by Paul Goddard
“The Bible can stand for itself.” — William F. Albright
From Austen Henry Layard’s discovery of the winged bulls of Assyria, to the Ben HaCohen HaGadol inscription found recently in Jerusalem, Biblical archeology has served as means to systematically examine the past./1
The primary goal of this science is to obtain insight into scripture. Below are four interesting discoveries that relate directly to the people and events of the Bible:
The earliest reference to King David outside of the Bible was discovered on a stone fragment excavated at Tel Dan in 1994./2 This fragment was part of a monument erected 250 years after the reign of David to commemorate Aram’s victories over the “House of David” ( 2 Chronicles 22:2-9). This inscription is currently located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Signet rings were used to identify royal officials. In 1941, Nelson Glueck discovered King Jotham’s signet ring at Elath on the Red Sea. Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:1-9) was the son of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:1-5), and the ring is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
In 1979, the oldest known copy of the Old Testament was excavated in a rock-hewn tomb near Jerusalem. The priestly blessing text (Numbers 6:24-25) was found on silver amulets./3 These two pieces of jewelry date to 600 B.C., and they contain the earliest known use of the name Yahweh. They are still being studied by Tel Aviv University.
In 1961, Antonio Frova excavated Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. While there, the name Pontus Pilate (Luke 3:1) was found on a limestone block. This stone was used as part of a dedication inscription for a Roman amphitheatre. The stone is now located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
While fortifying faith and increasing understanding, these four extra-biblical items dispel the notion that the Bible is a collection of folklore and legends. What will be found in the future? Christian, are you up for the task?
“When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When I stand with Christ on high,
Looking o’er life’s history,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.”
–Robert M McCheyne
1/ Layard made his discovery in modern day Iraq in 1845, and the Ben HaCohen HaGadol discovery was made in Jerusalem on September 6, 2008. Ben HaCohen HaGadol means “Son of the High Priest.”
2/ Pictured above.
3/ The name of this site is Ketef Hinnom.