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22 Archeological evidence proves historicity of Bible

22 Compelling archeological evidence that proves the Bible is a historical document

  1. Ancient Biblical Cities
  2. Be’er-Sheva City
  3. Burial Plaque of King Uzziah
  4. Code of Hammurabi and Old Testament Laws
  5. Cylinder of Cyrus the Great
  6. Dinosaurs in the Bible
  7. Hezekiah’s Sluice Gate
  8. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription
  9. Hittites people
  10. Kurkh Monoliths
  11. Noah’s Great Flood
  12. Merneptah Stele
  13. Mesha Stele or the Moabite Stone
  14. Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet
  15. Murba’at Cave Coins
  16. Nuzi Tablets
  17. Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
  18. Sennacherib Prism
  19. Shekel of Israel
  20. Spherical Earth
  21. Shiloh Tabernacle
  22. Tel Dan Stele

Ancient Biblical Cities

Discoveries of Biblical cities like Jericho, Haran, Megiddo, Beersheba, and Lachish through archaeological excavations significantly contributed to the fact that the Bible is a historical record. Along with it are God’s laws, prophecies, and the story of the Messiah who will save God’s children.

Cities mentioned in the Bible that still exist

  • Ai, West Bank: Known for its role in the biblical account of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan.
  • Antioch, Turkey (Antakya): The starting point for Paul’s missionary journey, a crucial site in the early spread of Christianity.
  • Ashkelon, Israel: A Philistine city in the Bible, notable for conflicts with Israel, like Samson’s encounters.
  • Beersheba, Israel: Associated with Abraham and Isaac, a significant biblical location.
  • Bethlehem, West Bank: Mentioned in the New Testament as the birthplace of Jesus.
  • Babylon, Iraq: Featured in the Tower of Babel narrative in Genesis and as the place of the Israelites’ exile.
  • Capernaum, Israel: A town on the Sea of Galilee, frequented by Jesus during his ministry, featured in the Gospels.
  • Hebron, West Bank: A critical biblical site linked to Abraham and his burial place.
  • Jericho, West Bank: Known for its iconic biblical walls and the story of Joshua in the Book of Joshua.
  • Jerusalem, Israel: It is the capital of ancient Israel and is where the first and second temples were constructed.
  • Megiddo, Israel: Known as Armageddon in Revelation and the site where King Solomon built fortifications to protect Northern Israel.
  • Nazareth, Israel: Hometown of Jesus, referenced in the New Testament.
  • Nineveh, Iraq: The capital of the Assyrian Empire, especially mentioned in the book of Jonah.
  • Shiloh, West Bank: An ancient religious center and the location of the Tabernacle, central in biblical worship.
  • Sidon, Lebanon: Linked to Canaanites and Phoenicians, known for its trade connections with Israel.
  • Tyre, Lebanon: Featured in biblical prophecies in the Old Testament and visited by Jesus in the New Testament.
  • Ur, Iraq: Associated with the patriarch Abraham’s origins, holding biblical significance.

PALESTINE ORIGINALLY BELONGED TO ISRAEL.

Evidence for Israel’s presence in ancient Egypt

The Hyksos

The Hyksos were foreign rulers believed to have come from a Semitic group. They governed parts of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. The Israelites were among the ancient Semitic peoples, and Joseph, the son of Jacob, Israel’s patriarch, ruled parts of Egypt, according to the Book of Exodus.

However, historians are skeptical about accepting this evidence because their era predates the commonly accepted date of the Exodus, suggesting a potential discrepancy in the timing of this event. However, it could be just a matter of dating.

The slaves of Pharoah

Historically, slaves were rarely emphasized in the achievements or hieroglyphic inscriptions of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Consequently, their presence, as depicted in Joseph’s biblical narrative, likely wouldn’t have been documented in historical records.

However, following the Exodus, which marks the Israelites’ departure from Egypt after a period often estimated as 400 years, inscriptions on Egyptian monuments have been discovered referencing Israel’s presence in Canaan. These findings offer compelling evidence of the Israelites’ existence in the region during that era.

Be’er-Sheva City

Tel Be’er-Sheva, often called Beersheba, is the largest city in southern Israel’s Negev desert, dating back to biblical times. Excavations that began in the 1970s have unearthed ancient wells and pottery, fortifications, dwellings, and other artifacts, confirming its historical significance.

In 2018, Israeli archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Jewish town in Beersheba from the Second Temple period. The site dates from the 1st century AD to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 AD, along the southern border of the ancient kingdom of Judah. [CBN]

Discoveries include an oil lamp with a nine-branch menorah, ancient Jewish purity ritual vessels, a watchtower, and hidden passageways used by Jewish rebels.

  1. Abraham: The Bible mentions Be’er-Sheva as a place where the patriarch Abraham settled and made a covenant with Abimelech, the king of Gerar (Genesis 21). This historical connection underscores the city’s biblical importance.
  2. Isaac: The Bible also records that Isaac erected an altar in Beersheba (Genesis 26:23–33) and highlights Jacob’s dream as he left the city. It was also in Beersheba where Isaac dug wells (Genesis 26).
  3. Covenant and Naming: The name Be’er-Sheva itself means “Well of the Oath” or “Well of Seven,” referring to the covenant made between Abraham and Abimelech. The naming and the associated well are tangible archaeological and historical markers.
  4. First-century settlement: This is a Second Temple-era Jewish town with artifacts dating from the 1st century AD to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 AD.
Tel Be’er Sheva. (2023, November 2). Wikipedia.

Burial Plaque of King Uzziah

King Uzziah’s historical account is in the Old Testament, primarily in 2 Chronicles 26 and 2 Kings 15. He ruled in 800 BC and was famous for his building projects. However, because he was a leper, he could not be buried in the royal tomb when he died.

Some 700 years (Second Temple period) after his death, King Uzziah’s tomb was moved outside the new city, and the Aramaic epitaph was erected to mark his grave.

In 1931, an Aramaic inscription was discovered by E.L. Sukenik at a Russian Orthodox monastery on the Mount of Olives. The inscription on the marble slab read, “Here were brought the bones of Uzziah, king of Judah. Do not open.” [IMJ]

The marble slab was dated between the Hasmonean and early Roman periods (approximately 150 to 50 AD), around the Second Temple period.

Other artifacts, such as Sebnayau’s seal, which says “servant of Uzziah,” support the existence of King Uzziah.

Code of Hammurabi and Old Testament Laws

Written in the Babylonian, the chiseled cuneiform on black basalt contains the law codes and legal statements. Hammurabi’s Code is an extremely important document in the ancient history of law.

The Code is similar to Old Testament laws in Exodus 20:22-23:33 or the “so-called “Covenant Collection.” [Bible Odyssey]

SLAVERY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Cylinder of Cyrus the Great

The Cylinder of Cyrus, discovered in Babylon (modern Iraq) in 1879, was created by Cyrus the Great. Inscriptions describe a decree that allowed exiled Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.

In the book of Ezra (Ezra 1:1-4), it is stated: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to proclaim his realm and also to put it in writing.”

Prioryman, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dinosaurs in the Bible

In the Bible, creatures resembling dinosaurs were called “dragons” (Tanim in Hebrew), a term mentioned 35 times in the King James Bible. The word “dinosaur” was coined in 1841, approximately 3,300 years after the Book of Genesis was written and 2,240 years after the Job.

Behemoth

In Job 40, God speaks to Job about Behemoth, a giant creature that consumes grass like an ox but possesses a tail akin to a cedar tree.

Behemoth is described as a creature with powerful limbs, a tail like a cedar tree, and bones like iron bars. This description aligns with sauropod dinosaurs like Brachiosaurus or Apatosaurus, known for their massive size and long necks.

This description aligns with a dinosaur rather than other large animals.

Leviathan

Job chapter 41 mentions the great creature Leviathan, a “sea dinosaur.” The prophet Isaiah also calls it a “sea dragon,” which means these are humongous creatures—giant marine reptiles like the Plesiosaurus or Kronosaurus, which lived during the dinosaur age.

The Bible’s depiction of these colossal creatures underscores their grandeur, highlighting our insignificance. It emphasizes the profound and fearful experience of standing before God, the Creator of such remarkable beings.

Hezekiah’s Sluice Gate

A recent discovery of a sluice gate within Hezekiah’s Tunnel sheds light on how King Hezekiah redirected water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam while preserving the Upper Pool, supporting the biblical narrative.

The sluice gate regulated water levels with ancient iron bolts and a nearby vertical shaft, preserving the Gihon Spring’s utilization at its source. This ancient engineering feat may be the oldest known sluice gate, reaffirming its biblical link to the Siloam Pool’s water diversion during an invasion.

Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription

Hezekiah’s inscription was a cut in the rock on the eastern side, about 19 feet into the ancient tunnel from Siloam Pool. It was written in Hebrew approximately 2,700 years ago, during the reign of King Hezekiah.

The Bible records that King Hezekiah, fearful that the Assyrians would lay siege to the city, blocked the spring’s water outside the city and diverted it through a channel into the Pool of Siloam (2 Kings 20:20; John 9:7).

It is the only known ancient Israeli inscription commemorating a public construction project. It was constructed around 800 B.C. and discovered in 1838.

Copy of the inscription with English translation. It was discovered in 1880 during Ottoman rule, causing controversy over its ownership. [JP]

Hittites in the Book of Joshua

The Hittites occupied the ancient region of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). They expanded their territories into an empire that threatened Egypt.

The Bible mentions the Hittites in Joshua 3:10. God instructs him to drive out the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

They are no longer a distinct group of people today, but their DNA can be traced to Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece, and Armenia populations.

The Lion Gate at Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Empire. The gate, dated to the 13th century BCE, was flanked by two towers. (Photo by Carole Raddato (CC BY-NC-SA))

Jerusalem City

Jerusalem is the most crucial ancient city supporting the Bible as a historical document and Israel’s claim to the land due to its frequent biblical mentions, substantial archaeological evidence, religious and cultural significance, historical continuity, and international recognition.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, and many nations withhold recognition, placing their embassies in Tel Aviv for political, cultural, and religious reasons. In 2018, the United States, under President Trump, relocated its embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing its historical importance.

Archeological evidence in Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible

  1. The Pool of Siloam: Mentioned in the New Testament (John 9:7), this pool was discovered in Jerusalem and confirmed through archaeological excavations.
  2. The Tel Dan Stele: A stone slab discovered in Tel Dan, Israel, which contains an inscription mentioning the “House of David,” providing historical evidence of the Davidic dynasty.
  3. The Cyrus Cylinder: While not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, it confirms the biblical account of King Cyrus’s decree allowing the return of exiled Jews to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-4).
  4. The City of Jericho: Archaeological excavations at Jericho have revealed the ancient city’s walls, aligning with the biblical story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho (Joshua 6).
  5. The Lachish Letters: This is a collection of ancient letters discovered in Lachish, Israel, which offer insights into the final days of the Kingdom of Judah.
  6. The Dead Sea Scrolls: These ancient Jewish texts contain copies of almost every book of the Hebrew Bible and offer significant insights into the Old Testament’s textual history.

UPDATE ON THE THIRD TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM.

Porte de Damas a Jerusalem. Built during the Roman period, the gate was later reconstructed by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. (Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art)

Kurkh Monolith of Shalmaneser III

The Shalmaneser III monolith, also known as Kurkh Monoliths, is one of two Assyrian stelae (852, 879 BC) to commemorate his military campaigns and victories.

It describes the Battle of Qarqar and the name “A-ha-ab-bu Sir-ila-a-a,” which is believed to refer to the evil King Ahab of Israel.

The Assyrian and Babylonian records usually use the “House of Omri” to refer to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, making the Kurkh Monoliths a unique biblical reference.

Kurkh stele of Shalmaneser III. from Diyarbakır, southern Turkey at the British Museum (Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg))

Noah’s Great Flood

Records of a significant flood have been discovered in ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek historical accounts.

While it does not explicitly mention Noah and how God saved his family, the records often describe catastrophic floods that impacted these civilizations, much like the Biblical flood.

  1. Epic of Gilgamesh (Mesopotamian): In Sumero-Akkadian-Babylonian literature, it describes a massive flood sent as punishment by the gods, with a character similar to Noah named Utnapishtim.
  2. Atrahasis Epic (Mesopotamian): Contains a flood narrative involving Atrahasis, who saves himself, his family, and animals from the deluge.
  3. Sumerian Flood Story (Mesopotamian): One of the earliest known flood narratives, it features a hero named Ziusudra who survives a great flood.
  4. Egyptian Edfu Building Texts: Refer to a destructive deluge that affected ancient Egypt and is found on the walls of the Edfu Temple.
  5. Greek Mythology: As told in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha depicts a flood that wiped out humanity.
  6. Indian Flood Myth (Hindu): The Matsya Purana includes an account of a significant flood and the god Vishnu taking the form of a fish to save Manu.
  7. Native American Flood Stories: Various indigenous tribes, such as the Hopi and Ojibwa, have their own flood myths describing the destruction of civilization.
  8. Chinese Mythology: The story of Yu the Great in Chinese mythology tells of his efforts to control a devastating flood and save civilization
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Mesopotamian literary work that describes a great flood, punishment, and a character named Utnapishtim, akin to Noah in the biblical flood narrative. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

Merneptah Stele

The Merneptah Stele, a 10-foot granite slab, was carved around 1208 BCE during the 5th year of Merneptah of the 19th dynasty. Discovered in 1896, it primarily details Merneptah’s victory over the ancient Libyans and their allies.

It is one of the earliest known references to the Bible. The last three lines mention a campaign in Canaan, which was under Egyptian rule at the time. It’s often called the “Israel Stele” because many scholars interpret hieroglyphs in line 27 as referring to “Israel.”

The book of Judges 21:25 states, ‘In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’

The Merneptah provides evidence of Israel’s early existence as a group of people. In 1020 BC, Israel became a nation under King Saul.

Outside the Bible, the Merneptah Stele (1200 BC), an Egyptian slab with an inscription, mentions Israel as a people without a king. Ashkelon and Canaan were mentioned as nations because they had kings.

Mesha Stele or the Moabite Stone

The Moabite Stone, or the Mesha Stele, is a Canaanite inscription from the time of King Mesha of Moab in the 9th century BC.

It references the Moabite rebellion against the Kingdom of Israel and provides information about the conquests and conflicts described in the Bible, particularly in the Books of Kings and Chronicles.

It refers to the kingdom of Israel (the “House of Omri”) and bears extrabiblical reference to Yahweh. It is also one of four known contemporary inscriptions containing the name of Israel, the others being the Merneptah Stele, the Tel Dan Stele, and one of the Kurkh Monoliths.

The Mesha Stele is the first major epigraphic Canaanite, found in the region of Jewish Palestine, that refers to Israel and Yahweh.

Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet

The Mount Ebal curse tablet, found in 2019 at Joshua’s altar on Mount Ebal, contains an ancient curse invoking God’s name, Yahweh. This biblical link challenges the Documentary Hypothesis, which suggests multiple authorship and different deities in the Bible.

The tablet aligns with the “curse” ceremony described in Deuteronomy and Joshua, reinforcing its significance in biblical history.

Murba’at Cave Coins

In 2022, fifteen ancient silver coins, dating back 2,200 years to the Maccabean revolt (167-160 B.C.), were unearthed in Israel’s Wadi Muraabat Caves in Nahal Darga.

The discovery by the Antiquities Authority claims that its existence aligns with the narrative of Jewish resistance against the Seleucid Empire.

The silver coins also offer evidence supporting the Hanukkah story of the Maccabees. The wooden box containing them was found in the Negev Desert in May during an excavation project in the Judean Desert caves. 

Nuzi Tablets

The Nuzi Tablets are a collection of cuneiform documents from the ancient city of Nuzi (modern Yorghan Tepe in Iraq).

The texts are mainly legal and business documents viewed as evidence for the age and veracity of certain parts of the Old Testament, especially of the Patriarchal age. [Cambridge Companion]

  1. Cultural and Legal Parallels: They reflect legal and cultural practices similar to those in the Bible, such as adoption, inheritance, and marriage agreements.
  2. Patriarchal Customs: Some Nuzi Tablets describe practices resembling those involving biblical figures like Abraham and Sarah.
  3. Covenant Language: They use terms akin to biblical covenants, contributing to our understanding of biblical agreements.
  4. Geographic and Historical Context: Names and places in the tablets align with biblical narratives, enhancing our grasp of the Bible’s historical setting.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

The Obelisk of Shalmaneser III provides evidence that supports the Bible through inscriptions and depictions of historical events. For example, it shows a scene of King Jehu of Israel bowing before Shalmaneser III and presenting tribute.

The visual representation aligns with the biblical accounts in 2 Kings 10, which describes Jehu’s submission to the Assyrian king. The obelisk also references Tyre and Sidon, as mentioned in the Old Testament.

(Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg)
Israelite delegation to Shalmaneser III on the Black Obelisk, circa 840 BC.

Sennacherib Prism

The Sennacherib Prism offers compelling evidence for Biblical archaeology. It contains an account of the Assyrian King Sennacherib’s military campaign against Judah during the reign of King Hezekiah, as described in the Bible (2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37).

The prism’s inscription details the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. Still, it omits any mention of its conquest to downplay any failures or challenges faced by the Assyrian forces during the siege, maintaining a more favorable narrative of their campaign.

The prism confirms the historical accuracy of this event in the Bible.

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire recounts King Sennacherib’s third campaign and conquests in Judah, mentioned in the Old Testament. (Photo: British Museum)

Shekel of Israel

A rare half-shekel silver coin from the initial year of the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans, around 2,000 years ago, was unearthed in the Judean Desert near the Ein Gedi nature reserve.

The coin bears the inscription “The Holy Jerusalem” in ancient Hebrew on its face. It dates back to 66/67 CE, which coincided with the destruction of Jerusalem’s Second Temple.

It also features an obverse side displaying a chalice at the center, an “Aleph” symbol (marking the first year of the revolt), and the engraving “half-shekel” denoting its value. [JP]

The Shekel of Israel: A rare half-shekel coin dug up in the Ein Gedi nature reserve was inscribed with the words “The Holy Jerusalem” in Hebrew.

Spherical Earth

Ancient Greek philosophers like Pythagoras (570–495 BC) and Aristotle (384–322 BC) first recognized the earth’s spherical shape. However, the books of Isaiah (740-700 BC) and Job (600-400 BC) also mention the earth as round.

  1. Isaiah 40:22 (circa 8th century BCE): This verse states that God “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,” using the Hebrew word “khug,” which means a circle or sphere. Some argue that this suggests an awareness of the Earth’s roundness.
  2. Job 26:10 (circa 6th-4th century BCE): Job 26:10 speaks of God “inscribing a circle on the surface of the waters,” which could be seen as a reference to a round Earth.

Shiloh Tabernacle

The Shiloh Tabernacle’s biblical architecture is rooted in the Bible. It’s described in verses like Joshua 18:1, where the Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh. The design is aligned with the biblical descriptions, emphasizing its historical and religious significance.

Tel Dan Stele

The Tel Dan Stele is a fragmentary stele containing a Canaanite inscription dating to the 9th century BC. It’s one of the few extra-biblical archaeological references to Israel’s King David.

The stele consists of several fragments, making up part of a triumphal inscription in Aramaic. The unnamed king boasts of his victories over the king of Israel and his apparent ally, the king of the “House of David”

The author of the Tel Dan inscription mentions conflict with the kings of Israel and the ‘House of David’. (Photo: Oren Rozen, Wikimedia)

RECOMMENDED READS:
History of Palestine.
Proof the Bible is God’s word.
The best Bible translation?

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