The Bible – Is It Inspired by God

Part 5 – Archeology and the Bible


Dr. John Hoole – July 1, 2018



In our ongoing study concerning the validity of the Bible, we began, last week, addressing the historical accuracy of the Bible.  Today, we continue by looking at how archeology attests to the historical accuracy of the Bible.  If the Bible is not accurate in identifying people, places and events of the ancient past, how can we accept the validity and accuracy of the impact of Christ’s death.  Being historically accurate is very important.  And you will find many web sites declaring the Bible is not at all historically accurate.


In our last lesson, I quoted some of the past atheist and philosophers, which stated the Bible was historically inaccurate.  Several of the more modern atheists have also written that the Bible is without scientific foundation.


Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, dismisses much of the Bible as fiction.  Similarly Christopher Hitchens, in his book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, asserts that modern archaeology has disproved most of older biblical history.  He said:     “None of the religious myths has any truth to it, or in it.”


Hitchens qualifies this statement to refer mainly to the Exodus and pre-Exodus stories, but he also remains highly skeptical abut the historicity of much of the rest of the Old Testament.  Chris Sosa extends this opinion to the New Testament, stating: The Jesus of Christianity is clearly a mythological figure.”


In part, these writers reflect the thinking of the “minimalist” approach to biblical scholarship that was popular in the 1990s and 2000s,  This school of thought has argued, for example, that all of the Old Testament prior to the Babylonian captivity is fictional.


A similar minimalist school of thought has argued that Jesus of Nazareth was not a historical person.  All of the teachings and activities ascribed to him are completely legendary, they say.  Theologian Robert Price, for instance, argues that Jesus did not exist, by stating: “He was mythic all the way down.”  Similarly, George Wells argues that the accounts of Jesus are better explained as Jewish “wisdom literature”

Bertrand Russell, the late British philosopher and avowed agnostic, wrote this in his History of Western Philosophy: “The early history of the Israelites cannot be confirmed from any source outside of the Old Testament, and it is impossible to know at what point it ceases to be purely legendary.”  Mr. Russell dismisses the Bible as unreliable legend in just a few sentences.  Even though first printed in 1945, his book is still widely read by university students, and is considered one of the best books of its kind.  Young, bright minds have been and still are being prejudiced against the Bible, which is the foundation of true knowledge.


So many scholars today lower the Bible to the level of Homer, as mythology in poetic form.  And yet, there are mountains of evidence to prove otherwise.  The Bible is a book of accurate history.  There is evidence outside the Bible that proves the reality of its history.


Every year, in archeological excavations all over the Middle East, hundreds of artifacts are being unearthed showing the accuracy of the Bible.


Let’s look at some archaeological discoveries that affirm the biblical record.  There are literally hundreds of examples, but we will look at only a few amazing discoveries.




Last week, I began showing you the remains of an inscription on Behistun Mountain.  The site lies along the road that connected the ancient capitals of the kingdoms of Babylonia and Media.  Those capitals cities were Babylon and Ecbatana.  The inscription is like a giant billboard on the side of a large stone mountain.  The size is enormous, about half the size of a football field, some 300 feet above the foot of Zagros Mountains of western Iran.


Ezra 4:4-5 NIV


4       Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. 

5       They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.


The last king in these verses, King Darius, is the one responsible for this inscription.  This Darius is not the same as that found in Daniel 6:1.


The inscription dates to 516 B.C. and is an account of Darius I’s assumption of the Persian throne (521 B.C. to 486 B.C.).  This account was written in cuneiform in three languages (Babylonian, Elamite and Old Persian).  The name Darius that is mentioned in this inscription is also mentioned several times by the prophet Daniel.  There were at least 3 kings with that name, so I am not sure if this one is the one named by Daniel.  The Behistun inscription was put in place by Darius I, or Darius the Great.  We know from Scripture that after the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel was taken east to Shushan in Persia.  The date of the inscriptions is about 20 years after Babylon was conquered.  If Daniel was still alive, he would have been a very old man.


The Hittite Nation


When I was a teenager, just beginning to read books of archeology, one of the hot issues at that time was the nation of the Hittites.  The opinion among many scholars, centuries ago, was that the Hittites were simply one of the many mythical people made up by Bible writers.


The Hittites are mentioned in the Bible 48 times.  We find them blocking Israel’s path as it sought to enter the promised land.  We read of Uriah, the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba, whom David sent to his untimely death  Ahimelech the Hittite befriended David before he became king (1 Samuel 26:6).


The first mention of the Hittites in Scripture is with the story of Abraham, who bought a field and a cave from Ephron the Hittite (Genesis 15:20; 23:3-18).  Later, Esau took two wives from amongst the Hittites (Genesis 26:34; 36:2).


In 1876, George Smith, began a study of monuments at a place call Djerabis in Asia Minor.  The city proved to be the ancient city of Carchemish on the Euphrates River.  When Dr. Braddy and I were planning the trip we made into central Turkey, we considered driving 90 miles east of Ankara, the capital of Turkey.  It was there we would see the ancient ruins of the city of Hattusa, the capitol of the Hittite nation.  We decided against it because it was too far to drive just to see one site.  In 1906, they uncovered thousands of Hittite documents at Hattusa, revealing a wealth of information about Hittite history and culture.  These showed the Hittite nation as a real and formidable power in their day.  They had become one of the dominant peoples of Asia Minor and the Near East.


The Bible was right all along!!  Today, no one questions the existence of the Hittites.  You can get a degree on the Hittite Civilization from University of Pennsylvania.  Volumes of books exist on the history, art, culture and society of the Hittites.  The more they uncover, the more the validate what the Bible says.


King David


Until 1993, critics of the Bible claimed the biblical King David was a fictitious figure.  Outside the Bible there was absolutely no evidence for his existence.  Some critics claimed that if he is real, he must be just a leader of a small village, not a nation.  But, in 1993, a stele (a stone slab with writing on it) was found in northern Israel.  It was at Tell Dan that Israeli archeologist Avraham Biran found the inscription.


The piece of stone was only 9 inches by 16 inches, and it was only partially there.  This fragment is dated to the 9th century before Christ.  An unidentified Aramean king is boasting of victories over Israel and the House of David.  It is written in Aramean script, and the king lauds the guidance of his god Hadad.  The unidentified king is thought to be Hazael of Damascus, who we know from history defeated both Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah.


Again, this inscription is the first reference to King David and his house outside the Bible.  Although the battles of this Aramean king was 150 years after King David was alive, it shows that his “house (family)” was still important and alive.


Another aspect of this is that nothing has been found linking David to the city of Jerusalem.  A part of Old Jerusalem is called the “City of David,” but there is no evidence at this time linking David to the city.


There is work being conducted by Israeli archeologist, Eilat Mazar, which I have been following for at least 15 years.  For several years, she has been excavating in the ancient City of David.  Her excavations have partially uncovered what she wonders might be the palace of King David.


Pool of Bethesda


By itself, archeology cannot prove the Bible is the Word of God.  But it certainly can (and does) substantiate the Bible’s historical accuracy.  Archeologists have consistently discovered the names of government officials, kings, cities and festivals mentioned in the Bible.  For example, the Gospel of John tells of Jesus healing a cripple next to the Pool of Bethesda.  Scholars, for a long time, did not think this pool even existed.  The apostle John, in his gospel, chapter 5, gives us some additional detail about the pool


John 5:2 NIV


2       Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades (NKJV=porches).


The pool of Bethesda had 5 porches or porticoes.  But because they were unaware that such a place existed, sceptics believed John had invented the detail of the five porticoes to represent the five books of Moses, which Jesus had come to fulfill.


However, in the past century, the pool has been located.  It consists of two large pools separate by a stone (rock) wall.  They found it under 60 feet of dirt just beyond the northeast corner of the Temple Mount.  Today, it lies within the Muslim quarter of the old city, about 55 yards inside the Lion’s Gate, which in Bible times was the Sheep gate.  And, just as the scriptures tell us, there are runs of 5 porticoes seen today.


Pontius Pilate


During the trial of Jesus, the gospel accounts focus a great deal on a “larger-than-life” character named Pontius Pilate.


Luke 23:3 NKJV


3       Then Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" He answered him and said, "It is as you say."


Luke referred to him as the Roman governor of Judea during the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1).  Pilate lived in the governor’s palace in Caesarea..


I have been to Caesarea, on the Mediterranean Sea, several times.  Caesarea had a hippodrome seating 38,000, and measures 1,500 feet in length and 250 feet wide.  When we visited Caesarea in 2003, most of the hippodrome was under sand.  I took this photo in 2007 and a lot more excavations have occurred.  In this picture, you see Ben and Gloria Pascual and where they were standing.


Lily and Felix were with us in 2007, and here they are standing next an important stone.  The first physical evidence relating to Pilate was discovered in 1961, when a block of black limestone was found imbedded in a section of steps leading into the Roman theatre at Caesarea Maritima,  Here is a picture of a copy of the stone having Pilate’s name inscribed on it.  Here is a reconstructed inscription:  They don’t know the very first word inscribed here, but the remainder says:



                            Pontius Pilatus

                            Praefectus Iudaeae (Judea)


Pilate was visiting Jerusalem during the time of the Passover, when Caiaphas, the high priest, send Christ to Pilate for his judgment.  Once again, a person named in the Bible is confirmed in non-biblical records.  Additionally, first century historian, Cornelius Tacitus, also mentioned Pontius Pilate, and identifies his decision with regard to Jesus Christ.




Tel Hazor is the largest archaeological site in Israel today.  Hazor covered more than 200 acres, 30 acres for the acropolis and more than 170 acres for the rest of the city.  It is twice the size of Megiddo.  Hazor is located about 8 miles straight north of the Sea of Galilee.


When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the first city he encountered was the city of Jericho – Joshua 6.  The next was the city of Ai, where they were first defeated – Joshua 7.  After finding out why they were defeated, they went against Ai again and won – Joshua 8.  Joshua makes his conquest to the south before going north – Joshua 10.


Joshua 11:1 NKJV


11     And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor heard these things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph,


Beginning in Joshua 11, we find the king of Hazor making an alliance with many northern kings after having seen what Joshua and the Israelites did in the southern region.


In Joshua 11:6, God told Joshua not to fear these armies.  He tells Joshua that this time the next day, He would deliver them into the hands of Joshua.  Let’s read the Scriptural account.


Joshua 11:5-8 NKJV


5          And when all these kings had met together, they came and camped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

6          But the Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire."

7          So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them.

8          And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them to Greater Sidon, to the Brook Misrephoth,* and to the Valley of Mizpah eastward; they attacked them until they left none of them remaining.


After defeating this alliance, Joshua returns to the city of Hazor and kills its king.  Verse 10 says, “Hazor had been the head of all those kingdoms.”  Verse 11 then adds: “Then he burned Hazor with fire.”  Then we read in verse 13, that Hazor was the only one of these northern cities that Joshua burned.


Many of the ruins I will show you have been uncovered in the last 2½ years.  They are amazing in the way they corroborate the Bible record.  Again, Verse 13 says, “…he burned Hazor with fire.”  They have now uncovered evidence of the fire that destroyed Hazor.


As one enters the Hazor ruins today, you will find quite a lot of basalt and granite stones used.  Notice the cracks in the basalt stone that is part of the entrance to the Temple Palace complex.  Take a look also at these granite stones and the lower stone foundation around them.  These cracked stones are all evidence to a very hot burning fire.  It is estimated that the fire that burned this palace reached 2,350 degrees.  That compares to 650 degrees for a normal fire.  There is a thick layer of charred ashes, which, according to an archaeological report is 3 feet deep in places.


If you get behind what looks like normal dirt, you find nothing but ashes and burned rubble.  Because of the ruins found here, this destruction with fire fits in with the time of Joshua.  And once again, the Bible is shown to be totally accurate.


Writings of Moses


For a long time, it was believed that Moses could not have written the five books of the Torah that are attributed to him.  Their reasoning was that writing had not yet been invented.  Then they discovered a black Stele, with wedge-shaped characters on it dated to 2000 B.C..  We now know that writing goes back for at least 4,500 years.


Before leaving the writings of Moses, let me make a few more observations.  Don’t to quickly overlook lists of names, whether they be persons or cities.


Genesis 10:10 NKJV


10     And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.


Here we have five names of places – 4 cities and one geographical region.  These were old before Moses was born.  Even the very language of these places had been forgotten, except for some learned scribes of Babylonia and Assyria.  We now have uncovered each of these places and know something about them.  And yet, we find these names accurately given in Genesis.  They may have been missing and forgotten for a very long time, but Moses accurately spoke of them 3,500 years ago.  If the Bible did not give these places and peoples, we may never have known about them.


Again, in Genesis 14, we read the names of the kings who governed nine nations in the time of Abraham.  We are accurately told how they fought together “four kings with five (vs. 9).  The amazing thing is that the battle took place some 300 years before Moses was boen.


And yet, people said, “The man who wrote that chapter did not really know anything.  He just collected a pack of old stores that had been repeated over and over again with so many exaggerations and alterations that at last there was scarcely a word of truth left in them.”  Since that foolish conclusion was arrived at many new discoveries have been made.  From broken fragments of old tablets that have been pieced together, the names of all the nine kings brought in focus the accuracy of the Bible once again.


And one of those kings, Amraphel (14:1) left many letters and books to be found.  He provided detailed writings describing the splendid temples he built, and a great embankment which he made to keep the Tigris River from flooding his people’s cornfields.


With the writing material we know now that existed at the time of Moses, and by the working of the Holy spirit on him, he would have had little difficulty writing those parts of Genesis.  That is because, when God gives a task for a person to do, He will always help him do it.


Again, until quite lately, many people were certain that there could never have been a king like Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who came and blessed Abraham, and of whom we read also in Genesis 14, but also in Hebrews 7.


But consider the words of letters found in the Foreign Office of the king of Egypt,  It is, however, from a king of Salem, who describes himself in these words:  “I was set in my place neither by father nor mother, but by the Might King” – meaning God.  Compare that with Hebrews 7.  If this was not Melchizedek, these words show us that all the kings of Salem believed that they owed everything to God.  That is why Abraham honored Melchiz3dek so highly.


People were writing down records and history long before Moses came on the scene.  Consider the place name, “Kirjath-sepher,” in Joshua 15:15, two words that mean “City of Books.”  Yet, no single word of the Bible is copied from the heathen writings.


When Moses brought the Children out of Egypt, they were without a Bible.  But with Joshua, the light had begun to shine, and God was able to so to Joshua:


Joshua 1:8 NKJV


8       This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.


Every year, archeologists uncover information that corroborates what the Bible told us thousands of years ago.