What If UR Wrong

“Truly I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Luke 19:40

   Does Archaeology Support The Bible? 

by Mark Karapetyan

Most people, including some Christians, agree that the Bible is a book for the religious only, and think that its history cannot be trusted.  Many modern archaeologists do not think that archaeology substantiates the Bible; they say “it disproves the Bible.”  In fact, most of the universities that offer degrees in archaeology are staffed by archaeologists who do not believe the Bible. [1] Is there archaeological evidence to support the authenticity of the Bible?  Are there actual archaeological digs that have unearthed artifacts that are relevant to the recorded stories in the Bible?

In this short study, we will examine ten important archeological discoveries in recent years that support the historicity of the Bible.

Ketef Hinnom Amulets

In 1979, two silver scrolls that were worn as amulets were found in a tomb at Ketef Hinnom, overlooking the Hinnom Valley, where they had been placed around the 7th century B.C. The delicate process of unrolling the scrolls while developing a method that would prevent them from disintegrating took three years. Brief as they are, the amulets rank as the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible. Upon unrolling the amulets, Biblical archeologists 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 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.  [2]

The Ossuary of Caiaphas

In November 1990, Israeli archeologists discovered the family tomb of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest who presided at the trial of Jesus and delivered Him to the Romans to be crucified.

The archeologists discovered the burial box by accident, when workers widening a road in Jerusalem’s Peace Forest stumbled across an unusually large burial site.  Buried in an ancient cave on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the family’s bones were sealed in ornate and elaborately carved ossuaries, ceremonial boxes used widely by the Jews of the late first century.  The writing on the side is the equivalent of his nickname. Inscribed on the ossuary were the words “Yehosef bar Kayafa,” translated as “Joseph, son of Caiaphas.” The Aramaic writing on the wall and the ossuaries was the language used by working-class people, and cemetery workers of the time.  Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, provides the only contemporary mention of Caiaphas outside the Talmud and the New Testament.

The Caiaphas Ossuary confirms that the story of Christ’s crucifixion is by no means a fairy tale, but an actual history.

The Hall of Judgment (The Praetorium)

When archaeologists began digging below an abandoned building in Jerusalem’s Old City 15 years ago as partof an effort to expand a museum there, they likely had no idea what they were about to stumble upon.  There, underneath the floor, they uncovered what was left of the suspected palace where Jesus’ trial before His crucifixion- a monumental event that is recounted in the New Testament-might have taken place.  Prior to digging, researchers knew that the location had housed an old prison used by the Ottoman Empire, but also found to their surprise,  what they believed to be Herod the Great’s palace.

Archaeologists made the stunning find while preparing to expand the Tower of David Museum, which provides exhibits documenting Jerusalem’s history. [3]   Herod’s Palace was found by Jerusalem district archaeologists fifteen years ago beneath an abandoned building, located adjacent to the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The building was being excavated as part of plans to expand the Tower of David Museum.  Beneath it, an old prison was discovered, which was in use when the area was under the control of the Ottoman Turks and the British, prior to the creation of Israel.

While peeling back the layers of the prison, archaeologists discovered fabric-dyeing basins dating back to the Crusades, together with foundations walls and an underground sewage system possibly belonging to the huge palace built by Herod the Great. As they continued their work, they uncovered what is now believed to be the remains of Herod’s massive palace — including its walls and sewage system.  It is generally agreed that Herod’s palace was located on the western side of Old Jerusalem, putting it near the Tower of David museum.

During their excavation, they also discovered an area near a gate with an uneven stone floor. This fits the description in the Gospel of John of the place where Pilate sentenced Jesus to die by crucifixion.

“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.“  (John 18:28)

Pontius Pilate Dedication Wall

      

It wasn’t long ago when many scholars were questioning the actual existence of a Roman governor with the name Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion.  In June of 1961, Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheater near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima), and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” [4]

The artifact is a fragment of the dedicatory inscription of a later building, probably a temple, that was possibly constructed,  in honor of the emperor Tiberius, dating to 26–36 AD.  The stone was then reused in the 4th century as a building block for a set of stairs belonging to a structure erected behind the stage house of the Herodian theatre; and it was discovered there, still attached to the ancient staircase, by the archaeologists.  [5]

As it now stands, the inscription reads:

Line 1: … STIBERIEVM
Line 2: . . . TIVSPILATVS
Line 3: … ECTVSIVDA . . E
Line 4: . .’ .

Translated into English this would read (literally):

Line 1: To the people of Caesarea a “Tiberium”
Line 2: Pontius Pilate
Line 3: Prefect of Judea
Line 4: has given (or has dedicated).

The Wine Jug of King Herod

      

In 1996, archaeologists discovered the remains of a 2,000-year-old clay wine jug inscribed with the name of King Herod, along with some of the first evidence of daily life at the Masada fortress during Herod’s time.

The Latin inscription says either “Herod, King of Judea” or “Herod, King of the Jews,” said archaeologist Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University.  Netzer said today it was the first time the full title of Herod, king of Judea been found in an inscription.

The jug, which dates from about 19 B.C., was found in an ancient garbage dump near the synagogue at Masada, Netzer said. Archaeologists also discovered food remains from Masada dwellers in Herod’s time, including nuts, eggshells, dates and olive pits, and pieces of cloth and basket ware.  [6]

Part of the wine jug bearing the inscription is missing, and so it is not clear whether the Latin inscription says “Herod, King of Judea” or “Herod, King of the Jews”.

The Pool of Siloam

In 2004, during construction work to repair a large water pipe south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, at the southern end of the ridge known as the City of David, archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron identified two ancient stone steps. Further excavation revealed that they were part of a monumental pool from the Second Temple period, the period in which Jesus lived. The structure Reich and Shukron discovered was 225 feet long, with corners that are slightly greater than 90 degrees, indicating a trapezoidal shape, with the widening end oriented toward Tyropoeon valley. [7]

Excavations continue to reveal more sections of the pool on the northern and southern ends.  Several shafts at the northern end of the pool have revealed large paving stones.  On the southern end, excavations have uncovered a large wall and a section of the pool from the Old Testament period.

Peter’s House

In 1921, Franciscan archaeologists uncovered a 5th-century building made up of three co-centric octagons that was according to tradition, built over the site of Peter’s house.  It was not until excavations were renewed in 1968 that they found an apse and a baptistery, making it possible to identify this structure as a basilica. [8]  Archaeological excavations have uncovered a home and subsequent home church that contains ancient writings in the wall plaster mentioning Jesus as “Lord” and “Christ” in Aramaic, Greek, Syriac and Latin. The structure is very close to the ancient synagogue at Capernaum and contains 1st-century fish hooks and graffiti references to “Peter.” [9]

Archaeologists later confirmed that the plastered room from the original house had been renovated and converted into the central hall of a simple church. The room’s old stone walls were supported by a newly built, two-story arch that, in turn, supported a new stone roof. The room was even re-plastered and painted over with floral and geometric designs of various colors.

The Nabonidus Cylinder

King Nabonidus of Babylonia left a magnificent cuneiform cylinder (wedge-shaped letters inscribed on a clay cylinder) mentioning his elder son, Belshazzar by name. Critics of the Bible had claimed for many years that the account in the book of Daniel was wrong; they said Belshazzar was never a king in Babylon and that Nabonidus was not his father. The discovery of this cylinder clearly showed that these scholars were dead wrong. Indeed, we can now understand the meaning of Daniel 5:16 more precisely where it says: “Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom” (italics added for emphasis).

This text now makes perfect sense because Nabonidus was in a coregency with his son Belshazzar, who was the crown prince of Babylon. That would make Daniel the “third ruler in the kingdom.” [10]

The House of David

 

In 1993, archeologists digging at Tel Dan in  Galilee in northern Israel found a fragment of a stone inscription that clearly refers to the “house of David” and identifies David as the “king of Israel.” This is the first inscription outside the Bible that confirms the Bible’s statement that David was the king of Israel in the ninth century before Christ. Many Bible critics who had rejected King David as a myth were upset to discover their position could no longer be defended. Some critics suggested that the fragment was a “fake.” The following summer, two additional fragments of the original inscription were found that provided scholars with the whole inscription, confirming that it referred to David as king of Israel. Furthermore, another scholar, Andre Lemaire from the College de France, discovered another ninth century B.C. stone inscription created by King Mesha of Moab that also referred to “the House of David.” These incredible inscriptions recorded a century after David’s death, confirm that David was king of Israel at the time the Bible stated and that he established a dynasty, the “House of David as the Scriptures said.

A stone inscription from Egypt confirms that Israel was established as a nation in Canaan centuries before the reign of King David, just as the Bible claims. The Merneptah Stela is a seven-and-a-half-foot-high stone inscription discovered in the temple of Pharaoh Merneptah at Thebes in Egypt. Scholars determined that Pharaoh Merneptah ruled Egypt from 1213 to 1203 B.C. and confirmed that he launched an invasion into the area of the modern-day West Bank in Canaan, defeating the Jewish inhabitants of the land. The second line from the bottom of this inscriptions boasts, “Israel is laid waste; his seed is not.”  [11]

The Dead Sea Scrolls

A young shepherd named Muhammed Edh-Dhib first discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 near the site of Qumran in what is now the West Bank. Over the next decade, scientists and Bedouin would discover more than 900 manuscripts located in 11 caves. They include canonical works from the Hebrew Bible, including Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Kings and Deuteronomy. They also include calendars, hymns, psalms, apocryphal (non-canonical) Biblical works and community rules. One scroll is made of copper and describes the location of buried treasure. The texts date from between roughly 200 B.C. up until about 70 A.D. when the Romans put down a revolt in Jerusalem and Qumran was abandoned. The authorship of the scrolls is a source of debate. A popular theory among scholars is that a monastic sect called the Essenes lived at Qumran, and they wrote and collected the texts.

Conclusion

Critics who brush off the Bible as a compilation of mythology and legends, do so overlooking the fact that archaeologists have made thousands of discoveries over the past century that have verified hundreds of details in the Bible. It would be extremely difficult for the honest skeptic to dispute the overwhelming archeological support for the historical accuracy of both the Old and New Testaments. Numerous items discussed in the Bible such as nations, important people, customary practices, etc. have been verified by archeological evidence. Bible critics have often been embarrassed by discoveries that corroborated Bible accounts they had previously deemed to be myth.

It is possible to verify the authenticity of the Bible. The field of archaeology has done much to prove the Bible’s record true. Also, as we study some of the prophecies of the Bible, we can determine the truthfulness of the Bible by the fulfillment of those prophecies. The Bible itself declares itself inspired. It comprises 66 books written by 44 different authors over a span of 1500 years. These authors, from many walks of life, and of varying degrees of education and nobility, most of whom never knew each other or lived within each other’s lifespan, were only able to write so cohesively through God’s inspiration. An objective view of the Bible can show us that, indeed, the Bible’s composition is unique and inspired.  [12]

 

“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical description has often led to amazing discoveries.”

Dr Nelson Gluneck

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Truthortradition.com/doesarcheologysupportthebible
[2] Gotquestions.org/Archeological Discoveries
[3] Theblaze.com/BillyHalowell
[4] Biblehistory.com/thepilateinscription
[5] Wikipedia.org
[6] Bibletopics.com/KingHerodArtifactunearthed
[7] BibleHistoryDailyTheSiloamPool/BiblicalArcheologySociety
[8] Theosophicalwordpress.com/biblical archeology and Peter’s house
[9] Allaboutarcheology.org/HouseofPeter
[10] Answersingenesis.org/6 archeological finds
[11] GrantJeffery.com/TheSignatureofGod
[12] Amazingdiscoveries.org/is the bibletrue? 

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