Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 22

Convince Me Theres A God“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” 2 Chronicles 36:15-21

Ishtar GateIn our last post about ancient Israel, I shared that there was enough archaeological evidence about Assyria taking Israel captive for me to continue investigating the claims of the Bible. I was an ardent atheist and journalist in search of the truth.

The next step in the investigation was to see what archaeological support there was for Babylon defeating Judah, taking the people captive and destroying the capital city, Jerusalem.

The Bible claims that King Josiah of Judah was killed in battle with the Egyptian army at Megiddo. Necho is mentioned as the pharaoh at the time. Dating of the kings of Judah from Solomon to Josiah puts the date of Josiah’s death at about 609 BC. It goes on to say that the people of Judah made Josiah’s 23-year-old son Jehoahaz king in his father’s place. According to the Bible, Pharaoh Necho put Jehoahaz in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath after just three months on the throne and that Jehoahaz died in Egypt. Necho made Josiah’s 25-year-old son Eliakim Judah’s king and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim ruled for 11 years, but was a vassal of Egypt until Babylon took Judah from the Egyptians. The Bible claims Jehoiakim was King Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal for three years, but then rebelled against him.

“And the Lord sent against him raiding bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of the people of Ammon; He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken by His servants the prophets.” 2 Kings 24:2

Jehoiakim died and his 18-year-old son Jehoiachin became king. He reigned in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. King Nebuchadnezzar summoned the young king to Babylon and made Jehoiakim’s 21-year-old brother Zedekiah king of Judah. He ruled as a vassal king for 11 years, but also rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible says that in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, in the tenth month on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadnezzar and his army came against Jerusalem and built a siege wall all around the city.  By the ninth day of the fourth month, according to the Bible, the famine had become so severe in Jerusalem that there was no food for the people. Judah’s army broke through the city wall and fled, but Babylonian soldiers captured Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho and took him to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah. The soldiers killed Zedekiah’s sons, then put out his eyes, put him in fetters and took him captive to Babylon.

What happened next, again according to the Bible, was the destruction of Jerusalem by the army of Babylon.

And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude … Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land.” 2 Kings 25:8-11, 21

History and Archaeology

The Bible makes a lot of historical claims concerning Judah and Babylon, so it should be easy to show that the Bible is not historical at all but filled with myths and legends. Right?

By the time I arrived at this point in my investigation 44 years ago, I had already seen strong evidence that the Bible was in fact historical rather than mythical. Would it prove itself so once again?

We’ve already seen that the Hebrew and Assyrian timelines agree about Assyria’s defeat of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.  The Hebrew (Old Testament) timeline would put Babylon’s defeat of Zedekiah and destruction of Jerusalem about 586 BC. How does that square with ancient history and archaeology?

Babylon became a major empire toward the end of the 7th century BC under the leadership of Nabopolassar and  his son, Nebuchadrezzar II. The ruins of Babylon are located about 55 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, near the town of Al-Hillah.

Lion of Istar GateSome of the archaeological finds supporting Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon during the end of the 7th century and beginning of the 6th century BC and the Babylonian Captivity are:

Ishtar Gate

Brick of Nebuchadnezzar II

Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Gold Delivery Tablet

Babylonian Chronicle Tablet

Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet

Bronze Door Slab with Inscription

Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Lachish Letter I

Lachish Letter II

Archaeology and Babylonian Captivity

The Bible and Nebuchadnezzar

Several Books of the Bible record details of King Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Judah. They include:

2 Kings – “ At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.”

1 Chronicles – “Jehozadak went into captivity when the Lord carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.”

2 Chronicles – “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.”

Ezra – “But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon.”

Nehemiah – “These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city.”

Esther – “Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.”

Jeremiah – “And afterward,’ says the Lord, ‘I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his servants and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence and the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life; and he shall strike them with the edge of the sword. He shall not spare them, or have pity or mercy.”

Ezekiel – “For thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people.”

Daniel – “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.”

The Prophets and Nebuchadnezzar

Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel were Hebrew prophets during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. What, if any, archaeological finds support these three prophets and what they prophesied? We’ll see next time as we continue our investigation into ‘Convince Me There’s A God.’

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


7 thoughts on “Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 22

  1. I’m wondering which atheist or street epistemologist you’ve met that says the bible is wholly false? It’s very easy for the bible to quote historical accuracies and then ascribe them to God. Just like Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophesy. Not hard to fulfill a prophesy when you know what the prophesy is.

    Beyond Sodom and Gomorrah it’s funny how God always uses some army of some other nation to do his dirty work. I’m sure the opposing army had no incentive to sack a town. Towns and cities were sacked all the time during that period. As far as I know no one has found Sodom and Gomorrah to prove that it was destroyed by fire from above rather than an opposing army. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I haven’t done the extensive archaeological research you have.

    All things being equal though finding archaeological consistencies in the bible just proves that the people writing the bible paid attention to current events, news, and stories from other cities. Nothing more.

    1. Hi, Street Epistemologist! Nice to hear from you again. The response I usually receive from atheists is that there is ‘no evidence for the Bible.’ When I begin sharing specific evidence with them, the response is usually that what I’ve shared with them is ‘not evidence.’

      I also thought the same as an atheist. That’s why the time I spent investigating the truth claims of the Bible was so important. It’s one thing to say there is ‘no evidence’ or that the evidence presented is ‘not evidence.’ It’s another thing to consider all the factual information and, putting confirmation bias aside, determine whether that information constitutes evidence that would be admissible in a court.

      It sounds like you already believe that the Bible contains ‘historical accuracies.’ However, I didn’t think the Bible contained any historical accuracies, so the discovery that the Bible contains ‘many’ historical accuracies was news to me. I was an atheist at a time when most atheists thought the Bible was a poorly made-up piece of fiction filled with inaccuracies, myths, legends and fanciful tales. I, and all of the atheists I knew at the time, believed that the Old Testament was written by people who lived many hundreds of years later than the stories they were supposed to be telling. You are far ahead of my thinking as an atheist by acknowledging that ‘archaeological consistencies in the Bible just proves that the people writing the Bible paid attention to current events, news, and stories from other cities.’

      I used to believe that ‘all’ of the prophesies concerning Jesus were made up. I thought Jesus was made up. Atheists know better than that now, but that’s what atheists thought 50 years ago. I agree that it’s not hard to fulfill a prophecy when you know what the prophecy is. However, most of the prophecies the New Testament claims Jesus fulfilled were beyond His ability to fulfill on His own, especially His birth and death.

      You mentioned how God used armies of opposing nations to ‘do His dirty work.’ That is impressive in light of how prophets of God predicted what those armies would do generations, even centuries in advance of the attacks.

      Archaeological digs on both the southeastern and northeastern parts of the Dead Sea are seen as potential locations for ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. Those locations include Bab edh-Dhra, Numeira and Tall el-Hammam. Some archaeologists think that the cities were under water for thousands of years. The first discoveries occurred in 1973 when archaeologists discovered a large early Bronze Age (EBA) cemetery. Artifacts from those digs are on display at the British Museum in London and Karak Archaeological Museum in Jordan.

      I think there is something more than ‘nothing more.’ The evidence in the Old Testament leads to the investigation of evidence in the New Testament with findings that are powerful for both theism and Christianity.

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