Archeological Evidence

Why Believe the Bible? External Evidence

Over the course of centuries, the Bible has been the subject of exhaustive studies. Since the 19th century, archaeologists, applying more scientific methods to their discoveries, have achieved more accurate dating. In the last seventy years, evidence has been unearthed that agrees with much of the cultural, geographic, and political information in the biblical text.

For example, it is said that St. Paul left his stamp so indelibly on the Roman world that it is futile even to try to say he did not live. The ruins of the places he visited, and the cities where he founded churches—i.e., Ephesus, Colosse, Corinth, Thessalonica —are still visible today, as well as monuments to his memory built centuries ago, and even streets named after him.

Babylonian Clay Tablet: Fragment of a chronicle recording Nebuchadnezzar’s victory over Judah in 597 BC.

Jehu, a king of Israel (2 Kings 9-10), during the 9th century BC, is mentioned outside the Biblical account on an Assyrian obelisk. Jehu, who after fulfilling a series of prophecies against the house of the infamous Ahab and Jezebel, even destroying the entire family of Ahab, became Israel’s king. However, Jehu did not choose to worship God. So God allowed Israel to be plundered by its neighbors to the north, the Syrians and Assyrians. King Shalmaneser III of Assyria left the record of his victory over Israel on stone for all to read.

Discovered at Nimrud in 1846, the striking Black Obelisk, pictured at right, depicts the Israelite king Jehu (reigned ca. 841-814 BC) kneeling before the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (reigned ca. 858-824 BC). The cuneiform inscription above the scene reads “Tribute of Jehu, Son of Omri.”

“The ‘Black Obelisk’ of the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser III informs us that Jehu paid tribute to the Assyrians shortly after coming to the throne of the northern kingdom in 841 BC. In the Assyrian inscription Jehu is incorrectly called the ‘son of Omri,’ but this may simply be Shalmaneser’s way of identifying Jehu with Samaria [or Israel].” —NIV Study Bible Note on 2 Kings 10:34

Bible Reference to Jehu: 2 Kings 10:31-34, “But Jehu did not obey the law of the Lord,…At about that time the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel’s territory…The rest of the events in Jehu’s reign and all his deeds and achievements are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.”

Cyrus’ Cylinder: Includes the decree that allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild—ending the 70 year captivity as recorded in Ezra 1:1-4.

There are a number of interesting archeological discoveries connected with King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 18-20). During Hezekiah’s reign, the

Original Site of Inscription
Assyrians pushed southward into his towns and villages. The Bible tells us that Hezekiah secured his city’s water supply by building a long tunnel. He “blocked up the upper spring of Gihon and brought the water down through a tunnel to the west side of the City of David” (2 Chron. 32:30 NLT). At the end of the record of Hezekiah’s life, this accomplishment is mentioned again: “The rest of the
Hezekiah’s Tunnel
events in Hezekiah’s reign, including the extent of his power and how he built a pool and dug a tunnel to bring water into the city, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah” (2 Kings 20:20 NLT).

Tunnel Inscription

In 1880 an inscription was found in the tunnel—Hebrew text carved by Hezekiah’s engineers—describing the anxious moments of the tunnel diggers. Hezekiah also fortified cities and stored up food. Archeologists have found jar handles sealed with Hezekiah’s royal seal.

Another significant find that confirms the Bible is a prism on which Sennacherib, king of Assyria, tells about his siege of Jerusalem. A translation of it reads, “Hezekiah himself, like a caged bird, I besieged in Jerusalem, his royal city.” Sennacherib did besiege Jerusalem, but did not conquer it. God intervened to save Jerusalem in response to Hezekiah’s earnest prayer (2 Chron. 32:20-21).

There is far more archeological evidence confirming the Bible than can be discussed in this article. And even though all of it is not conclusive, numerous findings confirm details of the time of the Captivity of Judah and their return to their homeland: 1) That Babylon would conquer Judah and Jerusalem would be destroyed; 2) That the Jews would be taken to Babylon, but would be allowed to return and rebuild after 70 years; 3) That they would bring back the golden and silver vessels Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem; 4) That there would be no more kings to sit on David’s throne until the “Son of David”, but that King Jehoiachin would be raised out of the dungeon.