All posts filed under: Archaeology

I vote Grey whale: The story of Jonah

A group of archaeologists digging at a Roman fish factory plant located near the Straights of Gibraltar made a discovery that may answer the question on what swallowed Jonah. The salting factories first showed up around 400 BC. Many are familiar with the story of the disobedient prophet who God wanted to send to Nineveh to call the city to repentance. Jonah, who obviously hated this enemy, refused to go fearing they would repent and God would spare them judgement. So to escape his calling, Jonah booked a boat to Tarshish, that oddly enough most Biblical scholars believe was located on the coast of Spain near the Straights of Gibraltar. In an effort to catch Jonah’s attention, God stirred up a large storm that the sailors believed was divine in origin. After Jonah fessed up, the sailors threw him overboard and the prophet was swallowed up by a large fish or sea creature that eventually vomited up the prophet along the shore near Nineveh, where he successfully called the city to repentance. So what did …

Where is Mt. Sinai?

We don’t know for sure where Mt Sinai is located. The mountain, also called Horeb (Deuteronomy 4:10), was the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It’s traditionally believed that Mt. Sinai is Jebel Musa located in Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula. Jews held this belief as early as 100 AD and people were making pilgrimages to the site. Christians accepted this and several monasteries were later built near the mountain. However, in an interview with WND, Pastor Joel Richardson is bucking the trend by suggesting Mt Sinai is actually located in Saudi Arabia. He believes a mountain called Jabal al-Lawz is actually Mt Sinai. In fact, the Apostle Paul describes Mt Sinai as being in Arabia, but it is uncertain what he meant by Arabia. At that time, this vague description could have easily included the Sinai Peninsula: 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (Galatians 4:25 NASV) After personally visiting Jabal al-Lawz, Richardson gave several reasons why he …

The Temple Mount Credit: Ben and Ash/Flickr/Creative Commons

Discovery of three small coins confirms the Jews ancient connection to the Temple Mount

Archaeologists working on the remains from the Temple Mount have discovered five small coins that speak of an incredible time of religious freedom in Israel’s history. Though only three of the coins are legible, they are dated to the fourth century. This puts them at the time when King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return their homeland from their Babylonian captivity and rebuild Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in 538 BC. The archaeologists believe the other two similarly sized undecipherable coins are from the same set. Seven millimeters wide, the coins have an image of a barn owl on one side. The Jews basically copied the Athenian Abol, a Greek coin used in ancient times. It is curious that they used the owl because it was considered unclean under Jewish law and it also represented the goddess Athena to the Greeks. Instead of having the Greek letters ΑΘΕ used to signify Athens, the three legible coins had the Aramaic word YHD. According to an article on ynetnews, this is the shortened version of …

Raising of the cross by Peter Paul Ruben (1577-1640) Credit: Wikipedia

A 2,000 year old skeleton discovered showing evidence of crucifixion

Though the Bible and several other ancient historical documents talk about crucifixion as a brutal form of Roman execution, there has been very little archaeological evidence found of this ancient practice. However, a group of Italian researchers discovered that a skeleton of man uncovered in Northern Italy in 2007 was probably crucified. If this proves correct, it will be only the second example found revealing the brutal form of punishment used by the Romans to execute criminals. The first one was found in 1968 while excavating a Jerusalem cemetery connected  with the second Jewish temple (2 BC t0 70 Ad). In an ossuary used to store the bones of the deceased, they discovered a man with a nail in his heel. There was also a fragment from the olive tree used for the cross attached to the nail. Because the metal nails were so valuable, the Roman typically pulled them out after the person had died. This is part of the reason, it is difficult to determine if a person was crucified. In this case, …

An Israeli sunset Credit: Israel Nature Photographers/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does an ancient archaeological discovery tell us something about ‘spiritual warfare’?

There is a strange story in the Old Testament talking about a battle that took place between Israel and Moab. Found in 2 Kings 3, we are told that Israel had the kingdom of Moab in subjection. As a vassal, the Moabites paid an annual tax to Israel of 100,000 lambs and the wool from 100,000 sheep. The reason was obvious, we are told that Mesha, the King of Moab, was a breeder of sheep (verse 3) and had obviously developed a unique breed that was in demand. By this time, Israel had split apart into two nations, Samaria (Israel) and Judah. King Ahab of Israel had just died and King Mesha decided this was an opportune time to break free from Israel’s domination. Undoubtedly, Israel became aware of the problem when Mesha refused to pay the tribute. So Jehoram, the new King of Israel contacted King Jehoshaphat of Judah and an unnamed King of Edom to help Jehoram bring Moab back into submission. Obviously, it was in everyone’s best interest to keep Moab under …

Blind burrowing mole rats find evidence of King David’s reign

With the help of burrowing mole rats, archaeologists have found more evidence of King David’s reign. When the moles dig into the ground, they deposit the unearthed dirt around their hole and archaeologists will sift through this dirt to see what lies deeper down. It was just such mounds that led to the discovery of the ancient city of Eglon, 30 miles south of Jerusalem, by Dr. Faust Yair Sapir of Bar-Ilan University. Mentioned in Joshua, it was one of five Amorite cities that formed a league to resist Israel. The cities were defeated and Eglon was incorporated into the Tribe of Judah. As they began their archaeological dig of the 15 acre site, they discovered evidence of its original Canaanite roots including a pottery bowl the Canaanites offered to their gods to protect their buildings. This along with radio carbon dating of coal and olive pits dated the original building to the 12th century BC. Then they noticed the building was later rebuilt into a design unique to ancient Jews consisting of a courtyard …

Peter Ruben's (1577-1640) painting of the women at the tomb. Perhaps fitting of her reputation as a prostitute, Ruben's had Mary of Magdalene wearing a red dress.

Taking a second look at Mary Magdalene’s tattered reputation

It was during a sermon preached by Pope Gregory 1, in 591 AD, that Mary Magdalene’s reputation was publicly scandalized for the first time and she never full recovered. In his homily, Pope Gregory said that Mary Magdalene had been a prostitute. And it is a view that stuck. He based this conclusion on a couple of things. First according to the Gospels, Mary had seven demons cast out of her (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2). Pope Gregory suggested these seven demons involved seven capital sins that included lust. Gregory then added the unnamed sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50, who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume, was none other than Mary of Magdalene. It was generally believed by everyone’s reaction that the immoral woman was probably a prostitute, but even that can’t be certain. But nevertheless, Gregory concluded: She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. What did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? It is …

The pool of Siloam constructed by King Hezekiah. Since Jerusalem did not have a water source, its original inhabitants the Jebusites had constructed an access to the springs below the city. King David used this access to take the city. This led King Hezekian to construct a new access and pool to provide water that was much less vulnerable. Source: Wikipedia

Did archaeologists uncover Isaiah’s signature?

  Archaeologists working in the old part of Jerusalem uncovered what some believe might be the seal (bulla) impression of the prophet Isaiah. A person pressed their bulla into soft clay or wax leaving an image that verified a document was from them. In one sense it was a confirming signature of authenticity. Due to damage (top half missing, left side worn), they can’t be absolutely certain it belongs to the Prophet Isaiah. But here is what they do know. The small seal contains an image of  a doe found in the top third and largely missing portion. A grazing doe was a traditional sign of blessing. The middle part of the round clay impression contains the Hebrew name for Isaiah “Yesha’yah(u), missing the “u” due to damage. Then beneath that but on the worn left side is the word “nvy.” If the letter “aleph” was added at the end of “nvy” it would read “navi” translated “prophet” and essentially would say the bulla belonged to the Prophet Isaiah. However, if there was no “aleph” …

There are no racial barriers in God’s church

I don’t think we fully appreciate the significance of what happened when the Holy Spirit fell upon a group of gentiles as Peter was preaching in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48). It took a vision for Peter, where God declared a number of animals clean, and an angelic visit for Cornelius to get these two groups together. After the Holy Spirit fell, it caused such a controversy in the early church they called a meeting to figure out what do to with the hundreds of gentiles becoming Christians. But a few Bible verses and even archaeology provide a hint of what a radical change this was for the early church that was initially made up of solely Jews. In 1871 a stone slab from the Jewish Temple that existed in Jesus day was discovered by archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. On the slab written in Greek was: “No foreigner is allowed to enter the courtyard and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is caught will be responsible to himself for his death, which will ensue.” Greek was …

Wailing wall in Jerusalem Credit: Neil Howard/Flickr/Creative Commons

Small, 2,700-year-old clay seal punches above its weight in Jerusalem

A small artifact has made a huge impact on the history of Jerusalem. While working in an area referred to as the Western Wall Plaza in Old Jerusalem, archaeologists discovered a small clay seal that belonged to a former governor of the city. The seal, the size of a small coin, is 2,700 years old and depicts two men wearing striped robes facing each other. Its inscription reads “Belonging to the Governor of the City.” According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the seal was either distributed by the governor of Jerusalem as a souvenir or it was included with a shipment of goods. Whatever the case, it establishes that Jerusalem as Israel’s capital well into the First Temple period and reveals a strong administrative center that was already producing what was essentially a souvenir item. Speaking on behalf of IAA, Dr. Shlomit Wekler-Bdolah director of the dig said: “This is the first time that such an impression was found in an authorized excavation. It supports the Biblical rendering of the existence of a governor …

Palm Trees in Israel Credit: fabcom/flickr/Creative Commons

Ancient gates of Solomon discovered at Biblical Tamar Park?

According to Breaking Israel News, a group working in Biblical Tamar Park have found what they believe are the gates to an ancient fortress built by King Solomon. The 55-acre, Biblical Tamar Park in Southern Israel is considered one of the most unusual archaeological sites in Israel. Because of its fresh spring waters, it was a popular spot in this desert climate. The word “Tamar” means “Palm Trees” that grew in the area because of the springs. It was also an important stop for camel caravans along the major trading route known as the Silk Road as they journeyed into the far east. They have found evidence of Phoenicians, Canaanite and Arabs who also inhabited the area at various times through the centuries. But most importantly, the site has an archaeological record of the Hebrews through all their historical periods dating back to Abraham, through the Mosaic era, into the formation of Israel and then through the Roman and Christian periods to modern times. In Numbers, we read that Israelis camped at a placed called …

The Mespotamia Valley where Abraham and Sarah lived before God called them on their journey of faith: Credit: Hassan Janall U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Wikipedia

Faith through doubt: 4,000 year old marriage contract confirms story of Ishmael

Though the patriarch Abraham and wife Sarah ended up in the ‘Faith Hall of Fame’ (Hebrews 11:8-11), their lives were far from a perfect display of faith. God had promised Abraham and his wife Sarah a son out of which would come a great nation (Genesis 17). Though they clung to this promise, there were times when they doubted God and took matters into their own hands. One of these moments involved Hagar, Sarah’s personal maid: Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16: 1-2 NASV) Sarah told Abraham to impregnate her slave who would serve as a surrogate and have a child that Sarah would claim as her own. The couple went through with this plan with both believing it would fulfill the promise that …

King David made Mykytiuk’s list. Fresco of King David bring the ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem by Johann Baptist Wenzel-bergl Credit: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikipedia

53 Bible personalities make the list, more to come

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 …

Recent archaeological work being done at the West Bank Shiloh site: Credit: Vimeo Video screen capture/Tim Velasco

Hints of Shiloh’s location?

Archaeologists have uncovered some interesting artifacts at what is believed to be the ancient Israeli site of Shiloh located in the West Bank. After entering the Promised Land under Joshua, the Israelis eventually set up the Tabernacle of Moses at Shiloh around 1400 BC (Joshua 18:1). It stood here for 369 years. The site in the West Bank is considered one of four possible locations of Shiloh. Inside the tabernacle, a large colourful tent, was the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant on which the Presence of God sat leading to the Tabernacle being called the “dwelling place of God” (Exodus 25:8-9). A large Jewish community eventually built up around the most important religious site in Israel during this period. The Tabernacle sat within a larger fenced-off compound where the altar stood on which the Jewish priests made sacrifices on behalf of Israel. There are some indications from ancient non-Biblical Jewish writings that the tent and the walls of the compound originally made of cloth and skins for easy transportation around the wilderness were eventually replaced …

Jezreel Valley in Israel. Credit: vad_levin/Flickr/Creative Commons.jpg

Does this find confirm 1 Kings 21:1?

Dr Norma Franklin made a remarkable discovery in the Jezreel Valley. The valley is located in a large, fertile plain in Northern Israel, just south of Nazareth. It has been an important agricultural area in Israel for centuries. In 2012, using a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanner that is able to see beneath the surface of the earth, Franklin discovered several ancient wine presses including one that is now considered the largest wine-press ever found in Israel. This one was actually found on a side of a hill carved into the bedrock and was about 12 metres square (36 feet). As well, Franklin’s team discovered several (100) bottle-shaped pits that were probably used to store wine. In addition to discoveries related to the wine industry, the scanner also picked out several olive presses. Though it was difficult to determine the date of these finds, Franklin said the construction style is similar to those built in 300 BC. This would fall into the era of King Ahab and his wicked wife Queen Jezebel. So what Biblical …

The Siege of Jerusalem by David Roberts (1764-1864) Source: Wikipedia

Evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD discovered

Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have come across evidence of the Roman destruction of the city and the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. Israel Antiquities Authorities (IAA) made the announcement on Jerusalem Day held annually in Israel on May 23.  Also called Yom Yerushalayim, it is a national holiday celebrating the day that the Jews regained control of Jerusalem. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the event and IAA chose this auspicious occasion to make their announcement. The road itself is located 20 feet below the surface. So far they have uncovered a piece 100 meters (328 feet) long and 7.5 meters wide. It was part of the main street of Jerusalem that extended from the main gates to the Pool of Siloam, that some believe served as a ritual bath (John 9:6-11), to the Temple itself. The Romans constructed the road with large stone slabs. But evidence shows that it was not built during Herod’s day, the man who built the second Jewish Temple, but probably by Pontius Pilate who played a major role in …

Curiously temples in Mexico are patterned off the same design as the Tower of Babel. Credit: Brian Hoffsis/Flcikr/Creative Commons

Does an ancient tablet mention the Tower of Babel?

Shortly after the flood, the Bible says the people gathered in the Mesopotamia valley and started building a large tower to heaven. 4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 NASV) Called the Tower of Babel, the Bible relates how God stopped its construction by creating different languages among this group forcing them apart and eventually causing them to scatter around the world:  7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.  (Genesis 11: 7-8 NASV). Though many have called this account a myth, Dr. Andrew George, a professor at the University of London who specializes in Babylonian history, recently translated an ancient stone tablet held by a private Norwegian …

Herdodium complex Credit: Eitan Yaaran/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Tomb of Herod the Great discovered

In 2007, Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced the discovery of the tomb of Herod the Great, including his sarcophagus and mausoleum, on the Northeast slope of Mount Herodium. This confirmed the existence of a major player in early New Testament history. Herod was part of a larger clan who ruled Palestine during its Roman occupation — his grandfather and father had ruled before him. Herod, who was declared “King of the Jews” in 40 BC by the Roman Senate, died in 4 AD. Most Christians are familiar with Herod the Great and his role embedded in the Christmas story. Herod was the king that the Magi consulted when they came to Judea looking for the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1). This news troubled Herod (v 2) and he asked the Magi to report back when they had found the new King. When the Magi – warned in a dream – took a different route home, Herod was enraged (v 16). After consulting his advisors, Herod determined where the Jewish Messiah had been born and brutally ordered …

Credit: Rob Fransdad/Flickr/Creative Commons

A donkey speaks again, this time about King Solomon’s copper mines

Liberals have tried to picture King David and King Solomon as little more than tribal chieftains instead of how the Bible portrays them as leaders of a nation numbering millions of people. Unfortunately, a donkey seems to have upset the Liberal apple cart. Archaeologists working at the site of an ancient copper mine in Israel’s Timma Valley made an unusual discovery — they found donkey dung. It wasn’t just any kind of donkey dung, when they carbon dated it, they discovered it was 3,000 years old. This made the site older than archaeologists initially thought and the donkey’s appearance dated the mines to King David’s and King Solomon’s day. The area being excavated not only contained numerous mines, but also several areas where it was smelted including furnaces and piles of slag. This was a major production center. The mines explain several verses in the Old Testament that spoke of Solomon’s incredible wealth. When King David charged his son with building the temple, he listed bronze as part of the kingdom’s resources: 16 Of the gold, …

The Wadi-Qumran Credit: Otto_Friedrich45/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does an ancient copper scroll hold clues to the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant?

According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), a copper scroll discovered in 1952 in caves along with the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls may actually be an ancient treasure map. The two thousand-year old scroll, made of thin sheets of copper, sticks out from its fellow Dead Sea Scrolls made of papyrus discovered in caves found in cliffs below a large plateau a mile away from the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea. The scroll also differs in one other significant way — while the Dead Sea Scrolls contain Biblical texts and other religious writings — the copper scroll is a map with 64 different locations marked out on it. It also lists quantities of gold and silver associated with each site along with clues and descriptions of the secret locations. Archaeologists believe the map probably outlines where Jews hid money during the Jewish revolt that led to the Romans destroying the Jewish temple in 70 AD. But one of the sites also mentions something else — Jewish vestments — suggesting the Jews may have hidden some …

Credit: Ezio Melotti/Flickr/Creative Commons (Modified)

What do the remains of two dead dogs tell us?

There is a verse in the book of Nehemiah that I have always found a bit odd. After Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire in 539 BC, it basically assimilated the Israelis who were in exile under the Babylonians. The Book of Nehemiah records how the Persians allowd Nehemiah — a cupbearer for the Persian king Artaxerxes I (also known as Longimanus 465-424 BC) — to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. Three days after he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to inspect the walls. Because of the various political factions in the city, he did it under the cover of darkness to hide what he was doing. Then we read this puzzling verse: “And I arose in the night, I and a few good men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting in my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal which I was riding. (Nehemiah 2:12-15) Nehemiah rode a horse, but then specifically adds he took no other animals with …

Mosul, Iraq Credit: Kawa Somar/US Government/Voice of America/Wikipeidia

What ISIS intended as evil ends up as a confirmation of the Biblical record

One ancient tradition states the tomb of the prophet Jonah is located near the remains of the city of Nineveh. This particular site has been considered Jonah’s tomb since the 4th century and resulted in the construction of a Christian church and monastery at the site. God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and call the city to repent of its sins. Fearing the city would escape God’s judgement if it responded, Jonah refused and sailed off to Tarshish located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. However, God stirred up a storm that eventually resulted in Jonah being tossed overboard and swallowed by a large fish. Stuck in it’s stomach for three days, Jonah repented and was coughed up on land. He went back to Nineveh who then responded to Jonah’s message. If this tradition is right, Jonah must have stayed on in Nineveh.  However, this is not universally accepted. Other traditions state that Jonah returned to his home town of Gath-Hepher where he died. The Assyrian church initially built at the shrine located just …

Remains of the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq as seen from Saddam Hussein's former summer palace: Credit US Navy Arlo K Abrahamson/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Cuneiform tablet confirms the gruesome story of Jeremiah 39

Jeremiah chapter 39 paints the gruesome fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586BC/587BC. King Zedekiah had previously been installed by the Babylonians as Judah’s puppet king after Babylon defeated Jerusalem in 597 BC. Jerusalem remained largely intact, and Judah was forced to pay an annual tribute to Babylon. However, Zedekiah, who was 21 years only when he was set up as a vassal king, eventually tired of the arrangement and rebelled against Babylon by forming an alliance with Egypt. The prophet Jeremiah who initially served as one of Zedekiah’s counselors warned against the move, but Zedekiah was by this stage doing evil in the sight of the Lord (Jeremiah 52:1-3) setting the stage for God’s devastating judgement. When King Nebuchadnezzar returned a second time to bring Jerusalem back into submission, he was in a foul mood. The battle predictably turned against Judah and with Jerusalem on the brink of falling, King Zedekiah, along with his family and personal guards, fled with the Babylonian army in pursuit. After the invaders caught up with …

Painting of Israel carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the Promised Land under Joshua by Benjamin West (1738 -1820) Credit: Wikipedia

Archaeologists to excavate site that once held the Ark of the Covenant

It is one of the great mysteries of the Bible – what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. When the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in 586 BC, they ransacked the city, hauled its citizens off into captivity and looted the Temple taking its treasures as spoils of war. A number of Bible passages list the items the Babylonians stole. One found in Jeremiah is particularly detailed and includes even pots and spoons (Jeremiah 52:17-23). But strangely missing from all the lists including Jeremiah’s and the listings provided in 2 Kings 24:13, and 2 Kings 25: 13-18 is any mention of the Ark of the Covenant. It was a gold-plated wooden box on which God’s Presence manifested. As the most important piece of furniture in the temple, the Babylonians would have coveted it. Many believe the Jews hid the Ark to stop it from falling into Babylonian hands. But when Babylon hauled Israel’s citizens into captivity for 70 years, the people who hid the Ark died and its location forgotten. Rumors even circulated that the prophet …

The Strait of Gilbralter near the location of the fabled City of Atlantis Credit: joko facile/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the Biblical city of Tarshish the fabled city of Atlantis?

Some believe the mythical city of Atlantis is just that — a fable. The city was only mentioned once in ancient writings by fourth century Greek philosopher Plato (428 BC to 348 BC) who wrote of a traveler Solon who had visited the sea-faring city and described it as an advanced and wealthy civilization. But others are not convinced it is a myth. In a documentary, Atlantis Rising, produced for National Geographic, famed film-maker James Cameron (the movie Titanic) and journalist/archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici claim they have unraveled the mystery surrounding the ancient city. Plato said Atlantis was covered with mud and water and sank, leading the duo to conclude it was probably hit by a tsunami. But the philosopher also provided a clue to the city’s site describing it as being past the “Pillars of Hercules.” Cameron and Jacobovici believed these pillars referred to the Straits of Gibraltar. In an interview with Breaking Israel News (BIN), Jacobovici said this would put it along the coast of Spain, Portugal or the Iberian Peninsula. Though Atlantis is …

Artists portrayal of Nero's persecution of Christians by Heinrich von Siemiradzki (1843-1902): Wikipedia

How Tacitus’ contradiction of the Biblical record actually confirms the Bible

Roman senator and orator Tacitus (55AD-118AD) is considered one of the great ancient historians. He wrote a number of books, and in his last work entitled Annals he had a couple of paragraphs about Jesus and the Christians. Though small, these two citations pack a wallop because they provide various confirmations about the Biblical account and even one contradiction that actually proves the Bible’s accuracy of events. Tacitus was providing a brief history about the Roman Emperor Nero (37AD – 67AD) and because of this felt compelled to give an explanation about Christians and Christ as they played a role in the Great Fire of Rome (July 18-23 64 AD). Many Romans believed Nero purposefully set the fire as part of his grandiose plan to rebuild Rome. To deflect the blame, Tacitus said Nero accused Christians of arson: [neither] human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered [by Nero]. Therefore, to put down the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits and punished …

Muslim quarter of Old Jerusalem. Credit: meghamama/Flickr/Creative Commons

2,700 year-old reference to Jerusalem discovered on a piece of papyri

On October 26, 2016, archaeologists announced they uncovered the earliest non-Biblical reference to Jerusalem. This proves once again that the indisputable Jewish connection to Jerusalem predates the Muslim arrival by thousands of years. They discovered the name Jerusalem on an ancient piece of papyri radio carbon dated to 7 BC that antiquity robbers had pillaged from Judean desert caves in the West Bank. This is the oldest extra-Biblical reference to Jerusalem found so far. The 2,700 year-old papyri was uncovered in an operation undertaken by Israel Antiquities Authority who became aware of the theft and mounted an operation to seize back the stolen antiquities before the robbers sold it on the black market. The small piece of papyri written in Hebrew reads “From the king’s maid servant, from Na’arat, jars of wine to Jerusalem.” Because the writer specifically calls herself a servant of the king, archaeologists suspect the document — referring to the transfer of two jars of wine to Jerusalem — was part of a tax payment. It was made during the reign of …

When national leaders choose to believe a lie

The Nation of Israel and Jews have been part of the Middle East for thousands of years. One of the earliest non-Biblical references to Israel is found on the Merneptah Stele in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. The stele, a 10 foot high (3 meters) granite stone monument, was discovered in 1896 during archaeological work on the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes Also called the Israel Stele, it is dated to the reign of the Egyptian king Merneptah (1213 BC – 1203 BC). It outlines his various military victories. The last three lines list his defeat of Canaan including Israel: “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not;” Yet despite this find and thousands of other archaeological discoveries, in a recent UN vote Egypt along with 23 other nations passed a motion that effectively denies any Israeli connection to Jerusalem’s temple mount and Western Wall (the Jewish Wailing Wall). This  motion declaring the Temple Mount a purely Muslim site was passed in a 24-6 vote by the United Nations Educational and Scientific and …

Tel Lachish from inside the city. Credit: Wikipedia/Liadmalone

Does an ancient toilet confirm 2 Kings 10:27?

27 They also broke down the sacred pillar of Baal and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day. (2 Kings 10:27 NASV) This verse tells the story of King Jehu eradicating Baal out Israel. After destroying the idols in one particular temple, Jehu ordered his men to set up a toilet in the Baal sanctuary. This transformation to an outhouse was the kings way of desecrating the temple and recent archaeological excavations suggest it was a common practice. Archaeologists working at the Tel-Lachish site in central Israel have made an amazing discovery. They found a toilet in an ancient Baal shrine. The site is dated to the reign of King Hezekiah (715BC to 686BC). This is the remains of the ancient city of Lachish mentioned several times in the Bible (2 Kings 14:17-19). Many consider it Judah’s second most important city behind Jerusalem. King Sennacherib of Assyria destroyed Lachish in 701AD during the reign of  Judah’s King Hezekiah. Hezekiah, one of Israel’s most prominent reforming kings, is listed in …

Ein Gedi Leviticus scroll. Credit: Dr. Brent Seales

Ancient Leviticus text reveals the accuracy of the Bible

Using a process called ‘virtual unwrapping,’ scientists were able to read the the text on a parchment destroyed in an ancient synagogue that burned down in 600 AD. The parchment was inside a box called the Holy Ark used by Synagogues to store Biblical scrolls. The scrolled parchment made up of five layers was found in 1970 in a synagogue discovered in the archaeological remains of a small Jewish community referred to as Ein Gedi on the coast of the Dead Sea. The whole town apparently burned down at the same time. Archaeologists stopped working on the scroll when it disintegrated at touch. It sat unstudied until University of Kentucky computer scientists scanned the charred parchment using a mico-CT scanner at the request of the Israeli Antiquity Authority. They basically used this to create digital images of the scroll and then flattened the sheets. Because the Jews used an ink with metal properties the scanners were able to easily pick out the Hebrew lettering. According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), the scroll contained text from …

Elijah confronting King Ahab and jezebel Credit: Painting by Sir Francis Dicksee (1853-1928)/Wikipedia

Dutch scholar convinced ancient seal belonged to Queen Jezebel

Dr. Marjo Korpel who now teaches Old Testament studies at Amsterdam and Groningen Universities in Holland has concluded an ancient seal discovered in Israel in 1964 actually belonged to Israel’s notorious, evil-Queen – Jezebel. Many consider Korpel to be a careful and respected researcher and her conclusions garnered a huge reaction in the archaeological community. The account — recorded in 1 and 2 Kings — tells the story of King Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel — a Phoenician princess. When Jezebel arrived to take her place at Ahab’s side, she brought a wedding present for her husband — 400 prophets of Asherah and 450 prophets of Baal. Almost immediately, two centers of idol worship popped up — one at each of Israel’s capital cities. A Baal temple was built in Samaria and at the main palace in Jezreel, Jezebel set up the temple of Asherah where the 400 prophets of Asherah served this deity and ate at the table of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:32, 33; 1 Kings 18:19). In the end, she dominated her husband and effectively …

The Magdala Stone: Credit: Hanay/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Does the Magdala Stone provide a clue to why Jesus was crucified?

The discovery of a small coin dated to 29 AD was tantalizing enough, but its discovery in an ancient synagogue found in Northern Israel along the Sea of Galilee has provided new understanding of ancient Judaism and even the Gospels. The site was uncovered during construction of a christian retreat center and spa for a Catholic order called the Legionnaries of Christ. The organization which trains men for the priesthood has a controversial reputation. Some accused the order of  being cult-like due to its regimented structure that during its early years forbid adherents from contacting their families. This policy has since been completely reversed. The coin confirms the synagogue’s existence during the time Jesus ministered in Galilee. He undoubtedly taught at this synagogue as the Lord regularly spoke at synagogues throughout Israel  (Luke 4:15). The town where the synagogue was discovered is the hometown of Mary Magdalene. She was a close follower, who Christ delivered of evil spirits. 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, …

Do the earliest references to Yahweh in Egypt confirm the Exodus? Credit: clubmed.co.uk/Flickr/Creative Commons

Egypt meets Yahweh: Another confirmation of the Exodus?

When we look at Biblical accounts there are many mentions of Egypt with the most prominent being Israel’s exodus out of that country under Moses. It was  a dramatic encounter that brought the full force of Yahweh against Egypt and its pharaoh who refused to let Israel leave. Similarly, there are several references to Israel in Egyptian records — from mentions on wall carvings and steles to papyris. According to Charles Aling the oldest reference is found on the Merneptah Stele dated to around 1208 BC that refers to a group of people called the Shasu. Aling who specializes in Egyptology is chairman of the History department at Northwestern College. The Egyptians referred to the Shasu several times through the centuries. The word is used to describe a semi-nomadic people who lived in Canaan. It is generally believed that Shasu incorporated all the Semitic people – descendants of Abraham — such as the Edomites, Ishmaelites, Moabites and Israelis. From the Egyptian records the Shasu were generally looked upon as enemies of Egypt and in one …

Workers sifting through the 400 truckloads of dirt hauled out of the Temple Mount as part of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. Photo: Zachi Dvira Pikiwiki Israel

Ancient flooring from Herod’s Temple discovered?

Archaeologists with the Temple Mount Sifting Project believe they have discovered the floor that made up the court-yard of Herod’s temple. This was the floor Jesus walked on when He visited the temple in the Gospels. They made the announcement at a news conference today. The first Jewish Temple built by King Solomon was destroyed by Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, who then sent most of the Jews into captivity. After Persia’s King Cyrus conquered Babylon, he allowed the Jews under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. The construction of the smaller second temple started around 538 BC and was eventually completed in 515 BC (Ezra 6). Though it survived near destruction in 332 BC, after quelling a Jewish rebellion Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215 BC – 164 BC) desecrated this second temple by setting us an idol of Zeus inside it and sacrificing a pig. But the temple continued and it was this version that King Herod restored and expanded in 20 BC.  The transformation was …

Galilean Sunset. You can see the Sea of Galilee in the distance. Photo: Dan Zelazo/Flickr/Creative commons

Matthew 9:35 receives its verification

A verse in the Gospel of Matthew has caused lots of problems. I don’t think Matthew gave it a second thought when he added it. He wrote: 35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matthew 9:35 NASV) But those opposed to Christianity have used this verse and other similar ones to discredit and even question Jesus’ ministry. Why? Because Matthew said Jesus had preached in the synagogues in the villages of Galilee and since no synagogues had been found in rural Galilee, it is argued they did not exist and the verse was a complete fabrication. And since it also talked about Jesus healing every type of sickness and disease, this called into question Christ’s ministry. But on August 9, 2016, the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology discovered a small rural synagogue dated to the second temple period confirming they did exist. This is the temple, built by King Herod, that …