The Old Testament and Archeology
A century ago the student of the world's history found it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to paint for himself a clear picture of events antedating B.C.400. Concerning earlier periods, he was, aside from the Old Testament, practically without records that could claim contemporaneousness with the events recorded. But, one hundred years ago, men had commenced to test every statement, be it historical, or scientific, or theological, by severe canons of criticism, and if it could not stand the test, it was speedily rejected. One result of this tendency was to reject historical statements of the Bible when they could not be corroborated by reliable extra-biblical records. The nineteenth century has wrought a marvelous change. The Old Testament is no longer the "lone Old Testament," at the mercy of the scientific investigator. The historian and the Bible student now have at their command literary treasures almost without number, partly contemporaneous with the Old Testament, partly older by many centuries. These rich treasures have been brought to light by the {111} perseverance and painstaking toil of archaeologists, whose discoveries have shed light on human history during a period of more than four thousand years before the opening of the Christian era.

The historical movements recorded in the Old Testament, in which the Hebrews had a vital interest, were confined chiefly to the territory between the four seas of western Asia: the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf. In the East the territory might be extended to include Persia; in the West, to include Asia Minor; and in the South or Southwest, to include Egypt, in North Africa. All these districts, which may be designated Bible lands, have been more or less thoroughly explored, and in most of them excavations have been carried on. The countries in which the most valuable finds, so far as Bible study is concerned, have been made are Palestine, Babylonia-Assyria, Egypt, Northern Syria, Phoenicia, Moab, and Asia Minor.

Even before excavations were undertaken travelers had visited these different countries and had reported their observations, but the information thus gained was more or less vague, and in many cases of no practical scientific value.[1] They saw many strange mounds and ruins, and noticed and occasionally picked up fragments of inscriptions and monuments; but no one could {112} decipher the inscriptions; hence the finds were preserved simply as mementoes and relics of an unknown age, from which nothing could be learned concerning the history and civilization of the people that once occupied these lands. The mounds and heaps of ruins which contained the real treasures were left undisturbed until the nineteenth century.

The pioneer in the work of excavation in the territory of Babylonia and Assyria was Claudius James Rich, who, while resident of the British East India Company in Bagdad, in 1811, visited and studied the ruins of Babylon, and a little later made similar investigations in the mounds marking the site of the ancient city of Nineveh. In the gullies cut by centuries of rain he gathered numerous little clay tablets, covered on every side with the same wedge-shaped characters as those seen on the fragments found by earlier travelers. These he saved carefully, and in time presented them to the British Museum.

No systematic excavations were carried on until 1842, when P. C. Botta was sent by the French government as vice-consul to Mosul on the upper Tigris. He noticed across the river from Mosul extensive artificial mounds which were supposed to mark the site of the city of Nineveh. These so aroused his curiosity that he began digging in the two most prominent mounds. Failing to make {113} any discoveries, he transferred, the following year, at the suggestion of a peasant, his activities to Korsabad, a few miles to the northeast, where the digging produced, almost immediately, startling results. In the course of his excavations he laid bare a complex of buildings which proved to be the palace of Sargon, king of Assyria from B.C.722 to B.C.705, a palace covering an area of about twenty-five acres. The walls of the various buildings were all wainscotted with alabaster slabs, upon which were representations of battles, sieges, triumphal processions, and similar events in the life of ancient Assyria. He also found, in the course of the excavations, scores of strange figures and colossi, and numerous other remains of a long lost civilization. Botta's discoveries filled the whole archaeological world with enthusiasm.

Even before Botta reached Mosul, a young Englishman, Austin Henry Layard, visited the territory of ancient Assyria, and was so impressed by its mounds and ruins that he resolved to examine them thoroughly whenever it might be in his power to do so. This resolution was taken in April, 1840, but more than five years elapsed before he began operations. It would be interesting to follow Layard's work as described by him in a most fascinating manner in Nineveh and Its Remains, and other writings, which give {114} complete records of the wonderful successes he achieved wherever he went.

Never again did the labors entirely cease, though there were periods of decline. Layard's operations were continued under the direction of Rassam, Taylor, Loftus, and Henry C. Rawlinson; the French operations were in charge of such men as Place, Thomas, Fresnell, and Oppert. However, it was not until 1873 that other startling discoveries were made, chiefly under the direction of George Smith, who was sent by the Daily Telegraph, of London, to visit the site of Nineveh for the purpose of finding, if possible, fragments of the Babylonian account of the Deluge, parts of which he had previously discovered on tablets that had been shipped to the British Museum. In 1877 France sent Ernest de Sarzec as consul to Bosra in Lower Babylonia. His interest in archaeology led him to investigate some of the mounds in the neighborhood, and he soon began work at one called Telloh. In the course of several campaigns, which continued until 1894, he unearthed a great variety of material illustrative of primitive ages, among his treasures being palaces, statues, vases, thousands of tablets, and various other articles of interest.

The first steps toward sending out an American expedition for excavation were taken at a meeting of the American Oriental Society in the spring of {115} 1884. In the fall of the same year a preliminary expedition of exploration was sent out, which completed its labors during the winter and spring, returning in June, 1885. But the means for excavation were not forthcoming until 1888, when a well-equipped expedition was sent out under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. Four successive campaigns were carried on upon the great mounds of Nuffar, the site of Nippur, a center of early Babylonian life. Each expedition brought to light architectural and artistic remains and many thousands of tablets, throwing light upon all sides of the ancient life and civilization, over which hitherto there had lain almost complete darkness. In 1899 Germany sent its first expedition to Babylon and, during successive seasons, extensive excavations have been carried on, which have resulted in the discovery of many interesting finds. At a later date excavations were begun and, like those of Babylon, are still continued, on the mound covering the site of the ancient capital city of Assyria, Asshur, where inscriptions of great value have been uncovered. At the present time the Germans are perhaps the most active excavators in Assyria-Babylonia, and by their painstaking care to record every new discovery they are bound to increase the knowledge of the early history and civilization of these ancient empires.[2]


Reference may be made also to the later excavations of the French at Susa, the scene of the book of Esther, where they have uncovered much valuable material. The most important find, made in the winter of 1901-1902, is the monument upon which is inscribed the legal code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon, generally identified with the Amraphel of Gen.14.1. For a short time the University of Chicago carried on excavations at Bismiyah, in southern Babylonia, which have brought to light many objects of interest, if not of great historical importance. The Turkish government, under whose rule the territory of Babylonia and Assyria now is, stimulated by the example of other nations, is taking an active interest in these excavations, granting the privilege of excavating to an ever-increasing number of scholars, and giving them protection while engaged in their work. The Sultan has erected in Constantinople a magnificent museum, where the valuable antiquities are accessible to the scholarship of the world.

The credit of having first turned the attention of the West toward the monuments of Egypt, and of having brought them within the reach of science, belongs to the military expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte, undertaken in the summer of 1798.[3] In August, 1799, a French artillery officer, Boussard, unearthed at the Fort Saint Julien, near {117} Rosetta, in the Nile Delta, a stone of black granite, three feet five inches in height, two feet four and one half inches in width, and eleven inches in thickness. It is thought to have been at least twelve inches higher and to have had a rounded top. On the upper portion of this block could be seen parts of fourteen lines of characters, resembling those seen everywhere on the obelisks and ruined temples of the land; adjoining these below are thirty-two lines of another species of script, while at the bottom are fifty-four lines, twenty-eight of them complete, in Greek uncial letters. The Greek was easily read, and told the story of the stone: It was set up in B.C.195, by the priests of Egypt, in honor of Ptolemy Epiphanes, because he had canceled arrearages of certain taxes due from the sacerdotal body. The grateful priests ordered the memorial decree to be inscribed in the sacred characters of Egypt, in the vernacular, and in Greek. The Greek portion having been read, it was conjectured that the two inscriptions above the Greek told the same story. Such being the case, the value of the document for the decipherment of the Egyptian inscriptions was at once perceived, and scholars immediately set to work on the task of deciphering the unknown script. The honor of having solved the mystery belongs to Francois Champollion, who by 1822 had succeeded in fixing the value of a considerable {118} portion of the ancient Egyptian signs, and at the time of his death, ten years later, left behind in manuscript a complete Egyptian grammar and vocabulary.

Through the discovery of Champollion the interest in ancient Egypt grew in all learned circles, and from his day until now efforts at bringing to light the remains of the Egyptian civilization have never ceased. The French have been especially active; but other nations also have been in the field and have greatly added to our knowledge of ancient Egypt. Since 1883 the Egyptian Exploration Fund has been at work in various parts of the Nile valley; private subscriptions have enabled the investigation of certain places of special interest; and now every year new finds are made, which constantly enrich our knowledge of the history, art, and civilization of the land of the Pharaohs.

"Palestine," says Dr. Benzinger, "became the object of most general interest earlier than any other Oriental country.... Nevertheless, Palestine research is but a child of the century just closed, the systematic exploration of the land, in all its aspects, beginning properly speaking with the foundation of the English Palestine Exploration Fund in 1865."[4] The reason for this delay is not far to seek. From the time that Christians first began to visit Palestine to a comparatively {119} recent date all pilgrimages were prompted by religious, not by scientific motives. The interest of the pilgrims was excited only by those places which were pointed out to them as the scenes of sacred events, and the knowledge they brought home consisted chiefly of descriptions of the places held in special veneration. In 1841 there appeared in three volumes a work entitled Biblical Researches, in which Professor Edward Robinson recorded the results of his travels in Palestine during the year 1838. In 1852 Robinson made a second journey. During these two trips he and his companions worked with ceaseless industry, always accurately measuring the distances, and describing the route, even to the smallest detail. This painstaking care made the accounts so valuable that his books marked a turning point in the whole matter of Palestinian research, and could serve as a foundation upon which all future researches might rest.

Among other travelers who have made valuable contributions to our knowledge of Palestine, the most important are Titus Tobler, H. V. Guerin, E. Renan, and G. A. Smith. But the better the land came to be known, the more fully was it realized that the complete systematic exploration of the land was beyond the power of individual travelers. Hence in 1865 a number of men interested in Palestinian research met in London {120} and organized a society known as the Palestine Exploration Fund. Its object was the complete, systematic, and scientific exploration of the Holy Land, especially for the purpose of elucidating the Scriptures. The idea was taken up with great enthusiasm, and from the beginning until now the society has been actively engaged in illuminating Palestine past and present. During the early history of the Fund few excavations were carried on, and these were confined to the city of Jerusalem; but since 1890 several mounds in southern Palestine have been excavated, the most important being Tel-el-Hesy, the probable site of ancient Lachish, and the site of the important city of Gezer. At present (1912) the site of ancient Beth-Shemesh is being excavated.

The German Palestine Society was organized in 1877 for a similar purpose. When the English surveyors were prevented by the Turkish government from completing the survey of eastern Palestine the German society took up the work, and its results are embodied in a map now in process of publication. The principal excavations of the German society were carried on between 1903 and 1907 at Tel-el Mutasellim, the ancient Megiddo, under the direction of Dr. Benzinger and Dr. Schumacher. Dr. Sellin carried on excavations at the neighboring Taanach for the Austrian government between 1902 and 1904. {121} Two other sites have been excavated -- Jericho by the Germans and Samaria by Harvard University, and though no epoch-making finds have come to light in these two places, the results illuminate the early history of Palestine.

Phoenicia has yielded some of its treasures. The first of importance, found in 1855 in the Necropolis of Sidon, was the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar, king of Sidon. Since then various other sites have been examined, and much material has been unearthed, throwing light on the history, religion, art, and civilization of these ancient neighbors of Israel. In the year 1868 a German missionary, the Rev. F. Klein, discovered at Diban, the site of an ancient royal city of Moab, a large stone, with an inscription of Mesha, a king of Moab in the ninth century B.C. Between 1888 and 1891 investigations were conducted, for the Royal Museum in Berlin, at the mound of Zenjirli, once a city in the land Shamal, near the northern limits of Syria, south of the Issus, about forty miles inland. The old citadel was uncovered, and various sculptures, showing Hittite influence, a magnificent statue of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, a huge statue of the god Hadad, and several Aramaic inscriptions of great value, as illustrating early Syrian civilization, were found. More recently, in 1906 and 1907, Professor Winckler visited Boghaz-koei, in Asia Minor, a center of {122} early Hittite civilization, where he uncovered thousands of tablets which throw new light upon the history of western Asia in ancient times. Thus, generation after generation, amid dangers and hardships, a body of enthusiastic, self-sacrificing men have toiled almost day and night in order to restore to life a civilization buried for many centuries beneath the sands of the desert and the ruins of ancient cities, and we are only at the beginning. What revelations the next fifty years may have in store!

The results of these expeditions have been enthusiastically welcomed by all who are interested in antiquity: the students of history, art, science, anthropology, early civilization, and many others. They are, however, of special interest to the Bible student; and it is well to remember that, whatever additional motives may be responsible for excavations at the present time, from the beginning until now the desire to find illustrations, or confirmations of scriptural statements, has played a prominent part. "To what end," says Professor Delitzsch,[5] "this toil and trouble in distant, inhospitable and danger-ridden lands? Why all this expense in ransacking to their utmost depths the rubbish heaps of forgotten centuries, where we know neither treasures of gold nor of silver exist? Why this zealous emulation on the part of the nations to secure the greatest possible {123} number of mounds for excavation? And whence, too, that constantly increasing interest, that burning enthusiasm, born of generous sacrifice, now being bestowed on both sides of the Atlantic upon the excavations in Babylonia and Assyria? One answer echoes to all these questions, one answer which, if not absolutely adequate, is yet largely the reason and consummation of it all -- the Bible."

Our purpose is to discuss the bearing of recent researches in Bible lands upon the Christian view of the Old Testament, that is, the view which looks upon the Old Testament as containing records of divine revelations granted in divers portions and in divers manners to the people of Israel. Concerning this bearing, two distinct and opposing claims are made: on the one hand, it is said that archaeological research only confirms the familiar view of the Bible as a trustworthy and unique record of religion and history; on the other hand, it is claimed that archaeological research has shown the Old Testament to be untrustworthy as to history, and as to religion, what has hitherto been regarded as original with the Hebrews is claimed to have been borrowed almost bodily from the surrounding nations.

What is the true situation? The archaeological material which has more or less direct bearing upon our inquiry may be roughly arranged under {124} two heads: (1) The Historico-Geographical; (2) The Religio-Ethical. The present chapter deals with the bearing of the historico-geographical material upon the Old Testament historical records, the other class being reserved for the succeeding chapter. The next step in the discussion will be to enumerate at least the more important finds having a more or less direct relation to the Old Testament. Many archaeological objects have been brought to light, which, though they have but indirect bearing upon the Old Testament, have wonderfully illuminated the life of the ancient East, and thus have made more distinct the general historical background upon which the scenes recorded in the Old Testament were enacted. But a more important source of information are the inscriptions which have been discovered by the thousands and tens of thousands. These inscriptions were written on all kinds of material -- granite, alabaster, wood, clay, papyrus, etc.; shaped in a variety of forms -- tablets, cylinders, rolls, statues, walls, etc.; and they have been dug out of mounds, tombs, pyramids, and many other places. What, then, are the most important finds? The first thing to bear in mind is that the inscriptions have very little to say about the earlier period of Hebrew history. Says Driver,[6] "With the exception of the statement on the stele of Merneptah, that 'Israel is desolated,' the first {125} event connected with Israel and its ancestors which the inscriptions mention or attest, is Shishak's invasion of Judah in the reign of Rehoboam; and the first Israelites whom they specify by name are Omri and his son Ahab." Before considering the statement on the stele of Merneptah, attention may be given to certain inscriptions which throw considerable light on conditions in Palestine before the Hebrew conquest, namely, the so-called Tel-el-Amarna tablets.[7] These tablets were discovered by accident in the winter of 1887-1888 at Tel-el-Amarna, the site of the ancient capital of Amenophis IV of Egypt, about midway between Memphis and Thebes. On examination they proved to be a part of the official archives of Amenophis III (1411-1375) and Amenophis IV (1375-1358), consisting almost entirely of letters and reports addressed to these two Pharaohs by their officials in western Asia, and by rulers who sustained close relations to the Egyptian court. The royal letters, about forty in number, are chiefly from kings of the Hittites, of the Mitanni, of Assyria, and of Babylonia. The rest of the correspondence, about two hundred and fifty letters, is of much greater historical interest; it consists of letters from Egyptian governors in various cities of Palestine, Phoenicia, and Syria.

These inscriptions show that about B.C.1400, {126} about two hundred years before the Hebrew conquest, Palestine and the neighboring countries formed an Egyptian province under the rule of Egyptian governors stationed in all principal towns. At the time the Egyptians had considerable difficulty in maintaining their authority. Their power was threatened by the Hittites and other powerful neighbors, by the dissatisfied native population, by the Habiri, who seem to have been invaders from the desert, and by the intrigues and rivalries of the Egyptian governors themselves. Practically all the principal cities of the land are mentioned in these letters. From the standpoint of Old Testament study, six letters written by Abdi-hiba, Governor of Jerusalem, are of special interest. He, like many of the other governors, is in difficulty. The Habiri are pressing him hard; the neighboring cities of Gezer, Lachish, and Askelon are aiding the enemy; he has been slandered before the king and accused of disloyalty. In the letters he emphatically protests his innocence. One of them reads: "To the king my lord, say also thus: It is Abdi-hiba, thy servant; at the feet of my lord the king twice seven times, and twice seven times I fall. What have I done against the king my lord? They backbite, they slander me before the king my lord, saying: Abdi-hiba has fallen away from the king his lord. Behold, as for me, neither my father nor my {127} mother set me in this place; the arm of the mighty king caused me to enter into the house of my father. Why should I commit a sin against the king my lord?"

Perhaps the most surprising fact about these letters is that the Palestinian governors used, in the correspondence with their superiors in Egypt, not the Egyptian or native Canaanite, but the Babylonian language, which seems conclusive evidence that for some time previously Western Asia had been under Babylonian influence. Without doubt this influence was primarily political, but naturally it would bring with it elements of civilization, art, science, and religion. Now and then words in the Canaanite language occur, either independently, or for the purpose of explaining a Babylonian expression in the more familiar dialect of the scribe. These Canaanite words are hardly distinguishable from the Hebrew of the Old Testament. It is evident, therefore, that the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine were closely akin to the Hebrews, and spoke substantially the same language. The inscriptions of later Egyptian kings, during the thirteenth and the early part of the twelfth century, throw little additional light on conditions in Palestine, except that it becomes increasingly clear that Egypt cannot maintain its hold on the land. Subsequent to Rameses III (1198-1167) Palestine was entirely {128} lost to Egypt for several centuries, which explains why the Hebrews were not disturbed by the empire on the Nile in their attempts to establish themselves in Palestine.

The first direct reference to Israel in the inscriptions apparently takes us near the time of the exodus. Archaeology has nothing to say directly about the exodus; but in the enumeration of his victories, Merneptah II, thought to be the Pharaoh during whose reign the exodus took place, uses these words: "Israel is lost, his seed is not." The discovery of this inscription in 1896 was hailed with great rejoicing, for at last the name "Israel" was found in an Egyptian inscription coming, approximately at least, from the time of the exodus; but, unfortunately, the reference is so indefinite that its exact significance and bearing upon the date of the exodus is still under discussion. It is to be noted that, whereas the other places or peoples named in the inscription have the determinative for "country," "Israel" has the determinative for "men"; perhaps an evidence that the reference is not to the land of Israel, or to Israel permanently settled, but to a tribe or people at the time without a settled abode. But where was Israel at the time? To this a variety of answers have been given. D. R. Fotheringham suggests that the reference is to the destruction of the crops of Israel in Goshen. {129} Israel, he thinks, had just left, with the crops unharvested. These Merneptah claims to have destroyed.[8] Others believe that the Israelites had already entered Canaan when they suffered the defeat mentioned by Merneptah. Petrie thinks that the Israelites defeated were in Palestine, but that they had no connection with the tribes that had a part in the biblical exodus; he believes that the latter were still in Goshen at the time of this defeat.[9] Still others believe that the Israelites were, at the time of the defeat, in the wilderness south of Palestine, and that the claim of Merneptah is simply an attempt to account for their disappearance from Egypt. And now comes Eerdmans, of Leiden, with the suggestion that the Israelites defeated by Merneptah were the Israelites before they went down to Egypt.[10] It is seen, therefore, that the reference on the stele of Merneptah, while of much interest, because it is the first mention of Israel in an Egyptian inscription, after all throws little light upon the date and the events of the exodus.

The next monument of importance contains an account of the invasion of Palestine by Shishak, five years after the death of Solomon. On the southern wall of the court of the great temple of Amen at Karnak the king has left a pictorial representation of his campaign. A giant figure is represented as holding in his left hand the ends of ropes which {130} bind long rows of captives neck to neck. Their hands are tied behind them, and the victor's right hand holds a rod with which he threatens them. The names of the conquered cities are inscribed on shields that cover the lower part of the body of each prisoner. Some of the most familiar names in this list are Gaza, Abel, Adullam, Bethhoron, Aijalon, Gibeon, and Shunem.[11]

From about the middle of the ninth century on inscriptions containing references to kings of Israel, or to events in which the Hebrews played important parts, become more numerous. To the reign of Omri (889-875) and his immediate successors refers the inscription of Mesha on the so-called Moabite Stone.[12] This notable specimen of antiquity is a stone of a bluish-black color, about two feet wide, nearly four feet high, and fourteen and one-half inches thick; rounded at the top, and, according to the testimony of the discoverer, the Rev. F. Klein, also at the bottom, which, however, is doubtful. The value of the stone lies not only in the fact that it preserves one of the most ancient styles of Hebrew writing, but more especially in the historical, topographical, and religious information it furnishes. In 2 Kings 3 we read of the relations between Moab and Omri and his successors. Omri had subdued Moab and had collected from her a yearly tribute. Ahab had enjoyed the same revenue, amounting during {131} Mesha's reign to the wool of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams. At the close of Ahab's reign Mesha refused to continue the payment of the tribute. The allied kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom marched with their armies against the Moabites, who fled for refuge within the strong fortress of Kir-hareseth, where Mesha offered up his own son as a burnt-offering to Chemosh, his god; whereupon "there was great wrath against Israel, and they departed from them and returned to their own land."

The Moabite Stone was set up by King Mesha to his god Chemosh in commemoration of this deliverance. The opening lines read: "I am Mesha, son of Chemosh-ken, king of Moab, the Daibonite. My father reigned over Moab for thirty years, and I reigned after my father. And I made this high place for Chemosh in Korhah, a high place of salvation, because he had saved me from all the assailants, and because he had let me see my desire upon all them that hated me. Omri, king of Israel, afflicted Moab for many days, because Chemosh was angry with his land; and his son succeeded him; and he also said, I will afflict Moab. In my days said he thus. But I saw my desire upon him and his house, and Israel perished with an everlasting destruction." As a supplement to the Old Testament narrative, this account is very instructive. The mention of {132} Yahweh, the God of Israel, is of interest, as also the fact that in Moab, as in Israel, national disaster was attributed to the anger of the national deity. The idiom in which the inscription is written differs only dialectically from the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Small idiomatic differences are observable, but, on the other hand, it shares with it several distinctive features, so that, on the whole, it resembles Hebrew far more closely than any other Semitic language now known. In point of style the inscription reads almost like a page from one of the earlier historical books of the Old Testament.

From the time of Omri on Israel came into frequent contact with Assyria; indeed, the fortunes of Israel were closely bound up with the fortunes of this great Eastern world-power.[13] In 885, at about the time when Omri had finally succeeded in overcoming his rivals, Ashurnasirpal ascended the throne of Assyria. He determined to restore the former glory of his nation, which had become eclipsed under his incompetent predecessors; and with him began a period of conquest which ultimately brought the whole eastern shore of the Mediterranean under Assyrian sway. In 860 Shalmaneser III[14] succeeded his father upon the throne of Assyria, and in the following year he renewed the attack upon the West. In 854 he felt prepared for a supreme effort, and it is in the {133} account of this campaign that we read for the first time the name of an Israelite king in the Assyrian inscription. Shalmaneser advanced with great speed and success until he reached Karkar, near the Orontes, a little north of Hamath. In the account of the campaign he mentions, among the allies who fought against him, Ahab of Israel, who, he says, furnished two thousand chariots and ten thousand men. The campaign is recorded in several inscriptions, in all of which Shalmaneser claims a complete victory.

The most famous inscription of this king is the one on the so-called Black Obelisk, an alabaster monolith found at Nimrud in 1846. This monument is inscribed on all four sides with an account, in one hundred and ninety lines, of the expeditions undertaken during thirty-one years of the king's reign. In the text of the inscription reference is made to campaigns against the west land (Syria and Palestine) in 859, 854, 850, 849, 846, 842, and 839. In addition to the inscription the monument contains, on the upper portion, five series of four reliefs each, each series representing the tribute brought to the Assyrian king by kings whom he had conquered or who sought his favor. In the inscription itself, no mention is made of Israel or the king of Israel, but the second tier of reliefs is of much interest. It depicts a prince or deputy prostrating himself before Shalmaneser, {134} and behind the prostrated figure are attendants bearing gifts of various kinds. The superscription reads: "The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri, silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden ladle, golden goblets, golden pitchers, lead, a staff for the hand of the king, shafts of spears, I received of him." In 842 Shalmaneser undertook an expedition against Hazael of Damascus, and in the account of this expedition he says, "At that time I received the tribute of the Tyrians and Sidonians, and of Jehu, the son of Omri."

About half a century after the occurrence of Jehu's name in the inscription of Shalmaneser III Israel is mentioned again as tributary to Assyria. Adad-nirari IV (812-783), after enumerating other countries subjugated by him, writes: "From the Euphrates to the land of the Hatti, the west country in its entire compass, Tyre, Sidon, the land of Omri, Edom, Philistia, as far as the great sea of the setting of the sun (Mediterranean Sea), I subjected to my yoke; payment of tribute I imposed upon them."

Adad-nirari was succeeded by a series of weak kings, during whose reign the power of Assyria declined, but in 745 the great Tiglath-pileser IV, mentioned in the Old Testament also under the name Pul, ascended the throne. He succeeded in reorganizing the resources of the empire and in rekindling its ambitions for conquest. This {135} energetic king has left several inscriptions of much interest to the student of Old Testament history. In one of these, narrating an expedition against northern Syria about B.C.738, he mentions a king, "Azriau of the land of Yaudi." It has been customary to identify this king with Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah. The contents speak against this identification, and since the inscriptions found in Zenjirli have established the existence in northern Syria of a state called Yaudi, perhaps the king mentioned in Tiglath-pileser's inscription was a ruler of this northern kingdom. In the annals which tell of his victory over Azriau of Yaudi he mentions Menahem of Samaria as one of the kings whose tribute he received. The same inscription, referring to events in 734 or 733, speaks of a victory over the House of Omri, and the assassination of the king Pekah, but the inscription is so fragmentary that the details are obscure. Fortunately, the same events are recorded in another inscription, which is in a better state of preservation, though it also has several gaps. After enumerating several cities which he captured in Palestine, among them Gaza, he continues: "The land of the dynasty of Omri ... the whole of its inhabitants, their possessions to Assyria I deported. Pekah, their king, they slew, Hoshea to rule over them appointed. Ten talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, I received {136} as tribute." Ahaz of Judah is also mentioned in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser, as paying tribute, but it is not clear to what year this refers.

Tiglath-pileser died in 727, and was succeeded by Shalmaneser V, who in turn gave place in 722 to Sargon II. Shalmaneser is mentioned as the king who attacked the northern kingdom, and the Old Testament narrative leaves the impression that he was the king who finally captured the city of Samaria. The inscriptions show that it was Sargon who overcame the city soon after the beginning of his reign. In one of his inscriptions he calls himself, "the brave hero ... who overthrew the House of Omri." In another he says: "Samaria I besieged, I took.27,290 of its inhabitants I carried away; 50 chariots I gathered from them; the rest of them I permitted to retain their possessions. Over them I appointed my governor, and upon them I imposed the tribute of the former king." The annals of Sargon, which give an account of the events during his reign in chronological order, give the date of the capture of Samaria. After the introduction, he continues: "In the beginning of my reign and in the first year of my reign, ... Samaria I besieged and took.... 27,290 inhabitants I carried away; 50 chariots as my royal portion I collected there.... I restored and made as it was before.... People from all countries, my captives, I settled there. My {137} official I appointed as governor over them. Tribute and taxes like the Assyrian I imposed upon them." After the destruction of the northern kingdom the life of the Hebrews became centered in Judah and Jerusalem. The fall of Samaria made an impression on the South that was remembered for some time. Nevertheless, the states along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea bore impatiently the Assyrian yoke, and in most cities there arose a party which, relying on the promised help of Egypt, was eager to free itself from Assyria. That this party gained a foothold also in Jerusalem is seen from the prophecy in Isa.20, in which the prophet warns the people against trusting in Egypt and rebelling against Assyria. In the same direction points an inscription of Sargon describing an expedition against Ashdod: "The people of Philistia, Judah, Edom, and Moab, dwelling beside the sea, bringing tribute and presents to Ashur my lord, were speaking treason. The people and their evil chiefs, to fight against me, to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, a prince who could not save them, their presents carried and besought his alliance." In all probability, Judah did not become involved seriously at this time. But the death of Sargon in 705 seems to have been a signal for revolt in many parts of the Assyrian empire. His son and successor, Sennacherib, gave these rebellions his immediate attention; until 702 {138} he was kept busy in the East, but in that year he turned westward, and by 701 was ready to attack Judah. The campaign and the remarkable deliverance of Jerusalem on that occasion are recorded at length in 2 Kings 18, 19, and Isa.36, 37. The account of the same campaign by the Assyrian king is, from the standpoint of Old Testament history, perhaps the most interesting historical inscription left by an Assyrian ruler. It is found in the so-called Taylor Cylinder,[15] column 2, line 34, to column 3, line 41. The most interesting portion reads:

To the city of Ekron I went; the governors
[and] princes, who had committed a transgression, I killed and bound their corpses on poles around the city.
The inhabitants of the city, who had committed sin and evil, I counted as spoil; to the rest of them
who had committed no sin and wrong, who had
no guilt, I spoke peace. Padi
their king, I brought forth from the
city of Jerusalem; upon the throne of lordship over them I placed him. The tribute of my lordship
I laid upon him. But Hezekiah
of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke,
I besieged 46 of his strong cities, fortresses, and small cities of their environs, without number, [and]
by the battering of rams and the assault of engines, by the attack of foot soldiers, mines, breaches, and axes, I besieged, I took them; 200,150 men, young [and] old, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen
and sheep without number I brought out from them,
I counted them as spoil. [Hezekiah] himself I shut up like a caged bird in Jerusalem


his royal city; the walls I fortified
against him [and] whosoever came out of the gates of the city, I turned
back. His cities, which I had plundered, I separated from his land
and gave them to Mitinti, king of Ashdod,
to Padi, king of Ekron, and to Sil-Bel,
king of Gaza, and [thus] diminished his territory.
To the former tribute, paid yearly,
I added the tribute and presents of my lordship and laid that upon him. Hezekiah himself
was overwhelmed by the fear of the brightness of my lordship; the Arabians and his other faithful warriors
whom, as a defense for Jerusalem his royal city
he had brought in, fell into fear.
With 30 talents of gold [and] 800 talents of silver, precious stones,
gukhli daggassi (?), large lapis lazuli,
couches of ivory, thrones of ivory,
ivory, usu wood, box wood (?), of every kind, a heavy treasure,
and his daughters, his women of the palace,
the young men and young women, to Nineveh, the city of my lordship,
I caused to be brought after me, and he sent his ambassadors, to give tribute and to pay homage.

These are, perhaps, the most important historical inscriptions illustrating specific events in the history of Israel and Judah. There are, however, many more that make important, though more or less indirect, contributions toward a better understanding of Old Testament history. Just to mention a few: Tirhaka of Egypt, who, temporarily at least, interfered with the plans of the Assyrians, {140} appears several times in the inscriptions; the real significance of the events recorded in 2 Kings 20.12ff., and Isa.39, can be understood only in the light of the inscriptions; an interesting sidelight is thrown by the inscriptions on the biblical account of Sennacherib's death. In one of the inscriptions of Esarhaddon, the son and successor of Sennacherib, we are told that among the twenty-two kings of the land of the Hittites who assisted him in his building enterprises was Manasseh, king of Judah. Ashurbanipal, the successor of Esarhaddon, includes Manasseh in a similar list. Though this king is not mentioned in the Old Testament under his Assyrian name, it is very probable that he is the king referred to in Ezra 4.10, where it is said that the "great and noble Osnappar" brought Babylonians, Susanians, Elamites, and men of other nationalities to Samaria. The inscriptions do not throw much light upon the closing years of Judah's history, but we can understand the events in which Judah played a part better because the inscriptions set into clearer light the general history of Western Asia. The advance of the Scythians, the revival of Egypt in the seventh century, the fall of Nineveh, the rise of the Chaldean empire, which reached its highest glory under Nebuchadrezzar, the conqueror of Judah -- all these are described in the inscriptions, or, at least, illuminated by them. {141} In a similar way the inscriptions, though not mentioning the Jewish exiles in Babylonia, illuminate the biblical records in many respects. Fortunately, also, the inscriptions furnish a good idea of the events leading to the downfall of Babylon, which resulted in the restoration of many exiles to Judah; and the restoration itself assumes a new significance in the light of the inscriptions; for the permission to return granted by Cyrus to the Jews is seen to be in accord with the general policy of the conqueror to secure the good-will of the peoples deported by the Babylonians by restoring them to their own homes. The historical situation of the age may suggest another reason for the kindly treatment of the Jews. It was inevitable that sooner or later Cyrus, or his successors, should come into conflict with Egypt. At such time it would be of immense value to him to have near the border of Egypt a nation upon whose fidelity and gratitude he could rely. Archaeology has not thrown any direct light on the condition of the Jews in Palestine under the Persian rule. On the other hand, we know a great deal about conditions in Babylonia during that period, and within the past decade several important documents written on papyrus have been found in Egypt which furnish indisputable evidence that the island of Elephantine, opposite Assuan, a short distance north of the first cataract {142} of the Nile, was the seat of a Jewish colony at least as early as the reign of Cambyses, king of Persia (B.C.529-521).[16]

This concludes the survey of the archaeological material of a historical nature. It is seen that during the period from the division of the kingdom subsequent to the death of Solomon to the reestablishment of the Jews in Palestine after the exile the inscriptions furnish most interesting and instructive illustrations of events mentioned or alluded to in the Old Testament. As a result the history and also the prophecy of the Old Testament have been removed from the isolated position in which they previously seemed to stand. They are now seen to be connected by many links with the great movements taking place in the world without.

The question as to the bearing of the archaeological historical records on the historical records of the Old Testament remains to be considered. This question was asked as soon as the contents of the inscriptions became known. The answers have varied greatly. On the one hand, it has been claimed that the Old Testament records are confirmed in every detail; on the other, those have not been wanting who claimed that the inscriptions discredit the Old Testament. Here, as in other investigations, the true conclusion can be reached only after a careful examination of all {143} the facts in the case. In the study of the question there are several considerations and cautions which must not be lost sight of if we would reach a true estimate. Some of these cautions are suggested by the nature of the inscriptions.

In the first place, it must be remembered that most of the archaeological material has come from lands outside of Palestine, and that the testimony is that of people not friendly to the Hebrews. We may expect, therefore, that at times personal bias may have colored the portrayal and caused the Hebrews to appear in a less favorable light than the facts would warrant, or that the events in which the Hebrews took part were described in a manner to make them favor the interests of the writers.

Again, not every period of Hebrew history is illuminated by the inscriptions. True, the earliest monuments found in Egypt and Babylonia antedate the birth of Jesus perhaps more than four thousand years; but it is not until the time of Ahab, king of Israel, that the important historical material begins. The references to Israel preceding the time of the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, c. B.C.850, are few and more or less obscure. There is the monument of Shishak in the tenth century; but some are inclined to believe that the list of the cities alleged to have been conquered by Shishak was simply taken over by him from {144} an earlier document, and that, therefore, it is of little or no historical value. Israel is mentioned in the inscription of Merneptah, but, as has been seen, the significance of the brief reference is obscure; there is nothing concerning the stay in Egypt, nothing concerning the patriarchs, and nothing concerning the earlier period that can in any way be connected with the historical records of the Old Testament.

Furthermore, to get at the true value of the evidence from the monuments we must distinguish between facts and inferences from the facts. This distinction, obvious as it seems, has not always been maintained even by eminent archaeologists. For example, Professor Sayce, who is in just repute among Assyriologists, made a few years ago the statement: "The vindication of the reality of Menes [one of the early kings of Egypt] means the vindication also of the historical character of the Hebrew patriarchs." Surely, common sense says that facts proving the historicity of an early king of Egypt do not necessarily prove the historicity of men living many centuries later. Many similar illustrations might be given. Because bricks made without straw were found it has been claimed that every detail of the Old Testament narrative concerning the stay of Israel in Egypt was corroborated by archaeology. The finding of the walls of royal palaces in Babylon furnished {145} the claim that the story of the handwriting on the wall was established beyond doubt. The finding of images of deities has been interpreted as showing beyond a possibility of question the historicity of the narrative in Daniel concerning the image erected by Nebuchadrezzar, etc. There can easily be too much blind dependence on authority; an assumption of fact, upon the mere dictum of some presumably honest and competent scholar. About a generation ago a well-known investigator said, "Assyriology has its guesses and it has its accurate knowledge."[17] These words might be expanded to include the whole field of archaeology. Archaeology has its facts, and it has its inferences. The two must not be confused.

Moreover, the possibility of inscribing lies upon clay tablets must not be overlooked. Sometimes it has been claimed, and that most absurdly, that because an inscription has been engraved upon imperishable stone or clay it has a superior value. But the mere fact of a record being inscribed on a tablet of clay, perishable or imperishable, gives it no superiority over one written on papyrus or parchment or paper. Clay tablets were to the civilization of the Euphrates valley what print paper is to us. We all know that paper is patient, else the daily papers would be of smaller size and many books would remain unwritten. The same is true of clay tablets. Clay tablets are {146} patient. It was recognized long ago by Assyriologists that the so-called historical inscriptions are not all unbiased statements of objective facts. In many cases the chief purpose seems to have been the glorification of the king; victories are recorded with the greatest care, but no mention is made of defeats. For example: in one of the earliest inscriptions mentioning a king of Israel, Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria, claims a great victory over the Western allies in the battle of Karkar in 854; but, strange to say, the victory resulted in a rather hasty retreat of the Assyrian army. Another evidence of the "absolute reliability" of the historical tablets is offered by the inscriptions of the same king. In connection with the battle of Karkar, one inscription declares that the allies killed numbered 14,000; another, 20,500; while a third claims 25,000. We have, indeed, reason to say that "the evident uncertainty in the figures makes us doubt somewhat the clearness of the entire result. The claim of a great victory is almost certainly false."[18]

Once more: the translation of the inscriptions is not in every case beyond question. For example, in lines 7-9 of the Moabite Stone we read, according to the common translation, "Now Omri annexed all the land of Medeba, and Israel occupied it his days and half the days of his son, forty years." This rendering would imply that the {147} period from the conquest under Omri to the end of the first half of Ahab's reign was forty years. The chronology of Kings gives as the total of the full reigns of the two kings only thirty-four years, while the above translation of the inscription would require about sixty -- a serious discrepancy. Now, it is generally conceded that the chronology of the Bible cannot be accepted as final in all its details, and that it must be checked by the chronology of the inscriptions wherever that is possible. Yet before we can make use of the monumental testimony we should be sure of its exact meaning. In cases such as the one mentioned this certainty is absent, and we should move very slowly. Another translation of the passage has been proposed: "Omri conquered the whole land of Medeba and held it in possession as long as he reigned and during half of my reign his son, in all forty years; but yet in my reign Chemosh recovered it."[19] This translation would bring the total of the two reigns to about forty years, and thus the chronological difficulty apparently offered by 2 Kings 3 would be removed.

The five considerations to which attention has been called must be observed if we would understand rightly the bearing of the monuments on the Old Testament, when viewed from the standpoint of the inscriptions. Attention must now be called to certain considerations touching {148} primarily the Old Testament that must be regarded in forming an estimate of the value of its historical records.

We must remember, for example, that the purpose of the Old Testament is essentially and predominatingly religious. This is recognized by the Jews, for they do not call any of the so-called historical books by that name. The five books of the Pentateuch they designate as Law, because in these books practically all Hebrew legislation is embodied. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, they include in the list of prophetic books, because they recognize the essentially prophetic purpose of the authors. The other books belong to the third division of the Jewish canon, called the Writings. Concerning the books of Kings, which are the principal historical books of the Old Testament, it has been truly said: "Kings, by virtue of its contents, belongs as much to the prophetical books as to the historical. It is not a continuous chronicle; it is a book of prophetic teaching in which sometimes history, sometimes story, is employed as the vehicle of teaching. It enforces the principle that God is the controlling power and sin the disturbing force in the entire history of men and nations.[20] In a similar manner the religious purpose predominates in the other Old Testament historical books. They do not pretend to give a complete history even of {149} the Hebrew people. The writers embodied only such historical material as was thought to illustrate the self-revelation of God in the history of individuals and of the nation, or to bear in some marked way upon the coming of the kingdom of God. A modern secular historian is disappointed at many omissions which would be unpardonable in a strictly historical production. Now, it is readily seen that the religious purpose may be served, and the didactic value of the narrative may remain, even though historical inaccuracies in details should be discovered.

Another fact to be remembered is the possible difference in the viewpoint of several narrators of one and the same event. In sacred, as in secular history, the viewpoint of the author determines to a considerable extent the character of the narrative. For example: the delineation of the events of the Civil War will not be the same in official documents, in a secular history, in a church history, or in a work containing personal memoirs. Still other differences might be seen in narratives confined to special incidents. Such differences in viewpoint may be noticed also among the writers of the Old Testament historical books. Broadly speaking, part of the historical literature of the Old Testament is due to prophetic activity, part to priestly activity. In writing history the prophets, with their broad interest in all the {150} affairs of the nation, resemble the modern secular historian. They portray events more objectively than the priests, hence they are more reliable. The priestly writers resemble the modern ecclesiastical historian, who judges everyone and everything according to their attitude toward the peculiar religious conceptions he represents. The Old Testament contains also some personal memoirs (in Ezra and Nehemiah) and some narratives of special incidents (Ruth, Esther), while the historical books in their present form embody also what may have been official documents.

Moreover, in estimating the reliability of the Old Testament historical books we must not overlook certain unconscious references and indications which show that the authors exercised considerable care in producing the books. In the first place, historical statements appear to have been preserved with considerable care, at least so far as the substance is concerned. This may be seen from the retention of parallel narratives of the same events, without attempts at harmonizing minor disagreements. In the second place, history was written with some discrimination. This is evident especially in Kings, where the several degrees in which certain of the kings departed from the legitimate religion of Israel are carefully indicated. A clear distinction is made between the relatively pious kings, who simply did not {151} remove the high places (1 Kings 15.14; 2 Kings 12.3) and those who, in defiance of a fundamental principle (Exod.20.4, 5), desired to represent the spiritual God of Israel in images that would appeal to the senses (1 Kings 12.28, 29; 14.16, etc.), and those who, in defiance of the first requirement of the Decalogue (Exod.20.3), served other gods (1 Kings 16.31-33; 18.22, etc.). Once more: in the Old Testament records we find evidence of the historical consciousness of ancient Israel resting upon a very sure foundation. The Mosaic age was regarded as the supreme crisis in the national history. Moses was the great hero; yet his grandeur was not able to extinguish the consciousness of the glory of the pre-Mosaic period. Throughout the entire literature Abraham and Jacob and Joseph are also connected with the beginnings of the Hebrew nation and with the beginning of the religious mission of the people. The memory of the pre-Mosaic period seems indeed to have been securely founded.

What, then, are the results of this comparative study? The Old Testament world has become a new world. Dark regions were Egypt, Assyria, Elam, and other countries mentioned in the Old Testament before the explorers and excavators entered these lands. Now it is comparatively easy to trace with considerable accuracy the boundaries of empires that existed in the first {152} and second millenniums B.C. In addition, we can fix with certainty the sites of some Old Testament cities whose location was previously unknown and, in some cases, whose very existence had been doubted. The topography of cities like Nineveh, Nippur, and Babylon has become quite definitely fixed.

The historical gains are even more remarkable. Whole nations have been resurrected. What did we know a century ago of Elam? Nothing but the name. What of Assyria? Only a few traditions, sometimes untrustworthy, preserved by classical writers, and the statements of the Bible, some of which were unintelligible because of their fragmentary character. Now these and other nations pass one after the other in review, great and powerful in all their ancient glory. And, almost every day, new light is thrown on these early centuries. Only a few years ago it was thought that Assyrian history, as distinct from that of Babylon, began about B.C.1800; now we know the names of many rulers who lived generations and centuries before that date.

The chronological gains are especially important. It is generally admitted that Hebrew chronology is not always reliable, and various expedients have been resorted to to remove the difficulties. It was very gratifying, therefore, to discover that the chronological system of the Assyrians was {153} more precise. Among the inscriptions are especially three classes of public records in which the occurrences are carefully dated: (1) Records of the reigns of certain kings in which their activities are carefully arranged in chronological order; (2) business tablets in which transactions are definitely dated; and (3) the so-called eponym lists. According to Assyrian custom, each year was named after a prominent official. Lists of these were carefully made and kept, and, fortunately, large fragments of them have been preserved. Two recensions of these eponym lists have come down. In one only the names of the years are given; in the other references to important events are added to the names. If, now, any one of these events can be dated, it becomes possible to trace the dates designated by the names on either side of the one whose date is first determined. By means of these lists and the other records the Assyrian chronology can be definitely fixed from about B.C.900 on. This, in turn, enables us to bring order into the chaos of Hebrew chronology during the most important period of the nation's existence.

When we think of these and other gains, not the least of which is the discovery of the contemporaneous documents, the absence of which was at one time made the basis for the rejection of many statements found exclusively in the Old {154} Testament, we may gratefully receive this new light and rejoice in the advance in Bible knowledge made possible through the excavations. What, now, is the general bearing of these discoveries on the trustworthiness of the Old Testament?

In the first place, it is well to remember that for many periods of Hebrew history we are still entirely dependent on the Old Testament for direct information. For example, Professor Clay's claim concerning the patriarchal age, that "the increase of knowledge gained through the inscriptions of this period has in every instance dissolved conclusions arrived at by those critics who maintain that the patriarchs are not to be regarded as historical,"[21] is not justified by the facts. In reality, no incident in the patriarchal story is referred to in any of the inscriptions read thus far. On the other hand, the age of the patriarchs has been wonderfully illuminated. "Formerly the world in which the patriarchs moved seemed to be almost empty; now we see it filled with embassies, armies, busy cities, and long lines of traders passing to and fro between one center of civilization and another; but amid all that crowded life we peer in vain for any trace of the fathers of the Hebrews; we listen in vain for any mention of their names; this is the whole change archaeology has wrought: it has given us an atmosphere and a background for the stories of Genesis; it is {155} unable to recall or certify their heroes."[22] All that can be said in this, as in other cases, is, that archaeology, by furnishing a broad historical background, has established the possibility of the principal events recorded in the biblical narratives being correct. It is silent concerning the events themselves, and, therefore, neither confirms nor discredits them.

A few cases there are, especially in connection with questions of chronology, where archaeology has modified and corrected biblical statements. According to the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser, for example, Menahem of Israel paid tribute to the Assyrian king in B.C.738, and there is reason for believing that this tribute was paid near the beginning of Menahem's reign for the purpose of securing the good will of Assyria. In 734 or 733 Pekah is said to have been slain and to have been succeeded by Hoshea. Now, according to the Old Testament, Menahem reigned ten years; his son, Pekahiah, two years, and Pekah twenty years, a total of thirty-two years. Even if we assume that the tribute was paid by Menahem during his last year -- which is not at all likely -- there would remain twenty-two years to be provided for between 738 and 734 or 733. Evidently, the Old Testament figures are too high. A similar case is found in connection with events that took place only a few years later. In 2 Kings {156} 18.10 the statement is found that Samaria was taken in the sixth year of Hezekiah, king of Judah. Then, verse 13 states that in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came against Jerusalem. The date of the capture of Samaria is definitely fixed by the Assyrian inscriptions. The city fell either in the closing days of B.C.722 or the opening days of B.C.721. Assuming that it was 722, the fourteenth year of Hezekiah would be 714. But Sennacherib did not become king until 705, and the attack upon Jerusalem was not made until 701. Here, again, the biblical account seems to be inaccurate.

In many other cases, however, remarkable confirmations are seen. There are many persons and events mentioned in the Old Testament which are referred to also in the inscriptions. Think of the long list of Babylonian and Assyrian kings named in the Old Testament; Amraphel, king of Shinar, at one time considered a mythical figure, is shown to have been one of the greatest generals, wisest administrators, and fairest lawgivers among the early kings of Babylon. Sargon, whose very existence was once doubted, has in defiance risen from the dust. In these and numerous other cases, especially from the ninth century onward -- as may be seen from a comparison of the inscriptions quoted above with the corresponding portions of {157} the Old Testament -- the archaeological records furnish striking confirmations of the Old Testament narratives. To sum up this entire inquiry: It must be apparent to every unbiased student that the monuments, when read intelligently, neither set aside nor discredit the Old Testament documents. On the contrary, they prove their substantial accuracy. They may at times modify them, especially in questions of chronology; but they more frequently corroborate than impugn; thus they offer their services not as a substitute but as a supplement, by the aid of which we may study from without the history of the Hebrew people.


[1] An excellent account of the explorations and excavations in Babylonia and Assyria, and of the decipherment of the inscriptions is found in R. W. Rogers, A History of Babylonia and Assyria, Vol. I, Chapters I-VIII; compare also H. V. Hilprecht, Explorations in Bible Lands during the Nineteenth Century, Part I.

[2] Preliminary reports of the results of the German excavations are given from time to time in the Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient Gesellschaft.

[3] G. Steindorff, Excavations in Egypt, in H. V. Hilprecht, Explorations in Bible Lands, pp.623-690.

[4] Opening words of I. Benzinger, Researches in Palestine, in Hilprecht, Explorations, pp.579-622. A very complete discussion of explorations and excavations in Palestine may be found in F. Jones Bliss, Development of Palestine Exploration. The {158} progress of the excavations is reported in the Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund.

[5] Opening words of the first lecture on "Babel and Bible."

[6] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. xlviii.

[7] A. T. Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, Chapter XI.

[8] The Chronology of the Old Testament, p.97.

[9] Egypt and Israel, p.35. Breasted also seems to think that the Israelites defeated by Merneptah had no direct connection with those who suffered in Egypt, A History of Egypt, p.466; compare p.410.

[10] The Expositor, 1908, p.199.

[11] J. C. Ball, Light from the East, pp.131, 132.

[12] W. H. Bennett, The Moabite Stone; Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, art., "Moab, Moabites."

[13] Most of the inscriptions from this period on are found in D. G. Hogarth, Authority and Archaeology, Part I -- Hebrew Authority, by S. R. Driver. See also T. G. Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia; A. T. Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel; A. Jeremias, The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient Orient; R. F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Literature; S. R. Driver, Modern Research as Illustrating the Bible. The most recent and most complete collection of cuneiform inscriptions throwing light on Old Testament religion and history is contained in R. W. Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament, which appeared after this book had gone to press.

[14] Formerly called Shalmaneser II; see Expository Times, February, 1912, p.238.

[15] A translation of the entire inscription by R. W. Rogers is found in Records of the Past, New Series, Vol. VI, pp.80ff. These Records of the Past contain translations of the more important ancient inscriptions.


[16] The most important of these papyri is translated in the Biblical World, June, 1908, pp.448ff.

[17] Francis Brown, Assyriology -- Its Use and Abuse in Old Testament Study, p.3.

[18] R. W. Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria, Vol. II, p.80.

[19] Encyclopedia Biblica, Vol. I, col.792, Note.

[20] E. W. Barnes, The First Book of Kings, p. xxxiii.

[21] A. T. Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, p.143.

[22] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. liii, quoted in part from G. A. Smith, Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament, p.101.

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