Archaeology Proves Our Bible is True
In our era of scientific and technological advancement, many question how our Bible written 2000-4000 years ago could possibly be true. However, Biblical Archaeology confirms that the Bible is true. How? The people, locations and events of history in the Bible have, metaphorically speaking, left footprints in the sands of history. Archaeology is the process of discovering those footprints.
The Quest for the Historic Jesus
Archaeological digs reveal specific persons and events also mentioned in the Gospels that were interactive in Jesus’ life. The accuracy of the Gospel writers about Jesus and the trustworthiness of his historic message is thereby corroborated by archaeology.
It is this simple. All agree the Gospel accounts show that Jesus lived for 33 ˝ years—sometime between 2 BC and AD 33. If we can archaeologically prove certain events and individuals recorded in the four Gospels actually occurred in the timeframe of Jesus’ life, then we can conclude the Bible account of Jesus’ life is true. The following is a secular historic list of the very persons and events that interplayed in Jesus’ life.
1. Herod the Great. History records that Herod the Great was the Roman appointed king over Judea from 36 BC until his death in AD 4. The Bible reveals Jesus was born and that Herod the Great attempted to kill the babe Jesus. Archaeology has discovered this Herod. He had two main building projects: (1) A summer palace on Masada and (2) the Herodium, which was a colossal monument to his life and was to be his burial place. Archaeologists found Herod’s name on several artifacts in both palaces.
2. Capernaum. I saw the foundation of the actual synagogue Jesus preached in at Capernaum. A first century date (the time of Jesus) for this synagogue’s foundation has been established by the pottery uncovered which corresponds to Jesus’ lifetime. (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10) This partial black basalt synagogue wall still remains. Down the road in Capernaum was the house of Peter where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14,15). Peter’s house was identified by the same timeframe black basalt wall as was the synagogue.
3. Bethsaida. The ancient city of Bethsaida was where Jesus preached (Matt. 11:21). I had the opportunity to help in the ongoing archaeological dig in Bethsaida.
4. Caiaphas, the High Priest. Caiaphas was the notorious High Priest who presided over the trial of Jesus (John 18:24-28).An ossuary, burial box, containing the name Caiaphas was found by archaeologists. They agree it was the Caiaphas of Jesus time.
5. Pontius Pilate. Remember the High Priests brought Jesus before Pilate to have Jesus condemned to death. In 1961 a stone plaque was discovered in an excavation. It had the Latin inscription, "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea."
6. "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" Ossuary. This remarkable inscription was cut into the side of this ossuary burial box that has been scientifically dated back to the time of Jesus. There were two apostles named James. James the brother of the Apostle John was already martyred when Galatians 1:19 referred to "James the brother of our Lord." This was James the lesser who is referred to as the brother of Jesus. The Greek word here translated brother can also mean cousin. In any event, as an apostle and relative, this James was very intimately acquainted with Jesus.
Remember the axiom "things equal to the same thing are equal to each other." This axiom is universally accepted. Archaeology has proven that Herod the Great, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate and James the brother of Jesus were individuals or places that existed during the lifetime of Jesus. The Bible teaches Jesus historically had interplay with each of these persons or places. Therefore, the Bible and archaeology prove that Jesus did exist. Yes, the Bible is true—JESUS DID EXIST! And he "died for our sins" and rose to "freely give us all things." Romans 8:32.
The People of Israel Enter Their Land.
Just as archaeology has proven the existence of Jesus, the most important man in the Bible, archaeology also verifies the entrance of the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, into the Land of Canaan, later renamed the Land of Israel.
Moses was instructed in Deut. 27:4-8 to build an altar on Mt. Ebal when Israel crossed over the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. The altar was to be made of whole stones without an iron tool shaping it. In 1980 an agnostic archaeologist Adam Zertal discovered an altar under a layer of stone on Mt. Ebal. In researching, Zertal realized his "find" completely fit the altar’s description in Deut. 27:4-8. Additionally, over 4,000 bones were found in the area...all of them bones of sacrificial animals mentioned in Moses’ Law. One discovery at the site seemed to tie everything together. It was an Egyptian scarab that was probably among the spoils the Bible says Israel took with them from Egypt. Overwhelmed, Adam Zertal, the agnostic, became a believer in the Bible as the Word of God.
The Kings of Israel
Much of Israel’s biblical history is confirmed by archaeology. We will deal with Israel’s first three kings as an example. William Foxwell Albright the greatest Biblical archaeologist of all time, in one of his excavations found the palace of King Saul at Tell el-Ful. Yes, archaeology proves there was a King Saul.
Was King David a Myth?
King David is prominently mentioned 1,048 times in the Bible. In the Old and New Testament he is the prominent figure in the genealogy of Jesus, who as David’s (genealogical) son, will inherit the throne of his genealogical father David. When David captured Jerusalem, he enlarged it, surrounded it with a wall and called it the City of David.
Yet for decades archaeologists have carried out excavations throughout the "so-called" City of David and elsewhere, searching in vain to prove that there was such a person as David. Agnostics and atheists were delighted. But the reason no written records were found is that the ancient Israelis wrote their records on perishable papyrus. This contributed to the "school of minimalists", who for their political, anti-Semite or anti-theistic agenda, refused to admit that the nation of Israel was already a thriving major state, in the tenth century BC, under the rule of a dynamic King David.
However, in 1993 there was a startling find at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel, far from Jerusalem. An inscription was found containing the phrase "the house of David." But the minimalists attempted to undermine this find.
In 2001, I had an hour long meeting with the famous archaeologist, Eilat Mazar. She is a Biblical archaeologist in the highest sense of the word. She said that she excavates "with the Bible in one hand and a shovel in the other." Probably Mazar knows the Jewish Bible, our Old Testament, better than most Christains. She said that by searching the Bible she knew exactly where King David’s palace was located and when she received the necessary financial backing, she would excavate and uncover the remains of King David’s palace.
She observed that one of the reasons researchers were at a loss in finding King David’s palace was that they assumed King David built his palace at the most protected part of the city—inside the City of David’s walls. However, she said this was not the case. The City of David, which was almost impregnable, was also very small, approximately nine acres in size. Nevertheless, scholars continued to search for King David’s residence within the city walls. No remains were found that pointed to the existence of a great palace like the Bible describes. This contributed to the "No David school of thought."
Remember, Eilat Mazar "excavated with the Bible in one hand and a shovel in the other hand." "One of the main clues in finding David’s palace," said Mazar, "was surprisingly from the Bible itself." 2 Samuel 5:17 states that when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him. But David heard about it and "went down" from his palace to the walled City of David and the Philistines were defeated. Therefore, Mazar excavated just above the walled city of
David and as the Bible stated she found David’s elaborate Palace with all the Biblical marks of authenticity. Thus, archaeology proved David was not a myth. In reality, King David was the greatest king in the history of Israel.
Israelʼs first Post Office
Artifacts from the City of David excavations reveal an interesting tidbit of information about an ancient postal system, a luxury of the Israeli empire. By the 9th century, besides government officials, even clerks and merchants enjoyed this postal service. Whereas, during the 9th century BC, letters and goods were dispatched on behalf of their senders without names, by the 8th century BC the clerks and merchants begun to add their names to the seals," observed the Antiquities Authority. Clay stamps sealed the letters or packages.
A Thrilling Find on the Temple Mount
In 2012 archaeological remains dating to the First Temple Period were discovered on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem District Archaeologist Yuval Baruch uncovered fragments of ceramic table wares, animal bones, and more. The bowl sherds were decorated with wheel burnishing lines characteristic of the First Temple Period. The finds indeed dated back to the First Temple built by King Solomon, which existed between the 9th and 5th centuries BC.
An archaeological team of the Israel Antiquities Authority, reached the conclusion, after examining the finds, that their characteristics and location may aid scholars in reconstructing the dimensions and boundaries of the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.
These archaeological finds of an expanding Israeli empire as far back as the 10th century BC, including Solomon’s Temple on the Temple Mt. were over 16 centuries before Mohammed created the Muslim religion. It is absolutely unconscionable for the Palestinians Arabs to falsely claim they occupied the Temple Mt. and Jerusalem centuries before the Jewish People. What impudence!
As you drive through Israel, you see mounds and little hills which in reality are time-covered ancient cities of ancient Israel. Israel is an archaeologist’s paradise. During my last trip to Israel, an Israeli archaeologist said, "You have to see the most unique excavation in Israel."
Khirbet Qeiyafa / Haʼarayim
"Ha’arayim" in the valley of Elah is unique! Carbon-14 dating tested it back to the 10th and 11th century BC, just prior to David becoming king. The Biblical name of this city being excavated was "Ha’arayim" which means "two gates," and it actually has two gates. I told the director I had never seen or heard of any ancient city back to the time of David that had two gates. Since the gate was the weakest place to defense in ancient cities, therefore, they only had one gate. He smiled and said, "Read 1 Samuel 17:52." In the Hebrew the name, Ha-arayim, means "two gates," and this was the actual name of the city. He was right. Any Hebrew lexicon confirms this definition.
Actually, 1Samuel 17:38-53 tells the story of David and Goliath. I went to the south gate and looked down the slope. My heart pounded. I could see the very brook where David took five stones, one of which he used in his slingshot to kill Goliath. Then, in my mind, I pictured the army of ancient Israel defeating the Philistines. I went back into the excavation, and the director showed me ink writing on a piece of pottery they found.
A number of scholars have read this writing. They all agreed that it was the earliest ancient Hebrew that has been discovered. Imagine! Ancient Hebrew from over 3,000 years ago! What did it say? It was a tender plea to care for the slaves, the widows, the orphans, the strangers, the infants and the poor. Yes, the Jews over 3,000 years ago were endeavoring to live the ideals of their Torah—the first five books of their Bible. The director asked me to narrate a DVD on Khirbet Qeiyafa.
Biblical archaeological discoveries are thrilling and faith inspiring. Send for the new booklet, "Archaeology Verifies the Bible as God’s Word."