Those who know me well know that I’m a major archaeology buff. After all, archaeology combines two of my passions: science and history, and the field of biblical archaeology combines a third passion: the Bible.
So I was giddy as a schoolkid today to read this headline on the news wire:
Sweet! A quick subtraction of the years leads us to a time frame of 500-ish B.C., a time during which the Bible tells us that the people of Israel (which at this time was only Judah, the Southern Kingdom) were in exile in Babylon. The land of ancient Babylon is covered by the modern nation of Iraq.
Here’s the history. In 586 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to the kingdom of Judah, which had its capital in Jerusalem. The Jewish king was Zedekiah, a descendant of King David, who had tried to pull a fast one over on King Nebby by pledging loyalty and then rebelling against the mighty monarch (2 Kings 24:20; 2 Chr 36:13). Once Nebby heard of the betrayal, he said, “No mas!” and marched to Jerusalem, ending the rebellion, destroying the city’s walls, destroying Solomon’s temple, slaughtering people, and taking “the best of the best” to exile in Babylon (see Daniel 1). The events of the exile are recorded at the ends of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. The biblical books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel cover the exile.
Well, it was a certain fact to conservative Bible scholars that the Jews were really in exile in Babylon. In fact, Psalm 137 talks about how the exiles reacted to being in Babylon.
By the rivers of Babylon —
there we sat down and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There we hung up our lyres
on the poplar trees,
for our captors there asked us for songs,
and our tormentors, for rejoicing:
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How can we sing the Lord’s song
on foreign soil?
The archaeological record had already confirmed the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. But secular critics were skeptical of the exile. Where’s the archaeological proof? Where did they live? What were their names? What did they DO?
Today it was announced that 110 clay tablets have been released to the public, many of which describe Jewish life in Babylon during the exile. Here, in the Akkadian cuneiform script (which looks like a bunch of triangles), are the names of Jewish exiles, evidence of their business transactions, the name of a settlement that basically means “New Jerusalem” (like New York), and a description of them settling by the rivers. The last part is a confirmation of Psalm 137.
Isn’t that cool?
In these clay documents are names that reflect a post-exilic nature, like one “Yashuv Zadik,” which means, “the righteous shall return [to Zion].” This person’s name either means hope to the Jews of a return to Jerusalem in light of God’s promise or it is evidence of a return that already happened.
Folks, God’s word is true and science is not opposed to Scripture. In fact, it is shedding light on the events and persons of the Bible. Because the people and kingdoms were real, archaeology is uncovering evidence of their existence. Archaeology and science allows us to see how people lived, how they built things, how they created art, how they fought in battle, how they grew crops, etc.
So far, science has proven that Mesopotamia is the cradle of human civilization (Genesis), that the walls of ancient Jericho were destroyed in haphazard manner (Joshua), that mighty Egypt once housed Jewish shepherds (Exodus), that there was a David who had a royal household, that Solomon built amazing structures, and that kings of Judah ruled from Jerusalem. It has proven that Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom, destroyed Lachish and laid siege against Jerusalem to only go home without conquering it (see 2 Chr. 32:20-21). Also that Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took exiles, only to see itself conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia and its exiles freed with royal permission to rebuild their temple (Ezra 1).
There’s more! But I think I’ve made my point. I cannot wait to see what archaeology turns up next. God’s Word is true, my friends, and the events contained therein really happened.