Friday, August 17, 2007

Archaeological Discovery Supports Biblical Accuracy

Claims of Biblical unreliability are becoming more difficult to sustain as archaeological discoveries continue to pour in, which have verified hundreds of passages as factual. These include such findings as extra-Biblical references to King David, the location and destruction of the city of Hazor, the pool of Siloam and many others. These finds have generally provided verification of major figures or events. This has led critics to concede some ground, for example almost all critics are now willing to admit the fact that King David was a real person, but they have launched a new line of attack.

This new line of attack concedes such facts as the existence of David but then argues that the Bible still cannot be trusted to have accurately reported the details of his life. For example, they take the position that while it is true that King David was a real person there is no extra-Biblical confirmation that he ever fought Goliath and therefore the Bible alone cannot be trusted for this sort of information. The claim is that the stories in the Bible are like stories about the Old West, where it is true that Wyatt Earp really existed, but the numerous novels written about him are largely or completely fictional.

In July of this year that line of attack against the Bible became harder to maintain because of a small but important discovery made by Michael Jursa an Austrian Assyriologist translating cuneiform tablets at the British Museum in London. Jeremiah Chapter 39:3 reports that someone named Nebo-Sarsekim, Nebuchadnezzer II’s “Chief Officer”, was with him at the Babylonian siege and conquest of Jerusalem in 587 BC.

The tablet that Professor Jursa recently translated is a receipt from the Babylonian temple of Esanglia acknowledging a payment of 1.5 minas (1.65 pounds) of gold. The year of the payment is 595 BC and the payer is King Nebuchadnezzer II’s Chief Eunuch, Nabu-sharrussu-ukin (Nebo-Sarsekim in Hebrew). This confirms three separate Biblical facts Nebo-Sarsekim actually existed, he was Nebuchadnezzer’s Chief Officer and he lived at the time of the siege.

Why This is Important

It is the very minor nature of the details confirmed by this tablet and similar discoveries that make them so important. In the words of Dr. Irving Finkel, one of the British Museums specialists, “This is a fantastic discovery, a world class find. If Nebo-Sarsekim existed which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that this means that the whole of the narrative takes on a new kind of power.”

Dr. Finkel’s observation is well taken. If such obscure and minor facts as those verified on this tablet, “throwaway detail” as he calls them, are correct, it is likely that other facts reported by Jeremiah and other Biblical authors are also accurately reported.

Source: London Daily Telegraph,, July 11, 2007.

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