Archaeological Evidence for the Bible

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The following are extra-Biblical evidences supporting the Biblical account, for archaeological discoveries verifying the exact text of the Bible see Manuscript Evidence for the Bible. At least 50 figures from the Old Testament have been confirmed from archaeology.[1]

Contents

List of Archaeological Artifacts

Name Image Date Institution Description
Tower/Walls of Jericho[2] 150px 8,000 B.C.? Tell es-Sultan Walls destroyed around 1,400 B.C. by an earthquake and a city destroyed by fire matching the Bible perfectly. A preserved tower connected to the destroyed walls has been dated at 8,000 B.C.
Ebla Tablets[3] 150px 2500-2250 B.C. Syrian Museums 17,000 tablet library confirming names of Biblical cities (e.g. Jerusalem, Ashdod, Sidon, Carchemish), individuals (e.g. Adam, Michael, Esau), and early ritual sacrifice. The tablets provide evidence defeating the claims of Biblical critics such as a complex legal code and mention of both Canaan and the Hittites; critics claimed all were later revisions. The alphabet is strikingly similar to Hebrew. There is also a creation account similar to that of Genesis.
Code of Ur-Nammu[4] 150 2100-2050 B.C. Iraq National Museum Ancient law code of Mesopotamia similar to the Laws of Eshnunna and Code of Hammurabi, it helped disprove the claims of critics who'd accused the Mosaic Law of being fictional, saying such a complex law could not have existed so long ago. Several laws are strikingly similar to the Mosaic Law, it may be that the Mosaic Law was actually based on similar ancient laws of Mesopotamia (where Abraham once lived). For detail on Moses' creation of the Law, see Exodus 18:13-27, John 1:17, and Matthew 19:7-9.
Laws of Eshnunna[5]
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1930 B.C. Iraq National Museum Ancient law similar to the Mosaic Law like the better-known Code of Hammurabi and Code of Ur-Nammu.
Execration Texts[6] 150px 1878-1630 B.C. Inscribed Egyptian bowls and figurines with early mention of Biblical locations and names such as Jerusalem, Abraham, Canaan, Job, Shechem, Hazor, Tyre, etc.
Code of Hammurabi[7] 150px 1790 B.C. The Louvre Ancient law with rules identical in numerous places to the Bible's Mosaic Law, silencing an early criticism by liberal scholars that a law as complex as the Mosaic could not have existed so early.
Atra-Hasis Tablets[8] 150px 1650 B.C. British Museum Ancient Babylonian account with detail similar to the Garden of Eden and Noahic Flood, part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Soleb Inscription[9]
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1400 B.C. The earliest reference to the Biblical God Yahweh, the inscription refers to the "land of the Shasu of Yahweh." It has been discovered in two Egyptian locations, the temple of Soleb built by Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1400 B.C.) and Amarah-West built by Rameses II (1250 B.C.), both of which are in modern-day Sudan. As such, this is a powerful evidence that the Israelites were in Canaan by 1400 B.C. in support of an early date for the Biblical Exodus.[10]
Amarna Tablets[11] 150px 1370-1350 B.C. British Museum, Vorderasiatisches Museum, Cairo Museum, et. al. Letters between Egyptian pharaohs and Canaanite kings mentioning the takeover of Canaan by the Apiru/Hebrews and disproving an early criticism of the Bible that the Canaanites were not as advanced as the Bible claimed.
Ipuwer Papyrus[12]
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1275 B.C. Dutch National Museum of Antiquities Egyptian account mentioning the plagues of Egypt (e.g. rivers turning to blood, death of firstborn children, plagues of hail/fire/darkness, etc.) and the exodus of Jews from Egypt.
Ugarit Cuneiform Tablets[13]
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1250 B.C. Institute for Antiquity and Christianity Ancient texts similar to the Bible suggesting Abraham did live in Canaan (Genesis 11:31) and verifying numerous Biblical details about ancient Canaan such as its prevalence of animal sacrifice.
Merneptah Stele[14] 150px 1209 B.C. Cairo Museum Long regarded as the earliest recorded explicit mention of Israel, the stele mentions Egypt's attack on Israel as part of a campaign in Canaan, and appears related to the Amarna Tablets. When discovered it refuted the claim that Israel had not existed so early.
Tell es-Safi Potsherd[15]
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1075-925 B.C. Bar Ilan University Proved the name Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4-10) was used in Israel close to the time the Bible said Goliath existed, with the possible hometown of Goliath (Gath) now excavated at Tell Es-Safi.
Ophel Inscription[16]
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1000-900 B.C. Discovered by Eilat Mazar at the palace of David, it contains the earliest undisputed use of the Hebrew alphabet in Jerusalem. It provides another powerful evidence against the criticism of Biblical minimalists that insinuate Israel was not the powerful kingdom under David and Solomon that the Bible claims.
Bubastite Portal[17] 150px 945-924 B.C. Karnak, Egypt Verifies the campaign of Shishaq I against Israel described in 1 Kings 14:25-28 and 2 Chronicles 12:2-12, as well as Biblical cities such as Megiddo and Ajalon.
Gezer Almanac[18] 150px 925 B.C. Istanbul Archaeological Museums Early example of Israelite writing, an agricultural calendar.
Tel Dan Stele[19] 150px 870-750 B.C. Israel Museum Refers to an Aramean king's victory over Israel and the "House of David," thus disproving critics who had claimed King David was a literary invention. Many Biblical scholars believe the stele mentions the defeat of King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah by Hazael of Damascus as mentioned in 2 Kings 8-9.
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III[20] 150px 858-824 B.C. British Museum Contains the earliest undisputed image of an Israelite, Omri, son of Jehu, a king of Israel. (1 Kings 16:16-28)
Kurkh Stele[21][22] 150px 852 B.C. British Museum An early reference to the nation of Israel and King Ahab, as well as mention of his army (2,000 chariots 10,000 foot soldiers), which contradicts the claims of Biblical minimalists/critics who assert Israel had no such fighting force at the time. The Shalmaneser lineage is mentioned as rulers of Assyria in 2 Kings 17:3 and 18:9.
Mesha Stele[23] 150px 840 B.C. Louvre Museum Moabite monument mentioning Yahweh, Israel and its king, Omri, David, and the kingdom of Judah. When discovered it dealt a serious blow to the claims of critics who'd said David had not existed.[24]
Tell al-Rimah Stele[21][25] 150px 811-783 B.C. Mentions King Jehoash of Israel paying tribute to Assyria. (2 Kings 12:18)
Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Inscription[26]
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750 B.C. Tel Aviv University Verifies the name Yahweh as well as Israelite idolatry to Asherah as mentioned in Judges 6:25-30.
Nimrud Tablet[27] 150px 733 B.C. British Museum One of the earliest references to the Kingdom of Judah, it mentions Ahaz as the ruler of Judah being forced to pay tribute to Syria's Tiglath-Pileser. It also mentions Hoshea being selected by Syria as his replacement per 2 Kings 17-18.
Nimrud Prism[28]
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720 B.C. British Museum Mentions the deportation of Israelites to Babylon captured from Samaria by King Sargon II, the Babylonian Exodus. It also confirms the specific location of Assyria that Israelites were deported to, Halah in Assyria.[29]
Siloam Inscription[30]
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701 B.C. Archaeological Museum of Istanbul Verifies the existence of Hezekiah's tunnel mentioned in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:30. It was found in 1880 and is one of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions yet discovered.
Azekah Inscription 150px 700 B.C. British Museum Further verification of the campaign by Sennacherib against King Hezekiah of Judah, including mention of the conquest of Azekah.[31]
Lachish Relief[32] 150px 700-681 B.C. British Museum Drawings of Assyria's King Sennacherib defeating King Hezekiah of Judah and capturing numerous cities, discovered in his palace at Nineveh. Provides a visual recording of the Biblical account mentioned in 2 Chronicles 32, 2 Kings 18-19, and Isaiah 36-37. Lachish has also been excavated, providing additional evidence of the siege.[33]
Sennacherib's Annals[34]
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690 B.C. British Museum, Oriental Institute of Chicago, Israel Museum Also known as the Taylor Prism, the annals were discovered in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. They describe Assyria's King Sennacherib defeating King Hezekiah of Judah and provide evidence for the Biblical account (Chronicles, Kings, Isaiah) as well as some verification of the Angel of the Lord's destruction of Sennacherib's army per Isaiah 37:33-38.[35]
Flood Tablet[36] 150px 650 B.C. British Museum Ancient Babylonian account with detail similar to the Noahic Flood, part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Lachish Letters[37] 150px 588 B.C. British Museum Letters between military officers Joash and Hoshaiah before Lachish fell to the Babylonian army during the rule of Zedekiah, King of Judah. The Old Testament name for God, YHWH, is repeatedly used, and the letters verify the Bible's account of the Babylonian attack (Jer. 34:7). Elnathan of Jer. 26:22 is also mentioned.
Nabonidus Cylinder[38] 150px 555-540 B.C. British Museum and Pergamon Museum Clay cylinders of King Nabonidus of Babylon that mention Belshazzar and other details similar to the book of Daniel. The cylinders disprove the claims of critics who'd denied Belshazzar's historicity or that he was the child of Nabonidus and reveal the Nabonidus shared coregency with his son Belshazzar, thus explaining why Daniel could be appointed "third ruler of the kingdom." (Daniel 5:16)[39]
Cyrus Cylinder[40] 150px 539-530 B.C. British Museum Clay cylinder by King Cyrus the Great verifying the return of exiled people from Babylon, such as the Jews after the Babylonian captivity, to their respective lands, and supporting the rebuilding of Jerusalem's temple. (e.g. Ezra 1:1) The cylinders are considered the world's first charter of human rights and are considered one of the most important artifacts in history.[41] They may also provide evidence of King Cyrus praising the God of the Bible as mentioned in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23.[42]
King Herod Wine Jug[43]
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19 B.C. While excavating King Herod's palace (Fortress Masada) archaeologists in 1996 discovered a wine jug bearing Herod's full title, Herod King of Judea. Herod's mausoleum, a royal theater box,[44] and coins bearing his image[45] have since been discovered as well.
Pilate Inscription[46][47] 150px 26-37 A.D. Israel Museum Contains the name Pontius Pilate, verifying his existence after minimalists claimed the Bible invented him.[48] Pilate's name has since been discovered inscribed on Roman coins as well.[49]
Caiaphas Ossuary[50][47] 150px 36-50 A.D. Israel Museum Burial chamber of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest at the time of Jesus as mentioned in Matthew 26:3, John 18:13-28, and Acts 4:6. Its discovery was a major blow to Biblical critics who claimed the Gospel's accounts of Jesus were mythical. A separate ossuary of Caiaphas' daughter Miriam was authenticated in 2011.[51]

Evidence for the Exodus

See also Route of the Exodus

The earliest mention of the Biblical God, Yahweh, has been discovered from two Egyptian descriptions, with the oldest, the Soleb Inscription, dating to 1400 B.C. In mentioning a list of lands campaigned against by Egypt, the Soleb Inscription refers to the "land of the Shasu of Yahweh" so it is clear Israel had become a nation by that time. This provides strong evidence that the Israelite Exodus had completed by 1400 B.C.[10] The Ipuwer Papyrus provides evidence of the Biblical plagues. The ancient Egyptian document records events similar to the plagues of the Exodus.[52]

The distinctive 4-room Israelite house has been discovered in Tell el-Daba, Egypt dating back to 1175 A.D.[53] What is more, found among these distinctive Israelite houses was one which may have been Joseph's containing a tomb that very unusually had the skeleton removed consistent with Exodus 13:19 and Genesis 50:25.[54]

One of the tombs was monumental in construction and totally unique in finds. Inside were found stone fragments of a colossal statue of a man who was clearly Asiatic, based on the yellow painted skin, the red-painted mushroom-shaped hairstyle and a throwstick on his right shoulder (the hieroglyph for foreigner). The statue had been intentionally broken in antiquity. While the other tombs nearby had intact skeletons, the only finds in the monumental tomb were fragments of an inscribed limestone sarcophagus and a few bone fragments. The body was gone! While it was common to plunder tombs in ancient Egypt, the bodies were usually not taken. Could this be the tomb of Joseph, from which he commanded his bones to be carried back to Canaan (Gn 50:25; Ex 13:19)?

~ Gary Byers, Associates for Biblical Research[55]

A 3rd century B.C. Egyptian historian named Manetho wrote that the Hyksos founded their capital at Avaris, also known as Tell el-Daba, where the Israelite houses were found. As noted by Noah Wiener of the Biblical Archaeological Society, "After the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, Manetho reports that they wandered the desert before establishing the city of Jerusalem... The Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut (1489–1469 B.C.E.) recorded the banishment of a group of Asiatics from Avaris, the former Hyksos capital."[56]

Furthermore, the Amarna Tablets record the Israelite takeover of Canaan. Letters such as those by Abdu-Heba and Rib-Addi show Canaanite kings pleading with Egypt to send them military aid to stop the Israelites from conquering the land.[57] Dating to the 14th century B.C., they provide strong evidence for an early date to the Exodus.

Where Are the Graves?

Those claiming the Exodus lacks graves evidencing the Exodus are not finding the graves because they are looking on the wrong peninsula, the Sinai Peninsula. The Exodus occurred across Saudi Arabia/the Arabian Peninsula, which does have thousands, possibly millions, of ancient graves supporting the Biblical Exodus.[58]

For the location of the Biblical Mount Sinai, see Jebel al-Madhbah. The Bible makes plain the Mount Sinai is in Seir or Edom. (Deuteronomy 33:2, Judges 5:4-5) As an interesting note, Edom or Esau literally means "red" and Jebel al-Madhbah is in Petra, a city that is one of the 7 wonders of the world, renowned for its blood-red stone and architecture.

Excavations and Sites

Tell Dan

The ancient city of Israel contains the world's oldest known gated archway and is known today as Tell el-Qadi. An inscription found on site reads "To the God who is in Dan, Zoilos made a vow." Identified in 1838, the best-known excavations began in 1966, continuing to the present day. The Tell Dan Stele was discovered here, along with an elaborate gate, a pottery shard with the name Zechariah on it, and a series of huge defensive ramparts. Settlement appears to have begun as early as 4500 B.C.[59]

Large Stone Structure

The probable location of King David's palace and the nearby site known as Millo (City of David) are currently being excavated after their discovery in 2005 which seriously damaged the claims of Bible minimalist Israel Finkelstein who had claimed Israel at the time was little more than a "typical hill-country village."[60] Archaeologist Eilat Mazar found the site through careful analysis of the Biblical account. It contains earthen pottery dating from the 12th-11th centuries B.C. and some clay bullae (seal impressions) with the names Jehuchal ben Shelemyahu [Shelemiah] and Gedalyahu [Gedaliah] ben Pashur, the names of King Zedekiah's royal ministers (597-587 B.C.) as mentioned in Jeremiah 37:3 and 38:1. The bullae are currently on display at Herbert W. Armstrong College.[61]

"It has long been the case that those who read the Bible hold it to a much higher standard—it would not be unfair to call it a double standard—than other sources of information. For instance, when archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered and identified what she considered to be the palace of David in Jerusalem based partially on her reading of the Bible (Mazar, 2006), Finkelstein and several colleagues disputed her findings (Finkelstein, et al., 2007). When the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription was discovered, Finkelstein warned against the “revival in the belief that what’s written in the Bible is accurate like a newspaper” (Friedman, 2008). In other words, he argues that we cannot expect the Bible to report factual details with any great degree of certainty. For the last two hundred years scholars have mined ancient texts, including mythological texts, for details that might help with locating ancient sites. Finkelstein apparently believes that this cannot be done with the Bible."

-Dewayne Bryant, Apologetics Press[62]

Biblical minimalists such as Israel Finkelstein and Ronny Reich have sought to downplay and disparage Mazar's discovery despite the dating of pottery, carved ivory utensils, pavement, and the nearby Stepped Stone Structure (a 60-foot tall terrace leading to the palace) to the time of David in the 12th-10th centuries B.C.[63] The area contains massive boulders and the palace walls are 16 feet thick. The burnt clay bullae, arrowheads, and large amounts of ashes support the burning of the city by fire around 586 B.C. consistent with the Babylonian invasion mentioned in the Bible. An ancient escape tunnel and what may be Nehemiah's Wall have also been discovered at the site.[64]

In 2013 a piece of pottery with a mysterious inscription discovered by Mazar, known as the Ophel Inscription, was deciphered, revealing it to be the earliest undisputed use of the Hebrew alphabet in Jerusalem. It is dated to around 950 B.C.[16][65]

External Sources

References

  1. Mykytiuk, Lawrence (2014, March 3). 50 People in the Bible Confirmed Archaeologically. Biblical Archaeology Society.
  2. Wood, Bryant G. (2008, May 1). "Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look At The Archaeological Evidence." Associates for Biblical Research.
    Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO (2012, April 2). "Ancient Jericho: Tell es-Sultan." United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations.
  3. Wilson, Clifford (1977). EBLA: Its Impact on Biblical Records. Institute for Creation Research.
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  16. 16.0 16.1 Petrovich, Douglas (2013, August 12). New Find: Jerusalem's Oldest Hebrew Inscription. Biblical Archaeology Society.
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    Mazar, Eilat, Ben-Shlomo, David, & and Ahituv, Shmuel (2013). An Inscribed Pithos from the Ophel, Jerusalem. Israel Exploration Journal 63(1).
    Petrovich, Douglas (2013, August 17). Ophel Inscription: Oldest Hebrew Writing in Jerusalem Corroborates Biblical History. Creation Ministries International.
    Boyle, Alan (2013, July 10). Inscription Dates Back to King David - But What Does It Say? NBC News.
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  22. The Kurkh Stela. British Museum.
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  29. Mazar, Amihai, & Mathias, Ginny (2001). Studies in the Archaeology of the Iron Age in Israel and Jordan. p. 258. Sheffield Academic Press.
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  34. The Flood Tablet, relating part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. British Museum.
  35. Fallen Empires: Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism. Bible History Online.
  36. The Flood Tablet, relating part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. British Museum.
  37. Lachish Letter II. The British Museum.
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  38. Cylinder of Nabonidus. British Museum.
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  40. MacGregor, Neil (2013, February 24). A 2,600-Year-Old Icon of Freedom Comes to the United States. CNN.
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