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Biblical Archaeology

  1. Introduction to Archaeology

Up until about 150 years ago, archaeology has been nothing more than treasure hunting. Since then, archaeology has developed into a science. Generally, scientific methods are now applied to archaeology giving it a more mature status as a science.

Even though adventurers for hundreds of years have found things and carried them back home, it is not until recently that great strides have been made in unlocking the secrets of ancient history. Dead languages that were formally great unbreakable codes are now understood. Cuneiform (the written language from the Mesopotamian area) has just been broken in the past 150 years.Egyptian hieroglyphics can be read now, as well.

Archaeology can be likened to piecing together a great puzzle. Every discovered artifact and its related conclusions is a piece having its place in the great puzzle called history. Each conclusion reached will contradict or support earlier or future conclusions, but at the end of the day, all the pieces must be expected to fit. Poor archaeologists will search only for the fantastic and are quick to jump to conclusions that are exciting but lacking in thorough logic. For example, if someone claims they have found the location of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah then that conclusion must harmonize with all other known facts of archaeology or the contradictory conclusions must be rectified.

Because historical knowledge is constantly changing, archaeology demands great patience and honesty. Do not be quick to believe the latest claim of evidence disproving the Bible. Such claims have been made overa and over and in due course each of these claims of Biblical error have eventually been debunked. Professor William F. Albright, archeologist and head of Palestine's American School of Oriental Research,observes,

"The excessive skepticismshown toward the Bible by important historical schools... has been progressively discredited.Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history….  There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicityof Old Testament tradition…. It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference." Nelson Glueck, Jewish archaeologist honored by Time Magazine.

Archaeology is a great testimony to the authenticity of Scripture. Being a book of history, we should be able to find physical evidences of its claims. Biblical archaeology is the search for such evidence. For centuries, critics have ridiculed the Bible for referencing names, places and events not otherwise known. For many years, historians were profoundly convinced there never even existed men such as Belshazzar (king of Babylon), Balaam (prophet whose donkey spoke) or even a literal person named Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. In the past 150 years, archaeology has produced physical evidences corroborating the Scriptural record concerning these men, Noah’s flood, six day creation, and Biblical cities such as Babylon, Nineveh and Edom and much more. More and more evidence is being discovered that validates the Bible as an historic book. Archaeology helps set the Bible apart from other religious writings as being historic and not merely mythical. In this chapter, we will highlight a few archaeological finds relevant to Scripture.


Bible lands are real places which many can still be visited today. The Sea of Galilee, the hill called Golgotha, the wells that Abraham and his descendants dug, and the city of rock of the Edomites that Obadiah prophesied against are more than literary creations, but are actual places. The search of Biblical lands is an exciting adventure that brings another dimension of reality to the Scripture. Let us highlight a few out of thousands of discoveries that testify to the accuracy of the Biblical record.

  1. EGYPT

Can we find evidence of Moses and the Hebrew Exodus? Let us consider Moses’ name.  Isn’t it ironic that the greatest Hebrew prophet and lawgiver, the man who single-handedly organized the Israelites and led them out of Egypt, has an Egyptian name? And his name is not just any Egyptian name, it’s a religious Egyptian name. The name Moses is related to common Egyptian names like Amenmose, Ramose and Thutmose, which are formed of a god’s name followed by mose. Five of these compound names mean something like "Amen is born" or "Born of Amen" or "The offspring of Ra" or "The child of Thoth." When the name Mose appears by itself, as it occasionally does in Egyptian, it simply means "the Child" or "the Offspring."  But in Egyptian, Mose most frequently appears along with the name of a god as part of a compound name. The technical term for a compound name with a divine element is a "theophoric" or "theophorous" name, derived from a Greek word meaning "bearing [derived from] a god." (Examples include Samuel, which means "His name is El"; Ishmael,"God hears";Daniel, "God is my judge"; Jehoshaphat, "YHWH has judged"; and Jeremiah, "The one whom YHWH has appointed”.) In Egypt and Israel, theophoric names were used to induce a deity to place a person under his or her protection. A man named Ramose might expect the sun-god Ra to protect and guide him for life. When, in the Bible, Hannah names her son Samuel, she is inviting God to watch over the child.

Semitic Hyksos 1780-1545 BC are written about on many tablets of various cultures.

Hieroglyphics, of fat cows and skinny cows. (Gen. 41:28)

An inscription was found at the first cataracht of the Nile reading “I collected corn…I was watchful in time of sowing. And when famine arose lasting many  years, I distributed corn.” Archaeology and the Bible p. 305 “The Nile has not overflowed for a period of seven years…Herbage fails…The storehouses were built…All that was in them has been consumed.” Archeology and the Bible, p.306”

18thDynasty (a plausible placement of Moses in Egyptian chronology)

  1. Amose (the moon is born) 1570-1553 BC
  2. Amenhotep I. 1553-1532 BC (Ammun is pleased)
  3. Tutmose I. 1532-1508 BC (Father of Hatshepsut)
  4. Tutmose II. 1508-1504 (Husband of Hatshepsut)
  5. Hatshepsut and Tutmose III (Illegitimate son of Tutmose II) Tutmose III was the most powerful Pharoah of all time. Buried in the Red Sea during the Hebrew’s exodus. (writer of the Egyptian book of the dead.)
  6. Amenhotep II (son of Tutmose III – was in Syro-Palestine at the time of the Exodus and returned in June 1450 BC)
  7. Tutmose IV (Second-born son of Amenhotep II)

MOSES—probably called Hapi-Moses as a reference to the Nile god. Born 1530 BC. Fled 1490 BC. Exodus 17, March 1450. Tutmose III died 17 March 1450 according to the biography of Amenemhab.

Thousands of tablets found at Ebla whch mention Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and Isaac, all the Biblical figures, never had they been known except here.

The exodus took place as the Bible said and Egypt covered up the story. So that people wouldn’t pick up the hiccup in Egyptian history,  Egyptian hieroglyphics lie.. Egyptians were notorious for only recording their victorious. (i.e., Ramses who fought against the hykso and was defeated details only his past victories.)

Time magazine article of the APIS bull discovery. Israel’s idolatry.

ISIS ad OSIRIS (female/male) Isis conceives as a virgin a Son🡪Horus (The savior of the world) and a Religion of works.


Nineveh,an "exceeding great city", as it is called in theBook of Jonah, lay on the eastern bank of theTigrisin ancientAssyria, across the river from the modern-day major city ofMosul, in theNinawa GovernorateofIraq.

Ancient Nineveh's mound-ruins of Kouyunjik and Nabī Yūnus are located on a level part of the plain near the junction of the Tigris and the Khosr Rivers within an 1,800-acre  area circumscribed by a 7.5 mi. brick rampart. This whole extensive space is now one immense area of ruins overlaid in parts by new suburbs of the city of Mosul, Iraq.

Nineveh was an important junction for commercial routes crossing the Tigris. Occupying a central position on the great highway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from many sources, so that it became one of the greatest of all the region's ancient cities.

Austen Henry Layard’s,Nineveh and Its Remainsappeared in1849and became an immediate bestseller, remarkable for its lively prose and attempts to use cuneiform inscriptions to interpret Assyrian civilization. He resumed excavations at Nimrud and Nineveh in1849. This time, he had the benefit of much more accurate cuneiform translations byHenryRawlinsonand other scholars, which enabled him to identify the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh and his siege of biblical Lachish, described in II Kings. He also recovered the royal library of King Assurbanipal at Kuyunjik.


Ancient Tyre.The prophet Ezekiel foretold the unique destruction of Tyre -- a coastal center of Mediterranean commerce -- centuries before it was fulfilled:pillars of ancient tyre lie in the sea, and new Tyre was rebuilt on an island. (Ezekiel 26:2-5; 19-20)

Edom– Petra (Obadiah 1:3)

The Philistine city,Ekron.(now called TELMiqne): This confirmation of Biblical accuracy was published by the Archaeological Institute of America:"An inscription carved into a limestone slab found a tTELMiqne, 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, confirms the identification of the site as Ekron, one of the five Philistine capital cities mentioned in the Bible. The inscription is unique because it contains the name of a biblical city and five of its rulers, two of whom arementioned as kings in texts other than the Bible. It also strengthens the identification of Ekron with a city-state recorded in Assyrian textsof the seventh century B.C.(I Samuel 17:52)

In 712 B.C. this city wasconquered by the Assyrian king SargonII. For a short time, beginning in 705 B.C., it came under the control of Hezekiah, king of Judah. In 603 B.C. the city was sacked by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar."

When faced with the overwhelming Assyrian forces, Hezekiah prayed to God for His sovereign intervention. Before the great victory, he encouraged the people in 2 Chronicles 32:7-8.


Multitudes of ruins and artifacts remain. Many locations (at least generally speaking) of important Biblical events have been preserved through tradition.

The city of Jerusalem stands many centuries after its Canaanite beginning as Salem. (Gen. 14:18; Hebrews 7:2)

The Pool of Bethesda."...liberal scholars…argued that verses such as John 5:2 had to be wrong, since it refers to "five porches" at the Jerusalem's pool of Bethesda. But more recent excavations verified John's account:"...approximately eight years ago archaeologists discovered underneath what they had previously thought was the earliest level at the site of Bethesda an oldermikveh (pool)which had afifth porticotransecting it! One would hope that at some point the criticswould concede the historical reliability of the biblical narrative."[1]

  1. Abraham

The Hebrew language is a hybrid of early Canaanite and Chaldean languages. This affirms the fact that Abraham started in Chaldea and then migrated to Canaan.

The Canaanites were farmers who worked the fertile agricultural lands near their fortified settlements, while the Hebrew shepherds kept to the sparse grazing areas ay from the ‘cities’. Because of this, there was not direct competition between the nomadic Hebrews and the Canaanites at this time.

  1. Moses

Moses was trained "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Raised at Pharaoh's court, he would have learned towriteon fragilepapyrusas well as clay tablets. The 1988 discovery of theTELel Amarnaletters shows us that written messages were an important part of Moses' culture:

"...there were about 400 cuneiform tablets discovered at this site which were part of the royal archives of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) who reigned about 1400 BC. Among them were letters written in Babylonian cuneiform script to these Pharaohs of Egypt by various kings dwelling in the land of Canaan and Syria...written during the time of Moses[and Joshua]. They provide the first evidence of theHebrewtribesentering into the land of Canaanin ancient times.”[2]

That last sentence points to the completion of the BiblicalExodus-- the Israelite journey, led by Moses, out of bondage in Egypt toward the land God had promised them.

  1. Belshazzar

In Daniel chapter 5, a Babylonian king by the name of Belshazzar mocks God by throwing a party with articles taken from the Jewish temple. As a result God passes judgment on Belshazzar by taking away his kingdom and dividing it between the Medes and Persians.

Bible critics love to use this story to point out apparent historical errors in the text,  trying to disprove the accuracy of the bible.

The first thing they say is that the last King to rule the empire of Babylon before being destroyed by the Medes and Persians, was a man by the name of Nabonidus not Belshazzar.

Secondly, Belshazzar was never a King of Babylon. And third the bible refers to Nebuchadnezzar as the father of Belshazzar, which he wasn't.

But these statements made by the bible critics are full of half truths.

First of all, Belshazzar's name is found in history, and he just happens to be the son of King Nabonidus, making him a crown prince in the kingdom of Babylon. Although some translations of the bible state that Nebuchadnezzar was his father, the Hebrew word for father can also be interpreted into English as meaning grandfather or ancestor. And in fact, Belshazzar was a blood line descendent of Nebuchadnezzar.

The same goes for the fact that the Bible calls Belshazzar a king. Even though historical records do not mention he was a king, the Hebrew word for king can also be interpreted as governor or royal prince. And history records that he was both.

Nabonidus, who ruled the empire of Babylon from 555-538 B.C., mentions his firstborn son Belshazzar on an inscription found in the city of Ur in 1853. The inscription reads: "May it be that I, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, never fail you. And may my firtstborn, Belshazzar, worship you with all his heart."

Another piece of evidence for Belshazzar's reign in the city of Babylon comes from an inscription where he is referred to as the son of Nabonidus and is given authority to rule.

"Putting the camp under the rule of his oldest son, the firstborn. The army of the empire he placed under his command. His hands were now free; He entrusted the authority of the royal throne to him. "

Yet even another piece of evidence comes from a tablet dating back to the seventh year of the reign of Nabonidus, where he is mentioned in the same light as his father: “In regards to the bright star which has appeared, I will undertake to interpret its meaning for the glory of my lord Nabonidus, Babylon’s king, and also for the crown prince, Belshazzar”

What is interesting to note is that on this oath, the man swore by both Nabonidus and Belshazzar. While on oaths dating back to other times, generally only the king is mentioned. This seems to indicate that Belshazzar had a co-reigning authority that was second only to his father throughout all the Empire.

Belshazzar speaking to Daniel in 5:16 indicated that he was the second highest ruler in Babylon and not the first.

We also know that at the time the Medes and Persians captured the Babylon, Nabonidus was not living in the city of Babylon, but was staying in a place called Teima in the northern part of Arabia. Leaving his son back home in charge of governing the city.The text from an artifact known as the Nabonidus chronicle states: Nabonidus, the king stayed in Tema; the crown prince, his officials and the troops were in Akkad.

King Cyrus of Persia also refers to  Belshazzar when he conquered Babylon in his writings: "A coward was put in charge as the king of this country . . . With evil intents he did away with the regular offerings to the gods  . . .  and desecrated the worship of the king of his gods, Marduk."

Cyrus's statement that Belshazzar desecrated the worship of his god Marduk matches very closely to the story in the book of Daniel. Although it wasn't Marduk whose handwriting appeared on the wall, but the one true God of Israel.

According to the Bible, Belshazzar was holding a feast at the time the city of Babylon was run over by the Medes and Persians.

The fall of Babylon as recorded by the ancient historians Herodutus, Berosus and Xenophon verifies this:

"Cyrus then dug a trench and diverted the flow of the Euphrates river into the new channel which led to an existing swamp. The level of the river then dropped to such a level that it became like a stream. His army was then able to take the city by marching through the shallow waters  . . .  The Babylonians at the time were celebrating intensely at a feast to one of their gods and they were taken totally by surprise."

  1. Balaam

In an unprecedented discovery, an ancient text found at Deir Alla, Jordan, in 1967 tells about the activities of aprophetnamedBalaam. Could this be the Balaam of the Old Testament?

The text makes it clear that it is. Three times in the first four lines he is referred to as “Balaamson ofBeor,” exactly as in theBible. This represents the first Old Testamentprophetto be dug up in Bible lands—not histombor his skeleton, but a text about him. The text also represents the firstprophecyof any scope from the ancient West Semitic world to be found outside the Old Testament, and the first extra-Biblical example of a prophet proclaiming doom to his own people.

Balaam was not anIsraelite. He was hired byBalak,kingofMoab, tocursethe Israelites. They were camped on the east side of theJordanriver, about to make their historic entry into the promised land. Through God's intervention, Balaam was obliged toblessthe Israelites rather thancursethem (Num 22-24).

Luke’s Reference to Syrian Governor:

Facts of the NT can be tested and confirmed by archaeology. Luke describes the census that brought mary and Joseph to Bethlehem as taking place while Corinnus is governor of Syria and during Herod the great rule. Historians formerly looked at that and said, “See you can’t believe Luke. We know that Herod died 4 BCand Corinnus did not rule until 10 years later.” Later, a discovery was made of a coin that proved Corinnus reigned from 11 BC during the reign of Herod. Either there were two Corinnus’ or Corinnus ruled twice. In either case, Luke was right.

  1. Old Testament

The Dead Sea Scrolls verified the accuracy of the formerly discovered texts.

  1. New Testament

The first question asked most often in regards to the authenticity of a manuscript is, “Do you have the original?” This is not as destructive a question to the merits of Scripture as most think. As long as there are sufficient manuscript copies to reconstruct the orginal or autographa, authenticity can still be verified. As a matter of fact,  no one has originals! With 24,633 surviving manuscripts of the New Testament, we have more evidence to worth with than any of the other ancient works that are undebatably accepted as accurate by most scholars.

Among ancient Greek/Latin literature, the Iliad ranks the closest second to the New Testament in possessing the greatest amount of manuscript testimony. Let us compare them:






Homer (Iliad)

900 B.C.

400 B.C.

500 years


New Testament

40-100 A.D.

125 A.D.*

25 years


  1. Controversial Texts
  1. Secret Gospel of Mark. In 1935, Morton Smith (author of a book titledJesus the Magician) allegedly found a letter of Clement of Alexandria at the Mar Saba monastery near the city of Jerusalem. There was only one copy of this letter found dated about 1750 and since then the letter and the book it was found in has disappeared. Pictures were taken at two different times of the letter, but the ink and fiber where never subjected to expert scrutiny. The two quotations in the Mar Saba letter out of the secret Gospel of Mark comprise the entirety of what has survived of the supposed gospel. The Secret Gospel of Mark is known only from the references in this letter. The letter claims that the secret Gospel of Mark was produced out of Alexandria, Egypt by Mark himself. (It is necessary to become familiar with the many controversies involving Alexandria and her Gnostic monks to properly judge their authority on Scripture.) Following is a portion of this letter as translated into English by Morton Smith with emphasis added:

As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord's doings, not, however, declaring all of them,nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed.But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge.Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospelfor the use of those who were being perfected.…Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in 1, verso Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.

  1. The Gospel of Judas (another Alexandrian text)
  1. Non-Biblical Texts

  1. Ebla Tablets

The EBLA TABLETS were written over 4,000 years ago.[3] Dr. Paolo Matthiae, Director of the Italian Archeological Mission in Syria, "hit an archeological jackpot" in 1975.  He discovered "the greatest third-millennium [B.C.] archive ever unearthed." It included "more than 15,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments" and unveiled a Semitic empire that dominated the Middle East more than four thousand years ago. Its hub was Ebla, where educated scribes filled ancientlibrarieswithwritten recordsof history, people, places and commerce.

The Ebla tablets verified the worship of pagan gods such as Baal, Dagan and Asherah "known previously only from the Bible." They mention the name"Abraham" and "Ur of Chaldees" (the Biblical Abraham's birthplace) as well as other familiar cities and places:

"The names of cities thought to have been founded much later, such asBeirutand Byblos, leap from the tablets.DamascusandGazaare mentioned, as well as two of the Biblical cities of the plain,Sodom and Gomorrah. ... Most intriguing of all are the personal names found on the Ebla tablets. They include Ab-ra-mu (Abraham), E-sa-um (Esau)...."

Destroyed and rebuilt several times, Ebla began its final decline around 1800 B.C. Since new generations settled on top of the old ruins, it left behind a many-layered"TEL"(Looks like a flat-topped hill)which archeologists will continue to explore for years to come.

  1. Secular Writers

In his book “The Historical Jesus” Dr. Gary Habermas boasts to have found 39 Ancient Sources that Document the Life of Jesus from outside the Bible including 17 non-Christian sources which together record over a hundred facts concerning Jesus.

  1. Christian Writers

Early writers who attested Jesus as the Son of God:

  • Clement - Bishop of Rome (30-100 AD)
  • Writer of The Epistle of Barnabas (c.70-100 AD)
  • Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna (70-100 AD) Student of the Apostle John
  • Ignatius – Bishop of Antioch (35-110 AD)
  • Ireaeus – Bishop of Lyons (France) (130-200 AD)
  • Tertullian – Second Century Apologist (160-220 AD)
  • Clement Bishop of Alexandria (150-215 AD)

[3]Howard LaFay, "Ebla: Splendor of an unknown Empire,"National Geographic, December 1978, pp. 735. "The people of the ancient Near East erected their cities on strategic sites with plentiful water. As a result, after destruction at the hands of pillaging armies--and to weaker cities this came as often a once a generation-- the population tended to rebuild on the ruins. Excavating a TEL is like slicing a stack of pancakes; each stratum, with its embedded trove of artifacts, encapsulates history from one catastrophe to the next." (735-736, 740, 754)