Tale of the Tel, Digging Up Bible Stories
by Art Schnatterly
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As we know, archaeologists are unearthing many things that help us to understand and validate stories in the Bible. Something that we don’t think so much about is that the Bible is also guiding and aiding archaeologists in their work. The Bible tells them where to dig or provides the only historical record to understand what the site was about.
We do, of course, have extra-Biblical records of millions of events that took place during Biblical times. The recorded history of Egypt and Mesopotamia is plentiful. But as we learn more, we find that this extra-Biblical history simply melds in with Bible stories! As a result, from a scientific point of view the Bible has been described by archaeologists as the greatest history book of all time!
Here is a long list of things that have been “dug up” that could not be understood without the Bible or where the Bible has greatly added to our understanding (from: Archaeologists Are Digging Up Bible Stories):
These cities, the earliest that are mentioned in the Bible were uncovered by archaeologists over a century ago and have been positively identified. So also the ancient Canaanite and Egyptian civilizations are known. Thus the setting for the Genesis narrative, the call of Abraham and his journey of faith has a historical basis to it that cannot be denied.
A Silver Scroll dating to 600 B.C. quotes this passage, showing that this Scripture existed before the date admitted by critics.
Numbers 22 to 24
An inscription found in 1967 and published in 1976 refers to “Balaam Son of Beor” and records a prophecy similar to that found in Scripture.
Egyptian maps found at Karnak confirm the geography of the exodus route taken by the children of Israel as recorded in the Bible.
The earliest known reference to Israelites says that they were “laid waste”. It appears on the Merneptah Stele dating to 1209 B.C.
1 kings 6
An inscription discovered by archaeologists refers to “the House of Yahweh” i.e. Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem
1 kings 12:19,20
An inscription found at Tel Dan in 1993, refers to “The House of David” and thus shows that David is a real historical character.
1 kings 12:20
A seal bearing the inscription “Shema servant of Jereboam” is but one confirmation of this king’s existence in history.
1 kings 12:28-31
Jereboam’s “High Place” was discovered at Dan in 1979.
1 kings 14:25,26 & 2 chronicles 12:2-9
Victory relief of Shishak discovered at Karnak in 1799 shows him with prisoners from Palestine.
1 kings 16:23-24 & 1 kings 22:39
The Royal buildings of Omri and Ahab were found by archaeologists in 1933.
2 kings 3:4-5
The black basalt “Moabite Stone” discovered in 1868 describes the battle between Mesha King of Moab and Ahab son of Omri.
2 kings 10:31,32
An Assyrian “Black Obelisk” discovered in 1846 depicts king Jehu
2 kings 10:35
A Hebrew seal found bearing the inscription: “belonging to JEHOAHAZ son of the king”
2 kings 15:29-30; 16:7-9
Cuneiform text discovered in approx. 1850 are the records of Tiglath Pilesar and mentions kings Pekah and
2 kings 17:3
An inscription of Shalmanezer 11, known as “the Kurkh Monolith” mentions “Ahab the Israelite”
2 kings 18:13-16; Isaiah 36:1
Taylor’s Prism, also known as the Sennacherib Prism discovered about 1850 records Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah, and mentions king Hezekiah.
2 kings 20:20; 2 chronicles 32:3-4, 30
An inscription discovered in 1880 describes the construction of “Hezekiah’s tunnel”.
2 kings 24:10, 15, 17
In 1955 a tablet was deciphered which records the captivity of king Jehoiachin and the appointment of Zedekiah.
2 kings 24:10-17; 2 chronicles 36:9-10
A Babylonian tablet describes the capture of Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar.
2 kings 24:17
The “Lachish Letters” discovered in the 1930′s mention several Biblical characters, including Mattaniah (Zedekiah).
2 kings 25:27-30
The “Yaukin Tablet” found at Babylon (1932/3) mentions king Jehoiachin and the rations allowed to him.
2 chronicles 32:9
A Relief discovered at Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh (about 1850) depicts the siege of Lachisha contemporary snapshot of a Bible event!
The famous “Cyrus Cylinder”a clay cylinder of king Cyrus describes the return of captives after the “liberation” of Babylon
A reference to SANBALLAT, the governor of Jerusalem has been found.
In about 1850, the records of Sargon were discovered.
In 1947 the now famous DEAD SEA SCROLLS were discovered in caves. They demonstrate the accuracy and reliability of the Biblical text.
Jeremiah 35:3; 36:10; and 38:1-4
The Lachish Letters also mention GEMARIAH the scribe, JAAZENIAH and speak of a “prophet” who demoralized the people and urged surrender to the Babylonians
In 1986 a seal was found dating to 587 B.C. It was inscribed: “Belonging to Baruch the son of Neriah” This is without doubt Jeremiah’s scribe.
Bullae found at Jerusalem (1982/3) bears the inscription “Belonging to Gemariah son of Shaphan”
Jeremiah 43:9-11; 44:13
Excavations in 1881-1891 by Flinders Petrie uncovered the actual pavement mentioned in this Scripture.
Bricks discovered at Babylon (1880) bearing the name Nebuchadnezzar.
Clay Cylinder found at Babylon in 1854 refers to BELSHAZZAR.
Evidence of the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah found at Gezer and other locations.
Nahum 3:7, 15
Reliefs found at Nineveh in the 1850′s, and which can be viewed in the British Museum are burnt black by the fires of destruction.
Matthew 26:5, 7
The tomb of the Caiaphas family was discovered in Jerusalem in 1990. Scholars believe that the tomb of Caiaphas himself is among them.
Two separate inscriptions have been found mentioning the name of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
The foundations of Jesus’ synagogue at Capernaum were identified in 1983, it lay underneath a later construction built by Jews around the third century.
The huge platform upon which the temple was built in the time of Herod is there for all to see in Jerusalem today. Archaeologists have also uncovered amazing evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus in this chapter.
A small piece of papyrus known as the “John Ryland Fragment” was discovered in 1934. This fragment is the earliest known New Testament document and has demonstrated that it was in circulation by A.D. 100. The words on the fragment are significant. They are from John 18 including the question “What is Truth?”.
Acts of the apostles
Many sites where events took place are known to us incl. amphitheaters, roads etc.
Many try to use the sciences, including archaeology, to either prove or disprove the Bible and thereby, the existence of God. More and more what we are finding is that the Bible validates the history we’ve learned from other sources.
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