Israel. Among the major groups were: to the northeast the Hivittes, to the northwest the Canaanites (later to be known as the Phoenicians), to the southwest the Philistines, to the southeast the Moabites and Edomites. Discoveries of these and other groups is so well documented no one questions that they lived in that region during the time period of the scriptures.
Judges 1:10 - Canaanite Leaders
Judges 1:10 lists the names of three Canaanite kings. Until the discovery of the Ras Shamra tablets, no record of such kings was found outside the Bible. In the Ras Shamra tablets, two of these kings are mentioned -- Ahiman and Talmai. (Albright, op. cit. p. 145) This is added evidence that the Biblical records should be regarded as historically accurate.
Judges 2:11-13; 3:7 - The Pagan God Baal
A major god worshipped by many of the pagan people in ancient Canaan was "Baal" (Baalim) together with the female counterpart, "Ashtaroth" (Asherah). That this was actually a part of history at that time has been established by archaeological discoveries.
R. A. S. McCalister, while digging in ancient Gezer (1904-1907), found the remains of a Canaanite temple (or "high place") where the god Baal was worshipped. Of this find Halley writes: "It was an enclosure 150 by 120 ft., surrounded by a wall, opened to the sky, where the inhabitants held their religious festivals. Within the walls were 10 rude stone pillars, 5 to 11 ft. high, before which the sacrifices were offered...Under the debris, in this 'high place,' McCalister found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal." (op. cit., p. 157)
The Sensuous Nature of Pagan Religion in Canaan and it's Influence on Israel
Archaeologist J. A. Thompson writes: "In the temples of the Canaanites, there were male and female prostitutes ('sacred' men and women), and all sorts of sexual excesses were practiced ...Baal was the god who cared for the rain and the growth of the crops and flocks. The goddess Asherah, the goddess of passion and the cohort of Baal, was the inspiration of every form of passion whether in love or war. Even during the days of the judges the worship of these gods was finding favor in the eyes of many of the Israelites." (op. cit. p. 90)
Judges 4:3; 5:19 - Canaanite Oppression and Israel's Victory at Megiddo
For many years, the Canaanites "oppressed" Israel. However, under Deborah's leadership, Israel defeated them. Evidence of this has been discovered at the sight of Megiddo.
"The Oriental Institute, excavating at Megiddo, found, in 1937, in the stratum of the 12th century (time of Deborah and Barak), indications of a tremendous fire. And underneath the floor of the palace about 200 pieces of beautifully carved ivory and gold ornaments, one of which represents the Canaanite king as receiving a line of naked captives who were circumcised. This looks very much like evidence of a terrific defeat for the Canaanites, and of their antecedent oppression of Israel." (Halley, op. cit., p. 161)
Judges 6:2-4, 11 - Hiding of Grain
According to Judges, God delivered Israel into the hands of the Midianites and Amalekites for "seven years." As these nations fought against Israel, they destroyed their crops. In order to preserve their grain, they made "dens" (pits) in which to hide it. To their amazement, teams of archaeologists (from 1916 to 1926), under the direction of M. G. Kyle and G. F. Wright, discovered at Kiriath-sepher large numbers of many such "grain pits" dated to the time of the Judges. (Halley, op. cit., p. 162)
Judges 9:45-49 - The Stronghold at Shechem
When Abimelech and the armies of Israel were about to overrun the city of Shechem, the defenders shut themselves in an inner part of the city called a "hold" (ASV "stronghold") in the "house of the god Berith." The Israelites set fire to the stronghold killing 1000 people.
Confirmation of this event was discovered in 1929 by German archaeologist Ernest Sellin. Pottery found in the burned ruins dated to the period of the Judges when Abimelech lived (about 1150 B.C.). (G. A. Barton, Archaeology And The Bible, pp. 113, 114) The Drew-McCormick excavation (1956-1966) gave added confirmation of these ruins. (Michael Avi-Yonah, Encyclopedia Of Archaeological Excavations In The Holy Land, 4:1092).
Judges 20:37-40 - The Burning of Gibeah
Since the dreadful sin of a man killing a young woman and cutting her body into pieces happened in Gibeah, a city of the tribe of Benjamin, the rest of the tribes of Israel rose up and fought against Benjamin. This civil war ended in the defeat of Benjamin and the burning of Gibeah. W. F. Albright discovered the remains of this city and established the fact that it was burned just as the Bible says. (The Archaelogy Of Palestine, p. 47)
I SAMUEL 1:3 - Shiloh
Shiloh is another city which for many years was known only to the Bible. However, a Danish expedition (1922-1931) located this city and within it evidence of Israelite culture. It dates from 1200 to 1050 B.C. (Halley, op. cit., p. 167)
I Samuel 5:1-5 - The God Dagon
When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, it was placed beside their god Dagon in a temple at Ashdod. That Dagon was a god of the ancient Philistines has been shown by excavations at Ugarit. Inscriptions on two stone slabs identify this god. (F. W. Albright, Archaeology And The Religion Of Israel, p. 106) Also, the Ras Shamra tablets mention "Dagon, the grain-god, whose son was Baal." (Free and Voss, op. cit., p. 124)
I Samuel 31:8-10 - Saul and the Temple of Ashtaroth
When the Philistines found the bodies of Saul and his sons, they put Saul's armor in the "house (temple) of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan." The existence of Bethshan and this temple of Ashtaroth are well known. The temple itself was discovered by The University of Pennsylvania Expedition (1921-1933). (Alan Rowe, Discovery Of the Temple Of Ashtaroth: Museum Journal, December 1925, 311) Of this, Free and Voss state: "Within the temple, a monument of basalt was found. It bore a figure of the goddess Ashtaroth, depicted as wearing a long dress and the conical crown customary for all Syrian goddesses, with two feathers attached." (op. cit., 128)
II SAMUEL II Samuel 5:8 - The Watercourse
When the new King, David, was retaking the city of Jerusalem, he told his men to "get up to the watercourse." For many years the meaning of this was a mystery. However, in 1866 the watercourse was discovered by the Palestine Exploration. It was also discovered that this "watercourse" had been connected to a spring leading outside the city, providing a secret passage. David, being aware of this, used it to gain entrance to Jerusalem. (Halley, op. cit., p. 200)
II Samuel 5:11 - Hiram, King of Tyre
Hiram, king of Tyre, aided David in the construction of his palace at Jerusalem. For many years, apart from the Bible, no such king was known. But the spade of archaeology has again produced some interesting information. At the ruins of ancient Jebeil, a French expedition (1923, 1924) discovered a sarcophagus on which was inscribed in Phoenician writing the name Ahiram, equivalent to the Biblical Hiram. That this find dates to the time of David is strong evidence that he was indeed the Hiram of the Bible. (G. A. Barton, Archaeology And The Bible, p. 128)
I Kings 9:19 - Solomon's Stables
The Bible states that Solomon built cities in which to keep chariots and horses (cf. I Kings 10:26-28). Bible critics once claimed this to be too extravagant and used it as evidence that the Bible was not reliable history. Is there any archaeological testimony relating to this? Two excavations at Megiddo have unearthed the ruins of some of Solomon's stables, the most extensive of which was the University of Chicago excavation (1925-1939). Discovered here were two stable compounds capable of housing 450 horses. (Avi-Yonah, op. cit., 3:830-855)
I Kings 10:1-13 - The Land of Sheba
Solomon's reputation was widely known. (cf. I Kings 4:30, 31) The Bible states that the queen of a land called "Sheba" came to see Solomon. Did such a land as "Sheba" exist? Although there is as yet no material evidence concerning this queen, it is well established that Sheba was the land of the Sabaeans in Arabia. Over one hundred years ago, two European explorers, in the city of Marib, made an impression of an inscription which included the name of the land of "Sheba." (Clifford Wilson, That Incredible Book, pp. 111-114)
I Kings 12:20 - King Jeroboam I
Jeroboam I was made the first king over Israel, the northern division of the Jewish nation. Archaeological confirmation of Jereboam was discovered at Megiddo by the German Expedition headed by Gottlieb Schumacher (1903-1905). In a place of the stratum of the Hebrew period was found a "seal" bearing an inscription that read: "Belonging to Shema, servant of Jeroboam." (Note: There is a slight possibility this is Jeroboam II - cf. II Kings 14:23.) At any rate, the discovery of such a seal is evidence of the historical accuracy of the Bible. (Barton, op. cit., pp. 110-456)
I Kings 14:25, 26 - Shishak, King of Egypt
That Shishak was king of Egypt during the time of Rehoboam is well established by archaeology. The Bible tells of this great Egyptian king attacking and capturing Jerusalem. This was part of a vast invasion of Canaan. Of this event, Free and Voss note: "Archaeological confirmation of this campaign of Shishak is found in his inscription on the wall of the great temple of Karnak in Egypt. The inscription shows his god Amon leading by cords rows of Asiatic captives, undoubtedly Israelites. On the relief, 156 captives are represented, and on the bodies of these people are inscribed names of many Palestinian towns such as Taanach, Gibeon, Ajalon and Beth-Shan." (op. cit., p. 154)
In addition to this, two gold bracelets have been discovered which belonged to Nemareti, son of Shishak. (Jack P. Lewis, Archaeological Backgrounds To Bible People, p. 17) But the most conclusive evidence is that in 1939 Shishak's mummy was discovered at Tanis in Egypt. Halley notes that it was found in a "sarcophagus of silver encased in solid gold." (op. cit, p. 205)
I Kings 16:16-28 - Omri, King of Israel
According to the Bible, Omri, one of the most wicked kings of Israel (reigning only six years), founded the city of Samaria. That Omri lived and that he established Samaria has been verified by archaeology. The Moabite Stone, discovered in 1868 by F. A. Klein at Dibon about 20 miles east of the Dead Sea, mentions "Omri king of Israel." (Halley, op. cit., p. 183)
As to the city of Samaria, a Harvard University study under the direction of G. A. Reisner (1908-1910), found in the ruins of Samaria the foundation of Omri's palace. Under this foundation there were no other ruins, proving this was the first construction to be done at this location. (Halley, op. cit., p. 183; Avi-Yonah, op. cit., 4:1041, 1042)
I Kings 16:29-22:40 - King Ahab
Ahab, another king of Israel, has been discovered outside the Bible record. In the Monolith Inscription found in Assyria, there is a description of king Shalmaneser's military victories, one of which was his battle at Karkar on the Orontes River in ancient Syria. Of this battle, the king said: "At Karkar I destroyed...2,000 chariots and 10,000 men of Ahab king of Israel." (J. D. Wiseman, Archaeology And The Old Testament, Vol. I, p. 325)
Also, the "ivory" house built by Ahab (I Kings 22:39) has been discovered and researched by two separate groups, Harvard (1908-1910) and Harvard/Hebrew University/British School of Archaeology (1931-1935). The house was over 300 feet long arranged with two story buildings around open courts. Of this house, archaeologist Jack Finegan writes: "The remains of the palace structure found on this site dating from Ahab's period gave evidence of walls faced with high-quality white limestone, which would, in itself, give the appearance of an 'ivory' palace...But, more than that, numerous ivory decorations were found, in the form of plaques and panels for decorating furniture and wall paneling." (Light Form The Ancient Past, pp. 187, 188)
One of the excavators at the site remarked that to him there was "a double reason for calling Ahab's palace an 'ivory house' - the gleaming white walls and also the ivory decorations." (Free and Voss, op. cit., p. 155)
II Kings 3:4-7 - Mesha, King of Moab
King Mesha is another example of the historical reliability of the Bible. The name of this king was found on the Moabite Stone, Mesha's own record of his strife with Israel. It reads: "Mesha, king of Moab." In addition, the stone reads: "Omri, king of Israel - he oppressed Moab many days...and his son succeeded him, and he also said 'I will oppress Moab.'" (Pritchard, op. cit., pp. 320, 321)
II Kings 6:24; 8:7-15 - Ben-hadad and Hazael
Ben-hadad was a Syrian king and an enemy of Israel. Hazael was his son. That both of these men lived cannot be disputed. The record of the inscription of Shalmaneser king of Assyria reads: "I fought with Ben-hadad. I accomplished his defeat. Hazael, son of a nobody, seized his throne." (Halley, op. cit., p. 190; Pritchard, op. cit., p. 280)
II Kings 9:11-14 - King Jehu
Jehu, another king of Israel, has been documented on a black stone called the Black Obelisk found in the ruins of the palace of king Shalmanezer at Calah, near Nineveh, by G. G. Laynard (1845-1849). This stone depicts the exploits of Shalmanezer. Below a figure of an Israelite man, an inscription reads: "The tribute of Jehu, successor of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, lead, scepter for the king, and spear-shafts, I have received." (Halley, op. cit., p. 191)
II Kings 9:30 - Jezebel's Cosmetics
Before her gruesome death, Jezebel, wife of king Ahab, "painted her face." Apparently, putting on makeup was something she especially enjoyed. As noted earlier, Ahab's "ivory house" has been discovered and excavated. According to Halley, within the ruins of this palace have been found: "...the very saucers, small stone boxes, in which Jezebel mixed her cosmetics. They had a number of small holes to contain the various colors: kohl for black; turquoise for green; ochre for red; and a central depression for mixing. They still had traces of red." (op. cit., p. 192)
What an amazing discovery and one that sheds light on probably the most infamous woman of the Bible.
II Kings 13:24] - Ben-hadad II
This Ben-hadad was the son of Hazael and grandson of Ben-hadad I, both of whom were mentioned earlier. His name is also found outside the Biblical record. It is on the Aramaic Zakir inscription in which Zakir, king of Hamath, says: "Barhadad the son of Hazael, king of Aram, united a group of ten kings against me. Barhadad and his army..." (Prichard, op. cit., p. 655 and J. Lewy, Studies In The Historic Geography Of The Ancient Near East, Orientalia, XXI (1952), p. 418)
II Kings 15:1ff - Azariah, King of Judah
Azariah (Uzziah), who came to Judah's throne at age sixteen, reigned for fifty-two years. He is found on an inscription of Tiglath-pileser (discussed below). Four times the statement is made: "Azariah the Judean." (Halley, op. cit., p. 207) Another inscription has the words, "Azriau of Yaudi," an Assyrian form of "Asariah of Judah." (E. R. Thiele, The Chronology Of The Kings Of Judah And Israel, Jones 2, 3: July 1944, p. 156)
II KINGS 15:19, 29 - Tiglath-pileser III (Pul)
Tiglath-pileser (or Pul) was one of the great kings of Assyria during the time of the divided kingdom. He is mentioned by name in the Bible (cf. I Chron. 5:26) and several times simply referred to as "king" of Assyria. That this king lived cannot be questioned, being well documented by archaeology as a historical person. A number of reliefs have been discovered which not only picture him but also depict his many exploits. Information has even been learned about his dual name. (Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers Of The Hebrew Kings, p. 141 and W. E. Almstead, History of Assyria, p. 181)
II Kings 15:37; 16:5, 6 - Rezin, King of Syria
Rezin, king of Syria, was sent by God to fight against Judah. In one of Tiglath-pileser's records, this king is mentioned. "I received tribute from...Rezon of Damascus." ("Rezon" is the Assyrian form of the Hebrew "Rezin.") (Pritchard, op. cit., p. 283)
II Kings 15:30; 17:1 - Kings Pekah and Hoshea
Hoshea killed Pekah and succeeded him as king of Israel. It is remarkable that in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser this very event is recorded and both these kings are mentioned by name. "Pekah their king they had overthrown. I placed Hoshea over them. From him I received 10 talents of gold and 1000 talents of silver." (Halley, op. cit., p. 194)
II Kings 16:1ff - Ahaz, King of Judah
That Ahaz, king of Judah, was an actual person is well documented by archaeology. On the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser the statement is made: "The tribute of Ahaz the Judean I received, gold, silver, lead, fin, and linen. Damascus I destroyed. Resin I took. His officials I impaled alive on stakes. I hewed down his orchards, nor did I leave a tree standing." (Halley, op. cit., p. 207)
Also, the invasion of the Syrian capitol of Damascus by the king of Assyria, which was requested by Ahaz (II Kings 16:7-9), has been found recorded in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser. (D. D. Lukenbill, Ancient Records Of Assyria And Babylonia, 1:279, par. 777)
II Kings 17:3; 18:9 - Shalmaneser vs. King of Assyria
Shalmaneser, prominently mentioned in the Bible, was the son and successor of Tiglathpileser. It was under him that Israel, the northern division of the Jews, was taken captive (II Kings 17:5, 6; 18:11). Like other great kings recorded in the Bible, this man is known to be a historical figure. His name appears in the Ptolemic Cannon, the Babylonian King List, and the Kudurru boundary stone. A bronze weight has this inscription: "Palace of Shalmaneser, king of Assur, two-thirds mina of the king." (Lewis, op. cit., p. 38)
Also, the Babylonian Chronicle tells that this great king was, indeed, responsible for the fall of Samaria. It reads: "On the twenty-fifth of Tebet Shalmaneser ascended the throne of Assyria. He destroyed Samaria." (Translated by H. Tadmor, A Chronological-historical Study, JCS, XII (1958), p. 39)
II Kings 18:13; 19:20 - Sennacherib, King of Assyria and Hezekiah, King of Judah
This is another of the Assyrian kings recorded in both the Bible and secular history. His conquering of the cities of Judah and his intended siege of Jerusalem (II Kings 18:13; 19:10-13) is recorded on a hexagon shaped clay cylinder discovered in 1830 by J. E. Taylor. It is called the Taylor Cylinde. This cylinder reads, in part: "As for Hezekiah, king of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke, 46 of his fortified cities and smaller cities without number, with battering rams, engines, mines, breaches and axes, I besieged and captured. 200,150 people, small and great, male and female, and horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen, sheep, without number, I took as booty. Hezekiah himself I shut up like a caged bird in Jerusalem, his royal city. I built a line of forts against him, and turned back everyone who came forth out of his city gate." (Halley, op. cit., p. 209) That this cylinder mentions king Hezekiah establishes the fact that he, too, is a historical person.
II Kings 18:17 - Sennacherib's Officers
The Bible mentions three officers of king Sennacherib. They are: Tartan, Rabsaris and Rabshakeh. Remarkably, these men are recorded on a Babylonian inscription. We now know these are not their names, but military titles. (Burrows. op. cit., p. 43)
II Kings 19:9 - Tirhakah, King of Ethiopia
Bible critics once said that the Bible was in error because it spoke of Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, whereas no other sources made mention of him. However, this criticism has been laid to rest. In Egypt has been discovered a funeral stele (slab) of an Apis (sacred) bull on which the bull is said to have been born in the 26th year of "Tirhakah." (Actually, Tirhakah was king over Egypt as well as Ethiopia.) (J. H. Brested, Ancient Records Of Egypt, IV, no. 962) This king is also recorded on an inscription in a temple he built in Sanam. (J. M. A. Janssen, Que Sait-on Actuellement Du Pharon Taharqa?, p. 35)
II Kings 19:37 - Esarhaddon, King of Assyria and the Death of Sennacherib
Another clear example of the historical accuracy of the scriptures is the case of Esarhaddon, son of Sennacherib. (cf. Ezra 4:2) That he was a real person is obvious from the fact that his image is depicted on an Assyrian stele and several inscriptions relate his accomplishments. (Lewis. op. cit., pp. 49, 50)
The Bible states that Sennacherib's death was at the hands of two of his sons (cf. Isaiah 37:38) and that Esarhaddon was made king. Archaeology has found this same account on an Esarhaddon inscription. It reads: "In the month of Nisanu, on a favorable day, complying with their exalted command, I made my joyful entrance into the royal palace, the awesome place, where abides the fate of kings. A firm determination fell upon my brothers. They forsook the gods and turned to their deeds of violence, plotting evil...To gain the kingship they slew Sennacherib, their father." (Luckenbill, op. cit., 2:200, 201, par. 501-2)
II Kings 20:20 - The Tunnel of Hezekiah
The Bible tells of the long water "conduit" made by king Hezekiah (cf. II Chron. 32:30). This tunnel brought water from the "upper spring" of Gihon (outside of Jerusalem) into the city itself, and was built not only to supply water for the city, but also to cut off water supply to enemies (see II Chron. 32:4).
Did such a tunnel exist? Although unknown for many centuries, in 1880 an Arabian boy discovered the inside entrance to this tunnel at the pool of Saloam. This aqueduct was an almost unbelievable undertaking requiring cutting through solid rock for a distance of 1740 feet (about 1/3 mile). It is about two feet wide and varies from 4 to 20 feet high. We now know that the chiseling out of the rock began at both ends, which meant the workers possessed remarkable engineering skills.
Near the Saloam entrance was found a description of the completion of the tunnel. It reads: "The boring is completed. Now this is the story of the boring through. While the workmen were still lifting pick to pick, each toward his neighbor, and while three cubits remained to be cut through, each heard the voice of the other who called his neighbor, since there was a crevice in the rock on the right side. And on the day of the boring through the stonecutters struck, each to meet his fellow, pick to pick, and there flowed the waters to the pool for a thousand and two hundred cubits, and a hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the stone-cutters." (J. McKee, Ancient Records And The Bible, p. 203) This tunnel still flows today and is an amazing confirmation of the credibility of the scriptures.
II Kings 21:1-9 - Manasseh, King of Judah
This was likely the most wicked king to rule over Judah. He rebuilt the "high places" of heathen worship which his father had destroyed, built alters for Baal and Asherah, and even erected pagan alters in the house of God. The Bible tells us that what he did was worse than the heathen nations God destroyed (II Kings 21:9). Could such a king have lived and ruled in Judah? Is not he merely fictitious?
To the contrary, Manasseh's name has been found recorded in secular history. Free and Voss point out: "Archaeological light on Manasseh comes from the inscriptions of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria (680-668) who tells of the subservience of Manasseh to his domination." (op. cit., p. 183) The record of Esarhaddon says: "I compelled 22 kings of the West Land to provide building material for my palace." Listed among them is the name "Manasseh, king of Judah." (Halley, op. cit., p. 210)
II Kings 24:6 - Jehoiachin, King of Judah
This king's name has been discovered in several places. It appears on a seal belonging to
Jehoiachin's steward which was found at Tel Beit Mirsim near Hebron. It reads: "Belonging to Eliakim steward of Jehoiachin." (Albright, The Archaeology Of Palestine And The Bible, p. 125) His name was also found on a cuniform record in Babylon. It tells of Jehoiachin, his five sons and their tutor receiving grain and oil in the year 592 B.C. (Siegfield Horn, Records Of The Past Illuminate The Bible, pp. 50, 51; noted by Jackson, op. cit., p. 20) Jehoiachin is also found in the record of Nebuchadnezzar below.
II Kings 24:10 - Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon
That Nebuchadnezzar was a historical figure is beyond dispute. He is well-documented in the annals of Babylonian writings, the best known of which is the Babylonian Chronicle. J. A. Thompson writes: "The Babylonian Chronicle mentions Nebuchadnezzar's capture of Jerusalem in 597 B.C., the appointment of Zedekiah as king, and the removal of Israelite prisoners, including Jehoiachin, to Babylonia." (op. cit., p. 196)
In addition, the names of Nebuchadnezzar and his father, Nabopolassar, have been found stamped on Babylonian brick. (Lewis, op. cit., p. 77) Also, Nebuchadnezzar's picture appears on a cameo named "The Nebuchadnezzar Cameo." The cameo reads: "In honor of Merodach, his Lord, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in his lifetime had this made." (Halley, op. cit., pp. 304, 305)
II Kings 24:17 - Zedekiah, Puppet King of Judah
After Nebuchadnezzar removed king Jehoichin from power, he replaced him with a puppet king, Jehoichin's uncle, Mattaniah, whose name he changed to Zedekiah. That this took place as the Bible states is shown in the Babylonian Chronicle as seen on the previous page. Like many other people of the Bible, Zedekiah is also recorded outside the scriptures.
II Kings 25:1-17 - Destruction of Jerusalem
The destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar was devastating. During several sieges, the city was burned and plundered. Until recently it has not been possible to obtain direct evidence of this event. However, due to the archaeological work of Dr. Kathleen Kenyon in the 1960s, the wall of this period of Jerusalem (sixth century B.C.) has been discovered. (Kathleen Kenyon, Jerusalem: Excavating 3000 Years Of History, pp. 78-104)
J. A. Thompson points out: "All along the hillside, which falls away steeply to the east, there had been built a series of terraces that supported houses. Finally, some distance down the slope the wall of the period was discovered. Evidently Nebuchadnezzar's battering rams had breached the wall and had been able to loosen the terraces and send the houses tumbling down the hillside...Many tons of fallen stone had to be removed before the foundations of the lower walls of the houses were revealed. But then a remarkable picture of the shape and contents of the houses came to light." (op. cit., pp. 159, 160)
The time of Nebuchadnezzar's conquering of Jerusalem is recorded on the Babylonian Chronicle. It specifically states: "In the seventh year, the month of Kislev, the king of Akkad mustered his troops, marched to Hatt-land (the area including Syria and Palestine), and encamped against the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Adar he seized the city and captured the king. He appointed there a king of his own choice, received its heavy tribute and sent them to Babylon." (Donald J. Wiseman, Chronicle Of The Chaldean Kings, p. 73)
II Kings 25:27 - Evil-Merodach, King of Babylon
Evil-merodach was son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar. He is recorded on a basalt stele which states: "Awel-marduk, son of Nebuchadnezzar, and Labashi-marduk, son of Neri-glissar called up their troops." (Pritchard, op. cit., p. 309)
Ezra 1:1ff - Cyrus, King of Persia
Cyrus, king of Persia, who conquered the Babylonian empire, is the king who made the decree to let the Jews rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. Though this king was mentioned in the Bible, for many centuries he was unknown in secular records. However, both of the above events are now documented.
As to his conquering of the Babylonian empire, the Babylonian Chronicle records the taking of Babylon by Cyrus during the reign of Nabonidus in 536 B.C. (Picture Archive Of The Bible, Edited by Caroline Mason and Pat Alexander, p. 97) Also, the defeat of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus is depicted on Babylonian friezes at Persepolis. (Great People Of The Bible And How They Lived, G. Ernest Wright, Editorial Consultant, p. 234)
The tolerant attitude of Cyrus toward those who had been taken from their own lands by Nebuchadnezzar is seen in the Cyrus Cylinder discovered in the nineteenth century by H. Rassam. It reads, in part: "I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled...all the gods in their former chapels." (Pritchard, op. cit., p. 316) Also, Cyrus' tomb has been discovered. Indeed, he was a major figure in the history of the ancient world.
Ezra 4:5ff - Darius, King of Persia
This king also made a decree concerning the rebuilding of the Jewish temple (cf. Ezra 6:1). That this king, too, was a historical figure is beyond dispute. This king had some of his great achievements recorded in what is called the Darius Inscription. This inscription is most unusual since it was made on the side of a mountain.
Phifer and Vos write: "The boastful king had a record of his exploits engraved 345 feet above a spring and 100 feet above the highest point to which a man can climb. To insure that his inscription would not be defaced by later generations, Darius had the ascent to the inscription sheared off after the work was done." (Historical Geography Of Bible Lands, p. 271)
Part of the Darius Inscription reads: "I am Darius, descendant of Achaemenes, for which reason we are called Achaemenians. By the grace of Ahura-Mazda I am ruler of 23 lands including Babylonia, Sparda, Arabia, Egypt. I put down the rebellions of Gaumata and eight others in nineteen battles." (Phifer and Vos, op. cit., p.272) In addition, the palace of Darius has been discovered in Susa (Biblical Shushan, see below) along with many reliefs telling of his great works. Also, his tomb has been found.
Ezra 4:10 - Asnapper (Aashurbanipal), King of Assyria
Asnapper is another name for Ashurbanipal who was the last of the great kings of Assyria. He is the "king of Assyria" found in II Kings 17:24. This king has been discovered in both the writings and reliefs of the capitol city of Nineveh. In the mid-nineteenth century, A. H. Layard and H. Rassam discovered the vast library of Assurbanipal.
Being interested in past history, he gathered and studied many ancient documents. On one tablet he spoke of his studies. "I have read the artistic script of Summer (Summerian) and the obscure Akkadian which is hard to master...At the same time I was learning royal decorum, walking in kingly ways." (Lukenbill, op. cit., 2:379, par. 986)
The following is Ashurbanipal's discouraging description of his last days: "Enmity in the land, strife in the house, do not depart from my side. Disturbances, evil words, are continually arrayed against me. Distress of soul, distress of body have bowed my form. I spend my days sighing and lamenting...Death is making an end of me, is weighing me down" (Lukenbill, op. cit., 2:387, par. 984). Again, the reliability of the scriptures is verified by the work of archaeology.
Nehemiah 1:1 - Shushan
Shushan is mentioned in the scriptures as the location of the palace of the Persian empire. It is also known as Susa. Was there such a place? Shushan has long been known to archaeology as the capitol of ancient Persia. It has been excavated many times over and has revealed numerous treasures.
Phifer and Vos state: "The earliest settlement left remains about twenty-seven yards beneath the top of the citadel mound. There are two archaic levels, separated by about twelve yards, each with a distinct type of painted pottery. In the latter part of the fourth millennium B.C. a sizable village was located at Susa. A cemetery contains two thousand graves." (op. cit., p. 284)
Nehemiah 2:1 - Artaxerxes I, King of Persia
The Bible states that Nehemiah served as "cupbearer" to the great Persian king, Artaxerxes (1:11). This king, also known as Longimanus, was the son of king Xerxes (see below). He has been found recorded in the Elephantine papyri. (A. E. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri Of The Fifth Century B.C., pp. 248-271) The tomb of Artaxerxes has been discovered at Naksh-i-Rustam near Persepolis. (Thompson, op. cit., p. 223)
Nehemiah 2:10 - Sanballat and Tobiah
When the Jews were making preparations for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, they were met with resistance from Sanballat and his henchman, Tobiah. Although these two men were obscure in Bible history, yet, archaeology has discovered them.
Confirmation of Sanballat is found in the Elephantine papyri which refer to him as the governor of Samaria and his two sons. Jews of Elephintine, when contacting the governor of Judea about their desire to rebuild their city, wrote: "Also, the whole matter we have set forth in a letter in our name to Delaiah and Shelemiah the sons of Sanballat, governor of Samaria." (Cowley, op. cit., p. 114 and Burrows, op. cit., p. 108)
Archaeological light on Tobiah is found in the Zeno papyri discovered in ancient Gerza at an Egyptian oasis called Fayum. Free and Vos write: "One of these documents was actually written by a Tobias, a governor of Ammon in the region of Palestine to the east of the Jordan; this Tobias was undoubtedly a descendant of Nehemiah's adversary, 'Tobiah the Ammonite' (Neh. 2:10)." (op. cit., 211) Furthermore, the Tobias family castle has been found as well as nearby tombs of family members. The name of Tobiah, written in Aramaic script, can be clearly seen, deeply cut
into a wall. (Burrows, op. cit., p. 133 and Albright, op. cit., p. 222)
Nehemiah 7:70 - Drams (Drachmas)
The Bible here records a measure of money called "drams" (Hebrew equivalent of the Greek, "drachma"). For many years it was thought that the "dram" (drachma) did not come into use until the period of Greek rule, several hundred years after the time of Nehemiah. Bible critics at one time claimed this to be evidence that the Bible was mistaken.
However, the spade of archaeology has again spoken. At the site of Beth Zur, a few miles south of Jerusalem, at the Persian level, 530-330 B.C. (the time of Nehemiah and earlier) were found six drachma coins. (Albright, op. cit., p. 227) This proves that the dram was in use in Palestine during the time of Nehemiah.
Esther 1:1 - Ahasuerus (Xerxes), King of Persia
Ahasuerus, son and successor of king Darius, was also known as Xerxes. The Bible says he was king during the time of Esther, whom he made his queen (2:17). This Persian king is so established in ancient history no one can question his existence. Among other things, his name has been found engraved on an alabaster vase discovered in a mausoleum at Holicarnassus in eastern Turkey. (Mansom and Alexander, op. cit., p. 106) His name also appears on a jamb on the middle palace door at Persepolis. It reads: "Xerxes, Darius the king's son." (A. T. Olmstead, History Of The Persian Empire, p. 317)
At Persepolis he is pictured on the Tripylon relief standing behind his father, Darius I. (Thompson, op. cit., p. 221) In addition, on a gate in Persepolis there is the following inscription: "I am Xerxes, the great king, king of kings, king of the lands of many peoples, king of this great earth far and wide. By Ahuramazda's favor I made this gate 'ALL LANDS'." (Olmstead, op. cit., p. 285)
Job 3:11, 12 - Birth
In this text, Job is lamenting that he was ever born. He asks several questions, one of which was, "Why did the knees prevent (receive) me?" What could this possibly mean? The answer is that this is describing birth. It is now known that in ancient times a common position for childbirth was for the woman to be on her knees. Hence, the delivery was from "between the knees." (Wright, p. 252)
Isaiah 3:16-23 - Vanity of Jewish Women
Isaiah, in exposing the sins of the people, went into some detail discussing the haughtiness of their women: a seductive walk, flirting eyes, elaborate hair styles, wearing of countless ornaments, and overindulging in sweet-smelling fragrances. Was this an overstatement by Isaiah? Did this actually describe the conditions of his day? While excavating in the region of Kiriath Sepher, M. G. Kyle observed that the fashions in make-up was not that unlike what we are accustomed to seeing in modern times. He said that scarcely a day went by that they did not find a vanity palette belonging to a Jewish woman. He said, "It seems as if every Jewess in the town had one." (op. cit., pp. 199, 200)
Isaiah 20:1 - Sargon II, King of Assyria
Although this great king is passed over in silence in the books of the Kings and Chronicles, Isaiah makes mention of him. This was one of the great kings of antiquity and is recorded in many locations.
In 1843, Paul Emile Botta discovered his palace at Khorsabad, a few miles north of ancient Nineveh. It is estimated that the palace area covers about twenty-five acres. (H. V. Helpreccht, Explorations In Bible Lands During The 19th Century, p. 86) The walls of his palace are decorated with reliefs telling of his great campaigns. It has been estimated that all the reliefs, if put end to end, would reach more than a mile. (W. W. Hallo, Biblical Archaeologist, XXIII, pp.42,44) On the gate is written: "Sargon, conquerer of Samaria and the entire country of Israel." In room XIV he wrote: "I conquered and sacked the towns of Shinuhtu and Samaria and all Israel." (Pritchard, op. cit., pp. 284, 285)
In 1953, a prisim was found by M. E. Mallowan at Nimrud on which Sargon tells of his fighting against those who would not submit to his rule. Called Sargons' prisim, it reads: "In the strength of the great gods, my lords, I clashed with them. 27,280 persons with their chariots...I counted. 200 chariots...I mustered from among them. The rest of them I caused to take dwelling in Assyria." (C. J. Gadd, "Inscribed Prisims of Sargon II from Nimrud" Iraq, XVI (1954) pp. 173-201)
Isaiah 22:15 - Shebna
Shebna is said to have been "over the house" of the treasury in Jerusalem. Remarkably, this man's name has surfaced in the city of Jerusalem at Siloam. It is on a lintel of a tomb which describes Sennacherib's triumph over Lachish. Shebna was a royal steward and official of king Hezekiah. (Masom and Alexander, op. cit., p. 90)
Isaiah 45:1; 47:1-6 - Fall of Babylon Under Cyrus
Here we find not the history of the fall of Babylon, but the prophecy of its fall (cf. 13:1922). It was to be at the hands of the Median empire (Persia) over which Cyrus was king (cf. 21:1-10). Did such an event occur? Yes. And the fact of Babylon's fall at the hands of Cyrus not only establishes the history of this event, but also the prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. Almost 200 years later, just as Isaiah had foretold, Cyrus took the city of Babylon.
In addition to the record of Babylon's fall under Cyrus found on the Babylonian Chronicle (see page 31), it is also found in the Nabunaid Chronicle. "The 16th day Gobryas, the governor of Gutium and the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without battle. Afterward Nabonidus was arrested in Babylon when he returned there...In the month of Arahshamnu, the 3rd day, Cyrus entered Babylon. Green twigs were spread in front of him, the state of 'Peace' was imposed upon the city. Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon." (Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 306) What an extraordinary testimony this is to the prophetic and historical accuracy of the Bible.
Jeremiah 34:7 - The Cities of Lachish and Azekah and Their Defeat by Nebuchadnezzar
The existence of these cities has been established by non-Biblical sources. They have been excavated and much is known about them, including, at Lachish, homes and temples. Also, reliefs of events at Lachish have been found in other locations. Next to Jerusalem, Lachish and Azekah were two of the most important cities in the kingdom of Judah, holding out under the attack of the Babylonian army longer than other cities.
In 1935, the Wellcome Archaeological Expedition found the fragments of 21 letters (called the "Lachish Letters") written from an outpost to the captain of the guard defending Lachish. Letter Number 4 mentions Lachish and Azekah, stating: "We are watching for the signal stations of Lachish, according to all signals you are giving, because we cannot see the signals of Azekah." (Harry Torczyner, Lachish Letters, In Unger, op. cit., p. 285)
Jeremiah 40:5, 8 - Gedaliah and Jaazaniah
The names of these two men have been discovered in the ruins of ancient Canaan. At Lachish a jar handle was found stamped with the words: "Gedaliah who is over the house." (S. H. Hooke, Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 1935, pp. 195, 196) Also, at Tel en-Nashbeh was found an agate seal bearing the words: "To Jaazaniah, a steward of the king." (W. F. Bade, The Seal of Jaazaniah" Zeitschrift Fur Wissenschaftliche Theologie, LI 1933, pp. 150-156)
Jeremiah 43:8 - The City Of Tahpahnes
In 1886, this Egyptian frontier fortress was located ten miles west of the Suez Canal. It contained a large brick building with brick pavement which could have been that which was described by Jeremiah (see Jer. 43:8,9). (Carl E. DeVries, "Tahpahnes, ISBE, 1988, 4:715-716)
Jeremiah 44:1 - Jews In Egypt
Jeremiah states that in his day Jews were residing in the land of Egypt. Was this true? Critics of the Bible one time claimed there was no evidence of this and that the Bible had to be wrong. However, in 1904, the Service of Antiquities in Egypt, discovered on the island of Elephantine, papyrus documents which contained evidence of Jewish habitation in Egypt near the time of Jeremiah (600 B.C.). These documents were written in Aramaic by a colony of Jews, one of which contains a letter written to the Persian governor requesting permission to rebuild the destroyed temple on Elephantine. (Ira Maurice Price, The Monuments Of The Old Testament, pp. 320-322) Indeed, Jews did live in Egypt at that time, just as Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah 44:30 - Hophra, King of Egypt
This is the only time king Hophra is mentioned by name in the scriptures, although he is referred to as "pharaoh" on several occasions (cf. Jer. 37:5, 7, 11). Since this is the only reference to such a king, some Bible critics suggested he may only be myth. However, archaeology has now established the fact that Hophra is the same king known by the Greeks as Apries. Herodotus spoke of Apries (Hophra) and his great armies suggesting that he was so powerful even a god could not dispose him. (Herodotus, Histories II, 161) He also mentions Apries' burial place. (Ibid. II, 169) His defeat at the hands of Amasis was discovered recorded on a stele (slab) now preserved in Cairo. (P. G. Elgood, The Later Dynasties Of Egypt, p. 102)
Jeremiah 46:19 - Destruction of Memphis
Jeremiah's prophecy of the destruction of the Egyptian city of Memphis ("Noph" - KJV) is devastating. It was to be "a waste, a ruin, without inhabitant." (Cf. Exek. 30:13) This ancient city has been found, and the condition foretold by Jeremiah is exactly what archaeologists have unearthed. (Phifer and Vos, op. cit., pp. 66, 67) Here again, is verification not only of the discovery of a Biblical city but also verification of the fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy.
Ezekiel 1:1 - The River Chebar
Ezekiel said he was with the captives of the Jews by the river "Chebar." Here is another example of a location recorded in the scriptures and yet, until rather recent times, was unknown in secular history. However, tablets discovered in ancient Assyria name this river (also called "Kabar"). Unger states: "The river Chebar is now known from cuneiform records to be the Babylonian canal Kabar in central Babylonia, running between Babylon and the city of Nippur." (Unger, op. cit., p. 292)
Daniel 1:20 - Magicians, Enchanters, Soothsayers
The ancient practice of magic and related things are spoken of as commonplace in Daniel's day. (cf. Dan. 2:2, 10, 17; 4:7; 5:11, etc.) For years it was asked if this was a true picture of that day. Due to the discoveries of archaeology, it is now understood that such practices were indeed widespread. J. A. Thompson has pointed out: "The references in various places in the book of Daniel to soothsayers, magicians, astrologers, and the like, are all authentic items in the background of the times. Excavations have produced a considerable amount of material about the religion of Babylon, and it is clear that magic and divination played a large part." (op. cit., p. 200)
Daniel 5:1ff - Belshazar, King of Babylon
In Daniel chapter five, we read of the great feast of the great king named Belshazzar. It was during this drunken feast that Belshazzar saw the fingers of a man's hand writing on the wall and forecasting his doom and the doom of the Babylonian empire. For many years, Bible critics scoffed at this saying that such a man never existed. However, like other skeptical claims, this one also came tumbling down.
The discovery of Belshazzar's name in several locations erases all doubt about his existence. In 1853, an inscription found on the cornerstone in a temple built in Ur by his father, Nabonidus, the name of Belshazzar appears. It reads: "May I, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born, favorite son." (Halley, op. cit., p. 308) Also, he is mentioned on the Nabonidus Chronicle published in 1882. (Jackson, op. cit., p. 38) And another tablet points out that while Nabonidus was in Arabia, he entrusted the kingdom to Belshazzar. (R. P. Daugherty, Nabonidus And Belshazzar, p. 108)
Haggai 2:23 - Signet ring
Here, God, through Haggai, gives a promise to Zerubbabel. He told him that he would, symbolically, make him as a "signet" (or "signet ring"). The use of a signet ring was common among those with wealth and authority. To the rich and powerful, it was prestigious to possess such rings. They were for the purpose of sealing documents or giving approval. "Signet rings, worn by kings, nobles and wealthy citizens, were valued objects." (G. E. Wright, op. cit., p. 294) That Zerubbabel was identified as a "signet" indicated that he was chosen by God.
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