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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2002

Archaeology and the Bible

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

The Bible claims to be the Word of God. Therefore, it should be correct in whatever it discusses. Throughout history, archaeology (ark-ē-ol-o-gee, the study of ancient objects) has shown that the facts of the Bible are right. Consider three examples.

The Bible teaches that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament containing teachings from God known as the Law of Moses (Exodus 17:14). In the past, people who did not believe in the Bible said that Moses could not have written these books because the art of writing had not been invented. Then, in 1933 a man named J.L. Starkey uncovered the ancient city of Lachish, which was important in Joshua’s conquest of Canaan (Joshua 10). Dr. Starkey found a pottery water pitcher with eleven letters carved on it—letters he called “the earliest Hebrew inscription known.” A few years before, French archaeologists had unearthed a set of laws (known as the Code of Hammurabi)that scientists confirmed had been written hundreds of years before Moses lived. Thus, Bible critics had to accept that Moses could have written certain Bible books—because writing had existed long before Moses.

Some have accused Isaiah of making a mistake when he wrote of Sargon, King of Assyria (Isaiah 20:1), since history never mentioned Sargon. But in 1843, two French archaeologists, Paul Botta and Austen Layard, discovered Sargon’s whole palace! Scientists now know that Sargon ruled from the city of Khorsabad, where his palace was built around 706 B.C. The walls of the palace contained writing describing his years as king. Today, a piece of the palace weighing forty tons is on display at the Oriental Institute of the Universityof Chicago. Isaiah had been right all along.

People called Hittites are mentioned over forty times in Scripture (Exodus 23:28; Joshua 1:4), and were so feared that they once caused the Syrians to run away from Israel (2 Kings 7:6). Yet Bible critics said that the Hittites never existed. In the late 1800s, however, archaeologist A.H. Sayce discovered writings in Syria that he identified as Hittite. Then, in 1906, another archaeologist, Hugh Winckler, dug up the city of Boghazkoy(in Turkey) and found that the Hittite capital had been located there. He also uncovered more than 10,000 clay tablets from the city’s library—tablets that contained the people’s laws (known as the Hittite Code). The Bible was correct; the Hittites really had existed.

Over and over again, archaeology has confirmed that the Bible is correct. One famous archaeologist, Nelson Glueck, said that no find has ever contradicted the Bible. Hundreds of discoveries have proven the statements of the Bible to be true. The Bible is indeed God’s inspired Word! Let us respect it as such.

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