OLD TESTAMENT: ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY

Recently I wrote about the integrity of our Old Testament scriptures. When people tell you that the Bible has been changed many times over the centuries, just politely blow them a raspberry, and direct them to my blog. I’ll take it from there…

Assyrian siege-engine attacking the city wall of Lachish, part of the ascending assaulting wave. Detail of a wall relief dating back to the reign of Sennacherib, 700-692 BCE. From Nineveh, Iraq, currently housed in the British Museum.jpg
An Assyrian siege-engine attacking the city wall of Lachish, 700-692 BC. This relief corroborates a scriptural account (ex. 2 Kings 18:13-14; 2 Chronicles 32:9) See note 1.

The Bible is supported richly by archaeological and historical evidence. It would not be possible for me to adequately represent or even summarize the volume of evidence available which supports Old Testament scripture. So instead, here are some samples, and at the end, some suggestions for more serious reading and faith-building. I’ve published a couple of these examples before, so please forgive me if you’ve read them.

THE TEL DAN INSCRIPTION.

The existence of King David, from Samuel in the OT, was enthusiastically rejected by secular scholars until The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel. Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The inscription makes reference to a military victory and corresponds to the biblical account in 2 Chronicles 22. See note 2.

THE WESTERN WALL

Secular history sources tell us that the first notable civilization was in Mesopotamia, and then came Egypt, Greece and Rome. Biblical accounts agree. Not only so, but the secular time-frame for the rise of civilized society agrees with the Bible.

“Our knowledge of prehistory derives from surviving objects…” (which don’t have dates on). “History, by contrast, is based on documents” (a telling admission). “These various interconnections mean that history, civilization and writing all begin at the same time. That time is about 3100 BC.”

“In about 3200 BC the two earliest civilizations develop….” (3).

That’s interesting, because the Bible agrees, and in fact said it first. The timing perfectly fits Biblical accounts and genealogies.

Stela_of_Iddi-Sin,_King_of_Simurrum__It_dates_back_to_the_Old-Babylonian_Perdiod__From_Qarachatan_Village,_Sulaymaniyah_Governorate,_Iraqi_Kurdistan__The

The Bible has become a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1); Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37); Horam of Gazer (Joshua 10:33); Hazar (Joshua 15:27); and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification.

The names of almost sixty different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well-confirmed in accuracy as has the Bible.

The Biblical Flood story can be considered “history”. It’s corroborated by dozens of ancient flood legends from around the world (4), and there is abundant geological evidence of this flood to be seen today. See note on “Is Genesis History?”.

Incidentally, I stumbled upon one such flood reference while reading a secular book called “The Chinese Heritage”, which notes that the ancient Chinese had a legend of a huge flood which covered the land and the mountains. The book also states that originally people in that land believed in one supreme God.

THE KETEF HINNOM AMULETS

In 1979, two silver scrolls that were worn as amulets were found in a tomb overlooking the Hinnom Valley, where they had been placed around the 7th century B.C. It took three years to develop the delicate process of unrolling the scrolls while preventing them from disintegrating. Brief as they are, the amulets rank as the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible. Upon unrolling the amulets, biblical archaeologists found two inscriptions of significance. One is a temple priest blessing from the book of Numbers:

The Lord bless you and protect you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance to you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

The other inscription, of huge significance, is the tetragrammaton “YHWH”, the name of the Lord, from which we get the English “Jehovah”. The amulets predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 500 years and are the oldest known example of the Lord’s name in writing.

THE HOUSE OF GOD OSTRACON

Ostraca—writings on pottery—are common finds in archeological digs. The House of God Ostracon was found in Arad, a Canaanite city in the Negev. Over 100 pieces of ostraca were found and have been dated to the early part of the 6th Century BC. Of significance are the references to the temple in Jerusalem and to names of people that are recorded in Scripture. This not only helps to date the temple, but it verifies the existence of people listed in the biblical text.

THE RUINS OF SODOM — actually located in a huge mound north of the Dead Sea — show the evidence of a powerful blast that incinerated the city at well over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nobody built on top of the ruins for some 700 years.

KING BELSHAZZER

The book of the prophet Daniel mentions King Belshazzar seeing the writing on the wall foretelling of both his and the Babylonian Kingdom’s demise [Daniel 5]. Critics would point out that the Bible was in error, because no known extra-biblical list of Babylonian Kings included Belshazzar. But an archaeological find,  the “Cylinder of Nabonidus”, revealed that Belshazzar was co-regent of the kingdom, i.e. he would be placed in charge whenever his father, King Nabonidus, was away for extended periods of time. This also explains why Belshazzar could offer only the THIRD-highest position [Daniel 5:7] in the kingdom to the interpreter of the wall writings (5).

Stela_of_Iddi-Sin,_King_of_Simurrum__It_dates_back_to_the_Old-Babylonian_Perdiod__From_Qarachatan_Village,_Sulaymaniyah_Governorate,_Iraqi_Kurdistan__The

Two of the greatest 20th-century archaeologists, William F. Albright and Nelson Glueck, both lauded the Bible (even though they were non-Christian and secular in their training and personal beliefs) as being the single most accurate source document from history. Over and over again, the Bible has been found to be accurate in its places, dates, and records of events. No other “religious” document comes even close.

The following notes are taken from Josh McDowell’s book, “God Breathed”.

THE EXISTENCE OF BABYLON AND KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR

For many years, critics claimed that Babylon and king Nebuchadnezzar, discussed in the book of the prophet Daniel, never existed. Now they are “irrefutably confirmed” by archaeologists who uncovered evidence near present day Hillah in Iraq, south of Bagdad. Numerous fragments of bricks with remains of white-glazed cuneiform characters have been found that belong to a building inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II at the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. There is a limestone block giving three excerpts of the king stating:

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, laid the foundation of the gates…I magnificently adorned them with luxurious splendour for all mankind to behold in awe” (Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

The story of the confusion of languages, and of the building of the tower of Babel, of its incompletion due to God confusing language and spreading people over the earth, found in Genesis, is routinely mocked. However, Sumerian literature refers to a time when everyone spoke one language. Archaeology has also uncovered evidence that Ur-Nammu, king of Ur (where Genesis says Abraham came from) from about 2044 BC to 2007 BC, built a great Ziggurat as an act of worship to the gods Nanna. The remains of one tower, larger than all the others, fits the description of the Biblical tower. See the reference to “Is Genesis History?” below.

A stele (monument) about five feet across and ten feet high, reveals Ur-Nammu’s activities. One artefact shows the king setting out to begin construction of the great tower. Another clay tablet states the the erection of the tower offended the gods, so they threw down what men had built, scattered them abroad, and made their speech strange (6).

THE STONES CRY OUT, by Randall Price, documents the find of one particular seal found among 51 small clay seals in 1982, at David’s City. It demonstrates the amount of detail within Old Testament manuscripts which can be corroborated. The technical name for these kinds of seals is “bullae”. It contains the inscription “Gemaryahu (Gemariah) the son of Shephan”. This is the name of a scribe who served in the court of King Jehoiakim, and here is the Biblical reference to him:

“From the room of Gemeriah son of Shaphan the secretary” (Jeremiah 36:10-12).

Another hoard of bullae which came to light in 1975 contained one which had the inscription, “Berekhyahu (Baruch) son of Neriyahu (Neriah) the scribe”. This Baruch was none other than the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah. Baruch and his relationship as scribe to Jeremiah is found in the same chapter as Gemaryahu above:

“Baruch read to all the people a the Lord’s temple the words of Jeremiah from the scroll” (verse10);

“So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah…” (verse 32).

MORE STUDY

Below is just a sample of the many fine books to be had on the subject of the authenticity of the Old Testament. Be aware that there are also many other works which are fakes, lies, hatred, ignorance, and works born of scepticism and willing unbelief.

THE POPULAR HANDBOOK OF ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE BIBLE, by J.M. Holden and Norman Geisler, published by Harvest House Publishers.

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, by Brian Edwards, published by Evangelical Press.

IS GENESIS HISTORY?-WATCH THE FULL FILM (Youtube video title). A fantastic video documentary available in full and free under this title on Youtube, along with many of its follow-up in-depth videos.

APOLOGETICS STUDY BIBLE FOR STUDENTS, Published by Holman Bible Publishers, under the section, “”Bones and Dirt”.

THE NEW EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT, By Josh McDowell.

THE STONES CRY OUT by Randall Price, published by Harvest House Publishers

http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/news/

NOTES

1: Siege of Lachish – Wikipedia

2: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/the-tel-dan-inscription-the-first-historical-evidence-of-the-king-david-bible-story/

3: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab25

4: Traditions of a Global Flood | The Institute for Creation Research (icr.org)

5: For more info read  “The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible” by Geisler & Holden, and Logos Bible Software, and “The Stones Cry Out” by Dr. Randall Price

http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-archaeology.html#ixzz3cPqQK5QD

6: GOD-BREATHED: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture”, by Josh McDowell, published by Shiloh Run Press.

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