Biblical Archaeology

Here’s some of the finds of archaeology that compliment and give further understanding to the biblical text.

OLD TESTAMENT

Above: The Tel Dan Inscription

The First Historical Evidence of King David from the Bible

For many years scholars raised the problem of no archaeological evidence for the existence of King David. If you wait long enough the evidence usually arrives! 1993 to be exact.

The fragmentary Tel Dan stela, containing the Tel Dan inscription (or “House of David” inscription) provided the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The Aramean king who erected the stela in the mid-eighth century B.C. claims to have defeated the “king of Israel” and the “king of the House of David.” Photo: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Israel Antiquities Authority (photograph by Meidad Suchowolski).

 

Above: King Hezekiah’s Seal 

The seal mentions the name of Hezekiah and the name of his father, Aḥaz, in the upper register, as well as Hezekiah’s title as king of Judah in the lower register. The symbol of the two-winged sun disk flanked on both sides by an ankh extends over the full length of the seals central part. On the back of the seal is seen the imprint of the papyrus on which the seal was impressed.

 

Above: Nabonidus cylinders from Ur are also noteworthy because they mention a son named Belshazzar who is mentioned in the Book of Daniel. The cylinders state

“As for me, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, save me from sinning against your great godhead and grant me as a present a life long of days, and as for Belshazzar, the eldest son -my offspring- in still reverence for your great godhead in his heart and may he not commit any cultic mistake, may he be sated with a life of plenitude”

 

Above: The four sides of The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (859-824 BC) – Records the the Israelite King Jehu bringing tribute to Shalmaneser III – The inscription “Tribute of Jehu the Israelite (Son of Omri) – Located in the British Museum London.

 

Above: Astartu Relief of Tiglath-pilesar III (744-727 BC) The text on this relief refers to the defeated city of Ashtaroth in northern Transjordan and mentioned in Deuteronomy 1:14 and Joshua 9:10. Currently on display at the British Museum London

 

Above: This official document can been seen in the British Museum and chronicles important events in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar between 605 BC and 595 BC. It pinpoints the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem and the surrender of Jehoakim, King of Judah,  at Jerusalem in 597 BC

 

Above: On display in  the British Museum an inscribed lintel in a rock cut tomb from Silwan near Jerusalem and dating to the 7th Century BC. The text states that the tomb belongs to the “Royal Steward” and that there is no gold or silver inside, just his bones and those of a servant. This is believed to be from the tomb of “Shebna” the Royal Steward of King Hezekiah of Judah and may be the very tomb mentioned in Isaiah 20 v 15-16 

15 This is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says:

“Go, say to this steward,
    to Shebna the palace administrator:
16 What are you doing here and who gave you permission
    to cut out a grave for yourself here,
hewing your grave on the height
    and chiselling your resting place in the rock?

 

NEW TESTAMENT

Above: Pontius Pilate Inscription

TIBERIEUM
[PO]NTIUS PILATUS
[PRAEF]ECTUS IUDA[EA]A

“Tiberieum
Pontius Pilate
Prefect of Judaea”

The dedicatory inscription was carved for a building erected by Pilate in Caesarea in honour of Emperor Tiberius. Unfortunately, the inscription was partly destroyed when the stone was cut for reuse as a step in a Byzantine fortress.

 

Above: Caiaphas Ossuary

According to Josephus, Caiaphas was actually a family nickname, and he refers to the high priest as “Joseph, who was called Caiaphas.” A discovery made in 1990 in a Jerusalem burial cave casts more light on the matter. Among a dozen ossuaries was one particularly ornate bone box that was inscribed on the back and on one side with the name “Joseph son of Caiaphas.” Inside the box were the remains of six individuals: four young people, an adult woman and a man about 60 years old. The last is likely to have been the high priest who appears in the New Testament.

 

Above:  inscribed on several pieces of broken stone found in Delphi, Greece, is the fragmented text of a letter from the Roman emperor Claudius (41–54 AD.) that mentions “Gallio my friend and proconsul.” According to Acts 18:12–17, Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, near Corinth in Greece. The inscription confirms not only that Gallio occupied the office, but that he was installed as proconsul at Achaia while Paul was in Corinth. Presently on display in Delphi.

Avove:  ERASTVS PRO AEDILIT[AT]E S P STRAVIT  ……. “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid [the pavement] at his own expense.”

There is no other person of this name that is known to have been an official in Corinth, and since the name is not common, it would appear that this Erastus is the same individual whom Paul and the author of 2 Timothy mention (see also Acts 19:22, where a man named Erastus is referred to as one of Paul’s helpers.). 

If you want to find out more about biblical archaeology then why not subscribe to BAR – Biblical Archaeological Review