Old Testament documents confirmed as reliable again[1]

“2,500-year-old said to be the most important ancient Jewish archive since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”[2]

By Spencer D Gear PhD


(Al-Yahudu clay tablet courtesy Wikipedia)[3]

It is not uncommon to read antagonistic statements on the reliability of the Scriptures, including the Old Testament. These are a few contemporary examples from doubters, skeptics and antagonists:

clip_image003The resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality. It is important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus’ original earthly body’.

clip_image003[1] ‘Why does any of a 2 thousand-year-old mythological legend have to have any basis in actual fact?’

clip_image003[2] ‘Is not the bible simply a book of parables and mythology, written by men for men? Is not the parable simply a short story, never intended to be taken literally?

clip_image003[3] ‘Take the whole story of the Jews being enslaved in Egypt, Moses leading them into the desert, their wanderings in the wilderness for forty years and their conquest of Canaan. There is no mention of any of this in any Egyptian material, no evidence of any wholesale enslavement of Jews or any mention of Jews at all, no evidence that Moses existed, no archaeological evidence of any sojourn in the wilderness and no evidence of some invasion and conquest of Canaan.

clip_image003[4]What it is dangerous to say is that we believe in the resuscitation of his corpse [concerning Jesus’ resurrection]’.

clip_image004 John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar wrote of ‘the apparitions of the risen Jesus’.  What’s an apparition?  A phantom, a ghost! Jesus’ resurrected body was not real flesh but ‘the resurrection is a matter of Christian faith’ (1995:189).  So, for him, the resurrection of Christ is really a spiritual resurrection among believers – whatever that means.

So, what happened to the body of Jesus?  Crossan wrote: ‘Jesus’ burial by his friends was totally fictional and unhistorical.  He was buried, if buried at all, by his enemies, and the necessarily shallow grave would have been easy prey for scavenging animals (Crossan 1994:160).

1. Can the Old Testament be trusted?

Personal and Brunner Professor of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics, and Oriental Studies, University of Liverpool, England, the late Dr Kenneth A Kitchen wrote a comprehensive volume (662pp) On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Kitchen 2003).

In this research, he concluded:

We have a consistent level of good, fact-based correlations right through from circa 2000 B.C. (with earlier roots) down to 400 B.C. In terms of general reliability – and much more could have been instanced than there was room for here – the Old Testament comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data, open to all’ (Kitchen 2003:500).[4]

Another Old Testament researcher into the historicity of the Old Testament is the Colman M Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old Testament, Dr Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Does his conclusion harmonize with that of Kitchen regarding The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? (Kaiser 2001)?

Given this mounting evidence, Roland de Vauz declared “that these traditions have a firm historical basis,” while John Bright concluded, “We can assert with full confidence that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were actual historical individuals”….

It must be acknowledged that there is no direct external evidence supporting the existence of any one of the three patriarchs. However, the data does exist to demonstrate the fact that they are correctly located in the Middle Bronze setting beginning approximately 2000 B.C…. An increasingly high degree of probability and corroborating evidence continues to mount up from the external evidence to such a point that the case for the genuineness of the patriarchal stories is strong indeed (Kaiser 2001:84-85, 96).

imcha Jacobovici, Contributor[5]

Three-time Emmy-winning filmmaker and New York Times bestselling author

Huffingon Post, 02/03/2015 10:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

clip_image005(One of the clay tablets on display in the Bible Lands Museum exhibit. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi)

As we watch horrific images of beheadings from the country formerly called Iraq – a country that is disintegrating into various tribal fiefdoms before our eyes – it is easy to forget that it was once the cradle of civilization. In point of fact, Arabs are latecomers to the area. They are first mentioned in the mid 9th century BCE as a tribal people subjugated by the Assyrians. Way before that, the area was home to the Babylonians. First records indicate that Babylon was established as a city around the 23rd century BCE. It stood about 50 miles south of modern Baghdad. The city is mentioned in the Biblical Book of Genesis (11:9) as the home of the infamous Tower of Babel.

In 587 BC, it was the Babylonians, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Jerusalem, the capital of the Kingdom of Judah. They also destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem – the “House of God” – built by King Solomon, as the centrepiece of Jewish faith. It stood on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion for almost 400 years. After the destruction, the legendary Ark of the Covenant, that had once housed the Ten Commandments, disappeared. According to Jewish tradition, it was hidden by the prophet Jeremiah. It has never been discovered. The Biblical books of 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings describes how the Babylonians took the elite of the Jewish people into captivity. Psalm 137:1 records the anguish of the captives: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion”. After the Babylonian empire was defeated by the Persians from modern Iran, the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah led a minority of Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem, motivated by an ancient version of Zionism.

Now for the first time, one hundred and ten, 2,500 year old Babylonian tablets have been discovered in Iraq which provide a glimpse of Jewish life in Babylonian exile. Put simply, the tablets corroborate the Biblical tale. They describe a town called Al-Yahudu i.e., “the village of the Jews”, by the river Chebar, mentioned in Ezekiel 1:1. They also attest to Judaic names such as “Gedalyahu”, “Hanan”, “Dana”, “Shaltiel” and a man with the same name as Israel’s current Prime Minister, “Netanyahu”. The “yahu” ending to these names is called “theophoric”, meaning, they attest to a belief in the God of the Torah, by including part of God’s name in people’s personal names. The tablets also record everyday business transactions and witness to the Jewish return to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15-16), as commemorated in personal names such as “Yashuv Zadik”, meaning, “the righteous shall return [to Zion]”.

This discovery is a remarkable confirmation of the historical reliability of the Biblical text. It is also a reminder that many people once lived in Iraq. Today, there are still remnants of some of these people: Jews, Christians, Mandeans (the last remaining followers of John the Baptist) and Yazidis, an ancient people whose beliefs combine elements of Zoroastrianism, the pre-Islamic religion of Persia, early Christianity and Judaism. All these ethnic survivors are now facing massacres, crucifixions, rape and decapitation.

Do we dare let them disappear?

For more information, see: http://www.haaretz.com/life/archaeology/.premium-1.639822

See my other articles on Christianity and history:

blue-satin-arrow-small Secular historian confirmed Christian martyrs by Nero in first century
blue-satin-arrow-small Can Jesus Christ’s resurrection be investigated as history?


Works consulted

Crossan, J D 1994. Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

Crossan, J D 1995. Who Killed Jesus? New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

Hasson, N 2015. Ancient Tablets Disclose Jewish Exiles’ Life in Babylonia. Haaretz (online),[6] 29 January. Available at: https://archive.is/4ptde (Accessed 3 February 2019).

Kaiser Jr., W C 2001. The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Kitchen, K A 2003. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.


[1] Instead of being an original narrative compiled by this author, this will be an exposition of a new archaeological finds in Iraq that confirm the reliability of the Old Testament documents.

[2] Hasson (2015).

[3] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Yahudu_Tablets (Accessed 3 February 2019).

[4] A more detailed quote from Kitchen on the reliability of the Old Testament can by found in my article, Circumcision and masturbation.

[5] Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/simcha-jacobovici/2500-year-old-jewish-tabl_b_6579996.html (Accessed 3 February 2019).

[6] Haaretz presents breaking news from Israel and the MidEast and it is available online in English.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 04 September 2021.