By Dennis Leap
Behistun Inscription. Click and drag photo to resize.
The Bible is the only ancient, well-organized and authentic framework in which to fit all the facts of history.
The Bible does not record all history. In fact, there are huge gaps in the history contained in the Bible. Yet, without the Bible and what it reveals from prehistory, ancient history and prophecy—which is history written in advance—you cannot truly understand any history. No worldly source can help us as the Bible does!
But what do modern men say about the Bible? Most agree it is a book for the religious, but think its history cannot be trusted.
For centuries, until the so-called Age of Enlightenment—also known as the Age of Reason—the Western world accepted without question the historical accuracy of the account of the Garden of Eden, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the history of the patriarchs and the Exodus from Egypt.
However, in the 17th and 18th centuries, European intellectuals began to claim that only through human reason could true knowledge be obtained. Rather than the Bible, scientific reasoning became the source of authority—the ultimate judge of all truth. The Bible came under direct attack.
Then in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the theory of evolution—the fable of a creation without a Creator—and higher Bible criticism spawned by anti-Semite German rationalists, came on the scene and succeeded in completely removing God and the Bible from the picture. German Bible critics argued that the Bible was unhistorical and had no reliable basis in fact.
They stated that the Bible was merely Jewish fable and folklore fabricated in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C.—in other words, that most of the Old Testament books were not contemporary records, but rather had been written centuries after the events took place. Many scholars came to deny the existence of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon.
So today, most theologians and ministers look askance at the Bible and its history. The real tragedy is that these men refuse to study into and teach the vital lessons taught by these histories.
The great men of the Bible prophesied accurately that highly educated men and women who scoff at God and His revealed Word would dominate our world. Although men have sneered at God in every generation beginning with Adam, ours was to be the worst.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools …. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:21-22, 28).
Although Paul is speaking specifically about the earliest men, we have not changed for the better; we have grown worse.
Since the 17th and 18th centuries, men have produced an amazing fund of knowledge in the industrial and scientific areas. Yet pursuing knowledge about God has been left out. Our generation knows less about God and what God is doing than any prior generation.
Modern leaders in education, science and industry have created a science-centric world. They have pushed religion into the outer fringes of our civilization. Ours is not a religious age—though some may think it to be so.
Paul saw into our day and said that end-time religion has “a form of godliness,” but that men deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). Most of the world’s educated believe that mankind has outgrown the need for God. God has been made to seem powerless. This fact should alarm us. It is time we turn back to the all-powerful God.
Many believe that science will save us from our problems. Why can’t we recognize that science is about to destroy us? Soon the need for God will come crashing back upon us. Then all men will have to admit that only God can save us.
The Apostle Peter wrote:
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts …. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:3, 5-6).
Peter states clearly that one of the hallmarks of our day is a willing ignorance of God. The truth is, men could know much more about God but choose not to. What does this mean?
Peter warns that willing ignorance of God, along with a great expansion in all other fields of knowledge, is the cause of the soon-coming, final global disaster (verse 7). Mankind, assuming self-rule without God, will bring itself to the brink of annihilation. Thankfully, God promises to intervene and stop our self-destruction.
Here are some perfect examples of what Paul and Peter are talking about. Bertrand Russell, the late British philosopher and avowed agnostic, wrote this in his History of Western Philosophy:
“The early history of the Israelites cannot be confirmed from any source outside of the Old Testament, and it is impossible to know at what point it ceases to be purely legendary.”
Mr. Russell dismisses the Bible as unreliable legend in just a few sentences. Even though first printed in 1945, his book is still widely read by university students and is considered one of the best books of its kind.
Young, bright minds have been and still are being prejudiced against the Bible, the foundation of true knowledge. Historian R.G. Collingwood, in his book The Idea of History (printed posthumously in 1946), tagged the Bible as “theocratic history and myth.”
Most scholars lower the Bible to the level of Homer—mythology in poetic form. Unfortunately, many Bible scholars, ministers and theologians agree. Yet, there are mountains of evidence to prove otherwise.
The Bible is a book of accurate history. Contrary to what Mr. Russell had to say, there is evidence outside the Bible that proves the reality of its history. However, we hear very little about this evidence.
Most scholars have been ignoring pertinent facts. The willing (and sometimes willful) ignoring of the truth has been happening for decades. Even while Russell and Collingwood were writing their books, other scholars were unearthing spectacular discoveries that cast a bright light on the truth of the biblical record.
Even prior to the mid-20th century, the new science of archaeology—the digging-up and study of the remains of man’s bygone years—caused an earthquake within the anti-God scholarship of the critics. The facts are amazing.
As a science, archaeology has expanded to include the study of all cultures. However, at its earliest stage of development, the infant science was concerned most with ancient civilizations.
For centuries, robbers, religious pilgrims, even Napoleon had unearthed and carried away multiple thousands of ancient artifacts from sites throughout the Near East and Egypt. It was during Napoleon’s military expedition in Egypt in 1799 that the vitally important Rosetta stone was dug up.
Yet, it was not until the end of the 19th century that a systematic study and evaluation of the Near East began. This geographic region is known as the Fertile Crescent.
Egyptologist James Henry Breasted first used the term “Fertile Crescent” to describe the lush, well-watered, crescent-shaped geographic region starting at the Persian Gulf moving up the Tigris-Euphrates valley, then westward over Syria and southward along the Mediterranean Sea through Palestine.
The productive Nile valley is often included within the boundaries of the crescent. It is in this geographic region that the lands and peoples of the Old Testament history are located.
For nearly two centuries, the Fertile Crescent has been the focus of intense archaeological scrutiny. Even Herbert W. Armstrong supported critically important digs in Jerusalem by sending Ambassador College students there as workers.
There should be strong public interest in the archaeological findings of this region. Although at one time archaeological findings did spark sharp interest by both secular and religious scholars, much is now forgotten or goes unnoticed.
Archaeology has confirmed without question the historical accuracy of the Bible.
The scholars’ main attack on Bible history in the early 20th century was that no secular records existed to provide evidence of the Flood, the Exodus, or the lives of David and Solomon. Many claimed that Moses could never have written the first five books of the Bible, since writing had not been invented at that time. But when the curious, energetic men and women dug up the past, these commonly held ideas were proved to be without foundation.
Modern archaeology has challenged the world of education to admit that the Bible is factual. Solid, documented evidence outside the Bible record confirms events and persons that were at one time considered to be suspect or plain false.
Still, some people work tirelessly to discredit the Bible as a God-inspired record of critically important history. Some have stubbornly overlooked overwhelming evidence. Others have purposely misinterpreted the facts to hold on to pet theories. Are we surprised? Not really. Why?
The Bible has the answer. No man of himself can accept or submit to the authoritative Word of God. Paul wrote: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Men have been successful in getting rid of God and His great authority (though in reality, God is very much present). They don’t want Him back! To admit that the Bible is accurate historically would mean accepting that God does exist—and that His Word holds authority over the lives of all men.
The brightest minds know that if the Bible is exact in its history, then its commands are in full force. You cannot separate Bible history from Bible law! The entire Bible is true, or it is false. It cannot be both.
Let’s be plain: You can rely on the historical accuracy of the Bible.
Let’s look at several of the more important archaeological finds that confirm Bible history. Not all of these artifacts have been as publicized as some of the more spectacular ones like the Rosetta stone or the tomb of King Tut of ancient Egypt, yet they are momentous in regards to the evaluation of the Bible chronicle.
The deciphering of the Behistun inscription (top of page) in the 19th century was one of the most remarkable archaeological advancements and the most vital to understanding ancient writings uncovered in the Fertile Crescent. The discovery opened the door for archeology to further confirm the Bible’s historical accuracy.
The inscription, like a billboard about the size of half a football field, is situated on a cliff about 300 feet above the base of a mountain in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. The site lies along the road that connected the ancient capitals of kingdoms of Babylonia and Media: Babylon and Ecbatana. The inscription dates back to 516 B.C. and is an account of Darius I’s assumption of the Persian throne (521-486 B.C.).
This account was written in cuneiform in three languages (Babylonian, Elamite and Old Persian). In 1835, Sir Henry C. Rawlinson copied and began to decipher the text, finishing the Persian translation in 1846. He and other scholars were soon able to translate the Babylonian and Elamite portions.
Many ancient cultures in the Middle East used cuneiform, but these works were a mystery until the trilingual Behistun inscription was deciphered—the discovery made possible the translation of other cuneiform writings.
The Behistun breakthrough led to others, including the translation of 22,000 tablets at the ruins of Nineveh, Shalmaneser’s Black Obelisk, Shennacherib’s Prism, and the epic poems of Gilgamesh and Enuma Elish. (These poems contain accounts of the Flood, creation and the tower of Babel that closely parallel the Bible.)
Bible critics had long sneered at references in the Bible to a people called the Hittites (Genesis 15:20; Exodus 3:8, 17; Numbers 13:29; Joshua 1:4; Judges 1:26 and elsewhere).
Their opinion was that the Hittites were simply one of the many mythical peoples made up by Bible writers. Some critics said they may have been a small and unimportant tribe. But the critics were off the beam!
Toward the end of the 19th century, Hittite monuments were uncovered at Carchemish on the Euphrates River in Syria, proving the Bible right. Later, in 1906, excavations at Boghazkoy (ancient Hattusas, capital of the Hittite Empire) in Turkey uncovered thousands of Hittite documents, revealing a wealth of information about Hittite history and culture.
The centuries-old Hittite rubbish showed they were a real and formidable power. They were once one of the dominant peoples of Asia Minor and the Near East. They exercised considerable control south into Syria and Palestine.
The Bible was right all along! Today, no one questions the existence of the Hittites. Volumes of books exist on the history, art, culture and society of the Hittites. Yet an anti-Bible prejudice still exists. Scholarly people usually believe that if it’s in the Bible, it’s wrong. But the Bible is right and has always been right.
In 1974, Italian archaeologists found approximately 17,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments at the site of ancient Ebla in northern Syria. The inscriptions on these artifacts date them prior to the 24th century B.C. Noachian Flood.
Similar finds were uncovered in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The tablets show that writing was common centuries before Moses. The critics can no longer claim that Moses and his contemporaries were illiterate or that the Pentateuch was written by Ezra in the 5th century B.C.
One of the most ridiculous claims of the critics has been that the Babylonian captivity did not take place. This is on a par with those who believe the Holocaust of World War II did not happen.
The Bible gives specific details about the captivity of Judah by the armies of Babylon early in the 6th century B.C. (II Kings 24-25). Scholars have said it’s all just another Jewish myth.
However, between 1935 and 1938, important discoveries were made 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem at a site thought to be ancient Lachish. Lachish was one of the cities recorded in the Bible as being besieged by the king of Babylon at the same time as the siege of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:7).
Twenty-one pottery fragments inscribed in the ancient Hebrew script were unearthed in the latest pre-exilic levels of the site. Called the Lachish Ostraca, they were written during the very time of the Babylonian siege.
Some of them are exchanges between the city’s military commander and an outlying observation post, vividly picturing the final days of Judah’s desperate struggle against Babylon!
Since the 1930s, there has been more unearthing of Babylonian historical texts describing the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The historical fact of the Babylonian captivity is firmly established.
We could discuss literally hundreds of archaeological finds that corroborate Bible history. Noah’s Flood, the Exodus, David, Solomon and the kings of Israel and Jerusalem as described in the Bible are proven to be historical by non-biblical sources.
If you desire to know more, go to your local library and do some self-study. You may be surprised to find how much information is actually available to you.
Unfortunately, you will not find this information on your nightly news. Two books we can recommend are The Bible as History by Werner Keller and On the Reliability of the Old Testament by K.A. Kitchen.
There are numerous biblically related artifacts in the British Museum located in London. They are breathtaking to see. Even though you may never be able to go to London, it is possible to log on to the museum website TheBritishMuseum and see pictures of the artifacts. Here is a short list of some of the more important treasures of antiquity:
• The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.) shows Jehu, king of Israel, bowing before the Assyrian king. This is the only known picture of an Israelite king.
• Tablets from the time of Tiglath-Pileser (744-727 B.C.) state that he received tribute from Jehoahaz of Judah. This is the full name of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:7). • A wonderfully detailed limestone relief from Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh shows the siege of Lachish.
• One of the most important is the cylinder of Nabonidus (555-539 B.C.). He was the last ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This stele proves that his son Belshazzar was co-regent with him (Daniel 5; 7:1; 8:1). Scholars previously scoffed at Belshazzar’s existence.
In his book A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Gleason Archer Jr. quotes author John Elder as saying, “It is not too much to say that it was the rise of the science of archaeology that broke the deadlock between the historians and the … Christian.
Little by little, one city after another, one civilization after another, one culture after another whose memories were enshrined only in the Bible, were restored to their proper places in ancient history by the studies of archaeologists ….
Contemporary records of biblical events have been unearthed and the uniqueness of the biblical revelation has been emphasized by contrast and comparison to newly discovered religions of ancient peoples. Nowhere has archaeological discovery refuted the Bible as history” (emphasis mine).
That last statement is the most important. Archaeology has proven that the Bible is accurate history!
The contribution of archaeology to the Bible record is far from over. In August this year, an incredible find was unearthed in the Old City of Jerusalem. The event did not make national news. It should have!
Workers repairing a sewage-pipe break uncovered the Pool of Siloam in Old Jerusalem. This pool was a major gathering site for the Jews. The Pool of Siloam is central to the account of the miracle of Christ healing a man blind from birth (John 9:1-7).
Christ put clay on the man’s eyes and then told him to wash at the Pool of Siloam. Obeying Christ by washing in the pool completed the miracle (verse 11).
This created an incredible stir among the Jewish elite of Christ’s day (verses 14-41). Why? Jesus Christ had made the clay with His own spit on the Sabbath day. The Jews considered this act a breaking of the Sabbath command.
Jealous and insecure, the Pharisees declared that Christ was not of God for healing the blind man on the Sabbath (verse 16). A study of the whole chapter makes plain that the entire incident was used by God to show the Pharisees how blind they were to God and what God was doing on this Earth. Of course, they failed to learn that lesson.
Why is all this important today? Here is what the Los Angeles Times reported about this incredible archaeological find:
“‘Scholars have said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit’ to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary.
‘Now, we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was.’ A Gospel that was thought to be ‘pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history,’ he said” (August 9).
Do we get it? The scholars are wrong—again. The Bible is accurate—always!
Unfortunately, this archaeological event received very little attention. What if it had? Think about what this find tells us. It not only establishes the historical accuracy of John’s Gospel, it reinforces the historicity of Jesus Christ.
The find also establishes that it is God’s desire to heal mankind of seemingly impossible health crises. God is very real and very powerful. Our modern scholars have their part in making many men, women and children as spiritually blind as the Pharisees of Christ’s day.
It’s time for all people to seriously question Bible critics. It is time for all Bible critics to stop pointing their finger at God—to quit casting doubt on the Bible record and start learning the true knowledge that will solve all humanity’s problems.