Hello, Hezekiah! Archaeology and Biblical History Come To Life
“From BreakPoint, (Dec 4), reprinted with permission of Prison Fellowship, http://www.breakpoint.org
Five years ago, a team of archaeologists digging “at the foot of the southern part of the wall that surrounds Jerusalem’s Old City” came across a refuse dump dating to the eighth century before Christ.
As the New York Times told its readers, it’s “an area rich in relics from the period of the first of two ancient Jewish temples.” Among their findings were thirty-three clay imprints or seals, known as bullae. These seals were catalogued and stored.
It wasn’t until recently that these bullae were examined more closely, and what the closer examination revealed is rocking the archaeological world. One of the bullae bore the inscription “Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah.”
That would be the Hezekiah of which the Bible says, “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses” (2 Kings 18:5-6).
As Eliat Mazar of Hebrew University told the Times, “It’s always a question, what are the real facts behind the biblical stories . . . Here we have a chance to get as close as possible to the person himself, to the king himself.”
You’ll pardon me for saying, but how cool is that?!
Now, if you’re a regular BreakPoint listener, you know that this is only the most recent in a series of archaeological finds that are confirming the historical nature and veracity of the biblical narratives. A few years ago, I told you about the discovery of Shaarayim, one of the two cities of David mentioned in First Chronicles, as well as the remains of one of David’s palaces and royal storehouses.
I also told you about the discovery of a coin, dating from the 11th century before Christ, which depicted “a man with long hair fighting a large animal with a feline tail.” As if that didn’t ring your biblical bell enough, the coin was discovered “near the Sorek River, which was the border between the ancient Israelite and Philistine territories 3,100 years ago.”
Of course, the coin depicted Samson.
You’ve got to remember that it was not that long ago that many historians and scholars were convinced that the biblical narratives that described the time before the Babylonian exile were largely the creation of pious scribes whose goal was to justify their contemporary concerns by creating a usable past. In fact, it was widely doubted that people like David and Solomon ever even existed, and if they did, they were little more than glorified tribal chieftains.
Then in 1993, a stone slab or stele dating from the 9th century B.C. referring to the “House of David” was found in northern Israel. More recently, archaeologists have discovered ancient copper mines south of Jerusalem that dated from the time of Solomon. The mines included “an impressive collection of clothing, fabrics, and ropes made using advanced weaving technology; foods, like dates, grapes, and pistachios; ceramics; and various types of metallurgical installations.”
So much for myths and glorified tribal chieftains!
Now the evidence left by their descendants is coming to light. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. As John Stonestreet has said, “Biblical faith is an historical faith. The accounts in the scripture do not take place in some mythical time-before-time like that of their pagan neighbors or the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism.”
Thus, we should not be surprised when evidence of this history turns up, even in a refuse dump.