The Life of David

King David (reigned 1010-970 BCE) was the second king of Israel and one of the most famous men of the Hebrew Bible. The king was said to have united the both kingdoms of Israel and Judah and ruled over them as the united monarchy. The life of David is mostly chronicled throughout the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Some of the most important and well-known events of the life of David include his rise from a shepherd to attaining the throne of Israel, his battle with the giant named Goliath, and his conquering of the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Early Life

The tradition of David’s life starts in his youth. David started out as a young shepherd who cultivated sheep, a typical occupation of his time. Early on, David became interested in music, especially of playing the lyre, and would be soon accredited with writing many psalms in both his youth and his reign as king over Israel.

As Saul, the current king of Israel began to sin, God began to torment him. Through the advice of his servants, Saul had come to the belief that he required a musician to play for him in order to ease him of his anguish. One of his servants said that they may be aware of such a man to help him, the son of Jesse, David. Thus, Saul requested David to become his personal musician, where he would perform his musical tunes in order to help calm Saul. Saul quickly came to trust David, making him into one of his armor-bearers. David had become a member of Saul’s court, and so Saul requested David to play the lyre for him when he felt tormented, which would help calm and ease him.

Fight Against Goliath

Soon after David began playing the lyre for Saul, Israel found itself in a war with the Philistines. The Philistines held a camp at Ephes Dammim, located between Sokoh and Azekah, and the forces of Saul were based in the Valley of Elah, slowly advancing in order to confront the Philistines.

Suddenly, the champion of the Philistines, a man named Goliath (whose hometown was Gath) emerged, towering in height over every man nearby. Goliath was said to have been wearing full-body armor made of bronze and equipped with both a javelin and a spear. Every morning and every evening for forty days, Goliath came forwards to taunt the Israelites and challenge any single man willing to fight him head on. Goliath claimed that if his opponent won, the Philistines would become servants of the Israelite’s, but if he won, the Israelite’s would become servants of the Philistines.

“Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” (1 Samuel 17.8-10)

Such a form of battle is common in ancient practice, where a single duel would decide the fate of the war in order to minimize the number of casualties both sides take.
The three eldest sons of Jesse (David’s older brothers) were also in this war. Jesse, their father, asked David to go to the camp of Saul’s army with some grain and bread to give to his elder brothers. David got to the camp, and when he was looking for his brothers, Goliath again emerged and uttered his regular defiance. In bravery, David wished to personally deal with Goliath. Saul attempted to stop him, telling David that he was still in his youth and not experienced enough for this battle, but David countered by saying that he had killed a lion and a bear when protecting his sheep, and therefore was able to fight Goliath. Saul, convinced by David’s arguments, allowed him to fight.

David and Goliath approached each other, and after remarking some angry words against each other, Goliath began stampeding towards David. David took out a sling and struck Goliath in the head with a stone, and then used a sword to kill the weakened Goliath. David became victorious, and this allowed the Israelite’s to defeat the Philistines and then plunder their camp. David, in his victory, took the head of Goliath to Jerusalem. Seemingly an out-of-the-ordinary act at first, an explanation as to why David did this with Goliath’s head is provided by Hoffmeier;

…it might be suggested that David’s purpose in taking Goliath’s head to Jerusalem reflects the common Near Eastern practice of humiliating one’s enemy by displaying the remains of the fallen hero, chieftain or king, and announcing the good news of an enemy’s defeat. David’s actions in several instances show that he was shrewdly trying to consolidate his claim to the throne after being anointed by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13)… By taking the giant’s head to Jerusalem David was not just announcing his victory over Goliath and the Philistines, but was also putting the Jebusites on notice that just as he defeated the Philistine champion, Jerusalem’s demise was only a matter of time. (108)

The Psalms of David

David, in the traditions found in the Book of Psalms, Old Testament, and the New Testament, is attributed to have written over 70 of the 150 Psalms. Psalms, in specific, are short songs written in devotion towards God in the Bible. Early on in the biblical account, we are told that David was a man who could play the lyre and conducted music for Saul, and so it is easy to see how and why David would become interested in composing music in devotion to God. In specific, David is attributed to having written Psalms 3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133, and 138-145. In addition, the New Testament attributes Psalm 2 (Acts 4:25), Psalm 45 (Heb. 4:7), Psalm 69 (Rom. 11:9), and Psalm 95 (Heb. 3:15) to David.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. (Psalm 138.1-3)

Historically speaking, it has not been proven that David actually wrote any of the psalms attributed to him, leading many modern scholars to reject Davidic authorship in the Book of Psalms. Other scholars believe that David’s early reputation as a musician and author of songs (as found in the early 8th century BCE document, the Book of Amos, 6:5) makes it possible to associate David with writing some of the psalms attributed to him. At best, this aspect of David’s life remains unclear.

David in the New Testament

In the New Testament, David is mentioned several times, almost always in the context of being an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Jews had believed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, and they believed he would symbolically reign on David’s throne.  In all the Gospels, Jesus is said to be a descendant of David (e.g. Matthew 1.1, 12.23; Mark 10.48; John 7.42; Luke 18.38), and this is repeated in the Book of Romans (1.3), II Timothy (2.8) and the Book of Revelation (5.5). David also has an important appearance in Hebrews 11, which is considered the New Testament “hall of fame” for men in the Old Testament who have done many righteous deeds before God.

David Becomes King

After his battle with Goliath, David quickly built an impressive reputation and soared through the ranks of the military with his countless successful militaristic adventures, pleasing his fellow Israelite’s. Soon enough, David even formed a great relationship with a man named Jonathan, the son of King Saul.

Saul began to notice this, and one day, after yet another fantastic military victory lead by David, Saul heard his men chanting the phrase “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Quickly, Saul became increasingly afraid of David, believing that he could take his throne. As Saul’s fright of David grew, he gave his daughter Michal to David in marriage and watched as David’s adventures and victories continued mounting.

Saul’s fear quickly turned into action, and Saul commanded his attendants and Jonathan to try to kill David. Jonathan greatly loved David, and so decided to warn him of his father’s plans. David, thanks to Jonathan, was able to escape and hide in safety in a Philistine land. Saul pursued David and even attempted to personally kill David multiple times, but every time David would acquire the advantage over Saul, acquiring the opportunity to kill him, but instead spared Saul’s life every time. Caught up in another war with the Philistines, Saul himself ended up losing his life, paving the way for David to become king over all Israel.

David’s Leadership over Israel

At the age of 30, David entered into Hebron, where all the tribes of Israel gathered and anointed him king over Israel (c. 1010 BCE). David, who now ruled over the kingdom of Judah, immediately moved to take Jerusalem, which was held by the Jebusites. David was able to defeat the Jebusites and conquer Jerusalem and renamed the fortress located there as the City of David. It is easy to see why David would choose Jerusalem as his stronghold, as it was a politically neutral territory since it was never allotted to any of the twelve tribes of Israel. Soon after this happened, he began building a friendly relationship with Hiram, the king of Tyre, which lead to Hiram helping David build his own palace.

At this point, David now was setting his eyes on the Ark of God (also known as the Ark of the Covenant). The Ark of God was located in Baalah, a Judean city, and so David marched into Baalah in order to take the Ark and move it into the City of David. In the midst of these events, however, one of David’s servants mishandled the Ark, causing God to strike his servant dead. David feared God on that day and did not take the Ark, rather, it stayed with a man named Obed-Edom. David, however, did not give up, and so he tried to take the Ark again after three months, this time succeeding. David managed to bring the Ark to the City of David, and he became so joyful that he started to dance before God.

Eventually, was lurking, especially from the nearby Philistines. Throughout David’s reign, he defeated the nations of Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Philistia and others. Perhaps one of the greatest moments of David’s life was the birth of his son and heir, Solomon, destined by God to take the throne of Israel during the older years of David (c. 970 BCE). And thus, the life of the king comes to an end.

Historical Background of David’s Life

In 1993 CE, excavations were being directed by the archaeologist Avraham Biran in the ancient site of Tel Dan. Tel Dan was located in northern Israel and at the base of Mount Hermon. In 1993 CE, the surveyor of excavations at Tel Dan discovered what would become a very important artifact for the determining whether or not David truly existed. In the vicinity of Tel Dan, a basalt stone was found, containing an inscription that dated to the middle of the 9th century BCE. The inscription on this stele contained thirteen lines of writing in the Early Aramaic script, the ninth line of which reads “… of the House of David. And I set [set their lands into ruin and turned-]”.

This fragment is known today as the Tel Dan Inscription. On the 9th line of the text, the Tel Dan Inscription mentions the ‘House of David’ (bytdwd), a statement believed to reference the dynasty of Israel established by David. This claim was soon challenged.Scholars immediately began arguing about the translation of the text. Those who did not share the view that the Tel Dan Inscription refers to a historical David preferred a translation of the original Aramaic where, rather than mentioning David, the inscription actually mentioned a deity named Dôd, and some even went as far as to question the authenticity of the artifact itself. However, scholars soon came to the conclusion that the Tel Dan Inscription is authentic and that it mentions a monarch named David. Susan Ackerman gives a full summary of the scholarly debate and argument on the Tel Dan Inscription;

According to the revisionist account, however, the evidence of the Tel Dan stele is to be dismissed either as fraudulent (a forgery planted in the remains of Tel Dan by someone attempting to play a joke on the excavators), or as referring not to the “house of David” but to the “house of [a god] named Dôd.” This reading is achieved by adding vowels to the steles btdwd so that it reads bêt-dôd rather than bêt-dāwīd and then understanding the bêt-dôd by referring to a place or temple name, analogous to, say, the place and temple name bêt-‛el, or Bethel (the “house of God” or “house of [the god named] El”). The revisionist argument concerning forgery is dismissed by most as patently ridiculous and even seems, as several scholars have pointed out, intended as a gratuitous insult directed against the excavation director at Tel Dan, the esteemed Avraham Biran. The latter argument, concerning the reading “house of [a god named] Dôd,” while at one point plausible, is now judged to be extremely unlikely, given that the second of the two Tel Dan fragments (Fragment B), found a year after the discovery of Fragment A, quite arguably contains, in line 7, the name Jehoram, son of Ahab, who reigned from ca. 849-843 BCE over the northern kingdom of Israel… This royal name is followed, moreover, in line 8, by what seems to be the name of Ahaziah, son of Jehoram… who, according to the biblical account, was the king over Judah, the southern half of Israel’s divided kingdoms, during part of the time that Jehoram ruled in the North… Such a concentration of royal referents in lines 7-8 virtually demands that the reference to bytdwd in line 9 be read as a referring to the royal “house of David” of which the southern King Ahaziah was a scion. (156-157)

So, although once debated, Grabbe notes that today the Tel Dan Inscription “is now widely regarded (a) as genuine and (b) as referring to the Davidic dynasty and the Aramaic kingdom of Damascus” (333).

In 1994, a single year after the initial discovery and publication of the Tel Dan Inscription, two well-known epigraphers André Lemaire and Émile Puech independently came to the conclusion that the Mesha Stele also likely mentioned the House of David, and this inscription also dates towards the middle of the 9th century BCE.

Our records for David are by no means entirely conclusive, however, they represent an important segment of the archaeological verdict on whether or not David was truly a man in the past, and seem to tilt the argument in David’s favor.

Another issue regarding the history of the life of David is the extent of his kingdom. David’s power had been characterized by some scholars as stretching over a simple and agrarian society that barely had control past the boundaries of Jerusalem. Although technology has greatly advanced, when an archaeologist wants to find out what happened in an ancient city or kingdom, he must still do things the old-fashioned way. Get a team, get some funds, and get digging. This is exactly what Yosef Garfinkel from the Hebrew University and Sa’ar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority did in the ancient site of Khirbet Qeiyafa from 2007-2013 CE. The findings at this site have become very important to modern scholars concerning the debate over the expanse of David’s kingdom.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is located about 30km southwest of Jerusalem on top of a hill, covering an area of about 2.3 hectares and surrounded by a roughly circular city wall stretching approximately 600m. According to radiocarbon tests conducted by the excavation team, the city was occupied in the period of c. 1020 – 980 BCE, about the same period as David’s reign. Khirbet Qeiyafa had a centralized administration stretching over 10,000 square feet, requiring over 200,000 tons of stone to construct. Qeiyafa also has various important architectural features, including two four-chambered gates (one in the south, one in the west of the site) and a gate piazza next to each of these gates. This city, if part of the kingdom of Judah under David would indicate that David possessed a kingdom larger than scholars had previously thought, and he may have been a substantial king.

The majority of scholars believe that Khirbet Qeiyafa is, in fact, a Judean site. However, there have been a few scholars who have sought to identify it as Philistine or Canaanite, especially since it is located on Israel’s border with Philistine. The evidence, however, favors the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa as Judean, for some of the reasons that include the following;

  • Urban Planning – The “urban planning of the site [Khirbet Qeiyafa] includes the casemate city wall and a belt of houses abutting the casemates and incorporating them as a part of construction” (Garfinkel, Ganor, Hasel 55). These urban planning features at Khirbet Qeiyafa are typical of Judean sites, including Beersheba, Tell Beit Mirsim, Tell en-Nasbeh and Tell Beth-Shemesh, making Khirbet Qeiyafa more reminiscent of  Judeans site in this respect
  • Diet – In a typical Philistine site, up to 20% of the bones found will be from pigs, and pig is also a common diet in many Canaanite sites as well. However, pig bones are usually not found at any Judean sites as Jewish beliefs held that pigs were unclean, and so could not be eaten. No pig bones have yet to be found at Khirbet Qeiyafa
  • Jars – Judean cities typically have a large number of impressed jar handles. At Khirbet Qeiyafa, 693 impressed jar handles have been found. Such a high quantity of impressed jar handles are not found in sites at Canaan or Philistia
  • Cult – Sites in Canaan and Philistia are usually filled with hundreds of cultic figurines, however, there is an enormous absence of such figurines at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Only three figurine items have been found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, which are similar to the two found at Moza (another Judean site)
  • Metal tools – Most of the tools found at Khirbet Qeiyafa are made of iron, which had been adopted by Judah at its time, whereas Canaanite sites at the time were still using copper and bronze

Thus, the information we have allows for the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa as a Judean site, and because it is powerful and heavily fortified, the director of excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa has, therefore, concluded the following about its implications for the account of David’s Judean kingdom;

“The location of Khirbet Qeiyafa and the data uncovered clearly demonstrate that it was a Judean city and not a Canaanite or Philistine one. Nor did it belong to the northern Kingdom of Israel. The new radiometric dating support the biblical narrative about state formation in Judah. The archaeological data and the biblical text both indicate that a new social organization developed in Judah in the late eleventh/early tenth century BCE… On the other hand, in the biblical tradition this period is the era of King David. This narrative, like any historical narrative, suffers from various shortcomings but can no longer be rejected out of hand. In the late eleventh/early tenth century BCE a small kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah, began to develop in the hills of Jerusalem and Hebron. It’s founding father was David.” (Garfinkel, Kreimerman, Zilberg 236)

Thus, archaeology has shed considerable light on not only the existence of David but the expanse of his kingdom, which it continues to do in several smaller findings throughout Israel. For example, excavations in the Timna Valley (located in southern Israel), currently being excavated by Erez Ben-Yosef from the Tel Aviv University, have found foreign fabrics dating to the time of Solomon’s reign. Such fabrics indicate that the kingdoms of David and Solomon participated in complex trading networks. Another finding in 2016 CE was that of a large palatial building dating to the reign of Solomon (10th century BCE) found in the royal city of Gezer, which may be a reflection that the Solomonide kingdom could have had some wealth, and the time of Solomon may have its own implications for David’s reign.

Another archaeological finding that was able to shed some light on the life of David, rather than his rule, has actually come from the land of the Philistines. In 2005 CE, at excavations in the hometown of Goliath, the Philistine city of Gath (modern day Tell es-Safi), a Semitic inscription dating to the 10th-9th centuries BCE was found, bearing an Indo-European name that highly resembled ‘Goliath’. Although the name is not exactly equivalent to Goliath, nor is the person’s name to be directly identified with the Philistine giant Goliath, Aren Maeir, the head of excavations at Tell es-Safi says that this inscription reveals the following;

“What this means is that at the time there were people there named Goliath. It shows us that David and Goliath’s story reflects the cultural reality of the time.”

So, did David truly slay Goliath? Perhaps this cannot itself be certainly known one way or another, however, the story seems to possess authentic historical memories, explicitly showing the great importance archaeology has been to historians in uncovering the mysteries of the ancient world. Although, it is true that David was said to have captured Gath sometime after he became king, despite there being no evidence for a destruction of the city of Gath during the time of David. Either David temporarily captured Gath, but did not destroy the city (unlike Hazael, who captured and destroyed Gath in the 9th century BCE), or simply did not capture Gath at all contrary to the biblical record. The only thing that can be certain is that David did not destroy Gath.

Conclusion

David was definitely a profound figure, which is something that most scholars seem to be able to agree on despite the differences they maintain when reconstructing the historical background to his famous, and perhaps even infamous deeds. His reputation has broken beyond the boundaries of his home in ancient Israel and has extended over numerous cultures. Today, all three Abrahamic faiths honor David as an extraordinary man, whose reign is considered by many to be the pinnacle of ancient Israel’s history.

Bibliography

Émile Puech, “La stèle araméenne de Dan: Bar Hadad II et la coalition des Omrides et de la maison de David,” Revue Biblique 1994.

André Lemaire, “House of David; Restored in Moabite inscription,” Biblical Archaeology Review 1994.

Aren Maeir et al, “A Late Iron Age I/Early Iron Age II Old Canaanite Inscription from Tell es-Sâfi/Gath,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 2008.

Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh,” Israel Exploration Society 1993.

Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “The Tel Dan inscription: a new fragment,” Israel Exploration Journal 1995: 13.

David Noel Freedman, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Eerdmans, 2000), 318..

Igor Kreimerman, Peter Zilberg and Yosef Garfinkel, Debating Khirbet Qeiyafa (Israel Exploration Society, 2016).

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed (Touchstone, 2002).

James Hoffmeier, “David’s Triumph over Goliath: 1 Samuel 17: 54 and Ancient Near Eastern Analogues,” Egypt, Canaan and Israel: History, Imperialism, Ideology and Literature 2011.

Lester L. Grabbe, Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2007), 333..

Susan Ackerman, When Heroes Love (Columbia University Press, 2005), 156-157..

Yulia Gottlieb, “The Advent of the Age of Iron,” Tel Aviv 2010.

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).

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.”

….Even more historical confirmation of the Bible

Every now and then I report on another round of historical discoveries pretty much proving and establishing the Bible and several of its narratives. So, here’s yet another one! Even better, all the references I will give here are discoveries that came in the last two years alone.

Up until a few months ago, archaeologists considered the Bible’s narrative on Solomon’s enormous wealth completely exaggerated, and the amount of possessions he had. This was a major historical controversy, and considered a great challenge to the known historicity of the narrative of Solomon’s wealth found in the Bible. This was because that, although there is abundant evidence of mining, copper smelting and metalwork in the 5th century BC, there was hardly any before this, let alone as early as the 10th century BC, the reign of Solomon. This claim came to a halting crash just last month, in January of 2017.

A paper reported the newfound discovery of extensive copper smelting, metalwork and mining exactly in the 10th century BC, in the Timna Valley of Israel. Indeed, these mines were likely Solomon’s mines himself. And indeed, upon their discovery it showed that the wealth of Solomon was something that was not at all being exaggerated. Indeed, the biblical narrative had been established.

In Luke 1:63, we are told that people wrote on tablets. Then, a few months ago, in June of 2016, hundreds of ancient tablets were found, many dating to the first century — confirming Luke 1:63 does in fact reflect an accurate historical representation of the culture of the time, and the ‘technology’ available.

Another ground-breaking discovery made last year (2016). Skeptics use to claim that Galilean synagogues didn’t exist in Israel (and Jerusalem) before the Roman-Jewish War of 70 AD, and so when the Gospels keep telling us Jesus would be preaching in Galilean synagogues (synagogues in Galilee), it was obviously reflecting later writing and a historical error! I have in fact come across one of these myself in a conversation. That is, until a ground-breaking discovery was made last year, discovering a first century Galilean synagogue that dates to about 64 AD, confirming the existence of Galilean synagogues before the Roman-Jewish War of 70 AD, and confirming the very synagogues that Jesus stood and taught in before the Jews.

All of this goes to crushing lengths to establishing the grandeur historicity of the Bible, time and time again heavily defeating the accusations of the unbelievers. It’s rather sad to see them running out of accusations at such a stunning pace, all three of these discoveries were made in a span of less than one year throughout! PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY, FOR HIS WORDS ARE HOLY!!!

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Archaeology proves LITERAL TRUTH of the Bible

I found a recent archaeological discovery that seems to have been almost completely ignored by even the Christian archaeologists of the day that provides a STUNNING confirmation of the Biblical account. Behold.

We all remember the battle drawn between David and Goliath that took place in 1 Samuel 17, correct? Consider this… First of all, we are told Goliath comes from a city called Gath.

[1 Samuel 17:4] Then a champion named Goliath, from Gath, came out from the Philistine camp. He was six cubits and a span.

So Goliath is from Gath.

Now, consider this.

Archaeologists recently found Gath, and at it, they found a ninth bowl that dates to about 900 BC that LITERALLY HAS THE NAME WRITTEN “GATH” ON IT…

SEE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/13/AR2005111300315.html

This is… INSANE CONFIRMATION OF THE BIBLICAL RECORD. This is not even minor. Now, hold up a second, archaeologists have not found the actual Goliath’s cereal bowl. This bowl dates to about 900 BC, whereas Goliath would have died before 1010 BC… However, this does show something very important. The Biblical record tells us there was  a man named Goliath who lived in Gath who lived in the period known as the Early Iron Age. The archaeological record has also revealed a Goliath who lived in Gath in the period of the Early Iron Age, although not the exact same Goliath. This shows us that the name Goliath was in fact a name that existed, in that period, for people living in the city of Gath — in other words, the Biblical record when naming the man who fought David from Gath is not inventing things, but drawing from known historical fact at the time and likely giving the name of an actual figure from the time. In other words, this evidence shows that 1) There is archaeological and historical fact in the story of David and Goliath and 2) Goliath was likely a real figure as what the Bible tells us about Goliath from Gath matches up with the stratigraphical record on people named Goliath from Gath.

“This is a groundbreaking find… Here we have very nice evidence the name Goliath appearing in the Bible in the context of the story of David and Goliath … is not some later literary creation.” – Aren Maier, professor at Bar-Ilan University

I hope you understand what that means… It seems the more we know about ancient history, the more problematic it is for anyone who doesn’t believe in the Bible… Hallelujah.

HALLELUJAH!

 

Josephus On the Historicity of Jesus

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, have not disappeared to this day. –  Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII.3.3

This quote is perhaps, the most famous passage in all the works of the first century historian Josephus. The reason it is so is because it provides an extensive account of Jesus that doesn’t exist in almost any other ancient non-Christian text in the world, and is amazingly early as well. The attestation of Josephus is perhaps the nail in the coffin for mythicism. Mythicism is laughed at by all respected historians in the world, but it must still be crushed as internet populists tend to believe whatever they are told. This single phrase in the works of Josephus perhaps can single handedly dismiss the entire nausea of mythicism… But is it authentic?

Historians in fact believe that this passage is not fully authentic. The reason is quite simple. Josephus, in this passage, recounts Jesus as the literal Messiah (Christ), say that He rose from the dead, was prophesied and did many miracles, and in the phrase “a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man” — we have an implication of Jesus being more then just a man. This would be an impossible saying of Josephus, because not only was Josephus not a believer in Jesus, Josephus was the very type of Jew condemned in the New Testament, a Pharisee! But it also obviously isn’t fully forged, either. Historians have already figured out that the passage in question is only partially interpolated and in its original form does mention Jesus, in fact, as we will see, we probably know what the original form of this passage was later on.

As I mentioned earlier, the passage of Josephus here is obviously not a forgery and that is because it is simply filled with Josephan language.

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day. –  Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII.3.3

The phrase in the beginning of this passage says “Now there was about this time..” — this phrase is used hundreds of times in the writings of Josephus to introduce new topics, and so is markedly Josephan. Secondly, Josephus references Jesus as a “wise man”, and this title is found nowhere in early Christian texts to refer to Jesus. Rather, Josephus personally uses the phrase “wise man” to refer to several people, such as Solomon and David. Furthermore, Josephus here refers to Christians as a “tribe”, which is a phrase that is not used by Christians to refer to themselves — this term is a term used by Josephus to reference other sects, nations or distinctive groups. In fact, if this was a Christian forgery, one must ask, as the scholar John Meier did, why did it reference Christians as a group that should have gone extinct? Finally, as Tim O’Neill puts it, “with the sole exception of Χριστιανῶν (“Christianon” – “Christians”) every single word in the passage can be found elsewhere in Josephus’ writings” — so the evidence is clearly heavily stacked in favor of partial authenticity, especially considering the fact that this quotation of Josephus is found in all surviving manuscripts of the works of Josephus.

As noted earlier, this is exactly the position that historians take. Louis H. Feldman surveyed 52 scholars between 1937 to 1980 and found that 39 of them favored partial authenticity. After surveying 13 books on this passage since the year 1980 on this passage, Peter Kirby seems to find an increasing trend of favoring partial authenticity when he concludes “In my own reading of thirteen books since 1980 that touch upon the passage, ten out of thirteen argue the (Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.3.4 passage) to be partly genuine, while the other three maintain it to be entirely spurious. Coincidentally, the same three books also argue that Jesus did not exist” — which quite conclusively shows the view of academia on the subject.

So what did the original passage say?

I will now cite the text of Josephus as quoted by the 10th century Arab writer Agapius and the 12th century writer Michael the Syrian.

“Similarly Josephus the Hebrew. For he says in the treatises that he has written on the governance of the Jews: ‘At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that He was alive; accordingly, He was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.’” (Agapius, Kitâb al-‛unwân 2:15–16)

“The writer Josephus also says in his work on the institutions of the Jews: ‘In these times there was a wise man named Jesus, if it is fitting for us to call him a man. For he was a worker of glorious deeds and a teacher of truth. Many from among the Jews and the nations became his disciples. He was thought to be the Messiah. But not according to the testimony of the principal [men] of [our] nation. Because of this, Pilate condemned him to the cross and he died. For those who had loved him did not cease to love him. He appeared to them alive after three days. For the prophets of God had spoken with regard to him of such marvellous things [as these]. And the people of the Christians, named after him, have not disappeared till [this] day.” (Michael the Syrian, Chronicle 10:20)

In these quotations, I did two things. I bolded the interpolated text and I italicized the text that differs from the standard Josephan text. As you can see, the bolded texts are what scholars consider added on to the original text and not what Josephus originally wrote. However, the more interesting parts of these two quotations is when, although the general text reads that Jesus “was the Christ”, these two quotations from Agapius and Michael render it “was thought to be the Christ” — which likely represents the original, as Josephus would not have declared Jesus as the actual Christ, but simply say in a commentary about him that he was believed to be the Christ. Furthermore, the standard text says “he appeared to them alive after three days”, whereas the quotation of Agapias simply reads “he was reported to have appeared to them” — which also likely represents the original of the text, as Josephus would not have declared that Jesus actually rose from the dead, but mentioned that those who became His disciples reported that He had risen from the dead. Finally, rather than the phrase “he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure” in the standard text, the quotation of Agapias says “And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous” — which is again, much more likely the original text as it removes all miraculous terminology from the phrase we have. In other words, because of these quotations we have of the works of Josephus, it seems that we have even further heavy evidence of partial authenticity, as it seems that we can pinpoint exactly where the interpolations were made. An objection might be made that the quotations of Agapias and Michael are very late (10th and 12th centuryes AD), however the earliest manuscript of Josephus postdates Agapius and hardly predates Michael anyways. All the evidence shows very clearly that the Josephus text is partially authentic, and based on our examination of the text, we can put together a likely original in the following manner;

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that He was alive; accordingly, He was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.’ And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day. – Authentic Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII.3.3

In this text that we reconstructed based on the available evidence we have, there is no sign whatsoever of interpolation or forgery, and the text retains immersed in Josephan language In a summary of all the overwhelming evidence for the partial authenticity of this passage accepted by the majority of modern scholars,

“We can now be as certain as historical research will presently allow that Josephus did refer to Jesus.” – James Charlesworth, PhD, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature

There’s one great thing about Josephus to note, though. Josephus actually references Jesus twice, not once, and he does so the second time in the following passage;

…Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent… – Antiquities of the Jews, XX.9.1

Just to note, I cut off most of the full quotation because it was too long. Aside from that, this passage is held nearly unanimously amongst historians to be completely authentic, as there isn’t a figment of evidence to indicate it is an interpolation or forgery, or any section of this passage for that manner. Edwin Yamauchi says “Few scholars have questioned the genuineness of this passage.” In fact, Origen, an author from 250 AD quotes Antiquities XX.9.1 three times, in Contra Celsum I.4, Contra Celsum II:13 and Commentarium in evangelium Matthaei X.17, so there can be little doubt about the authenticity of this passage considering the overwhelming evidence of its authenticity, and the practical non-existence of evidence to suggest a forgery or interpolation. Apart from the complete debunking of Richard Carrier’s (a mythicist blogger who failed to achieve a career in academia) fanciful attempt to explain away this set-in-stone attestation of Josephus that is supported by all textual evidence, all manuscript evidence and very early quotations from Origen, there is no question regarding the attestation of Jesus in the works of Josephus, and this of course plunges the blade into mythicism. Funnily enough, some internet mythicists like to ignore the works of Josephus because they aren’t contemporary to the lifetime of Jesus, even though Josephus talks about events as early as 40 BC and no one, historian or mythicist alike, doubts the veracity of those passages and subjects in Josephus. As Maurice Casey, whom is an Atheist concludes,

“This view [that Jesus didn’t exist] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. …. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.” – Maurice Casey, PhD

King David’s Enormous Kingdom

There are many great men throughout the records of the Bible, men such as Moses, Paul, Joshua, Job. But of course, one of them that we will never forget is David, the second king of Israel. David inherited the kingdom from Saul who had went berserk after David several times towards the end of his reign, but was repeatedly unable to defeat David. David became king after Saul, and had in all his life followed the ways of the LORD but once, where we are told that David had murdered a man to acquire his wife. God sent one of His prophets to confront him, and David was forced to bear his sins against God and paid dearly for it with one of his sons. Aside from this one action, David was favored by God and was guided by God since an early age, and God gave David kingship over Israel for forty years, and proceeded to greatly bless Solomon, David’s son with a powerful kingship over Israel that also lasted forty years. Archaeologists have already figured out that the historical reign of Solomon lasted between 970 – 930 BC, meaning David’s reign took place between 1010 – 970 BC (further meaning Saul who was king before David ruled from 1052 BC – 1010 BC).

But did King David even exist? The so-called minimalists answered no, and even if King David did exist, David did not have anything near the enormous kingdom ascribed to him in the Bible. Before the year 1990, there was no record of David outside the Bible, and so minimalist historians viewed David as a fictional figure made up centuries later. This all changed when the Tel Dan Inscription was found. The Tel Dan Stela bore an inscription that dated to the 9th century BC and was found in northern Israel, with about thirteen lines of preserved text that reads the following;

  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]iahu 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 […]

Take a look at the  9th line. It references the “House of David”, or in other words, the Davidic dynasty. The Tel Dan Inscription was discovered in the 1990’s, in other words making it a relatively recent archaeological finding, and established attestation of David in the records of Israel, even outside the Bible.

The minimalists still had many ways to attack the historicity of the Bible, though. After King David had been found in the Tel Dan Inscription, David had been proven to exist. If the accusers could not claim David did not exist, they would claim that his power was small and that he did not maintain the enormous kingdom ascribed to him in the Bible. A scholar named Israel Finkelstein tried to date David into an era where he would be considered a regional chieftain, with authority over a small tribe of people in a relatively tiny and poor area at best. According to Finkelstein’s theory, David would hardly control the land just outside of Jerusalem, event though the Bible said he ruled a large and powerful kingdom. This would be insane to a Bible-believer. At the time though, there were no excavations that had found anything dating to David’s time that would show he ruled over a great empire, allowing these accusers to maintain their views for the moment.

Several years ago, archaeological excavations begun at a site that had not undergone much digging before, and this city was named Khirbet Qeiyafa. Now, Khirbet Qeiyafa turned out not to be just any regular city in the region of Israel in the time of David, it ended up being found to be part of the ancient Israelite kingdom. It was also probably the Biblical city of Sharaaim. Shaaraim has a few mentions throughout the Bible, including Joshua 15:361 Samuel 17:52, and 1 Chronicles 4:31. Even if it wasn’t Shaaraim in specific, it had been proven to be a Judahite city, in other words, part of the Davidic empire.

Carbon dating tests found Khirbet Qeiyafa dated to the reign of David (1010 – 970 BC). Findings in this Biblical city would give us knowledge regarding the extent of David’s kingdom, and whether or not he was just the chieftain of an agrarian society or a mighty king who ruled across an empire as the Bible records. Seven seasons of excavations in Khirbet Qeiyafa revealed two enormous finds in specific. One, a second gate was found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, whereas all previous sites in the entire world in David’s time and before only had one gate, which would be enormously significant to any archaeologist. The second major finding was an extensive centralized administration that stretched over 10,000 square feet requiring an overwhelming 200,000 tons of stone to construct. The archaeological evidence in Khirbet Qeiyafa showed that David ruled over nothing less than a kingdom, and a kingdom required a king to lead it. In a report titled Qeiyafa’s Unlikely Second Gat, Yosef Garfinkel, Sa’ar Ganor, and Joseph Baruch Silver concluded the following;

“Some scholars view King David’s kingdom as a simple agrarian society, sparsely inhabited, with no fortified cities, no administration and no writing… These scholars find it very hard to accept the new discoveries at Qeiyafa, which have completely dismantled these hypotheses.” (41)

A potentially Hebrew ostracon was found in Khirbet Qeiyafa, which also showed that literacy did exist in the time of David in his enormous kingdom.

A truly unprecedented discovery was made just in 2016, which found foreign linen fabrics that date to the reign of King Solomon, perhaps David, in southern Israel. This is one of those fabrics:

Foreign fabrics dating to the time of Solomon were found in the form of bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords. According to Vanessa Workman from the Tel Aviv University regarding this discovery, this reveals that Israel at the time had various complex trade network systems. Workman says the following;

“We found linen, which was not produced locally. It was most likely from the Jordan Valley or Northern Israel. The majority of the fabrics were made of sheep’s wool, a cloth that is seldom found in this ancient period… This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been.”

Foreign fabrics found in all these forms in Israel reveal that Israel had a complex trade network system at the time, which shows David’s kingdom was indeed quite advanced, and it maintained complex trading systems with other civilizations at the time, literacy, a great land hold and very powerful cities. Perhaps one of David’s own Psalms can educate us on how we should face attacks against the LORD  and His Word.

[Psalm 3]  Lord, how my foes increase! There are many who attack me. Many say about me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah.  But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. Selah.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of the thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side. Rise up, Lord! Save me, my God! You strike all my enemies on the cheek; You break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; may Your blessing be on Your people. Selah.

Jesus Claimed To Be God… Again

Since some time ago, one of my first posts on this blog was titled Jesus Claimed To Be God — where I provided a very lengthy post to show that Jesus did in fact put the claim of God upon Himself. However, upon further research, I realized that the debate on this issue was a lot deeper, and a lot further than my initial blog on this topic had entailed to discuss.  For example, I read Tim O’Neill’s objections to this idea (Tim is an atheist historian) as well as watched the debate between Bart Ehrman and Justin Bass (both have a PhD). I’ve already posted a full rebuttal to Tim’s post (and it can be found by scrolling under Tim’s answer), however it’s time for me to fully update this on my blog. This new post will serve as a further defending the claim that Jesus claimed to be God. We will respond to both the arguments of those who deny that Jesus claimed to be God.

Jesus as God in Paul’s epistles?

Believe it or not, some people actually believe Paul did not view Jesus as God. Scholars and textual critics only view seven of Paul’s letters as definitely authentic and were certainly written by Paul — the book of Romans, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon and Phillipians. Although the other six contain obvious references of Jesus as being divine (Titus 2:13, Colossians 2:9), they are argued to be pseudonymous by the majority of Scholars and thus not authentic to Paul’s name and thereby do not reflect Paul’s views. Although I disagree that they are pseudonymous, I will not reference them in discussion of Paul’s views. Here, we will see that Paul obviously viewed Jesus as God.

Let us see that Paul’s texts that clearly establish Jesus as God, and how those who deny this wish to respond are able to respond.

Phillipians 2:5–7: Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

A very obvious reference to Jesus as God, correct? The dissidents argue otherwise. Here, they say that the Greek word for the word ‘nature’ is μορφῇ (which is correct) — but they also claim that this Greek term does not mean ‘nature’, it merely means ‘shape’. Thus, Paul says the following:

Phillipians 2:5-7: Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, being in the very shape of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Then, the claim is put forth that this does not mean Jesus is God, it really (somehow) means that Jesus is taking on human likeness in some pre-existing celestial form. Unfortunately for these people, although they wish to pertain to this rather fanciful interpretation of this obvious verse, they are wrong. The Greek word μορφῇ does not only mean shape, μορφῇ can mean both shape and form. 3444. μορφή (morphé) — form, shape — in other words, translations like the HCSB are correct when they translate Phillipians 2:5-7 to say the following:

Phillipians 2:5–7 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form,

Saying that the phrase “Jesus existed in the form of God” doesn’t actually mean “Jesus existed in the form of God” will always be a rather simple attempt to explain away this clear-cut phrase from Paul here. Paul here very clearly places Jesus as God. It only gets worse from here though. These people that attempt to completely re-interpret these straight forward statements will not like the fact that the Greek word μορφῇ is exercised elsewhere in the Biblical Greek literature, such as Mark 16:12.

Mark 16:12: After this, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them as they walked along in the country.

The Greek word μορφῇ here is used very obviously, and we can see that this Greek word means taking on a physical form, so when Paul says “Jesus exists in the form of God”, he means that “Jesus literally exists in the physical form of God”. So it seems to me there is no possible way to put forth a plausible view where the text in Phillipians 2:5-7 does not amazingly clearly interpret Jesus as God. This itself can drive the position of these dissidents into the ground, but there is more.

[Romans 9:5] The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.

Another very clear verse, right? It says the Christ (Jesus) is “God over all”, right? Not to the deniers. The deniers rightfully point out that there is great debate over how this verse is to be translated and where the punctuation goes, as punctuation didn’t exist in the first century when Paul wrote Romans. Thus, it is up the modern Greek scholars to determine where the puncutation in Biblical verses are to be placed in light of the verses context. So these are the contending translations of the verse:

” … from their race… is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever”

” … from their race… is the Christ, who is over all. God forever be blessed!”

” … from their race… is the Christ. God who is over all be forever blessed!”

The deniers will tell you that only the first one views Jesus as God, but this is again false. As you can see, the second translation says “Christ, who is over all”. If Paul views Jesus as being over all things, or as being the highest being, then Paul views Jesus as God. So, two translations put Jesus as God and one doesn’t. But is the third translation really plausible? Notice, the translation has the unbearably long phrase “God who is over all be forever blessed!” — is this an accurate translation? No where else in Paul’s literature is such phraseology used, giving us good reason to believe that such a translation is false, it is in error. Therefore, all viable translations clearly put forth that Jesus is God.

Now, we will see other Pauline verses that make it extraordinarily obvious that Jesus is God. Firstly, we see Paul recording that people pray to Jesus.

[1 Corinthians 1:2] To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.

I didn’t know Paul thought people could pray to someone other then God? Now, take a look at this verse which is an elephant in the room to anyone claiming Jesus isn’t viewed as God by Paul:

[Phillipians 2:10–11] so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul tells us that at the return of Jesus, ALL PEOPLES IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH AND UNDER THE Earth will BOW down to Jesus, and will CONFESS that Jesus is Lord. It gets amazingly worse for these people when the word translated as ‘Lord’ is κύριος, which means one who exercises absolute ownership. 2962. κύριος (kurios) — lord, master — if Jesus wasn’t God, then why does the entire world bow down on the mark of His name? This becomes increasingly more troublesome when we see this phrase in Phillipians 2:10-11 correlate with the following Old Testament text.

[Isaiah 45:23-25] By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance. It will be said to Me: Righteousness and strength is only in the Lord.” All who are enraged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. All the descendants of Israel
will be justified and find glory through the Lord.

We now see that what Paul is actually doing in Phillipians 2 is literally correlating an Old Testament text on the almighty Yahweh where Yahweh receives divine homage DIRECTLY with Jesus. This is a type of evidence in the Pauline epistles for the defenders of the idea that Paul portrays Jesus as God fascinates even myself. Seriously. But the problems get much more enormous for anyone continuously denying this. Paul views Jesus and God as the same person. For example, did Paul preach the Gospel of God?

[Romans 15:16] “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Or did Paul preach the gospel of Christ?

[Galatians 1:6–7] I am astonished how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is not even a gospel. Evidently some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ.

I can give many more examples, such as when Paul first says the churches belong to God (1 Corinthians 11:16) and then says the churches belong to Christ (Romans 16:16), or when Paul says the Spirit is of God in Romans 8:9 but then says the Spirit is of Christ in the exact same verse Romans 8:9. Paul even tells us the only way to be saved is to call on Jesus name (Romans 10:13) and to say that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) ! The Greek word used for ‘Lord’ is κύριος which is used multiple times to reference God the Father. The evidence shows it is amazingly obvious that Paul viewed Jesus is God. There is more to go through, but this should be pretty clear by now. The Pauline epistles do in fact portray Jesus as God, as this is what Paul believed as well as Jesus and the early Christians. Because Paul is the earliest author of any Christian writings we have, his view that Jesus is God says quite an enormous amount regarding the earliest belief of Christians and the earliest theology of Christianity.

Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, divine phrase or Messianic phrase?

Some of these people like Tim O’Neill argue that the phrases Christ, Son of God, and Son of Man being titles of Jesus does not make Jesus as God in any way. Tim says this in his answer:

“Christ”, “Son of God” and “Son of Man” are all titles of the Jewish Messiah and the Messiah was not considered to be God.

Though he is right about ‘Christ’, which simply means the ‘Messiah’ in Hebrew or ‘the anointed one’ in English, he is dead wrong about the other two. There is no evidence found in the Old Testament that the phrase Son of God or Son of Man are mere terms used upon the Messiah that do not invoke divinity or being God in any way. Both terms are used on Jesus, such as Jesus being called the Son of God in Mark 1:1 or being called the Son of Man in Matthew 20:28. Although there is no evidence these terms only refer to a being aside from God, there is undeniable evidence that the phrase Son of Man in the Old Testament refers to God.

[Daniel 7:13-14] I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

The Son of Man is a figure authority over all peoples of all nations of all languages, whom is forever served by all the world, and possesses an everlasting kingdom in His dominion that will never cease. This figure is obviously God. I have a feeling Tim might go wild about the verses saying that He is given this authority, but this is because God is the Father and Jesus is the Son, and thus authority belongs to the Father by nature. Since when does a regular human control absolute authority over all humanity for eternity? I can find no place in the Old Testament where this is said to be due to anyone but God Himself — but I did find Zechariah 14:9, which tells us that it is Yahweh that is king over all the Earth — so it seems that the Son of Man is… Yahweh? Jesus proclaimed to be the Son of Man, therefore Jesus proclaimed to be Yahweh?

The funny thing that I’ve come to notice is that Tim O’Neill is one of the very only people who seriously believe that the phrase Son of Man does not refer to God. Others like Bart Ehrman fully accept it — but now you may be asking yourself, if Bart Ehrman himself viewed Jesus as not claiming to be God, what does Bart Ehrman do with Jesus’ claims to be the Son of Man if he views it is a term for God? Well, easy! He simply says that the Gospel authors made up every single phrase in the New Testament of Jesus (more than 80) where Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man. More on this later. In fact, if anyone is still denying that Jesus clearly claimed to be God such as in the Synoptic Gospels, perhaps they can take a look at the following few verses:

[Mark 14:60–64] Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Jesus affirms He is the Messiah, Son of the Blessed One and the Son of Man all at once, and in response the High Priest rips off his robes and declares that Jesus must be put to death because He committed blasphemy. In Jewish Law, you can only commit blasphemy in this context by claiming to be God.

Let’s go back to the term Christ — Jesus claimed to be the Christ, or the Messiah. These people will sometimes say that the Messiah was never to be a God figure according to the Old Testament… But the Old Testament will now challenge them on this.

[Isaiah 9:6–7] For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, And the government will rest on his shoulders; And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.

The Old Testament tells us that the figure who reigns on the throne of David, a son that will be persecuted and will establish an eternal kingdom (this sounds frighteningly like the Messiah) will also be called Mighty God and Eternal Father. So Jesus claiming to be the Messiah is Jesus claiming to be the one who is called Mighty God and Eternal Father, correct? It seems so. Thus, all three terms — Christ, Son of God and Son of Man establish that Jesus claimed to be God.

Jesus as God in the Synoptic Gospels of Luke, Mark, and Matthew

Remember, in the view of those who claim Jesus did not claim to be God, John’s Gospel when saying Jesus is God doesn’t count because it was written too late! Let’s ignore the fact that John the Elder wrote the Gospel of John, a man who directly knew Jesus. Let’s also ignore all the times Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man in the Synoptic Gospels as well, as well as Mark 14:60-64 in which we’ve already made note of. Let’s also put aside Paul’s letters for now. Even aside from all this, Jesus is still clearly shown as God and declares to be God in all the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus says He will literally judge the world on His throne.

[Matthew 25:31–32] “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Who, aside from God alone, is going to sit on their throne and judge the world? We also see the very nice term ‘Son of Man’ appear again. Needless to say, the Old Testament obviously says God judges the world (Amos 5:18–20, Psalm 9:7–8). Anyways, Jesus calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath.

[Mark 2:27–28] Then Jesus told them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Needless to say, the Old Testament proclaims that the Sabbath belongs to God only (Ezekiel 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12). Jesus says that He is the Lord of David.

[Matthew 22:41–45] While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?” “David’s,” they told Him. He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Him ‘Lord’: The Lord declared to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet’? “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be his Son?”

Jesus tells us only the Father knows Him, and only He knows the Father and to whom anyone Jesus wishes to reveal the Father to.

Matthew 11:27: All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.

Jesus tells us He is wherever His followers gather, basically saying He can exist anywhere He pleases.

[Matthew 18:20] For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

Peter tells Jesus He is literally God’s Son, and Jesus blessed him for it.

[Matthew 16:13-17] When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.

Jesus is declared to be the “Holy One”, that is called Son of God.

[Luke 1:35] The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.

We can go forwards — Jesus further declares the Father hands Him authority over earth and heaven and so forth. The Gospels contain tens of references to Jesus as the Son of Man in all the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Jesus is obviously portrayed as God. All this and all these verses together make an overwhelmingly compelling case to Jesus being God as portrayed in the Synoptics. These are not the claims of a mere human being, a human Messiah, or even the mightiest prophet. These are the claims to be put forth onto God and God alone.

Book of Hebrews says Jesus is God?

In discussion on Jesus claim to be God, the Book of Hebrews always seems to be ignored. The Book of Hebrews is an amazingly early text of the New Testament (written 64 AD). This is a very great document in order to understand the earliest interpretation of Jesus amongst the Christians, and lo’ and behold, it says Jesus is God.

[Hebrews 1:7-8] And about the angels He says: He makes His angels winds, and His servants a fiery flame but to the Son: Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.

Finally.. Let’s discuss the Son of Man again.

You’ll recall I said earlier that some people who deny Jesus claimed to be God simply think that Jesus proclaiming Himself to be the Son of Man was ‘made up’ by the Gospel authors. Not only is this the obvious dying breath of someone whom has a failing argument and has to come to terms with the facts that all the Gospels, Pauline letters and earliest Christian texts like the Book of Hebrews and the writings of Ignatius portray Jesus is God — also has absolutely no evidence in support of it. In fact, all the evidence seems to support that Jesus did claim to be the Son of Man based on these sayings. The idea that Jesus historically claimed this passes many historical criterions. For example, it passes the criterion of multiple attestation (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John say Jesus said Himself as the Son of Man), it passes the criterion of early attestation, and it also passes the criterion of dissimilarity. You’ll realize the term ‘Son of Man’ appears almost absolutely nowhere in the New testament apart from the sayings of Jesus — perhaps twice at best. This shows that it is not being made up, as the criterion of dissimilarity shows that this saying of Jesus is unique to Jesus’ quotations, and thus Jesus’ quotations are more likely to be His own (as a fictional quote from John would sound a lot like John’s own writing). All the historical evidence seems to clearly favor the authenticity of this saying, and thus we can have no doubt that Jesus claimed to be God.

Pontius Pilate and the Gospels

Pontius Pilate is someone in whom many Christians are reminded of during their remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, governor of Judea. But Pontius Pilate was also a historical figure, and a man who has a lot more history to his name. We will examine how the historicity of Pontius Pilate ties in with the historical reliability of the New Testament, in specific, the Gospel of Luke.

[Matthew 27:22-24] Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Messiah?” They all answered, “Crucify Him!” Then he said, “Why? What has He done wrong?” But they kept shouting, “Crucify Him!” all the more. When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. See to it yourselves!”

Before 1961, there was no concrete archaeological evidence of the existence of Pontius Pilate, and many historians and laymen at the time proclaimed that this figure was merely mythological and did not actually exist in history, thus contradicting the word of the New Testament. Scholarship has gone a long way since then, and in 1961, this rock was found.

It translates to reading as follows:

To the Divine Augusti [this] Tiberieum…Pontius Pilate…prefect of Judea…has dedicated [this]

As you can see, many parts of the quotation are missing because the stone itself is only a remaining fragment of the entire thing. Historians have dated it contemporary to the time of Pontius Pilate, between 26-36 AD.

Furthermore, Pontius Pilate is recorded by the early historian Josephus (Jewish Antiquities 18.3.2), Tacitus whom was also an early historian of the time (Annals 15.44), and a contemporary historian named Philo of Alexandria in the 38th chapter of On The Embassy To Gauis. Add all this to the fact that Pilate is mentioned by the four Gospels as well (all first century documents) and in 1 Timothy 6:13, and it becomes immediately clear that Pontius Pilate is one of the most attested governors in the history of the Roman Empire, easily validating yet another Biblical fact on top of the countless that have presided before it.

But Pontius Pilate was perhaps, a different man then you may imagine. He was also unbelievably brutal, enraging the Jews and threatening to kill them at the start of his governorship and raiding the temple treasury when he needed some quick cash to build an aqueduct and develop a water supply in Jerusalem. Of course, the Jews were enraged by this and protested in masses. Pilate’s response? He hid some of his soldiers amongst the protesters, and then cause them to attack. Many people were killed.

There are few people who recognize this, but Pontius Pilate is mentioned in the narrative of the Gospels outside of the crucifixion narrative. In fact, it happens in Luke’s Gospel:

[Luke 13:1] At that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

According to Luke, Pilate slaughtered some Galileans whilst they were making sacrifices, perhaps in fear of a riot they could potentially give rise to. Luke corrects Pilate in his gruesome nature, consistent with the historical record, and the story itself is consistent with Pilate’s negativity against the Jews. The way Luke paints Pilate is consistent with the historical record, and thus historical credence and reliability is given to the Gospel of Luke, and overall the New Testament. These two evidences for the New Testament and its historicity (existence of Pilate as well as his character and the things he does) are further reason why we accept the true faith of Christianity.

 

I’d hate to post a blog telling people about the horrific nature of Pilate on Christmas, but perhaps we can remember the things Jesus went through on this day. Furthermore, check out this fantastic video by the YouTube channel Bible Project also relating to Luke’s Gospel! God Bless and have a very merry Christmas! Hopefully these proofs for the Bible can suffice as my Christmas gift to you, but your appreciation in what I post is all I need in return.

 

[Luke 2:11] Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!

 

NEW ARCHAEOLOGY discovery confirms the Bible (again)

TRULY INCREDIBLE, yet another major archaeological discovery was made, confirming yet another Biblical narrative that the skeptics repeatedly attempted to attack as non-historical. Imagine the shock on their faces when this came out about six days ago…

Egyptian stone slab

LETTER STONE  Inscriptions in stone slabs from Egypt, including this specimen dating to almost 3,500 years ago, contain the world’s oldest alphabet, which one researcher now argues was an early form of Hebrew.  New translations of these inscriptions contain references to figures from the Bible, including Moses.

WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED? Click here to get the story on it, or just continue reading. What happened was that some researchers found the OLDEST CONFIRMED ALPHABET in history (but that’s not the good part), some slabs like the picture above dating 3,500 years old, and most as early as 3,800 years old. Before this, the oldest verified alphabet was Phoenician alphabet, only about 3,050 years old…

Anyways, this alphabet was proto-Hebrew, according to Douglas Petrovich, a top scholar who made the find. When I say proto-Hebrew, that basically means it was an older version of the modern Hebrew language (as languages do question change). Here’s the crazy part — it was found in Egypt. Do you remember the exodus from the Old Testament? According to the Bible, the Hebrews came to Egypt (Joseph was sold there in slavery), and after several hundred years, after the Egyptians begun enslaving the Hebrews, descendants of Abraham. Moses rescued them from the tyranny of pharaoh and they crossed the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds?) and settled in Israel, a land promised to Abraham by God (Genesis 15:18-21). Many archaeologists who deny the exodus happened, deny that Hebrews ever lived in Egypt because there was “no evidence” of such a massive amount of Hebrews (there must have been maybe over two million when Moses brought them out of the land of Egypt) living in Egypt. This claim was just shot down by this discovery, showing there were definitely Hebrews in Egypt. This discovery also helped provide great, great evidence for the exodus in general. Which is fantastic.

Every year, more and more archaeological verification of the Bible comes out, and soon the opponents of Christianity will have no legs to stand on. Hallelujah!