Critics have discounted the Bible’s historical reliability at a number of points. Additional discoveries, however, continue to discredit their nay-saying. Here are a few well known examples where everyone agrees the critics were wrong, as well as a challenge or two toward current conventional incredulity.
At one time critics denounced the Bible’s historicity claiming that the Bible had invited the Hittites. This ended when the Hittite capitol in Turkey was unearthed. We now know that their powerful empire rivaled that of ancient Egypt.
Much more recently, some have claimed king David never existed. Furthermore, it was asserted that if any Israelite identity did exist in Jerusalem at that time, it was nothing more than a local tribal chieftain with minor influence.
Then the Tel Dan Stele, buried in secondary usage beneath an 8 century B.C. stone wall, was unearthed containing an Aramean boast about defeating the “house of David.” It also contains the phrase “the king of Israel.”
Furthermore, using Biblical descriptions as her guide, archaeologist Eilat Elazar began digging in Jerusalem’s City of David where she understood the text to identify the location of David’s palace. She has since uncovered the remains of massive 10th century B.C. stone walls befitting a palace for a substantial kingdom. These are not the buildings belonging to a mere tribal chieftain.
Because an archaeologist did not find the expected Cypriot pottery in ancient Jericho corroborating its destruction with a biblical chronology, she shifted Jericho’s destruction 150 years later to fit the evidence she possessed. This new date also amended the date when Israel would have invaded the rest of Canaan.
It continues to be common for critics to claim that the biblical chronology is inaccurate for the Exodus, Jericho’s destruction and the conquest of Canaan’s cities, such as Ai which was burned. Furthermore, an explosion in the number of permanent dwellings from 1200 to 1000 B.C. within the hill country would seem to support this redating of Canaan’s conquest to the 1200’s. The resulting popular conclusion is that the biblical chronology is inaccurate and the Bible’s story regarding Ai’s destruction is wrong.
Yet, a subsequent archaeologist did find Cypriot pottery among artifacts collected from Jericho indicating that the fiery destruction of Jericho IV does correspond with the biblical timeline. Additional details, such as storage jars full of charred grain indicating a recent harvest and the quick fall of the city since the inhabitants did not have time to eat the food supply during a long siege, further corroborate the biblical account.
The site of Ai is uncertain. While, Et-Tell is commonly associated with Ai, it neither contains a burn destruction layer nor does some of its topography fit the biblical description. However, another nearby site (Khirbet el-Maqatir) was burned at a time congruent with the biblical timeline for Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and does fit all of the biblical topography.
In addition to Khirbet el-Maqatir containing pottery fragments dating to the traditional date of Canaan’s conquest, an Egyptian scarab belonging to the time of Amenohotep II (1455-1415 B.C.) has also been uncovered. Since the Bible records only three cities being burned by Israel and since the date of this scarab would suggest this city was destroyed a little after Amenotep II, these details converge suggesting this is the ancient site of Ai and its destruction corresponds with the biblical chronology.
As is true for all data, the appearance of an increase in stone dwellings must be interpreted within a framework. While it is possible to interpret the appearance of these buildings as indicating Israel appeared in the land corresponding to the revised chronology, it is also possible to interpret this explosion of permanent housing as being compatible with a conservative biblical chronology.
Scripture records God’s promise that the Israelites would occupy the houses of the nations before them. This suggests a time interval would pass before any material evidence of their own construction would appear. How long would it take for them to outgrow the available extant housing?
On the other hand, the Bible indicates that after Canaan’s conquest, Israel and other peoples in the land continued to live in tents (‘ohel) as seen in Joshua 22:8; Judges 4:17; 7:8; 20:8; 1 Samuel 13:2; 2 Samuel 20:1; 1 Kings 12:16; 1 Chronicles 4:41; 5:7). How long did it take for larger numbers of Israel to switch to stone dwellings? The appearance of increased stone dwellings from 1200 to 1000 B.C. can be interpreted as being compatible with both chronological timelines. The conservative timeline remains viable.
This tends to be the track record of criticisms against the Bible’s historicity. Time reveals it is best to not bet against scripture.
The previous article was: The Bible Recounts History
The next article is: The Tomb Is Empty