Bible Evidence in Archaeology

Finding extra-biblical evidence supporting scripture in ancient cultures.

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As we have seen in previous articles, the authenticity of the biblical text has immense historical attestation through thousands of manuscripts. These manuscripts date shortly thereafter the original autographs. Evidence such as this gives us great confidence that the record we now have is an accurate representation of original texts, written thousands of years ago. However, these evidences do not prove the historical content or message contained within it. For this we must look elsewhere to have confidence that the events contained within the biblical narrative are historical events, not merely fabrications of man’s imagination.

Archaeological Evidence Supporting the Bible

If they are indeed historical narratives, one would expect to find evidence supporting their accounts both in ancient near eastern cultures as well as extra-biblical evidence such as archaeology. Not to the surprise of the Christian but much to the surprise of non-believers, there is an incredible amount of historical Bible evidence that confirms the narratives found within the text of both the Old and New Testament. There are hundreds of significant archaeological finds we could discuss, let us look at just a few for your consideration.

The Taylor Prism

Taylor Prism

The Taylor Prism, now on display at the British Museum, was found at a mound at Kuyunjik in what was the ancient city of Nineveh. The clay hexagonal prism contains 500 lines of Akkadian cuneiform written in 6 columns. Dated to around 689 B.C., the prism falls during the rule of Sennacherib who ruled over Assyria out of Nineveh from 705-681 B.C. The prism records Sennacherib’s militant conquests including his siege of Jerusalem. The text states that he pinned up the king Hezekiah “like a caged bird in his royal capital.” This significant inscription coincides with the biblical text recorded in 1 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37. According to the biblical record Sennacherib planned to laid siege against Hezekiah at Jerusalem, but before Jerusalem could be overcome the Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer and sent an angel to destroy Sennacherib’s army. The city was not overtaken, and Sennacherib returned home. It is important to note the prism does not record Sennacherib taking Jerusalem, and therefore agrees with the biblical account. Between the mention of Hezekiah by name as well as the way the prism’s account and biblical account align, the Taylor Prism stands as one of many significant historical confirmations of the biblical text.

The Moabite Stone

Mesha Stele

The Moabite Stone, which is kept in the Louvre Museum, was discovered in 1868 in Palestine. The stone is inscribed in an ancient Moabite language recording how the Moabite god Chemosh allowed his people to become oppressed by Israel out of anger. The stone is also called the Mesha Stele, as it names Mesha as the king of Moab who ruled around 840 B.C. According to the biblical text in 2 Kings 3, the king Mesha of Moab rebelled against Israel in an attempt to break themselves free of the yoke of Israel. The most significant detail of this inscription is that it mentions the personal name of the God of Israel, “Yahweh”. To mention the Lord’s personal name given to the people of Israel gives great historical credibility to not only 2 Kings 3, but to the fact that the nations around Israel knew and believed in the great works of Yahweh.

The Tel Dan Stele

Tel Dan Stele

The Tel Dan Stele was found in 1993 in northern Israel at Tel Dan. The small inscription in Aramaic details Hazael’s triumphant victory at Ramoth Gilead over Omri, the king of Israel. This account is also detailed in 2 Kings 8:28-29, a rather insignificant detail in the grand scheme of the Scriptures. This is important for the purpose that the inscription confirms even what appears to be an aside in the biblical text, further confirming it’s historicity down to the smallest details. Even more significant is the fact that for ages biblical minimalists such as Israel Finkelstein argued that there was no historical evidence for the king David recorded in the Bible. The Tel Dan inscription however references the kingdom of Judah as the “House of David.” This extra biblical find of the Davidic dynasty is an incredible piece of historical evidence for the biblical record. The inscription left biblical minimalists stunned, being left with no other conclusion than to accept the rule of David in ancient Israel.

Bible Evidence, the Conclusion

These are only three of hundreds of significant historical artifacts that archaeologists have unearthed. Time could fail us to discuss the dead sea scrolls, the Cyrus Cylinder, the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser, the letters of Lachish, etc. Each year more historical finds are unearthed that continue to confirm the biblical records. The study of history is a study of truth. Truths of past events that we can learn from and understand ourselves better from. These archaeological finds demonstrate that the study of the Bible is not only a study of moral truth, but historical truth.

Additional Resources

7 Types of Baptism in the Bible

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