God, Science and the Bible: Weighty evidence for the Bible's accuracy

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God, Science and the Bible

Weighty evidence for the Bible's accuracy

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What is a pim? That is what translators asked themselves when they were finishing the King James Version of the Bible back in the 17th century. They had never heard of the term outside of the Bible and had to guess as to its meaning—which turned out to be wrong.

In 1 Samuel 13:20-21, they translated the Hebrew term pim as "file." It seemed to make sense at the time. The text reads: "But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads."

It was only when archaeology came to the rescue in the last century that the term was finally understood. Archaeologists digging at various sites in Israel—such as Gezer, Timnah, Ashdod and Ekron—found small stone weights inscribed with the word pim. They realized the word pim referred to a weight used in monetary transactions—about 8 grams of silver, or two thirds of a shekel.

The New King James Bible, utilizing the new discovery, corrected the verse in question. In this version 1 Samuel 13:21 reads, "and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads."

This discovery authenticated the Bible's historical validity, since these weights were only found in the strata from the ninth to the seventh centuries B.C., after which new sets of weights were adopted. It tells us that the account of 1 Samuel was written close to the time of the actual events, as the term pim fell out of use not long after that.

Archaeologist William Dever mentions the discovery of the pim weight as evidence of the historical accuracy of the Bible. "Archaeology still provides an invaluable service. Countless hitherto enigmatic passages have been clarified . . . The translation of 1 Samuel 13:19-21 was pure guesswork until archaeologists brought to light small stone balance weights inscribed in paleo-Hebrew with the word pim, which we now know designates a silver shekel fraction of about 7.8 grams (.28 ounces)" (Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990, p. 55).

So thanks to archaeology, we again have confirmation of the accuracy of the Bible!