Purdue University Libraries associate professor Lawrence Mykytiuk recently released a report in Biblical Archaeological Review outlining 53 people mentioned by name in the Bible verified by archaeology.
His work is part of a growing trend among academics giving more credence to the historical accuracy of Scripture.
Mykytiuk’s interest in the Bible’s historical accuracy started in 1992 as he was doing graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was then he stumbled upon a clay insignia of a servant of King Hezekiah, verifying that Hezekiah was a real King in Israeli history.
The proof of Hezekiah’s existence has continued to roll in. In 2015, archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar discovered another seal bearing Hezekiah’s name while excavating in Jerusalem. Though Jewish, Mazar is not religious, but admitted on several occasions that she excavated with a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other.
Mykytiuk also points out that it is not just Jewish archaeological sites that are providing evidence. Israel’s ancient enemies also confirm many of these people existed.
He pointed to an ancient Aramaic inscription on a stele found in Northern Israel where the King of Aram was gloating about his victory over King David of Israel. Israel later reconquered the area, broke apart the stele, and used its remains to rebuild a wall.
And it is not just the rich and famous that archaeology is verifying, but also the obscure.
The Bible refers to Tattenia, an administrator in King Darius’ government (Ezra 5:3) who challenged Ezra’s authority to rebuild Jerusalem. Archaeologists discovered a tablet mentioning both his name and position in the Persian government.
They have also verified minor Jewish players such as scribes and government bureaucrats.
Mykytiuk is very selective on who makes the cut. First there needs to be at least three facts provided about the person in the Biblical record including the person’s name and other descriptions such as their position and who their father was.
The same verifying information then needs to be found in the archaeological record. If three verifying facts are confirmed, Mykytiuk adds the person to his list. If only two facts can be verified, he lists them as probable. If there is only one verifiable fact, they are not included on the list.
The verification can come in many ways from references on steles or papyri to a mention on coins and seals.
There are over 3,000 people mentioned by name in the Old Testament and hundreds of them have more than one fact cited about them that can potentially verify their existence as archaeologists make more discoveries.
Over the past three years, Mykytiuk has added three more verified names to his initial list of 50 released in 2014.
So far Mykytiuk has only verified Old Testament names. A Christian, he plans to verify New Testament names this fall and expects to add as many as 23 new names to his list.
He hopes his New Testament work will result in the first woman being included as well. He noted that verifying the New Testament names is proving more challenging as Mykytiuk is fluent in Hebrew but not in Greek the popular language of New Testament times.
Breaking Israel News provided a complete breakdown of Mykytiuk’s 53 verified Old Testament names. Below is a partial listing:
- Pharaoh Shishak — Egypt (= Sheshonq I 945–924 BCE) 1 Kings 11:40.
- Pharaoh So — Egypt (= Osorkon IV 730–715 BCE) 2 Kings 17:4
- Pharaoh Hophra — Egypt (= Apries 589–570 BCE) Jeremiah 44:30
- King Mesha — Moab (9th century BCE) 2 Kings 3:4–27
- King Hadadezer — Aram (9th century BCE to 844/842) 1 Kings 11:23, etc.
- King Benhadad — Aram (844/842 BCE) 2 Kings 6:24, etc.
- King Hazael — Aram (844/842BCE to 800 BCE) 1 Kings 19:15
- King Omri — Israel (884–873 BCE) 1 Kings 16:16
- King Ahab — Israel (873–852 BCE) 1 Kings 16:28
- Governor Sanballat “I” — Samaria — during the Persian rule (5th century BCE) Nehemiah 2:10
- King David — Judah (1010–970 BCE) 1 Samuel 16:13
- King Uzziah — Judah (= Azariah) king 788/787–736/735 BCE, 2 Kings 14:21
- King Hezekiah — Judah (726–697/696 BCE) 2 Kings 16:20
- King Manasseh — Judah — one of the most evil kings (697/696–642/641 BCE) 2 Kings 20:21
- High Priest Hilkiah — Judah (reign of King Josiah 640/639–609 BCE) 2 Kings 22:4
- Genariah — Judah — government official during Jehoiakim’s reign (609–598 BCE) Jeremiah 36:10
- Shelemiah — Judah — father of Jehucal a royal official (7th century BCE) Jeremiah 37:3
- Pashhur — Judah — father of Gedaliah a royal official (7th century BCE) Jeremiah 38:1
- King Tiglathpileser III (= Pul) — Assyria (744–727 BCE) 2 Kings 15:19
- Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Aradmullissu) — Assyria — son who assassinated his father King Sennacherib (7th century BCE) 2 Kings 19:37
- Nebuzaradan — Babylon — a a chief officer in the court of Nebuchadnezzar II (6th century BCE) 2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 39:9
- King Cyrus II (= Cyrus the Great) — Persia (559–530 BCE) 2 Chronicles 36:22
- King Darius I (= Darius the Great) — Persia (520–486 BCE) Ezra 4:5
- Tattenai — Persia — provincial governor (6th to 5th century BCE) Ezra 5:3