March 2, 2014
Assyria, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia, The Divided Kingdom, The Scriptures
archaeology, assyria, Assyrians, Bible, biblical archaeology, CHURCH, conquest, Dagon, es-safi, excavations, GATH, Goliath, Hazael, history, israel, israel archaeology, israelites, jews, KING, old testament, pentapolis, philistines, Samuel, temple, truth
1 Samuel 5:7-8
And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.” Therefore they sent and gathered to themselves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away.
Although there was initially some debate over the location of Gath, most scholars acknowledge its location is at Tel es-Safi. There are a number of layers that have been excavated here, and the evidence for the presence of the Philistines is bountiful. For example, a Philistine temple has been unearthed there, as well as evidence of the invasion by King Hazael in 830 BC. Gath was part of the Philistine pentapolis and was eventually subjugated by the Assyrians. Extensive excavations have been ongoing at the site since 1996 by A. Maeir of Bar-Ilan University.
*Biblical Archaeology provides reading sources for informational/educational purposes only. No support for the opinions or groups is intended or implied. Biblical Archaeology has no affiliation with any other site or organization. It does not subscribe to any particular view and does not receive funds/support from any group. Readers view other sites at their own risk.
Tel es-Safi/Gath Excavations Blog (wordpress; Feb 2014)
Philistine Temple in Gath (Jerusalem Post; Feb 2014)
October 12, 2013
Assyria, Babylon, Israel, Mesopotamia, The Scriptures, Ur
So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Haran is an ancient city located in Turkey. It is mentioned a number of times in the Old Testament, most notably as the place where Abram stopped while traveling with his father. Abram’s relatives lived in the city, and it is where Isaac and Jacob obtained their wives (Gen 24; Gen 29-31). Haran appears in the Mari texts (see the translation of some of these texts below) and the Ebla tablets. The Assyrians took the city in 763 BC and the Babylonians conquered it later in 609 BC. The city changed hands a number of times, and is perhaps better known for its Roman associations: in 53 AD, the very wealthy Crassus met his doom there during the Battle of Carrhae (the Roman name for Haran). Emperor Caracalla was murdered on the outskirts of the city in 217 AD. There are ongoing excavations in the area of Haran.
Harran (Carrhae) (Livius.org; accessed Oct. 2013)
A Survey of Israel’s History (Google Books; L. J. Wood, Zondervan 1986; p 30; accessed Oct. 2013)
Letters to the King of Mari (Google Books; W. Heimpel (ed), Eisenbrauns 2003; p. 581; accessed Oct. 2013)
June 20, 2013
Assyria, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.In the days of Artaxerxes also, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the letter was written in Aramaic script, and translated into the Aramaic language. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes in this fashion:From Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions—representatives of the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the people of Persia and Erech and Babylon and Shushan, the Dehavites, the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper took captive and settled in the cities of Samaria and the remainder beyond the River —and so forth.
Photo courtesy of the Louvre
Copyright 2005 RMN/Franck Raux
Scholars note that Osnapper is the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC). The prism above resides in the Louvre; it was discovered in Iraq and purchased by the museum in 1948. The prism contains a record of the Assyrian king’s military conquests and is terra cotta.
Ashurbanipal (British Museum; accessed June 2013)
Ashurbanipal (Ancient History Encyclopedia LLC; accessed June 2013)
January 5, 2013
Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, goddesses, gods, Greece, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia, Persia, Rome, The Divided Kingdom, The Scriptures, Ur
archaeology, assyria, Assyrians, babylon, babylonian, Bible, biblical archaeology, british museum, Chorazin, chronicles, cunieform, cyrus, Dagon, ephesus, excavations, history, HITTITES, israel, israel archaeology, israelites, new testament, old testament, Rome, tabernacle, TABLET, temple, temple of artemis, Tiberius, truth
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, documents that are around 2,000 years old, are available online for all to read. All Old Testament books are represented (except Esther). The Biblical books are just part of the find from Qumran; the scrolls were uncovered in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The faithfulness of modern texts to the ancient copies of the scripture is worth noting.
Scholars note that the Biblical text has not been significantly modified over the centuries, as some detractors assert.
Digital Dead Sea Scrolls (Israel Museum; accessed Jan. 2013)
Googling the Dead Sea Scrolls (CNN blog; accessed Jan. 2013)
Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved? (National Geographic; accessed Jan. 2013)
October 27, 2012
Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia, Persia, Rome, The Divided Kingdom, The Scriptures
archaeology, assyria, Assyrians, babylon, babylonian, Bible, biblical archaeology, excavations, history, israel, israel archaeology, israelites, jews, new testament, old testament, Rome, temple, truth
Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.
The Theodotus Inscription was excavated by R. Weill in 1913. It was part of the ruins of a synagogue that had been in operation before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The inscription is written in Greek (translation from BAR):
“Theodotus son of Vettenus, priest and synagogue leader, son of a synagogue leader, rebuilt this synagogue for the reading of the Law and the teaching of the commandments, and the hostelry, rooms and baths, for the lodging of those who have need from abroad. It was established by his forefathers, the elders and Simonides.”
That the inscription on a synagogue was not written in Hebrew is significant. According to BAR, there has been speculation among scholars that this particular synagogue catered to those who were from outside of Palestine. It may also have been the Synagogue of the Freedmen and catered to former slaves from Rome (BAR July/Aug 2003). Who were these Jews who could speak Greek but perhaps not understand Hebrew? They came from throughout the Middle East. The kingdom of Israel began officially with the anointing of King Saul, a Benjaminite. It passed to David (a Judahite) and his son, Solomon. After Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided into northern Israel and southern Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel was carried off and dispersed by the Assyrians in around 700 BC. The southern kingdom of Judah was attacked and the people were dispersed by the Babylonians in around the 580s BC (the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar II). Jews who had been carried off were allowed to return to their homeland under the reign of Cyrus the Great (Persia) according to a decree that was issued around 539 BC (the Cyrus Cylinder contains the declaration that refugees could return). Many Jews did not return to Israel, though, and were dispersed throughout the Middle East. Synagogues became an important part of life for dispersed Jews, some of who could no longer understand Hebrew.
Theodotus Inscription (K C Hanson; accessed Oct. 2012)
Second Temple Synagogues: Jerusalem, Theodotus Inscription (Donald D. Binder; accessed Oct. 2012)
Theodotus Inscription (BAR, July/August 2003; accessed Oct. 2012)Theodotus Inscription: contemporary with Herod’s temple (COJS; accessed Oct. 2012)
October 25, 2012
Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia, Persia, Rome, The Divided Kingdom, The Scriptures
ANCESTRY, archaeology, Bible, british museum, chronicles, DNA, excavations, GENETIC, history, israel, israel archaeology, israelites, JEWISH, jews, NBC, new testament, NEWS, old testament, RESEARCH, SCIENCE, TRACE, truth
and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.
What makes a nation or people? Is it a shared cultural heritage, DNA, or something else? The Jewish people have claimed their ancestry goes back to the time of the Patriarchs, to a man called out of Ur. Abraham was called out by God in the Old Testament and promised that he would be father of a special nation. Later, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob also received the promise that God was with them. The Old Testament traces the history of these people down to the time of the Persian empire; other historical records–including some parts of the Apocrypha— include partial histories of the Jews during the time of the Greek empire. The New Testament picks up during the time of the Romans. Other writers and historical references have emerged to testify to the existence of the Jewish people. Carvings on temple walls in ancient Egypt boast of the defeat of Israelite cities, records that include ration tablets for kings, and stone chronicles are just a few of the pieces of history that support the Biblical narrative concerning the Jewish people. Recently, a certain idea is being taught that the Jews of today have very little to do with these historical Jews. While the motivation behind this ideology is subject to debate, it does raise the question: are there Jews around today? According to the Old Testament, God promised to never abandon the Jewish people. He also promised to bring them back to their land.
The question of a historical Jewish people can be answered through the Bible, other historical documents, and archaeological evidence. The question of an unbroken relationship between the Jewish people of the past and the Jewish people of the present can be answered by science. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the Jewish people today can definitely trace their genetic heritage back more than 2,000 years, even “before Roman times”.
Isaiah 15-16: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;”
Genetic Map Paints Intricate Picture of Jewish Migration (NBC News; accessed Oct. 2012)
The Roots of Jewishness (Science; accessed Oct. 2012)
Acts 7 (Stephen gives a short-short version of Israelite history) (BibleGateway.com; accessed Oct. 2012)
October 9, 2012
Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, goddesses, gods, Greece, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia, Mythology, Persia, Rome, The Divided Kingdom, The Scriptures
archaeology, ASSURBANIPAL, assyria, Bible, biblical archaeology, british museum, cunieform, excavations, FLOOD, FLOOD MYTH, FLOOD STORY, GENESIS, history, IAN WILSON, israel, israel archaeology, israelites, jews, NOAH, old testament, RASSAM, SMITH, TABLET, truth, WORLD, WORLD WIDE FLOOD
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
An Assyrian tablet (XI) uncovered by the archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam (discoverer of Assurbanipal’s palace and library) in the 1860s speaks of a cataclysmic flood. A good number of Assyrian tablets are housed at the British Museum—some were eventually translated. George Smith of the British Museum is credited with finding this version of the world-wide flood. This particular tablet has been dated to around 600 BC.
While many adventurers have tried to find Noah’s ark, proof of a world-encompassing flood may actually lie in our collective memory. Most major (and some minor ones) civilizations have a flood story, from the Chinese to the Chippewa Indians of North America (for a list, see Flood Stories from Around the World by Mark Isaak).
Hormuzd Rassam (The British Museum; accessed Oct. 2012)
History of the Collection (The British Museum; accessed Oct. 2012)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (Google Books, (A. George); accessed Oct. 2012)
Before the Flood (Google Books (I. Wilson); accessed Oct. 2012)
July 20, 2012
Assyria, Israel, The Scriptures
archaeology, assyria, conquest, excavations, israel, Joshua, old testament, philistines, Shiloh, tabernacle, truth
Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them.
Shiloh served as a temporary resting place for the Ark of the Covenant during the time of the Judges. Archaeological digs at Shiloh have uncovered an Israelite presence there that was eventually halted in around 722 BC, when the Assyrians carried off northern Israel; there is also evidence that the Philistines had previously destroyed the city. The first excavations at the site were started by Danish archaeologists in 1922; these lasted about ten years. Israel Finkelstein continued excavations there in 1980, and Zeev Yeivin and Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun dug discovered a variety of artifacts during a dig in 1981-2. Artifacts at the site include a mosaic with the name “Shiloh” on it, the remains of an Israelite city from the time of the Conquest, and carbonized wheat (believed to be the remains of the destruction brought on by the Philistines).
Uncovering Shiloh (Jewish Ideas Daily, accessed July 2012)
Tel Shilo (The Jewish Virtual Library, accessed July 2012)
Shilo Yields Some, But Not All, of Its Secrets (BAR, accessed July 2012)
Site Where Ark of the Covenant Rested to Be Preserved (BAR, accessed July 2012)
July 3, 2012
Assyria, Israel, Kings, Mesopotamia, The Divided Kingdom, The Scriptures
In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it…
Sargon II served as the co-regent of the Assyrian empire with Shalmaneser V; he then assumed full control of the realm upon Shalmaneser’s death (721-705BC).
An enormous winged bull with a human head can be found at the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago). Standing 16 feet high, this imposing figure is carved in high relief; it was uncovered during a dig funded by the Institute in 1928-1929 at Dur-Sharrukin (Khorsabad). It was a part of Sargon II’s palace, which was guarded by a large number of these figures. Some of the demi-creatures served a dual function, both as art and architecture (they provided support to the palace structure; one of these statues resides in the Louvre). The palace was probably constructed in 717 BC.
Sargon II, King of Assyria (The British Museum; accessed July 2012)
The Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago; accessed July 2012)
Winged Human-headed Bull (Louvre, accessed June 2012)
June 16, 2012
Assyria, Egypt, Israel, Kings, The Scriptures
2 Kings 9:27
[ Ahaziah of Judah Killed ] But when Ahaziah king of Judah saw this, he fled by the road to Beth Haggan. So Jehu pursued him, and said, “Shoot him also in the chariot.” And they shot him at the Ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
*Image available from Wikipedia*Most often thought of as the place of a future, final battle (Revelation 16), Megiddo is actually one of the most blood-drenched sites on Earth. Host to clashes throughout the ages, archaeologists have found layers and artifacts, like arrow heads, that testify to the tel’s grisly past. The famed “Solomon’s Stables” are there: supposedly room for 450 horses and areas for 150 chariots. (Archaeologists disagree on whether these were stables, storerooms, or something else. There is also considerable debate over the age of the “Stables”.) A cuneiform tablet in the British Museum dated to the Assyrian period mentions the battle between the Assyrians and the Egyptians (Pharoah Neco) at Megiddo. The site has been occupied since the sixth century BC. Further Reading:
Biblical Megiddo (Center for Online Judaic Studies, accessed June 2012)
Solomon’s Stables:Still at Megiddo? (BAR via COJS, accessed June 2012)
Megiddo Expedition: University of Chicago (Google Books; Lamon, Shipton, & Loud; accessed June 2012)