Pig and unclean fish remains in ancient Judah (May 24, 2021).
The intact skeleton of a piglet was found in an excavated upper class Judahite house in Jerusalem’s City of David dated to the 8th century B.C. It was among the bones of other animals prepared as food, evidently in a kitchen. About the same time, a study of 30 sites across the region of Judah concluded that consumption of biblically forbidden scaleless fish, especially catfish along with sharks and eels, was fairly common throughout the Iron Age, the time of the ancient Jewish monarchy, and the Persian and Hellenistic Greek periods that followed—constituting about 13 percent of the fish and then very few showing up by the Roman period.
The conclusion many scholars draw is that the laws of clean and unclean meat listed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 were, along with the rest of the Torah, a late invention, not dating back to the supposed time of Moses or even a later Davidic kingdom. Yet note that 87 percent of the fish remains were of clean varieties. Furthermore, finds of unclean fish and pigs actually confirm the biblical record that there were regular periods of apostasy and failure to observe God’s laws, such as when the Book of the Law was found in the temple in Josiah’s time after a long lapse. In the same way, many Jews today who know about kosher laws do not obey them—or obey them selectively.
The late Dr. Eilat Mazar found in excavating what she labeled King David’s palace that the percentage of catfish consumed spiked just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, a time of rebellion against God when He said the nation’s “priests have violated My law . . . nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel 22:26). To learn more, read our free study guide What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?
Stele of Pharaoh Hophra of Jeremiah’s time (June 5, 2021).
A sandstone stele naming the Egyptian 26th-dynasty pharaoh Wahibre or Haaibre (Apries in Greek, Hophra in Hebrew), who reigned ca. 589-570 B.C., was found in a farmer’s field in Ismailia in northeastern Egypt. Pharaoh Hophra is mentioned by name in Jeremiah 44:30, where the prophet foretells his fall.
Scholars are working on a translation, but Egyptian antiquities authorities believe it concerns an eastern military campaign. That could concern Egyptian forces under Hophra coming to assist Judah’s last king, Zedekiah, in the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which was lifted but only temporarily, as noted in Jeremiah 37:5-8.
Cosmic airburst destruction evidence at Tall el-Hammam, possibly ancient Sodom (Sept. 20, 2021).
Here at one of the largest Bronze Age sites in the southern Jordan Valley, northeast of the Dead Sea on the east side of the circular plain identified as the biblical kikkar (Hebrew for “disc”) of the Jordan, excavation analysis found that a fireball from the sky produced a high-temperature thermal pulse that melted exposed materials followed by a blast wave that demolished and pulverized the city and the people living there. For detail on the discoveries here, see “What If Sodom Has Been Found?” in the January-February 2022 issue of Beyond Today.
Judahite shrine near Solomon’s Jerusalem may have been for Canaanite idolatry (Oct. 27, 2021).
A large stone block fragment appearing to depict the legs of a Canaanite storm deity was found in the remains of a temple at Tel Motza, three miles from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The shrine resembles Solomon’s temple and dates to the same time, the 10th century B.C., as do a handful of others in the region. Many think this means the Israelite religion was then polytheistic and not monotheistic as the Bible describes it.
But as noted earlier, what the Bible actually describes is repeated periods of apostasy, when the people of Israel and Judah descended into the worship of false gods—with God often criticizing kings for allowing pagan “high places” to remain. In fact, Solomon himself shamefully went into apostasy late in life, even building pagan shrines for his many foreign wives (1 Kings 11:4-8). The Motza shrine may be one of these.
New physical evidence of Roman crucifixion in Britain (Dec. 8, 2021).
The skeleton of a man crucified in Roman Britain sometime between the 2nd and 4th century A.D., with an iron nail in his right heel bone, was found among the remains of 48 bodies in a 2017 excavation in Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire, now published. This is the first skeletal evidence of crucifixion in northern Europe and the fourth reported worldwide, two found with imbedded nails and two with holes where nails had been.
Both this and the famous 1968 find in Jerusalem show nailing of the heel from the side—instead of through the top of the feet as often depicted in iconography of Jesus. Many take this to mean the legs of those crucified were nailed straddling the upright post rather than together in front. It should be noted that the first prophecy of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15 stated that Satan the serpent would bruise or strike His heel.
Second synagogue found at Magdala (Dec. 15, 2021).
An ancient synagogue has been found in the Galilean town of Migdal or ancient Magdala—the second found here dating to the Second-Temple period, the time of Jesus. The first, larger and more ornate, was found in 2009.
Mary Magdalene, who was apparently from here, may have attended one of these. Jesus likely preached here: “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues . . .” (Matthew 9:35). Some scholars have argued that synagogues were a feature of later Judaism and not of Jewish religion in the first century, as the New Testament describes. But as the co-director of the dig here stated, “The more we study this time, the more we realize that synagogues were very common.”
Curse inscription with the divine name YHW found at Mt. Ebal altar (Jan. 31, 2022).
Just after identifying an altar under a later one at Mt. Ebal as the Israelite altar at the time of Joshua, as described in Deuteronomy 27 and Joshua 8 (where the Bible says curses for disobeying God were proclaimed), a curse tablet was found here bearing the name YHW, a short form of God’s name YHWH or Yahweh.
The altar and this oldest proto-alphabetic inscription in Israel are dated to around 1400 B.C.—confirming the early dating for the Exodus and Conquest laid out in the Bible. Learn more about these finds in “More Proof of the Bible: Mount Ebal Discoveries” in the May-June 2023 issue of Beyond Today.
1,800-year-old proselyte inscription in Galilee (June 1, 2022).
A grave marker in the Beth Shean cemetery, inscribed in Greek with a curse against opening, names the person buried as Iokobos (or Jacob) the proselyte (or convert). The Greek term literally denoting one who has “come over” is used several times in the New Testament of full converts to Judaism, in contrast to the also-mentioned “God-fearers” who followed some Jewish rules but were not circumcised.
City gate and site of ancient tabernacle identified at Shiloh (Aug. 13, 2022).
Shiloh was the site of the Israelite tabernacle housing the Ark of the Covenant from the time of Joshua until long afterward. Archaeologists have discovered piers that evidently formed a door into a gate complex on the north side of the biblical city, with a gap here in an embankment wall around the city fortifications, fitting with access to the nearby spring on that side.
Excavation director Scott Stripling thinks this is probably the gate where Eli, the Israelite priest and judge, fell backward off his chair and died when he received news that the ark, which had been taken out to battle, was captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:18).
Also, lining the perimeter of the northern walls were unique storage rooms strategically positioned next to an earlier found monumental building that dimensionally fits as a platform for the tabernacle, with rare altar “horns” on stone blocks also found here. Close by is a deposit of pottery and bones of only kosher animals dated to around 1400 to 1300 B.C., fitting the biblical time frame, with the majority of the bones from the right side, the right thigh of sacrificed animals being the priests’ portion (Leviticus 7:32-33).
“All of this together inductively suggests to us that we are seeing what is found in the Bible,” Dr. Stripling stated. “There are many lines of evidence and from it an overarching picture emerges.”
Watch for reports of more eye-opening discoveries relating to the Bible in an upcoming issue of Beyond Today.