We just got back from Israel, and one of the highlights for me was seeing firsthand a few of the ancient finds that confirm the accuracy of God’s Word. I’ll highlight just four of the ones that stood out to me.
In 721 BC, Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and took them into captivity. The southern kingdom of Judah was spared. However, about 20 years later, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came against Judah when Hezekiah was king. The Bible records that Hezekiah made preparations for the coming invasion. He fortified the walls and stopped up the Gihon spring that lay outside the walls of Jerusalem (thus removing the only source of water for the Assyrians) and instead dug a tunnel to bring the water into the city of David, so that if they were under siege, they would have a water source.
And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him. A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” (2 Chronicles 32:2-4)
This same Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. (2 Chronicles 32:30)
This was quite the feat of engineering! The tunnel Hezekiah’s workers dug is over 500 meters long and hewn through solid bedrock. The tunnel is on average 130 feet underground, and the slope of the tunnel is a precise 0.6% grade, just enough to deliver the spring water to the Pool of Siloam within the walls of Jerusalem.
It ended up that Hezekiah really didn’t need the water supply for a long siege. The Bible records that Sennacherib and his troops came against Judah, but during the night, an angel of the Lord brought death to 185,000 Assyrians troops. When Sennacherib saw the destruction brought upon on his army, he withdrew to his capital of Nineveh.
Archaeologists located and began excavating Hezekiah’s tunnel in 1867, and today—2,700 years after it was made—you can walk the entire distance underground in the water that still flows from the Gihon spring!
Up until the 1990s, secular archaeologists and historians doubted the very existence of King David and his kingdom. However, in 1994, an inscription was found in the city of Dan from about a hundred years after David’s time. In it, Hazael, king of Syria, boasts of killing the Israelite kings Jehoram and Ahaziah of the “house of David.”
This inscription is not only the oldest textual reference to the historical King David ever discovered, but it confirms that the family of David still sat on the throne of Jerusalem!
Ossuary of Caiaphas
This ornate bone box was found with others in 1990 in a family tomb in Jerusalem. The name on the outside of the box confirms that this is the ossuary of Caiaphas the high priest, who presided over the arrest and trial of Jesus. The Caiaphas Ossuary contained the bones of a 60-year-old man who 2,000 years ago led the charge to put Jesus on the cross. This ossuary strengthens the historical reliability of the New Testament and the crucifixion, by supporting the existence of one of its central characters.
The Jewish high priests at the time of Jesus were unable to legally sentence a man to death. Most of the leading Jews wanted Jesus killed, but in order for Jesus to be killed, the death sentence had to be carried out under Roman law. The Jewish leaders needed Pontius Pilate to condemn Jesus to death.
What we know about Pontius Pilate comes primarily from the Bible. In addition, three historians (Tacitus, Josephus and Philo), who lived around the time of Jesus, made mention of Pilate in their writings. However, until 1961, there was no direct archaeological proof of his existence. And then an inscription was unearthed in Caesarea, which not only mentions Pilate’s name, but confirms that he was the prefect (governor) of Judea. As with the Caiaphas Ossuary, the Pilate inscription supports the historical reliability of the New Testament and the crucifixion of Jesus by supporting the existence of one of its central characters.
We can have confidence that the history in God’s Word is accurate. Of all the archaeological finds, none has contradicted the accounts in Scripture, rather they have confirmed them. There’s no reason to doubt the veracity and truthfulness of what’s recorded in the Bible.