Excerpt 1 - Genesis

Excerpt 2 - Isaiah

Excerpt 3 - Hebrew

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Before 1000 B.C.

Tepe Gawra Seal. E. A. Speiser discovered this stone seal 12 miles outside of Nineveh in 1932, and he dated it to 3500 B.C. It appears to show a naked man and woman walking stooped, as if dejected, followed by a serpent. The seal is reminiscent of the story of the departure from Eden in Genesis 3. Courtesy University of Pennsylvania Museum, Object #32-21-515, photo taken from http://custance.org/old/seed/ch10s.html.

Eden Scene. This ancient Babylonian seal showing a serpent, a woman and a man is also reminiscent of the story of Eden in Genesis 3. From Smith, George, The Chaldean Account of Genesis, new ed., revised and corrected by A. H. Sayce, London, Sampson, Manton, Searle & Rivington, 1880, p. 88.

Cuneiform Tablet. The earlier sections of Genesis may have originally been written on cueiform tablets like this one. Later books of the Bible were written originally on scrolls.

Egyptian Relief with Cattle (external link). Egyptian reliefs commonly show cattle, but not sheep, in keeping with the Bible's comment that shepherds are "an abomination to the Egyptians" (Gen 46:34).

Temple of Amon-Re (external link). This is the temple of Amon-Re, or Ra, the Egyptian sun-god. One of the purposes of the plagues in the book of Exodus are to show the superiority of the LORD to Egyptian gods (Exod 12:12). Each plague targets a specific Egyptian god. The plague of darkness targets the Egyptian sun-god.

Jebusite Jerusalem Wall (external link). This wall around Jerusalem has been dated to 1700 B.C., in the Canaanite era prior to the time of Joshua or the conquest of Jerusalem by David. The 26 foot high wall sheds light on 2 Sam 5:6, where the Jebusites living in the city boasted to David that their fortress was so powerful that even the "blind and the lame" could defend it.

Merneptah Stele. The Merneptah Stele was set up by the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah (1213-1203 B.C.) to celebrate a military campaign. It briefly mentions Israel, and is the oldest reference to Israel found outside the Bible. There are very few cross-references between the Bible and non-biblical records in the second millennium B.C., and this makes dating Old Testament events from that earlier period difficult.

1000 - 586 B.C.

David's Palace (external link). In 2005, Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar discovered what may be the remains of David's palace in Jerusalem. The partial remains show a building built in the Phoenician style dating from the 10th to 9th centuries B.C.

Tel Dan Stele (external link). The Tel Dan Stele was set up by a Syrian King, probably Hazael, who is mentioned in the Bible. He celebrates his victory over King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah, of "the House of David". This dates the stele to 840 B.C., making it the earliest extra-biblical reference to David.

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. This is the only known image of an Israelite king. It shows Jehu, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel from 841-814 B.C., bowing before the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III, who ruled from 858 to 824 B.C. There are a number of cross-references between the Bible and non-biblical records in the first millennium B.C., and this helps date Old Testament events from that period with a high degree of confidence.

Megiddo Altar to Baal (external link). This altar to Baal is from Megiddo in Israel. The altar is round with stairs, contrary to the instructions for altars built to the LORD (Exod 20:26).

Altar to the LORD at Beersheba (external link). This is a reconstructed altar to the LORD from Tel Beersheba in Israel. The altar is square with four corners and "horns", in compliance with the instructions for a central altar in Exod 20:26. However, only one elaborate central altar was supposed to be built, so this altar may not have been entirely kosher.

Early Hebrew Script (external link). The Early Hebrew script, sometimes called the angular script, was used prior to the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. After the exile, the Aramaic script of the time, sometimes called the square script, was adopted for the Hebrew language. The square script is still used today.

Clay Seal of King Ahaz (external link). This is a seal, or bulla, of Ahaz, King of Judah from 735 to 716 B.C. The writing on the seal says "Belonging to Ahaz [son of] Jotham, King of Judah."

Siloam Tunnel Inscription (external link). The Siloam Tunnel Inscription celebrated the completion of a water tunnel in Hezekiah and Isaiah's time, described in 2 Kings 20:20. The Hebrew writing is in the early angular script used before the Babylonian exile.

Amulet with Scripture (external link). This silver amulet contains the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. It has been dated to approximately 600 B.C., making it the oldest biblical text in existence. The 600 B.C. date is problematic for the Documentary Hypothesis, which dates the Priestly source about 100 years later, around 500 B.C. The Hebrew writing is in the early angular script used before the Babylonian exile.

Clay Seal of Baruch, Jeremiah's Scribe (external link). Baruch worked as a scribe for Jeremiah and wrote down many of his prophecies (Jer 45:1, etc.). This clay seal discovered in 1975 apparently belonged to him. The inscription reads: "Belonging to Baruch, son of Neriah". The inscription is in the angular Hebrew script used prior to the Babylonian exile.

586 - 1 B.C.

Babylonian Base 60 Number System (external link). The Babylonians used a base 60 numbering system rather than the base 10 number system used worldwide today. This base 60 number system may be reflected in the statue dimensions of Daniel 3:1.

Cyrus the Great (external link). Cyrus the Great (580-529) ruled Persia and conquered Babylon in 538 B.C. He is mentioned in multiple books of the Bible, because he gave the order to restore and rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonion exile (2 Chron 36:22-23). The picture is a bas-relief found in Pasargade, the capital city of Persia.

Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (external link). The Dead Sea Scrolls provide the oldest biblical texts for most books in the Old Testament. This picture shows the "Great Isaiah Scroll", which preserves the entire book of Isaiah. The scroll was copied around 50 B.C.

After 1 B.C.

Flavius Josephus, born 37 A.D., was a pharisee and a prolific Jewish historian. His writings a good source for an ancient traditional understanding of the Old Testament.

Julius Wellhausen, 1844-1918, had a pre-eminent role in formulating and popularizing the Documentary Hypothesis. Dating the Old Testament takes issue with the Documentary Hypothesis.

Documentary Hypothesis. The Documentary Hypothesis suggests that the first 6 books of the Bible, Genesis through Joshua, are a result of four primary sources written at different times, woven together by later editors. Dating the Old Testament takes issue with the Documentary Hypothesis.

Tablet Theory. The Tablet Theory suggests that the first 36 chapters of Genesis are a collection ten or eleven cuneiform tablets written near in time to the events described. The tablet divisions are defined by the formula "These are the generations of..", which occurs repeatedly in Genesis. The picture shows how the tablets are connected.