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Archaeological Finds That Support the Bible

Archaeological Finds That Support the Bible
Criticism abounds of the Bible’s historical accuracy, typically claiming a lack of outside sources confirming the Bible’s stories. Interestingly, few other historical documents are required to undergo such scrutiny, even those that also contain religious elements. While it’s impossible to confirm every incident described in the Bible, archaeological finds since the mid-1800s demonstrate the Bible’s reliability.

Some brief examples are as follows: The Hittites referred to in the Old Testament were once thought to be a biblical legend until a find in Turkey uncovered the Hittite capital and historical records. Solomon’s wealth was once thought to be exaggerated, until records uncovered that wealth in that time was indeed concentrated with kings; this made Solomon’s vast wealth entirely possible. A discovery in Khorsabad, Iraq proved the existence of the Assyrian king Sargon mentioned in Isaiah 20:1: the account of Sargon’s capturing Ashdod, recorded on the palace walls. Belshazzar, the king of Babylon referred to in Daniel 5, was proven to have reigned with his father Nabonidus, the previously reported last king of Babylon, when tablets were found showing his co-reign with his father.

Archaeology provides the only new knowledge we have about the world in biblical times, the people that lived then, and the events that occurred. Archaeological finds can help remove the doubts of those who question the Bible’s authority by showing that the people, places and events it reports were real.

The following list of archaeological finds that support the historical accuracy of the Bible is by no means complete. Some may seem more or less important. Archaeological finds are subject to chance, and it’s possible that something found tomorrow may bring to the forefront a biblical personality or event that had not previously been deemed important.

From the Flood to Babel

The Flood
Several documents from Babylon have been discovered that describe a world-wide flood. One tablet reports a king’s enjoyment of reading the writings of people who lived before the flood! An ancient tablet listing Sumerian kings (See image here: http://www.bibleandscience.com/history/sumerians.htm) shows that they reigned for long periods of time until a flood came. Following the flood, the kings’ reigns shortened considerably. This lines up with the Bible’s account of the shortened human lifespan following the flood. The Gilgamesh Epic describes an ark, how animals were taken into the ark, birds being sent out before the waters receded, and the ark’s landing on a mountain followed by a sacrifice.

Noah’s Ark
References to the ark begin in about the 3rd century B.C. From these references, historians infer that it was common knowledge the ark was still visible on the top of Mt. Ararat. Other references throughout history report the existence of a boat on the mountain in this region.

In the 20th century, several people reported either standing on the roof of the ark, going inside it, taking pictures of it or recovering petrified wood from it. With the breakup of the Soviet Union and the relaxation of its control of the Soviet-Turkish border where Ararat sits, the mountain became more accessible. While it’s generally believed that at least part of the ark is intact somewhere in the mountain range of Ararat, definitive proof eludes us. Photographs have been lost and eyewitnesses have either died or recanted. If the ark is there, above 10,000 feet, it remains sheathed in ice and snow for much of the year and is only visible in the warmer months.

Tower of Babel
Both Sumerian and Babylonian historical records report a time when all of humanity spoke the same language, until a temple tower was destroyed and language confused. This matches the account in Genesis 11:1-9 of the tower of Babel.

Biblical Characters: Their Likenesses and Tombs

More than 50 Old Testament and about 27 New Testament characters are known from sources other than the Bible. Of these, archaeologists have discovered the likenesses of nearly 20.These likenesses include:

  • King Shishak of Egypt. 1 Kings 14:25-26 describes Shishak’s invasion of Judah and plundering Jerusalem and other cities. Archaeologists have confirmed this story. Shishak recorded his campaign on the south wall of the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak in Egypt. See image at: http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/egypt/shishak-smiting-prisoners.html
  • King Jehu of Israel (2 Kings 9:1-10:36). Jehu ruled Israel for 28 years. Although the prophet Elisha anointed him as king to eliminate Baal worship in Israel, Jehu “was not careful to keep the law of the Lord” (2 Kings 10:31) and once his crusade to eliminate the family of Ahab was over, he turned back to his fathers’ evil ways. His is the only surviving likeness of a king of Israel or Judah. See image at: http://www.livius.org/io-iz/israel/kingdom.html
  • King Hazael of Aram (1 Kings 19:15, 17; 2 Kings 8:7-15, 28-29; 9:14-15; 10:32-33; 12:17-18; 13:3, 22, 24,25; Amos 1:4) Hazael was anointed by the prophet Elisha as king of Aram and ruled for 37 years. See image at: http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/israel/2-hazael-king-of-syria-bb.html
  • King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (2 Kings 15:29, 30; 1 Chronicles 5:26). The Bible reports that Tiglath-Pileser, also known as Pul, invaded Judah and took the people captive. Two inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser confirm biblical accounts of his invasion of Judah.
  • “Pekah their king they had overthrown, I placed Hoshea over them. From him I received 10 talents of gold and 1000 talents of silver.” (See 2 Kings 15:30) Five Hebrew kings, Uzziah, Ahaz, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea, are mentioned in Tiglath’s inscriptions.
  • “The people of the land of Omri I deported to Assyria, with their property.” (See 2 Kings 15:29) See image at: http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/assyria/Tiglath-Pileser-III.html
  • King Sargon II of Assyria (Isaiah 20:1). No other historical record mentions the name of King Sargon. Until French archaeologist Paul Emil Botta discovered the ruins of his palace in 1843, Sargon was considered a myth. Huge winged bulls, mythical creatures with a human head, bull’s body and angel’s or bird’s wings, thought to have power to protect the palace from evil spirits, stood on either side of the palace entrances. These bulls were more than 14 feet tall and weighed more than 16 tons. An inscription on a clay tablet found among the ruins said, “In my first year I captured Samaria. I took captive 27,290 people. People of other lands, who never paid tribute, I settled in Samaria.” See image at: http://www.ancientreplicas.com/sargon-and-general.html See image of the winged bull at: http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/assyria/winged-bull-2-sided.html
  • King Sennacherib of Assyria (2 Kings 18:13-19:37) A wealthy Assyrian king, when Sennacherib invaded Jerusalem, “the angel of the Lord” killed 185,000 of his men (2 Kings 19:30). After retreating to Nineveh, Sennacherib was killed by his sons. See image at: http://knp.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/images/essentials/esarhaddon/bm-ane-124911-large.jpg and http://knp.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/essentials/assyrianempire/ and http://www.bible-history.com/sketches/ancient/sennacherib-khorsabad.html
  • King Tirhakah of Egypt (2 Kings 19:9) Also known as Taharqa, Taharka and Manetho’s Tarakos. Tirhakah reigned in Egypt from 690 to 664 B.C. He is identified by scholars with the Ethiopian king who waged war Sennacherib during King Hezekiah’s reign in Judah. Esarhaddon, son of Sennacherib, later defeated Tirhakah. See images at: http://wysinger.homestead.com/kingtaharqa.html
  • King Esarhaddon of Assyria (2 Kings 19:37). Less well-known than his father Sennacherib or his son Assurbanipal, Esarhaddon usurped his brother’s right to the throne of Assyria. Esarhaddon’s rule had a sweeping historical influence on the region. His was a fierce but efficient rule, despite the fact that he suffered from poor health. See image at:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Esarhaddon.jpg
  • King Merodach-baladan of Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-19). A Chaldean who seized the Babylonian throne and was later overthrown by Sargon.
  • King Xerxes I of Persia (Esther; Ezra 4:6) Identified by most as the Persian king Ahasuerus in the story of Esther, he reigned from 485 to 465 B.C.
  • King Darius I of Persia (Ezra 4:24-6:15; Haggai 1:1, 15) The king who decreed that the Jews were to return home from exile and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. See image at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shekel_Darius_I_firing_CdM.jpg
  • Roman emperor Augustus (Luke 2:1). Augustus ruled at the time of Christ’s birth. It was his census decree that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Numerous images can be found at: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3A*&q=%EF%82%A7%09Roman+emperor+Augustus+
  • Roman emperor Tiberius (Matthew 22:17, 21; Mark 12:14-17; Luke 3:1; 20:22-25; 23:2; John 19:12,15). Tiberius reigned at the time of Christ’s death. Numerous images can be found at: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3A*&q=Roman+emperor+Tiberius+
  • Roman emperor Claudius (Acts 11:28; 18:2) Claudius reigned from A.D. 41 to 54. Numerous images can be found at: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3A*&q=Roman+emperor+Claudius
  • King Herod Agrippa I of Judea (Acts 12:1-23; 23:35) Herod Agrippa reigned from A.D. 37 to 44. He had good connections with Rome.
  • King Aretas IV of the Nabateans (2 Corinthians 11:32) Aretas’s daughter married Herod Antipas but returned home when Antipas took Herodias as his wife—an event that led to John the Baptist’s beheading. Aretas then declared war on Antipas, but Antipas appealed to Tiberius of Rome who sent the governor of Syria to attack Aretas.
  • Roman emperor Nero, also known as Caesar (Acts 25:11,12,21; 26:32; 28:19; Philippians 4:22) Nero is known for his persecution of Christians and the great fire that destroyed much of Rome during his reign, which he blamed on the Christians.
Numerous images can be found at: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3A*&q=Roman+emperor+Nero%2C+also+known+as+Caesar

The first physical remains of a biblical character were discovered in Jerusalem when workers constructing a road through a park came across a tomb containing 12 limestone bone boxes with the names of 63 people. The most ornately decorated of the boxes was inscribed with the name “Joseph son of Caiaphas” and contained the bones of a 60-year-old man. (see image at http://www.bible-history.com/jerusalem/firstcenturyjerusalem_palace_of_caiaphas.html)

Ancient historian Josephus records this name as the full name of the High Priest who led the plot to kill Jesus. King Darius I ruled the Persian Empire from 522 to 486 B.C. His tomb was one of three cut into a cliff near Persepolis, Iran. (See image at http://flickr.com/photos/56905260@N00/873542149) The inscription reads, “King Darius states: King, whoever you are, who may arise after me, protect yourself well from lies. Do not trust the man who lies… Believe what I did and tell the truth to the people. Do not conceal (it). If you do not conceal these matters, but you do tell the people, may Ahura Mayda protect you.”

Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. When Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, it was Augustus’s census decree they were obeying. (Luke 2:1-7) Augustus built a large mausoleum, 143 feet high and 248 feet across, on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, the remains of which still exist in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. (See image at http://picasaweb.google.com/cwendeln/Rome#5101382744136553442) An urn in the center contained his ashes; other rulers’ urns were placed in a corridor around the mausoleum. Some urns were still in place when the building was excavated.

Biblical Structures

A number of structures described in the Bible have also been found, including:
  • The palace at Jericho where Eglon, king of Moab, was assassinated by Ehud (Judges 3:15-30) See image at: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/05/david-rohls-revised-egyptian-chronology-a-view-from-palestine.aspx
  • The east gate of Shechem where Gaal and Zebul watched the forces of Abimelech approach the city (Judges 9:34-38) See image at: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/02/Abimelech-at-Shechem.aspx
  • The Temple of Baal/El-Berith in Shechem, where funds were obtained to finance Abimelech's kingship, and where the citizens of Shechem took refuge when Abimelech attacked the city (Judges 9:4, 46-49)
  • The pool of Gibeon where the forces of David and Ishbosheth fought during the struggle for the kingship of Israel (2 Samuel 2:12-32)
  • The Pool of Heshbon, which the eyes of the Shulammite woman were likened to (Song of Songs 7:4)
  • The royal palace at Samaria where the kings of Israel lived (1 Kings 20:43; 21:1, 2; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:2; 15:25)
  • The Pool of Samaria where King Ahab's chariot was washed after his death (1 Kings 22:29-38)
  • The water tunnel beneath Jerusalem dug by King Hezekiah to provide water during the Assyrian siege (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30)
  • The royal palace in Babylon where King Belshazzar held the feast and Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5)
  • The royal palace in Susa where Esther was queen of the Persian king Xerxes (Esther 1:2; 2:3, 5, 9, 16)
  • The royal gate at Susa where Mordecai, Esther's cousin, sat (Esther 2:19, 21; 3:2, 3; 4:2; 5:9, 13; 6:10, 12)
  • The Square in front of the royal gate at Susa where Mordecai met with Halthach, Xerxes' eunuch (Esther 4:6)
  • The foundation of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus cured a man with an unclean spirit (Mark 1:21-28) and delivered the sermon on the bread of life (John 6:25-59)
  • The house of Peter at Capernaum where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others (Matthew 8:14-16)
  • Jacob's well where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman (John 4)
  • The Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a crippled man (John 5:1-14)
  • The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a blind man (John 9:1-4)
  • The tribunal at Corinth where Paul was tried (Acts 18:12-17)
  • The theater at Ephesus where the riot of silversmiths occurred (Acts 19:29
  • Herod's palace at Caesarea where Paul was kept under guard (Acts 23:33-35)
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