"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Four Nebuchadnezzar has another dream, this one of a great tree that fills the earth and then is cut down but its trunk left intact, followed by a man whose heart is changed and becomes like an animal (1-18). Daniel interprets the dream as applying to the king, that he might know that God rules in the kingdoms of men (19-27). A year later the dream is fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar praises, blesses and honors the Most High God, King of heaven (28-37). POINTS TO PONDER * The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men * He sets over the kingdoms of men the lowest of men, or whomever He chooses REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Nebuchadnezzar's second dream - Dan 4:1-18 - Daniel interprets the dream - Dan 4:19-27 - Nebuchadnezzar's humiliation and praise of God - Dan 4:28-37 2) List three key elements of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. (10-17) - A large tree that fills the earth, but is cut down leaving only the trunk - A watcher from heaven, who makes pronouncements - A man whose heart is changed and becomes like a beast until "seven times" pass over 3) Who does Daniel say the dream applies to? (22) - King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon 4) What statements reveal the lesson of the dream and its fulfillment? (17,25,35) - "That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men." - "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses." - "He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." 5) What was Nebuchadnezzar doing when the dream's fulfillment occurred? (28-31) - Walking about his palace, boasting of his mighty power and majestic honor 6) Describe the king's behavior and appearance when he lost his kingdom. (33) - Ate grass like oxen, body wet with dew, hair like eagles' feathers, nails like birds' claws 7) What did the king do when his understanding returned? (34) - Blessed, praised, and honored Him who lives forever, for His everlasting kingdom 8) What was restored to the king when his reason returned to him? (36) - The glory of his kingdom, his honor and splendor
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Three Nebuchadnezzar builds a large image of gold, demanding all to worship it (1-7). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refuse, and are thrown into a fiery furnace. Yet they are saved by God (8-25), prompting King Nebuchadnezzar to praise their God as the Most High (26-30). POINTS TO PONDER * Faith in the face of fire * The fourth person in the fiery furnace (angel or Christ?) REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Nebuchadnezzar's golden image - Dan 3:1-7 - Daniel's friends and the fiery furnace - Dan 3:8-25 - Nebuchadnezzar praises God - Dan 3:26-30 2) What did Nebuchadnezzar set up in the plain of Dura? (1) - A golden image, 60 cubits (90 feet) by 6 cubits (9 feet) 3) What punishment did he threaten if people did not worship it? (6) - To be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace 4) Who was accused of not worshiping the gold image? (12) - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel's friends) 5) When threatened to be cast in the fiery furnace, what did they respond? (17-18) - The God whom they serve will deliver them from the king's hand - But if not, even so they would not serve his gods or worship the gold image 6) As the three men were being cast into the fiery furnace, what happened? (20-22) - The fire killed the mighty men as they threw them into the furnace 7) What did Nebuchadnezzar see as he looked into the fiery furnace? (24-25) - Four men loose, walking and unhurt, the fourth "like a son of the gods" 8) Who might have been that fourth man in the furnace? (25,28) - An angel, or a Christophany (a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ) 9) When the three men came out of the furnace, what was their condition? (27) - Their hair was not singed, garments were not affected, no smell of fire on them 10) What conclusion did the king draw? What did he do for the three men? (29-30) - There is no other God who can deliver like this - Promoted them in the province of Babylon
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Two Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, challenging his would-be interpreters to first tell him the contents of the dream (1-13). God reveals the dream to Daniel (14-23) who then interprets it for the king (24-45). Impressed, the king promotes Daniel, and in turn, his three friends (46-49). POINTS TO PONDER * The kingdoms represented by the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream * The kingdom which shall never be destroyed: its identity and establishment REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Nebuchadnezzar's dream - Dan 2:1-13 - God reveals the dream to Daniel - Dan 2:14-23 - Daniel interprets the dream - Dan 2:24-45 - Daniel and his friends are promoted - Dan 2:46-49 2) How does Nebuchadnezzar determine who can really interpret his dream? (1-13) - By requiring that one first be able to tell him what his dream was about 3) How was Daniel able to reveal the dream and its interpretation? (17-23) - In answer to prayer, God revealed the dream and its interpretation to him 4) What are the key elements of Nebuchadnezzar's dream? (31-35) - A great image with head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron with feet of iron and clay mixed - A small stone made without hands striking the image in its feet, destroying it, then becoming a great mountain that filled the earth 5) What was the interpretation of the dream? (36-45) - The image represented four successive kingdoms, starting with Babylon - The fourth kingdom would be strong like iron, but ultimately unstable - In the days of the fourth kingdom God would establish an indestructible kingdom 6) What do the four kingdoms of this dream likely represent? - Head of gold: Babylon empire (606-539 B.C.) - Chest and arms of silver: Medo-Persian empire (539-331 B.C.) - Belly and thighs of bronze: Greek empire (331-63 B.C.) - Legs of iron with feet of iron and clay mixed: Roman empire (63 B.C.-397 A.D.) 7) What indestructible kingdom does the stone represent? (44-45) - The kingdom of God proclaimed by Christ - Mk 1:15; Mt 28:18 - Christ's reign begun when He ascended to heaven
- Ep 1:19-23; Re1:5,9; 2:26-27
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter One The book opens with the first deportation of Jews to Babylonian captivity (605 B.C.), and the selection of Daniel and his three friends for special training (1-7). Daniel is commitment to remain undefiled is blessed by God, and he along with his friends are given wisdom that is acknowledged and rewarded by the king of Babylon (8-21). POINTS TO PONDER * Young Daniel's commitment to God in pagan environment * How Daniel was able to keep both his faith to God and service to the king REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Daniel and his friends selected for special training - Dan 1:1-7 - Daniel's faithfulness to God rewarded - Dan 1:8-21 2) When did Nebuchadnezzar besiege Jerusalem, and who gave him victory? (1-2) - In the third year of Jehoiakim king of Judah (605 B.C.); the Lord 3) Who were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans? (3-4) - Some of the children of Israel, some of the descendants of the king and nobles - Young men who were good-looking, wise, quick to learn and able to serve 4) How long was their training to last? What did it include? (5) - Three years; daily provisions of the king's delicacies and wine 5) What four young men were selected? What names were they given? (6-7) - Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah - Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego 6) What did Daniel purpose in his heart? (8) - Not to defile himself with the king's delicacies and wine 7) How was Daniel able to keep his commitment? (8-16) - With politeness (he requested, not demanded) - With God's help (God brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief eunuch) - With persistence (rebuffed by the chief eunuch, he appealed to the steward) - With willingness to test his faith (asking for ten day trial) 8) What did God give the four young men? (17) - Knowledge, skill in literature, wisdom; Daniel understanding in visions and dreams 9) How did Nebuchadnezzar find these four young men after their training? (18-20) - Ten times better in wisdom and understanding than his magicians and astrologers
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Introduction One of the more fascinating books of the Bible is the book of Daniel... * The first six chapters contain accounts of faith that inspire both young and old * The last six chapters are filled with apocalyptic visions that challenge even the most advanced Bible students and scholars It is a book that has often been attacked and abused... * Attacked by liberals and skeptics who deny its inspiration * Abused by many who have taken its visions out of context to support all kinds of wild theories concerning the second coming of Christ But when properly read and understood, the book of Daniel can... * Inspire us to greater faithfulness in our service to God * Strengthen our faith in the inspiration of the Bible DANIEL AND HIS TIMES The name "Daniel" means "God is my judge" which provides a hint of one of the key themes in this book: God will judge the nations of men. Daniel was a person of deep and abiding faith... * As a youth, he purposed not to defile himself - Dan 1:8 * When old, he persisted in serving God despite threats against his life - Dan 6:10 God blessed Daniel because of his faith... * He rose to great heights in the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia - Dan 2:48; 6:1-3 * He served as a statesman, a counselor to kings, and a prophet of God Daniel was contemporary with two other great prophets: Jeremiah and Ezekiel... * Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem before and during the Babylonian exile (626-528 B.C.) * Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon among the exiles (592-570 B.C.) * Daniel prophesied in the capital of Babylon (605-586 B.C.) Nothing is known of his personal life outside of the book. He descended from one of Judah's prominent families, if not from royal blood (Dan 1:3). At an early age (likely in his teens) Daniel along with others was taken from his family to be trained in the courts of Babylon (Dan 1:3-4). Whether he ever married is uncertain. Some key dates and events will help appreciate the times in which Daniel lived... * 612 B.C. - Fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria Assyria had ruled the world since the days of Tiglath-Pileser (845 B.C.). Nabopolassar came to the throne in Babylon and rebelled against the Assyrians in 625 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, was the general who led the Babylonian army against Nineveh, defeating it in 612 B.C. * 605 B.C. - Battle of Carchemish, establishing Babylonian domination Pharaoh-Necho of Egypt came to fight the Babylonians at Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians, chasing them south through Judah. At Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar heard of his father's death; he returned to assume the throne in Babylon. The first group of Jewish captives were taken, along with Daniel and his friends (Dan 1:1-4). * 597 B.C. - A second remnant taken to Babylon Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah) followed the reign of his father, Jehoiakim. He lasted just three months, when Nebuchadnezzar took him and 10,000 Jews to Babylon (2Ki 24:8-16). This second group of captives included Ezekiel (Eze 1:1-3). * 586 B.C. - Fall of Jerusalem and the temple destroyed Zedekiah was installed as king in Jerusalem, but was weak and vacillating. Eleven years later, Jerusalem was totally devastated by Babylonian forces (2Ki 25:1-10). A third group was taken into Babylonian captivity, but Jeremiah was among those who stayed behind (2Ki 25:11-12,22; Jer 39:11-14; 40:1-6). * 536 B.C. - Babylon falls, and the first remnant returns to Jerusalem Cyrus, king of Persia, sends the first remnant back under the leadership of Zerubbabel (Ezr 1:1-5; 2:1-2). The foundation of the temple was soon started, but the temple was not completed until 516 B.C. (Ezr 3:8-13; 6:14-16). * 457 B.C. - A second remnant returns to Jerusalem Ezra the priest returns with this group (Ezr 7:1-8:36). He leads a much-needed revival (Ezr 9:1-10:44). * 444 B.C. - A third remnant returns to Jerusalem This group is led by Nehemiah (Neh 1:1-2:20). Under his leadership, the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt (Neh 3:1-7:73). Together with Ezra, they restore much of the religion (Neh 8:1-13:31). Daniel lived through much of these times (605-534 B.C.). He was among the first group of captives taken to Babylon (Dan 1:1-4). He continued there over the entire 70 years of captivity (Dan 1:21; 10:1; cf. Dan 9:1-2; Jer 25:11; 29:10). Daniel was certainly a remarkable man. His greatness was recognized by his contemporary, Ezekiel (Eze 14:14,20; 28:3). THEME From a number of passages (Dan 2:21; 4:17,25,32,34-35; 5:21) we can deduce the main theme of the book of Daniel: God Rules In The Kingdoms Of Men In this book, we see the rule of God is... * Manifested in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus, kings of the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians * Foretold to occur in the days of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans In this book, we learn that the rule of God would be especially manifested... * With the establishment of God's kingdom - Dan 2:44 * With the vindication of the cause of His saints - Dan 7:27 OUTLINE Here is a brief outline of the book of Daniel... 1. God's Providence In History - Dan 1:1-6:28 a. Daniel and his determination to be pure - 1:1-21 b. Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's promotion - 2:1-49 c. Faith in the face of fire by Daniel's friends - 3:1-30 d. Nebuchadnezzar's second dream and temporary insanity - 4:1-37 e. The writing on the wall and fall of Belshazzar - 5:1-31 f. Darius and his den of lions - 6:1-28 2. God's Purpose In History - Dan 7:1-12:13 a. Daniel's dream of the four beasts - 7:1-28 b. Daniel's dream of the ram and the goat - 8:1-27 c. Daniel's prayer, and the vision of the seventy weeks - 9:1-27 d. Daniel's vision of the time of the end - 10:1-12:13 CONCLUSION As with all Scripture, the book of Daniel is profitable for our study (2Ti 3:16-17). From Daniel and his friends, we will learn the power of faith and commitment. By studying this book, we can better understand our Lord's references to it (cf. Mk 1:14-15; Mt 24:15-16). Despite some of its more difficult and challenging passages, we can benefit from them as well, as long as we interpret them... * In the context of the book itself * Consistent with all else the Bible may say on the subject * With the humility and openness that is incumbent upon all who would study and teach God's word (cf. 2Ti 2:24-25) REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) During what periods of Israel's history did Daniel live and prophesy? - The Babylonian captivity, and at the beginning of its restoration (605-534 B.C.) 2) What two prophets were contemporary with Daniel? - Jeremiah and Ezekiel 3) What is suggested as the theme of Daniel? (Dan 2:21; 4:17,25,32, 34-35; 5:21) - God rules in the kingdoms of men 4) What are the two main sections of the book? - God's providence in history (Dan 1:1-6:28) - God's purpose in history (Dan 7:1-12:13)
Does ISIS Represent True Islam?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
A mass beheading of 21 Egyptian/Coptic Christians by ISIS militants is the latest outrage perpetrated by those who claim to represent accurately the teaching of Islam (“Video Purports…,” 2015). Despite insistence from several sources that such atrocities do not represent Islam, the Quran contains a number of passages that clearly advocate violent action against those who reject Islam.
For example, within months of the Hijrah, Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation that amply clarifies the issue (Pickthall’s translation):
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).
In his popular translation of the Quran, Muslim scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali offered the following comment on this verse: “When once the fight (Jihad) is entered upon, carry it out with the utmost vigour, and strike home your blows at the most vital points (smite at their necks), both literally and figuratively. You cannot wage war with kid gloves” (1934, p. 1315, parentheses and italics in orig.). ISIS Muslims are simply following the teaching of the Quran regarding both their practice of beheading their enemies as well as their warfare.
In a section dealing with, among other subjects, jihad, the Quran is equally forthright in its sanction and promotion of violence:
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things inretaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil) (Surah2:190-194, emp. added).
Later in the same surah, Muhammad is chided by Allah for not fully embracing the necessity of warfare:
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel his people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can (Surah 2:216-217, emp. added).
These, and several additional verses (see Miller, 2005), from the Quran verify that the ISIS militants are merely following their reading of the Quran. Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi even called upon ISIS followers to unleash “volcanoes of jihad” (Cunningham, 2014). In view of such facts, and in light of the fact that Islamic armies over the centuries conquered nations across North Africa, into Europe, east to India, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia, north to Turkey, and northeast deep into Asia and Russia, one must engage in considerable theological and hermeneutical gymnastics in order to whitewash Islam as a “religion of peace.” [NOTE: We are not implying that everyone who calls himself a Muslim is a terrorist. In reality, there are many kind, peaceful people around the world who consider themselves Muslims. However, peaceful Muslims are not following the Quran faithfully, because the Quran teaches its adherents to take up the sword and fight and kill non-Muslims.]
NOTE: For more on Islam and the Quran, see our DVD titled "Islam, the Quran, and New Testament Christianity" as well as our book titled The Quran Unveiled.
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications), 2002 reprint.
Cunningham, Erin (2014), “Islamic State Leader Al-Baghdadi Calls on Followers to Unleash ‘Volcanoes of Jihad,’” The Washington Post, November 13,http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/defiant-message-from-islamic-state-leader-but-silence-over-airstrike-injury-reports/2014/11/13/a19f4d9e-6b54-11e4-9fb4-a622dae742a2_story.html.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Violence and the Quran,” Apologetics Press,http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1491&topic=47.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Video Purports to Show ISIS Militants Beheading Christian Hostages” (2015), Fox News, February 16, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/02/16/video-purports-to-show-isis-militants-beheading-christian-hostages/.
Archaeology and the Old Testament
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
A man wearing a leather vest and a broad-rimmed hat wraps a ripped piece of cloth around an old bone, sets it on fire, and uses it as a torch to see his way through ancient tunnels filled with bones, rats, bugs, and buried treasure. Close behind him lurks the dastardly villain, ready to pounce on the treasure after the hero has done all the planning and dangerous work. We have seen this scenario, or others similar to it, time and again in movies like Indiana Jones or The Mummy. And although we understand that Hollywood exaggerates and dramatizes the situation, it still remains a fact that finding ancient artifacts excites both young and old alike. Finding things left by people of the past is exciting because a little window of their lives is opened to us. When we find an arrowhead, we are reminded that Indians used bows and arrows to hunt and fight. Discovering a piece of pottery tells us something about the lives of ancient cultures. Every tiny artifact gives the modern person a more complete view of life in the past.
Because of the intrinsic value of archaeology, many have turned to it in order to try to answer certain questions about the past. One of the questions most often asked is, “Did the things recorded in the Bible really happen?” Truth be told, archaeology cannot always answer that question. Nothing material remains from Elijah’s ascension into heaven, and no physical artifacts exist to show that Christ actually walked on water. Therefore, if we ask archaeology to “prove” that the entire Bible is true or false, we are faced with the fact that archaeology can neither prove nor disprove the Bible’s validity. However, even though it cannot conclusively prove the Bible’s veracity in every instance, archaeology can provide important pieces of the past that consistently verify the Bible’s historical and factual accuracy. This month’s Reason and Revelation article is designed to bring to light a small fraction of the significant archaeological finds that have been instrumental in corroborating the biblical text of the Old Testament.
HEZEKIAH AND SENNACHERIB
When Hezekiah assumed the throne of Judah, he did so under extremely distressing conditions. His father Ahaz had turned to the gods of Damascus, cut into pieces the articles within the house of Jehovah, and shut the doors of the temple of the Lord. In addition, he created high places “in every single city” where he sacrificed, and offered incense to other gods (2 Chronicles 28:22-27). The people of Judah followed Ahaz, and as a result, the Bible records that “the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:19).
Upon this troubled throne, King Hezekiah began to rule at the youthful age of just twenty-five. He reigned for twenty-nine years, and the inspired text declares that he “did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2). Among other reforms, Hezekiah reopened the temple, reestablished the observance of the Passover, and appointed the priests to receive tithes and administer their proper duties in the temple. After completing these reforms, Scripture states that “Sennacherib, king of Assyria entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself ” (2 Chronicles 32:1).
It is here that we turn to the secular record of history to discover that the powerful nation Assyria, under the reign of King Sargon II, had subdued many regions in and around Palestine. Upon Sargon’s death, revolt broke out within the Assyrian empire. Sennacherib, the new Assyrian king, was determined to maintain a firm grasp on his vassal states, which meant that he would be forced to invade the cities of Judah if Hezekiah continued to defy Assyria’s might (Hoerth, 1998, pp. 341-352). Knowing that Sennacherib would not sit by idly and watch his empire crumble, King Hezekiah began to make preparations for the upcoming invasion. One of the preparations he made was to stop the water from the springs that ran outside of Jerusalem, and to redirect the water into the city by way of a tunnel. Second Kings 20:20 records the construction of the tunnel with these words: “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—are they not written in the book of chronicles of the kings of Judah?”
|Inside view of Hezekiah’s tunnel, displaying the thick limestone through which workers had to dig. Credit: Todd Bolen (www.BiblePlaces.com).|
The biblical text from 2 Chronicles 32:30 further substantiates the tunnel construction with this comment: “This same Hezekiah also stopped the water outlet of Upper Gihon, and brought the water by tunnel to the west side of the City of David.” The tunnel—known today as “Hezekiah’s tunnel”—stands as one of the paramount archaeological attestations to the biblical text. Carved through solid limestone, the tunnel meanders in an S-shape under the city of Jerusalem for a length of approximately 1,800 feet. In 1880, two boys swimming at the site discovered an inscription (about 20 feet from the exit) that provided exacting details regarding how the tunnel had been constructed:
...And this was the account of the breakthrough. While the laborers were still working with their picks, each toward the other, and while there were still three cubits to be broken through, the voice of each was heard calling to the other, because there was a crack (or split or overlap) in the rock from the south to the north. And at the moment of the breakthrough, the laborers struck each toward the other, pick against pick. Then water flowed from the spring to the pool for 1,200 cubits. And the height of the rock above the heads of the laborers was 100 cubits (Price, 1997, p. 267).
Of the inscription, John Laughlin wrote that it is “one of the most important, as well as famous, inscriptions ever found in Judah” (2000, p. 145). Incidentally, since the length of the tunnel was about 1,800 feet, and the inscription marked the tunnel at “1,200 cubits,” archaeologists have a good indication that the cubit was about one-and-a-half feet at the time of Hezekiah (Free and Vos, 1992, p. 182). Dug in order to keep a steady supply of water pumping into Jerusalem during Sennacherib’s anticipated siege, Hezekiah’s tunnel stands as a strong witness to the accuracy of the biblical historical record of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.
|The Siloam inscription commemorates the excavation of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Archaeological Museum, Istanbul, Turkey. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.|
In addition to Hezekiah’s tunnel, other amazingly detailed archaeological evidence provides an outstanding record of some of the events as they unfolded between Hezekiah and Sennacherib. Much of the information we have comes from the well-known Taylor Prism. This fascinating, six-sided clay artifact stands about 15 inches tall, and was found in Nineveh in 1830 by British colonel R. Taylor. Thus, it is known as the “Taylor Prism” (Price, pp. 272-273). The prism contains six columns covered by over 500 lines of writing, and was purchased in the winter of 1919-1920 by J.H. Breasted for the Oriental Institute in Chicago (Hanson, 2002).
Part of the text on the Taylor Prism has Sennacherib’s account of what happened in his military tour of Judah.
As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) by means of well-stamped (earth)ramps, and battering-rams brought (thus) near (to the walls) (combined with) the attack by foot soldiers, (using) mines, breeches as well as sapper work. I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered (them) booty. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthwork in order to molest those who were leaving his city’s gate (Pritchard, 1958a, p. 200).
At least two facts of monumental significance reside in Sennacherib’s statement. First, Sennacherib’s attack on the outlying cities of Judah finds a direct parallel in 2 Chronicles 32:1: “Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities....” The most noteworthy fortified city that the Assyrian despot besieged and captured was the city of Lachish. Second, Sennacherib never mentions that he captured Jerusalem.
Lachish Under Siege
|Assyrians attack the Jewish fortified town of Lachish. Part of a relief from the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh. British Museum, London. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.|
When we turn to the biblical account of Sennacherib’s Palestinian invasion in 2 Kings 18, we learn that he had advanced against “all the fortified cities of Judah” (vs. 14). At one of those cities, Lachish, King Hezekiah sent tribute money in an attempt to assuage the Assyrian’s wrath. The text states: “Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, ‘I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay’ ” (vs. 14). Of Lachish, Sennacherib demanded 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold, which Hezekiah promptly paid. Not satisfied, however, the Assyrian ruler “sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah” (vs. 17) in an attempt to frighten the denizens of Jerusalem into surrender. The effort failed, “so the Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish” (19:8). From the biblical record, then, we discover very scant information about the battle at Lachish—only that Sennacherib was there, laid siege to the city (2 Chronicles 32:9), and moved on to Libnah upon the completion of his siege.
From Sennacherib’s historical files, however, we get a much more complete account of the events surrounding Lachish. The Assyrian monarch considered his victory at Lachish of such import that he dedicated an entire wall (nearly seventy linear feet) of his palace in Nineveh to carved reliefs depicting the event (Hoerth, p. 350). In the mid-1840s, renowned English archaeologist Henry Layard began extensive excavations in the ruins of ancient Nineveh. He published his initial finds in an 1849 best-selling volume titledNineveh and Its Remains, and in three subsequent volumes: The Monuments of Nineveh (1849),Inscriptions in the Cuneiform Characters (1851), and Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh (1853) [see Moorey, 1991, pp. 7-12 for more about Layard’s work]. Since Layard’s early discoveries, archaeologists have located and identified thousands of artifacts from at least three different palaces. The remains of ancient Nineveh are located in two mounds on opposite banks of the Hawsar River. One of the mounds, known as Kouyunjik Tepe, contained the remains of the palaces of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal. The other mound, Nebi Younis, held the relics of the palace of Sennacherib. These palaces were built on raised platforms about 75 feet high (Negev and Gibson, 2001, p. 369).
One of the most outstanding artifacts found among the ruins of Nineveh was the wall relief depicting Sennacherib’s defeat of the city of Lachish. Ephraim Stern offered an excellent description of the events pictured in the relief:
The main scene shows the attack on the gate wall of Lachish. The protruding city gate is presented in minute detail, with its crenellations and its special reinforcement by a superstructure of warriors’ shields. The battering rams were moved over specially constructed ramps covered with wooden logs. They were “prefabricated,” four-wheeled, turreted machines. The scene vividly shows frenzied fighting of both attacker and defender in the final stage of battle (2001, 2:5).
|Assyrian warriors shown impaling Jewish prisoners. Part of a relief from the palace of Sennacherib. British Museum, London. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.|
Stern also discussed the flaming firebrands that the defenders of Lachish launched at their attackers, the long-handled, ladle-like instruments used to dowse the front of the battering rams when they were set on fire, slingmen, archers, and assault troops with spears. One of the most striking features of the relief is the depiction of the tortures inflicted on the inhabitants of the Lachish. Several prisoners are pictured impaled on poles, while women and children from the city are led past the victims (Stern, 2:5-6). The epigraph that accompanied the relief read: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nimedu- throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su)” [Pritchard, 1958a, p. 201, parenthetical item in orig.].
Of further interest is the fact that archaeological digs at the city of Lachish bear out the details of Sennacherib’s wall relief. Extensive archaeological digs at Lachish from 1935 to 1938 by the British, and again from 1973 to 1987 under Israeli archaeologist David Ussishkin and others, have revealed a treasure trove of artifacts, each of which fits the events depicted by Sennacherib. Concerning the Assyrian siege of Lachish, William Dever noted:
The evidence of it is all there: the enormous sloping siege ramp thrown up against the city walls south of the gate; the double line of defense walls, upslope and downslope; the iron-shod Assyrian battering rams that breached the city wall at its highest point; the massive destruction within the fallen city.... Virtually all the details of the Assyrian reliefs have been confirmed by archaeology.... Also brought to light by the excavators were the double city walls; the complex siege ramp, embedded with hundreds of iron arrowheads and stone ballistae; the counter-ramp inside the city; the destroyed gate, covered by up to 6 ft. of destruction debris; huge boulders from the city wall, burned almost to lime and fallen far down the slope... (2001, pp. 168-169).
The Assyrian monarch’s siege of Lachish is documented by the biblical text, and the destruction of the city is corroborated by the massive carving dedicated to the event in Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh, as well as the actual artifacts found in stratum III at Lachish.
Jerusalem Stands Strong
Of special interest in Sennacherib’s description of his Palestinian conquest is the fact that he never mentioned seizing the city of Jerusalem. On the Taylor Prism, we find the writings about his conquest of 46 outlying cities, in addition to “walled forts” and “countless small villages.” In fact, we even read that Hezekiah was shut up in Jerusalem as a prisoner “like a bird in a cage.” It also is recorded that Hezekiah sent more tribute to Sennacherib at the end of the campaign (Pritchard, 1958a, pp. 200-201). What is not recorded, however, is any list of booty that was taken from the capital city of Judah. Nor is an inventory of prisoners given in the text of the Taylor Prism. Indeed, one would think that if the city of Lachish deserved so much attention from the Assyrian dictator, then the capital city of Judah would deserve even more.
What we find, however, is complete silence as to the capture of the city. What happened to the vast, conquering army to cause it to buckle at the very point of total victory? Hershel Shanks, author ofJerusalem: An Archaeological Biography, wrote: “...although we don’t know for sure what broke the siege, we do know that the Israelites managed to hold out” (1995, p. 84).
The biblical text, however, offers the answer to this historical enigma. Due to Hezekiah’s faithfulness to the Lord, Jehovah offered His divine assistance to the Judean King. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet was sent to Hezekiah with a message of hope. Isaiah informed Hezekiah that God would stop Sennacherib from entering the city, because Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for assistance. In Isaiah 37:36, the text states: “Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.” Sennacherib could not boast of his victory over the city of Jerusalem—because there was no victory! The Lord had delivered the city out of his hand. In addition, as Dever observed: “Finally, Assyrian records note that Sennacherib did die subsequently at the hands of assassins, his own sons...” (2001, p. 171). Luckenbill records the actual inscription from Esarhaddon’s chronicles that describe the event:
In the month Nisanu, on a favorable day, complying with their exalted command, I made my joyful entrance into the royal palace, an awesome place, wherein abides the fate of kings. A firm determination fell upon my brothers. They forsook the gods and turned to their deeds of violence plotting evil. ...To gain the kingship they slew Sennacherib, their father (Luckenbill, 1989, 2:200-201).
These events and artifacts surrounding Hezekiah, Sennacherib, Lachish, and Jerusalem give us an amazing glimpse into the tumultuous relationship between Judah and her neighbors. These facts also provide an excellent example of how archaeology substantiates the biblical account.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BULLAE
The ancient Israelites used several different media to record their information. Among the most popular were scrolls of papyrus and leather. When a scribe had completed writing his information on a scroll, he often would roll the papyrus or leather into a cylinder shape and tie it securely with a string. In order to seal the string even more securely, and to denote the author or sender of the scroll, a bead of soft clay (or soft wax or soft metal) was placed over the string of the scroll. With some type of stamping device, the clay was pressed firmly to the scroll, leaving an inscription in the clay (King and Stager, 2001, p. 307). These clay seals are known as bullae (the plural form of the word bulla). Over the many years of archaeological excavations, hundreds of these bullae have been discovered. TheArchaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land provides an extensive list of bullae that have been unearthed: 50 in Samaria during the 1930s; 17 at Lachish in 1966; 51 in Jerusalem in digs conducted by Yigal Shiloh; 128 in 1962 found in the Wadi ed-Daliyeh Cave and a large cache of 2,000 bullae found in 1998 at Tel Kadesh (Negev and Gibson, 2001, pp. 93-94).
|On the left, a bulla with Hebrew writing in a slightly oval impression. On the right, a stamp seal with the name of the owner or scribe. Credit: The Schøyen Collection MS 1912 and MS 5160/1.|
Most of the bullae that have been discovered are small, oval, clay stamps that contain the name of the person responsible for the document that was sealed (and occasionally the father of that person), the title or office of the sealer, and/or a picture of an animal or some other artistic rendering. One of the most interesting things about the bullae that have been discovered is the fact that certain names found among the clay seals correspond with biblical references. For instance, from 1978 to 1985, Yigal Shiloh did extensive digging in the city of Jerusalem. In 1982, in a building in Area G of Jerusalem, he discovered a cache of 51 bullae. Because of these clay inscriptions, the building is known in archaeological circles as the “House of Bullae.” This building was burned during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Unfortunately, the intense heat of the fires burned all the leather and papyrus scrolls. Yet, even though it destroyed the scrolls, the same fire baked the clay bullae hard and preserved them for posterity (King and Stager, p. 307).
One interesting bulla, and probably the most famous, is connected to the scribe of Jeremiah—Baruch. Hershel Shanks, the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, gave a detailed account of a landmark cache of over 250 bullae. In October 1975, the first four bullae were purchased by an antiquities dealer in east Jerusalem. The dealer took these bullae to Nahman Avigad, a leading Israeli expert on ancient seals at Hebrew University. More and more bullae came across Avigad’s desk that fit with the others. On more than one occasion, a fragment from one collection would fit with a corresponding fragment from another dealer’s collection. Ultimately, Yoav Sasson, a Jerusalem collector, came to acquire about 200 of the bullae, and Reuben Hecht obtained 49 pieces (Shanks, 1987, pp. 58-65).
The names on two of these bullae have captivated the archaeological world for several decades now. On one of the bulla, the name “Berekhyahu son of Neriyahu the scribe,” is clearly impressed. Shanks wrote concerning this inscription: “The common suffix -yahu in ancient Hebrew names, especially in Judah, is a form of Yahweh. Baruch means “the blessed.” Berekhyahu means “blessed of Yahweh.” An equivalent form to -yahu is -yah, traditionally rendered as “-iah” in our English translations. Neriah is actually Neri-yah or Neriyahu. Eighty of the 132 names represented in the hoard (many names appear more than once on the 250 bullae) include the theophoric element -yahu (1987, p. 61). Shanks (along with the general consensus of archaeological scholars) concluded that the bulla belonged to Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 36:4, the text reads: “Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah....” The name on the bulla corresponds well with the name in Jeremiah. Concerning the bulla, Hoerth wrote: “This lump of clay...used to close a papyrus document, was sealed by none other than ‘Baruch son of Neriah’ (Jer. 36:4). Baruch’s name here carries a suffix abbreviation for God, indicating that his full name meant ‘blessed of God’ ” (1998, p. 364).
To multiply the evidence that this inscription was indeed the Baruch of Jeremiah fame, another of the inscriptions from a bulla in the cache documented the title “Yerahme’el, son of the king.” This name corresponds to King Jehoiakim’s son “who was sent on the unsuccessful mission to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah” (Shanks, 1987, p. 61). Indeed, the biblical text so states: “And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son...to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them” (Jeremiah 36:26). In commenting on the bulla, Amihai Mazar, who is among the most noted of archaeologists, stated in regard to Jerahmeel the king’s son: “We presume [he] was Jehoiakim’s son sent to arrest Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:26)” [1992, pp. 519-520]. [As a side note, the Hebrew letter yodis represented by Y and J, which often are used interchangeably in the English transliteration of Hebrew names—a fact that can be seen easily in the Hebrew name for God, which is written variously as Yahweh or Jehovah.] Another bulla in the hoard contained the title “Elishama, servant of the king.” And in Jeremiah 36:12, the text mentioned a certain “Elishama the scribe.” While professor Avigad thinks it would be a dubious connection, since he believes the biblical text would not drop the title “servant of the king” (because of its prestige), Shanks commented: “I would not reject the identification so easily” (1987, p. 62).
One of the names inscribed on a bulla was the Hebrew name “Gemaryahu [Gemariah] the son of Shaphan.” Price noted: “This name, which appears a few times in the book of Jeremiah, was the name of the scribe who served in the court of King Jehoiakim” (1998, p. 235). Jeremiah 36:10 records that Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch, read from the words of the prophet “in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe....” It also is interesting to note that Gemariah was a scribe, which would have put him in precisely the position to produce bullae. Also among the collection from the “House of Bullae” was a bulla that was sealed with the name “Azaryahu son of Hilqiyahu”—a name that easily corresponds with Azariah son of Hilkiah found in 1 Chronicles 9:10-11 (Laughlin, 2000, p. 153).
We have then, among this phenomenal cache of bullae (which dates to the time of the events in the book of Jeremiah), two names and titles that correspond almost identically to Baruch, the son of Neriah, plus Jerahmeel, the son of Jehoiakim, and a third, Elishama, whose name appears in Jeremiah 36. What, then, does this prove? While it is the case that several men in ancient Israel could be named Baruch or Jerahmeel, it becomes almost absurd to suggest that these bullae just happen “coincidentally” to correspond so well to the biblical text. Such evidence points overwhelming to the accuracy of the biblical text and its historical verifiability. At the very least, such finds demonstrate these biblical names to be authentic for the time period. [As an added note of interest on the Baruch bulla, Shanks wrote a follow-up article in Biblical Archaeological Review in 1996, in which he discussed another bulla with Baruch’s title on it that also contains a fingerprint—possibly of the scribe himself. This bulla is in the private collection of a well-known collector named Shlomo Maussaieff (Shanks, 1996, pp. 36-38).]
THE MOABITE STONE
Another important archaeological find verifying the historicity of the biblical account is known as the Moabite Stone. It is true that writing about a rock that was discovered almost 150 years ago certainly would not fit in a current “in the news” section. In fact, so much has been written about this stone since 1868 that very few new articles pertaining to it have come to light. But the real truth of the matter is that, even though it was discovered more than a century ago, many people do not even know it exists, and thus need to be reminded of its importance.
The find is known as the Moabite Stone, or the Mesha Inscription, since it was written by Mesha, King of Moab. A missionary named F.A. Klein first discovered the stone in August of 1868 (Edersheim, n.d., p. 109). When he initially saw the black basalt stone, it measured approximately 3.5 feet high and 2 feet wide. Upon learning of Klein’s adventure, a French scholar by the name of Clermont-Ganneau located the antiquated piece of rock, and copied eight lines from the stone. He then had an impression (known as a “squeeze”) made of the writing on its surface. A squeeze is made by placing a soggy piece of paper over the inscription, which then retains the form of the inscription when it dries (Pritchard, 1958b, p. 105). From that point, the details surrounding the stone are not quite as clear. Apparently (for reasons unknown), the Arabs who were in possession of the stone decided to shatter it. [Some have suggested that they thought the stone was a religious talisman of some sort, or that they could get more money selling the stone in pieces. However, LeMaire claims that these reasons are “apocryphal,” and suggests that the Arabs broke it because they hated the Ottomans, who were attempting to purchase the stone (1994, p. 34).] By heating it in fire and then pouring cold water on it, they succeeded in breaking the stone into several pieces. The pieces ended up being scattered, but eventually about two-thirds of the original stone ended up being relocated, and currently reside at the Louvre in Paris (Jacobs and McCurdy, 2002).
The written inscription on the stone provides a piece of outstanding evidence that verifies the Bible’s accuracy. Mesha, had the stone cut in c. 850 B.C. to relate his numerous conquests and his reacquisition of certain territories that were controlled by Israel. In the over 30-line text (composed of approximately 260 words), Mesha mentioned that Omri was the king of Israel who had oppressed Moab, but then Mesha says he “saw his desire upon” Omri’s son and upon “his house.” Mesha wrote:
I (am) Mesha, son of Chemosh-[...], king of Moab, the Dibonite—my father (had) reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father,—(who) made this high place for Chemosh in Qarhoh [...] because he saved me from all the kings and caused me to triumph over all my adversaries. As for Omri, king of Israel, he humbled Moab many years (lit., days), for Chemosh was angry at his land. And his son followed him and he also said, “I will humble Moab.” In my time he spoke (thus), but I have triumphed over him and over his house, while Israel hath perished forever (Pritchard, 1958a, p. 209).
The Mesha stele cites Omri as the king of Israel, just as 1 Kings 16:21-28 indicates. Furthermore, it mentions Ahab, Omri’s son, in close connection with the Moabites, as does 2 Kings 3:4-6. In addition, both the stele and 2 Kings 3:4-6 list Mesha as King of Moab. Later in the inscription, the stele further names the Israelite tribe of Gad, and the Israelite God, Yahweh. While the references to the Israelite kings are quite notable in and of themselves, Pritchard has pointed out that this reference to Yahweh is one of the few that have been found outside of Palestine proper (1958b, p. 106).
Another important feature of the Moabite stone is the fact that it “gave the solution to a question that had gone unanswered for centuries.” The biblical record chronicles the Moabite subjugation under King David and King Solomon, and how the Moabites broke free at the beginning of the divided kingdom. However, the Bible also mentions (2 Kings 3:4) that Ahab was receiving tribute from Moab. As Alfred Hoerth has remarked: “Nowhere does the Bible state how or when Moab was reclaimed, for Ahab to be receiving such tribute. The Moabite Stone provides that information, telling, as it does, of Omri’s conquest from the Moabite point of view” (1998, p. 310).
From the end of the quoted portion of the Mesha Inscription (“while Israel hath perished forever”), it is obvious that Mesha exaggerated the efficacy of his conquest—a common practice among ancient kings. Pritchard noted that historians agree that “the Moabite chroniclers tended generally, and quite understandably, to ignore their own losses and setbacks” (1958b, p. 106). Free and Vos document the works of John D. Davies and S.L. Caiger, which offer a harmonization of the Moabite text with the biblical record. Davies, formerly of the Princeton University Seminary, accurately observed: “Mesha is in no wise contradicting, but only unintentionally supplementing the Hebrew account” (as quoted in Free and Vos, 1992, p. 161).
As a further point of interest, French scholar André LeMaire, in an extensive article in Biblical Archaeology Review, “identified the reading of the name David in a formerly unreadable line, ‘House of D...,’ on the Mesha Stele (or Moabite Stone)” [Price, 1997, p. 171; see also LeMaire, 1994, pp. 30-37]. Whether or not this identification is accurate, has yet to be verified by scholarly consensus. Even liberal scholars Finkelstein and Silberman, however, acknowledged LaMaire’s identification, along with the Tel Dan inscription documenting the House of David, and concluded: “Thus, the house of David was known throughout the region; this clearly validates the biblical description of a figure named David becoming the founder of the dynasty of Judahite kings in Jerusalem” (2001, p. 129).
Taken as a whole, the Moabite stone remains one of the most impressive pieces of evidence verifying the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. And, although this find has been around almost 150 years, it “still speaks” to us today (Hebrews 11:4).
THE CYRUS CYLINDER
Cyrus, King of the Medo-Persian Empire, is among the most important foreign rulers of the Israelite nation. In fact, many Old Testament prophecies revolve around this monarch. The prophet Isaiah documented that the Babylonian Empire would fall to the Medes and the Persians (Isaiah 13; 21:1-10). Not only did Isaiah detail the particular empire to which the Babylonians would fall, but he also called Cyrus by name (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-5). Amazingly, Isaiah’s prophecy was made roughly 150 years before Cyrus was born (Isaiah prophesied in about 700 B.C.; Cyrus took the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.). To add to Cyrus’ significance, Isaiah predicted that Cyrus would act as the Lord’s “shepherd.” In fact, Isaiah recorded these words of the Lord concerning Cyrus: “And he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid’ ” (Isaiah 44:28).
In 1879, Hormoz Rasam found a small clay cylinder (about nine inches long, and now residing in the British Museum) in the ancient city of Babylon. Upon the clay cylinder, King Cyrus had inscribed, among other things, his victory over the city of Babylon and his policy toward the nations he had captured, as well as his policy toward their various gods and religions. Price recorded a translation of a segment of the cuneiform text found on the cylinder:
...I returned to [these] sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which [used] to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I [also] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus has brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their [former] chapels, the places which made them happy. May all the gods who I have resettled in their sacred cities ask daily Bel and Nebo for long life for me and may they recommend me...to Marduk, my lord, may they say thus: Cyrus, the king who worships you and Cambyses, his son, [...] all of them I settled in a peaceful place (pp. 251-252).
The policy, often hailed as Cyrus’ declaration of human rights, coincides with the biblical account of the ruler’s actions, in which Cyrus decreed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and that all the exiled Israelites who wished to join in the venture had his permission and blessing to do so (Ezra 1:1-11). The little nine-inch-long clay cylinder stands as impressive testimony—along with several other archaeological finds—to the historical accuracy of the biblical text.
The archaeological evidence presented in this article that confirms biblical history is, in truth, only a tiny fraction of the evidence that could be amassed along these lines. In fact, volumes of hundreds of pages each have been produced on such matters, and with every new find comes additional information that will fill archaeology texts for decades to come. The more we uncover the past, the more we discover the truth that the Bible is the most trustworthy, historically accurate document ever produced. As the poet John Greenleaf Whittier once wrote:
We search the world for truth; we cull the good, the pure, the beautiful, from all the old flower fields of the soul; and, weary seekers of the best, we come back laden from our quest, to find that all the sages said is in the Book our mothers read.
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