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Archaeology Part 2

THE SILOAM TUNNEL INSCRIPTION:

The inscription comes from the days of King Hezekiah (701 B.C.) who ordered the tunnel to be made so the water from Jerusalem's Gihon Spring could be brought into the city to a man-made reservoir, the Pool of Siloam. This tunnel provided water to Jerusalem during the anticipated siege of King Sennacherib of Assyria.

SENNACHERIB PRISM:

A 15-inch tall, six-sided baked clay prism from ancient Assyria contains the story of the invasion of the kingdom of Judah by Sennacherib in 701 B.C. The prism was found at Nineveh.

King Sennacherib of Assyria is mentioned in 2 Kings 18-19. Isaiah prophesied that God would protect Jerusalem against attack by Sennacherib (Isaiah 36-37, 2 Chronicles 32). While the prism does say that the Assyrians trapped Hezekiah in Jerusalem "like a bird in a cage," like the Biblical record, it says nothing of them conquering the city.

The Bible says that God spared Jerusalem. The prism, together with the Lachish reliefs and excavations, adds detail to the Biblical account. King Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. Isaiah brought him God's message. That night the Lord smote 185,000 Assyrians, and Sennacherib went back to Ninevah and later was killed by his sons (Isaiah 37:35-38).

THE CYRUS CYLINDER:

A 9-inch long clay cylinder found at ancient Babylon, dating to 539 B.C., tells of King Cyrus of Persia's conquest of Babylon and of his decree to let the captives held by Babylon return to their lands and restore their temples. Cyrus sent the Jews back to their homeland after many years of exile in Babylon as Isaiah prophesied (2 Coronicles 36:23; Ezra 1; Isaiah 44:28). This "return home" decree was one of the many issued by Cyrus. Though not mentioning Judah, It confirms that this was Cyrus's policy and gives credibility to the Biblical record.

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS:

The Dead Sea Scrolls are actually hundreds of scrolls and scraps that date between 300 B.C.and 70 A.D. The first of them was found in1947 in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea about seven miles south of Jericho. Some of the scrolls were found in jars. About one-third of the scrolls contain copies of portions of OldTestament books (every book but Esther). These copies are over 1,000 years older than most of the manuscripts scholars previously had available for study and translation.

This is one of the most important finds in history because it shows that the Old Testament was copied very accurately over the centuries. When the scrolls were compared with the oldest Masoretic text, only insignificant differences were found. Therefore we can be confident that our current translations are faithful to the original.

GEZER:

The excavation of Gezer in 1969 ran across a massive layer of ash that covered most of the mound. Sifting through the ash yielded pieces of Hebrew, Egyptian, and Philistine artifacts. Apparently all three cultures had been there at the same time. This puzzled researchers greatly until they realized that the Bible told them exactly what they had found. "Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter; Solomon's wife." (1 Kings 9:16)

TOMB OF REKH-MI-RE (15TH CENTURY B.C.):

A wall painting in an Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Nobles at Thebes shows foreign slaves making mud bricks, recalling the enslaved Israelites' forced brickmaking (Exodus 1:14; 5:7).

ISRAEL STELE (13TH CENTURY B.C.):

The name Israel is inscribed in hieroglyphs on a stone slab found in 1896 at Thebes. It is the only mention of Israel in all Egyptian records discovered so far, and the oldest evidence outside the Bible for Israel's existence. Israel is listed as one of the peoples in western Asia during the reign of Ramses II's son, Merneptah (c.1213-1203 B.C.), offering evidence that the Israelites were already settled in Canaan (the Promised Land) by that time.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR CHRONICLE (SIXTH CENTURY B.C.):

A Babylonian account of the siege of Jerusalem in 597 B.C., the appointment of Zedekiah as puppet ruler of Judah, and the Jews' exile to Babylon (2 Kings 24).

LACHISH LETTERS (SIXTH CENTURY B.C.):

Twenty-one military communiques, written on pottery fragments (as documents often were) during Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Lachish (Jeremiah 34:6-7). They provide strong evidence for the historicity of the captivity and exile.

PILATE INSCRIPTION (FIRST CENTURY A.D.):

A battered limestone slab found at Caesarea is the only known inscription from his lifetime naming Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. Part of Pilate's name can be seen on the second line. The stone had been part of a building dedicated in honor of the Emperor Tiberius.

SKELETAL REMAINS OF CRUCIFIED MAN (FIRST CENTURY A.D.):

A crucifixion victim found in 1968 in a tomb at Giv'at ha-Mivtar, northeast of Jerusalem, provides the first authenticated physical evidence of a crucifixion in biblical times. The left heel bone was still fixed by a nail. An inscription names the victim as Yehohanan (John), a Jewish male about 25 years old who was executed around the mid-first century A.D.

GALLIO INSCRIPTION (FIRST CENTURY A.D.):

An inscription from Delphi in Greece, dates to A.D. 52, names Lucius Junius Gallio as proconsul of Achaia. The apostle Paul was brought before Gallio by his Jewish accusers during his first visit to Corinth (Acts 18:12).

THE TOWER OF BABEL

There is considerable evidence now that the world did indeed have a single language at one time. Sumerian literature alludes to this several times. Linguists also find this theory helpful in categorizing languages. But what of the tower and the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11)? Archaeology has revealed that Ur-Nammu, King of Ur from about 2044 to 2007 b.c., supposedly received orders to build a great ziggurat (temple tower) as an act of worship to the moon god Nannat. A stele (monument) about five feet across and ten feet high reveals Ur-Nammu's activities. One panel has him setting out with a mortar basket to begin construction of the great tower, thus showing his allegiance to the gods by taking his place as a humble workman. Another clay tablet states that the erection of the tower offended the gods, so they threw down what the men had built, scattered them abroad, and made their speech strange. This is remarkably similar to the record in the Bible.

RYLANDS PAPYRUS (ABOUT A.D. 130):

A fragment of John's Gospel, discovered in Egypt, contains verses from chapter 18. It is the earliest surviving copy of a New Testament book and is now in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England.