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ABRAHAM DIDN'T EXIST? MOSES A MYTH?

 

By Andy and Berit Kjos

November 23, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

"There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament tradition." [1] William F. Albright (1891–1971), one of the world's most respected archaeologists.

"It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference." [2] Nelson Glueck, Jewish archaeologist honored even by liberal Time Magazine.

"The Bible's Buried Secrets," a new PBS documentary to be aired in November, seems designed to undermine the Bible. Not only does it demote Abraham and his descendants to the realm of mythology, it also dismisses the Exodus and denies any written Old Testament record prior to the sixth century B.C.[3]

But we shouldn't be surprised at this unscientific assault on the Bible. As Professor William F. Albright, archeologist and head of Palestine's American School of Oriental Research, observed,

"The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools... has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history."[4]

Consider the archeological, oceanographic and historical evidence for Biblical accuracy:

1. WRITTEN RECORDS FROM OVER 4000 YEARS AGO: Dr. Paolo Matthiae, Director of the Italian Archeological Mission in Syria, "hit an archeological jackpot" in 1975. He discovered "the greatest third-millennium [B.C.] archive ever unearthed." It included "more than 15,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments" and unveiled a Semitic empire that dominated the Middle East more than four thousand years ago. Its hub was Ebla, where educated scribes filled their ancient libraries with written records of history, people, places and commerce.[5]

"These early tablets display an ease of expression, an elegance that indicates complete mastery of the cuneiform system by the scribes," said Dr. Giovanni Pettinato, former epigraphist of the Italian Mission, who worked closely with Dr. Matthiae. "One can only conclude that writing had been in use at Ebla for a long time before 2500 B.C."

The Ebla tablets verified the worship of pagan gods such as Baal, Dagan and Asherah "known previously only from the Bible."[5] They mention "Ur of Chaldees" (Abraham's birthplace) as well as other familiar cities and places:

"The names of cities thought to have been founded much later, such as Beirut and Byblos, leap from the tablets. Damascus and Gaza are mentioned, as well as two of the Biblical cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah. ... Most intriguing of all are the personal names found on the Ebla tablets. They include Ab-ra-mu (Abraham), E-sa-um (Esau)...."[5]

Destroyed and rebuilt several times, Ebla began its final decline around 1800 B.C. Since new generations settled on top of the old ruins, it left behind a many-layered "TEL" (looks like a flat-topped hill. Capitalized for emphasis) which archeologists will continue to explore for years to come.

Centuries later, Moses was trained "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Raised at Pharaoh's court, he would have learned to write on papyrus as well as clay tablets. The 1988 discovery of the TEL Amarna letters shows us that written messages were vital to Moses' culture:

"...there were about 400 cuneiform tablets discovered at this site which were part of the royal archives of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) who reigned about 1400 BC. Among them were letters written in Babylonian cuneiform script to these Pharaohs of Egypt by various kings dwelling in the land of Canaan and Syria... written during the time of Moses [and Joshua]. They provide the first evidence of the Hebrew tribes entering into the land of Canaan in ancient times."[6]

That last sentence points to the completion of the Biblical Exodus -- the Israelite journey, led by Moses, out of bondage in Egypt toward the land they were given. Perhaps the "scholars" behind the PBS "documentary" simply chose to ignore the evidence. After all, politically correct deceptions are far more acceptable than facts to a world that no longer tolerates truth. But that's all the more reason to be ready with answers to those who question our beliefs. The following archeological finds should help prepare us for such challenges.

2. THE HITTITE EMPIRE: The Hittites are mentioned dozens of times in the Old Testament. Yet, a century ago,

"critics of Biblical historicity argued that the Bible's descriptions of the Hittite Empire were later insertions, since they were certain the Hittite Empire didn't exist.... But in 1906 archaeologists unearthed the Hittite capital and in the years following excavated what is now known to have been a massive and very prominent Hittite civilization."[7]

3. THE ROYAL LINE OF KING DAVID: Archeologists have found "the first known reference outside the Bible to the House of David, a ruling dynasty presumably founded by King David in the 10th century B.C." The stone fragment with these revealing inscriptions was found in the ruins of TEL Dan (in northern Israel). One "initial interpretation" is that a victorious king (probably Baasha) was documenting his battle against the king of the "House of David," probably Asa. According to the New York Times, this discovery "is strong independent evidence for the existence and influence of the House of David."[8]

4. CURSIVE WRITING -- "AN INTERNATIONAL MEANS OF COMMUNICATION": By the 10th century B.C. writing -- including Aramaic -- had become increasingly common. In spite of social divisions, many were learning to write:

"Though the clerk, the cultured person and the craftsman all used basically the same cursive script, there were decided stylistic differences. These may be classified as sub-styles of cursive and can be termed: (a) extreme cursive—that of the cultured person; (b) formal cursive—that of the professional scribe; and (c) vulgar cursive—that of persons of limited schooling.... The beginnings of Aramaic cursive and its rapid development are undoubtedly connected with the rise of the Aramaic language and script as an international means of communication."[9]

5. KING SARGON: The prophet Isaiah tells us that "Sargon, the king of Assyria, sent" his commander to fight "against Ashdod," a coastal city in ancient Israel. (Isaiah 20:1). This verse fueled a controversy back in the early days of archeology. Some researchers had uncovered a stone obelisk with an engraved list of Assyrian kings. But it didn't include Sargon! So the University of Chicago announced that they saw a "glaring contradiction in the Bible." They were wrong! When Sargon's royal palace was excavated, researchers found his name engraved on numerous bricks in the palace walls -- along with boastful references to his conquest of Ashdod.[10]

6. THE PHILISTINE CITY, EKRON (now called TEL Miqne): This confirmation of Biblical accuracy was published by the Archaeological Institute of America:

"An inscription carved into a limestone slab found at TEL Miqne, 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, confirms the identification of the site as Ekron, one of the five Philistine capital cities mentioned in the Bible. The inscription is unique because it contains the name of a biblical city and five of its rulers, two of whom are mentioned as kings in texts other than the Bible...

"In 712 B.C. this city was conquered by the Assyrian king Sargon II. For a short time, beginning in 705 B.C., it came under the control of Hezekiah, king of Judah.... In 603 B.C. the city was sacked by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar."[11]

When faced with the overwhelming Assyrian forces, Hezekiah prayed to God for His sovereign intervention. Before his great victory, he encouraged the people:

"Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

7. THE POOL OF BETHESDA: "...liberal scholars, intent on maintaining their criticism of the Bible, claimed that the Gospel of John could not have been written" by the actual disciple. They argued that verses such as John 6:1 had to be wrong, since it refers to "five porches" at the Jerusalem's pool of Bethesda. But more recent excavations verified John's account:

"...approximately eight years ago archaeologists discovered underneath what they had previously thought was the earliest level at the site of Bethesda an older [pool] which had a fifth portico transecting it! One would hope that at some point the critics would concede the historical reliability of the biblical narrative."[7]

That's unlikely! Millar Burrows, the renowned Professor of Archaeology at Yale University, explained why:

"The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural."[7]

The accuracy of the Biblical record has been proven again and again. As Dr. Joseph Free wrote, "Archaeology has confirmed countless passages which had been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contrary to known facts.[12]

8. OCEAN CURRENTS (these rivers in the seas -- such as the Gulf Stream that flows across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing the Gulf of Mexico's warm waters to the coast of Norway -- are driven by earth's rotation, gravitation, winds, temperature, saltiness, density variations, etc. See video)

These mighty currents were first discovered by Matthew Maury, a naval officer who was confident that the Bible didn't lie. Disabled by an accident in 1839, Maury left active sea duty and became the superintendent of the US Naval Observatory. As head of the US Depot of Charts and Instruments, he could finally seek answers to a persistent question on his mind: What were "the paths of the seas" mentioned in Psalm 8:8? After studying old ships’ logs,

"he compiled charts of ocean-wind and sea currents. To study the speed and direction of the ocean currents Maury set adrift weighted bottles known as ‘drift bottles’. These floated slightly below the surface of the water, and thus were not affected by wind.... From the location and date on which the bottles were found, Maury was able to develop his charts of the ocean currents — the ‘paths’ of the seas — which greatly aided the science of marine navigation.... A monument erected in his honour... reads: ‘Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, the genius who first snatched from the oceans and atmosphere the secret of their laws.'"[13]

10. PETRA: Years ago, we visited Petra, the capital of ancient Edom. began in Amman, Jordan, with a four-hour drive south through the desert. Finally, at the mountainous entrance to Petra, the passage once blocked to Moses and his followers, we walked through a narrow gorge. The vertical rock walls on both sides framed a sliver of the "pink palace,” permitting a teasing glimpse of the rose-colored columns and sculptured ornaments of a palatial wall.

But when we reached the once-flourishing city, the stark sunlight exposed the faded facades of a ghost town. Behind the ruins of a lost civilization were empty caves - the stripped tombs of a people who scorned God. The path led no further. The well-traveled roads were gone -- just as the Bible prophesied:

"... it shall lie waste; No one shall pass through it.... thorns shall come up in its palaces, nettles and brambles in its fortresses.... The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals... There the arrow snake shall make her nest..." (Isaiah 34:9-15)

Edom literally dried, wilted, and died. Its streams and vineyards turned to dust -- but not because of chlorofluorocarbons! God did it, because the smug Edomites despised His ways.

Unlike the myths and legends of other spiritual traditions, the Bible's meticulous recording of historical events matches both secular history and archeological discoveries. Even the Old Testament droughts (that led to famines and wars) match the migrations, climatic changes, tree rings [14] and other discoveries charted by scholars. God's Word is true. We can count on it!

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"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Endnotes:

1, William F. Albright, The Archeology and the Religions of Israel, John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1956, p. 176. Cited by Rabbi Glenn Harris.
2, Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert: History of Negev. Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1969, P. 176. Cited by Rabbi Glenn Harris.
3, "Holy Moses! PBS documentary suggests Exodus not real"
4, Albright, William Foxwell. The Archaeology of Palestine. Pelican Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1960, p. 127, 128. Cited by Rabbi Glenn Harris
5, Howard LaFay, "Ebla: Splendor of an unknown Empire," National Geographic, December 1978, pp. 735. "The people of the ancient Near East erected their cities on strategic sites with plentiful water. As a result, after destruction at the hands of pillaging armies--and to weaker cities this came as often a once a generation-- the population tended to rebuild on the ruins. Excavating a TEL is like slicing a stack of pancakes; each stratum, with its embedded trove of artifacts, encapsulates history from one catastrophe to the next." (735-736, 740, 754)
6, El Amarna Letters
7, Can I trust the Bible?
8, John N. Wilford, "House of David' Inscription: Clues to a Dark Age," New York Times, November 16, 1993. First reported by Dr. Avraham Biran, an archeologist at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem
9, The Development of the Aramaic Script (Joseph Naveh’s classic work)
10, Sargon king of Assyria
11, Seymour Gitin, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh, "Ekron Identity Confirmed," Archaeology, January/February 1998.
12
, Free, Joseph. Archaeology and Bible History. Scripture Press, Wheaton, IL, 1969, pg. 1.
13, Matthew Maury’s search for the secret of the seas
14, S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery, Unstoppable Global Warming (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007), p. 4, 129, 244. More information

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Berit Kjos is a widely respected researcher, writer and conference speaker. A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed on Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), The 700 Club, Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on "Talk Back Live" (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks.  Her last two books are A Twist of Faith and Brave New Schools. Kjos Ministries

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The accuracy of the Biblical record has been proven again and again. As Dr. Joseph Free wrote, "Archaeology has confirmed countless passages which had been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contrary to known facts.