Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another, through worship, by the word, to the world.
But what I thought I'd talk about tonight is something that I think is really important for us to understand in the day in which we live, because the Bible is under attack. Is it not? From every angle, from every direction, the Bible comes under attack. And people who believe the Bible are under attack. Archeology is the single best means of confirming the physical, historical reality of the Bible. Now, that should be the case, shouldn't it? If the biblical text rises from three dimensional space time reality, then we should be able to go to that same territory-- that same real estate-- and find evidence for the world it describes. Should we not? Yes, we should, and we do. And there's ample evidence-- there's abundant evidence-- it's growing and growing and growing. But people need to find out about it. So, I thought I would do a thing tonight, touching on-- pretty much going through the entire Old Testament, with various archaeological discoveries-- some in the past, some very recent-- that have given evidence of the historical credibility of the Bible.
But before I do that, I have another little, tiny announcement. This is very exciting. For those of you who've been following the Sodom excavation project for-- I'd say it's been going on now for 12 years-- this winter we'll be going into our 13th excavation season. I'm very excited about that, because we're excavating in the palace-- the palace of King Barra, of the Sodom story. And we just got our first radiocarbon dates back from the destruction layer of Saddam. And I won't go into detail. I will just say it absolutely confirms what we knew all along from the ceramics, by that method of dating. And it confirms it, and we are very, very excited. Only an archaeologists would sit at his computer, see the technical report from Beta Analytic laboratories, and shed tears of joy. So yes, I love it. We're very excited about this. We have lots more carbon-14 dates coming, and it's been a long time coming.
Now, here's another announcement-- there's just tons of stuff. We haven't announced it because this is one of those things that we just-- you can't say anything about it. You can't even say "we hope it's going to happen", because if it doesn't happen, then you're disappointed and you have to explain it to everybody. So we have kept mum about it. For the last two or three years, I've been working with Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Santa Ana, California-- it's actually by the Calvary Costa Mesa campus. I've been teaching archeology for them for a long time, as well as directing the program here at DSU, and we decided about three years ago that we wanted to go for a fully-accredited Master of Arts PhD program in archeology and biblical history. And to make a long story short, we did all the accreditation's stuff the last three years on it. This summer we had the final accreditation meetings with the outside experts, and all that kind of stuff-- examination. And we are now approved by the accreditor's We have the only free standing-- this is amazing to me. With Veritas Evangelical University's-- Seminaries-- I'll talk about the name change in a second-- with Veritas, we now have the world's only freestanding archeology program-- MA PhD program in an evangelical institution, period-- on the planet. We're in.
Now, there is another PhD program in archeology, a terrific one at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-- one of my Alma mater's-- but it's under the school of theology. It's a major under the school of theology. We approached ours as a freestanding archeology program. So we are, like, stoked. We are so excited to have that program. By the way, Veritas is changing its overarching name to Veritas International University. And I'm excited about that because, from an apologetics point of view, when you go into places like, you know, the Secular American schools of Oriental Research and the professional societies, and you're wearing a badge that says "seminary" on it, sometimes that's a little-- you have to kind of explain yourself. And you're looked down upon because "oh, you know, you're a Christian". You're somehow an evangelical. You're kind of spiritually minded, which means you can't do good archeology. But with the "international university" on there, it will be a little bit easier. And I have that experience with Trinity Southwest University, as well. That's why we changed the name years ago, to that. It just plays better, and we do everything we can-- take everything off the table that doesn't need to be there so we can deal with the facts.
So that's a whole bunch of stuff-- just exciting stuff. If you're thinking about going to get a seminary degree, a masters-- we even have a B.A. Program now-- accredited BA, MA, DMinn, PhD, MD, whatever you want, we have it available right here in Albuquerque. We're the only accredited evangelical seminary in an arc between Phoenix, Denver, and Dallas. Think of that whole space right here in Albuquerque, so you don't to leave. You can hang out here-- get all the degrees you need for the ministry that you want to pursue. All right, is the Old Testament historically reliable? I could say "yes", and sit down. I mean, we could sing the rest of the time. That wouldn't be much fun though, would it?
All right, a couple of quotations going in on the front end here. Israel Finkelstein-- I know Israel, well. We run into each other. We see each other all the time. He comes to my papers. I go to his papers at ASOR, and so on. Israeli-- probably one of the top two or three Israeli archaeologists. Here's what he said, "Combination of archaeological and historical research demonstrates that the biblical account of the conquest and occupation of Canaan by the Israelites is entirely divorced from historical reality." And by the way, that's pretty much the sentiment of the majority of archaeologists. Niels Peter Lemke-- look at this. "The patriarchal narratives are fiction, not reality. That world does not represent a real world. It stands outside the usual representation of time and space. As a matter of fact, neither the narratives nor their world can be dated to any precise period." In other words, it's just pure fiction. That's the kind of stuff we have to live with everyday in the world of archeology-- in the discipline of archeology, because most of the archaeologists take this position. They either don't care period about the Bible-- they don't think about it-- or, if they do, it's in this kind of vein.
Now, I'm gonna' let Kenneth Kitchen do some talking here, because Professor Kitchen, from the University of Liverpool, is one of the top ancient Near Eastern scholars in the world today. And let's let him-- I'm gonna' let him kind of open it, and I'm gonna' let him close it at the end, but let's just read a quote here. I love this. By the way, his great book-- this comes out of one of his books-- but his great book on the reliability of the Old Testament-- just get that. If you ever can't sleep, that's a go to go to for you. Here's what he says, "Increasingly extreme views about the Old Testament writings have been trumpeted loudly and proclaimed ever more widely and stridently. In the service of these views, all manner of gross misinterpretations of original, firsthand documentary data from the ancient Near East itself are now being shot forth in turn, to prop up these extreme stances on the Old Testament, regardless of the real facts of the case. And so, we must firmly say to philosophical cranks-- the politically correct, postmodernist, or whatever else-- 'your fantasy agendas are irrelevant in and to the real world, both of today and of all preceding time back to the remote antiquity. Get real or-- alas-- get lost.'" I love it. We wish they would get lost, but they don't, so we keep having to deal with them.
I want to open a little thing here that I like to call "the Bronze Age Bible." Now, why do I call it the Bronze Age Bible? Because the Bible, the Old Testament, is divided into two very distinct sections-- one belonging to the Bronze Age, and the later section belonging to the Iron Age. Now, of course, the Bronze Age-- we're talking about the third Millennium, the second Millennium BC-- and the Iron Age-- the second Millennium to the first Millennium BC. The Bronze Age Bible consists of Genesis through about the first half of the Book of Judges. So it's Genesis into Judges. The Iron Age part of the Bible goes from mid-point in the Book of Judges, down to the end of the Bible-- the Old Testament. So basically from Judges to Malachi-- Iron Age. Everything before that? Bronze Age. These are two very distinct periods-- very different culturally. The world internationally and locally is completely different in these two periods of time, and so, you would expect that each of those segments of the Bible would be authentic to those particular archaeological frames.
So, I will introduce to you now, some bits and pieces from what I call the Bronze Age Bible-- first five books plus Joshua plus about half of the Book of Judges. What I'm going to introduce to you here are things from the text that can be absolutely authenticated archaeologically, geographically, historically, that demonstrate the pristine accuracy of the biblical text to the time frames in which it is allegedly written. In this case, we're going to deal with the Bronze Age. Isn't it interesting that Genesis chapter 10 correctly identifies the Fertile Crescent? That is that geographical arc formed by Mesopotam-- I'm going to try to go your way. If I go this way, that's backwards to you-- from Mesopotamia all the way over to the Levant. OK. The Bible identifies that as "the cradle of civilization." And if we look at it, we can see that-- here's the ancient Near East, and there's that Fertile Crescent. The Bible identifies that as the place where civilization first emerges. Where urbanization-- where cities first come to bear in humanity. And so there it is. The Bible nails it. It's interesting that a book-- if like the critics want to say-- it's written by late Iron Age Judah high priests sometime around the fifth-sixth century BC-- if it's written really late-- if it's a piece of concocted, fiction, then how in the world did they somehow broaden their scope of origins to include everything that modern anthropology and archeology knows to be the case? How did they guess that? Most native people, by the way, see the creation of the world-- all the great events, everything leading up to their time, as happening in their locale-- like the Native Americans, right. "Everything happens right below our feet. We come out of the ground." But this is not what happens in the Bible. It shows the grand, international-- entire spectrum of what we know to be true historically as to the rise of civilization.
Moving right along. Abraham's covenants with Yahweh-- Genesis 15 and 17-- and with Abimelech in Genesis 21, match the unique structure of Middle Bronze Age treaties and contracts, not those of earlier or later periods. It's interesting that the structure, and details, and outlines of covenants, contracts, and treaties change through time in the ancient world. The ones in the early Bronze Age are different from the Middle Bronze Age, which are very different from the Late Bronze Age, and totally differ from the Iron Age. And guess what? When you analyze Yahweh's covenant with Abram, and Abrams covenant with Abimelech, they match no other period of time other than the Middle Bronze Age-- the authentic time for Abraham, according to the Bible. I think that's fabulous.
Here's another one-- oh, Sodom had to come up didn't it? I just want to read this. By the way, all of this stuff tonight is coming out of a chapter that I wrote for the new Harvest Handbook of Christian Apologetics. The chapter that they asked me to write on this title, tonight, "Is the Old Testament historically reliable?" And so, if you want to get a copy of that book when it comes out in the next few months, all of this is in that chapter.
Well, the Cities of the Kikkar, Sodom itself, we now know, in spite of the fact that so many scholars through the centuries or through the last two centuries have said it didn't exist at all, we now know that it was located in Tal Hamon in Jordan. We know that it was the largest continuously occupied city in the southern Levant during the Bronze Age. It had a lot of cities and towns around it. It's over 100 acres in occupational footprint. It has massive defenses, and ramparts, and gates, and palaces, and administrative buildings. It has a 2000 year history as a city-state, which matches up with Genesis chapter 10. And it met a horrible destruction toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham. And the Bible says "burning stones and fire, from Yahweh out of the heavens, destroyed the city." It's exactly what we found. It was destroyed by a cosmic air-burst that wiped out an entire civilization 400 square kilometers north and east of the Dead Sea, in a flash. All that's being confirmed by the archaeological record. So this well-watered landscape was thus destroyed, and it laid barren and without any agriculture or settlements for the next 700 years. It was a complete and utter annihilation.
Well, just a quick look at some of the excavation at Sodom-- just a peek on the Acropolis. I love this. Leen Ritmeyer's recent cutaway reconstruction drawing of what we now call the grand gate way of Saddam. And also, our model, based on our excavations of 12 years on the city of Saddam-- what it looked like with its upper city and its lower city. So there it is. Not only did we excavate it, but we can also extrapolate what the city looked like.
Now, The Mosaic Law. Remember, we talked about Abraham's covenants. Abraham's covenants match the Middle Bronze Age. That's the time frame in which he lives. It's interesting that The Mosaic Law code conforms to a very distinct configuration of Hittite treaties from the Late Bronze Age, and no other time frame. Joshua and Moses belong to the Late Bronze Age. Moses's law code matches only literature, covenants, and treaties from that period, and none other. It's an amazing thing. By the way, why Hittite? How does Moses get hooked up with the Hittite's? Come to my archeology seminar on Tuesday night, 6:13 to 09:30, which meet every Tuesday night throughout the year, and you can discover how Moses got hooked up with the Hittites. The Bible doesn't tell us, but the historical record does. All right, so The Mosaic Law is authentic only to the Late Bronze Age. It can not have been written any time later. It is authentic to that one period, and that one period alone. The price of Joseph's slavery-- I like this one. Joseph was sold into slavery for 20 shekels, according to Genesis 37. Now, according to the Bible timeline-- the Bible chronology-- Joseph lives also in the Middle Bronze Age. If you take all of the contract and treaty documents, from all the cultures of the Near East in that period of time, and you analyze the price of slaves in all those trade documents-- you know what the average going price of a slave is in the Middle Bronze? Age You guessed it. It's 20 shekels. It's exactly as it should be. Nobody living 1,000 years later in an Iron Age would be able to guess such a thing, because you know what the going price of a slave was in the Iron Age? Upwards of 120 to 160 shekels. There was inflation, lots of it.
The Exodus events. Egypt's greatest dynasty in their history was the 18th dynasty. Now, the 18th dynasty is spectacular-- I wish we could talk about it-- but just a couple of sentences about it. It collapsed as a result of the Exodus event. The greatest dynasty in the history of Egypt came crashing down, as a result of all those terrible things, that the Bible describes, that occurred to Egypt in the time of the Exodus-- the plundering of Egyptian wealth, the loss of a large labor force, the decimation of Egypt's northern military forces, and the loss of Pharaoh himself-- none other than Tuthmosis IV. By the way, we just got some confirmation from the Jericho excavators about some very key things that absolutely support that Tuthmosis IV is, in fact, the Pharaoh of the Exodus. We don't have time to get into that, but we now know him. We know him well. This is the only dynastic collapse in Egypt, during the entire Late Bronze Age. I don't care whether you take an early date for the Exodus or a late date for the Exodus, in all that time frame, there is only one collapse of Egypt-- Egypt is flying high the rest of the time. There's only one time of disastrous collapse, and that's after the death of Tuthmosis IV. So this is exactly-- this dynastic collapse is exactly what one would predict, if the events of the Exodus actually occurred. What's interesting about this is it's precisely, exactly happening-- collapsing when the Bible says the Exodus occurred. It's amazing, isn't it? Is that a coincidence? I don't think so. Love this guy-- he's a little beef jerky-ish, but he looks pretty good for a mummy. This is Tuthmosis IV. Wow. How many pharaohs-- how many kings in the history of the world can you look into their face? How many Bible characters can you look into their actual face? That's the mug to which Moses expressed "let my people go." Those pierced ears heard Moses's voice. There he is. Is it cool or what? I love this guy. There is one of his monuments. You see there's some artistic liberty. And I love his name.
By the way, you can go to the Museum of Archeology here at TSU, and you can see a scarab, or a natural seal from his time, with his name on it. And the seal name here says "min"-- see the bug? "Min." That's how you pronounce it. "Min." I'm sorry, the comb is "min"-- the comb, which I don't need. See little comb? "Min", then the bug, "kefir", then the three little lines, "ooh", and then the sun symbol at the top-- you always go to the top-- "rah." His name is "Min-Kefir-Ooh-Rah." That's his throne name. They had five names actually, each pharaoh. This is his throne name-- Min-Kefir-Ooh-Rah, Tuthmosis IV, Pharaoh of the Exodus, and it is exactly right. We're going to see some more. Look at this-- the Exodus itinerary. That is all of the places-- the named locations-- through which the Israelites passed, as they took this rather crazy circuitous route out of Egypt, and all around it, eventually wound up at Sinai. That Exodus itinerary in numbers 23-- numbers 33-- tracks along known trade routes, that are well-attested from Egyptian map lists of the Late Bronze Age. We have lists from Ramses the Great, and going back to Amenhotep the Second. We even have some lists going back to Moses the Second, I believe. So several map lists on monuments. And what they do is they track roots going out from Egypt in various directions, and the Canaan route actually lists every location mentioned in numbers 23, in the exact same order, going all the way up to Nebo. It's really incredible.
So the Exodus story, geographically, is confirmed by the Egyptians themselves. It's really amazing. Slave costs, and we've looked at slave costs in Joseph's time, which was what? 20 shekels in the Middle Bronze Age, a few hundred years before Moses. Let's get down to the time of Moses. According to Exodus 21, in the Mosaic Law, the cost to replace a slave was 30 shekels. Guess what? The average going price of a slave during the Late Bronze Age was 30 shekels. What's interesting about this is the Bible writer even records the subtle inflationary curve of slave prices from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age. It's amazing. Now, nobody can guess this kind of stuff. He can't go centuries and centuries later, and have Israelites concocting stories like this, and getting it all right-- getting these details. It's not possible. And there it is-- one of many proofs of the accuracy of the biblical text. I love this one. A lot of people haven't thought about this. I've never seen anybody write about it. You can read about it in the museum. Israelite literacy.
Do you know, there was no public literacy for Moses? Isn't that interesting? Why was the lack of public literacy a help to the great empires, and to the kingdoms of the ancient world? Why was it preferred to keep the masses illiterate? Because information is power. And power, in their minds, needed to reside solely in the hands of their monarchs, and of their Royals. That's it. You keep the people ignorant. God wanted the Israelites to have the power in their own hands, and the power was the word of God-- especially the law. How do we know that God demanded-- God commanded literacy of the Israelite? Let me just read this little paragraph. Yahweh required literacy of Israel-- that's Deuteronomy 27, I'll quote it in a second-- in preparation for which the Semitic alphabet was invented in Egypt during the centuries, when the Israelites sojourned there. Remember? From the time of Joseph and Jacob, okay? From that time, the alphabet was invented. And that same alphabet chronologically followed the Israelites into the Sinai wilderness and into Canaan, tracing their biblical presence thought to all these locations. Now, I thought writing was invented way back around 3,000-3,300 BC. Hieroglyphics, Mesopotamian cuneiform-- all of those are not alphabets. Those are writing systems, and they're very complex, with hundreds of characters-- very difficult to learn. In fact, nobody can learn it, except for a scribe who, from the time of being a young child, learns for many, many years how to write those systems. An alphabet is a simplification, somewhere between 20 and 30 letters, reflecting the range of human vocalization, so that you can write in any language with an alphabet. A small number of characters in a fixed order, so that an adult of average intelligence can learn to read and even write in a weekend-- in a week. In two weeks, you can do it. Now why would such an alphabet be invented?
By the way, how many times has an alphabet been invented, in the history of the world? One. Okay, the Cherokee alphabet, but that's artificial. One. One time in the history of the world, the alphabet comes forth. And every other alphabet we know of-- from Arabic to Hebrew to Russian to Greek-- all is a derivative of that same initial alphabet-- Semitic alphabet. All comes from the same root, that that alphabet. That alphabet is invented when the Israelites were in Egypt, follows the Israelites around in into Sinai, into the Sinai wilderness, and up into Kayna wherever they go, according to the proper date that the Bible describes. It's exactly it. Now, why? Now, let's go back to Deuteronomy 27. Yahweh said to Joshua and Moses-- he said, "When the Israelites get ready to cross the Jordan, on the opposite bank-- on the West Bank in the promised land, I want you to set up three large standing stones. And I want you to plaster them over with plaster. And I want you to write upon them all the words of the law." That's a command of literacy. He says, "as the Israelites go in, each Israelite will read the words of the law." It's a big billboard-- all the words of the law. By the way, now you know why Hebrew goes from right to left, because it must have been on the right side as they come in on the shore, right? "Oh, we're going this way, so we gotta' read it right to left as we move into the promised land." And by the way, ancient languages can be read left to right, right to left, up, down, sideways, and diagonally. They just somehow settle on right to left.
So, God wanted the Israelites to be able to read. Why? Because he wanted the Israelites to read the law, memorize the law, know the law, and hold their leaders accountable to the law. First-- a first in history. And that alphabet is the key to accomplishing that. It's amazing to me. All right, Canaanite religious practices. You go to the law-- to the Mosaic Law-- and all through the Mosaic Law there are prohibitions left and right, dealing directly with the religions of Canaan-- the practices of these religions-- child sacrifice, ritual prostitution. All kinds of stuff you really can't talk about children's Sunday school. But it's all laid out in the Mosaic Law. It's very clear.
Now, Bronze Age religious practices are detailed in Genesis through Joshua-- we see it. Not only did the mosaic narratives accurately depict the gods, goddesses, and cult practices of Canaan, but also the books of Joshua and Judges reveal how the Israelites rebelled against Yahweh to embrace these very pagan beliefs. All of this is confirmed dramatically in the archaeological record. Everything the Bible talks about-- every god, every pagan god, every goddess, every practice, everything about the Canaanite cult's is confirmed in the archaeological record. We see it. And unfortunately, and sadly, as the biblical record describes, we see it in the Israelite communities.
So it's exactly what the Bible describes, Joshua's conquest. Joshua conquered an Egyptian-less Canaan. Remember, all the way from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua, God promised-- here's what God said to all of them, "I am going to bring you into a land-- a promised land-- in which there are Canaanites, Amorites, and Hittites--" those are the three biggies. And then you got, you know, Hibites, Jebusites, parasites, termites, all those other folks-- "but never Egyptians." Never are Egyptian's mentioned as being part of Canaan. Now, this is interesting because-- let me just finish reading this-- because precisely at the right historical moment, in the midst of the 18th dynasty collapse, and withdrawal from Canaan as a result of the Exodus event, we have an Egyptian list Canaan.
The first half of the Late Bronze Age, from around 1550 to about 1,400 BC, is known as the Egyptian domination of the Levant. It's known as the time-- books are written about it-- the time of the Egyptian domination of the Levant. It wasn't just Egyptian domination. The Egyptian border had been moved from the Palusiak branch of the Nile, north to the Euphrates river.
Egypt. It became Egypt. It was controlled by an iron-fist for much of this period. By Egypt. It was the collapse of the 18th dynasty at the time of the Exodus that caused the Egyptians to withdraw entirely from Syria and Canaan. So that by the time Joshua came into the land, there were no Egyptians. None of the promises of Yahweh to give this land to Israel ever mentioned Egyptians in Canaan, and neither are Egyptian troops mentioned in Joshua's campaigns. If Joshua had entered into Canaan three or four years before he did, he would have had to fight Egyptians, not local Canaanites. He'd have had to fight the Egyptians. But they are now gone.
It is no coincidence that in the decades following the death of Pharaoh Tuthmosis the Fourth-- the Pharaoh of the Exodus-- during who's short reign the terrible events had occurred, Egypt withdrew from its Asiatic territories, leaving Joshua to take the promised land with no threat of Egyptian interference or retaliation. I think it's stunning to realize that when Joshua came into Canaan, he took Canaan at its low ebb. By the way, the Egyptians had kept Canaan depopulated on purpose. Slave raids-- just go through and murder a bunch of people to keep those Asiatic numbers down. Keep them under control. And in the process, the Egyptians weakened Canaan so that, when the Egyptians leave, Joshua shows up on the doorstep of the promised land, crosses the river, and is able to conquer a land that has been depleted by the Egyptians. But the Egyptians are long gone. God promised them an Egyptian-less Canaan, and they got an Egyptian-less Canaan. That's a stunning historical fact. It's also an amazing fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
The battle of Jericho. Joshua takes Jericho in the mid-14th century, 40 years after the death of the Exodus Pharaoh Tuthmosis the Fourth. It's an archeological fact that there was no Late Bronze Age settlement at Jericho in the first part of the Late Bronze Age. There was nothing before the 14th century BC at Jericho, and there was nothing after the 14th century BC Jericho, all the way down to about 1,000 BC. Jericho has no occupation, except for a short period of time. In fact, about a 50 year occupation, from sometime around 1,400 to sometime in the middle of the 14th century. That's it. In other words, there is only one possible fortified Jericho that could have been the city of Rahab. "Rehab" as we say in Oklahoma. Ray-hab. Rah-hab. That's historical precision. That's amazing. The Bible says exactly when Joshua comes to town. It just so happens that that's the only Jericho available to destroy, in the whole Late Bronze Age. Just that little period of time. Voila.
The people of Israel. Merneptah Stela-- around 1210 to 1205, somewhere in there. This is Ramses the Great's 80-year-old son, who finally came to the throne after Ramses the Great rule for 64 years. One of his younger sons, Merneptah's. In the 80s, he comes to the throne. He puts up this stela. And what he wants to confirm is that-- he conquers everybody around. It's just a brag. It's not really true. But, he confirms that Israel was well-enough established in Canaan to be recognized by Pharaoh Merneptah as one of the perennial enemies, or "Nine Bows" of Egypt. On this stela, Israel is designated, by a very particular hieroglyphic symbol, as a people-- not a nation with a King. A people group. Which is spot on. It is exactly correct.
Now, here's the Merneptah Stela. And on this, by the way, it's a brag. It's not true. By the way, this is 1210. This is not too far after the time of the Exodus. Israel, by this time-- by the way, if Yul Brynner is the Pharaoh of the Exodus-- if you catch my drift. If Ramsay's the greatest fear of the Exodus, and the Israelite Exo-- which would make the Israelite Exodus some time around 1250, or so. 1210?
I mean, somewhere in the 1200s. How can his son's stela confirm Israel as one of the nine perennial enemies of Egypt already, if it just barely happened? Well, you have to move that Exodus backward. You have give the Israelites time to forge out their territory. And to flesh it out, and to control it, and to be recognized as a perennial enemy of Egypt.
Here's what it says. It says, "Israel,"-- and again, this is a brag-- "Israel, his seed is no more." It's what Merneptah says about Israel. This is the first mention of Israel in an ancient document, outside the Bible. I title this one "Smite, Smote, Smitten." Do you love verbs? English ones-- they're just weird, the way they do that.
The phrase in the Bible "to smite with the edge of the sword" is an idiom, derived from the single-edge, curved battle axes of the middle and Late Bronze Age-- the final form of which was a very elegant weapon called a sickle sword, because it's shaped like a sickle, with a cutting edge on its outer curve. These were hacking, or smiting swords, with no thrusting point. They just have a curved-edge, like a scimitar, and a single edge. And you don't stab somebody with it, you hacked them with it. Thus, to smite with the edge-- singular-- to smite with the edge of the sword was an apt description of this class of weaponry.
By the end of Iron Age I, around 1,000 BC-- that'd be about the beginning of King David's reign-- the sickle sword was completely extinct. I'd say all but extinct, but it's pretty much done for. It's gone from history. It was replaced, of course, by the straight, pointed, double-edged sword. The typical sword that we think of from antiquity.
Now, it's no coincidence that this idiom of smiting with the edge-- singular-- of the sword is connected only with passages of scripture that belong to the Bronze Age part of the Bible, not those that belong to the Iron Age part of the Bible. It appears 24 times in the Bronze Age scriptures, but trails off shortly after the Book of Judges. It's not found again-- hardly at all. It's interesting. The idiom dies out in common use after its namesake "sickle sword" disappeared from history. Is that a coincidence?
Now, here's a sickle sword. You can see this one in the museum. You can hold it in your hand-- just don't cut yourself. "To smite with the edge of the sword"-- the sickle sword. Here's one you might not guess at. The Philistines and our buddy Homer-- Iliad. Odyssey. All of those? Homer's Iliad confirms the authenticity of an Aegean-style ritual sequence enacted by the Philistines and 1 Samuel 5-6. Wow, that's weird. I mean-- I don't have time to go into it, but there's a ritual sequence, with about six points of ritual, that's described in 1 Samuel 5-6.
By the way, it has to do with the-- remember when the Philistines stole the ark of the covenant from Israel? That's this. And in every place the ark of the covenant went, in all the cities of the Philistines, God struck the-- God has a great sense humor-- he struck them with-- I love the good-old King James rendering of that-- hemorrhoids. So every place the ark went, the Philistines were not sitting comfortably. So they pushed it off to another location. And it did this little tour around Philistia until it got to the city of Ekron, and they had had enough.
They said, "send this God begging thing back to the Israelites." But how do we-- we stole this from their God. How do you return such an object? Well, we know from the Book of Homer that the Mycenaean Greeks had a very specific ritual sequence for returning a stolen object to a God or a King. And it's mirrored precisely, even to the sacrifice of the bowls, to the placing of the golden mice and tumors on the oxcarts-- all this kind of stuff, it's all there. Guess what? The Philistines, we know for a fact, are the descendants of the Mycenaean Greeks. It's amazing. How did you think you could connect the Bible with Homer? It's amazing.
All right. Quickly, on our last couple of minutes here, the Iron Age Bible. David and Solomon. If you take David and Solomon's little mini-empire that they carved out between Mesopotamia and Egypt-- if you look at that, we could predict its existence, if the Bible didn't even exist. Take the Bible away, we would still predict a kingdom would exist in that territory, exactly where David and Solomon's kingdom is located. How do we know that? Because we know where all the kingdoms are around it. We know their territory is historically, and there's a big gap right in the middle. So scholars who say, "well, the size of King David's and Solomon's territory is just-- it's nonsensical. It's not historical." Yes, it is. We would even predict that such a kingdom would exist, even if the Old Testament were not in our possession.
The Davidic dynasty was long pooh-poohed by various scholars as completely mythical-- completely legend. David's name had never been found outside the text of the Bible until, back in the 1990s, guess what? A little text came. A fragment of an Aramean text called the Tel Dan Stela, or the Tel Dan Inscription, mentions the house-- that is to say the dynasty of David-- and an Egyptian inscription refers to the heights of-- that's one in Egypt-- mentions the "heights of David", that is the central highland location of Hebron and Jerusalem, two of David's capital cities, confirming that King David was a historical figure.
The Egyptians talk about the heights of David, and the Aramean inscription, which also mentioned several other biblical characters, talks about the dynasty of David. Even the Mesha Stela, which is a 19th century stela which I'm not going to get into tonight-- it mentions the Israelite King Amri, but in that same stela, it also likely refers to the House of David. It has, not just the "bytvd", but the "bytd". byt-- "house of"-- d-- we just have the first letter. There's nothing else it could be-- it's probably house of David, as well. So now we have at least two, and probably three, references to King David as a historical figure. Here is the Tel Dan Stela. We have a replica of this in the museum. And you can see here-- and you can read it, "bytdvd." There it is. House of David.
Solomon's wealth. After King Solomon died, Shoshenq the First, our biblical Shishak, came racing in during the time of his son Rehoboam He plundered Jerusalem's palace and temple, and, according to Egyptian records, Shoshenq died just one year after plundering Jerusalem. His son, Osorkon the First, after barely three years of being on the throne, made some very spectacular gifts to the Egyptian gods, including one offering that equaled 383 tons of silver and gold.
That's a lot. At this rather depressed time in Egyptian history, where did all of this vast wealth come from? This is not a high-part of Egyptian history. This is the low, very bad, terrible time in Egyptian history, called the Late period. So at this depressed time an Egyptian economy, where does Osorkon get this massive wealth? It is very likely from Solomon's treasures, that his Father brought back to Egypt. Is this a coincidence? No, I don't think so. I think it matches up with the historical record quite nicely.
Hezekiah and Sennacherib. The Prism of Sennacherib records an Assyrian invasion of 46 fortified Judean cities, including Jerusalem under Hezekiah, also recorded in 2 Kings 18 and 19, and Isaiah 36 and 37. In this account that is on the Sennacherib prism-- in this account of his third campaign, Sennacherib describes his victories over several Levantine kingdoms, after which he encountered the Egyptian Army. The Egyptian commander is not named in Sennacherib annuls, he is named in the Old Testament as Taharqa, in 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37, who was a Nubian ruler, who later became Pharaoh Taharwa of Egypt. Look at that intertwining of the historical record-- the Egyptian record, the biblical record. The Egyptian record giving us insight into the biblical record. The biblical record given us insight into Sennacherib's identification of the Egyptian general that he encountered. It's really amazing
Here's Sennacherib's Prism. Here's what he says about Hezekiah on the prism. He says-- by the way, there's at least three of these in different museums. They made copies of them in antiquity-- "As for Hezekiah, I shut him up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem." By the way, the Sennacherib's Prism does not say that's Sennacherib conquered Jerusalem, or that he destroyed it. It says he laid siege to it. What does the Bible say?
Overnight, the angel of Yahweh destroyed-- killed all of his troops. Whoops. Through that prism, he says, "I went to Judea. I conquered this city, and that city. I conquered it. I destroyed it." Over, and over, and over. He get's to Jerusalem, he says, "I laid siege."-- never says he destroyed it. Never says he conquered it. Why? The Bible gives us the reason-- the angel of Yahweh destroyed the army of Sennacherib. Pretty amazing.
Last one. Daniel and Belshazzar. The Nabonidus Cylinder sets the record straight on the accuracy of Daniel, by confirming that his son Belshazzar was, in fact, the last ruling monarch in Babylon the night it fell to the Medes and the Persians. That's confirmed in the record, but it was never known before the discovery of this set of cylinders mentioning Nabonidus, his son, and his rule over Babylon-- his son Belshazzar. The name Balshazzar in the book of Daniel was laughed at as being non-historical because that name had never been seen in any other historical source, except the Bible. And it was finally confirmed by archeology that Belshazzar was, in fact, the last ruling monarch in the city of Babylon when it fell to the Medes and the Persians. Now, here are the cylinders of Nabonidus. And there are bunches of those.
I'm going to Kenneth Kitchen's close us out here, with this little quote. "The theory's current in Old Testament studies, however brilliantly conceived and elaborated, were mainly established in a vacuum with little or no reference to the ancient Near East, and initially too often in accordance with the a priori philosophical and literary principles. It is solely because the data from the ancient Near East coincides so much better with the existing observable structure of Old Testament history, literature, and religion than with the theoretical reconstructions, that we are compelled-- as happens in ancient oriental studies-- to question or even to abandon such theories regardless of their popularity. Facts, not votes, determine the truth. And the Bible stands true. And as I always say, the Bible and the spade do go hand in hand. God bless you. Thank you.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ. For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.