Canaanites still alive?

Recently, some geneticists found out that the ancient Canaanite’s are still around. Some people around Lebanon have retained over 90% of their ancient Canaanite DNA. How did they (the geneticists) figure this out? Quite simple, really, they found some DNA belonging to some dead ancient Canaanite’s about 3,700 years old, deciphered the DNA, and compared it to DNA patterns in the modern Middle East and found a match!

The Canaanite’s aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still around. But doesn’t the Bible say they were to be wiped out thousands of years ago?

Deuteronomy 20:16-18: However, you must not let any living thing survive among the cities of these people the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. You must completely destroy them—the Hethite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite—as the Lord your God has commanded you,so that they won’t teach you to do all the detestable acts they do for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.

These verses caused a lot of media outlets to declare that the Bible had been wrong about the Canaanite’s, with one outlet (sciencemag, unfortunately one that usually publishes good media coverage of science) going so far as to title its report something as odious as “Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites”. So, has the biblical account been “countered”? As already proven, hardly.

Let’s take a look at the passage above. First of all, we need to start with the fact that the Bible never, at any one point, declares that the Canaanite’s had in fact been ever wiped out — in fact, later biblical books after Deuteronomy continue to mention the Canaanite’s. This account says that the Canaanite’s will be wiped out, as the Israelite’s continue taking the promised land. However, we know that the Israelite’s never took the entire promised land (or even close) because they continued to break their covenant with God and disobey His commandments — hence, His promise to the Israelite’s to grant them the entire promised land, contingent on them following His laws, never went through. Thus, the ancient peoples inhabiting the promised land were also allowed to remain in it because of the sin of Israel. That is the biblical account in its full context, and now that we know exactly what the biblical account says, the latest skeptical assault on the authority of the Bible has been countered, one might say.

Update: The ScienceMag article realized its mistake when trying to discredit the veracity of the biblical account, and so it recently changed the title of its page from Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites to Ancient DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

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Why Naboth had a Vineyard

1 Kings 21:1: Some time passed after these events. Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard; it was in Jezreel next to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.

Yet another fascinating archaeological discovery tells us why Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard — because Jezreel, the land where he lived in was filled with wine-production in biblical times, and in biblical times, wine came from vineyards, and so Jezreel was full of vineyards, and we indeed do know now there were vineyards in Jezreel. In essence, archaeology has helped confirm another story in the Bible (which made some headlines in the last week) as well as increased our understanding of the texts. It seems as if not a single year goes by without archaeology affirming yet another narrative in the most important book to all Christians in the world.

In 1 Kings 22, we are told the story of a man named Naboth, who had a vineyard in Jezreel that he inherited from his father. The king, Ahab, sees Naboth’s vineyard and wants it, so he offers up some silver to Naboth in order to purchase it from him. Naboth rejects the kings silver, unwilling to sell off his inheritance. Ahab gets bitter about it, lies on his bed and refuses to eat, which catches the attention of his wife, Jezebel. Jezebel finds out why Ahab is having a bad day, and stages a mock trial to execute Naboth so her husband can get the vineyard. Jezebel’s mock trial works out, Naboth is stoned based on false charges of cursing God, Ahab hears about it and possesses the now ownerless vineyard formerly belonging to Naboth.

God saw the entire thing. God ends up delivering a prophecy of destruction to Ahab on his household through his prophet, Elijah, and the story continues from 1 Kings 21-22. Now, according to the archaeologists excavating Jezreel, because we know that in fact there were vineyards in and around Jezreel as the Bible notes and that their purpose was to supply national commodities like wine, we have good enough reason for considering the narrative as historical. God is great!

Is The Lake Of Fire In The Old Testament?

The most fearful thing for an unbeliever is being cast by God into the lake of fire. As Hebrews 10:31 illustrates, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The human fear of God and judgment is readily noted throughout our Bible, and it’s something that most of us all likely have come about. But what if… Later biblical authors just made it up?

Recently, I’ve been coming across the claim by non-believers that I’ve been talking with that say the concept of eternal torture in the afterlife is nowhere to be found in the Old Testament, and thus, is a New Testament invention as the biblical tradition continuously became more exaggerated with the passing of time. So, I took to studying the Old Testament in some way, and see if this claim stacks up. I’ve come across this claim by many people in many contexts, and so this is certainly one of those online skeptic classicals.

Firstly, before we see what the Old Testament has to say, we need to understand what the New Testament says about the eternity of torture in the afterlife. Although people refer to this as hell, in the entire Bible, this is most certainly not hell. Hell is not a place of eternal torture, biblically speaking, it is the lake of fire that is the place of eternal fire and tortureIn fact, towards the end of the New Testament, we are not only specifically told that hell and the lake of fire are two different things, but we are told that hell and death will literally be cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14: Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

So, the final place of unrelenting agony is the lake of fire, not hell. So, how does the New Testament actually refer to the place of hell anyways? In reality, the actual English word hell only came into existence in the 8th century AD from Germanic derivation. Thus, it becomes immediately clear that the New Testament never refers to hell in the original Greek language, that term is only found in our modern English translations. In reality, the original Greek uses a single specific term for ‘hell’, that is, hades.

Hades is a place deep within the Earth where the souls of all the wicked dead lay after their death, and stay there until they are cast into the lake of fire by God, where they will be tortured in fire forever. Now that we’ve clarified this, the question becomes if the concept of the lake of fire (an eternal torture and fire) appears in the Old Testament. The deniers say it doesn’t. What does the Old Testament say?

Daniel 12:2: Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt.

In this verse, things become quickly clear. We are told that some people are resting in the “dust of the earth” (sheol), and soon, they will either depart to one of two places, either eternal life or eternal contempt (an eternity after death either way). The places of eternal life and eternal contempt appear to be opposites — eternal life being heaven, and eternal contempt being the lake of fire. It does appear, from this verse, that the concept of an eternal torture awaiting the wicked does appear in the Old Testament. There are more verses to examine, of course, before relenting in our study.

Jeremiah 23:40: I will bring on you everlasting disgrace and humiliation that will never be forgotten.”

Again, we see another explicit reference, by God Himself in this verse, where God will throw someone into some form of eternal unpleasance. These two aforementioned verses do not yet speak of an eternal fire, but there is one last verse to look at before deciding on whether or not the skeptics are right about this.

Isaiah 66:24 “As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.”

The last verse of Isaiah’s book tells us that some people will be in an undying fire after death, a place where their worm will never die (see Jesus speak in Mark 9:48). This verse unambiguously declares the unrighteous will enter into an eternity of fire and doom in the afterlife, consistent with both what we know from Daniel 12:2 and Jeremiah 23:40. Interestingly, another verse (Isaiah 50:11) also says that God says to the wicked “you will lie down in a place of torment.” So, I think it’s clear now that the lake of fire is explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament, hence, not a later invention that comes about through the advent of the New Testament. Thus, the skeptics turned out to be wrong.

The Life of David

King David (reigned 1010-970 BC) 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)

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 BC 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 BC). 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, war 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 BC). And thus, the life of the king comes to an end.

Historical Background of David’s Life

In 1993 AD, 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, the surveyor of excavations at Tel Dan, Gila Cook, 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 BC. The inscription on this stele contained thirteen lines of writing in the Early Aramaic script.

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 phrase believed to reference the dynasty of Israel established by David. Soon after publication, this finding was 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 BC 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 AD. 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 BC, 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 BC… 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 BC 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 AD was that of a large palatial building dating to the reign of Solomon (10th century BC) 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 AD, 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 BC 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 BC), 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.

How Can You Belive In a God that Damns your children?

This is a hard question, one that not many parents which to take into consideration. What if my, very own children are condemned to Hell by the God I love?

The truth is, your children are not only your children but children of God, and all moral accountability is ultimately directed to God. For perhaps the greatest answer ever given to this question by one of the worlds best philosophers, click here or the link below:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/worshiping-a-god-who-might-damn-your-children

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?

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.

Image result for epic earthquake

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.”

Tomb of Jesus Found?

The location of the tomb of Jesus in Israel just might be known. I first considered this an exaggeration when I heard of it, but I have found out that there is at least something to take into serious consideration.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is possibly the true and literal place where Jesus was buried, and was viewed as this area from at least the beginning of the 4th century AD. Jesus was buried outside of the old city of Jerusalem. The tomb located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located outside of the old city of Jerusalem. This tomb was also closed with a large rock (technically, this was typical of ancient tombs of 1st century Israel). Inside this tomb, there is stone benches for visitors to be seated on. According to the gospels, when the women entered inside the tomb, they saw “a young man seated in a white garment” (Mark 16:5). Hmm… I’d recommend reading more by clicking here.

The tomb is also empty. Just sayin’.