Reason 8: The Historicity of the Old Testament (Tanakh)
The Bible both Old and New Testament were written over a period of time covering more than 1500-years. From 1450 B.C, to almost 100 AD, the words of the Bible were written within the context of the historical events of the day. If the Bible is to be considered accurate and true, the events recorded in the Bible should correspond with the recorded historical events outside of the Bible.
In 1847, Austen Henry Layard uncovered the palace of Assyrian King Sennacherib in Ninevah, showing the attack on the Jewish city of Lachish (Isaiah 36:1-2). The Assyrians detailed pictures of their attack on this Jewish city, they built a siege ramp depicted in the pictures among other illustrations.
Today the siege ramp can still be seen in Israel at the site of the ancient battle.
Discovered in the Turkish village of Kurkh, the stele was erected by Assyrian King Shalmaneser III(823 B.C.) to celebrate his victory at Qarqar. According to the stele King Ahab of Israel contributed “2,000 chariots, 10,000 foot soldiers” to the alliance. This battle is not mentioned in the Bible but it affirms Ahab’s existence Ahab and dealings outside of the Bible.
Winged Bull of Sargon II
Sargon II king of Assyria is only mentioned one time in the Bible (Isaiah 20:1) and his name was not even mentioned outside of the Bible. Bible critics questioned his existence. This changed in 1843 with the discovery of Sargon’s Palace at Khorsabad in 1843, Paul-Emile Botta unearthed a massive 10-ton, 15-foot-high sculpture known as a lamassu (winged bull with human head) of Sargon II (722-705 BC). The text within the sculpture chronicles Sargon’s capture of Samaria (Isaiah 20:6) and his title, ancestry, and achievements as kings. One inscription reads, “I besieged and conquered Samaria…I led away captive 27,280 people.” He then imported people into Samaria, latter to be known as Smaritans a group which the Jews hated (John 4:9)
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
King Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.) was king of Assyria in the time of Jehu king of Israel (2 Kings 8-10). This black obelisk was discovered by A.H. Layard in the palace of Nimrud, it illustrates his military victories. One panel depicts Jehu (or Joram) bowing before Shalmaneser III while making an alliance or paying tribute. The inscription reads.. “Tribute of Yahua, (Jehu) house of Omri, I received silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin a staff for a king, spears”
Ziggurat of Ur
In the ancient hometown of Abraham in Babylon an ancient ziggurat was found in 1924 by Sir Leonard Woolley. Abraham would have seen this structure, This structure also supports the building of the Tower of Babel.
Royal Steward Inscription
Charles Clermont-Ganneau found a tomb lintel inscription in Jerusalem in 1870 adjacent to the Temple Mount near the Kidron Valley. The name Shebna an eighth century BC scribe appears on it. According to the inscription, Shebna was the steward over the household of Hezekiah. He is mentioned by Isaiah (Isaiah 22:15-19) as a man who thinks highly of himself, carving out a tomb for himself in conspicuous place.
This confirms the words of Isaiah written 2700 years, identifying an individual in the court of Hezekiah.
Cylinder of Nabonidus
In 1854 J.E. Taylor was inspecting the ziggurat of Babylon and found four clay cuneiform cylinders written by Babylonian king Nabonidus (sixth century BC). Nabonidus documented the renovations and history of the Ziggurat. At the end he requests prayers for himself and his son Belshazzar! It was the same Belshazzar in Daniel 5, who saw the handwriting on the wall.
Before the discovery of the Nabonidus Cylinders, Bible critics rejected Daniel 5 as in error since no record of Belshazzar existed outside of the Bible. Now we understand Belshazzar was co-regent with his father over Babylon. For this reason Daniel could only be the “Third ruler” in Babylon Daniel 5:29
Ras Shamara Tablets
In 1928 a farmer in Syria found a vault in his field, an area to later become known as Ras Shamara. A forgotten city was discovered dating to the time of Joshua. Along with the city a scribal school was discovered with a vast library of texts, a Canaanite script was also found similar to Hebrew.
The tablets describe Canaanite religious practices described in the Bible, which included 1. The burying children alive. 2. Child sacrifice of other kinds. 3. Male and female religious prostitution, 4. The malice and jealousy among the gods. 5. Absence of morality among the gods 6. Idol worship among others.
This discovery showed the writing of sophisticated religious and law code in the time of Moses.
It confirmed the practices referred to in the Old Testament.
It also confirmed the existence of Aramaic words found in the time of Moses, rejecting the false assumptions of critics.