Bible Archaeology 1 | Cyrus The Great | Kingdom Of Judah

Bible and Archaeology

part 1 (of 2 parts) Over the years there have been many criticisms leveled against the Bible concerning its historical reliability. These criticisms are usually based on a lack of evidence from outside sources to confirm the Biblical record. Since the Bible is a religious book, many scholars take the position that it is biased and cannot be trusted unless we have corroborating evidence from extra-Biblical sources. In other words, the Bible is guilty until proven innocent, and a lack of outside evidence places the Biblical account in doubt. This standard is far different from that applied to other ancient documents, even though many, if not most, have a religious element. They are considered to be accurate, unless there is evidence to show that they are not. Although it is not possible to verify every incident in the Bible, the discoveries of archaeology since the mid 1800s have demonstrated the reliability and plausibility of the Bible narrative. Here are some examples.

Clay tablet from Ebla.
The discovery of the Ebla archive in northern Syria in the 1970s has shown the Biblical writings concerning the Patriarchs to be viable. Documents written on clay tablets from around 2300 B.C. demonstrate that personal and place names in the Patriarchal accounts are genuine. The name "Canaan" was in use in Ebla, a name critics once said was not used at that time and was used incorrectly in the early chapters of the Bible. The word "tehom" ("the deep") in Genesis 1:2 was said to be a late word demonstrating the late writing of the creation story. "Tehom" was part of the vocabulary at Ebla, in use some 800 years before Moses. Ancient customs reflected in the stories of the Patriarchs have also been found in clay tablets from Nuzi and Mari. The Hittites were once thought to be a Biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered at Bogazkoy, Turkey. Many thought the Biblical references to Solomon's wealth were greatly exaggerated. Recovered records from the past show that wealth in antiquity was concentrated with the king and Solomon's prosperity was entirely feasible. It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon's palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Isaiah 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is more, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself. Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus' son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make Daniel "third highest ruler in the kingdom" (Dan. 5:16) for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position. Here we see the "eye-witness" nature of the Biblical record, as is so often brought out by the discoveries of archaeology. Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research

The Merneptah Stela, now in the Cairo Museum, is probably the most analyzed ancient text outside of the Bible. Undoubtedly, the most important mention of Israel outside the Bible is that in the Merneptah, or "Israel," Stela. Discovered in 1896 in Merneptah's mortuary temple in Thebes by Flinders Petrie, the stela is a poetic eulogy to pharaoh Merneptah, who ruled Egypt after Rameses the Great, ca. 1212-1202 BC. Of significance to Biblical studies is a short section at the end of the poem describing a campaign to Canaan by Merneptah in the first few years of his reign, ca. 1210 BC. One line mentions Israel: "Israel is laid waste, its seed is not." Here we have the earliest mention of Israel outside the Bible and the only mention of Israel in Egyptian records. Since the date of the reference to Israel in the Merneptah Stela is during the time of the judges, prior to the establishment of the monarchy, it is of crucial importance to understanding Israel's formative period. For example, a popular theory among Biblical scholars today is that Israel emerged from peoples indigenous to Canaan in the mid 12th century BC. If this is true, then Biblical history and chronology prior to ca. 1150 BC would have to be jettisoned. Proponents of the "12th century emergence theory" maintain that the Israelites did not come into Canaan from outside to conquer the land around 1400 BC, as the Bible indicates. The emergence scenario would also reject the historicity of the Wilderness Wanderings, Exodus, Egyptian Sojourn and the Patriarchal narratives. However, if Israel were an established entity in Canaan already in 1210 BC, as the Merneptah Stela implies, then the 12th century emergence theory would be refuted (Bimson 1991). If Israel was well established by the end of the 13th century, it could not have come into being in the middle of the next century. As a result, the Merneptah Stela has been meticulously scrutinized and analyzed by scholars, perhaps more so than any text outside the Bible. They are out to determine what it "really" says, not that they would want to force any preconceived notions on the text! Michael G. Hasel, a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, has recently reviewed the various interpretations concerning the reference to Israel in the stela. Furthermore, he has done an in-depth linguistic study to determine as far as possible the intended meaning of text. The discussion of the significance of Israel in the Merneptah stela revolves around the meaning of two words: "Israel" and "seed." A number of possibilities have been suggested, as summarized by Hasel. Scholars have implied that the name Israel could be interpreted as Iezreel or Jezreal, the valley to the north of the country. Another idea is that the name has a descriptive meaning ("the wearers of the side lock") and applies to the Libyans. Or, in the time of Merneptah, the name Israel was a geographic term referring to a territory corresponding to Canaan. Hasel discusses the problems associated with each of these interpretations and concludes, Israel, identified by the determinative for people, is a socioethnic unity powerful enough to be mentioned along with major city-states that were also neutralized (1994: 51). Turning to the meaning of the Egyptian word prt, "seed," there are only two possibilities, "grain" or "offspring." Based on the use of prt in other Egyptian texts, Hasel deduces that it refers to grain. Thus, the phrase "its seed is not" indicates that Israel's food supply was no longer in existence. Hasel observes, We may perceive Israel within the context and information of the Merneptah stela to be a rural sedentary group of agriculturalists without its own urban city-state support system (1994:54).

This is exactly the picture we have of Israel from the Old Testament. Gideon lived close to the time of the Merneptah Stela and he was a farmer living in a small village (Judges 6). Archaeological evidence supports the fact that the Israelites were agriculturalists in the late 13th century BC. Grain storage pits were a common feature of hill country sites of this period. Teeth from a tomb dating to ca. 1200 BC excavated by the Associates for Biblical Research at Kh. Nisya indicate that the inhabitants of the site ate grain. Hasel's study of the Merneptah Stela is extremely important. It clears up a number of misconceptions and focuses attention on the true significance of the stela. It indicates that Israel was well established in Canaan in the late 13th century BC and was a significant political force to be reckoned with. Hasel concludes, Israel functioned as an agriculturally-based/sedentary socioethnic entity in the late 13th century B.C., one that is significant enough to be included in the military campaign against political powers in Canaan. ... While the Merneptah stela does not give any indication of the actual social structure of the people of Israel, it does indicate that Israel was a significant socioethnic entity that needed to be reckoned with (1994: 54; 56, n. 12). Scholars need to come to grips with these facts, which are entirely consistent with the Bible's description of Israel's origins. RECOMMENDED FOR FURTHER READING: Bimson, J.J. 1991 "Merenptah's Israel and recent Theories of Israelite Origins". Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 49: 3-29. Hasel, M.G. 1994 "Israel in the Merneptah Stela". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 296: 45-61. Author: Bryant G. Wood of Associates for Biblical Research.

Is there evidence that the Israelites once lived in Egypt as the Bible says? Has Joseph's original tomb been found?

The Bible tells us that when Jacob and his family migrated from Asia to Egypt, they were settled in "the land of Rameses" and that they became property owners there (Genesis 47:11, 27). Eventually, the Israelites were used as slave laborers to build the city of Rameses (Exodus 1:11), and when they left after 430 years (Exodus 12:40), they departed from Rameses (Exodus 12:37). From these references, we can conclude that the Israelites spent the years of the Egyptian Sojourn in and around Rameses. "We not only know where Rameses was located, but we know much about the history of the ancient site." The name Rameses actually comes from a later period than the Israelite Sojourn. It was the name given to a city built by Rameses the Great (Rameses II) in the eastern Nile Delta in the 13th century BC. This more familiar name was then used retrospectively by later scribes when copying the Biblical texts. Although the location of Rameses was in dispute for some years, that dispute has now been settled. We not only know where Rameses was located, but we know much about the history of the ancient site. Since 1966, extensive excavations have been undertaken there under the direction of Manfred Bietak of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Cairo (for previous reports, see Shea 1990: 100103; Wood 1991: 104-106; Aling 1996: 20-21). It is possible that Prof. Bietak may have, for the first time, found physical evidence for the presence of the Israelites in Egypt.

Archaeology uncovers the history of the land of Rameses Ancient Rameses is located at Tell el-Dab‘a in the eastern Delta, approximately 100 km northeast of Cairo. In antiquity, the Pelusiac branch of the Nile flowed past the site, giving access to the Mediterranean. In addition, the town lay on the land route to Canaan, the famous Horus Road. Thus, it was an important commercial and military center. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. -Exodus 1:8

We can divide the history of the site into three periods: pre-Hyksos, Hyksos and post-Hyksos. The Hyksos were a Semitic people from Syria-Palestine, who took up residence in the eastern Nile Delta and eventually ruled northern Egypt for some 108 years, ca. 1663-1555 BC (15th Dynasty).[1] Jacob and his family arrived in Egypt around 1880 BC, based on an Exodus date of ca. 1450 BC. That was in the pre-Hyksos period when the name of the town was Rowaty, "the door of the two roads" (Bietak 1996: 9,19). [2] Could this be the Israelites? Bietak may have, for the first time, found physical evidence for the presence of the Israelites in Egypt. It is the right culture in the right place at the right time. The earliest evidence for Asiatics at Rowaty (the city that later named Rameses) occurs in the late 12th Dynasty (mid 19th century BC). [3] At that time a rural settlement was founded. It was unfortified, although there were many enclosure walls, most likely for keeping animals. The living quarters consisted of rectangular huts built of sand bricks (Bietak 1986: 237; 1991b: 32). It is highly possible that this is the first material evidence of Israelites in Egypt. It is the right culture in the right place at the right time.

Not all residents of the first Asiatic settlement at Tell el-Dab‘a lived in huts. One of them, evidently an important official, lived in a small villa. The Bible tells us that Joseph became a high official after he correctly interpreted Pharaoh's dreams (Genesis 41:39-45). We are not told where Joseph lived while serving in the Egyptian bureaucracy. It seems logical to assume, however, that after discharging his duties associated with the famine, he would have moved to Rameses to be near his father and brothers. Could this villa have been Joseph's house? [4] The villa was 10 x 12 meters in size, situated on one side of an enclosure measuring 12 x 19 meters. It consisted of six rooms laid out in horseshoe fashion around an open courtyard. The most striking aspect of the house is that the floor plan is identical to the Israelite "four-room house" of the later Iron Age in Palestine (Holladay 1992a). In this type of house two side rooms and a back room were arranged around a central space, or courtyard. [5] Nearby, arranged in a semi-circle around the villa, were poorer two-roomed homes, approximately 6 x 8 meters in size. If the villa was the home of Joseph, then the surrounding huts might have been those of Joseph's father and brothers. Approximately 20% of the pottery found in the settlement debris was of Palestinian Middle Bronze Age type (Bietak 1996: 10). In the open spaces southwest of the villa was the cemetery of the settlement. Here, some of the most startling evidence was found. Hebrew Tombs? The tombs were constructed of mud bricks in Egyptian fashion, but the contents were strictly Asiatic. Although they had been thoroughly plundered, 50% of the male burials still had weapons of Palestinian type in them. Typically, the deceased males were equipped with two javelins, battle-axes and daggers. Tomb 8 contained a fine example of a duckbill-ax and an embossed belt of bronze (Bietak 1996: 14). One of the tombs, however, was totally unique and unlike anything ever found in Egypt... Joseph's tomb? At the southwest end of the burial area, some 83 meters from the villa compound, was a monumental tomb, Tomb 1. It was composed of a nearly square superstructure containing the main burial chamber, and a chapel annex. In a robbers' pit sunk into the chapel, excavators found fragments of a colossal statue depicting an Asiatic dignitary. The likeness was of a seated official 1Ѕ times life size. It was made of limestone and exhibited excellent workmanship. The skin was yellow, the traditional color of Asiatics in Egyptian art. It had a mushroom-shaped hairstyle, painted red, typical of that shown in Egyptian artwork for Asiatics. A throwstick, the Egyptian hieroglyph for a foreigner, was held against the right shoulder. The statue had been intentionally smashed and defaced (Bietak 1996: 20-21). In his book Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, David Rohl suggests that this is the tomb of Joseph himself (1995: 360-67).[6] The evidence seems to support this hypothesis. We must assume that Tomb 1 was that of the occupant of the villa, and thus possibly of Joseph himself. The Bible is very specific as to what became of Joseph's body. "So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."

-Genesis 50:26 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him during the Exodus because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. Joseph had said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with your from this place." -Exodus 13:19; cf. Genesis 50:25 Inside the burial chamber excavators found fragments of an inscribed limestone sarcophagus and a few bone fragments, but no intact skeleton as in the other tombs in the cemetery (Bietak 1991a: 61). Sometime after the burial, a pit was dug at the end of the chapel and a tunnel dug into the burial chamber. The "coffin" (sarcophagus) was then broken and the remains of the deceased removed by these "tomb robbers" (Rohl 1995: 363). It was common for tombs to be broken into in antiquity and the valuables removed, but to have the body taken is highly unusual. Was the statue broken at the time the bones were removed, or was that done at another time? Archaeology cannot tell us the answer; we can only speculate. It is likely that the statue was broken during a time of political turmoil (Bietak 1996: 21), possibly when the Hyksos took over rule of the region. It appears most likely that the "new king, who did not know about Joseph" (Exodus 1:8) was the first Hyksos king who came to power ca. 1663 BC.[7] At that time, the Israelites came under intense oppression (Exodus 1:9-11). Perhaps the Hyksos destroyed the statue when they overthrew local Egyptian authority. Since the remains in the tomb would also have been in danger, faithful Israelites may have removed them for safekeeping at this time. Evidence that the Hyksos took control In the next phase of occupation, [8] the humble dwellings were covered over and a huge palace complex constructed. It is obvious that the newcomers, although Asiatic, were different from those in the previous period. [9] The palace complex comprised several large buildings, purely Egyptian in style. It included upper stories, porticos, courtyards, pools, gardens and cemeteries (Bietak 1996: 21-30). The rich finds of this phase suggest that the occupants were high officials engaged in foreign trade. It appears that this was the initial phase of Hyksos settlement at the site. [10] With the coming of these peoples, the fortunes of the families of Jacob's sons declined (Exodus 1:8-12a). Without identifying inscriptions, we will never know for sure if the earlier people were Israelites. [11] Contemporary references to Jacob's 12 sons have not been found. Since the sons of Jacob were humble shepherds, we should not expect to find such records, except possibly for Joseph.[12] However, there are ancient references to several of the tribes of Israel which, of course, were named after the sons of Jacob. So, in an indirect way, we do have inscriptional references to the sons of Jacob, albeit from a later time. This much we can say about the discoveries in Rameses. The finds represent exactly what we would expect to find from Israelite occupation in Egypt. Notes

The Egyptian word Hyksos means "foreign rulers." In common usage, however, the term is used to refer in general to the Asiatics who settled in the eastern Delta of Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period. The dates for Hyksos rule are not known precisely. Those used here are based on the following: A. Expulsion of the Hyksos in approximately the 15th year of Ahmose (Bietak 1991b: 48) B. A total of 108 years for the rule of the Hyksos according to the Turin papyrus (Bietak 1991b: 48) C. The chronology of Wente and Van Siclen for the 18th Dynasty (Wente and Van Siclen 1977: 218). This chronology gives a death date for Tuthmosis III of 1450 BC, which correlates with the Biblical date for the Exodus. According to Scripture, the Pharaoh of the Exodus perished in the Yam Suph (Exodus 14:5-9,18,28; 15:4,7; Psalm 106:9-11; 136:15), therefore, we correlate the date of the Exodus with the death date of the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The chronology of Wente and Van Siclen also incorporates the low date of 1279 BC for the accession of Rameses II accepted by most scholars today. In the 14th Dynasty, toward the end of the 18th century BC, the name of the town was changed to Avaris, "the (royal) foundation of the district" (Bietak 1996:40). When the Hyksos later established their capital there, they retained the name Avaris. It was probably the Hyksos rulers who forced the Israelites to build the store cities of Pithom (= Tell el-Maskhuta) and Rameses (= Tell el-Dab‘a = Avaris) (Exodus 1:11). When Rameses II rebuilt the city in the 13th century in the post-Hyksos period, and long after the Israelites had left Egypt, the name was changed to Rameses. The location of Pithom has also been a matter of some debate. Now, however, it seems quite certain that it should be located at Tell el-Maskhuta at the eastern end of the Wadi Tumilat, 15 km west of Ismailiya. Asiatic remains similar to those found at Tell el-Dab‘a have been found there and attributed to the Hyksos (Holladay 1992b: 588-89; 1997:332-34). According to Holladay, the Hyksos occupation at Tell el-Maskhuta took place ca. 1750-1625 BC. It would have been sometime during this time period, then, that the Israelites built the store city of Pithom. Area F/I, Str. d/2, and Area A/II, Str H Str. d/2 at Tell el-Dab‘a In Palestine, the side rooms were usually delineated by stone columns. With the scarcity of stone in Egypt, this feature would not be expected. Holladay suggests that the ground floor of such a house was primarily utilized for the economic aspects of family life such as the storage of food, tools and supplies, and the housing of animals. The family living space, on the other hand, was most likely on the second floor. As a result of his nontraditional chronology of ancient Egypt, however, British historian David Rohl dates Tomb 1 to the late 17th century BC (1995: 339), rather than the mid-nineteenth century as determined by the excavators. Since Rohl believes the Sojourn to be only 215 years based on the Septuagint (1995: 329-32), Joseph and Tomb 1 end up being approximately contemporary by his chronology. The present author, however, disagrees with both of these views and holds to conventional Egyptian chronology and a Sojourn of 430 years (Ex 12:40) as recorded in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, Rohl places Joseph and Tomb 1 in

Str. d/1, while the present author accepts the excavators' dating of Tomb 1 to Str. d/2, and believes Str. d/2 to be a more compatible context for Joseph and the Israelites. We are not certain of the name of the first Hyksos king. Redford suggests Salitis/Saites based on literary references (1992: 342), while Ward suggests Khyan based on inscriptional evidence (1984:162-72). Str. d/1 dating to the early 13th Dynasty (early 18th century BC) Str. d/2 Str. d/1 Str. d/2 There is a canal connecting the Nile with the Faiyum in the western desert named Bahr Yusuf, the "canal of Joseph." Development of the Faiyum is associated with Dynasty 12, the time when Joseph was in Egypt carrying out land reforms (Genesis 41:46-49; Gardiner 1961: 35-36). Whether the name of the canal is ancient or from a relatively modern tradition is not known. Otherwise, the name of Joseph has not turned up in Egypt (see Aling 1996). Bibliography Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, revised edition, translated and edited by A.F. Rainey (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1979). C.F. Aling, "The Historicity of the Joseph Story," Bible and Spade 9 (1996), pp. 17-28. M. Bietak, Avaris and Piramesse: Archaeological Exploration in the Eastern Nile Delta, (London: The British Academy, 1986); "Der Friedhof in einem Palastgarten aus der Zeit des spдten Mittleren Riches und andere Forschungsergebnisse aus dem цstlichen Nildelta (Tell el-Dab‘a 1984-1987)," Agypten und Levante 2 (1991a), pp. 47-109; "Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 281 (1991b), pp. 27-72; Avaris: The Capital of the Hyksos, (London: British Museum Press, 1996). A. Biran, "City of the Golden Calf," Bible and Spade, 5 (1976), pp. 22-27; "To the God Who is in Dan," in Temples and High Places in Biblical Times, A. Biran, editor, (Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College, 1981), pp. 142-51. A. Chambon, "Tell el-Far'ah I: L'Вge du Fer," Mйmoire 31 (Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1984). I. Finkelstein, "‘Izbet Sartah: An Early Iron Age Site Near Rosh Ha‘ayin, Israel," BAR International Series 299 (Oxford: B.A.R., 1986). V. Fritz and A. Kempinski, Ergebnisse der Ausgrabunden auf der Hiebet el-Msas (Tel Masos) 1972-1975 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1983). A. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (London: Oxford University Press, 1961). H. Gauthier, Dictionnaire des noms gйoraphiques contenus dans les textes hiйroglyphiques, Volume 1 (Cairo: L'Institute Franзais d'Archйologie Orientale, 1925).

H.L. Ginsberg, "Aramaic Letters," in J.B. Pritchard, editor, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 491-492. D.V. Hadley, "Asher," in D.N. Freedman, editor, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), pp. 482-483. J.S. Holladay, Jr. "House, Israelite," in D.N. Freedman, editor, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 3 (New York: Doubleday, 1992a), pp. 308-18; "Maskhuta, Tell el-," in D.N. Freedman, editor, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 4 (New York: Doubleday, 1992b), pp. 588-92; "Maskhuta, Tell el-," in E.M. Meyers, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, Volume 3 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 432-437. K.A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity, 1966); Ramesside Inscriptions Translated and Annotated: Notes and Comments, Volume 1 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993). A. Lemaire, "House of David Restored in Moabite Inscription," Biblical Archaeology Review, 20/3 (1994), pp. 30-37. C.C. McCown, Tell en-Nasbeh I (Berkeley: The Palestine Institute of Pacific School of Religion, 1947). A.L. Oppenheim, "Babylonian and Assyrian Historical Texts," in J.B. Pritchard, editor, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 265-317, 556-567. D.B. Redford, "Hyksos: History," in D.N. Freedman, editor, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 3 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), pp. 341-344. D.M. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York: Crown, 1995). H. Shanks, "Strata," Biblical Archaeology Review, 23/2 (1997), p. 8. W.H. Shea, "Leaving Egypt," Archaeology and Biblical Research, 3 (1990), pp. 99-111. E. Stern, Material Culture of the Land of the Bible in the Persian Period 538-332 B.C. (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1982). W.A. Ward, "Royal-Name Scarabs," in Olga Tufnell, Studies on Scarab Seals, Volume 2 (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1984), pp. 151-192. E. Wente and C. Van Siclen III, "A Chronology of the New Kingdom," in Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes January 12, 1977, J.H. Johnson and E.F. Wente, editors, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, 39 (Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 1977), pp. 217-261. B.G. Wood, "Recent Discoveries and Research on the Conquest," Archaeology and Biblical Research, 4 (1991), pp. 104-110; "Mesha, King of Moab," Bible and Spade, 9 (1996), pp. 55-64. G.E. Wright, Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City (London: Gerald Duckworth, 1965).

Author: Dr. Bryant G. Wood of Associates for Biblical Research. Adapted from the ABR article: "The Sons of Jacob: New Evidence for the Presence of the Israelites in Egypt" Copyright © 1998, Associates for Biblical Research, All Rights Reserved - except as noted on attached "Usage and Copyright" page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schools.

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Is there archaeological evidence of the sons of Jacob, the tribal leaders of Israel?
Various archaeological discoveries support the Biblical record concerning Jacob, his 12 sons, and the later tribes of Israel. Dan - Will Provide Justice for His People (Genesis 49:16) Dan was the fifth son of Jacob and the first son of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid (Genesis 30:1-6). During the period of Judges, the tribe of Dan migrated from their original allotment on the Mediterranean coast to the city of Laish, renamed Dan (Judges 18).[1] The site of Laish/Dan has been under excavation since 1966, directed by Avraham Biran on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The city of Dan is most famous for being the site of one of the high-places set up by Jeroboam, first king of the breakaway northern kingdom, in order to worship the golden calf. Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!" And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in DAN. -1 Kings 12:28-29 That high place has been found and excavated by Biran (Biran 1976). The Dan high place was not only used during Israelite times, but continued as a religious center down to the Roman period. In 1977, a very important discovery from the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd centuries BC) was made. A dedicatory inscription mentioning Dan was found some 17 meters south of the high place (Biran 1981). For the first time, the Biblical name of the site was found in an ancient inscription and, by association, the name of one of Jacob's sons. Gad - Will be Attacked by a Band of Raiders (Genesis 49:19) Gad was Jacob's seventh son, the first son of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid. The tribe of Gad occupied the central area of Transjordan (Joshua 13:24-28).

In the famous Mesha Inscription found at Dhibon in Jordan, dating from the 9th century BC, the tribe of Gad is mentioned.[2] The Moabite king Mesha states, "And the men of GAD had dwelt in the land of Ataroth from of old" (Lemaire 1994: 33, line 10).[3] Asher - His Food Will be Rich (Genesis 49:20) A number of scholars have maintained that that the name 'Isr appearing in Egyptian texts is the Israelite tribal name Asher (e.g., Aharoni 1979: 179, 183; Hadley 1992: 482). That appears not to be the case, however. So we present the following in the way of a correction to information that might appear in other sources. The earliest mention of the name 'Isr is in a list of conquered peoples from the time of Seti I, early 13th century BC (Simons 1937:147, List XVII, no. 4).

Pharoah Rameses II. The name also appears several times in the inscriptions of Rameses II (1279-1212 BC), again in lists of conquered peoples (Gauthier 1925:105; Kitchen 1993:39-40; Simons 1937: 162, List XXV, no. 8). Perhaps the most interesting of these references is in Papyrus Anastasi I from the end of the 13th century BC. Here, the wise scribe Hori chides the novice scribe Amen-em-Opet concerning his knowledge of Canaan. He warned that his reputation could become as low as that of "Qazardi, ruler of Asru ('Isr), when the hyena caught him up a tree" (Kitchen 1993: 40). Noted Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen lists four reasons why the Egyptian name "Isr" cannot be the Israelite tribe of Asher (1993: 40-41; cf. Kitchen 1966: 70-71): The texts indicate that 'Isr is a territory or place-name, not a tribe. The final Egyptian r can stand for l as well as r. It is not known where 'Isr was located, so it is not possible to make a geographical link between 'Isr and the tribal area of Asher. The Egyptian letter s corresponds to th not sh, as in Asher.

Judah - Holder of the Royal Scepter and Ruler's Staff (Genesis 49:10) Judah is perhaps the best known of Jacob's sons. He was the fourth son of Jacob and the fourth son born to Leah (Genesis 29:35). It was Judah who talked his brothers out of killing Joseph at Dothan and selling him to the Ishmaelite traders (Genesis 37:26-27). Judah acted as spokesman for the brothers on their second journey to Egypt to face Joseph during the famine (Genesis 43:3; 44:14-34). Since his three older brothers were passed over,[4] Judah inherited the position of firstborn of Jacob's sons and received the kingly blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:8-12). The tribe established by Judah became the greatest of the Israelite tribes. It received the largest allotment in the promised land (Joshua 15), and it was from Judah that the Messiah descended (Genesis 49:10-12; Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). When the kingdom divided, the southern kingdom was known simply as Judah. After the return of the exiles from Babylon, the ancient tribal area continued to be known as Yehud/Judah/Judea until the suppression of the Bar Khokba revolt by Hadrian in AD 135. After that, the name passed out of use. Because of the political importance of the area of Judah through the centuries, the name has turned up in many ancient inscriptions. The oldest of these are two references to Ahaz King of Judah from the eighth century BC. One is on a bulla (clay sealing) which reads "Ahaz (son of) Jotham King of JUDAH" (Shanks 1997). The other is in a building inscription of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III from Calah (Nimrud), Iraq. It simply states that king "Jehoahaz (Ahaz) of JUDAH" paid tribute to the Assyrian king (Oppenheim 1969:282). Additional references to Judah occur throughout the Assyrian period (Oppenheim 1969: 287, 288, 291, 294, 301). The Babylonians recorded the fall of the "city of JUDAH" to Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC (Oppenheim 1969: 564) and the issuing of rations to Judean captives, including Jehoiachin (Oppenheim 1969: 308). In addition, we have a 407 BC letter from Elephantine to Bagoas, governor of JUDAH (Ginsburg 1969: 492), Yehud (Judah) coins from the 4th century BC, and Yehud seals from the 4th-2nd centuries BC (Stern 1982: 224-27; 202-13). All of these data support the historicity of the Biblical record concerning Jacob, his 12 sons, and the later tribes of Israel. There is even evidence of their sojourn in Eqypt. Is there evidence that the Israelites once lived in Egypt as the Bible says? And has Joseph's original tomb been found? Notes For archaeological evidence for the migration of the Danites, see Wood 1991:107-109. For more information on the Mesha Inscription, see Wood 1996. Ataroth is thought to be located at ‘Atarus 13 km northwest of Dhiban. Reuben sleeping with his father's concubine Bilhah (Gn 35:22), and Simeon and Levi massacring the men of Shechem (Genesis 34). Bibliography

Aharoni, Y. 1979 The Land of the Bible, rev. ed., trans. and ed. A.F. Rainey. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. Aling, C.F. 1996 The Historicity of the Joseph Story. Bible and Spade 9: 17-28. Bietak, M. 1986 Avaris and Piramesse: Archaeological Exploration in the Eastern Nile Delta. London: The British Academy. 1991a Der Friedhof in einem Palastgarten aus der Zeit des spдten Mittleren Riches und andere Forschungsergebnisse aus dem цstlichen Nildelta (Tell el-Dab‘a 1984-1987). Agypten und Levante 2:47-109. 1991b Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 281: 27-72. 1996 Avaris: The Capital of the Hyksos. London: British Museum Press. Biran, A. 1976 City of the Golden Calf. Bible and Spade 5:22-27. 1981 To the God Who is in Dan. Pp. 142-51 in Temples and High Places in Biblical Times, ed. A. Biran. Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College. Chambon, A. 1984 Tell el-Far'ah I: L'Вge du Fer. Mйmoire 31. Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations. Finkelstein, I. 1986 ‘Izbet Sartah: An Early Iron Age Site Near Rosh Ha‘ayin, Israel. BAR International Series 299. Oxford: B.A.R. Fritz, V., and Kempinski, A. 1983 Ergebnisse der Ausgrabunden auf der Hiebet el-Msas (Tel Masos) 1972-1975. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Gardiner, A. 1961 Egypt of the Pharaohs. London: Oxford University Press. Gauthier, H. 1925 Dictionnaire des noms gйoraphiques contenus dans les textes hiйroglyphiques, vol. 1. Cairo: L'Institute Franзais d'Archйologie Orientale. Ginsberg, H.L. 1969 Aramaic Letters. Pp. 491-92 in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J.B. Pritchard. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hadley, D.V. 1992 Asher. Pp. 482-83 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 1, ed. D.N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday. Holladay, J.S., Jr. 1992a House, Israelite. Pp. 308-18 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 3, ed. D.N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday. 1992b Maskhuta, Tell el-. Pp. 588-92 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 4, ed. D.N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday. 1997 Maskhuta, Tell el-. Pp. 432-37 in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, vol. 3, ed. E.M. Meyers. New York: Oxford University Press. Kitchen, K.A. 1966 Ancient Orient and Old Testament. Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity. 1993 Ramesside Inscriptions Translated and Annotated: Notes and Comments, vol. 1. Oxford: Blackwell. Lemaire, A. 1994 House of David Restored in Moabite Inscription. Biblical Archaeology Review 20/3: 30-37. McCown, C.C. 1947 Tell en-Nasbeh I. Berkeley: The Palestine Institute of Pacific School of Religion. Oppenheim, A.L. 1969 Babylonian and Assyrian Historical Texts. Pp. 265-317 and 556-67 in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J.B. Pritchard. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Redford, D.B. 1992 Hyksos: History. Pp. 341-44 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 3, ed, D.N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday. Rohl, D.M. 1995 Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest. New York: Crown. Shanks, H. 1997 Strata. Biblical Archaeology Review 23/2: 8. Shea, W.H. 1990 Leaving Egypt. Archaeology and Biblical Research 3: 99-111. Stern, E. 1982 Material Culture of the Land of the Bible in the Persian Period 538-332 B.C. Warminster: Aris & Phillips. Ward, W.A. 1984 Royal-Name Scarabs. Pp. 151-192 in Studies on Scarab Seals, vol. 2, by Olga Tufnell. Warminster: Aris & Phillips. Wente, E., and Van Siclen III, C. 1977 A Chronology of the New Kingdom. Pp. 217-61 in Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes January 12, 1977, ed. J.H. Johnson and E.F. Wente. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 39. Chicago: The Oriental Institute.

Wood, B.G. 1991 Recent Discoveries and Research on the Conquest. Archaeology and Biblical Research 4: 104-110. 1996 Mesha, King of Moab. Bible and Spade 9: 55-64. Wright, G.E. 1965 Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City. London: Gerald Duckworth. Author: Dr. Bryant G. Wood of Associates for Biblical Research. Adapted from the ABR article: "The Sons of Jacob: New Evidence for the Presence of the Israelites in Egypt" Copyright © 1998, Associates for Biblical Research, All Rights Reserved - except as noted on attached "Usage and Copyright" page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schoo

Have the burial sites of any people in the Bible been found?
Throughout Bible lands there are numerous "traditional" tombs of various Biblical personages, sometimes several for one individual! In many cases, there is no historical or archaeological evidence to back up the identification. There are, however, at least seven instances where there is strong, if not certain, evidence for locating the burial site of a person, or persons, named in the Bible. Jesus

Holy Sepulchre Church, Jerusalem In Jerusalem today there are two sites claiming to be the location of the tomb of Jesus: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb was identified as the tomb of Jesus only in the late 1800s and lacks historical credibility. A long tradition going back to the first century, however, maintains that Jesus' tomb is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the 4th century Constantine located the tomb site beneath a second century Roman temple and constructed a church over it. This church has been restored and maintained over the centuries ever since. It is today shared by six faiths: Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Syrian, Copts and Ethiopians. Caiaphas the High Priest

Ossuary of Caiaphas the High Priest Caiaphas was high priest for 18 years, A.D. 18-36. He most likely gained the position by marrying the daughter of Annas, head of a powerful high-priestly clan (John 18:13). Caiaphas is infamous as the leader of the conspiracy to crucify Jesus. At a meeting of the religious leaders, Caiaphas said, "It is better for you that one man die for the people than the whole nation perish" (John 11:50). He was referring to the possible intervention of the Roman authorities if Jesus' teaching should cause unrest. His words were prophetic in that Jesus did die for the people, all the people of the earth, as a sacrifice for sin. After He was arrested, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas' house and detained overnight. The guards mocked and beat Him (Luke 22:63-65). In the morning He was interrogated and further beaten. Caiaphas asked Him, "Are you the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," Jesus replied (Mark 14:61-62). Caiaphas then handed Jesus over to Pilate to be tried. Following Jesus' crucifixion, Caiaphas continued to persecute the early church. He brought the apostles before the religious leaders and said to them, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in

this Name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's (Jesus') blood." Peter and the other apostles replied, "We must obey God rather then men" (Acts 5:28-29). The Caiaphas family tomb was accidentally discovered by workers constructing a road in a park just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. Archaeologists were hastily called to the scene. When they examined the tomb they found 12 ossuaries (limestone bone boxes) containing the remains of 63 individuals. The most beautifully decorated of the ossuaries was inscribed with the name "Joseph son of (or, of the family of) Caiaphas." That was the full name of the high priest who arrested Jesus, as documented by Josephus (Antiquities 18: 2, 2; 4, 3). Inside were the remains of a 60-year-old male, almost certainly those of the Caiaphas of the New Testament. This remarkable discovery has, for the first time, provided us with the physical remains of an individual named in the Bible. Caesar Augustus A great politician and administrator, Augustus ruled the Roman empire from 27 B.C.-A.D. 14. It was Augustus who issued the census decree that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born (Luke 2:1-7). Augustus erected for himself a grand mausoleum in Rome, on the east bank of the Tiber River, one quarter mile northwest of the Roman Forum. The remains exist today in the middle of the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. It was 285 ft. in diameter and 143 ft. high, surmounted by a statue of the emperor. His ashes were placed in an urn in the center, while those of other members of the dynasty were place in urns in a corridor around a central cylinder. Although some of the urns were found in place by excavators, the ashes had long since disappeared. Tomb of the Patriarchs The Bible says that Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and Jacob were buried in Hebron, in a cave called the Cave of Machpelah, purchased by Abraham (Gen. 23). Traditionally, this cave has been located below the Haram el-Khalil ("sacred precinct of the friend of the merciful One, God") in Hebron, today a Muslim mosque. References as early as the Hellenistic period (2nd century B.C.) testify that this is the authentic location of the burial place of the Patriarchs. The cave was explored by the Augustine Canons in 1119, at which time they claim to have found the bones of the Patriarchs. Tombs of David and Solomon Throughout the kingdom period, the kings of Judah were buried within the city of David. At the southern end of the City of David, south of the Old City of Jerusalem, there are two monumental tunnel tombs which many scholars believe are the tombs of David and Solomon. Unfortunately, they were damaged by later quarrying, so no identifying inscriptions have survived. In the same area are many Iron Age tombs, possibly those of other kings of Judah.

Tunnel Tombs One exception to the normal custom was the burial of Uzziah. Since he was a leper, he was not buried with the other kings, but "near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for people said, 'he had leprosy'" (2 Chr 26:23). Interestingly, an inscription was found on the Mount of Olives in 1931 dating to the first century A.D. which reads, "Here were brought the bones of

Uzziah, King of Judah – do not open." Evidently, because of his leprosy, Uzziah's bones were removed from the field belonging to the kings and transferred to yet a more remote location. Cyrus the Great Cyrus ruled the Persian empire from 559-530 B.C. He is best known for his capture of Babylon in 539 B.C. Already in the 8th century B.C. Isaiah predicted this defeat (Isaiah 45:1-3), and went on to say that Cyrus would "set my exiles free' (Isaiah 45:13). That Cyrus released the Jewish exiles from Babylon is not only documented in the Bible (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-4), but also implied in the contemporary Cyrus Cylinder. This ancient record states, "I (Cyrus) gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations." Cyrus was buried in a simple gabled stone tomb outside his capital of Pasargadae in modern Iran. According to the historian Strabo, this inscription once graced the structure, "Oh man, I am Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of Persia, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument" (Geography xv.3.7). Darius-I the Great Darius I was king of the Persian empire from 522-486 B.C. He gave permission to renew the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 6:1-12), which had been discontinued for some 10 years. His is the first of three monumental tombs cut into a cliff near the Persian capital of Persepolis, Iran. The inscription on his tomb reads, King Darius states: King, whoever you are, who may arise after me, protect yourself well from lies. Do not trust the man who lies. … Believe what I did and tell the truth to the people. Do not conceal (it). If you do not conceal these matters, but you do tell the people, may Ahura Mayda protect you. … There are three other tombs at the site, thought to be those of the Persian kings Xerxes (485-465 B.C.), Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C.), and Darius II (423-405 B.C.). There are no accompanying inscriptions, however, to be certain of these identifications. Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, the king whom Esther married. Ezra was a scribe (Ezra 7:6) and Nehemiah a cupbearer (Nehemiah 2:1) under Artaxerxes I. He authorized both Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem, Ezra to carry out religious and judicial duties (Ezra 7:12-26), and Nehemiah to rebuild the city walls (Nehemiah 2:1-9). Darius II may be the Darius mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22, but this is not certain. Also see: Has Joseph's original tomb been found? [answer] Author: Rick Lanser of Associates for Biblical Research

Have any likenesses been found of persons named in the Bible?
Many of the people mentioned in the Bible are confirmed in sources outside the Bible. In the case of royalty, many times a likeness of the individual has been recovered. Over 50 persons named in the Old Testament are known outside the Bible, and we have likenesses of 12 of them. Some 27 people named in the New Testament are known from other records, with six likenesses surviving (four of them Roman emperors). Based on current knowledge of Biblical and Egyptian chronology, the best candidate for the pharaoh of the Exodus is Tuthmosis III, who ruled 1504-1450 B.C. We have many records from his reign, as well as this statuary (see photo) of the pharaoh himself. Likenesses have also been found of these Biblical figures: Shishak, the Egyptian king who plundered the Temple during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-26). Jehu, king of Israel, who took power in a bloody coup; the only surviving likeness of a king of Israel or Judah (2 Kings 9:1-10:36). Hazael, king of Aram, enemy of Israel (1 Kings 19:15, 17; 2 Kings 8:7-15, 28-29; 9:14-15; 10:32-33; 12:17-18; 13:3, 22, 24,25; Amos 1:4). Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, who invaded Israel (2 Kings 18:19, 29; 16:7, 10; 1 Chronicles 5:6, 26; 2 Chronicles 28:20). Sargon II, king of Assyria, who defeated Ashdod and completed the siege of Samaria and took Israelites into captivity (Isaiah 20:1). Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who attacked Judah but was unable to capture Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). Tirhakah, king of Egypt, who opposed Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:9). Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who succeeded his father Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37). Merodach-Baladan, king of Babylon, whose messengers Hezekiah showed the royal treasury, much to the indignation of Isaiah (2 Kings 20:12-19).

Xerxes I, king of Persia, who made Esther his queen (Esther; Ezra 4:6). Darius I, king of Persia, who allowed the returning exiles to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:24-6:15; Haggai 1:1, 15). Also see: Have archaeologists found the tomb of Darius? [answer] Augustus, Roman emperor, 27 B.C.-A.D. 14, when Jesus was born (Luke 2:1). Tiberius, Roman emperor, A.D. 14-37, during Jesus' adulthood and crucifixion (Matthew 22:17, 21; Mark 12:14-17; Luke 3:1; 20:22-25; 23:2; John 19:12,15). Claudius, Roman emperor, A.D. 41-54, who ordered the Jews to leave Rome (Acts 11:28; 17:7; 18:2). Herod Agrippa I, ruler of Judea, A.D. 37-44, who persecuted the early church (Acts 12:1-23; 23:35). Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans, 9 B.C.-A.D. 40, whose governor in Damascus attempted to arrest Paul (2 Corinthians 11:32). Nero (referred to as Caesar in the New Testament), Roman emperor, A.D. 54-68, who Paul appealed to (Acts 25:11,12,21; 26:32; 28:19; Philippians 4:22). Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research Have any man-made structures mentioned in the Bible been unearthed by archaeologists? Yes, quite a number of Biblical structures have been excavated. Some of the most interesting are the following: The base of the Tower of Babel in Babylon where language was confused (Genesis 11:1-9). The theater at Ephesus, Turkey. The palace at Jericho where Eglon, king of Moab, was assassinated by Ehud (Judges 3:15-30). The east gate of Shechem where Gaal and Zebul watched the forces of Abimelech approach the city (Judges 9:34-38). The Temple of Baal/El-Berith in Shechem, where funds were obtained to finance Abimelech's kingship and where the citizens of Shechem took refuge when Abimelech attacked the city (Judges 9:4, 46-49). The pool of Gibeon where the forces of David and Ishbosheth fought during the struggle for the kingship of Israel (2 Samuel 2:12-32).

The Pool of Heshbon, likened to the eyes of the Shulammite woman (Song of Songs 7:4). The royal palace at Samaria where the kings of Israel lived (1 Kings 20:43; 21:1, 2; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:2; 15:25). The Pool of Samaria where King Ahab's chariot was washed after his death (1 Kings 22:29-38). The water tunnel beneath Jerusalem dug by King Hezekiah to provide water during the Assyrian siege (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30). The royal palace in Babylon where King Belshazzar held the feast and Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5). The royal palace in Susa where Esther was queen of the Persian king Xerxes (Esther 1:2; 2:3, 5, 9, 16). The royal gate at Susa where Mordecai, Esther's cousin, sat (Esther 2:19, 21; 3:2, 3; 4:2; 5:9, 13; 6:10, 12). The Square in front of the royal gate at Susa where Mordecai met with Halthach, Xerxes' eunuch (Esther 4:6). The foundation of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus cured a man with an unclean spirit (Mark 1:21-28) and delivered the sermon on the bread of life (John 6:25-59). The house of Peter at Capernaum where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others (Matthew 8:14-16). Jacob's well where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman (John 4). The Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a crippled man (John 5:1-14). The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a blind man (John 9:1-4). The tribunal at Corinth where Paul was tried (Acts 18:12-17). The theater at Ephesus where the riot of silversmiths occurred (Acts 19:29). - See picture at top Herod's palace at Caesarea where Paul was kept under guard (Acts 23:33-35). Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research

Has the Garden of Eden ever been found?
The Bible says regarding the location of Eden: "And a river went out of Eden To water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads." -Genesis 2:10 Two of these rivers are called Hiddekel (Tigris) and Perath (Euphrates).

This is why many Christians have assumed that the original garden was located somewhere in the Mesopotamian region (around present day Iraq) where the modern tigris and Euphrates rivers flow.

However, the Bible records a devastating worldwide Flood, many centuries after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. Sedimentary layers sometimes miles thick, bear mute testimony to this massive watery upheaval which tore apart and buried forever the preFlood world. After the Flood, the survivors (Noah's family) moved to the plain of Shinar (Sumeria/Babylonia) which is where we find rivers today called Tigris and Euphrates. These are therefore clearly not the same rivers. They run on top of Flood-deposited layers of rock containing billions of dead things (killed by the Flood). These rivers were probably named after the original pre-Flood rivers, just as settlers from the British Isles to America and Australasia applied familiar names to many places in their "new world." Note also, that the Bible speaks of one river breaking into four, only two of which were called Tigris and Euphrates. This is not what is found in the Middle East today. The Garden was destroyed by the Flood. Its actual location on the globe can never be established -- for all we know it was where we now find the middle of the Pacific Ocean! What evidence has been found of the Egyptian king, Shishak? The first Egyptian king to be mentioned by name in the bible The name of David, Israel's second king, ca. 1010-970 BC, appears in two ninth century BC texts, the Tel Dan Inscription and the Moabite Stone. [1] Shishak was the first Egyptian king to be mentioned by name in the bible and is the first foreign king in the Bible for whom we have extra-Biblical evidence. Prior to the tenth century BC, it was customary for the kings of Egypt to be referred to simply as "Pharaoh." After the tenth century, however, a proper name was included with the title (Bible and Spade, Autumn 1993, p. 98). This practice was followed in the Bible as well. The first pharaoh to be identified with a personal name is Shishak, who ruled during the time of Solomon and his son Rehoboam. We first meet Shishak in 1 Kings 11:40. Because of Solomon's idolatry, God decreed through the prophet Ahijah that He was going to take ten tribes from Solomon and give them to Jeroboam, an official in Solomon's court (1 Kings 11:26-39). As a result, Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam. Jeroboam fled to Egypt where Shishak gave him refuge (1 Kings 11:40). After Solomon's death, Jeroboam returned and became leader of the breakaway Northern Kingdom, while Rehoboam ruled over the Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 12:1-17). Shortly thereafter, Shishak came with his army and invaded Judah and Israel. The Biblical record is brief:

In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the Temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made (1 Kings 14:25-26). The Chronicler expands on this by recording: With 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, he [Shishak] captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 12:3-4). Jerusalem was spared destruction only because the leaders of Judah humbled themselves before the Lord (2 Chronicles 12:5-8). In Egyptian records, Shishak's name is spelled Sheshonq. Since there were later Sheshonqs, the Biblical Shishak/Sheshonq is known as Sheshonq-I. Shishak descended from a line of chieftains of the Libyan tribe of the Meshwesh who had settled in Egypt at the end of the New Kingdom. He rose to prominence as commander-in-chief of the Egyptian army under the last pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty, Psusennes II. Shishak gained a connection to the throne by marrying his son Osorkon to Psusennes' daughter. When Psusennes died with no son to take his place, Shishak took over the throne and ruled ca. 945-924 B.C., thus beginning 230 years of Libyan rule (the 22nd Dynasty). There was a minor resurgence of Egyptian glory under Shishak. He inaugurated major building programs in the Delta, Memphis, Herakleopolis and Thebes.

Shishak evidently had his eye on his northern neighbor for some time. By harboring Jeroboam, he was contributing to the division of Israel. When the split occurred, it was an opportune time for him to deal a major blow to the two now weakened kingdoms, so he launched a campaign. The underlying cause seems to have been to break Israel's commercial monopoly in the north and to obtain much needed booty, rather than to annex the area. Shishak's campaign is documented in Egypt as well as in the Bible. Upon his return, he constructed a large festival court in front of the great Temple of Amun at Thebes in southern Egypt. The project was no doubt financed by plunder from Judah and Israel. On one of the walls of the court, Shishak commissioned a commemorative relief of his Palestinian campaign. Unfortunately, it is badly damaged. Enough remains, however, to show that he not only attacked Judah, as the Bible records, but also the northern kingdom of Israel. The scene depicts Shishak on the right side about to club a group of foreigners, most likely Israelites given the context of the relief. The figure of Shishak is all but destroyed. On the left side is the chief Egyptian god Amun leading captive cities by means of ropes. Each city is represented by an oval cartouche containing the name of the city, with a bound prisoner on top. The list mainly contains place names in Israel, the Judahite section being almost totally obliterated. Jerusalem does not appear in the list. One of the Israelite towns is Megiddo. At the site of Megiddo a portion of a commemorative stela of Shishak was found by the Oriental Institute excavations in 1926. His name can be clearly read and the stela is without doubt from the 925 B.C. campaign. One footnote to the story of Shishak's campaign. When Shishak's son Osorkon-I took the throne, he gave huge amounts of gold and silver (383 tons!) to the temples of Egypt. What is more, he buried his son Sheshonq-II in a coffin made of pure silver. Where did all of this wealth come

from? The only plausible explanation is that it came from the treasuries of the Temple and royal palace at Jerusalem (1 Kings 14:26), and other cities of Judah and Israel, in Shishak's campaign of 925 B.C. Solid silver coffin of Shishak's grandson Sheshonq-II. It was discovered in 1939 by Pierre Montet at Tanis in the Egyptian delta. The silver used to make the coffin possibly came from Judah and Israel as a result of Shishak's 925 BC campaign.

What kind of cross was Jesus crucified on?

Pictured are three types of crosses commonly used by the Roman army in the first century A.D. Each carried an inscription stating the victim's capital offense and a seat-like projection, not designed for the victim's comfort, but to prolong their agony. Nails and ropes held the victim's legs and arms in place. The cross on the left was called a "high tau" cross because it was shaped like the capital Greek letter tau ("T"). The middle cross was known as a "low tau" cross, shaped like the lower case tau ("t"). In both cases the central post was generally set permanently in the ground while the cross bar was carried to the site by the victim. The cross on the right was an actual tree still in the ground (dead or alive) with its limbs serving as the cross bar. Jesus was probably crucified on a "low tau" type cross. "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (I Cor. 15:3-4) Why do all four Gospels contain different versions of the inscription on the Cross? Does the fact that all four Gospels contain different versions of the inscription on the Cross indicate error? By no means. Both Luke and John tell us that the inscription on the Cross of Jesus was written in three languages, Greek, Latin and Hebrew. It is therefore a reasonable assumption that three of the Gospel writers each chose to quote a different language, and that one writer chose to quote the words common to the other three. Can this assumption be justified? If so, can it be said with any certainty who chose to quote what? And why? THE INSCRIPTIONS Let us begin with the way each writer prefaces the inscription(s). Matthew 27:37 says, 'And [they] set up over his head his accusation written'.

Mark 15:26 says, 'And the superscription of his accusation was written over'. Luke 23:38 says, 'And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew'. John 19:19 says, 'And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross'. Notice that all these prefaces differ. Mark tells us that a superscription was written; Matthew, that it was set up over his head; Luke, that it was written in three languages; and John, that Pilate was the writer. All these statements are correct, even though each writer says something different! The four accounts of the inscription are arranged below so the similarities and differences are easily discerned: Matthew 27:37 THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS Mark 15:26 THE KING OF THE JEWS Luke 23:38 THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS John 19:19 JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS What was the significance of using three languages? It was the custom of the Romans to use gypsum letters written on a rough board affixed to a cross to proclaim the reason why a person was being executed, although three languages were not always used. Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire; it represented human government, power, and conquest. Greek was the international language of culture; it represented human wisdom, art, and commerce. Hebrew was the religious language of the Jews; it represented the Covenant Race, the Law of God, and the means by which God made Himself known to man. In the providence of God, all of these human and divine institutions were addressed when Jesus was crucified. How did this come about? The most probable scenario is that the Roman governor, Pilate, dictated the title in Latin and the centurion in charge of the execution implemented the edict and its translation into the other languages. The words 'King of the Jews' were a public sneer at the Jews by Pilate, and this was compounded by his additional taunt that their 'king' came from Nazareth, i.e. that he was a despised Galilean. JOHN As John is the only Gospel writer who mentions Pilate, or Nazareth, or who calls the inscription a 'title' (Latin titulus), it is abundantly evident that John is quoting the Latin which read:

IESUS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM (Latin used 'I' and 'V' where English uses 'J' and 'U'.) That this is the Latin is further confirmed by the fact that the Early Church adopted as a symbol the Latin letters 'INRI', which are the first

letters of this inscription (only), and this symbol appears in many early paintings of the crucifixion. LUKE Luke was a highly educated man (a physician- Colossians 4:14) and he addressed his Gospel to a Greek nobleman (the 'most excellent Theophilus' of Luke 1:3). It is therefore very reasonable to suppose that Luke gives us the Greek inscription: OUTOS ESTIN O BASILEUS TWN IOUDAIWN MATTHEW Matthew wrote for the Jews and used many quotations from the Old Testament to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. It is therefore most likely that Matthew quotes the Hebrew inscription (see drawing below). MARK This leaves Mark, whose Gospel is shorter than the other three, and who gives us a somewhat abbreviated account of the life of Jesus, as his purpose is to tell us more about what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For example, he omits the birth of Jesus, as well as the whole of the sermon on the mount and several other discourses. True to his style, Mark abbreviates the inscription to the words common to the three languages used, namely 'THE KING OF THE JEWS'. THE BOARD Now comes the most interesting part! The Latin title, being the official indictment, would undoubtedly have been written first on the board. This then would have determined the length of the board and/or the size of the letters required to fit the inscription into one line and for it still to be readable by the crowd from a distance (John 19:20). In those days they did not use spaces between the words in any of the languages as we do now, and so John's Latin 'title' contained just 26 letters and no spaces. Luke's Greek 'superscription' contained 30 letters, and so must have been written in slightly smaller letters than was the Latin. It is easy to see that there would not have been room for 16 more letters for the words 'Jesus of Nazareth' (i.e. 'Jesus the Nazarene') in Greek. Matthew's 'accusation' in Hebrew contained just 19 letters, which is rather fewer than the two other languages, because the Jews did not write vowels in Hebrew. Whoever translated the title into Hebrew apparently did not think it worth adding 'of Nazareth'. Perhaps he thought that to have lived in Nazareth was not an indictable offence! If we put all of this together, it is highly probable that the board with the inscriptions looked as shown below, with the Latin written first, probably at the top, and then either the Greek or the Hebrew.

[Also see our large list of answers on other topics related to Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.] Endnotes Although ancient Hebrew was dissimilar to the modern typewritten Hebrew script used here for convenience, the number of letters was the same. The author wishes to thank linguist Dr. Charles Taylor, M.A., Ph.D., PGCE, LRAM, FIL, Cert Theol., for his kind advice and assistance. The letters "INRI" are initials for the Latin title that Pontius Pilate had written over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 19:19). Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire. The words were "Iesus Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm." Latin uses "I" instead of the English "J", and "V" instead of "U" (i.e., Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum). The English translation is "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

The Early Church adopted the first letters of each word of this inscription "INRI" as a symbol. Throughout the centuries INRI has appeared in many paintings of the crucifixion. By the way, Pilate's title for Christ was actually written in three languages. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, "Write not, 'The King of the Jews;' but that he said, 'I am King of the Jews'." Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." -John 19:19-22 (KJV)

What Can 792 Teeth Tell Archaeologists About Ancient Israelites?
An ancient tomb recently uncovered at Khirbet Nisya, eight miles north of Jerusalem, was found with hardly a bone intact. Yet, through careful excavation, this burial cave tells an amazing tale about the people buried there. The entrance to the tomb is shown here. The tomb dates to the time of the Book of Judges in the Bible. As might be expected from a damp cave, bodies buried 3,200 years ago had long since returned to dust. But precise excavation recovered evidence of each individual - their teeth, 792 in total! Carefully dentist Austin Robbins organized the teeth into individuals and determined 51 individuals were buried in the cave. Apparently unknown and untouched by man for 3,200 years, the tomb was rediscovered by archaeologists from the Associates for Biblical Research in 1985. A natural limestone cave, it was utilized as a family tomb for approximately 200 years. Based on items found in the tomb, it is dated to the early 12th century B.C., the time of the Book of Judges. These individuals were placed on the floor of the cave without being covered by earth or in a coffin. They were laid to rest with a variety of funerary objects including household pottery, jewelry and weapons.

Jewelry and other items from a cave tomb dating to the period of the Biblical Judges. Later, when another body was brought for burial, remains of the last body were pushed to the side of the cave. The tomb became a cemetery and the basis of the Biblical phrase "they were gathered to their fathers." But these teeth had even more to say. They suggested life was hard in those days. Nearly one quarter of the population did not reach age 10. Almost half died before they were 40, and only four reached age 60. Striking similarities in wear configurations implied a very stable uniform diet throughout the period the cave was used. No major changes in eating habits occurred during the lifetime of these people. The "flat plane" wear was typical of grain eaters; and the high degree of wear indicated a relatively coarse diet, probably wheat and barley. These people really had to chew their food! This dental-wear pattern also suggested only occasional use of meat in their diet. Yet, archaeological remains from ancient village houses in the region suggest they regularly kept flocks of sheep and goats. These animals were far more valuable to their owners alive, than as a meal. Their value included milk, yogurt, cheese, wool, hair and manure; as well as their ability to reproduce. Few teeth showed evidence of decay. Minimal decay confined to root surfaces in individuals over 50, suggested good general health for adults. Dental analysis even shed light on the stature of these people. Jaw bones fragments suggest the average height of males was about 5 feet 6 inches. The inhabitants of this cave were probably Israelite villagers. While our investigation of their tomb suggested they seldom ate meat, the Bible indicates it was central to their sacrificial system. Thus, they gave what was special, not commonplace, to God. Furthermore, offerer and family were often allowed to partake of the sacrifice, themselves. Such a special treat explains why their religious festivals were joyous affairs. REFERENCES Robbins, Austin. 1995. "Tomb and Teeth: A Dentist's View of Ancient Israelites," Bible and Spade 8/4. Author: Gary Byers of Associates for Biblical Research

Is there any evidence for the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction by fire and brimstone (sulfur)?
View east along the southern wall of the destroyed city of Sodom (Bab edh-Dhra) southeast of the Dead Sea in modern Jordan. The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea. The modern names are Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sodom, and Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah. Both places were destroyed at the same time by an enormous conflagration. The destruction debris was about three feet thick. What brought about this awful calamity? Startling discoveries in the cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra revealed the cause. Archaeologists found that buildings used to bury the dead were burned by a fire that started on the roof. What would cause every structure in the cemetery to be destroyed in this way? The answer to the mystery is found in the Bible. "Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah -- from the Lord out of the heavens" (Genesis 19:24). The only conceivable explanation for this unique discovery in the annals of archaeology is that burning debris fell on the buildings from the air. But how could such a thing happen? There is ample evidence of subterranean deposits of a petroleum-based substance called bitumen, similar to asphalt, in the region south of the Dead Sea. Such material normally contains a high percentage of sulfur. It has been postulated by geologist Frederick Clapp that pressure from an earthquake could have caused the bitumen deposits to be forced out of the earth through a fault line. As it gushed out of the earth it could have been ignited by a spark or surface fire. It would then fall to earth as a burning, fiery mass. It was only after Clapp formulated this theory that Sodom and Gomorrah were found. It turns out that the sites are located exactly on a fault line along the eastern side of a plain south of the Dead Sea, so Clapp's theory is entirely plausible. There is some evidence for this scenario from the Bible itself. Abraham viewed the destruction from a vantage point west of the Dead Sea. The Bible records what Abraham saw: "He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace" (Genesis 19:28). Dense smoke suggests smoke from a petroleum-based fire. Smoke rising like smoke from a furnace indicates a forced draft, such as would be expected from subterranean deposits being forced out of the ground under pressure. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah became an example in the Bible of how God judges sin. "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before Me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen" (Ezekiel 16:49-50). FOR FURTHER READING (available from Associates for Biblical Research): Shea, William H. 1988, Autumn. "Numeirah", Archaeology and Biblical Research, pp. 12-23. Wood, Bryant G. 1974, Summer. "Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?", Bible and Spade, pp. 65-89.

Wood, Bryant G. 1977, Winter. "Sodom and Gomorrah Update", Bible and Spade, pp. 24-30. Wood, Bryant G. 1983, Winter-Spring. "Sodom and Gomorrah Update", Bible and Spade, pp. 22-33. Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research

Samson and the Philistines Did it really happen?
In the story of Samson it says he pulled down an entire temple. Have archaeologists uncovered any information that would relate to this account? A major turning point in Israel's war against the Philistines was Samson's death. He had been taken captive through the deception of Delilah. The Philistines gouged out his eyes and took him to Gaza, one of their main cities. There they put him to work grinding grain in a prison. We know from archaeological findings that this type of prison was in reality a "grinding house." One of the most time-consuming tasks in antiquity was the grinding of grain. In the average home, this fell to the women of the household. The bureaucratic aristocracy, however, set up grinding houses to provide grain for the privileged elite. This was a place where slaves and prisoners were put to work. The tools were simple hand grinding stones. Samson spent his days seated on the ground grinding grain with a hand-held pestle that was rubbed back and forth on a mortar in his lap. One day the Philistine leaders held a religious ceremony to celebrate their victory over their enemy. They brought Samson into the temple where they were assembled, so he could entertain them. Once inside the temple, Samson asked the servant who was guiding him to show him where the pillars were, so he could lean against them. "Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, `Let me die with the Philistines!' Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived" (Judges 16:29-30). In one fell swoop, Samson eliminated the entire Philistine leadership. This was a major setback in their conflict with Israel. It was a turning point. From this time on, the Israelites started to gain the upper hand. But did it really happen? Could one man pull down an entire temple single handed? Archaeology has provided us with some amazing answers.

Two stone pillar bases in the Philistine temple at Tel Qasile, Israel Two Philistine temples have been uncovered by archaeologists. One at Tel Qasile, in northern Tel Aviv, and one in Tel Miqne, ancient Ekron, 21 miles south of Tel Aviv. Both temples share a unique design -- the roof was supported by two central pillars! The pillars were made of wood and rested on stone support bases. With the pillars being about six feet apart, a strong man could dislodge them from their stone bases and bring the entire roof crashing down. The archaeological findings match the Biblical story perfectly and attest to the plausibility of the account. Although Samson had his weaknesses, he was a man of God and is listed in the New Testament as one of those "who through faith conquered kingdoms, ... whose weakness was turned to strength" (Hebrews 11:32-34). RECOMMENDED FOR FURTHER READING Bryant G. Wood 1974, "Samson and the House of Dagon", Bible and Spade, pp. 50-54. (available from the Associates for Biblical Research). Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research

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