A Castle Built By Solomon

The third king of Israel, the son of David, was the famous Solomon. Although during king David’s reign Israel was preoccupied in war with many of its neighbors, including the Arameans, Ammonites, Philistines, and other foes, the reign of Solomon was a time not of expansion, but of prosperity, wealth, and building. Allow me to share with you another small, yet important finding in the recent archaeology of the biblical lands regarding this man.

Image result for solomons palace

Indeed, according to the biblical account, Solomon’s enormous wealth allowed him to build impressive palaces, houses, and other types of buildings throughout many cities of Israel.

1 Kings 9:15: Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer.

If 1 Kings 9:15 is right, we should find many impressive features of ancient cities in Israel, including Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer that date to the time of Solomon, about the middle of the tenth century (970-930) BC. Recent attacks against the historicity of the Bible have claimed that Solomon was nowhere near as wealthy as the Bible said he was, and have attempted to point to a lack of evidence for such fortifications and features of ancient cities such Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer to prove their accusations against the biblical account of the life of Solomon.

As archaeology continues to unearth the ancient world and prove the Bible’s historicity to be entirely accurate, these criticisms continuously fall. Although the claims against David and Solomon have fallen one by one in recent years, this one we just mentioned in particular has been dealt heavy blows in the past, especially after 2016 proved another great year for the establishment of the veracity of the life of Solomon as described in the Bible. Indeed, in 2016, a large palatial building was found in the royal city of Gezer, proving that during Solomon’s reign, construction of large palaces and exquisite architecture was underway just as described in the Bible. Behold it with your own eyes!

Aerial view of the palatial building found in ancient Gezer, which archaeologists have tentatively dated to King Solomon's time.

Praise the Lord! It was true all along! It dates exactly to the time of Solomon (in the 10 century BC) and reveals evidence of Philistine occupation of the site until David’s reign (giving evidence that he conquered them, as described in the records of the Bible). Indeed, a full and fantastic explanation of this recent discovery can be found here.

Truly, the case is being made very quickly. How long can the foes of the Bible last, when history is establishing its truth virtually every other year?

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Inscription of Tower of Babel Found?

Recently, a discovery of an ancient Babylonian tablet was found, which seems to “provide compelling evidence that the Tower of Babel DID exist”. Here’s the link to this discovery:

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/ancient-babylonian-tablet-provides-compelling-evidence-tower-babel-did-021378

Perhaps something that is not surprising to most of us, is that the word ‘Babel’ is related to ‘Babylon’ — the word Babylon directly came from ‘Babel’. Therefore, we can be assured, with very good certainty, that the Tower of Babel was located in the ancient city of Babylon.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

In the early 20th century AD, some archaeologists discovered an ancient tablet dating to the 6th century BC. However, the artifact quickly fell into the hands of a collector and was only rediscovered earlier this year by a professor of Babylon from the University of London. The tablet seems to depict the ancient Tower of Babel, and possess an instruction to how it was built that is similar to the biblical account. Does this prove the Tower of Babel? Perhaps so. At the very least, it gives us some compelling evidence to accept it. This would be a major milestone in proving the biblical narrative, especially Genesis. Apparently, Sodom was found not too long ago (and it’s not located at Bab-edh-Dhra).

Confirmed Earthquakes in the Bible

Earthquakes happen 12,000 times a year, and twice in the Bible. Let’s take a look.

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Amos 1:1: The words of Amos, who was one of the sheep breeders from Tekoa—what he saw regarding Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

The first earthquake is recorded in the Book of Amos, and also is a major help to dating the document. Amos tells us in Amos 1:1 that the events he writes of happened “two years before the earthquake” — Amos plainly tells his readers that he is writing two years before “the earthquake”, and it is therefore safe to assume that Amos understans his audience knows that his readers know what earthquake he is talking about as it was a very recent event for them . And indeed, this earthquake has been located and identified. Amos also tells us that he is writing in the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel, which means that if an earthquake really happened here, it should take place about 780-740 BC (the time of the reign of these kings). And indeed, in 2000, a paper was published by three geologists titled Amos’s Earthquake: An Extraordinary Middle East Seismic Event of 750 B.C. In this papers, the geologists analyze the stratigraphy of the Dead Sea and walls of ancient constructions, and discovered that in Judah, about 750 BC (+/- 30 years), an overwhelming 8.2 magnitude earthquake took place, which by any means of measurement, is utterly enormous. This fact corroborates the account of Amos, which is self-dated by the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam to about 750 BC as well.

The second earthquake of the Bible is more well-known, and is explicitly mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as having took place shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus ca. 30-33 AD.

Matthew 28:2: Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it.

After the crucifixion of Jesus, we are told an earthquake miraculously took place, devastating the surrounding region as a consequence of the death of Jesus, the true Messiah. In 2012, the journal International Geology Review published a study, where a geologist found and confirmed that somewhere between 26-36 AD in Jerusalem, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake ruptured the region, in the perfect time allotted to the historical record of Matthew’s Gospel. A fantastic achievement indeed, verifying the historicity of the biblical earthquake.

Matthew 27:54: When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

The Old Testament and the Tel Dan Inscription

 

In the last century, there has been perhaps numerous paradigm shifts in academia in relevance to the historical reliability of not only the Bible in general, but the Old Testament as well. These paradigm shifts all came, one after another, as archaeology continued to progress in uncovering the ancient world, revealing countless ancient cities, their prominence, and the discoveries of tens of thousands of ancient texts and inscriptions. All these numerous findings have caused our knowledge of the ancient world to simply explode. Some of these marvelous discoveries including the finding of over ten thousand tablets in ancient Ebla, the discovery and excavations of the ancient city of Avaris (biblical Rameses) by Manfred Bietak, and perhaps more recently, the discovery of the Tel Dan Inscription.

Few archaeological discoveries have been as significant as the finding of the Tel Dan Inscription in the last 100 years. This single artifact was discovered in 1993 in excavations at the ancient site of Tel Dan,  biblical city of Dan (mentioned in verses like 1 Samuel 3:20). Indeed, after the publication of this basalt stone, the idea of biblical minimalism was plunged, and a paradigm shift in the way academics view the historicity of the Bible underwent. It is now unanimous amongst scholars that the Tel Dan Inscription is translated something like as follows;

  1. […] and cut […]
  2.  […] my father went up [against him when] he fought at […]
  3. And my father lay down, he went to his [ancestors] and the king of I[s-]
  4. rael entered previously in my father’s land. [And] Hadad made me king.
  5. And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven […-]
  6. s of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
  7. riots and thousands of horsemen. [I killed Jo]ram son of [Ahab]
  8. king of Israel, and [I] killed [Ahaz]iah son of [Jehoram kin-]
  9. g of the House of David. And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
  10. their land into [desolation …]
  11. other [… and Jehu ru-]
  12. led over Is[rael … and I laid]
  13. siege upon […]

The Tel Dan Inscription was found by accident in northern Israel, and dates to the middle of the 9th century BC, uncovered in excavations at ancient Tel Dan, directed by Avraham Biran, a man who unfortunately passed away not too long ago at the age of 98. The significance of the Tel Dan Inscription is voluminous, for both the history of ancient Israel and the great Bible. For example, it is one of the only large writings we possess from the ancient biblical kingdom, and thereby gives us information about literacy at the time. But of course, even more important than that is that it has expanded our understanding and confirmation of the historicity of the Old Testament. Indeed, the Tel Dan Inscription has proven two segments of the Bible, one very major.

Image result for tel dan inscription house of david

Perhaps the first, more well-known and most important, is the phrase “House of David” on the 10th line of the Tel Dan Inscription. The Tel Dan Inscription is our earliest ancient artifact ever discovered to reference the existence of King David, the second king of Israel, the man who slew Goliath, and who established the kingdom of the holy land himself as lead by God. As the prominent archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel has noted;

The Tel Dan stele ended the first phase of the debate regarding the historicity of the Hebrew Bible.

The inscription speaks of the “house of David”, a reference to the Davidic dynasty. According to the renowned scholar Alan Millard who comments on this phrase of the Tel Dan Inscription;

A dynasty was named after its founder, a real man.

Millard specifically noted that in ancient history, the people from the past would name their dynasties off of their living kings for times to come, and thus the fact that David is not only mentioned in this ancient inscription, but is revealed by it to have had a dynasty named after him, speaks extraordinarily strongly that this man did in fact exist, as is now the view of virtually all scholars in the field. This major finding has proven that David, the man lead by God in many of his endeavors, did in fact exist.

There is of course a second contribution of this text to the historicity of the Bible that is well-known in scholarship, but is not as known to the public because it is completely overshadowed by the enormity of being the first discovery to have established the historicity of David. Let us now take turn to what God told us in the story of 2 Kings 9:1-29. Here, we are told that a prophet of God named Elisha came to a man and army commander named Jehu, and anointed him to be king over Israel. However, at the time, Joram was the king of Israel and Ahaziah was the king of Judah (the divided monarchy). So, Jehu took off on his chariot, and in perhaps a single day, slew both Joram the king of Israel and Ahaziah the king of Judah. This magnificent battle and short biblical narrative is vividly affirmed in the Tel Dan Inscription.

Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah would both have died about 850-840 BC, making the Tel Dan Inscription virtually contemporaneous to their deaths. In lines 7-9 of the Tel Dan Inscription, someone is said to have killed the king of Israel named […]ram, and the king of the house of David named […]iah. The only biblical king to ever have their name end with ‘-ram’ is Joram, as pointed out by the great egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen in his book On the Reliability of the Old Testament;

In the whole series of the kings of Israel, there is one and only one king whose name ends in -ram, and that is J(eh)oram, son of Ahab, circa 852-841 [B.C.]. Therefore it seems at the present time inevitable that we should restore here “[J(eh)o]ram son of [Ahab], king of Israel.” (pp. 36-37)

And as Kitchen continues to write, he also affirms that the only king of Israel/Judah at the time of the Tel Dan Inscription whose names ends with -iah is Ahaziah, king of Judah. In other words, this virtually contemporaneous document to the events of 2 Kings 9 clearly documents the death of two kings of Israel at the exact same time, both Joram and Ahaziah, just as the biblical narrative records it to have occurred. Indeed, we can consider this biblical battle virtually affirmed by the archaeological record. However, the question arises — if the Bible is simply recording plain history in its common events, such as those recorded in 2 Kings 9, shouldn’t we expect that the biblical authors were doing anything but writing biblical history as they knew it? In fact, the existence of Jehu, the man whom the Bible says to have slain Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah, has been confirmed some time ago as well, as his existence as the king of Israel was recorded by the Assyrian inscriptions of the emperor Shalmaneser III.

Truly, the Tel Dan Inscription is a blessing from God and has helped us further establish the historical veracity of the biblical narratives. Countless discoveries in recent times further helps us to shed more and more light on the biblical texts, and this seems to have no signs of ending, halting, or even slowing down in the near future (on the other hand, it has been speeding up in the last decade or two, especially since 2015). Glory be to God.

1 Samuel 17:37: And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine ” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.”