Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 31

Convince Me Theres A God

In the last part of our series, we looked at historical evidence that supports some of the prophecies of Ezekiel. In this article we will look at some of the archaeological evidence supporting the details of those prophecies.

Ezekiel spent several years prophesying about God’s judgment on Jerusalem and other nations in the region (Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt). Those years are important to know when comparing prophecy “proclaimed” to prophecy “fulfilled.”

Prophecy Proclaimed

605 BC — Nebuchadnezzar’s army invades Judah for the first time and takes many captives to Babylon, including Daniel. Jeremiah and other Hebrew prophets correctly proclaimed this event before it happened.

598 BC — Nebuchadnezzar’s army invades Judah for a second time and takes many captives to Babylon, including Ezekiel.

593 BC — Ezekiel sees visions of God and receives his first prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Ezekiel continued to prophecy until about 571 BC.

586 BC — Nebuchadnezzar’s army invades Judah for a third and final time, killing many Jews, taking many captives, and destroying the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

585 – 571 BC — Ezekiel receives prophecies about the restoration of Israel – “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,’ says the Lord God, ‘when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” Ezekiel 36:22-23

Prophecy Fulfilled

Jerusalem and Temple Destroyed — We have written previously about the archaeological evidence for Assyria’s defeat of the northern kingdom of Israel and Babylonia’s defeat of the southern kingdom of Judah. Some of the archaeological finds that have confirmed Nebuchadnezzar’s attacks on and eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (along with the captivity of Jews from Judah to Babylon) include the Nebuchadnezzar ChronicleThe Lachish Letters, The Babylonian Chronicles, Nebuchadnezzar’s Eunuch Tablet, Jehoiakin Inscription,  Eliakim Seal, Gedaliah Seal, Nabonidus SteleAl-Yahudu Clay Tablets,

Jerusalem and Temple Restored — We have written previously about the archaeological evidence for Persian kings mentioned in the Bible as being involved with the exiled Jews. The first who supported the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple (along with the return of many Jews to Judah) was King Cyrus. Persian kings mentioned in the Old Testament in addition to Cyrus are Darius, Xerxes (Ahasuerus) and Artaxerxes. Cambyses is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament, but Daniel prophesied about “three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all” (Daniel 11:2). The tombs of the kings are located in the mountain range of Husain Kuh at Haqsh-i-Rustam. The Silver Bowl of Artaxerxes in The British Museum includes the names of three Persian kings in an inscription in punched Old Persian cuneiform around the inner rim of the bowl –

“Artaxerxes, the great king, king of kings, king of countries, son of Xerxes the king, of Xerxes [who was] son of Darius the king, the Achaemenian, in whose house this drinking cup/saucer was made.”

The dating of the reign of Persian kings in the Old Testament is consistent with archaeological dating (e.g. Silver Bowl of Artaxerxes, Tombs of Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, Cyrus Cylinder, Cyrus Brick Inscriptions, Elephantine Papyri, Behistun Inscription, Jehoiachin Ration Record, Babylonian Chronicles, Jar handles stamped with name of King Jehoiachin at Tell Beit Mirsim and Beth-Shemesh).

[We will look deeper into the rebuilding of Jerusalem and  the Jewish Temple when we investigate the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah.]

Prophecy Against Tyre    Ezekiel prophesied against the powerful and wealthy Phoenician city-state of Tyre during the early part of the 6th century BC –

“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying,Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up.” Ezekiel 26:1-3

Ezekiel’s prophecy says that God will “cause many nations” to come against them. The first nation was Babylon –

“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.” Ezekiel 26:7-14

Nebuchadnezzar’s army besieged the mainland city of Tyre for 13 years (585-572 BC). The Achaemenid Empire conquered the city in 539 BC and controlled it until Alexander the Great laid siege against the island city for several months in 332 BC and captured it. Alexander’s army built a 200-foot causeway from the mainland to the island using debris from the mainland city (see The Anabasis of Alexander, XVI – XXIV). Tyre became a Greek city and later came under the control of Rome. It was captured during the Crusades and later retaken by Muslims.

Modern-day Tyre is a port city built down the coast from the ancient city’s location. The ancient location is a barren rock where fishermen spread their nets to dry –

And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,’ says the Lord God; ‘it shall become plunder for the nations … I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall bea place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,’ says the Lord God.” Ezekiel 26:4-5, 14

Prophecy Against Egypt  — Ezekiel prophesied against Egypt (Ezekiel 29 – 32). The prophecy included Babylon plundering Egypt and Egypt falling to its enemies. King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt a short time after Ezekiel’s prophecy (attack in 568 BC). The Persians attacked Egypt near Pelusium in 525 BC and followed with attacks on Gaza and Memphis. Persia ruled Egypt the rest of the 6th century, most of the 5th century and a portion of the 4th century BC. Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and Egypt in 332 BC. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, his kingdom was divided among his top generals and Ptolemy became pharaoh. The Ptolemaic Kingdom continued through the 2nd and much of the 1st century BC until the Roman Empire took control of Egypt after the death of Queen Cleopatra VII in 30 BC. Cleopatra was the last of the Egyptian pharaohs. Rome ruled Egypt for centuries until it became part of the Byzantine Empire in the 5th century BC and the Islamic Empire in the 7th century AD.

Here are some archaeological and historical resources you may find helpful in your research:

Egypt in the Late Period (ca. 712-332 B.C.)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Conquests

Battle of Pelusium

Alexander the Great

Ptolemaic Kingdom

Roman Egypt

Egypt (Roman province)

From Ptolemaic and Roman rule to the Arab Conquest (332 BC – 646 BC)

Roman and Byzantine Egypt (30 BC-AD 642)

List of Conflicts in Egypt

Prophecy Against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistine   Ezekiel prophesied against several other countries before his prophesies against Tyre and Egypt (Ezekiel 25). The Ammonites and Moabites were descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:37-38). Both nations disappeared from the family of nations. Ammon was located in what is now part of the country of Jordan.   The Edomites were descendants of Esau (Genesis 25:25). The Maccabees defeated the Edomites and absorbed them into the Jewish state. The Philistines were an ancient seafaring people who had been enemies of Israel for hundreds of years before Ezekiel prophesied against them (e.g. Judges 3:31; 10:7; 13-16; 1 Samuel 4-5).

Here are some archaeological and historical resources you may find helpful in your research:

The Kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom: The Archaeology of Society in Late Bronze/Iron Age Transjordan

Decline and Fall of Moabites

The Ammonites: Elites, Empires, and Sociopolitical Change (1000-500 BCE) by Craig W. Tyson

The Amman Citadel Inscription

Edom and Copper: The Emergence of Ancient Israel’s Rival

Map of the Ammonites Territory

The Old Testament Kingdoms of Jordan

Maccabees and Ammonites

The Citadel, Amman, Jordan

The Forgotten Kingdoms of Jordan

Ammon in Transition from Vassal Kingdom to Babylonian Province

Horned Altar From Tell es-Safi Hints At The Origins Of The Philistines

The Philistines to the North

The Philistines and Other Sea Peoples in Text and Archaeology

New Discoveries Among the Philistines: Archaeological and Textual Considerations

_________________

In the next part of our series, we will look at the historical reliability of the Old Testament.

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

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One thought on “Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 31

  1. cjsledgehammer on said:

    Excellent article and outstanding research. I will return again in order to take notes. Keep up the good work! :0)

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