More Archaeological Finds Support the Biblical Record

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More Archaeological Finds Support the Biblical Record

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More Archaeological Finds Support the Biblical Record

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Ivory plaques show the opulence of Jerusalem in the kingdom era (Sept. 5, 2022)

A trove of 1,500 ivory fragments from the remains of a monumental building being excavated alongside Jerusalem’s City of David area was discovered through the process of wet sifting. These were determined to be the remnants of at least 12 two-inch square plaques—with geometric shapes, lotuses, trees and rosettes carved into them—that were likely decorative inlays for wooden furniture.

The building, perhaps the home of Jewish elites or royalty, was apparently destroyed when the city fell to the Babylonians in the 6th century B.C. Other luxury goods were also found in it—vanilla-spiced wine, special serving dishes and a rare agate seal.

Ivory has been found at other ancient capital cities, such as Nimrud and Samaria, being linked to wealth and royalty. The plaques give evidence of Iron Age Jerusalem having such prosperity and prominence, as the Bible describes. They also help illustrate what ivory-inlaid furniture described in Scripture may have looked like, such as Solomon’s ivory throne, Ahab’s palace adorned with ivory and the beds of ivory of the nobility (1 Kings 10:18; 22:39; Amos 6:4).

Affirming biblical events with geomagnetic field data (Oct. 24, 2022)

Destruction dates at various Iron Age sites in Israel have been clarified through a recent study using archaeomagnetism, concerning tiny ferromagnetic particles in material heated at high temperatures, such as pottery kiln objects or fire debris, acting like a compass in aligning with the earth’s magnetosphere, which fluctuates over time.

Analyzing the residual magnetic signature of hundreds of objects of known dates has revealed the earth’s magnetic field intensity and direction through different periods. This is especially helpful for dating remains from around 1000-500 B.C., when radiocarbon dating does not provide sufficiently detailed date ranges.

A question about whether Beth Shean was destroyed by the Egyptian invasion in the 10th century B.C. or by Syria in the 9th has been answered—it was in the 9th. Beth Shemesh is shown to have been destroyed at the beginning of the 8th century B.C., which does not fit with any known foreign invasion but supports the Bible, which refers to a battle at Beth Shemesh between Judah and Israel at that time (2 Kings 14:11-12).

It’s also been shown that many cities in southern Judah were not destroyed in the final Babylonian invasion but suffered destruction a while later—likely at the hands of the neighboring Edomites, matching with what the Bible recorded and foretold about the Edomites supporting and piling on Judah’s destruction (Psalm 137:7-8; Ezekiel 25:12-14; 35:1-15).

Reexamination of stone fragment reveals monumental inscription of Hezekiah (Oct. 26, 2022)

A hand-sized limestone fragment was discovered in 2007 in excavations around ancient Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring by archaeologists Eli Shukron and Ronny Reich. It contains two lines of ancient Hebrew text that were published, but the full potential now brought out by Shukron and epigrapher Gershon Galil was not then recognized.

The first line was read as zqyh or zekiah and reconstructed as Hezekiah, who was king of Judah at the end of the 8th century B.C. A new technique called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)—with numerous digital images from different angles combined to form a sharper 3D rendering—has now confirmed the initial H or heh. In the second line is reconstructed the word bricha, meaning “pool,” though with the first letter broken off. This matches with Hezekiah being connected to the construction of pools and water works and the fact that this fragment was found at such a pool location.

While Hezekiah’s existence has been well attested in archaeology, such as on the prisms of King Sennacherib of Assyria and on several bullae or clay seal impressions, there were heretofore no Israelite monument-style inscriptions, such as stelae, mentioning him or any other kings of ancient Israel and Judah, such as is found in Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. Yet Shukron and Galil believe this fragment to be part of one.

A stone of the same type and lettering was found a bit farther south of the Gihon Spring in 1978 with the word “seventeenth” or “seventeen,” which might refer to the 17th year of Hezekiah’s reign. Together, these seem to be part of a monumental inscription commemorating Hezekiah’s construction, perhaps similar to the memorial summation in 2 Kings 20:20: “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city . . .”

Some scholars have objected to these conclusions and other findings of Galil based on antibiblical academic theories about the origin and development of the Israelite nation, the alphabet and Hebrew language.

New study of Mesha Stele said to confirm “House of David” reference (Jan. 12, 2023)

The Mesha Stele or Moabite Stone, a basalt upright slab dated to around 840 B.C. that was discovered east of the Dead Sea in 1868 and sits in the Louvre Museum in Paris, bears an inscription in Moabite writing, very close to paleo-Hebrew, that has many points of contact with biblical references.

Before it suffered further damage, a paper-mache impression was made of the inscription in 1869. Most famously, it has been read to refer to the “house of David” (btdwd) though that has been contested. Some biblical minimalists who famously deny a Davidic kingdom had suggested the name should read Balak, a much earlier Moabite king also mentioned in the Bible, though it’s unclear why he would be named in the account.

Using new RTI imaging (mentioned earlier) on both the etched stone and the paper impression, respected epigrapher Andre Lemaire and Jean-Philippe Delorme recently declared the reading to be confirmed as David. But their conclusions were challenged in a subsequent article in Biblical Archaeology Review, its authors maintaining that while the inscription could perhaps read “house of David,” two letters are still question marks and more letters might have followed—that is, “b??wd . . .” Disagreements will likely continue.

In any case, the Moabite Stone’s inscription bears other clear connections to the Bible in the early monarchy period—the divine name YHWH, Israel six times, Omri the king of Israel, the men of Gad (this Israelite tribe having settled east of the Jordan, north of Moab), and the Moabite king Mesha.

In fact, the inscription gives a lengthy account of the latter going to war against Israel, corresponding, though not precisely, with a similar account in 2 Kings 3. This chapter says Judah and Edom were allied together with Israel against Moab, giving context for mentioning the house of David in the stone. Furthermore, another inscription from earlier in the 800s B.C., the Tel Dan Stele, mentions the “house of David.”

New translation of jar inscription ties Solomon’s Jerusalem to incense from Sheba (March 25, 2023)

An inscription on a 10th-century-B.C. pithos or large pottery storage jar found in 2012 in the Ophel excavations between Jerusalem’s City of David and the Temple Mount proved difficult for translators who had assumed it’s in ancient Canaanite script.

But epigrapher Daniel Vainstub has realized it’s actually from the related Sabaean alphabet of Sheba in southern Arabia. He thus translates the inscription as referring to ladanum, a brown aromatic resin from Sheba that was an ingredient in the incense used in Israel’s worship (Exodus 30:34-38). It was found among the fragments of six other large jars, showing high usage at this time in the 900s B.C., when Solomon reigned as king. So, it’s reasoned, this must have been mainly for Solomon’s temple.

While the jars were manufactured from clay in Israel, the script flows naturally as from a native Sabaean writer who wrote on the jar before it was fired. This suggests that a scribe from Sheba was involved in the industry of these jars for resin imports from Sheba. The link here between Israel and Sheba gives strong support to the biblical story of the Queen of Sheba visiting Jerusalem at the time of Solomon (1 Kings 10).

As we see time and again, such finds help to demonstrate that the Bible is not a record of myth but of true history! For more corroboration of the biblical record, be sure to read our free study guide Is the Bible True?