Bible Query on Old Testament Archaeology and History

Archaeology has provided a wealth of evidence on the reliability of the Bible. To keep this page from being too big, this only shows archaeological evidence from the Old Testament. Click on www.archaent.htm for info on New Testament archaeology.

Q: In general, how could the first five books be by Moses, since people [allegedly] could not write back then?

A: In the mid-nineteenth century, many liberal so-called Christian teachers taught that the Bible came through centuries of oral tradition since people could not write in Moses’ time. Since then, the first writing we have found was 1,800 years prior to Moses. 30,000 Sumerian tables have been found, including 4,000 in the city of Uruk, dated 3,000 B.C., and 20,000 tablets in the important city of Mari. 14,000-15,000 inscriptions on clay tablets have been uncovered in the city of Ebla, (2500-2200 B.C.), including one mentioning the name Abraham. By Moses’ time, it is now believed that even the slaves could read and write. Of course, Moses was raised in the Egyptian court and had a thorough education (See Acts 7:22).

Even a common slave could learn from simply reading all the inscriptions on the walls of the various temples and tombs. One might say that for people who still cling to the oral tradition theory, they need to read the writing on the wall, too. For more discussion see Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.51-54. For more on Ebla, see the National Geographic Magazine December 1978 p.731-759.

Q: Did God reliably preserve the Torah?

A: Yes, both scripture and archaeology indicate there are no significant changes in our copies today for four reasons:

1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; 59:21; 1 Peter 1:24-25, Matthew 24:35.

2. Jesus and the New Testament confirmed the Old Testament scriptures in Matthew 19:4; 22:32,37; 39; 23:35; Mark 10:3-6; Luke 2:23-24; 4:4; 11:51; 20:37; 24:27,44

3. Archaeological evidence: In the Septuagint, the Torah translated into Greek around 400 B.C. The Dead Sea Scrolls were from about 100 B.C. to after the time of Christ, and we can compare them with our Bibles today. Aramaic Targums are translations made around the time of Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls are about 95,000 fragments from 867 manuscripts of the Bible and other writings. About 1/3 of the Dead Sea scrolls are manuscripts of the Old Testament according to the NIV Study Bible p.1432.

4. Confirmation by the early church writers, including Ignatius and Polycarp, who were disciples of the apostle John.

For more info, see Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody. p.321-382.

Q: Is there any historical evidence for a "hexateuch" or collection of the Torah plus just the book of Joshua?

A: There is none whatsoever. Three pieces of contrary evidence are that:

1. The Samaritans accepted only the Torah (first five books) as scripture.

2. The Sadducees likewise accepted the same books as having full scriptural authority.

3. Orthodox Jews accepted the same Old Testament as Protestants, but they divided it into three parts, Torah, prophets, and writings.

Q: In Gen 2:5-7, did God create plants after man, or before man as Gen 1:12,26 says? (An atheist named Capella asked this.)

A: Four points to consider in the answer.

1. Plants first: Genesis 1 clearly says plants were created on the earth prior to man. These of course, would include the ancestors of all modern plants.

2. World vs. Garden: Genesis 1 is the Creation account of the heavens and the earth, while Genesis 2 is the creation account of the Garden of Eden.

3. Crops after man: Genesis 2 shows that shrubs of the field came after man, at least in the Garden of Eden. In both occurrences, the Hebrew word for "field" (saday) is used, rather than just saying plants.

4. Archaeology confirms what Genesis shows. The grains we use today did not exist until after man bred them for cultivation.

4a. Maize (corn): Archaeologists tell us that maize was domesticated in the new world about 5000 B.C. It came from a grain called teosinte. Teosinte had about 50 loosely held kernels, and the cob was less than an inch long. In contrast, corn today has 500 to 1,000 tightly held kernels on each cob. Because the kernels are tightly held, corn today is unable to grow in the wild without the help of man. See Food and Nutrition (Life Science Library 1967) p.37-38 for more info.

4b. Wheat: Archaeology has found ancestors of wheat in the Middle east in Iraq around 7,000 B.C.. It is called Emmer, and loses its seeds when the wind blows. Today there are thousands of strains of wheat. See Food and Nutrition (Life Science Library 1967) p.39 for more info. As a side note, some see the 2,000 year difference between the time of cultivation of wheat and maize as one of the two reasons (horses being the other reason) that when the Spanish came to America, Indian culture was 1,000 to 2,000 years behind European culture.

4c. Rice: Rice was the newcomer of the three main grains. Food and Nutrition p.34 says it was domesticated about 3500 B.C.

As a side note, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.23 says that at Beersheba they found calcinated grains of wheat, barley, lentils, and grapes from 4000 B.C.

Summary: Plants existed before people, but crops and fields came after man was created.

Q: In Gen 4:22, how could metals be used so early?

A: Bronze has been found in: Thailand–4500 B.C., Yugoslavia–4000 B.C., Greece–3000, and Anatolia–before 3000 B.C. Egyptians used iron from meteorites as ornaments and daggers prior to 3000 B.C. Also at the city of Eshnunna, near Babylon, archaeologists found an iron blade from 2700 B.C..

Q: In Gen 4:22, is the name "Tubal-Cain" related to the region of "Tubal" in modern Turkey as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.33 says?

A: While it cannot be proven either way, it probably is not related. Tubal was also the name of a son of Japheth, and the Tubal people likely were related to him. The "Tubal" people were mentioned in Assyrians records during the time of Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C. and Sargon around 732 B.C. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1751 for more info.

Q: In Gen 5, does the book of Genesis assume everyone spoke Hebrew prior to Abraham?

A: No, quite the contrary. Genesis 11 says that after the flood different people spoke mutually unintelligible languages. Abraham himself probably did not speak Hebrew. He came from Ur, a Sumerian city. Sumerian was similar to Hebrew, since Hebrew came from Sumerian with heavy influence from the Arameans.

Secular linguists believe most of the Western languages, including Sanskrit in India, had a common origin around 4000 B.C.

Q: In Gen 10, who are these 68 peoples and 16 cities?

A: Scholars believe they can identify 51 of the 68 peoples and archaeologists have found 11 of the 16 cities. Sodom and Gomorrah were so thoroughly destroyed they have not been found yet. However, the Ebla tablets, written 2400-2250 B.C. mentions towns of Si-da-mu (Sodom) and I-ma-ar (Gomorrah). See NIV Study Bible, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.42-44 for more info. For a discussion of the Ebla tablets see Ready with an Answer : For the Tough Questions About God by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. p.282-286.

Q: In Gen 10, are the Sumerians of Mesopotamia mentioned?

A: They probably are, as "Shem". The land of Sumer, was often pronounced without the "r", and Sum could easily become Shem. For scholarly support of this, refer to The Sumerians by Samuel Noah Kramer p.297-298. Kramer also cites American Journal of Semitic Languages (58 [1941] p.20-26.)

Q: In Gen 10:2 why are the Medes (Madai) mentioned, since these people were not mentioned anywhere else until 836 B.C. in the Shalmaneser III text?

A: The Shalmaneser III text was after Moses' time of 1407 B.C., but silence in preserved early writings does not prove non-existence. The Assyrians only noted when they fought and traded with the Medes for horses. According to Persia and the Bible p.35 "I.M. Diakonoff believes that the arrival of the Indo-Iranian tribes on the Iranian plateau took place in the first half of the second millennium B.C. [2000-1500 B.C.]. But the earliest archaeological evidence of newcomers seems to date to the early part of the second half of the second millennium B.C. [1500-1300 B.C.].

In contrast to this, the mighty Minni people were mentioned in Jeremiah 51:27. However, the Minni only go back as far as 1200 B.C., and the Minni are not mentioned in Genesis, because Genesis was written earlier.

In summary, archaeology supports the Medes existing in Moses’ time. See Persia and the Bible p.33-50 for more information.

Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Gomer people?

A: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.710 says these were the people called "Gimirra" by the Assyrians and Cimmerians by the Greeks. Gomer lived in the Ukraine and southern Russia. See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.395 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Javan people?

A: They are the Ionian Greeks. In Hebrew this was yawan which is equated to the Greek iaones or iawones in Homer’s Illiad 8.685, and yamanu in inscriptions of Sargon II and Darius I. Ionians are mentioned in Egypt from the time of Rameses II (c.1300 B.C.). Isaiah 66:19 and Ezekiel mention them, and the Septuagint translation translates this as "Hellas".

See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.885 and the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdman’s 1962) p.600 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Tubal people?

A: They were called the Tabal (or Tabali) by the Assyrians and lived in modern-day Turkey in the region of Cappadocia. The Greek historian Herodotus knew of them as the Tibarenoi. They are mentioned in Ezekiel 27:13; 28:2-3; 39:1, and Isaiah 66:19.

The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.) received tribute from the 24 kings of Tubal. The Assyrians dethroned the king of Tubal in 732 B.C. Sargon mentions that precious metal containers came from Tubal. Sargon also crushed a revolt by Tubal, the Mushki (Meshech) and Ararat. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1751 and the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmans 1962) p.811 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Meshech people?

A: The Assyrians first mentioned as the "Mus-ka-a-ia" as having an army of 20,000 during the time of Tiglath-Pileser I (c. 1100 B.C.). They are also mentioned under Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.). The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1105-1106 also says they originally lived between Cilicia and the Caspian Sea, but in the time of Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) they lived in the region of Phrygia in modern-day Turkey. Herodotus 3:94 lists them as the "Moschoi", who comprised one of the 19 satrapies of Darius. See the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdman’s 1962) p.811 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Tiras people?

A: We do not know much about the Tiras. While Josephus claims the Thracians came from them, people today think they were the Tursenich/Tyrsenians, who were pirates. The Egyptians mentions a "Thrusa" (Tw-rw-s3) people invading Egypt around 1250 B.C. The apocryphal Book of Jubilees says the Tiras lived on four islands. See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1019 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1716 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:3, where was Togarmah?

A: Togarmah was about 70 miles west of the town of Malatya. The Hittites called it Tegarama. The Assyrians called it Tilgarimanu, and they conquered it in 695 B.C. The Greeks called it Gauraena. The Armenians claim they descended from Haik, a son of Torgom, so they might be descendants of Togarmah. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1721 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:5,20,31, since there were different tongues, why did all the earth have one speech in Gen 11:1?

A: Genesis 10 is an overview, and Genesis 11 speaks of one event within Genesis 10. Genesis 10:5 says, "from these...", 10:18 "Later...". These imply that Genesis 10 says how the descendants later spread. Genesis 11:1 talks of the event of the tower of Babel, that occurred prior to the spreading out of people. A clay tablet fragment in Babylon tells of one temple that the offended the gods. They destroyed it in one night and scattered the people with strange speech. See Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.25-26, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.87-88, and When Critics Ask p.44-45 for more info.

Q: In Gen 10:8-12, were the deeds of Nimrod an amalgamation of the feats of Lugal-Zaggasi, Sargon of Agade, Hammurabi, and Shalmaneser I, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible says (p.52)?

A: No. While we do not know much about these ancient Sumerian kings except for the tens of thousands of Sumerian tablets that have been preserved, the similarities between those conquerors and Nimrod are remote. The Bible simply mentions that Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord, that Nimrod’s career began in four cities in Shinar (Sumer), and later he went into Assyrian built four closely spaced cities there, which later became very influential. The Bible does not say anything else about Nimrod, so it is hard to make a comparison. Nimrod could not have been Hammurabi, because Hammurabi (1803/1793-1760/1750 B.C.) lived long after Abraham. Nimrod might in fact be a Biblical reference to Sargon, except that we know too little about both Sargon and Nimrod to say.

Q: In Gen 11, what do we know about the Sumerian language?

A: It was written in cuneiform, and it not an Indo-European language. It has some similarities to Turkish, Hungarian, and some languages of the Caucasus Mountains. Scholars can read Sumerian today, and they know how the words were pronounced. Sumerian had no f, i, j, th, soft ch, v, w, or umlaut sounds. They had an "ng" (like Cantonese and Vietnamese), and they did not have inflections at the end of words like most Indo-European languages. There were also a number of Sumerian dialects. Just like there were ancient versions of English and Chinese, the Encyclopedia Britannica mentions there were four periods of Sumerian: archaic, classical, new, and post-Sumerian. Abraham lived at a time when they spoke "New Sumerian".

Hebrew came in part, from Sumerian. Like Sumerian, Hebrew had no "j" sound. Read The Sumerians by Noah Kramer, especially p.306-307 for more info.

Q: In Gen 11:18-24, is there any extra-Biblical record of Reu, Serug, and Nahor?

A: Yes, the Assyrian chronicles record villages in modern Syria named Paligg, Reu, and Sarugi, and Nakhur. The Mari records also mention Nakhur.

Q: In Gen 11:28, was Abram from the city of Ur, or was he from the town of Haran in Gen 24:4?

A: Abram was originally from Ur, but prior to coming to Canaan, Abram and his relatives first settled in the town of Haran in modern-day Syria. See When Critics Ask p.35 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.88-89 for more info.

Q: Why does Gen 11:28 mention Ur of the Chaldees, since Ur was a Sumerian city?

A: The Chaldeans and Sumerians of Iraq were assimilated in Moses’ time, and Moses mentioned the land of modern-day Iraq as it was known in Moses’ time.

Q: In Gen 11:31, did Abram leave for Canaan from Ur, or from Haran as Gen 12:5 says?

A: Genesis 12 does not say Abram was in Haran when God called him. There is no mention that Genesis 11:31 is chronologically before Genesis 12. Many modern biographies are strictly chronological, but there is no requirement that they be so, and often it is was not strictly chronological in the Old Testament and the Gospels. We can only be sure it was intended to be in chronological order when the writer makes a claim that it is in chronological order. Genesis 24:4 dos not say "land of by birthplace" in Hebrew, but rather "my country", meaning where Abram lived for a while and where his closest relatives still lived.

Q: In Gen 12:1, is there any evidence, outside of the Bible, of the true God revealing Himself to anyone else in Abraham’s time, or before?

A: Yes. First two background facts from the Bible, and then the answer.

B1. In Genesis 14:18-20, Melchizedek was a king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God, whom he called "El Elyon". However, we will not count Melchizedek as he is only mentioned in the Bible, and Melchizedek could have been a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

B2. In Genesis 24:50, Abram’s relatives in Syria (among the Arameans) believed in the Lord.

The answer:

A1. Ugaritic texts (from the culture that was in modern-day Syria and Lebanon, also mention, a personal God named "El", and used the phrase "El Elyon" for God most high, as Melchizedek did. Unfortunately, for the Ugaritic culture, syncretism was at work and they eventually only worshipped "El" as one god among many.

A2. In China prior to Buddhism coming just after Christ, and prior to Confucianism and Taoism a few hundred years before Christ, they worshipped a number of idols. However prior to that, they worshipped one Supreme God, whom they called "Shang-Di". The earliest written references to Shang-Di in China are dated at 2600 B.C., which are about 400-500 years prior to Abraham! Unfortunately, during the Zhou Dynasty, about 1000 B.C, they decided that nobody was good enough to worship Shang-di except the Emperor, and worship of Shang-di among the masses died out. A few centuries ago, Christians in China disagreed greatly about whether the Chinese Bible should always use the generic term for deity ("sheng"), or also use the ancient word "Shang-Di". The latter party prevailed, and Chinese Bibles use "Shang-Di" as well as "Sheng."

The Chinese Emperor worshipped Shang-Di by sacrificing a bull on a white marble altar during the "Border Sacrifice" which was recorded by Confucius in the Shu Jing (Book of History), where he said Emperor Shun (2256-2205 B.C. practiced it. It stopped in 1911. Here is part of what was said during the sacrifice

"Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five elements [planets] had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine. You, O Spiritual Sovereign, first divided the grosser parts from the purer. You made heaven. You made earth. You made man. All things with their reproducing power got their being." For more info on Shang-Di, see an article by Ethel Nelson in Creation ex Nihilo vol.20 no.3 June-August 1998 p.50-53. See also The Notions of the Chinese Concerning God and Spirits p.24-25 by James Legge (Hong Kong Register Office 1852), and God’s Promise to the Chinese (Read Books, 1997).

Koreans have a similar ancient tradition of a Shang-Di, whom they call Hananim. An ancient Korean Tan-gun tradition said that Hananim had a son who desired to live among people. You can read more about Shang-Di, Hananim, and other early revelations that were apparently of the true God in the book Eternity in Their Hearts.

Q: In Gen 12:8 have archaeologists unearthed the town of Ai?

A: No. They have not found the remains of a small town that was said to be totally destroyed.

Q: In Gen 12:10-19, is there any extra-biblical evidence of people from Canaan or other parts of the Mideast coming to Egypt?

A: Yes there is. A tomb painting at Beni Hasan in Egypt shows "Asiatics". Tomb 3, of Khnumhotep, shows 37 Semites coming to Egypt for trade. They had black hair, pointed beards, long cloaks, bows, and throw sticks. The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.139 says this is dated at 1892 B.C.

Camels on wall paintings on the temple of Hatsheput near Thebes also date back to Abraham. See Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.26 for more info.

Q: In Gen 14:1-2, who are these kings?

A: This occurred around 2000 B.C., so it is not surprising we cannot find some of these rulers. However, Elam was a major power, having conquered Abram’s city of Ur around 2004 B.C. Shinar is the word the both the Old Testament and Egyptians used for Babylonia. Chederlaomer sounds like kudur (Elamite for servant) and Lagamar (Elamite goddess). Cheder (=Kudur) was the first part of the name of many Elamite kings. Tidal seems related Tudhaliya, and there were at least five later Hittite kings named Tudhaliya. Towns of Si-da-mu (Sodom) and I-ma-ar (Gomorrah) are mentioned in the Ebla tablets, written 2400-2250 B.C. We do not have a record of Arioch of Ellasar, but there is independent historical evidence of a king Ariochu of Larsa, a major Sumerian city. Also, History of Israel p.61 says that Arriyuk(ki) or Arriwuk(ki) is know in both Mari and Nuzi as a Hurrian name. See When Critics Ask p.46-47, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.90-91, and Evidence for Faith p.157 for more info.

In summary, these names are very strange and apparently never used, - except during this narrow time period. It is highly unlikely anyone would have gotten these names, unless they had accurate knowledge of history at this time.

Q: In Gen 14:1-2, how could you have "confederacies" of kings fighting?

A: There would be very few confederacies of kings prior to the fall of the strong city-state of Ur in 2004 B.C. There would be very few confederacies after the rise of Hammurabi of Old Babylon around 1700 B.C. However, between the time the Elamites destroyed Ur in 2004 B.C., and the Elamites raided Babylon in 1725 B.C., Montgomery notes that confederacies were common.

Nobody in Moses time would try to make up a credible-sounding history of confederacies of kings, because monolithic Empires predominated. For someone to mention confederacies like this shows that he had an accurate knowledge of that time-period. See Evidence for Faith p.157-164 for more info. According to Montgomery, a letter found at Mari mentions coalitions of ten, fifteen, and twenty kings. In addition, at least five other confederacies are known.

Q: In Gen 14:1-17, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities?

A: Yes. There used to be none until archaeologists found the Ebla tables. They mention si-dam-mu (Sodom) and sa-ba-i-im (Zeboiim). (Julius Africanus 200-245 A.D.) calls this Seboim.) For a discussion of the Ebla tablets see Ready with an Answer : For the Tough Questions About God p.282-286.

Q: In Gen 14:5-6, 36:20, and Dt 2:12,22, who are the Horites?

A: According to the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.176, the Horites came from modern-day Armenia. They were first mentioned in the time of Sargon of Akkad (24th century B.C.).

Q: In Gen 14:14, how does Abram’s raid compare to other surprise attacks in history?

A: The army apparently retreated from Dan to Damascus, around 40 miles (64 km) away, so Abram’s army won "the field of battle". Let’s look at surprise attacks, attacks against larger armies, and finally let’s look at it from the enemies’ perspective. Some of these numbers are from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

First we will look at surprise attacks.

In the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, Sam Houston and 743 raw troops made a raid in the daytime against 1,800 Mexican troops and won.

In the Battle of Trenton, Washington crossed the Delaware at night surprising the Hessian mercenaries and capturing 1,000 of them.

At Teutoberg Wald, Arminius the German kills 14,000 seasoned Roman troops in a surprise battle.

Now let’s look at victories against great odds.

At the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., 10,000 Greeks defeated 20,000 Persians.

At Canae in 216 B.C., 56,000 Carthaginians defeat 86,000 Romans.

At al-Qadissiyat in 636/7 A.D., 30,000 Muslims defeat 120,000 Persians.

At Pharsalus in 48 B.C., Julius Caesar and 20,000 troops defeated Pompey and 45,000 troops.

At Dorylaeum in 1091, 70,000 Crusaders defeated 250,000 Muslims, killing about 30,000 of them. (The Crusaders had armor, but then again Abram’s soldiers might have had armor while the invading army had taken theirs off.)

Alexander the Great against the Persians, Julius Caesar against the Gauls and the Helvetians, Belisarius, Napoleon, and others also defeated vastly superior forces, though on a larger scale. We do not have the numbers for these armies, except that Julius only had 10,000 men when he invaded England.

The enemies’ perspective: Suppose you are an Elamite soldier, picked to be a part of an elite group to go on a mission far away to punish Sodom. You know there are a large number of the enemy just outside your tent, but they are captives; unarmed and well-guarded. In the middle of the night you are awakened by mounted troops from a new, unknown enemy swooping in and killing your comrades. Not only are they doing that, but if they run off your animals, or free and arm the captives, then you are doomed. You do the sensible thing and flee in the opposite direction of the attack, regrouping with your comrades later.

Of course, apart from all these factors, God likely aided Abram’s troops to cause panic and route the enemy. For an even greater example of God aiding a successful surprise attack, see the battle of Gideon and the Midianites in Judges 7:6-25.

Q: In Gen 20 and Ex 23:31, how could the Philistines be in Israel in Abraham’s time, about 2000 B.C.?

A: The earliest levels of Ashdod were occupied back in the 17th century (H.F. Vos, Archaeology in Bible Lands). Somebody lived in that fertile land back then, and there is no historical evidence which says it was not the Philistines. After the Egyptians defeated the Philistines in 1190 B.C., they came to Palestine in force, and makes sense they would retreat to where they already had towns. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.94-96, When Critics Ask p.50 for more info.

Q: In Gen 20:3,8-10, Gen 26:1, Jdg 8:31, and Jdg 9:1, what does Abimelech mean?

A: "Ab" means father, and "melech" means king or ruler. It either means father of the King, or father is king. Besides being the name of two kings of Gerar, and Gideon’s son, Cyril Aldred in Akhenaten King of Egypt p.186 records that Abimilki was a ruler of Tyre mentioned in the Amarna letters. Photographs of a couple of the Amarna letter tablets are in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.80 and The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1828.

Q: In Gen 23, did the Hittites really exist?

A: Modern archaeologists found out about the Hittites as early as 1892. However, some people still doubted their existence ten years later (1902, E.A.W. Budge). See Evidence That Demands a Verdict volume 2 p.339-341 for more information. Today entire books have been written on the Hittites. One excellent and very readable one is The Secret of the Hittites by C.W. Ceram (Dorset Press 1955).

Q: In Gen 23, how could the Hittites be in Palestine?

A: The Hittites were a wide-ranging people, and a colony settled in the mountains of Palestine. The Indo-European Hittites sacked Babylon in 1590 B.C. Others believe this refers to the Hatti, a non-Indo-European people who were conquered before 2000 B.C. Hatti and Hitti are written the same in Hebrew. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.96-98 and When Critics Ask p.52-53 for more info.

Q: In Gen 23:15-16, why did Abraham have to weigh out the silver?

A: The shekel was a unit of weight, and only later became a unit of money also. Abraham had to "weigh" out the silver because coins were not used until about 800 B.C. according to Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.27. Likewise Achan stole gold and silver "weighing" 50 and 200 shekels. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1798 says the first known coins were from Lydia about 700 B.C. It also notes that the Latin word pecunia (from which English gets the word pecuniary meaning monetary) came from the Latin word pecus which means cattle.

Q: In Gen 31:32, how could the Bible [allegedly] approve Rachel stealing idols from her father?

A: The household gods not only had religious connotations, possessing them meant the right of inheritance according to the tablets, written around Moses’ time found in the city of Nuzi.

Hard Sayings of the Bible p.130-131 gives the text of the Nuzi tablet, but it also advocates that Rachel’s religious attachment to these idols might be involved.

While some might sympathize with Rachel’s spiteful attitude, the Bible does not condone this, it only records this. Rachel died in childbirth only a few years after taking the Gods in Genesis 35:17-19, so those household gods certainly did not do her any good. The Bible is not a book about perfect superheroes, but about very real people who had many faults, — like we have. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.101-102 and When Critics Ask p.58 for more info.

Q: In Gen 33:18-19 what else do we know about the city of Shechem?

A: Though the city was in ruins in Abraham’s time, the site of the city was known, as Can Archaeology prove the Old Testament? p.26 says. Abraham did not purchase the city, but rather land near Shechem.

The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.518-522 gives a lot of detail on Shechem. It was always being rebuilt because it was on a hill that could be fortified and had an excellent spring. Shechem was rebuilt around 1900 B.C., but Pharaoh Senusert III (ca.1880-1840 B.C.) captured it. Shechem was destroyed again about 1750 B.C. It was rebuilt, but was destroyed again by the Egyptians c.1550 B.C.. It was rebuilt, in the time of the Amarna letters (1500-1200 B.C.) which mention it as the center of the king Lab’ayu who was in confederation with the "Habiru" invaders. It was rebuilt, but destroyed by the Assyrians by the Aramaeans, King Menaham of Israel, and the Assyrians in 723 B.C.

Q: In Gen 37:3,23,32, is there any extra-biblical evidence for a coat of many colors?

A: Yes, not Joseph’s actual robe, but Egyptians recorded that "Asiatics", with coats of many colors, were drawn on the walls of the tomb of Khnumhotep. See Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 19954) p.332,360 for pictures and more info.

Q: In Gen 37:17, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of making people "disappear" by throwing them into wells?

A: Yes. Joseph’s brothers were near Dothan, and Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.29 says a cistern at Dothan was found with several skeletons in it.

Q: In Gen 37:28, was 20 shekels of silver about the right price for a slave like Joseph?

A: Yes. According to K.A. Kitchen in Ancient Orient and Old Testament Introduction p.52-53, this is the correct price about 1800 B.C. Centuries earlier they were 10 to 15 silver shekels, they were 30 silver shekels about the time of Moses, and later they were more expensive. See the Biblical Archaeology Review volume 21 no.2 p.53 for a graph of the price of a slave versus time.

Q: In Gen 41:32, why would Pharaoh would make a non-Egyptian second-in-command?

A: While kings can sometimes do strange things, in this case it made very good sense. If Joseph tried to rebel, Egyptians would not follow him. It is recorded that Canaanites, such as Meri-Ra, Ben-Mat-Ana, and a Semite Yanhamu deputy of Amenhotep III had high positions in the Egyptian Court. (Amenhotep III was after the Israelites left Egypt.) See Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol.2 p.331 and Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.29 for more info.

Q: In Gen 41:45, is there any extra-biblical evidence for Joseph’s Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah?

A: Yes. While scholars do not know any of the names of the viziers of Egypt during the centuries around Joseph’s time, David M. Rohl in Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995) p.349-350 and Kenneth Kitchen have found a connection.

Zaphenath: Joseph’s Egyptian name in Genesis 41:45 was probably transmitted down to us with the ‘t’ and ‘p’ switched. Zat-en-aph means "he who is called", which was a common phrase. Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446 shows many examples of Asiatics given Egyptian names. Many of these names have "he/she who is called as the first part.

Paneah: "Pa" of "Pe would represent the Egyptian "Ipi" or "Ipu". "anea" is similar to the Egyptian "ankh", which means "life" or "ankhu" which means "is alive". Rohl p.350 concludes by saying the name Ipiankhu and variations were common in the time of Joseph but not very common earlier or later.

Q: In Gen 46:33, is there any extra-biblical evidence that shepherds were detestable to the Egyptians?

A: We do not have any direct proof, but we do have a couple of pieces of information.

1. When the foreign Hyksos ruled Egypt, later Egyptians called the foreign rules "the shepherd kings".

2. During the time of Joseph, archaeologists say a large group of Asiatics lived in the Nile Delta. According to Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest p.354 analyzing the skeletal remains of sheep showed that about this time Asiatic settlers first brought long-haired sheep into the Nile Delta region of Egypt.

Q: In Ex 1:8-10, is it true that there is no archaeological evidence to support the Israelites having been in Egypt, as an atheist (Capella) asserted?

A: No. A secular Egyptologist, David M. Rohl, has written an entire book on Israel in Egypt. It is called Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995). Not only did he find references to "Habiru", but the Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446 shows many examples of Asiatics given Egyptian names. Rohl p.278-283 also extensively documents how the Exodus did in fact occur around 1447 B.C.

See also the next question and for a more extensive answer and the discussion on Exodus 11:5-12:30 for more info.

Q: In Ex 1:8-10, apart from the Bible, is there any evidence of the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt?

A: Yes. In general, this was a time when there were many "Asiatics" in Egypt, including Hebrews. Statues, names, and customs show this.

In addition, an Egyptian papyrus in the Brooklyn Museum (35.1446) mentions that under Sobekhotep III (approximately 1540 B.C.), a large number of slaves were transferred to the area of Thebes. Of the 95 names, over 50% of the names were Asiatics, and their Egyptian names were given next to them. Some of these people were recorded as being specifically from the tribes of Issachar and Asher. In addition, some Hebrew names are Menahem and Shiphrah. See Pharaoh’s and Kings : A Biblical Quest by David M. Rohl (1995) p.275-278 for more info on this.

The Leiden Papyrus 348 gives order to "distribute grain rations to the soldiers and to the ‘Apiru who transport stones to the great pylon of Rames[s]es." See Christianity Today 9/7/1998 p.48 for more info.

In Addition, Walt Kaiser in A History of Israel p.84 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.307 mention that both these names are Semitic. Shiphrah is in an 18th century list of slaves, and probably comes from Sp-ra (fair one), and the name Puah is probably is derived from the Ugaritic word "Pgt" meaning "girl" or "splendid one".

Q: In Ex 1:15-19, is there any evidence apart from the Bible of the names Shiphrah and Puah?

A: Two points to consider in the answer.

1. I am not aware of any evidence of the name Puah.

2. An Egyptian Papyrus in the Brooklyn Museum (35.1446), written approximately 1540 B.C., mentions a Shiphrah. This Shiphrah lived over a hundred years before the Shiphrah mentioned in Exodus.

See Pharaoh’s and Kings : A Biblical Quest by David M. Rohl (1995) p.275-278 for more info.

Q: In Ex 5:2, who was the Pharaoh of Egypt and when was the Exodus?

A: The Pharaoh who died here was probably Thutmose III. His chief queen was Hatshepsut Meritre (different from his mother, the famous Hatshepsut). The Exodus took place around 1446/1445 B.C. The reason for this 1446/1445 date is 1 Kings 6:1, which says that Solomon began to construct the Temple 480 years after Israelites came out of Egypt, and archaeologists are confident this would be 966 B.C..

This would be under either Thutmose III, or more probably, under Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1450/20-1401/1385 B.C.). His chief queen was named Tia. Other Christians used to think the Exodus took place much later under Rameses II (1290-1224 B.C.). The 1446/1445 B.C. date fits because:

1. 1 Kings 6:1 says 480 years before Solomon’s Temple.

2. Under Amenhotep II, Semites were forced to make bricks.

3. Dream Stela of Thutmose IV. See the discussion on Exodus 12:29.

4. Judges 11:26 says 300 years before Jephthah.

5. Hazor was not inhabited after 13th century.

6. Amarna tablets 1400 B.C. mention the feared "Habiru" or "Abiru" running amok.

7. Clement of Alexandria, in Stromata 1:21 (183-217 A.D.), mentions 450 years from the time of Joshua to David.

8. The name was Rameses used before the 13th century. See CHRONOLOGICAL AND BACKGROUND CHARTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT p.29-30 and When Critics Ask p.67-68. Ramose was the name of a nobleman in the time of Amenhotep III, according to Inerrancy p.64.

The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.327 says "To have the Exodus take place then (1449 B.C.) is unthinkable.". However, secular archaeologist David Rohl in Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995), p.278-283, makes a strong case that the Exodus was 1447 B.C. and the reigning Pharaoh was Thutmose III.

Q: In Ex 5:6-7, how did the Israelites cope with having to gather their own straw?

A: First you must understand that straw was important to make strong bricks, because it acted as a binder to reduce bricks just crumbling away. Also while bricks were more common in Mesopotamia than in Egypt, some cities of Egypt such as Pithom were built with brick. The tomb of an Egyptian noble named Rekhmere / Rek-mi-Re at Thebes in the 15th century B.C. has a painting of slaves making bricks. A picture of this is in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.174.

The ruins at Pithom show bricks with straw at the lowest level, bricks with only stubble at the intermediate level, and bricks with no fibrous material at the top level. Bricks varied from 13 by 13 by 3 ½ inches (33 by 33 by 9 cm) to 16 by 8 by 6 inches (41 by 20 by 15 cm).

See also Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.30, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.274-275, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.458-459 for more info.

Q: In Ex 6:26-27, did Moses write this book, since it was written about Moses in third person?

A: There is no reason to doubt that Moses wrote this. Writing in the third person was not unusual in ancient literature. Other examples include the following:

1. Julius Caesar writing Gallic Wars.

2. Julius Caesar writing Civil Wars.

3. Xenophon writing Anabasis.

4. Josephus writing Wars of the Jews.

5. The apostle John writing the Gospel of John.

See the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.112-113 and When Critics Ask p.70-71 for more info.

Q: In Ex 10:21-33, is there any archaeological evidence for darkness over Egypt?

A: Maybe. The Biblical Archaeology Review January / February 1991 p.50 says

"An Egyptian text dated after the end of the XVIIIth Dynasty (c1350 B.C.) describes a calamity as follows:

‘The sun is covered and does not shine to the sight of men. Life is no longer possible when the sun is concealed behind the clouds. Ra [the god] has turned his face from mankind. If only it would shine even for one hour! No one knows when it is midday. One’s shadow is not discernible. The sun in the heavens resembles the moon….’"

This could refer to the darkness over the land, or it could refer to the eruption of the volcano on the Island of Thera.

Q: In Ex 11:5-12:30, apart from the Bible, is there any evidence of any plagues occurring in Egypt during this time?

A: Perhaps so. David M. Rohl in Pharaoh’s and Kings : A Biblical Quest (1995) p.278-278, mentions that there was evidence of a great disaster with a great number of hastily buried bodies. As Rohl accurately points out though, the large numbers of deaths does not prove or disprove that this was due to a sudden event overnight. In addition, Josephus quotes Manetho about that "a blast of God smote us." However, this is in the context of invaders from the east invading Egypt, so it could be an unrelated event, or there could have been invaders of Egypt during Moses’ time that Exodus was silent about.

Q: In Ex 12:29, what archaeological evidence indicates that Pharaoh’s son died right before the Exodus?

A: In the Dream Stela of Thutmose IV (1421-1410 B.C.) found between the forepaws of the Sphinx of Giza, the god Harmakhis promised Thutmose special help to become the next Pharaoh in return for removing the sand that had built up against the Sphinx. He likely would not have needed special help if he were the first in the succession of his father Amenhotep II (1450/1447-1401/1385). See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.115-116 for more info.

Walt Kaiser in A History of Israel p.90 says that the eldest brother of Thutmose IV was named Webensenu. Webensu was given a burial in the royal tomb, and he probably was the one who died during the tenth plague. The second son of Amenhotep II was Khaemwaset, who married before he died. As Kaiser says, "Thus, while the Sphinx Stele cannot be taken as direct proof of the death of the firstborn, enough evidence has been brought to light by Egyptologists to support the early date of the Exodus and the fact that indeed Thutmose IV did not expect to succeed his father to the throne."

Q: In Ex 15, is there any evidence of the Hebrews wandering in the Sinai peninsula?

A: Yes, there is disputable evidence. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.30 says there was writing in caves found at Mt. Sinai describing the parting of the sea, Moses, and catching the quail. The most interesting thing is the language: it was a mixture of Egyptian and Hebrew. The historian Diodorus Siculus (10 B.C.) also knew of this. However, Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.30 also adds that the genuineness of the writing cannot be proved or disproved. This is probably because there is no way to date the writing on the rock walls.

The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.535 says that at the entrance to the copper mines in Sinai are hundreds of inscriptions. Most of them are in hieroglyphic Egyptian characters, but about 40 inscriptions are in sort of proto-Sinaitic alphabetic script from the 15th century B.C. These are the one of the earliest artifacts of alphabetic writing preserved today.

Q: In Ex 19:11, where exactly is Mt. Sinai?

A: Region: The Sinai Peninsula is a south-pointing triangle with the mountains on the southern part, which Exodus 19:2 and Numbers 3:14; 9:1,5; 10:12 call the Wilderness ("Desert") of Sinai. The Desert of Sin separates Elim from Sinai. Numbers 33:3-50 tells each place the Israelites camped. Unfortunately, we do not know the location of many of these campsites, but by looking at them, we can see what is between what.

Within the Wilderness of Sinai, there are actually two mountains, close to each other, that fit the location of Mount Sinai.

Gebel Musa/Mousa (7,363 ft) This is the traditional view, at least since about 500 A.D. It has very steep cliffs. The Monastery of St. Catherine is at the foot of this mountain. Many but not all Muslims view this as Mt. Sinai also. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.674 has a pictured of Jebel Musa.

Ras es-safsafeh (6,540 ft 1993 meters) is two miles (3.2 km) north of Gebel Musa on the same ridge. It has a wider plain at its foot.

Gebel Serbal (unlikely): Eusebius (325 A.D.) thought this. However, The New Bible Dictionary (1978) p.1193-1194 mentions there is no wilderness near its foot.

Muslims sometimes try to say Mt. Sinai is Mecca. After all Galatians 4:25 says Mt. Sinai is in Arabia. However, this is not the modern country of Saudi Arabia, but rather the Sinai Peninsula was a part of the Roman Province of Arabia. See either The Roman World p.107 or Encyclopedia Britannica under Roman History for a map.

If Mt. Sinai were really Mecca, that would not make any difference to Christians, except that the stages of Israel’s journey would no longer makes sense. It is apparently important to some Muslims however, as it would give credibility to the idea that Mecca had some part in God’s work prior to Mohammed. However, other Muslims, such as the footnote 2504 in the Holy Quran : English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary equate Mt. Sinai with Jabal Musa, as do the majority of Christians.

Q: In Ex 23:31, how could the Philistines be in Canaan in Moses’ time?

A: See the discussion on Genesis 20 for the answer.

Q: In Ex 26:11,37; 25:3; 27:2-19; 30:18; 31:4; 35:5,24,32; 36:18,38; 38:2-29; 39:39 (KJV), why does this say brass?

A: It was really bronze, as The NKJV, NIV, NRSV, Green’s Literal Translation, and even the older RSV translate it. Today bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and brass is a term for an alloy of copper and zinc. However, technically this is not a mistake in the KJV as The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.654 points out. 400 years ago, any alloy of copper was called brass.

The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1123 mentions that the chemical distinction between tin and zinc was not generally known until modern times. Brass was apparently first deliberately made in Roman times, though since copper and zinc do sometimes naturally occur together, brass could have been made much earlier.

Q: In Ex 28:30, what are the "Urim and Thummim"?

A: They were a means God gave the priests for casting lots to find out God’s will. A description of their exact appearance has been lost, except that Josephus claims they were stones on a breastplate. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.357 says, "Urim and Thummim" mean "lights and perfection.

Q: In Ex 37:14, does a sevenfold lampstand indicate later authorship, as sevenfold lampstands [allegedly] did not appear until 600 B.C.?

A: Some used to think this, but Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.31-32 points out the archaeologists have found sevenfold lampstands at Tell Beit Mirsim and some tombs at Dothan at the time of Moses show sevenfold lamps. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1006 says that seven-spouted lamps have been found in tombs and in the ruins of Canaanite temples, "Thus, the concept of a seven-fold lamp for sacred use in the Mosaic tabernacle was not anachronistic, as OT critics used to claim."

Q: Is Ex 38:8 evidence of later composition, as they [allegedly] did not have bronze mirrors back then?

A: No, because they did have bronze mirrors, as Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.31 says. Bronze is an alloy of copper and 2-18 percent tin. (The KJV said brass, because 400 years ago any alloy of copper was called brass.) The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1123-1124 says that bronze objects have been found at Ur from c.2500 B.C..

On p.1139 it says that bronze mirrors were rare, except in Egypt. They were very valuable though, as the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.389 says bronze mirrors did not spread to the common people until Hellenistic times. It also says that in the time of Joshua, the Amarna letters mention a vassal presenting Pharaoh Akhenaton with 32 polished bronze mirrors. The Hittite king gave him one silver mirror.

Q: In Lev 11 and Dt 14, could Moses have learned his health principles from the Egyptians?

A: Not a chance. The Egyptian health practices were well-documented and preserved today. Despite the numerous references to the healing powers of worm blood, magic water, fly excrement, and manure, there is no mention in Egyptian texts of the sanitary practices of the Old Testament. See Evidence for Faith p.140-142 for more info.

The Egyptians had some sophisticated knowledge though, with 48 types of surgery, according to the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.370. There is no evidence of this in the Bible either.

Q: In Lev 23:6, Is it true that "Undoubtedly the use of unleavened bread in ritual is extremely ancient, dating back to long before the Exodus" as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.156 claims?

A: We have no record of this being performed prior to the Exodus. If Asimov thinks it significant that we have no record of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kipper) prior to the Exile (see the discussion on Lev 23:26-32), why does he think the use of unleavened bread was very ancient?

Someone else could argue (with just as little support) the opposite, that the Day of Atonement was before the Exodus, and using unleavened bread was after the Exile. Of course all the scriptures that mention unleavened bread could be dismissed as "additions apparently written after the exile, since unleavened bread indicates a late date."

I am guessing Asimov got this from the Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.756 and especially p.759-760 under "Theories of Origin". However, this liberal book provides no evidence of this being celebrated outside of the Bible. Apparently this theory started with Julius Wellhausen in the 19th century.

As for me, since the only evidence shows the Israelites practicing both here, I choose to go with the evidence.

Q: In Lev 23:26-32, Lev 16:1-34, and Num 29:7-11, Is it true that there is no record of the Day of Atonement being observed until post-Exilic times, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.158 claims?

A: Asimov provides no record of it being observed in Old Testament Post-Exilic times either, but that is beside the point. One would not expect many records of temple rituals that say "we performed it like we were supposed to do." Similarly, one does not have historical records of wood being gathered for the Temple, but we do know that Gibeonites, who were the wood gatherers, performed their function both before and after the exile. Likewise, we do not have pre-Exilic records of any Temple ritual, besides what is already written in the Bible.

On the Year of Jubilee, a trumpet was sounded on the Day of Atonement according to Leviticus 25:8-9. Thus, celebration of the year of Jubilee includes celebration of the Day of Atonement.

It would seem strange that Moses would have written down the rituals for the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:1-34; 32:26-32; and Numbers 29:7-11, and then immediately not follow it.

Q: In Num 1 and Ex 1, how could the Israelites have such a high birth rate to have 602,000 men from 67 men in 430 years?

A: 2.15% per year is not that high an annual population growth rate. For reference, the 1983 annual population growth rates of New Guinea, Indonesia, and Malaysia was 2.5%. The 1983 annual population growth rate of central America was about 3.16%. Also for reference, the annual birth rates of New Guinea, Indonesia, and Malaysia were 4.2%, 4.15%, and 3.07%, respectively. The annual birth rate of Mexico was 4.2%, and other central American countries ranged from 3.5% to 4.86% per year.

If the Israelites were free from war and famine for 430 years, and they had a longer lifespan (as in Exodus 6:16-20), they might grow by 2.15% due to natural reasons alone. A mixed multitude of non-Israelites went with them (Exodus 12:38, Leviticus 24:10) and God also promised to increase Abraham’s numbers in Genesis 17:2. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.311-312 for more on the mixed multitude.

Q: In Num 1 and Ex 1, how could the Sinai Peninsula support over 600,000 men plus women and children?

A: Even with were more abundant rainfall back then, it still could not support them as in Exodus 16:3. That is why the miracles of the manna and quail (Exodus 16) were not merely helpful, but necessary. See also When Critics Ask p.96 and p.131 for more info and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.129-134 for a particularly extensive answer.

Q: In Num 1:2-42, is there any extra-Biblical evidence that some Israelites tribes were in Palestine long before the Exodus?

A: No. In the early part of the Twentieth century, some pointed to words in Ugaritic Epics that had similarities to the words Asher and Zebulun. K.A. Kitchen Ancient Orient and Old Testament p.71 says "The supposed references to Asher, Zebulun, etc., in the Ugaritic epics were proved non-existent long ago." In his footnotes, he mentions W.F. Albright BASOR 63 (1936) p.27-32 and BASOR 71 (1938) p.35-40. R. de Langhe Les Textes de Ras Shamra-Ugarit…, II 1945, p.469-519.

Q: In Num 11:31, were the quail piled three feet on the ground, or did they fly three feet above the ground?

A: The Hebrew word can mean either "upon" or "above". The KJV takes this to mean "upon", the NKJV says "fluttering … two cubits above the surface of the ground", and the NIV takes this to mean flying "above" the ground. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.30 says that today at times swarms of quail fly a few feet above the ground and are caught in nets.

Q: In Num 20:1, was Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, or was Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran as Num 13:26 says?

A: The Sinai Peninsula had four wilderness regions:

The Wilderness of Shur on the northwest, bordered by Egypt on the west and the River of Egypt on the east, and Elim on the south.

Genesis 16:7; 20:1; 25:18; Exodus 15:22; 1 Samuel 15:7; 27:8

The Wilderness of Sin on the southwest. It was between Elim [on the north] and Sinai [on the east] according to Exodus 16:1. Exodus 17:1 and Numbers 33:11,12 also mention the Wilderness of Sin.

The Wilderness of Paran on the southeast. It was bordered by the Wilderness of Sin on the northeast and Kadesh on the west.

Genesis 21:21; Numbers 10:12; 12:16; 13:3,26; Deuteronomy 1:1; 33:2; 1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Kings 11:18.

The Wilderness of Zin on the northeast extending to the Dead Sea and the Arabah on the east and the town of Kadesh on the west.

Numbers 13:21; 20:1; 27:14; 33:36; 34:3,4 Deuteronomy 32:51; Joshua 15:1,3

Kadesh was on the border of the Wilderness of Paran and the Wilderness of Zin.

Q: In Num 20-24, what is the extra-Biblical evidence that Balaam was a real person?

A: In 1967, in the Jordan Valley at Beir Allah, archaeologists found a schoolboy’s writing practice mentioning Balaam son of Beor three times. This was radiocarbon dated to 800/760 B.C. This was first published in 1976. Listen to the John Ankerberg tape on Exploding the J.E.P.D Theory by Walt Kaiser, Jr., for more info.

Q: In Num 22:5, do we have any extra-biblical evidence of Balaam's hometown of Pethor?

A: Possibly so. An inscription of Shalmaneser II mentions a town on the Euphrates and Sagur rivers just west of Carchemish called "Pitru", and this might be Pethor. Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.183 also adds the Egyptians called this "Pedru". See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.775 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1322 for more info.

Q: In Num 22:5-7, was Balaam primarily a true prophet of God, who was led astray by greed, or was he primarily a pagan diviner, through whom the True God spoke in this situation?

A: Scripture does not say. However, because of the evil advice he later gave, Balaam’s heart was certainly not for God and His people. If a schoolboy exercise of 800/760 B.C. was unearthed can be relied upon, it would seem that Balaam was a pagan diviner through whom the True God spoke at this time.

Q: In Dt 3:11, how could King Og’s bed be iron, since they did not have sophisticated iron-working technology?

A: According to The New Geneva Study Bible (p.245), this does not necessarily mean the entire bed was made out of iron (that would be rather uncomfortable). Instead, the bed was trimmed with iron. Egyptians used iron from meteorites as ornaments and daggers since at least 3000 B.C.

Q: In Dt 4:20, why was Egypt like an "iron" furnace, since 1447 B.C. is pre-Iron age, and they did not have any furnaces made out of iron?

A: Archaeology shows that Egypt had iron implements since 3000 B.C.. However, iron was difficult to work with and very expensive, because iron required a higher temperature than bronze or copper. This verse not refer to a furnace composed of iron, but rather something hotter: a furnace built for smelting iron.

Q: In Dt 8:7, is Palestine today drier than it was in Moses’ time?

A: Yes. In historical times, the weather has varied greatly. For example, weather scientists say there as a "Medieval warm epoch" in the last part of the Middle Ages. They have even seen evidence of this in a drought in California in 1340 A.D. (Natural History September, 1996). For a second example, climatologists say the Sahara was not a desert before around 4000 B.C.

Q: In Dt 8:9 where were the hills containing copper the Israelites were promised?

A: There were many furnaces and copper slag found 20 miles (33 km) south of the Dead Sea. Some of the deposits of copper are still visible on the surface. See Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.27 for more info on this.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 3 p.75 also mentions the extensive copper mines of Solomon at Ezion Geber.

The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1124 says that copper workers lived in Beersheba as early as the Chalcolithic Age (4500-3100 B.C. The ore came from 60 miles to the south. The oldest copper object in Palestine is from Jericho, as early as 4500-4400 B.C.

Q: In Dt 25:5-6, why would a childless widow have to marry the brother of her deceased husband?

A: At that time, this is something the widow would want to do for financial support and the memory and name of her first husband.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 teaches that if a man died with no children, it was his brother’s responsibility to marry the widow and the first son shall carry on the name of the dead brother. For examples, see Genesis 38:8-10 and Ruth 1:11-13.

The Nuzi tablets also say that when a father gets a wife for his son, if the son dies, then the girl marries another son. See the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.360 for more info.

Since the time of the New Testament, there is the understanding that believers are to take care of their families, including their extended family, given the strict nature of the command in 1 Timothy 5:8.

Q: In Dt 31:3, what were the peoples of Canaan like, and are there any people similar to them today?

A: Many peoples lived in the land of Canaan. Colonies of Hittites and Amorites came from Asia Minor. A few Philistines and Sea peoples came at that time from the northwest. One of the more unusual peoples was the Anakim. Bones have been found that showed some of them to be 10 1/2 feet tall. Most of the Canaanites though, are thought to have come from northern Arabia. A people living today are believed to be "cousins" of the Canaanites; they live in the nation of Qatar.

Canaan was governed by a large number of small city-states; they were experienced in war with each other. Their city walls were thicker than Israelite city walls, built centuries later. Both the northern and southern parts of Canaan paid tribute to Egypt. Joshua conquered thirty-one kings in both parts. However the plains were not conquered because the Canaanites used chariots, which were effective weapons on the plains.

The religion of the Canaanites was both decadent and cruel. Each region worshipped a local lord, or Baal. The Canaanites also venerated the goddess Ashtarte (or Ishtar) the goddess of sex and war. In one legend her husband, the god Tammuz, was sent to hell by her (nice lady!). Three "attractive" elements of this religion were sex, violence, and materialism. They not only sacrificed animals, but their firstborn children had to "pass through the fire". Each temple supported itself by sacrifices and partly by the "holy" prostitution of priestesses. Since the Canaanites had a more sophisticated civilization and their religion certainly appealed to the flesh more than the worship of God, it was a great temptation to the Israelites to turn from the Living God.

It is easy to look at the infant murder and prostitution and overlook seeing another really evil thing. A few people murder and become prostitutes in most cultures, but the great evil is this: if a Canaanite were to sincerely desire to seek the Creator and live a good, moral life, he was taught the only way was by killing your firstborn and committing fornication. Can you imagine how nearly impossible it would be to seek after a moral God if the only way you knew was by these ungodly deeds?

Because of the Canaanites' great sin (Gen 15:16), and because of the temptation (Deuteronomy 7:16), God ordered them to be totally destroyed (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). We can ponder how bad sin must become before God annihilates a people, but we really cannot question God's right to do with His own creation as He wishes.

Q: In Josh 1:4, how did God give the Israelites the land of the Hittites, since the Hittites lived up north of Israel in modern-day Turkey?

A: Joshua 1:4 does not refer to the land of modern-day Turkey. Rather, the Hittites had a colony in central Canaan, which included the city of Gibeon. For more on the Hittites in both Asia Minor and Canaan, see The New Bible Dictionary 1962 p.528-529.

Q: In Josh 3:15-16, has the Jordan River ever stopped flowing since then?

A: Yes, since Joshua's crossing, the Jordan River has stopped its flow at other times too. In 1927 a landslide near the town of Adam blocked the river for 20 hours. However, for the Jordan River bed to be dry ground just after the priests stepped into the Jordan River is unexplainable without the power of God. It must have been amazing to be one of the Israelites watching the river suddenly dry up, and according to Joshua 4:18 just as suddenly return to their place.

Q: In Josh 4:19, did the twelve stones have a pre-Israelite Canaanite significance, similar to Stonehenge in England, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.212 says is quite likely?

A: There is no evidence that there was any pre-Israelite significance of these stones. If the Israelites brought the stones themselves, there would not be any stone altar there prior to the Israelites.

Q: In Josh 5:9, what was the "reproach of Egypt"?

A: Reproach means shame or rebuke. The reproach was not that the Israelites were slaves, but their disobedience after they left Egypt. As a historical note, roughly half to two-thirds of the Roman, Carthaginian, and Greek populations consisted of slaves.

Q: In Josh 6, did the walls of Jericho fall because Israelite sappers dug under the walls while the Canaanites were distracted by the marching, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.213 says?

A: No, for three reasons.

1. They only marched around the walls for seven days, which would not have been enough time to tunnel under the walls. Remember, ancient peoples did not have explosive charges, so they would have to do extensive digging under the walls.

2. They would have required great precision in their digging, to go the correct depth up the hill and possibly under a ditch.

3. There is no record that the concept of digging under city walls to undermine them was even thought of at that time, 3,400 years ago.

Q: In Josh 6:18-19, why could the Israelites keep the plunder, since they could keep the plunder of the other cities?

A: God usually asks that the firstfruits of labor go to Him. In addition, the Israelites did not overthrow the walls of Jericho, God did. According to Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.32 one unusual thing archaeologists have found is untouched containers of grain. These are almost never found in cities that have been conquered.

Q: In Josh 6:20, what do we know about Jericho from archaeology?

A: Jericho is one of the oldest known cities of the world. Archaeologists tell us Jericho was first built roughly 7000 B.C., abandoned about 4000 B.C., and rebuilt around 3200 B.C. It was one of many cities destroyed by Amorites circa 2300 B.C., rebuilt by them, and destroyed again about 1400 B.C. Jericho had a guard tower and two walls: an inner wall 12 feet thick and an outer wall 6 feet thick and 35 feet high. The inner wall was 5 to 10 feet inside of the outer one. Residents built houses on planks between the walls, and Rahab's house was likely that way. The spies then could climb out her window to flee the town. Jericho was a small to medium-sized city in Palestine on an 11-foot high hill 200 x 400 yards. The hill had a 35 degree slope, and thus battering rams could not break down the walls very well. Jericho occupied 8 acres; by contrast Megiddo occupied 14 acres, and Hazor, the largest city, was on 200 acres. At most, 10,000 people lived in Jericho. A spring inside the city supplied water, and Jericho was heavily fortified; it would be difficult to capture. These facts the two spies would have observed and reported to Joshua.

Q: In Josh 6:20, is there archaeological evidence of the walls supernaturally falling at Jericho?

A: Yes. In 1990, Bryant G. Wood found strong walls, large quantities of grain (meaning a short siege), and no plundering (since the grain was still there). John Garstang was the one who first found abundant carbonized grain. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.182-183 mentions some evidence for an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale, which could have left cracks in the walls. The inner mud-brick walls collapsed over the outer stone wall, forming a convenient ramp. -convenient for the Israelites, that is.

When did this capture take place? Ceramic pottery from Cyprus indicates a date between 1450 to 1400 B.C. Egyptian amulets, inscribed with the name of the current Pharaoh, up to Joshua’s time. Carbon-14 dating sets the destruction at 1410 B.C. +/- 40 years. In addition to Hard Sayings of the Bible p.182-183, information from this answer was taken from When Critics Ask p.136-137 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.156-157. The first two refer to the paper by Bryant G. Wood in Biblical Archaeology Review (March/April, 1990).

See also Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.299-308 for a non-Christian scholar’s view of why some scholars used to consider Jericho as one of the biggest failures of Biblical archaeology, and how Rohl shows that subsequently Joshua’s record has been proved correct here.

Q: In Josh 8:17,25 and Gen 12:8, have archaeologists found the town of Ai?

A: No, and there is a good reason too. Ai was a small town that the book of Joshua claims was "totally" destroyed. Joshua 8:17,25 indicates that there were only 12,000 people in Bethel and Ai combined. In Joshua 7:3, the Israelites estimated they initially needed only 2,000 to 3,000 men to defeat them. (In battles today, invaders like to have at least a 2:1 advantage.)

735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.89-90 says that most archaeologists thought Ai was buried under the mound of Et Tell, even though the geography does not fit the Bible account. Digging at Et Tell shows a city there, but that city was destroyed in 2200 B.C., which is prior to Abraham. However, another mound close by, called Khirbet Nisya, is probably the site of Ai, and more excavation needs to be done.

However, do not forget that since Ai was small and was "totally destroyed", there might not be anything left for the archaeologists to find.

Q: In Josh 9:3, who were the Gibeonites, and what happened to them?

A: Gibeon was a major city founded circa (means about) 3100 B.C. Archaeologists tell us it was 20-25 miles (32-40 kilometers) west of Gilgal and 4,000 feet higher. There were numerous springs and pools inside the city, so it could withstand a long siege. Gibeon was the head of a league of cities including Kearoth-Jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth. The total population might be around 50,000. After seeing the destruction of Jericho and Ai, they decided to make peace with God's people.

The Gibeonites were known as good fighters (Joshua 10:2). It is remarkable that they would trust their lives completely to Joshua (Joshua 9:25). It is easy for people with no strength of their own to trust in God's power; it is more difficult for those who are strong to do so.

The Gibeonites prospered in later centuries. When the exiles returned from Babylon, some Gibeonites possibly may have returned as gatekeepers (Nehemiah 7:45-56, 11:19, Ezra 2:42-54). Apparently by serving at the Temple, some descendents of the Gibeonites delighted in the worship of the Lord.

Isn't it wonderful that the Gibeonites’ salvation came even through the Israelites' sin. God not only uses good things for His glory, He can even uses our mistakes too!

Q: In Josh 10:3, is there any extra-Biblical, archaeological evidence for these kings?

A: No there is not. There are three points to consider in the answer.

1. Given the sudden destruction of the Canaanite population, there were not many Canaanites left to write, and fewer still who would want to write about these ignominiously defeated kings

2. Actually, the Canaanites did not leave much record of their kings in earlier generations either. Unlike the proud Egyptians, Sumerians, and Hittites, we have few names of any Canaanite kings preserved, outside of the Bible.

3. One might expect that the conquering people would at least keep a historical record of the conquered kings, and that is exactly what happened, -in the Book of Joshua.

Q: In Josh 10:12, was the sun standing still recorded in any other cultures?

A: First of all, no cultures at that time had any writing except for Egypt, the rest of the Mideast, India, and China

Mideast: The Babylonians were not powerful in Joshua’s time. The Kassites conquered Babylon in 1570 B.C, and the Assyrians under Tikulti-Ninurta captured Babylon around 1225 B.C.

India: This may have been about the time of the battle loosely recorded in the Bhagavad-Gita, though the battle might also have been earlier. It is also thought that around 1390 B.C., at Takshasila, the Aryans defeated the West Nagas. The point of this being that they were very early times in the Aryan conquest of India when there were few historical records preserved.

China: China entered the Bronze Age, and the Shang Dynasty first came to power in China right after Joshua’s time. While we have extensive artifacts from that period, we have little history preserved.

Europe: The Minoans of Crete had writing, but their civilization was destroyed about 1500 B.C., prior to Joshua. The Mycenean Greeks who conquered the Minoans were still very barbaric. Many people do not realize that the Old Greek culture many think about were the Dorian Greeks who conquered the Aegean approximately 1200 B.C., over 200 years after Joshua.

Finally, it should be pointed out that if the sun standing still was an optical effect, or if the Hebrew meant the sun was not shining, this could have been phenomena local to Canaan.

Q: In Josh 10:28-42, is there any archaeological evidence of the destruction of these cities?

A: Yes. Here is the Biblical evidence, followed by the corroborating archaeological evidence.

Biblical Evidence: The book of Joshua does not claim every Canaanite city was destroyed. In the south, it only claims that Jericho, Ai, Makkadeh, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir were destroyed. Perhaps Bethel was also destroyed. In the south, many fortified cities remained according to Joshua 10:20.

In the north, no cities were burned except for Hazor, according to Joshua 11:13.

Archaeological Evidence: From Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995) p.306, here is the evidence of cities destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze Age IIB given by David M Rohl, a secular archaeologist. p.299 says that 1410 B.C. is within the MB IIB period.

Arad, Debir, Jericho, Lachish, and Hazor in the north all have evidence of being destroyed. There is some uncertainty of whether Bethel was at the modern site of Beitin or el-Bireh, but the city at Beitin was destroyed. There is some uncertainty as to whether Hebron was at the modern site of el-Khalil or Tell el-Rumeideh, but whatever city was at el-Khalil was destroyed. At Hormah, there is uncertainty if that was destroyed then or not. The city of Gibeon was abandoned. There was uncertainty whether Ai was at the modern site of et-Tell or Khirbet Nisya, but the city at Khirbet Nisya was abandoned, and the city at et-Tell was not destroyed.

Since the destruction of the small town of Ai was so complete, perhaps the true site of Ai will probably never be found.

Some have been confused because other cities were destroyed later by the Israelites and Egyptians during the time of Judges, and in the part there was the mistaken theory that the Exodus was around 1350 B.C. Hazor and Lachish were destroyed again about that time.

Q: In Josh 10:33, what do we know about Gezer apart from the Bible?

A: Gezer was one of the six most important cities in Palestine. It had a spring inside the city wall, which encompassed 30 acres. Around 1600 B.C., the inner wall was built, which was 50 feet wide, and the largest stone structure in Palestine. It had a 25-foot high rampart that sloped at 45 degrees. On the darker side, remains of sacrificed infants were found at Gezer.

See the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.154-155 for more info.

Q: In Josh 11:10, is there any archaeological evidence of the destruction of Hazor?

A: Hazor actually was burned three times according to archaeologists: 1400 B.C., 1300 B.C. by Pharaoh Seti I, and 1230 B.C. Who might have burned Hazor the last time (Judges 14:2,15,16)? Today we actually still have a letter from I-eha-enu (Jabin?) of Hazor to the Pharaoh asking for aid at this time. (called King Ibni by David M. Rohl p.317) The Egyptians did not come: apparently fifty years earlier they had enough of trying to swim against the tide of God's will. See David M. Rohl Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995) p.314-317 for more info.

Q: In Josh 11:10-11, how could Hazor, which Joshua totally destroyed and burned, enslave Israel a few generations later in Jdg 4:3?

A: Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.236 points to this as an inaccuracy of Joshua. However, 170 years is plenty long for a city to be rebuilt. Archaeology actually tells us that the city of Hazor was burned 1400 B.C, 1300 B.C. by the Egyptians, and 1230 B.C. Regardless of the bias of critics of the Bible, archaeology tells the story very precisely. See the previous question and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.93 for more info on how Hazor was destroyed by Joshua and rebuilt 170 years later by the Canaanites to oppress the Israelites.

Q: In Josh 11:10, what do we know about the city of Hazor?

Hazor was the largest city in all Canaan with an area of 175 to 200 acres and a maximum population of 40,000. Hazor had unusual shape. There was an inner bastion of around 14 acres, and a double wall on the far end with 100 feet between the two walls. It was 1542 feet (5 football fields) long, and 574 feet wide at its widest. In the time of Judges 4, Hazor again rose to power and oppressed the Israelites, until Barak and the Israelites defeated them.

Q: In Josh 12:1-14, what do we know about these cities?

There is a chart of each city or region.

TRANSJORDAN

Heshbon: Amorite city captured before crossing the Jordan.

Bashan: Amorite city with very good cattle grazing nearby.

SOUTHERN CANAAN

Jericho: A strongly fortified Amorite city of 10,000. Burned about 1400 B.C., and archaeological evidence indicates "a possible failure of the fortifications"

Ai: Amorite city by Bethel. The site has not been found, and probably never will be due to its total destruction

Jerusalem: This Jebusite (Amorite) city probably was the most strongest fortified city in Joshua's time and later. It occupied 14 acres then. It was not captured (Joshua 15:63) until some of David's men sneaked up the water supply tunnel.

Hebron: A captured Amorite city also called Kiriath Arba. Some Anakites lived here. It was either at the modern site of el-Khalil or Tell el-Rumeideh. The site of el-Khalil was burned about 1400 B.C.

Jarmuth: A small Amorite city: 7 acres.

Lachish: Impressive captured Amorite fort occupying 18 acres. Burned about 1400 B.C.

Eglon: An Amorite and later Philistine city.

Gezer: Defeated but not captured (Joshua 15:63) until Pharaoh sacked it and gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon's bride (1 Kings 9:16). Sacrificed infants' remains were found in buried jars there.

Debir: Probably Kenizzite. Caleb's father, Jephunneh, was a Kennizzite. It was 9 acres in size and built c.2200 B.C. burned about 1400 B.C. W.F. Albright identified Debir with Tell Beit Mirsim, though other people advocate other sites, includes Khirbet er-Rabud. (Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.116)

Geder: Not much is known about this southern city.

Hormah: The Israelites were defeated here before they wandered for forty years. Captured under Joshua. The archaeological evidence for its burning is uncertain

Arad: Southern city. Burned about 1400 B.C.

Libnah: Captured in the southern campaign. It was thoroughly burned c.1230 B.C.

Adullam: Captured in the southern campaign.

Makkedah: Captured in the southern campaign.

Bethel: Important city captured in Judges 1:22-25. It is the Bible’s second most mentioned city. It is not certain whether it was at the modern site of Beitin or el-Bireh. The site at Beitin was burned about 1400 B.C.

NORTHERN CANAAN

Tappuah: There were two Tappuahs. The northern one is likely meant here; the one in Judah was a small village.

Hepher: Not much is known about this city.

Aphek: Large city of 40 acres founded 2000 B.C., just after Abraham.

Lasharon: Not much is known about this city.

Madon: Mentioned in the list of Canaanite cities of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

Hazor: Largest city of Canaan, it was 175 - 200 acres. Population <= 40,000. -burned 1400, 1300, and 1230 B.C.

Shimron Meron: Little known about this city.

Acshaph: Probably not captured by Joshua. This city later was allied with Hazor against Israel.

Taanach: Near Megiddo, this well-fortified city was not taken, though its army was defeated.

Megiddo: This city was never captured. It was a small, strong fort of 6 hectares with 6 feet wide walls.

Kedesh: Later became a city of refuge for the Levites.

Jokneam: In Carmel. Likely also mentioned in the list of Canaanite cities of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

Dor: City was not captured (Judges 1:27).

Goyim: Little is known about this city.

Tirzah: 600x300 ft mound (larger than Megiddo) not captured. It was first built circa 4000 B.C.

Q: In Jdg, is there evidence from other lands of Israelites during the period of the judges?

A: Yes, the Stela of Pharaoh Merenpta (1225 B.C.) mentions a people called Israel in northern Canaan.

Q: In Jdg, what were the periods of oppression and rest?

A: Here are the periods. Archaeologist John Garstang has determined that the periods of rest mentioned in Judges were so because the Egyptians exerted their control over the coastal Canaanites.

Judge

Oppressor

Verses

Years

 

Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim

Jdg 3:8

8

Othniel of Judah

 

Jdg 3:9-11

40

 

Eglon, king of Moab

Jdg 3:12-14

18

Ehud of Benjamin

 

Jdg 3:15-30

80

 

Philistines-Iron

Jdg 3:31

?

Shamgar

 

Jdg 3:31

?

 

Jabin of Hazor-900 chariots

Jdg 4:2-3

20

Deborah of Ephraim

 

Jdg 4-5

40

 

Midianites-Camels 6:1-6

Jdg 7

 

Gideon of Manasseh

 

Jdg 6:7-8:28

40

Abimelech's Reign

 

Jdg 9

3

Tola of Issachar

 

Jdg 10:1-2

23

Jair of Gilead

 

Jdg 10:3-6

22

 

Ammonites/Philistines-Iron 10:7-9

Jdg 18

 

Jephthah

 

Jdg 10-12:7

6

Ibzan of Zebulun

 

Jdg 12:8-10

7

Elon of Zebulun

 

Jdg 12:11-12

10

Abdon of Ephraim

 

Jdg 12:13-15

8

 

Philistines-Iron

Jdg 13:1

40

Samson of Dan

 

Jdg 13-16

20

CONSECUTIVE TOTAL

 

410

Q: In Jdg, were the periods of each judge and oppression consecutive, or were some simultaneous?

A: The Book of Judges does not explicitly say, 1 Kings 6:1 says it was 480 years from the Exodus to the building of Solomon’s Temple. These would make the periods of Judges non-overlapping. While Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (p.230) claims it was impossible for the Exodus to have occurred around 1440 B.C., an Egyptologist, David Rohl has extensive documentation of how it did occur around that time. See the discussion on Exodus 5:2 for more info, David Rohl’s in Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995), p.278-283, for a strong case that the Exodus was 1447 B.C.

Q: In Jdg 1:8, since the Israelites seized Jerusalem, why did David had to capture Jerusalem later in 2 Sam 5:6-9?

A: They defeated the Jebusites, and set fire to part of the city. However, Judges 1:21 shows they city remained unconquered until David’s time. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.32 says the Amarna letters also prove the Jerusalem was not captured.

Q: In Jdg 1:19, why did they call these chariots of iron instead of just chariots?

A: Archaeology tells us there were two styles of chariots in the ancient world. The chariots of Egypt were light, two-wheeled vehicles that carried two people. They were made primarily out of wood and leather, and provided very little protection against arrows. The chariots of the other nations were heavy wagon-like vehicles with three to four people. They provided some protection against arrows. These chariots had a lot more metal on them.

Q: In Josh 19:47, where is the city of "Leshem"?

A: This was a fairly large city, though archaeology shows it was smaller than Hazor. It was also called "Laish" and was in the very northern part of Canaan.

Q: In Josh 24:8,18, who were the Amorites different from the Canaanites?

A: Almost all the Canaanites were Amorites (Hivites/Hittites excluded). However, Amorites also lived outside of Canaan in Syria and northern Mesopotamia.

Q: In Jdg 2:13, was "ashtoreth" a generic word for a Semitic goddess, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.232 says?

A: No. While the name here is in a plural form, it refers to multiple statues of the same goddess, not different goddesses. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary (p.700-707) has an extensive section on 36 or so specific Mideast deities, and Ashtarte was a specific goddess worshipped by many peoples in many languages. She was the goddess of sex, fertility in general, and often war. She was called "Ishtar" by the Babylonians, "Inanna" by the earlier Sumerians, ‘ttrt" at Ugarit, "’strt" in Phoenicia, " and "Astarte" in Greek script. "Attar" (South Arabic). Astarte/Ishtar also may be related to Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus.

Note that there is also a goddess named "Asherah", also known to the Sumerians, southern Arabs, the people of Ugarit as "Athiratu-yammi", and to the Babylonians as "Ashratum" and to the Egyptians as "Abdi-Ashirta". The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.701 says that this is a different goddess than Ashtarte/Ishtar.

Q: In Jdg 3:8, is there any archaeological evidence of Israel serving Chushan-Rishathaim the king of Aram-Naharaim?

A: First of all, it does not say Babylon or Assyria, (which were weak at this time), but Aram Naharaim. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.386, Aram Naharaim means "Aram of the double rivers". In other words, it is the part of Mesopotamia in modern Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Q: In Jdg 4:6, what do we know about Mount Tabor?

A: Mount Tabor (pronounced "TA-bor" with a long a and a short o) was a cone of rock 1300 feet high, 1843 feet above sea level. It is about 10 miles, or 16 kilometers, from the Kishon (pronounced "KI-shon"), a seasonal river. It would be difficult for chariots to go to the top of Mount Tabor.

Q: In Jdg 9:46-49, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of the temple to el-Berith at Shechem being burned down?

A: Yes. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.32 mentions that evidence of the burning was found that corresponds to about 1150 B.C. the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1568-1569 says that the fortress-temple had walls 7 to 7 ½ feet thick, was 53 feet wide and 41 feet long, with the entrance on the long side. It says "The destruction of Shechem by Abimelech c.1150 B.C. is abundantly attested."

Q: In Jdg 11:33, is there any archaeological evidence for Abel-keramim?

A: Yes. Accord to Biblical Archaeology Review Jan./Feb. p.33, it is called Tell el-‘Umeiri today. It was first occupied about 3000 B.C.

Q: In Jdg 13-16, can the story of Samson be made to fit into the type of solar myths common in ancient times, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.248-251 asserts?

A: No. Asimov asserts two things, that Samson was a type of the solar myths (p.248), and Nazirites in general, were a type of the solar myths because their long hair represents the sun’s rays (p.249).

Samson was from Beth-Shemesh in Dan, which means "house of the sun", and Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.251 asserts that the Philistine name Delilah is closely akin to the Hebrew word lilah, which means night. However, the liberal Harper’s Bible Dictionary p.134 says that Delilah means "coquette", not night. Strong’s Concordance says it means "languishing"

Probably as much evidence could be made of Samson being taken from Aztec mythology (2,500 years in the future), as from alleged solar myths. Remember that much of Greek and Roman mythology that we know today did not exist at this time.

Q: In Jdg 20:47, is it true that this could not have happened at the end of Judges, since Benjamin was prosperous then, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.259 asserts?

A: No. Benjamin was prosperous until this Civil War. Asimov gives no evidence, archaeological or otherwise, of Benjamin being prosperous at the end of the book of Judges. In contrast, Saul says he is from the least of the tribes of Israel in 1 Samuel 9:21.

Q: In Jdg 21:8, does the destruction of Jabesh-Gilead show this did not happen late in the period of Judges, since Jabesh-Gilead was a flourishing town, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.259-260 claims?

A: No. Here is what the Bible says about Jabesh-Gilead. Saul rescued the city from the Ammonites in 1 Samuel 11:1-11. After Saul was killed, the men of Jabesh-Gilead took Saul’s body and buried it. David praised them for doing so (2 Samuel 2:4-7). 1 Chronicles 10:11 gives the same account. The archaeologist Glueck found what probably is Jabesh-Gilead, and it had city walls. Three Bible Dictionaries, and a reference work The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land - Third Edition by Avraham Negev (Prentiss-Hall 1986) do not give any further information.

It is interesting, that with no further evidence, Asimov can conclude that Jabesh-Gilead was a flourishing city, and no destruction was possible. Cities, especially fortified ones, can eventually make a comeback, but to use the above scant evidence that Jabesh-Gilead was so flourishing that it could never have been destroyed is amazing for one like Asimov, who was careful in scientific endeavors. Unfortunately, Asimov made a similar mistake in his evaluation of Hazor, except in that case archaeological evidence refuting him was abundant. See the three questions on Joshua 11:10 for more discussion on the comeback of Hazor.

Q: In Jdg, when was this book written?

A: It covered the events from about 1380 B.C. to 1050 B.C. Judges 18:30 says these things were "until the…captivity of the land." There are three views as to what this referred.

The Assyrian captivity of all the northern tribes in 722 B.C. (The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.993 says, "Tables read and published by Donald J. Wiseman have provided more specific information for dating the Chaldean kings in the period 626-566 B.C. Consequently the dates for the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. and the fall of Jerusalem in 587/586 B.C. are accepted as fixed dates with a variable of a year or so.)

The captivity of Dan, which happened about 1000 B.C. When Critics Ask p.151 favors this view, because as Dan suddenly destroyed the people of Laish, a similar destruction came upon them about 1000 B.C.

Later insertion by an editor, is Unger’s view, as mentioned in A Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.281.

Q: In 1 Sam 4:11, is there any archaeological evidence that the Philistines captured the ark?

A: Yes. According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.596 in an iron-age grain silo in Izbet Sarteh, a broken piece of pottery was found containing five lines. According to William H. Shea, the first four lines read "Unto the field we came, (unto) Aphek from Shiloh. The Kittim took (it [the Ark of the Covenant] and) came to Azor, (to) Dagon lord of Ashdod, (and to) Gath. (It returned to) Kiriath Jearim. The companion of the foot soldiers, Hophni, came to tell the elders, ‘A horse has come (and) upon (it was my) brother for us to bury’" There is apparently some uncertainty about the reading, though. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.596 gives the source references for further study.

Q: In 1 Sam 5:1-10, what do we know about the Philistines and their major cities of Ashdod, Gath, Ekron, Gaza, and Ashkelon?

A: The Philistines were the still formidable remnants of a powerful and sophisticated sea peoples from more ancient times. They were skilled at smelting iron and using chariots in warfare. As all or part of the "Sea Peoples", they were defeated in a naval battle off of the coast of Egypt about 1190 B.C. They may have been the same people who destroyed the Hittite capital of Khattushah. The Egyptians called them the "PRST", and the Assyrians called them the Pilisti and Palastu.

An interesting piece of trivia is that while dogs were often not thought of very highly in the Mideast, the Biblical Archaeology Review Jan./Feb. 1991 p.26 reports that at Ashkelon the Phoenicians had a dog cemetery with 220 burials.

We are not aware of any warfare of the Philistines among themselves. They had many powerful warriors, and after defeating them, David enlisted some of their soldiers as his elite guard.

See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1332-1335 fore an extensive article on the Philistines.

Q: In 1 Sam 5:2-5, what do we know about the Philistine idol named Dagon?

A: Baal was said to be the son of Dagon in the Ugaritic religion. The Babylonians as well as the Philistines worshipped Dagon. Dagon was worshipped in Canaan prior to both the Israelites and Philistines, and as late as 147 B.C. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.704 for more info.

Q: In 1 Sam 6:9, why did the Philistines choose to send the cart to Beth-Shemesh instead of back to Ephraim?

A: Scripture does not say, but a skeptical work, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.272-273 has two interesting speculations, which might be correct here.

1. Though Beth-Shemesh was far from Philistia proper, it was still under Philistine influence. Archaeologists have found numerous Philistine artifacts from Beth-Shemesh from this time.

2. The ark came from Ephraim, and the territory of Benjamin and Dan was between Judah and Ephraim. Perhaps the Philistines did not mind Israelites under their influence to have it, but they did not want to give it back to the Ephraimites.

Q: In 1 Sam 6:19, does the Hebrew say 50,070, or 70?

A: Most Hebrew manuscripts have 50,070, and a few Hebrew manuscripts have 70. Scholars disagree as to which was the original number.

70: The NSRV and RSV Catholic version translate this as 70, mentioning 50,070 in footnotes. The NIV Study Bible p.383 says it should be 70 because 50,070 was written in a grammatically incorrect way. Gleason Archer in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.222 says the number is suspiciously high, and on p.169 says that there were two correct ways to write numbers

1) 70 man and 50,000 man

2) 50,000 man and 70 man.

Archer points out that neither pattern is followed in the translation "70 man 50,000 man". This is probably why Green’s Literal Translation says "70 among the people, [including] 50 chief men".

Archer also mentions that textual errors are more frequent in 1 Samuel than in any other Old Testament book. A few Hebrew manuscripts do not have 50,070, and Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 6.1.4 (c.93-94 A.D.) said the number was only 70.

50,070: The KJV, NKJV, NASB, and the Septuagint say 50,070. The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.606 says that since the major Hebrew manuscripts have this, either in the text or else in the margin, 50,070 is "textually secure" vs. 70.

1,000: Changing the spacing before one letter to after the letter changes the meaning from "He struck down among the people seventy men [and] fifty thousand men" to "He struck down the people for seven days, men for five days, a thousand men" This was suggested by R. Althann, "Consonantal ym: Ending or Noun in Isaiah 3:13; Jeremiah 7:16; 1 Samuel 6:19 in Biblica 63, 4 [1982]: p.563-565. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.l3 p.606 mentions this view.

See also When Critics Ask p.156 for a complementary answer.

Q: In 1 Sam 6:19, how did God kill 50,070 people in Beth-Shemesh?

A: Five points to consider in the answer.

1. The Hebrew does not necessarily mean males, but can refer to men and women.

2. There was a Beth-Shemesh in Naphtali, but this refers to the Beth-Shemesh bordering Judah and Dan.

3. Beth-Shemesh was an ancient town, first settled before Abraham’s time. While the New Bible Dictionary p.146 says it was an important town, it was not the size of Hazor or Jerusalem. An estimate of the population of both the town and surrounding farms is only 20,000 people.

4. The number here is not necessarily 50,070 but only 70, or possibly 1,000. See the previous question for the arguments pro and con for this point.

5. If it was in fact 50,070 people, this number would undoubtedly include people who came from other towns to gawk at the ark.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.169 for more info. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.223 for more info on Beth-Shemesh.

Q: In 1 Sam 7:16, is this Gilgal different from the Gilgal Joshua went to as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.274 categorically states?

A: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.440 and the New Geneva Study Bible say it to be the same Gilgal. The liberal Dummelow’s Bible Commentary p.186 says it was probably the same. The New Bible Dictionary p.469-470 mentions that there was a Gilgal which was "opposite the ascent of Adummim" However, it says this might be the same Gilgal as the famous one east of Jericho. The liberal Harper’s Bible Dictionary p.227-228 mentions that it might be the same Gilgal as Joshua’s or it might be between Mizpah and Bethel. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.609 says this Gilgal was "perhaps modern Khirbet el-Mefjer) and was a few miles from Bethel and Mizpah.

Q: In 1 Sam 13:21 (NASB and KJV), what is a "file" or "edge" for the mattocks?

A: Until this century, the Hebrew word here "pim" was not known elsewhere, so the translators of the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible could not have known what it meant. However, the New International Bible Dictionary p.1063 says that recent archaeological excavations have uncovered weights marked as "pim" which are 2/3 of a shekel. "Two-thirds of a shekel" is how the NIV and NRSV translate it. The NKJV leaves the word "pim" untranslated, but says in a footnote that it is two-thirds of a shekel.

Q: In 1 Sam 17:4, how tall was Goliath?

A: The Massoretic text says six cubits and a span, or roughly 9 feet 9 inches. The Liberal Harper’s Bible Dictionary (1961) p.231) mentions that "recovered skeletons prove that men as tall as Goliath lived in Palestine." However, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls say four cubits and a span, which would be roughly 6 feet, 9 inches, which is still very tall.

Regardless of whether he was the size of a professional football linebacker or even taller, he would be menacing to a young teenage boy.

As a side note, modern people are significantly taller than ancient people are, and scientists are not sure why. One view was that since Americans eat animals that have been given drugs that make them grow larger, people are larger. The problem with the view is that European farmers must obey laws against using these drugs. Europeans today are as tall as Americans today.

Q: In 1 Sam 17:5, how heavy was Goliath’s coat of mail?

A: A coat of mail is not the uniform a postal worker wears! Rather, it is a heavy suit of armor. David as a youth was unable to wear Saul’s heavy armor in 1 Samuel 17:38-39. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.709 says that archaeologists uncovered bronze coats of mail at Nuzu. Goliath’s armor weighed 5,000 shekels, and the NIV and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.448 both say this was about 125 pounds. For reference, armor for knights in the Middle Ages weighed over 100 pounds.

Q: In 2 Sam 5:9, 1 Ki 9:15, 2 Ki 12:20, 2 Chr 32:5, what was the Milo (or Millo)?

A: Scholars are not certain what Millo was, but the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1120-1121 says it might have been a fortress on the north side of the walls of Jerusalem.

The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.651 says it was a raised mound, called a rampart, outside the city of David.

Regardless, it had strategic importance, as David built it up, Solomon strengthened it (1 Kings 9:15, 24; 11:27), and Hezekiah strengthened it against the Assyrians in 2 Chronicles 32:5.

Q: In 2 Sam 9:4, where was Lo-Debar?

A: This town was east of the Jordan and south of the Sea of Galilee. Lo-Debar would be a safe place far from Jerusalem, across the Jordan River, and close to the desert where David could make an escape to the desert if he needed to do so. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.599 says that the town has not been found yet. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1044 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 3 p.917 say that while the site is not certain, archaeologists think the location might be at Umm ed-Dabar about 8 to 10 miles south or south southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Lo-Debar also means "no thing".

Q: In 1 Ki, what is an estimated chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah?

A: Here are both together.

Here is the chronology of the kings of Israel

Dates B.C.

Ruler of Israel

Years of Reign

Supporting Bible Verses

931/0-910

Jereboam

22

1 Ki 14:20

910/909-909/8

Nadab

2

1 Ki 15:25-31

909/8-886

Baasha

24

1 Ki 15:32

887/6-886/5

Elah

2

1 Ki 16:8,9

886/5

Zimri (7 days)

7 days

1 Ki 16:17

886/5-880

Tibni

5

1 Ki 16:21-23

886/5-874

Omri

12

1 Ki 16:21-23

874-853

Ahab

22

1 Ki 16:29

853-852

Ahaziah (had no son)

2

1 Ki 22:51

852-841

Joram son of Ahab

12

2 Ki 3:1

841-814

Jehu

28

2 Ki 8:25

814-798

Jehoahaz

17

2 Ki 13:1

798-782

Jehoash

16

2 Ki 13:10

793-753

Jereboam II

41

2 Ki 14:23

753-753/2

Zechariah

6 months

2 Ki 15:8

753/2

Shallum (killed Zechariah)

1 months

2 Ki 15:13

753/1-742

Menahem

10

2 Ki 15:17

742/1-742/0

Pekahiah

2

2 Ki 15:23

752/740-732

Pekah

20

2 Ki 15:27

732/1-722

Hoshea (killed Pekah)

9

2 Ki 17:1

722 +/- 1 year

Samaria falls

 

2 Ki 17:5-6

Dates B.C.

Ruler of Judah

Years of Reign

Supporting Bible Verses

931/0-914/3

Rehoboam

17

1 Ki 14:21

913-911/0

Abijah

3

1 Ki 15:1-2; 2 Chr 13:1-2

911/909-870/868

Asa

41

1 Ki 15:9-10; 2 Chr 16:12

873/2-848/7

Jehoshaphat

25

1 Ki 22:41-42

853/2-841

Jehoram

8

2 Ki 1:17; 2 Chr 21:5

841

Ahaziah

1

2 Ki 8:25-26; 2 Chr 22:1

841-835

Queen Athaliah

7

2 Ki 11:1,4; 2 Chr 23:1

835-796

Joash

40

2 Ki 11:4; 12:1; 2 Chr 24:1

796-767

Amaziah (killed Joash's assassins)

29

2 Ki 14:1-2; 2 Chr 25:1

792/0-740/739

Azariah/Uzziah (became leprous)

52

2 Ki 15:1; 2 Chr 26:1

752/0-736/4

Jotham

16

2 Ki 15:32-33; 2 Chr 27:1

744/3-715

Ahaz

16

2 Ki 16:1-2; 2 Chr 28:1

729/8-699/686

Hezekiah

29

2 Ki 18:1-2; 2 Chr 29:1

698/7-643/2

Manasseh

55

2 Ki 21:1; 2 Chr 33:1

642-640

Amon

2

2 Ki 21:19; 2 Chr 33:21

640-609

Josiah

31

2 Ki 22:1; 2 Chr 34:1

609

Jehoahaz

3 months

2 Ki 23:31; 2 Chr 36:2

609-598

Jehoiakim

11

2 Ki 23:36; 2 Chr 36:5

598-597

Jehoiachin

3 month 10 days

2 Ki 24:8; 2 Chr 36:9

597-587/586

Governor Zedekiah

11

2 Ki 24:18; 2 Chr 36:11

July 18, 587/586

Jerusalem destroyed

 

2 Ki 25; 2 Chr 36:17-21

538

Cyrus permits the exiles to return

 

2 Chr 36:22-23

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.13, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.513, and the NIV Study Bible p.501 for more info. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.5 says there is uncertainty in the reigns of some of the kings. Uzziah died between 747 and 735 B.C., with 740 B.C. being the most likely date.

Q: In 1 Ki 10:23, how did Solomon exceed all the kings of the earth?

A: The word "earth" here can mean either "earth" or else the "land", i.e. the land of the Mideast. The other Mideast Kingdoms were in disarray, and Solomon was even wealthier than Egypt. The Libyan Shishaq/Shishak captured Egypt around 950/945 A.D. Thus, Solomon was the most prosperous ruler in the land of the Mideast, the world that they knew, at this time. He was also at the least, one of the more prosperous rulers in the world.

In Greece, this was part of the Period known as the "Dark Ages" of Greek civilization.

In the Americas, besides the Olmecs in Mexico and a few Mayans, American civilizations were very primitive around 1000 B.C..

In China, this was the time of King Khao (1052-1002 B.C). King Khao died in a battle on the Han River. and King Mu (1001-847 B.C.) of the Zhou Dynasty.

In India, until about 900 A.D. the Aryans were consolidating their power over the Dravidian peoples. The Aryans were not just one kingdom, though, but a number of tribes. TimeFrame 1500-600 B.C. p.138 says, "The later phase of India's Vedic age, roughly between 1000 and 600 BC, was a time of enormous change and upheaval in almost every aspect of Aryan life. The Aryans spread east and south to the great valley of the Ganges River and beyond, clearing forests with fire, whenever necessary, to create space for their settlements. Their chronically feuding little states evolved into fewer and larger kingdoms and republics with permanent capitals and sprawling bureaucracies."

Thus China had the only king to vie with Solomon as the richest ruler in the world.

Q: In 1 Ki 11:23, when did the kings of Syria reign?

A: Here is the chronology, taken from The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.509 and The New International Bible Commentary p.394.

Start of reign

King

ca.940 B.C.

Rezon/Hezion

ca. 915 B.C.

Tabrimmon

ca. 900 B.C.

Ben-Hadah I

ca. 860 B.C.

Ben-Hadad II

843/841 B.C.

Hazael

801/796 B.C.

Ben-Hadad III

770 B.C.

other kings

?/750 until 732 B.C.

Rezin

Q: In 1 Ki 22:6-7, why did Jehoshaphat ally himself with the evil king Ahab?

A: While scripture does not say, we can see a few specific details and speculate on the general reason.

a) Ahab was an evil Baal worshipper, but after Jezebel had Naboth killed, Elijah rebuked Ahab, and 1 Kings 21:27 shows Ahab tore his clothes (a sign of deep repentance). However, possibly temporary repentance for an action does not necessarily mean the person has come to God. However, Jehoshaphat might just have been optimistic here.

b) Previously there were terrible battles between Judah and Israel, and Jehoshaphat did not want to see more civil war among God's people.

c) There were powerful enemies around, from the Egyptian/Ethiopian kingdom to the Syrians, to the Assyrians. According to the Biblical Archaeology Review Jan./Feb. 1991 p.54, Shalmaneser reported that Ahab with his 2,000 chariots had more chariots than any other of the allies fighting Assyria at the battle of Qarqar in 853 B.C.

In general, Jehoshaphat was careful to follow God himself, but this and 2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:35 indicate that Jehoshaphat was rather carefree with making alliances with idolatrous kings.

Q: In 2 Ki 3:4, what archaeological evidence do we have of King Mesha of Moab?

A: The Moabite stone corroborates Jehoram's invasion of Moab.

It says "I am Mesha, son of Chemosh (the Moabite god), king of Moab…. My father was king of Moab for thirty years and I became king after my father: and I built this sanctuary to Chemosh in Qerihoh [Kir-Haraseth the capital], a sanctuary of refuge: for he saved me from all my oppressors and gave me dominion over all my enemies. Omri was king of Israel and oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. And his son succeeded him and he also said, I will oppress Moab. In my days he said this: but I got the upper hand of him and his house: and Israel perished for ever…. I have had the ditches of Qerihoh dug by Israelite prisoners…." (taken from The Bible As History p.237)

The Moabite stone says the Israelites were defeated. 2 Kings 3:27 says they withdrew, but they would not have withdrawn if they were not defeated. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1145-1146 for more info on the Moabite stone.

Q: In 2 Ki 5:18, do we have any archaeological evidence of the Aramean god Rimmon?

A: Yes, Assyrian records called this god "Ramanu" (the thunderer). Also, the father of Ben-Hadad I was named Tabrimmon in 1 Kings 15:18. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.192 for more info.

Q: In 2 Ki 8:15, do we have any extra-biblical evidence of Hazael, the usurping king of Syria?

A: Yes. According to the Expositors Bible Commentary volume 4 p.201, Hazael is mentioned more than once in the annals of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III, where he is called "son of a nobody".

Q: In 2 Ki 8:25, did Ahaziah of Judah become king in Jehoram twelfth year, or in his eleventh year in 2 Ki 9:29?

A: Both are true, since it depends on the counting system in use. Ahaziah succeeded Jehoram in 841 B.C. as The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.203 says. According to the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.206 and When Critics Ask p.192, in the non-accession-year system, which the northern kingdom of Israel used at this time, the first year includes the entire year containing the day the prince became king. The southern kingdom of Judah at this time used the accession-year system. According to this system, the first year did not start until the Jewish New Year following the day of coronation. (That way, the years of every king were additive.)

Q: In 1 Ki 14:25-28, what happened to Beth-Shemesh?

A: Archaeological evidence indicates that Beth-Shemesh was destroyed about the time of Rehoboam. This was probably due to Pharaoh Shishak’s invasion of Judah during Rehoboam’s fifth year. See the New Bible Dictionary p.146 for more info.

Q: In 2 Ki 16:3, how did Ahaz make his son "pass through the fire"?

A: This was rather sickening. This means that he sacrificed his son by burning him to death. It was a common Canaanite practice to sacrifice the firstborn children this way, and Ahaz was an Israelite king who wanted to practice the religion of the conquered Canaanites. Unfortunately, archaeological findings have shown that a great number of Israelites also practiced the Canaanite religion. We can understand Elijah's feelings that he thought he was all alone.

Q: In 2 Ki 18:1 and 2 Ki 18:13, was the Assyrian invasion of Judah different from the one in 701 B.C.?

A: No. There is an Assyrian inscription on a hexagonal cylinder called the Taylor Prism, dated rather precisely at 701 B.C., recording Sennacherib's raid into Judah. This clay prism appears completely preserved, by looking at a photograph of it in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.915, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1548, and A Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.347. It is dated 701 B.C.,

One might speculate that the 2 Kings 18:13 on records a prior invasion of Judah around 714 B.C., because after the death of Ahaz Hezekiah first started co-reigning with his father Ahaz in 729 B.C.. 2 Kings 18:13 says Sennacherib invaded in Hezekiah's fourteenth year.

However, Assyrian records are silent about an invasion of Judah at this time, Assyrian records of 701 B.C. correlate very well with the books of Kings and Chronicles, and there is no need to postulate two invasions to solve this difficulty. Hezekiah first started reigning alone after Ahaz died in 716/715 B.C., and the fourteenth years of Hezekiah's [sole] reign would be exactly 701 B.C.

The Believer's Bible Commentary p.412-413 says that 2 Kings 18:17-19:34 tells of a second Assyrian invasion after 701 B.C.. The Assyrians would be reluctant to record a campaign that was totally unsuccessful. However, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.263-264 says that Assyrian records tell of Sennacherib making five other subsequent campaigns after 701 B.C., but none of them to Judah.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.573-574, the NIV Study Bible p.558, the New Geneva Study Bible p.545-546, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.412, the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.222 and the discussion on 2 Kings 18:13 for more info.

Q: In 2 Ki 18:9, why were the Assyrians so successful?

A: There were a number of reasons. Their whole culture was geared for war, they had very strongly fortified cities, and they had very effective chariots. However, the biggest advantage was that they had iron weapons and armor, instead of bronze weapons. While Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.372 claims that iron weapons were cheaper than bronze, that is not true. Iron needed much higher smelting temperatures and thus were more expensive to make. However, iron weapons were harder than bronze and iron weapons and armor made an infantryman almost invincible when fighting against less well-armed infantrymen.

In addition, they were the first known experts in siege works. The earliest known siege ramp was the Assyrian one at Lachish. It was 165-180 feet at the base, rising to the height of the city wall, which was 18 feet. See the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.216 for more info.

Q: In 2 Ki 18:14, what else do we know of the city of Lachish in Hezekiah's time?

A: At the time of Assyrian invasion, Lachish had an 18 foot thick brick inner wall, an outer wall 17 feet high with towers, and a bastion 83 feet by 63 feet. See Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.216 for more info.

Q: In 2 Ki 19:35; 2 Chr 32:21, how did the angel of the Lord destroy the Assyrian army?

A: The Bible simply says they died. However, the Greek historian Herodotus records an Egyptian tradition that at Pelusium an army of field mice ate the Assyrian bow strings, quivers, and leather straps on their shields. Not only did they eat leather, but they brought plague that killed many in the Assyrian army.

Q: In 2 Ki 20:12, who as King Merodach-Baladan of Babylon?

A: Historians call him Marduk-aplaiddina II or Marduk Apal Iddina II, which means "Marduck has given a son". A photograph of a carving of him is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.642.

Q: In 2 Ki 20:12-15, when did Merodach-Baladan send this delegation to Judah?

A: Five pieces of data to consider before coming to a conclusion.

1. According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.271-272, Merodach-Baladan ruled in Babylon from 721-710 B.C., when he was driven back to Bit Yakin.

2. Merodach-Baladan later retook Babylon from Marduk Zakir Shumi in 703 B.C. The Assyrians deposed Merodach-Baladan from Babylon around 702/701 B.C., prior to the invasion of Judah. Merodach-Baladan then fled to Elam, never to return to Babylon.

3. Hezekiah died between 698 and 696 B.C., and 15 years earlier would be 713/711 B.C. Sennacherib invaded Judah around 701 B.C.

4. Hezekiah took everything out of the treasury to give to Sennacherib in 2 Kings 18:14-16.

5. 2 Kings does not say whether the envoys from Merodach Baladan were before or after the Assyrian invasion. The phrase "in those days" in 2 Kings 20:1 means at that time, not necessarily after, as The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.272 says.

Conclusion: The Babylonian envoys came just after Hezekiah's illness and prior to the Assyrian invasion (when Hezekiah still had treasure to show them.

See When Critics Ask p.198, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.130, and the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.212-213 for more info.

Q: In 2 Ki 23:5, what planets did they know about?

A: The ancient people knew of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Jupiter and Saturn were very close to each other about 4 B.C., and this likely is something the Magi would have noticed. Ancient astronomers considered the planets as "wanderers" because they did not stay in their fixed position as the stars did. The Planets p.108 has a photograph of a 4,000 year old Babylonian tablet (about the time of Abraham) recording the movements of Venus.

Q: In 2 Ki 23:9, who was Pharaoh Neco?

A: Egyptologists know him as Psamtik II, who reigned from 594-588 B.C. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.698 has a photograph of a statuette of him.

Q: In 2 Ki 25:22, do we have any archaeological evidence of the governor Gedaliah?

A: Yes, we have an inscription that likely relates to him. There is a clay seal impression from Lachish that says "belonging to Gedaliah who is over the house." See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 4 p.299 for more info.

In addition, a picture of Lachish is on a wall relief on Sennacherib's royal palace in Ninevah, according to The Communicators Commentary 1, 2, Kings p.432.

Q: In 2 Ki 25:29, is there any extra-Biblical evidence that Jehoiachin was "rehabilitated" and ate regularly at the king’s table?

A: Yes, if you understand "at the king’s table" to mean ate the king’s rations. According to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 4 p.300, ration tablets from the reign of Nabonidus include "Yaukin, king of the land of Yahud [Judah]."

Q: In 1 Chr, 2 Chr, 1 Ki and 2 Ki, what were the major wars of the world at this time?

A: Here are the known wars of the world back then.

1003 B.C. David captures Jerusalem

1000 B.C. In China the Chou defeat the Shang Dynasty

c.998 B.C. Israel under David vs. Moab, 10K killed

c.997 B.C. Israel Civil War Absalom -2 Sam 18:7, 20K killed

969 B.C. Egypt sacks the city of Gezer as Solomon’s wedding present

950 B.C. Libyan Shishak takes the Egyptian throne

926 B.C. Shishak of Egypt invades Judah

>926 B.C. Jeroboam/Abijah Israel/Judah fight, 500K killed

918 B.C. Shishak destroys Taanach

911-894 B.C. Assyrian Adad Nirari II campaigns

909 B.C. At Gibbethon, Israelites besiege Philistines

900 B.C. San Lorenzo, Mexico destroyed by revolt

897 B.C. Ethball overthrows King Phelles in Tyre

889-886 B.C. Assyrian Tukulti Ninurta II campaigns

884/3-878 B.C. Assyrian Ashurnasirpal II campaigns

866 B.C. Assyrian Ashurnasirpal II campaigns

859-824 B.C. Assyrian Shalmaneser III has 32 campaigns

858 B.C. Assyrian Ashurnasirpal II campaigns

858 B.C. Assyria fights the Urartu people

857 B.C. Attacked Bit-Adini (Eden)

857 B.C. Assyrians capture Carchemish

856 B.C. Assyria fights Urartu

853 B.C. At Qarqar, Assyrians vs. coalition tie

850-841 B.C. Assyrians fight Arameans

850 B.C. Assyria besieges Gannanatu

9th Century Hasanlu of Urartu burned

843 B.C. Assyrians sack Allabria, Parsua, Abdadani, Khaban, and Namri

841 B.C. Assyrians fight Hazael but fail to take Damascus

841 B.C. Jehu rebels and kills the kings of Israel and Judah

841 B.C. Assyrian defeats Parasca

839 B.C. Assyria campaigns in Cilicia

836 B.C. Near Hamadan Shalmaneser III fights the Medes

835 B.C. Assyrians sack the city of Shalmnas

832 B.C. At Arsanies, Assyrians defeat the Urartu people

831 B.C. Patinu rebels from Assyria

830-827 B.C. Assyria fights Urartu

828 B.C. Assyrians fight against Urartu and sack Musasin

826-820 B.C. Assyrian rebellion

824-805 B.C. Urartu Empire expands

809 B.C. Assyria fights Media

808 BCC. Assyrians fight Guzanu

807-806 B.C. Assyrians fight Mannaeans

c.806-804 B.C. Zakir of Hamath and Luash fight against the city Damascus

804-733 B.C. Further Urartu conquests

804-802 B.C. Assyrians attack Damascus and capture it

801 B.C. Assyria attacks Khubbushkia

800 B.C. Spartans conquer Laconia

800-799 B.C. Assyria fights Media

800-700 B.C. Nubia (Sudan) revolts from Egypt

798 B.C. Assyrians fight Lushia

797 B.C. Assyrians fight Namri

793-792 B.C. Assyria fights Media

791 B.C. Assyria attacks Khubbushkia

789-787 B.C. Assyria fights Media

Israel vs. Arameans -1 Kings 20:29, 127K killed

786 B.C. Assyrians fight Kisku

785-784 B.C. Assyria attacks Khubbushkia

-616-612 BC Assyrian Empire ends

771 B.C. At Hao in China, Rong barbarians kill Zhou King You

770 B.C. Rebellion against Chou; Chou move capital

745 B.C. The Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III captures the city of Damascus

743 B.C. Civil War in Assyria

743 B.C. Assyrians capture the town of Kashpuna, near Tyre and Sidon

743-740 B.C. Assyrians besiege Arpad

740 B.C. Spartans conquer Messenia

740-710 B.C. Scythian people overrun the Cimmerians

738 B.C. Yaudi in Syria revolts against Assyrians

736 B.C. Greeks take Phoenician Malta

735-715 B.C. Edomites capture Jews under Ahaz in 2 Chr 28:17

735-715 B.C. Philistines raid Judah under Ahaz in 2 Chr 28:18

734 B.C. Corinth takes Corfu from Eretians

734 B.C. Tiglath-Pileser sacks the city of Hazor in Israel

c.733 B.C. Israel defeats Judah 2 Chr 28:6, 120K killed

732 B.C. Assyrians capture Damascus

731-724 B.C. King Piye and the Napatans conquer Egypt

724-722 Assyrians besiege the city of Tyre

722 B.C. Assyrians put down a revolt in southern Chaldea

722 B.C. Sargon II captures Samaria

721 B.C. Assyrians conquer Urartu

720 B.C. Assyria defeats Arpad, Simirus, Damascus, Samaria

720 B.C. Assyrians sack Arpad, Qarqar

717 B.C. Assyrians defeat Carchemish

715 B.C. Assyrians sack the Philistine cities of Ashdod and Gath

714 B.C. Sargon II raids Lake Van and the Mannai people in Armenia

713-679 Assyrians and Cimmerians attack Urartu

712 B.C. Assyrians conquer Ekron in Philistia

708 B.C. Assyrians capture Samsat in Anatolia

701 B.C. King Sennancherib and the Assyrians capture the town of Usse near Tyre

701 B.C. Assyrians besiege Sidon in Phoenicia

701 B.C. At Eltekah, Assyrians meet Egyptians

701 B.C. Assyrians sack Megiddo, Samaria, and Gibeah

701 B.C. Assyrians conquer Ekron

701 B.C. Assyrians sack Lachish many killed, 1.5K killed

701 B.C. Assyrians killed outside Jerusalem, 185K killed

700 B.C. Chalcis and Eretia fight

700 B.C. Assyria razes Karatepe

700 B.C. Assyria fights Kashku

698 B.C. Assyrians capture Tarsus

689 B.C. Assyrians sack Babylon

686 B.C. Assyrians fight Arabs

680 B.C. Cimmerians conquer Phrygia

678 B.C. Assyrians subdue Babylonian rebels

678 B.C. The Scythians attack the Assyrians

676-673 B.C. Assyrians besiege Sidon 3 years

675/671 B.C. Assyrians capture Memphis

674 B.C. At Sile, Egyptians defeat the Assyrians

672 B.C. Assyrians subdue Egyptians

671 B.C. The Assyrian king Esarhaddon captures the city of Memphis in Egypt

670 B.C. Egyptians rebel from the Assyrians

c.670 B.C. Scythians enter Mannai kingdom

669 B.C. The Assyrian king Esarhaddon dies marching against Egyptians

668 B.C. Argirus routes the Spartans

667 B.C. Ashurbanipal conquers Egypt

665 B.C. Ashurbanipal attacks Phoenicia and later Egypt

664 B.C. Tantamani frees Egypt

664-657 B.C. Pharaoh Psammetichus I unifies Egypt

653 B.C. Scythians dominate the Medes

653 B.C. Assyrians defeat the nation of Elam

653 B.C. Egypt is free of Assyria

652-643 B.C. Shamash-shum-ukin rebels against Assyrian king Ashurbanipal

c.650 B.C. Messenians revolt against Spartans

650 B.C. Scythians and Cimmerians raid Palestine

648 B.C. Assyrians sack Babylon

646 B.C. Assyrians exile the Elamite people

642-639 B.C. Assyrians attack Elam and sack Susa

638 B.C. At the Hong River in China, Chu defeat Duke Xiang of Song

633 B.C. Assyrians sack Thebes in Egypt

c.631/627 BC Medes under Kyaxares besiege Ninevah, capital of Assyria

630 B.C. The Di people attack north China

626/625 B.C. Babylonians gain independence

625 B.C. Kyaxares the Mede throws off the Scythians

623 B.C. The Di people attack north China

620 B.C. The Di people attack north China

615 B.C. Assyrian city of Arrapkha captured

614 B.C. Asshur captured

614 B.C. The Medes try to take the city of Ninevah

c.613-7-8/612 Medes sack Ninevah (Babylonians too late to help the Medes)

612 B.C. Medes conquer Armenia

612-609 B.C. Last of Assyrians destroyed

609-606 B.C. Babylonians raid North Israel

609/608 B.C. Egyptians destroy Megiddo & attack Gaza

606-605 B.C. Di attack north China

604 B.C. At Carchemish, Babylon defeats Egypt

11-12/605/604 Babylonians sack the city of Ashkelon in Philistia

603 B.C. Babylonians sack Ekron

601 B.C. Babylonians and Egyptians tie with heavy losses

599-598 B.C. Babylonians fight Arabs

3/16/597 B.C. Babylonians capture Jerusalem

596 B.C. Babylonians fight Elam

593 B.C. Egyptian Psamtik II + Greek, Phoenician, and Jewish mercenaries beat Cush

591 B.C. Egypt invades Nubia

589-587/586 B.C. Jews rebel against the Babylonians

585-573 B.C. Babylon besieges Tyre

584-584 Nebuchadnezzar II besieges the city of Tyre

581 B.C. Babylonians deport more from Judah

568-567 B.C. The leader Apries and Babylonians invade Egypt

559 B.C. Medes and Babylonians combine against Persians

Q: In 1 Chr and 2 Chr, 1 Ki and 2 Ki, what were the Mideast world events of this time?

A: Here are many of them.

969 B.C. Egypt sacks Gezer for Solomon’s wedding present

950/945 B.C. Libyan Shishaq becomes Pharaoh of Egypt

926 B.C. Shishak of Egypt invades Judah

>926 B.C. Jeroboam of Israel fights Abijah of Judah 500K killed in 2 Chronicles 13:17

c.613-7-8/612 Medes sack Ninevah (Babylonians too late to help the Medes)

604 B.C. At Carchemish, Babylon defeats Egypt

970 B.C. Dedication of Solomon’s Temple

c.870 B.C. The famine of Elijah in Israel

765 B.C. Plague in Ninevah

6/15/763 Total eclipse of the sun

759 B.C. Plague in Ninevah around Jonah’s time

3/16/597 B.C. First major exile to Babylon

587/586 B.C. Judah taken captive to Babylon

538 B.C. Exiles return to Jerusalem

540-10/12/539 Persians conquer Babylonian Empire

336-6/323 B.C. Empire of Alexander the Great

Q: In 1 Chr 1:6, are these "Diphath" people the same as the "Riphath" people in Gen 10:3?

A: Probably yes. This was likely a scribal error, and we have no other record of the Riphath people were. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1474 for more info.

Q: In 1 Chr 5:10,19,20,22 who are the Hagrites?

A: We had no archaeological records of the Hagrites, until Assyrian inscriptions, under Sennacherib and Tiglath-Pileser III, were found that mentioned the Hagrites as an Aramean tribe. The Hagrites are not just descendants of Hagar, as Psalm 83:6 mentions both the Hagrites and Ishmaelites along with other eastern peoples.

While the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.742 says the later writers Strabo and Ptolemy (5.19.2) and mention the Agraioi living in northern Arabia, the liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 3 p.24 says they are not the same.

Pliny in NH 6.159-161 also mentions the Agraei, and these are probably the people of Hofuf-thaj in the al-Hasa oasis in northern Arabia on the Persian Gulf, and unrelated to the Hagrites despite the similarity of names.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.597 and the for more info.

Q: In 2 Chr 9, who was the Queen of Sheba?

A: Sheba was a prosperous trading nation on the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula and Ethiopia. Solomon's ships would have to pass through the sea that she controlled. See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.926, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1566, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.136 for more info.

Q: In 2 Chr 9:21, did Solomon's ships get gold from Tarshish (in Spain), or from the south in Ophir, as 1 Ki 9:28 says?

A: Both are true. Solomon and Hiram had two fleets of ships. Remember there was no Suez Canal back then, so ships could not go from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Gold was the standard of monetary exchange, and Solomon and Hiram profited from both fleets. See When Critics Ask p.208 for more info.

Q: In 2 Chr 14:9-12, why would an Ethiopian attack Judah?

A: At this time an "Ethiopian" dynasty, called the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, was ruling Egypt. These Ethiopians were not from the modern land of Ethiopia, but rather from northern Sudan.

Q: In 2 Chr 14:9-12, how could there be a million-man army here?

A: The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.420 says this is exaggerated. The Hebrew here literally means "thousands upon thousands", which can simply mean a vast army, as the NIV has translated it.

Q: In 2 Chr 16:1, did Baasha fight against Judah in the 36th year of Asa, or did Baasha's son Elah become king in the 26th year of Asa as 1 Ki 16:8 says?

A: First here is a chronology of the relevant kings.

909-868 B.C. Asa of Judah started ruling from the 20th year of Jeroboam for 41 years (1 Kings 15:9-10)

909-886 B.C. Baasha of Israel reigned 24 years (1 Kings 15:33)

886-885 B.C. Elah of Israel, Baasha's son, started ruling in the 26th year of Asa's reign (1 Kings 16:8)

It was not the 36th year of Asa, because in 2 Chronicles 16:5, Baasha, Elah's father was still reigning, Christians have two answers.

Copyist error: It should probably be the 16th year of Asa's reign. Likewise 2 Chronicles 15:19 should say "15" not "35". See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.162-163 for more info.

Copyist error from a different starting point: In addition to giving the previous answer, the NIV Study Bible p.641 and the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.225-226 also say that some think the 36th year was from the division of the kingdom. Rehoboam reigned 17 years, and Abijah 3 years, so this would be the 16th year of Asa's reign. The Hebrew word for "reign" can also mean "kingdom". Apparently this would be a copyist error of 16 for 26.

When Critics Ask p.209 says that in Hebrew numerical notation, the number 10 xx and the number 30 xx differ by only two small strokes at the top.

Q: In 2 Chr 17:14-18, how did Jehoshaphat have such a large army of 1.16 million men?

A: We are not certain of the number meant here. "200,000" etc. might mean 200 units instead of 200,000. Also, the book of 2 Chronicles has a relatively high number of copyist errors. See the NIV Study Bible p.642 for essentially the same answer.

Q: In 2 Chr 32:21, how did the Assyrians die?

A: The Bible does not explicitly say the means God used to kill so many men in so short a time. However, 2 Chronicles 32:3-5 gives a clue. It says that Hezekiah had his men block up all the springs of water. This would cause rats and other animals to have to look for other sources of water too. Herodotus mentions that the Assyrian army, when it was north of Egypt at Pelusium, suffered from a plague of rats. Bubonic plague, carried by rats, can kill in less than a week.

Q: In 2 Chr 33, do we have an extra-biblical evidence of King Manasseh?

A: Yes, the records of the Assyrian king Eserhaddon list Manasseh and 21 other kings who had to provide building materials for the Assyrians, as the NIV Study Bible p.663 says. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.425 says that Assyrian records show that in 672 B.C. Manasseh, along with other vassal kings, had to travel to the Assyrian capital to swear allegiance to Asshurbanipal, king Esarhaddon's successor.

Q: In Ezr 1:1, why was this called the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, since he had been king prior to the conquest of Babylonia as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.435 mentions?

A: Cyrus became king of Anshan in 559 B.C. and king of the Medes as well as the Persians in 550 B.C. However, this was the first year of his reign over this vast Empire of Babylon and Persia. According to Persia and the Bible p.89, William H. Shea studied the over 400 places where Cyrus was given a title, and in 90 percent of the cases he was called "King of Babylon, King of lands." The Cyrus Cylinder calls Cyrus, "King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the Four Quarters (of the Earth)." Shea also found that Cyrus was first called "King of Lands" at the beginning of 538 B.C., but he was not called "King of Babylon, King of Lands" until the end of 538 B.C. He thinks the reason is that the governor, Gubaru, bore the title King of Babylon, until his death that year.

Just as a duke who becomes king lists his first year as his being king, not being duke, Cyrus’ first year is counted from the time he was Emperor of the Empire. "The Empire" included Babylon as one of its capital cities. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.654 for more info.

Q: In Ezr 1:1-4, why would the Persian king decide to help the Jews here?

A: The ultimate reasons is that God moved Cyrus to do this. Also, not only did the Persian king allow the Jews to return, but the archaeologist Rassam unearthed what is called "The Cyrus Cylinder", where Cyrus recorded his capturing Babylon and decree that other peoples could return home too. There is no evidence that Cyrus believed in the true God; rather He used the divine name when speaking about the Jews as he used the names of other gods in speaking about the other peoples.

According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.654, the Cyrus Cylinder says in part: "May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred cities daily ask Bel and Nebo for a long life for me." (Bel and Nebo were Babylonian gods.) See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.248 for more info.

Q: In Ezr 1:1-4 what else does the Cyrus Cylinder say?

A: Persia and the Bible p.90 mentions that the nineteenth century Bible critic Julius Wellhausen and many others doubted there ever was a decree for the Jews to return home. However, according to Persian and the Bible p.87, the Cyrus Cylinder was discovered by Rassam in 1879; the same page has a photograph of it. The Cyrus Cylinder primarily was a propaganda tool by Cyrus to show the Babylonians he was their friend, and not just a conqueror to be opposed. Cyrus called himself "King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the Four Quarters [of the Earth] (p.89). It also says, "When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I set up the seat of dominion in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk the great god caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon to … me. I sought daily to worship him. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon. I did not allow any to terrorize the land of [Sumer] and Akkad. I kept in view he needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well being." (p.87) It also claims that Cyrus entered the city "without fighting or battle". This is true, as Cyrus entered the city 17 days after the Persians made a surprise attack and captured the city.

The Cyrus Cylinder also says about the exiled peoples, "I (also) gathered their former inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations." (p.91)

The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.246 says the Cyrus Cylinder was made c.536 B.C.

Q: In Ezr 2, did the Jews prosper under the Persians?

A: Yes. Apart from the Bible we have extra-biblical evidence that they did well.

There are numerous clay tablets of wealthy bankers in Nippur called "Murashu and Sons" who loaned money. Their texts have the names of 2,500 individuals, and 70 names are Jewish. Also, Jews were found in 28 of 200 settlements around Nippur. Photographs of two of these tables are in The Bible Almanac p.396. Also see Persia and the Bible p.243 for more info.

There was a Jewish military garrison near Aswan in southern Egypt, and they built a temple/synagogue to "Yaho", according to Persia and the Bible p.244.

Many Jews lived in Elephantine in Egypt, according to Aramaic papyri and ostraca that mention the Sabbath and Passover, according to Persia and the Bible p.245-246. The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.649 says that in the Cowley Papyrii #21, Darius II commanded the Jewish colony on Elephantine Island to observe the feast of Unleavened Bread.

Q: In Ezr 2, what was the estimated population of the Israelites prior to their exile?

A: According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.566 and ANET p.491, in the eighth century it is estimated there were 500,000 to 700,000 Israelites in the northern kingdom and 220,000 to 300,000 Israelites in Judah.

Q: In Ezr 4, what is the chronology?

A: Here is a chronology of the different sections.

Ezra 4:1-5 (559-530 B.C.)

Ezra 4:6 Xerxes (480-465 B.C.)

Ezra 4:7-23 Artaxerxes I (465-12/424 B.C.)

Ezra 4:24 Darius I (533-486 B.C.)

See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.141 for more info.

Q: In Ezr 6:8, why would a Persian king pay a great amount of money to rebuild the Jews’ temple in Jerusalem?

A: Many times kings built temples, which also served the "practical" purpose of making loyal subjects. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.141 says that Cyrus also repaired temples at Uruk and Ur. Persia and the Bible p.91 says that Cyrus repaired the temple at Uruk, the Enunmah temple at Ur, and temples in Babylon. Archaeologists have found a memorandum about the Jewish Temple that was written by Bagoas, the Persian governor of Judah and Delaiah. It says, "to build it on its site as it was before, and the meal-offering and incense to be made on the altar as it used to be."

Q: In Ezr 7:6, could Ezra have arrived either in 458 B.C. or 398 B.C.?

A: No. However, the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.450,451 claims it could be either one, because there is no clear way to know whether the reigning Persian king was Artaxerxes I or Artaxerxes II.

While Ezra does not explicitly say "I" or "II’, it must be "I", because 398 B.C. is too late a time period for the Temple not being completed. Furthermore, people often distinguish between two kings of the same name once the second reigns, but they do not distinguish when only 1 of the kings has lived.

However, the time of Ezra and Nehemiah had to be under Artaxerxes I, because an Elephantine papyrus (Cowley #30) dated at 407 B.C., mentions Sanballat, the governor or Samaria who is mentioned in Nehemiah. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.570, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.677, and Persia and the Bible p.242 for more info.

Q: In Neh 1:1, when was this time?

A: This was November-December 444 B.C. The twentieth year means the twentieth year of the reigning king, in this case, Artaxerxes I.

The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.459 says that this could either be under Artaxerxes I (444 B.C.) or Artaxerxes II (385/384 B.C.), though he mentions that Josephus says Nehemiah arrived about 440 B.C., which would be under Artaxerxes I. However Persia and the Bible p.242 says, "It is certain that Nehemiah (Neh. 1:1; 2:1) served as the cupbearer of Artaxerxes I, who ruled from 464 to 424 B.C., because an Elephantine papyrus (Cowley #30) dated to 407 B.C., mentions the sons of Sanballat, the governor of Samaria and adversary of Nehemiah." The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.677 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.570 also mention this.

Q: In Neh 2:19, Sanballat was a Horonite, but what was a Horonite?

A: It was probably someone from the village of Beth Horon ("Beth" means House [of]). Beth Horon was about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Jerusalem.

Q: In Neh 2:19, do we have any extra-Biblical evidence of Tobiah the Ammonite and Sanballat governor of Samaria?

A: According to The NIV Study Bible p.696 and Persia and the Bible p.267-268, the name Tobiah was associated with the region of the Ammonites in non-Biblical texts. Eleven miles (18 kilometers) west of Amman, Jordan is the Caverns of the Prince, which apparently were the center of the Tobiads. On two halls are inscriptions of the name "Tobiah" in Aramaic. However, we do not know which ruler this was, as there were rulers named Tobiah in 590 B.C, 520 B.C, 440 B.C, 270 B.C., and 200 B.C. See Persia and the Bible p.268 for more info.

Persia and the Bible p.267 says that Tubiama appears in the Murashu banking documents in Nippur, and this might have been the same Tobias.

A papyrus in Elephantine, Egypt (Cowley #30) dated 407 B.C. speaks of the sons of Sanballat. See Persia and the Bible p.242, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.677, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.570 for more info.

Q: In Neh 2:19, who were the governors of Samaria after Sanballat?

A: According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.768, here are some of the governors of Samaria, and the source from where we found their name.

Name

Born

Governor

Source

Sanballat I

b.485

445

Nehemiah

Delariah

c.460

410

Elephantine papyrii

Sanballat II

c.435

380

Samaria papyrii

Hananiah

c.410

355

Samaria papyrii

Sanballat III

c.385

330

Josephus

Q: In Neh 3, why did they scrupulously record who fixed which gate?

A: This record honored the people who worked very hard here. It is good to honor people who work hard for the Lord, as Philippians 2:29 and 1 Timothy 5:17 show.

The NIV Study Bible p.697 adds that this is one of the most important chapters in the Bible for understanding the topography of Jerusalem.

Q: In Neh 5:4,6,10, just how high was the interest, and how heavy were the taxes?

A: Here is a summary of the economic situation in Persia and the Bible p.274-275.

Interest: Under Cyrus and Cambyses, interest rates were 20% per year. However, around 400 B.C. interest rates were 40 to 50 % per year. The House of Murashu in Nippur charged interest rates of 40% per year. At these interest rates, no one would not want to take out any loans unless they were truly desperate. In Nehemiah 5:11, the Jews were apparently charging each other 1 percent per month.

Taxes: The Persian kings were easy-going on subjects’ local administration and religion, but very severe on taxes. The Persian kings received 20,000,000 darics (14,560 talents or about 450 tons) per year in taxes. According to Herodotus, the fifth Satrapy, which was Syria and Palestine, paid the smallest amount. They only paid 350 talents per year. Other satrapies also had to make additional "contributions in kind" which the fifth satrapy did not have to pay. When Alexander the Great captured Susa, he found 9,000 talents (270 tons) of gold and 40,000 talents (1,200 tons) of silver just piled up.

Inflation: One study showed that the price of dates doubled between the time of Darius I and Darius II. (Artaxerxes I was between these two kings.)

Land: Much fertile land was given to either the Persians or to military colonists. Thus the people had less land to pay heavy taxes, higher interest rates, and higher prices.

Q: In Neh 5:15, who were the governors before Nehemiah?

A: The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.711 and Persia and the Bible p.265 give a reconstruction by Avigad of the governors of Judah.

538 B.C. Sheshbazzar (Ezra 1:8; 5:14)

515 B.C. Zerubbabel (Haggai 1:1,14)

? Elnathan (bulla and seal)

? Yeho-ezer (jar impression)

? Ahzai (jar impression)

445-432 B.C. Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:14; 12:26)

407 B.C. Bahohi (Bagoas) (Cowley Papyrus #30:1)

330 B.C. Yehezqiyah (coins)

There might have been other governors too.

Q: In Neh 6:6, was Nehemiah’s opponent named "Gashmu" or "Geshem" in Neh 2:19?

A: Both are the same person. This curious difference shows the reliability of the name here in Nehemiah. According to both Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.233 and When Critics Ask p.217, the Arabic language has names end in "u" for nominative, "i" for genitive, and "a" for accusative. Nehemiah 6:6 has the Arabic pronunciation when the name is in the nominative case. However, Hebrew and Aramaic-speaking people usually omitted all the short-vowel case endings, which would make the name "Geshem".

Persia and the Bible p.268-269 mentions that the Arabic name Jasuma, meaning bulky or stout, is found in various Arabic inscriptions including Safaitic, Lihyanite, Thamudic, and Nabataean.

Q: In Neh 6:6 and Neh 2:19, who was Geshem?

A: The NIV Study Bible p.697 says that an inscription in Dedan in Northwest Arabia mentions Geshem, who was over a large amount of land an involved in the spice trade. Persia and the Bible p.269 says this inscription in Lihyanite Arabic reads, "Jasm son of Sahr and Abd, governor of Dedan."

Several silver vessels at Tell el-Maskutah near Ismailia say in Aramaic "Geshem son of Shahar" and "Qainu son of Geshem". See Persia and the Bible p.269 for more info.

Geshem would be suspicious of a new political power arising, especially given Solomon’s famous trading activities in centuries past.

Q: In Ezr 8:27, 1 Chr 29:7, and Neh 7:70, are these coins Persian darics or Greek drachmas?

A: It is either a Persian daric or a locally minted silver coin in the style of the Greek drachma.

Archaeologists have found several "drachmas" from Persian times in Beth Zur (Khirbet et-Tubeiquah), south of Jerusalem and 4 1/2 miles (7 km) north of Hebron. These drachmas were not minted in Greece, but in Judah in the "drachma style". It mentions an article that says that the Jews were permitted to mint their own silver coins with the name of the province "Yehud" in archaic Hebrew script. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1799 also mentions there was a local mint in Palestine in Persian times.

However, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.620-621 also mentions a second theory. It says the Hebrew word here, darkemonim, and a similar word in Ezra 8:27 and 1 Chronicles 29:7, adarkonim, might refers to the Persian daric, which was a gold coin named after the Persian word for gold: dari. A soldier would be paid one of these per month for his wages.

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.620-621 and See Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.44 for more info.

Q: In Esth, what extra-biblical evidence is there of the events and people in this book?

A: Many things corroborate, though extra-biblical recorded history is silent on others.

Xerxes is the Greek (and modern) name given to kings the Persians knew as "Khshayarsha". In Hebrew this was Ahashwerosh, which in our Bibles is "Ahasuerus". As Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.445 says, "Place an ‘A’ in front [of Khshayarsha] and the change to Ahasuerus is not a difficult one to se.."

Queen Vashti can be linked to probably the same queen that Herodotus knew as Amestris, if some phonetic modifications are assumed, as Persia and the Bible p.231 mentions.

Mordecai was a name that appeared in Aramaic letters, though this is not the same Mordecai. There was actually probably four officials named Mordecai during this period. A "Marduka" is mentioned in a tablet from Borsippa, in modern Iraq. He was an accountant who made an inspection tour of Susa during the last years of Darius or the early years of Xerxes, as the liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 2 p.638 and Persia and the Bible p.235 both say. Persia and the Bible p.235 also says this, and add that there are more than 30 discovered tablets, dating between 505 and 499 B.C., with the name "Marduka" or "Marduku", which may refer to up to four individuals. (Some of these are PF 81, 412, 489, 790, 863, 941, 942, 991, 1183, 1236,1581, 1858, PT1, 84). In 2 Maccabees 15:36, Purim is called "The Day of Mordecai".

Other names are found on various inscriptions. The Anchor Bible Dictionary p.638-639 mentions Haman’s son Pharshandatha (Psrndt). Persia and the Bible p.238 mention the following names having parallels in Elamite Persepolis texts: the eunuchs Mehuman, Bigtha, Carcas, Hathach, the advisors Meres, Marsena, and Memukan, Haman’s father Hammedatha, and Aridai, and Aridatah/Aridatath the sons of Haman.

The ai in Vaizatha, Haman’s son in Esther 9:9, would be pronounced as "ai" prior to Xerxes reign, and "e" in the reign of Artaxerxes his son, and this dates Esther rather precisely. See Persia and the Bible p.238 for more info.

The citadel at Susa was burned down during the time of Xerxes son, according to an inscription. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.702 mentions that a later writer probably would not have known about this citadel.

Q: In Esth, what do we know about the city of Susa and the country of Elam apart from the Bible?

A: Susa is a well-excavated city, with modern work starting in 1851.

Geographically, Susa is in a fertile plain watered by two rivers. It is 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf. The climate is pleasant most of the year, but during the July and August the temperature can reach up to 140 degrees F. Lizards and snakes crossing the desert in the middle of the day are burned to death. Elam is fairly large, at 42,000 square miles, about the size of Denmark. A number of tribes lived there, includes Elamites, Semites, Messabatae, Cissi (Kassi), Mardians, and later the Persians.

Archaeologists tell us that Susa was inhabited from about 3500 B.C., making it as old as the Sumerian civilization.

Militarily, Susa was the capital of Elam.

2700 B.C. Enmebargesi of Kish defeats Elam

2400 B.C. Eannatum of Lagash attacks Elam

2350 B.C. Sargon of Agade conquers Elam.

2280 B.C. Elam invades Babylonia, and there is a treaty between Elam and Naram-Sin of Agade. (oldest known state treaty)

2067 B.C. The city-state of Ur defeats Elam

2004 B.C. The Elamites destroy Ur, within 50 years after Abram left it.

1764 B.C. Hammurabi defeats Elam

c1330 B.C. The Kassites conquer Elam

1160 B.C. The Elamites defeat the Kassites in Babylon, taking Hammurabi’s Law code.

1120 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar I raids Susa.

720 B.C. At Yamutbal, Elamites and Babylonians combine to fight the Assyrians. Both sides claim victory.

704 B.C. At Kis, the Assyrians defeat the Babylonians and Elamites.

695/694 B.C. An Assyrian fleet attacks Elam

695/694-689 B.C. The Elamites and Babylonians combine to fight the Assyrians. 34 Elamite cities were destroyed.

645/640 B.C. The Assyrians for the first time control Elam, as Ashurbanipal of Assyria sacks Susa. Susa is nearly deserted.

The Persians gradually moved into this area and mixed with the original Elamites. Susa became one of the capitals of the Persian Empire. There was more than one capital, as the Emperors would not want to remain in Susa during the summer.

331 B.C. Alexander captured Susa and took its treasure. He found 9,000 talents (270 tons) of gold and 40,000 talents (1,200 tons) of silver just piled away.

Ethnically, Elamites originally were not Semites. However, from the time of Sargon onward, Semites settled in Elam, and it became "Semitized". Many Elamites left their homeland, being exiled to Samaria in Palestine. After the Persians ruled Susa, the Susianians revolted, but they later were assimilated by the Persians.

For more info, see Persia and the Bible p.279-303, The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1586, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.299-300, 969-970, the Encyclopedia Britannica (1956) volume 8 p.118-119 and volume 21 p.618-619, and The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 2 p.423-428 and volume 6 p.242-245.

Q: In Esth, which two rivers were near Susa?

A: Reference sources disagree. Susa was built on the east bank of one river, and a little bit west of another. A canal connected them. Persia and the Bible p.280 shows the situation is complicated by the fact that the name of the canal came to mean the eastern river as well. Here are the names of the rivers, according to various sources

Encyclopedia Britannica volume 21 p.618: near the Karkha (Choaspes) river, and close to the Karun River.

Persia and the Bible p.280. West of Susa is the Kerkheh (Assyrian Uqnu, Greek Choaspes) East of Susa is the Ab-e-Diz (Elamites and Assyrian Idide, Greek Koprates), which at times has been liked to the Kerkheh by a channel. This flows into the Karun River (Greek Pasitigris) Susa is on the east bank of the Shaur (This channel is called the Ulai, or Eulaios in Greek. At some point Eulaios was eventually extended to include the Karun River.

The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.969-970: on the left bank of the Choaspes River, also called the Ulai canal.

The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1586 near the rivers Ulai (Eulaeus, modern Karun) and Shapur rivers.

The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.242-244: Susa on the bank of Chaour (Akkadian Ulai, Greek Eulaeus) close to Kerkha (Akkadian Uknu Greek Choaspes).

Q: In Esth 1, what do we know of Vashti apart from the Bible, and why would Ahasuerus want to get rid of her?

A: Vashti is probably the same person as Amestris, whom the Greek historian Herodotus mentions. According to Persia and the Bible p.230-232 Vashti was influential and vengeful. When Xerxes gave a robe that Amestris made to the daughter of his brother’s wife, Amestris was angry. At a banquet, when Xerxes agreed to grant any request of hers, Amestris had that woman killed and later her mother mutilated.

Q: In Esth 1:2 (KJV), where was Shushan?

A: This was another name of the region around the city of Susa, the Persian's capital, and the ancient Elamite capital. However, another source says that Shushan was actually the citadel in Susa, and 120 feet above the rest of the city.

Q: In Esth 1:3-8, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for this feast?

A: Yes. Xerxes in general was a partying, drinking type of ruler. Esther 1:3 specifically says this was in the third year of his reign. This was the same time Xerxes assembled his leaders to plan the invasion of Greece. Xerxes left Susa in April, 481 B.C. Esther 3:1 indicates considerable time had passed, and Esther 3:7 is in the twelfth year of Ahasuerus. Xerxes was in the field until his seventh year, after his defeat at Salamis and Plataea.

See the New International Bible Dictionary p.1077, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.499, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.702 for more info.

Q: In Esth 3:1, what was an "Agagite"?

A: Some supposed that somehow Haman was a descendent of King Agag, who opposed King Saul, a Benjamite like Mordecai, 600 years earlier. Some even hypothesize that Haman was "spiritually like Agag" in hating the Jews. However, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.705 says that an inscription has been found which shows that Agag was the name of a province of Persia. The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 3 p.33 says that "Agazi" was a Mesopotamian tribe in Sargon’s records (though a consonant shift of the second "g" to "z" would be unusual).

Q: In Esth 6:7-9, is there any extra-biblical evidence of this reward of riding in the chariot like a king?

A: Yes. Persia and the Bible p.233 says that Plutarch in Themistocles 29 records the request of the exiled Spartan king Damaratus, who chose to be permitted to ride in state through Sardis, wearing his tiara upright just like the Persian kings. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.144 also mentions this as a reward.

Q: In Esth 9:1-10, why did the Jews and government officials kill their enemies?

A: This was done for self-defense. In addition, as 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.144 also points out that the Old Testament law said that one who falsely accused another was to be put to death. The Jews not taking the loot showed that the killings were not mere revenge, but "judicial in nature."

The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.551 points out that since the Persian Empire had a total population of about 10-15 million, 2-3 million Israelites/Jews killing 75,000 was not an excessive number, especially since Esther 9:3 also records that government officials helped.

Q: Was Job taken from ancient Sumerian and Babylonian legends?

A: Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.474 suggests so. On the contrary, it would be surprising if there was no other literature that dealt with this issue. There are two Mesopotamian works that address the problem of suffering.

I will Praise the Lord of Wisdom, an Akkadian work, sometimes is called the Babylonian Job.

The Dialogue of Human Misery (also called the Babylonian Theodicy) asks why there is suffering in general, while Job asks why he is suffering. The Dialogue of Human Misery answers by saying the gods made men evil. The book of Job answers this by saying that it is NOT because of Job's sin. Rather, God is so much greater than us, that sometimes He has reasons we cannot see for why He allows his obedient servants to suffer. In Job's particular case, Job's demonstrated faithfulness in suffering glorified God. In Job's case, things worked out well before the end of his physical life, but regardless, Job knew he would be vindicated after death (Job 13:15).

In modern times, the book The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis is very insightful.

Q: Was Job an actual, historical person?

A: Sure. Job indicates such, Ezekiel 14:14,20 also lists Job as a righteous person, along with Daniel and Noah. James 5:11 also mentions Job as a person. There is no evidence to indicate otherwise. Job 1 just as matter-of-factly introduces Job as 1 Samuel introduces Elkanah and Luke matter-of-factly introduces Zechariah. See When Critics Ask p.223-224, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.235-237, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.145 for more info.

Q: In Job, who else was named Job and Bildad?

A: W.F. Albright found the word 'Iyyob used even before Moses' time. The Berlin Execration texts mention an 'Iyyob as a Syrian prince near Damascus. "Ayyabum" is found in the Mari texts. The Tell el-Amarna letters of 1400 B.C. mention "Ayab" as a prince of Pella. W.F. Albright found the name Bildad as a shortened form of "Yabil-Dadum" in the second millennium.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.236-238 for more info.

Q: In Job 1:1 briefly, where was Uz?

A: Uz was a son of Aram according to Genesis 3:21 and 1 Chronicles 1:17. The Arameans concentrated in Syria. Complicating matters, there was another Uz, which was descended from Edom in 1 Chronicles 1:42.

Q: In Job 1:1, where was the land of Uz?

A: Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.476-477 says there appears to be confusion about Uz, and that the Assyrians knew of a district called "Ussai" in modern-day Syria. However, Jeremiah 25:20 listing the land of Uz right before the Philistines does not mean the two were adjacent. Asimov also mentions that Edom dwelt in Uz in Lamentations 4:21, and that is because there was another Uz descended from Edom in 1 Chronicles 1:42.

However, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.879 says that since Delitzsch notes the Arabic name for Esau is "'is", Uz might be the place in North Arabia where two cultures, Aramean and Edomite met or divided.

For a modern illustration, I wonder if people in other parts of the world are confused in there being a Washington state and a Washington, D.C. To Americans this is not confusing, and there being two lands of Uz were probably not confusing to Bible writers either.

Q: In Job 1:15, who were the Sabeans?

A: These might have been the same people mentioned in Joel 3:8, who lived in modern-day Yemen in the southwest of the Arabian peninsula. However, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.883 and the Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 5 p.861 says these more likely were a group of people the Assyrians called the "Saba" who lived in north Arabia. Of course the north Arabian Sabeans might be related to the southwest Arabian Sabeans too.

Q: In Job 2:11, who were the Temanites, Shuhites, and Maamathites/Naamathites?

A: The first two peoples were known to the Hebrews, though we have some ambiguity or uncertainty about their modern location.

Teman was a well-known oasis in north Arabia. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.138 says it was one of the best-watered oases in the Arabian peninsula. Teman was also the name of a city of Edom that was known for its wise men in Jeremiah 49:7,20. 1 Chronicles 1:36 says that Teman was a descendant of Eliphaz of Edom, so the Eliphaz in Job might have been named after his ancestor.

Shua was brother of Midian who lived in the east, according to Genesis 25:2,6 and 1 Chronicles 1:32. Also, Assyrian records mention a people called "Suhu".

Maamathites/Naamathites are unknown apart from Job 2:11 and Job 20:1; 42:9.

Job was a fairly common name, based on the Amarna Letters and Egyptian Execration texts, as well as records from Mari and Alalakh. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.862 for more info.

Q: In Job 26:7, what does it mean that the earth hangs on nothing?

A: The NIV Study Bible p.761 says that the Hebrew word here for "empty space" is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 for formless.

Many ancient cultures had the idea of the earth being held up by the back of an animal, a Titan giant, or the body of a goddess. In contrast, somehow God had taught Job that the earth hangs in space, on nothing. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.530 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.749 also remark how Job knew this scientific fact centuries before science taught it.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.967 and the New Geneva Study Bible p.730 are more cautious, and say we cannot put much significance on Job's scientific insights. After all, the Bible is recording what Job said here. Since the Bible does not guarantee that Job and his friends are speaking correctly 100% of the time, we cannot point to a correct statement as supporting evidence that they are without any error, if the Bible does not imply that their speech has no mistakes.

Q: In Job 26:11, what are the pillars of heaven?

A: There are three possibilities for the pillars/foundations of Heaven.

Heaven itself could simply be shaking when God rebukes. However, the other two alternatives are more likely.

Mountains are called pillars of the heavens, as well as pillars of the earth. The pillars shaking could refer to volcanoes and earthquakes.

The horizon was called "the foundation of heaven" in the related Akkadian language of the Babylonians.

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 4 p.967 for more info.

Q: In Job 40:15, 21-22, what is behemoth?

A: Job shows it is a huge plant-eating animal that lives among reeds. The hippopotamus is the second largest land animal alive today, and hippos live in Egypt. The NASB footnote also identifies Behemoth as a hippopotamus.

Q: In Job 40:15, was behemoth a throwback to the monster Tiamat of Babylonian mythology, whom Gilgamesh slew?

A: Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.485-486 suggests this. Behemoth was a large, fierce animal, most likely a hippopotamus. Male hippos in particular can be very dangerous to people.

In Job 39-40, God is mentioning unusual animals to Job that were either very powerful or else peculiar yet well-adapted to their environment. Prior to this, God had mentioned the goats, dear, wild donkeys, ox, ostrich, horse, hawk, and eagle. It would seem strange to pass in silence on the hippopotamus and crocodile.

See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.261-262 for more info.

Q: In Job 41, does this speak of Leviathan, a mythical beast?

A: The NASB footnote says that Leviathan is a crocodile. The NIV Study Bible also says that the leviathan was a large marine animal, possibly a crocodile. Figuratively, Leviathan was considered a great sea monster. The NIV Study Bible p.1053 says that in Isaiah 27:1, leviathan was a Canaanite symbol of wicked nations, such as Egypt.

Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.239-240 says the Bible and pagan sources differed in that pagan sources believed in the real existence of mythological creatures, while Biblical authors used the terms in a purely figurative and metaphorical sense. English literature of the 17th century and earlier frequently used mythological allusions in much the same way. See When Critics Ask p.230-231 for more info.

Q: In Ps 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, 9:1, 12:1, etc. apart from the Bible, when do we know that musical instruments were first used?

A: It used to be that unbelieving critics of the Bible found these references "instrumental" is proving these passages were anachronistic as musical instruments were not invented until much later. However, Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.33 points out that lyres, flutes, harps, and even a double oboe [=double-pipe] were used in ancient times. The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.397-399 gives many examples. A golden lyre and a silver flute were found at Ur (c.2500 B.C.), and a picture of a lyre is on a painting in the Beni Hasan tomb in Egypt 1900 B.C.. A picture of a harp on in the temple of Hatshepsut at Karnak. Ur, Kish, and other Sumerian cities had sistrums (castanets). The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1161-1163 has photographs of ancient Egyptian harps, flutes, a cave painting of a harp, a double flute [pipe], and a lutelike instrument (c.1450 B.C.), and a sistrum from ancient Egypt. A photograph of a harper, lute players, and two flute players c.1350 B.C. is in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.678. On p.679 it has photographs was a wall painting of a harp, lute, double-pipe, and lyre. It also shows the lyre found at Ur, c.2500 B.C. with a gold head of a bearded bull, and a wooden soundbox. On p.681,683 it has photographs of cylindrical rattles (c.1200-1000 B.C.) and a zither player in Tell Asmar (2000-1000 B.C.)

Q: In Ps 34:1, should this say Abimelech as the king of Gath, or Achish?

A: This refers to the time in 1 Samuel 21:12-15 when David pretended to be insane. There are three possibilities here.

Copyist error: The writers who added the headings to the psalms might have made a copyist error of Abimelech when it should have said Achish.

Dual name: Many kings in ancient times had dual names, typically the personal name they were born with and a throne name. Persian kings and Egyptian Pharaohs all had two names, and Solomon had another name: Jedidah. Zedekiah was also called Mattaniah in 2 Kings 24:17. We do not know the names of many Philistine kings, except from Assyrian sources. They mention an A-himilki (same as Ahimelech) who was a king of Ashdod. The first use we know of the Philistines using the name Abimelech was in Genesis 20:2, and the second was Abimelech II in Genesis 26:1.

Title: The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.497, in addition to mentioning a possible copyist error, says it might not be a copyist error after all, but Abimelech might have been a title, as Pharaoh was a title for the ruler of Egypt.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.243-244 and When Critics Ask p.237 for more info on the first two views.

Q: In Ps 60:1 in the heading, were 12,000 Edomites killed, or 18,000 as 1 Chr 18:12 says?

A: This is a copyist error, as Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.130-131 points out.

Q: In Ps 104, are there parallels to Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Aten?

A: Yes, there are parallels according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.867, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.104, and the secular Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.328.

Akhenaten was an Egyptian Pharaoh reigned from about 1358-1340 B.C., which is about 400 years prior to Solomon. Akhenaten has been described as a "religious fanatic" who rejected Egyptian idolatry, commanded the Egyptians not to worship Osiris and the other gods, because he believed in only one god, Aten. He who wrote hymn a praise to Aten, "The good ruler who loves all mankind"

However, after Akhenaten's death the priests changed Aten worship. Aten was equated with Ptah, Min, Re, Khepri, and Atum.

The key differences are that the Hymn to Aten was a creator hymn identifying the image of the creator with the sun. Psalm 104 is a chiastic psalm using as a reason to praised the super-natural, unseen One, who created nature. One can read the Hymn to Aten in Akhenaten : King of Egypt p.241-243.

The parallels of thought are probably coincidental, but it is possible the writer of Psalm 104 had heard of the Hymn to Aten. In that case the situation would be similar to Martin Luther's adapting German drinking songs as hymns, extensively changing the words. It is possible the writer could have taken some of the themes of the Hymn to Aten and applied the praise to its rightful source.

Q: In Prov, what is "wisdom literature"?

A: Today there are certain types, or genres, of literature, such as a novel, short story, historical chronicles, hymns, love poetry, apocalyptic, biography, etc. Some modern genres were not known in ancient times, and some ancient genres of literature are not written anymore today. One common ancient genre was "wisdom literature". There are at least four types of wisdom literature, both inside and outside of the Bible:

Proverbs and Sayings (Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy (400-300 B.C.) 11:10 says "he who sends up spittle to the sky, upon his face it falls")

Parental Advice

Why Suffering (The Babylonian Dialogue of Human Misery answers this by saying the gods made men evil)

Pessimism of Life (Ecclesiastes is a part of this sub-genre, except that Ecclesiastes also transcends this by pointing to God.

The Bible says that other cultures had wise men, too. For example, Egypt (1 Kings 4:30; Isaiah 19:11-12), Edom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 8), Babylon (Isaiah 47:1,10; Jeremiah 50:35; 51:57; Daniel 1:4,20; 2:13-14; 5:8) Here are some other examples of wisdom literature in other cultures:

Egypt

Insinger Papyrus (c.400-100 B.C.)

Onkhsheshonqy

The Harper’s Song

Dispute of a Man with his Soul

The writings of Prince Hardjedef

Instruction of the Vizier Phahhotep (Ptah-Hotep) ca.2450 B.C.)

Instruction of Kagemni

Merikare (2160-2040 B.C.)

Amenemhet (Amen-em-Hget) (ca.2000 B.C.) (father to son)

The Instruction of Ani (c.1100 B.C.)

The Instruction of Amenemope (=Amen-em-Opet, =Amen-em-Ope) (1300-900 B.C.)

There are similarities between Proverbs 22:17ff-24:22 and the teaching of Amenemope

Sumerian and Akkadian

Instructions of Suruppak (Shuruppak) (ca. 1500-1000 B.C.) gives points of court etiquette

Counsels of Wisdom (ca.1500-1000 B.C.)

Akkadian Proverbs (ca.1800-1600 B.C.)

Sumerian: Man and His God (why suffering)

Akkadian: I will Praise the Lord of Wisdom (sometimes called the Babylonian Job)

Akkadian: Dialogue of Pessimism (12th century B.C. teaching by contradiction)

Babylonian: The Dialogue About Human Misery (= The Babylonian Theodicy)

The Words of Ahiqar of Assyria (700-400 B.C. Aramaic, and possibly Akkadian) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudipegrapha volume 2 p.494-507).

Greek:

Pseudo-Phocyclides (200 B.C. - 200 A.D.) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudipegrapha volume 2 p.494-507).

Syriac:

The Sentences of the Syriac Menander (3rd century A.D.)

Jewish:

The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha

Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha

3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)

4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)

(3 and 4 Maccabees are classified as Wisdom Literature according to The Old Testament Pseudipegrapha volume 2 p.vi-vii.

Within the Bible, wisdom literature is Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148. Some have tried to call the Song of Solomon wisdom literature, though it is really of the genre of love poetry.

See The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.928-931, The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1815, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.905-906, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1067, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.883 for more info. See The Old Testament Pseudipegrapha volume 2 for an English translation of the Words of Ahiqar, 3 and 4 Maccabees, Pseudo-Phocylides, and the Sentences of the Syriac Menander.

Q: In Prov 22:17ff-24:22, is this section similar to an Egyptian book, The Instruction of Amenemope (=Amen-em-Opet), written about 1300-900 B.C.?

A: When Critics Ask p.248 says, "First, there is no reason why God could not guide Solomon to use other human sources in writing God’s Word. Other authors of Scripture did this (cf. Luke 1:1-4). However, it is not clear that Solomon used this Egyptian source. For, although there are sentences and contents that are quite similar, the fact is that the differences outweigh the similarities. … Furthermore, close examination by scholars has revealed that, if there was any borrowing, it was more likely that the Egyptian author borrowed from the Hebrew author. Ultimately, of course, God is the source of all truth, wherever it is found."

The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament has a similar conclusion. On p.904,906 it says, "The Instruction of Amen-em-Ope (ca. 1300-900 B.C.), a king's teachings to his son about life, using some words similar to those in Proverbs (e.g., "Listen, my son," "path of life,", "the way"). The fact that some sayings in The Instruction of Amen-em-Ope parallel parts of Proverbs (e.g., Proverbs 22:17-24:22) has raised the question of whether Proverbs borrowed form this Egyptian writing, or the Egyptian writer borrowed from Proverbs, or whether both wrote independently about common concerns.". The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament on p.954-955 looks at both sides of the issue and concludes that there was not any copying. The conservative Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 5 p.883 says, "although the two collections are not identical, they are similar enough to attest direct influence." The liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary p.516 has the same conclusion.

Here is the evidence, pro and con:

Pro:

P1. Most Proverbs were said to be written by Solomon or the authorship was not specified. However, Proverbs 22:17 on specifically say these are "teachings of the wise", implying Solomon did not write these Proverbs.

P2. Similarities (based on When Critics Ask and The Anchor Bible Dictionary)

Proverbs

Amenemope

Subject

22:17-18

3:9-11,16

Appeal to hear

22:19

1:7

Purpose of instruction

22:20

27:7-8

Thirty sayings

22:21

1:5-6

Learning a worthy response

22:22-23

2, 4:4-5

Do not rob a wretch

22:24-25

9, 11:13-14

Avoid friendship with violent men

22:25-27

9, 13:8-9

Lest a trap ruin you

22:28

6, 7:12-13

Do not remove boundary stones

22:29

30, 27:16-17

Skill scribes will serve before kings

23:1-3

23, 23:13-18

Eat cautiously before a ruler

23:4-5

7, 9:14-10:5

Wealth flies away like an eagle/geese

23:6-7

11, 14:5-10

Do not eat a stingy person’s food

23:8

11, 14:17-18

Vomiting results

23:9

21, 22:11-12

Do not speak before just anyone

23:10-11

6, 7:12-15; 8:9-10

Do not remove boundary stones of widows

24:11

8, 11:6-7

Rescue the condemned

P3: Amenemope has 30 chapters, and there are 30 sayings of the wise in this section of Proverbs.

Cons:

C1: Amenemope is much longer, at 7-26 lines per chapter and 30 chapters, than this section of Proverbs.

C2: The order is very different.

C3: Differences (based in part on The Anchor Bible Dictionary)

Proverbs

Amenemope

Subject

23:29-35

no parallel

excessive drinking

24:12

no parallel

God weighs the heart

A photograph of part of the Instruction of Amen-em-opet is in The Bible Almanac p.376.

Q: Does Ecc have an Aramaic influence, which the Jews adopted in times later than Solomon?

A: First the facts, then three possibilities.

Facts: Linguists argue over Solomon’s writings. While one Conservative Christian scholar (Delitzsch) found 96 "Aramaisms" in Ecclesiastes, the conservative Christian scholar Hengstenberg found only 10. Solomon’s writings are unique, in not appearing any closer to 5th century Hebrew documents than 10th century Hebrew documents.

1. Contrary to what Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.512 asserts, it was not written in a "later" style. Rather, it shows a Phoenician and Aramaic influence, which Solomon likely learned from his friendship with Hiram son of Abibaal, king of the Phoenician city of Tyre.

2. Later Hebrew scribes updated some of the language to the later style.

3. The writer never actually said he was Solomon, though a King, the Son of David, in Jerusalem would either mean Solomon or one of his descendants.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.255-258, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.292-293, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.975-976 for extensive discussions.

Q: Does Ecc seem to be written from 300-200 B.C as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.512 says?

A: It was definitely written earlier. Asimov might not have known that the earliest fragments of Ecclesiastes in the Dead Sea scrolls were written in the second century B.C. However, Asimov forgot to mention that Ecclesiastes was in the Greek Septuagint, which was translated between 285 and 160 B.C. It would be strange that the Massoretic text, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Septuagint all had this book, and it was first written between 300 and 200 B.C.

Q: In SofS 6:4, does this reference to Tirzah indicate the poem was written after Solomon’s time, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.522-523 suggests?

A: The Song of Songs never said it was written by Solomon, or in his time. However, this verse does not indicate a later date. There was a king of Tirzah in Joshua 12:24 and Jeroboam I (900-880 B.C.) stayed in Tirzah in 1 Kings 14:17. Archaeologists have found it occupied since Joshua's time.

The Song of Songs 6:4 mentions both Tirzah and Jerusalem, and 6:5 mentions Gilead. Asimov says this indicates a later time because Tirzah was not analogous to Jerusalem. It was not in power, but in beauty it might be just as analogous to Jerusalem as Gilead was.

Q: In SofS 6:4, what else do we know about the city of Tirzah?

A: Tirzah means "delight", and it was mentioned in Joshua 12:24. We do not know the Canaanite name of the city, but the Israelites apparently renamed it to Tirzah, after one of Zelophehad's daughters.

While archaeologists are not absolutely certain of the location of Tirzah, they are fairly confident it is the site of Tell el-Far'ah, which as about 600 by 300 meters is a larger hill than Megiddo. The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.573-577 says that the earliest settlements were from the stone age. A new stone wall was built about 1700 B.C. during the bronze age. The next stratum indicates a new city was built on the same site fairly soon after the old one was destroyed. This Ion Age I site was until the beginning of the 9th century B.C., apparently when Omri moved the capital of Israel from Tirzah to Samaria. It was burned with fire, which might indicate Zimri burning himself to death by burning down his palace. Tirzah was rebuilt, but was destroyed again, apparently by the Assyrians in 723 B.C.

See also the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1717 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1020 for more info.

Q: In Isa 1:1, when did Isaiah live?

A: Isaiah chapter 6, early in Isaiah’s career, was In the year that Uzziah died, 739 B.C. Hezekiah succeeded Uzziah as king, followed by Manasseh in 687 B.C. Since Isaiah mentions Sennacherib’s death, Isaiah probably lived during this event, which was 681 B.C. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.546 also says it is possible that Isaiah lived into the reign of Manasseh.

The Jewish pseudepigraphal book Ascension of Isaiah says that Isaiah was killed by being sawn in two during the reign of Manasseh. Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.547 calls this "The Martyrdom of Isaiah" and says it was written about 100 A.D. Hebrews 11:37 says that some Old Testament believers were sawn in two, and Asimov says this might be a reference to Isaiah.

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.4 for more info.

Q: In Isa 1:1, who was Isaiah's father Amoz?

A: We do not know anything about him. Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.527 mentions a rabbinic tradition that Amoz was a brother of king Amaziah, so Isaiah would be of royal blood. However, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.4 says this is a Jewish tradition that Amoz was of royal blood cannot be substantiated.

Q: In Isa 2:4 what kind of plows did they have back then?

A: They did not have plowshares like later farmers. Rather, since iron was not as abundant they used an iron point on a wood beam. See the NIV Study Bible p.1020 for more info.

Q: In Isa 9:6, is there evidence that Jews considered this to be a prophecy of the Messiah?

A: Yes. The Yemenite Midrash 349-350 and the Pereq Shalom p.101 show that some Jews considered this to be Messianic.

Q: In Isa 11:1-3, does this refer to the future Messiah?

A: Yes. Not only do Christians say this, but so does the Dead Sea Scroll Commentary on Isaiah 4Q161. According to The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 4th ed. p.321 the commentary says, " [Interpreted, this concerns the Branch] of David who shall arise at the end [of days] … God will uphold him with [the spirit of might and will give him] a throne of glory and a crown of [holiness] and many-coloured garments …[He will put a sceptre] in his hand and he shall rule over all the [nations]. And Magog …and his sword shall judge [all] peoples."

Q: In Isa 11:16, why will there be a highway made for the remnant of God’s people?

A: It does not say people built it for God’s people, but rather God used it as the route for His people. During Roman times, one key reason for the rapid spread of Christianity was the excellent Roman roads that enabled extensive and rapid travel.

Remember that there were few long roads in existence in Isaiah's time. After Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon, he built a road from Babylon to Egypt. The only other two roads connected Sardis and other Asia Minor cities to Babylon, Susa, and other Persian cities.

Q: In Isa 13:17, why does it say the Medes did not care for silver or gold?

A: The Scythians, a people related to the Medes, amassed huge hordes of gold. In contrast the Medes and Persians did not raid for booty like the Scythians. The Medes and Persians were out to defeat the Lydian and Babylonian empires, and to forge their own Empire. Instead of plundering all of the wealth out of their subject peoples, as the Assyrians did, the Medes and Persians cultivated loyal subjects, though they taxed them.

Q: In Isa 14:3, what does "in the sides of the north" mean?

A: The Hebrew word for "north" and "Zaphon" were the same. Mount Zaphon was a mountain in Syria sacred to Baal. Worshippers believed their gods lived on Mount Zaphon, like Greeks believed their gods lived on Mount Olympus. While Isaiah 14:3 simply might have meant north, it instead might be an oblique reference to the true God being greater than all the gods said to live on Mount Zaphon.

Q: In Isa 14:12-16, does this refer to Satan (Lucifer), or to an earthly king of Babylon?

A: It most likely refers to Satan, also called Lucifer. The pride and cruelty here do not fit any king of Babylon from Isaiah's time onward. Here were the kings of Babylon.

627-605 B.C. Nabopolassar (Nabu-apal-usur)

605-Aug/Sept./562 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar II (Nabu-kudurri-usur) Powerful, but not very cruel compared to the Assyrians

562-560 B.C. Evil-Merodach (Amel-Marduk)

Nebuchadnezzar’s son

560-556 B.C. Neriglissar (Nergal-Sharezer)

Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law

556 B.C (2 months) Labashi-Marduk - From this time on, Babylon felt very threatened by the rising power of the Medes and Persians

556-539 B.C. Nabonidus (Nabu-na’ia)

553-10/539 B.C. Belshazzar (Bel-shar-usur) (co-regent)

539 B.C. Persians capture Babylon. Gubaru, a Persian general, is called the king of Babylon. Gubaru was actually a Babylonian governor who defected to the Persians.

Finally, in Luke 10:18 Jesus is alluding to Isaiah 10:18, except for lightning instead of dawn-bringer (Heosphoros), so Jesus identified this as Lucifer.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.268-270, When Critics Ask p.268-269, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1326 for more info.

See Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.144,175 for a contrary view, that Isaiah 14 refers only to the king of Babylon, not Satan. However, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.168 points out that Jesus so obviously alluded to Isaiah 14 in Luke 10:18 that it does mean Lucifer as well as the king of Babylon.

Q: In Isa 19:2-3, when did this civil war among Egyptians occur?

A: The Libyans of the 22nd Dynasty (945-712 B.C.) fought against both the Nubians/Ethiopians of the 25th Dynasty (770-712 B.C.), the native Egyptian Saites of the 24th Dynasty (724-712 B.C.) as well as various rules of what we called the 23rd Dynasty (c.828-712 B.C.) See the NIV Study Bible p.1043 for more info. The dates are taken from The Cultural Atlas of the World : Ancient Egypt p.37.

Q: In Isa 19:23, when was the highway between Egypt and Assyria built?

A: In Isaiah's time, it would seem incredible that Egyptians would want to peacefully travel to Assyria and vice versa. Egypt and Assyria were both under the Persian Empire, though Egypt often rebelled. They were both together under Alexander of Macedon, and by Roman times there were very good roads linking much of the ancient Mideast.

Q: In Isa 23:1,6,10,14, how is Tarshish related to Tyre?

A: The Phoenicians founded Tarshish in Spain, west of Gibraltar, in the ninth or tenth centuries B.C.

Q: In Isa 23:2,4, why is Sidon [Zidon] mentioned in relation to Tyre?

A: Tyre and Sidon only about 25 miles apart, and citizens of Sidon founded the city of Tyre.

Q: In Isa 23:15-17, when was this seventy year captivity of Tyre?

A: Tyre lived on trade, and the Assyrians did not permit the city of Tyre to engage in any business activity starting about 701 B.C., when the Assyrian captured Usse near Tyre. This ended when Assyria's control of the Levant ended, about 630 B.C.

Carthage had been found 815/814 B.C., and the people of Tyre could simply go to there, Sidon, or other Phoenician cities to trade.

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.147, the New International Bible Commentary p.736, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1070-1071 for more info.

Q: In Isa 30:4, where is the city of "Hanes"?

A: Hanes is pronounced as "HA-nez" (yes two syllables), with both vowels long. This was a city in Egypt about 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Memphis on the West bank of the Nile River, according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.751. However, it also says that based on an Aramaic (Syriac) targum, a few scholars identify Hanes with Taphanes, an eastern Egyptian fort.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1080 says the location of Hanes in Egypt is unknown, but it was probably near Zoan. Zoan is near the northeast border of Egypt.

Q: In Isa 46:1, who are Bel and Nebo?

A: Bel was another name for Marduk, the chief god of Babylon. Nebo was Marduk's son. The Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar (Nabu-kudurri-usur) and Nebopolassar (Nabu-apal-usur) have "Nebo" in their names. The NIV Study Bible p.1084 says that Bel was another name for the Canaanite idol Baal. Rounding this out, the Babylonian goddess Ishtar was the same as the Canaanite goddess Ashtarte.

The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.551-552 agrees with the preceding, except that it also adds that "Bel" was originally given to En-lil, the Sumerian god of the air and sky. However, the Sumerians lived in Sumeria as far back as 3500 B.C., and the Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Babylonians, and other Amorites who would worship Bel did not come until 2500-2000 B.C., so Bel did not come from En-lil, though they might have retroactively been associated with each other.

Q: In Isa 47:1, why is Babylon called a virgin daughter?

A: Perhaps this could be sarcasm. At one time the Babylonians had a custom where unmarried girls would have to sell their bodies in the temple prior to getting married.

Q: In Jer, what was the world like during this time?

A: Jeremiah lived during troubled times. Here are some of the events.

Date

Event

653 B.C.

Scythians dominate Medes and kill Khshathrita the Mede

653 B.C.

Coup in Elam. Assyria and Elam were friendly before this.

653 B.C.

Assyria defeats Elam. Egypt free from Assyria

653 B.C.

Cimmerians defeat Lydia

652-643 B.C.

Civil War in Assyria, Shamash-shum-ukin revels against his brother Ashurbanipal

c.650 B.C.

Messenians revolt against Spartans

650 B.C.

Scythians and Cimmerians raid Palestine

648 B.C.

Assyrians sack Babylon

646 B.C.

Ashurbanipal the Assyrian exiles Elamites

642-639 B.C.

Assyrians attack Elam, sack Susa, and behead King Teumann

638 B.C.

@Hong River Chu defeat Duke Xiang of Song

633 B.C.

Assyrians sack Thebes in Egypt

632 B.C.

Kylon tries to take Athens from Megakles

c.631/627 B.C.

Medes under Kyaxares besiege Ninevah.

628-571 B.C.

Lydians fight Cimmerians

626/625 B.C.

Babylonians gain independence from Assyria

625 B.C.

Kyaxares the Mede throws off Scythians

615 B.C.

Arrapkha in Assyria captured

614 B.C.

Asshur in Assyria captured

614 B.C.

Medes try to take Ninevah, Assyrian capital

c.613-7-8/612

Medes sack Ninevah (Babylonians too late)

612 B.C.

Medes conquer Armenia

612-609 B.C.

Last of Assyrians destroyed

611-604 B.C.

Lydian Alyattes fights Thrasybulus of Miletus in Asia Minor

611-12/604 B.C.

Babylonians sack Ashkelon in Philistia

610-605 B.C.

Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II fights in Syria

609 B.C.

Medes capture Tuspa, Urartian capital

609-606 B.C.

Babylonians raid Northern Israel

609/608 B.C.

Egyptians destroy Megiddo and attack Gaza

606-605 B.C.

Di attack north China, as done in 630,623,620

May/June 604 B.C.

At Carchemish in Syria, Babylon defeats Egypt

5-6/604 B.C.

@Carchemish Babylonians defeat the Egyptians

11-12/605/604 B.C.

Babylonians sack Ashkelon in Phoenicia

603 B.C.

Babylonians sack Ekron in Philistia

601 B.C.

Babylon and Egypt tie with heavy losses

599-598 B.C.

Babylonians fight Arabs

3/16/597 B.C.

Babylonians capture Jerusalem but do not destroy it

596 B.C.

Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II fights Elamites

595-594 B.C.

Nebuchadnezzar II puts down revolt

593 B.C.

Egyptian Psamtik II + Greek, Phoenician, and

Jewish mercenaries defeat Cushites in Sudan

591 B.C.

Egypt invades Nubia in Sudan

589-587 B.C.

Jews rebel against Babylonians. Jerusalem suffers a 30-month seige. Jews exiled.

585-573 B.C.

Babylonians besiege king Ethbaal II of Tyre

585 B.C.

War ends between Medes and Alyattes of Lydia (eclipse 5/28/585 B.C.)

584-584

Nebuchadnezzar II besieges Tyre in Lebanon

581 B.C.

Babylonians deport more from Judah

570 B.C.

Greeks in Cyrene defeat Apries of Egypt

568-567 B.C.

Babylonians and Apries try to invade Egypt

Q: In Jer 34:1, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of Nebuchadnezzar capturing Jerusalem?

A: Yes. A Babylonian cuneiform table tells of events in the reign of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar II, including the capture of Jerusalem. A photograph of it is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.696.

Q: In Jer 43:8-13 and Jer 46:13-20, when did Nebuchadnezzar invade Egypt?

A: This invasion occurred 589/587 B.C. according to Babylonian tablet. In addition, an Egyptian funerary inscription, in telling of a great invasion during this time period by northerners, says they even threatened the Ethiopian border in the south.

See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.180 and the discussion on Ezekiel 29:11-13; 30:23-36 for more on the answer.

Q: In Jer 43:13, where was Beth-Shemesh, in the land of Egypt?

A: While there is no city the Egyptians called Beth-Shemesh (the Egyptians did not speak Hebrew), Beth-Shemesh means house of the sun. (Cities were often called "Beth…", where Beth literally means house.)

Egypt was famous for a city dedicated to the sun, which the Greeks called "Heliopolis" meaning "city of the sun" and the Egyptians themselves called the city "On".

Q: In Jer 44:30, who was Pharaoh Hophra, and what happened to him?

A: The Greeks called him Apries, and he ruled the Egyptian Delta from 589/588-570/569 B.C. The Cultural Atlas of the World : Ancient Egypt cautions that we do not know many of the actual pronunciations of the Pharaohs, but suggests Egyptians pronounced his name as "Ha'a'ibre') (p.36-37). Ezekiel 17:15,17; 29:1-16; 30:20-26; 31:1-18, 32:1-32 and Jeremiah 37:5-11; 43:9 all mention him, though not by name. Jeremiah 44:30 said Hophra would die at the hand of his enemies. He was killed by his coregent Aahmes (Amasis in Greek), who was subservient to Babylon. The non-Christian Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.580 says not that Amasis was a co-regent but just an officer. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1325 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.778 for more info.

Q: In Jer 46:2, who was Pharaoh Neco?

A: There were two Pharaohs named Neco, and this was Necho II who reigned from 610/609-595/594 B.C. The Cultural Atlas of the World : Ancient Egypt p.37 suggests that the Egyptians called him Wehemibre'. Herodotus (2.158, 4.42) mentions that he dredged the canal connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and sent ships with Phoenician sailors all the way around Africa. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1325 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.698 for more info.

Q: In Jer 46:2, does the date contradict Dan 1:1?

A: No, because the dating system used in Judah differed by a year from the dating system used later in Babylon. See the discussion on Daniel 1:1 for the answer.

Q: In Jer 46:13-20, when did Nebuchadnezzar strike the land of Egypt?

A: This answer is a duplicate of the discussion on Ezekiel 29:11-13; 30:23-26.

Skeptics used to think that the Babylonians never attacked Egypt, because Greek historians gave no mention of this invasion. However, not only did the Jewish historian Josephus mention this (Antiquities of the Jews 10.9.5-7 c.93-94 A.D.), When Critics Ask p.280 points out that a fragment of a Babylonian Chronicle from 567 B.C., as well as a inscription on the funerary statue of Nes-hor in south Egypt, corroborate with Josephus and the Bible. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.276278 mentions a Babylonian cuneiform tablet discovered by Pinches, which tells of an invasion 569/568 B.C. (It is unclear if this is the same tablet mentioned in When Critics Ask p.280, or a different tablet.)

How far into Egypt did the Babylonians go? Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.593 (1981), admits that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt, but says "it could not have been the resounding Babylonian success that Ezekiel had confidently predicted." The invasion probably was brief. However, according to Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.278, the funerary statue of Nes-hor says that during sometime during the reign of Uah-ib-Ra, an army of northerners went so far south as to threaten the Ethiopian border. Nes-hor was the governor of southern Egypt under Pharaoh Hophra according to When Critics Ask p.280. Note that Ezekiel did not predict how long the Babylonians would remain in Egypt, only that they would invade Egypt to the border of Ethiopia.

Q: In Jer 46:25, who are the multitude of No?

A: No was the name of a major Egyptian city, which was also called Thebes.

Q: In Jer 47:4, where was Caphtor?

A: Caphtor was known as the home of the Philistines, but archaeologists are not certain where Caphtor was. Three possible locations are Crete, Cyprus, or Asia Minor. If it were Crete, then the Philistines were the remnant of the once mighty Minoan civilization.

Q: In Jer 48:2, why was Madmen cut down?

A: Madmen here does not refer to insane people. Rather, it was the name of a Moabite town.

Q: In Jer 48:7,13,36, who was Chemosh?

A: Chemosh was the national god of the Moabites.

Q: In Jer 49:3, how does Ai relate to the Ammonites?

A: Ai here is not the small Canaanite town destroyed 800 years earlier by Joshua, but rather an Ammonite town.

Q: In Jer 49:30-33, where was Hazor?

A: This is not the Hazor in Canaan, but an otherwise unknown desert location, probably close to Kedar. See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.423, The New Geneva Study Bible p.1228, and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.761-762 for more info.

Q: In Jer 49:36, when were the Elamites scattered?

A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.

Prior to this time, Assyria devastated Elam and deported some of the captives to Samaria after a revolt in 640 B.C. In Jeremiah’s time Elam was peacefully serving Babylon.

Alexander of Macedon captured Susa and took all its treasure in 331 B.C. It lost its prominence after Alexander’s Empire was split up among his four generals, and this might be to what the four winds in Jeremiah 49:36 refer.

See Persia and the Bible p.292,302 for more info.

Q: In Jer 51:27, who were the Minni?

A: The Minni were the Minneans, who lived just south of Lake Urmia; their yet undiscovered capital was named Izirtu. The Assyrians mention fighting them during the reign of Adadnerari III (810-783 B.C.) Though they often fought the Assyrians, they tried to help the Assyrians in 616 B.C., but were defeated by Nabopolassar of Babylon. Excavations of the 60 acre citadel at Hasanlu Tepe date the Minni as far back as 1200 B.C. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1133-1134 and Persia and the Bible p.47 for more info.

While Josephus writing around 93-94 A.D. in Antiquities of the Jews 1.3.6 says they relate to the Armenian Minyas, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1133 indicates this is false.

Q: In Ezek 1:3 and Ezek 10:20, where was the Kebar (or Chebar) River?

A: This was a canal (man-made river) which flowed into the Euphrates River south of Babylon. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.584 mentions that it was one of the larger canals, and it original Akkadian name was "nar Kabari", meaning Grand Canal.

Q: In Ezek 8:14, what was wrong with weeping for Tammuz?

A: Tammuz, also called Dumuzi, was a Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian god of fertile crops. In Sumerian mythology, his wife, Inanna had him dragged off to Hell. (It’s a long story that we do not need to go into here.) Anyway, in some versions, he returns to earth every spring and departs for Hell every fall. A religious rite was for the women to weep at the season when he allegedly died, and to rejoice when he was revived.

Q: In Ezek 8:14, does the Christian practice of Good Friday and Easter Sunday owe something to the rite of Tammuz, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.586 claims?

A: Asimov has no basis for this assertion. Jesus voluntarily choosing to die, and being raised from the dead, no more to die, is very different from Tammuz being taken to Hell against His will, and repeating the process every year.

Q: In Ezek 26:3-14, was Ezekiel’s prophecy of victory over Tyre contradicted in Ezek 29:17-20, since Nebuchadnezzar did not conquer Tyre, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.587-588 asserts?

A: No. First notice that those who listened to Ezekiel did not see any difficulty, as four chapters later, in Ezekiel 29:17-18 says that Nebuchadnezzar got no reward (i.e. plunder) from Tyre. The answer first discusses the literary structure, what was prophesied, what was not prophesied, and finally what happened.

Literary structure:

Ezekiel 26:3-14 is has a chiastic structures, with some exceptions. In a perfect chiasm, each thought is put in parallel in symmetric form. The changes in pronouns in the Hebrew are important here.

Ezek 26:3 Many nations will come against Tyre

..Ezek 26:4 They will destroy Tyre's walls and towers.

….Ezek 26:4,5 I [God] will make Tyre a bare rock, a place to spread fishnets.

……Ezek 26:6 Her mainland settlements will be sacked.

……..Ezek 26:7 Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, will come against Tyre

……Ezek 26:8 He [Nebuchadnezzar] will sack your mainland settlements.

..Ezek 26:8,9 He will demolish the walls and towers

..Ezek 26:10,11 His horses will enter Tyre's gates and kill some of the people.

Ezek 26:12 They will plunder the wealth and loot. They will break down your walls and throw the rubble into the sea.

Ezek 26:13 I [God] will put an end to their songs.

….Ezek 26:14 I [God] will make Tyre bare rock, a place to spread fishnets.

As a side note, the Septuagint preserved the pronouns correctly until verse 12. Thereafter, it used "he" where it should have used "they" two times and "I" [God] one time.

2. What was prophesied:

There are three parts to the prophecy: many nations (they), God (I), and Nebuchadnezzar (he).

Many nations will come, loot Tyre, destroy Tyre's walls, and throw the rubble into the sea.

God will make Tyre a bare rock, a place to spread fishnets, and end their songs (Tyrian culture).

Nebuchadnezzar will come, sack the mainland city, and destroy the walls and towers, and kill some of the people.

3. What was not prophesied:

It never mentions that Nebuchadnezzar will do anything to the island, or which nation God will use to make the island a place for spreading fishnets. It was the many nations "they" that got the plunder, while Nebuchadnezzar only got the mainland settlements.

4. What happened:

The Assyrians, prior to Ezekiel's prophecy, unsuccessfully tried to capture the mainland city in 726/724 B.C. for five years. They tried again, and failed in 664 B.C.

Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon besieged Tyre for 13 years from 585 to 573 B.C. They successfully demolished the Mainland city. However the Tyrians in Old Tyre moved to the pre-existing New Tyre on the island (700-750 meters wide) across from the Mainland city. The Tyrian fleet kept the Babylonians from attacking the island city.

Alexander the Macedonian captured the mainland city, and he used the rubble to build a 200 foot (60 meter) wide causeway (artificial land-bridge) half a mile long (600-750 meters) connecting to the island city, and after seven months, he captured the island city in 332 B.C. The Encyclopedia Britannica mentions that in capturing Tyre he used ships from many nations: Sidon, Cyprus, Rhodes, Mallus, Soli, Lycia, and of course, Macedonia. Alexander's army killed 8,000 people at first, 2,000 crucified later, and enslaved the remaining 30,000. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 6 p.687 says 6,000 were killed at first, 2,000 crucified later, 30,000 sold into slavery, and 15,000 rescued by the Sidonians.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.276-278 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1279 for more on the he/they showing the two-phase destruction. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.187 reminds us that the time element of the two-phase was not specified. See also When Critics Ask p.287 for more info.

See the discussion on Ezekiel 26:14,19-20 for info on Tyre never being rebuilt.

Q: In Ezek 26:3-21, what is a history of Tyre?

A: For those who wish to see the historical details, here is a history of Tyre.

2300 B.C. is the time archaeologists think colonists from Sidon fleeing the Philistines founded Tyre, about 25 miles to the south. This would be a couple of hundred years before Abraham. The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.6 p.687 mentions that an Egyptian text from 1780-1750 B.C. mentions Tyre.

It also mentions that before Hiram I, son of Abibaal, (969-936 B.C.) the "island" of Tyre was actually two islands. People lived on one island, and the other island only had a temple of Baal. Hiram joined together the two with a causeway to form one island. The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.6 p.686 says the area of the combined island was about 57.6 hectares.

Hiram I of Tyre forces the Tityans to pay tribute.

936-929 B.C. Beleazarus, son of Hiram, rules in Tyre

929-920 B.C. Abdastartus, son of Beleazarus, rules in Tyre. He is assassinated by four sons of his nurse.

The next kings are Astartus, Aserymus his brother.

Phelles/Pheles kills his brother Aserymus and reigns for 8 months.

897/869-865/837 B.C. Ethbaal I (Josephus calls him Ithobalus), a priest of Astarte, overthrows Phelles and rules as king in Tyre

837-831 B.C. Baal-azzor, son of Ethbaal I reigns

831-822 B.C. Matgenus, son of Badezorus reigns

822/820-775/774 B.C. Pygmalion reigns

815/814 B.C. City of Carthage founded by Tyrians and Pygmalion's sister Dido.

9th century. Tyre pays Assyrians to leave it alone. (Encyclopedia Britannica 1961 vol.22 p.452)

9th century Tyre pays Shalmaneser III tribute. (Encyclopedia Britannica 1961 vol.22 p.452)

743 B.C. Assyrians capture Kashpuna, near Tyre and Sidon

?-739/738 B.C. Ethbaal II rules over Tyre and Sidon

738-730/729 B.C. Hiram II rules in Tyre

730/729 B.C. Mattan II pays 150 talents of gold

Eloulaios of Tyre puts down a revolt on Cyprus

726/724 B.C. Shalmaneser V first tries to capture Tyre by Sea

726/724-722/720 B.C. Shalmaneser V and Assyrians besiege Tyre for five years. He dies still trying.

c.720 B.C. Assyrian Sargon II conquers Tyre. (Encyclopedia Britannica 1961 vol.22 p.452)

701 B.C. Sennacherib and Assyrians capture Usse near Tyre

701-~630 B.C. Assyria does not permit any trade by Tyre.

680-669 B.C. Baal I rules Tyre and forms a "League of Hatti" against Assyria.

669 B.C. Tyre surrenders to Ashurbanipal. (Encyclopedia Britannica 1961 vol.22 p.452)

664 B.C. Ashurbanipal and Assyrian try to capture Tyre

585-573/572 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar II and the Babylonians besiege Tyre and Ethbaal II for 13 years and destroys the mainland city.

c.572 B.C. Evidence indicates the island city surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar II. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1279, Encyclopedia Britannica 1961 vol.22 p.452)

c.572 B.C. Ethbaal II was taken to Babylon, and Baal II ruled Tyre under the control of the Babylonians.

345 B.C. Tyre tries to revolt from Persia

332 B.C. Alexander demolishes Tyre after 7-month siege

c.50 A.D. Tyre existed in Paul’s time (Acts 12:20; 21:3,7)

638 A.D. Muslims capture Tyre, along with Antioch, Caesarea, and Tripolis in Lebanon

1124 A.D. Crusaders capture Tyre

1291 A.D. Muslims destroy Tyre

See the Encyclopedia Britannica, Josephus' Against Apion book 1 ch.18, and the Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.6 p.686-692 for more info on Tyre.

Q: In Ezek 26:14,19-21 how would Tyre never be rebuilt, since the village of Sur (Tyre) exists today?

A: This question can be nicknamed "the question of mistaken identity." The modern city of Sur (or Tyre is not on the site of the ancient city. First some information on Tyre, then what the Bible says, and finally the situation today.

Tyre originally was only a mainland city build by Phoenician colonists from Sidon. Nobody actually conquered this city until 573 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed the mainland city after a 13-year siege. However, during those 13 years, the Tyrians in Old Tyre moved almost everything of value to the New Tyre on the island half a mile from the mainland city. Alexander built a causeway connecting New Tyre and Old Tyre. Silt built up along the causeway, and now there is no island, only a peninsula.

In the Bible,

Ezekiel 26:14 does not say not a soul would live there, but that the city would never be rebuilt.

Ezekiel 26:19 says the city will be laid waste, like cities that are not inhabited. The deep will come over Tyre.

Ezekiel 26:21 says that the city of Tyre will be no more, and never be found again.

Today, of the island city's two harbors, the southern harbor has filled up with sand. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (1972), the modern town of Sur had a population of 16,483 in 1961. An aerial map shows that it is built on the north part of what was the island city and part of the causeway. The city of Old Tyre is uninhabited, bare rock east of the modern city of Sur.

Q: In Ezek 27:7, where were the coasts of Elishah?

A: Scholars do not know for certain. The Septuagint transliterates this as "Elisai". The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1280 mentions that some scholars equate it with "Alashia", the ancient name for Cyprus. Other possibilities are parts of Greece, Italy, or Syria. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.588 conjectures that it was a district in Cyprus or else northern Africa. Asimov has an interesting and plausible theory here. He mentions that the founder of Carthage, had a throne name of "Dido", but her actual name was Elissa, and thus Carthage was on the coast of "Elissa".

Q: In Ezek 27:10, where was Phut?

A: While this could be a scribal error for "Punt", in east Africa, that is most likely not the case. It probably refers to a place in modern-day Libya.

Q: In Ezek 27:11, where were Arvad and the people of Gammad?

A: Arvad was a coastal city in the north part of Phoenicia. Today, no one knows the location of Gammad.

Q: In Ezek 27:17, where were Minnith and Panang?

A: The Hebrew word translated as "Panang" in the KJV is uncertain. The NIV translates this not as a place, but as "confections" The NKJV and NRSV translates this as the grain "millet".

Q: In Ezek 27:32-34, 28:8, how was the city of Tyre destroyed in the middle of the sea?

A: This prophecy would have seemed strange at the time it was given, because Tyre was on the coast. However, later Tyre was expanded to also occupy an island half a mile from the original city. The original city was destroyed, but the island city survived until Alexander the Great.

Q: In Ezek 28:8, was this a false prophecy, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.590 claims?

A: No. Asimov claims this because the king of Tyre, Ethbaal (Ithobaal) II was taken captive to Babylon and not killed. While Ethbaal was taken to Babylon, Asimov is conjecturing here, because history does not record how Ethbaal was killed.

Q: In Ezek 28:10, why does it mention that the king of Tyre would die the death of the uncircumcised?

A: Like both the Egyptians and the Hebrews, the Phoenicians practiced circumcision. In contrast, the Greeks and Mesopotamian peoples did not. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1282 also mentions that this has the connotation of dying in shame.

Q: In Ezek 29:11-13; 30:23-26, when was Egypt uninhabited for forty years and the Egyptians scattered by the Babylonians?

A: This answer is a duplicate of the discussion on Jeremiah 46:13-20.

Skeptics used to think that the Babylonians never attacked Egypt, because Greek historians gave no mention of this invasion. However, not only did the Jewish historian Josephus mention this in Antiquities of the Jews 10.9.5-7 (c.93-94 A.D.), When Critics Ask p.280 points out that a fragment of a Babylonian Chronicle from 567 B.C., as well as a inscription on the funerary statue of Nes-hor in south Egypt, corroborate with Josephus and the Bible. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.276278 mentions a Babylonian cuneiform tablet discovered by Pinches tells of an invasion 569/568 B.C. (It is unclear if this is the same tablet mentioned in When Critics Ask p.280, or a different tablet.)

How far into Egypt did the Babylonians go? Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.593 (1981), admits that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt, but says "it could not have been the resounding Babylonian success that Ezekiel had confidently predicted." The invasion probably was brief. However, according to Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.278, the funerary statue of Nes-hor says that during sometime during the reign of Uah-ib-Ra, an army of northerners went so far south as to threaten the Ethiopian border. Nes-hor was the governor of southern Egypt under Pharaoh Hophra according to When Critics Ask p.280. Note that Ezekiel did not predict how long the Babylonians would remain in Egypt, only that they would invade Egypt to the border of Ethiopia.

Q: In Ezek 29:14; 30:14; where is the land of Pathros?

A: This was another name for upper Egypt. Upper Egypt was the southern part of Egypt.

Q: In Ezek 30:5, where is Chub/Cub?

A: It is believed to be a part of modern-day Libya.

Q: In Ezek 30:15 and Nah 3:8, where is the city of "No"?

A: This is another name for the city of Thebes, a major city of Egypt. The Egyptian word for village was "niwt", which the Hebrews changed to No. The full Hebrew name, No-Amon, meant town/village of Amon. Thebes was destroyed in 663 B.C. and rebuilt in 654 B.C., See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1211 for more info on No.

Q: In Ezek 30:15,16, how did God pour His fury on Sin?

A: This does not refer to sinful acts, but rather to the region called the Wilderness of Sin, also called Pelusium, which is to the northeast of Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula. The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.593 has a helpful comment here. When the Persian king Cambyses conquered Egypt, he first defeated the Egyptian army at Pelusium in 525 B.C.. There was little resistance after that.

Q: In Ezek 30:17, where are Aven and Pibeseth?

A: Aven is the Egyptian city of Avaris, which had the Greek name of Heliopolis. Pibeseth is also named Bubastis.

Q: In Ezek 35:2-3,7, where is Mount Seir?

A: This is the most prominent mountain in Edom, and is used here as a synonym for the nation of Edom.

Q: In Ezek 35:15, 36:5, Isa 34:5-6 (KJV), why was Edom called Idumea here?

A: Idumea was a term used much later, by the Greeks and Romans, for Edom. The King James Version, as well as the Septuagint use the word "Idumea", but the Hebrew manuscripts say "Edom". According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.830, the only place the word Idumea really appears in the Bible, apart from translations, is in Mark 3:8.

Q: In Ezek 38:6, where is the location of Togarmah?

A: Togarmah was a kingdom 70 miles west of Malatya. The Hittites called it Tegarama. The Assyrians called it Tilgarimanu, and the conquered it in 695 B.C. The Greeks called it Gauraena. The Armenians claim they descended from Haik, a son of Torgom. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1721 for more info.

Q: In Dan 1:1, what do we know about Nebuchadnezzar II apart from the Bible?

A: His name is written in English both as Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadrezzar, but the latter is more similar to the way the Babylonians pronounced it. It means Nabo [a god] protect my frontier.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (1972) Nebuchadnezzar II was the oldest son of Nabopolassar. He defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 B.C. When Nabopolassar died, Nebuchadnezzar II returned to Babylon and ruled from 605 B.C. to August/September 562 B.C. The Babylonian Chronicle gives details of his fighting Egypt, besieging Tyre, and defeating Judah in 597 B.C. He fought Elam in 596 B.C. and put down a revolt in 595 B.C.. After that the Babylonian Chronicle is missing here.

The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.696 has a photograph of a Babylonian decree listing the events from the last year of Nabopolassar to Nebuchadnezzar II’s 11th year. It mentions the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar built the hanging gardens of Babylon, which have been called one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. He built them for his wife Amytis, the daughter of king Astyages of Media.

Q: In Dan 1:1, did Nebuchadnezzar invade Judah in the third year of Jehoiakim, or in the fourth year as Jer 46:2 says?

A: Both, and this was only one invasion, because the dating system used in Judah in the fifth century B.C. was different than the one used in Babylon.

There is an interesting side note here. As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.192 points out, no Jew writing centuries later would use a Babylonian calendar system that gave a year different from what Jeremiah wrote. Rather than being an error in the Book of Daniel, this confirms that Daniel was written in the fifth century rather than later.

When Critics Ask p.291-293 explains the details of the two calendar systems. The "Nisan" calendar system Jeremiah (and the Assyrians) used started in Nisan (April). Jehoiakim because of Judah a few days after the new year, so the first [full] year would start the first day of the following year. Daniel used the "Tishri" calendar where the new year started in "Tishri" around October. The first [full] year of Jehoiakim's reign started on that the first day of Tishri. The Babylonian invasion took place in the summer of 605 B.C.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.284-285 for more info.

Q: Why was Dan 2:4b-7:28 written in Aramaic, while Dan 8:1-12:13 were written in Hebrew?

A: Daniel or his one or more secretaries could write in whatever language they deemed best; there is nothing more sacred about Hebrew. We do not know why the human authors chose to write it this way. One reason might be that the first chapters related to nations in the Mideast, while the last chapters relate specifically to the Jews.

Ezra 4:8-6:18 and Ezra 7:12-26 also were written in Aramaic. Also note that in Daniel chapters 1-6 are written in third person, while verse 7:2 starts in first person.

The Aramaic portion starts immediately after "answered the king in Aramaic". It does not go back to Hebrew until Daniel 8:1.

Q: In Dan 2:4b-7:28, what else do we know about Aramaic?

A: Aramaic was an extremely long-lived language, closely related to Hebrew. It was spoken by Laban and people of Syria back in Abraham's time (Genesis 31:47), it was spoken here, and in Jesus' time, and it was spoken for a few more centuries by Nestorians and other Christians in Syria and eastward. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 1 p.247 says that linguistic research has shown there were four principal groups of Aramaic: Old Aramaic, Official Aramaic, Levantine Aramaic, and Eastern Aramaic. The Assyrians from c.1100-605 B.C. spoke Official Aramaic.

Outside of the Bible, "Aramaisms", including some found in the book of Daniel, have been seen in writings from Ugarit during the Amarna period, around 1400 B.C. the Expositor's Bible Commentary also says the Aramaic of Daniel was used from the 7th century and on, used in the fifth century by Jews in the papyrii in Elephantine, Egypt and in Ezra. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 1 p.403 says that this Aramaic is considerably different from the Aramaic written at Qumran near the time of Christ.

See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.74-75 for a photograph of Aramaic written on pottery addressed to Eliashib, the probably commander of the fortress of Arad. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.123 says that abundant examples have been found of the Babylonians (605-538 B.C.) and the Persians using Aramaic in their official letters. The Borchardt collection has 13 Persian letters, written in Aramaic, from Egypt.

Q: In Dan 2:2-10; 4:7; 5:7,11, does calling the priests Chaldeans show a later authorship, as some the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.601 maintains?

A: No. Gleason Archer has an extensive article in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.285-286 discussing this.

1. Daniel uses the Hebrew term, Kasdim, not only to refer to priests, but also the Chaldean (Babylonian) people in Daniel 5:30. If using it to refer to priests showed a late authorship, then Daniel 5:30 would show an early authorship.

2. However, using this in two ways shows this was written around Daniel's time. The Akkadian language, which Babylonians in Daniel's time spoke, used the same word Kal-du (from the Sumerian Gal-du to refer to both the priests and the nation. A table dated in the 14th year of Shamash-shumukin (668-648 B.C.) uses Gal-du for the priests. Archer says the Babylonians prior to the fall of Assyria used Gas'du for the Chaldean people. After the fall of Assyria, they changed the consonant "s" in many words to the consonant "l".

3. The Greeks, who knew of the Babylonians long before Daniel was born, called the nation Chaldaioi.

See also When Critics Ask p.293 for more info.

Q: In Dan 4:33-37, is there any extra-Biblical evidence that Nebuchadnezzar temporarily went insane?

A: Perhaps. While the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.605 says there is none, but The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 7 p.63 mentions an interesting Aramaic Dead Sea scroll fragment found at Qumran in cave 4. It is a prayer attributed to Nabonidus that says, "The words of the prayer which Nabunai(d), King of Assyria and Babylon, the great king, prayed when he was smitten with an unpleasant skin-disease by the ordinance of God Most High in the city of Teima: ' I was smitten with an unpleasant skin-disease for seven years … to the name of God Most High'" (This conjectural translation, dependent on several restorations of missing letters, was published by J.T. Milik in Revue Biblique, 63 (1956): 408; cf. Saggs, Babylon, p.154 for the English version above.) The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 7 p.63 says this might be a late, partially legendary fragment, that either could contain a true account either of a skin disease of Nabonidus. But, it says, "… a careful examination of the Nabonidus fragment shows that it is far more likely to have been a late, garbled tradition of the illness of Nebuchadnezzar himself, if indeed it does not represent a later illness that actually befell Nabonidus personally (whose ten years of confinement to the North Arabian city of Teima [Teman] may have been partly occasioned by the illness.)".

The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 1 p.246-247 says that the Prayer of Nabonidus is too mythical to be helpful, but adds that we still know of the madness of Nebuchadnezzar through Berossus, a third century Babylonians priest and historian, and the second century writer Abydenus, who said that Nebuchadnezzar was "possessed by some god or other", where he made a prophecy and disappeared from Babylon.

So, this evidence is certainly not conclusive, but it illustrates that the official Babylonian records and Greek history do not give all the details.

Q: In Dan 4:33-37, could the idea of Nebuchadnezzar acting like an animal have from Assyrian statues of bulls with human heads and bird's wings, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.605 says is an attractive guess?

A: Not likely. First of all, humans with heads of bulls were known in ancient Egypt and Crete from the time of Moses. Second, these were Assyrian statues, not Babylonian. Daniel would have less reason to write something about an "animal-man", than Moses who lived in Egypt.

Q: In Dan 5:1 and Dan 5:30, who was Belshazzar?

A: The Greek historian Herodotus, writing only about 90 years after the fall of Babylon, never mentioned Belshazzar and explicitly said the last king was Nabonidus. Until the 20th century, that was the final word on the subject apart from the Bible. This would be one of the things Christians would have to accept that there would be an explanation someday, without knowing the explanation.

However, in the 20th century archaeologists have found a cuneiform table, called the "Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus". Belshazzar was the firstborn son of Nabonidus, and after his first three years of rule (553 B.C.), Nabonidus went into voluntary exile for ten years in Tema in Arabia, and Nabonidus appointed Belshazzar as the rule. Significantly, when the Persians conquered Babylon, Nabonidus was not even there; he was in Tema in the northern part of Saudi Arabia. When Critics Ask p.209 concludes on this, "Since Belshazzar was the subordinate of Nabonidus, his name was forgotten, because the ancient Babylonian and Greek historians were primarily interested in the reigns of the official kings. Daniel’s record has proven to be amazingly accurate."

Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.286 mentions an "inscription of Nabunaid" uncovered at Ur. This is likely the same as the "Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus". Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.286 also adds that other cuneiform documents say how Belshazzar presented sheep and oxen offerings at the temples of Sippar as "an offering of the king."

Now Herodotus is considered generally to be very accurate. If Belshazzar's co-regency (under Nabonidus) was so insignificant that Herodotus, writing 90 years later, overlooked it, how could anyone expect the book of Daniel to naturally get this correct, unless Daniel were written at this time. Since Daniel knew more about this than Herodotus, is it simply amazing that some liberal scholars in the late Twentieth century still considered Daniel as a second century book. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.193 for more on this.

The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.606 does not mention these details, except it says that Belshazzar (Bel-shar-utsur meaning "Bel, protect the king") was the firstborn son of Nabonidus.

See also Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.65-66, the New Geneva Study Bible p.1339-1340, and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1170-1171 for more info.

Q: In Dan 5:30, what is a list of Babylonian kings?

A: Historians actually call this empire the Neo-Babylonian Empire, to distinguish it from the past Empire under Hammurapi. Here are the kings

627-605 B.C. Nabopolassar (Nabu-apal-usur)

605-Aug/Sept./562 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar II (Nabu-kudurri-usur)

562-560 B.C. Evil-Merodach (Amel-Marduk)

Nebuchadnezzar’s son

560-556 B.C. Neriglissar (Nergal-Sharezer)

Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law

556 B.C (2 months) Labashi-Marduk

556-539 B.C. Nabonidus (Nabu-na’ia)

553-10/12/539 B.C. Belshazzar (Bel-shar-usur) (co-regent)

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1326 for more info.

Q: In Dan 5:30-51 and Dan 9:1, what is the difference between a Mede and a Persian?

A: This question is more complicated than it first appears. Three points to consider in the answer.

1. The Medes and Persians were two distinct but related peoples. The Medes were very closely related to the Scythians and lived in central Iran, while the Persians lived in ancient Elam in southwestern Iran. The two peoples were always closely allied together, with the Medes being the dominant partner. This changed under Cyrus (a Persian who was one-fourth Mede), when he defeated his Median grandfather Astyges in 625 B.C.. From then on, the Persians had the dominant role, and Herodotus 3.91-96 says the Medes had to pay the annual tax to the Persian Empire.

2. However, Herodotus 1.135 also says the Persians adopted Median dress. "As Widengren notes, 'both Medes and Persians were often called simply Medes by the Greeks, and this usage evidently dates from the first contact between Greeks in Ionia and Iranians of the west." The Persians were known as Medes down to the age of Demosthenes (fourth century B.C.)." (Persia and the Bible p.56-57)

3. In the Bible, they were considered collectively as one people, "Medes and Persians", in Daniel 6:8,12,15, and "Persians and Medes" in Esther 1:3,14. Persia and the Bible p.57 also says that both were termed just "Medes" in Isaiah 13:17ff and Jeremiah 51:11,28).

Q: In Dan 5:30-6:1 and Dan 9:1 very briefly, who was Darius the Mede?

A: Most think he was the first governor of Babylon, named Gubaru, though some think it was Cyrus himself. The reason it says Darius is either:

a) a manuscript copyist error,

b) a throne name for Cyrus, or

c) the Jews did not have a good transliteration for "Gubaru".

See the next question for a more extensive answer.

Q: In Dan 5:30-6:1; Dan 9:1 who was this Darius the Mede?

A: First are some historical facts, then some Biblical observations, and finally the three views.

1. Historical Facts

1.1 The Medes’ history is reconstructed exclusively from Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and Greek sources, since no Medean writing has been found. The careful Greek historian Herodotus noted that he had heard four different accounts of the childhood of Cyrus. Ctesias was another Greek historian, but he was not very reliable.

1.2 In 625 B.C., the Medes conquered the Persians, and the Medes ruled over them until 553 B.C.

1.3 From 553 to 550 B.C., the Persian Cyrus the Great revolted, and succeeded with the help (in 550 B.C.) of the Medean chief Harpagus. The Medes still had the highest position after the Persians, and as the 1956 and 1972 editions of Encyclopedia Britannica say, "many noble Medes were employed as officials, satraps and generals."

1.4 Astyages was the Medean King Cyrus overthrew in 550 B.C.. The historian Ctesias says that Cyrus treated Astyages well, and made him a satrap of Barcania or Hyrcania, but Oebares (Babylonian Ugbaru) killed Astyages.

1.5 In the Persian Empire, Medea was one of the 20 (not 120) satrapies of the Persian Empire, but it was divided into two parts for taxation purposes.

1.6 Ugbaru, the Babylonian governor of Gutium (according to the Nabonidus Chronicle), defected to the Persians and became general of the Persian army that overthrew Babylon on 10/11 or 10/12 539 B.C. He died 11/6/539 B.C., almost a month later. While we do not know his ancestry, the liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.2 p.39 points out that Babylonians used the word Gutium to refer to the Northeast, and the Medes were in the northeast part of the Persian Empire. It also mentions that the historian Berossus lists Gutium with the tyrants of the Medes.

1.7 Cyrus himself was with other troops at Opis, and Cyrus did not enter Babylon until 10/29/539 B.C. Cyrus was said to be the grandson of Astyages, through Astyages’ daughter Mandane. However, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.424 point out that this was not the Persian Emperor, because Darius here was "made king". Of course Daniel was called a "king" too in Daniel 5:29, and he was not an emperor.

1.8 Gubaru/Gaubaruwa (whom Xenophon the Greek confused with Ugbaru), was appointed the governor of Babylonia for a year or two by Cyrus.

1.9 Darius I, the son of Hystaspes/Vishtaspa, was a Persian (not a Mede) who became King in 522 B.C., after Cyrus and the false Bardiya reigned. Darius I was involved in putting down a revolt in Babylon in 520 B.C., 19 years after Persia conquered Babylon. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.287 points out that he was in his twenties when he began his rule, not 62 years old. The liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.2 p.39 says that his inscriptions say "I am a Persian, son of a Persian"

1.10 In the ancient world, Pharaohs and kings often had their birth-given name, and a second name given when they ascended the throne.

1.11 The Persian word Darius "Darayawush/Dareyawaes" is related to the Persian word dara which means king. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.288 says this might be title as well as just a proper name. The liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary p.39 also points out that darayarahu means "He who holds firm the good". This is the reason for the theory that Darius was a throne name.

1.12 Within a year or two of the capture, Cyrus replaced Gubaru as governor of Babylon, making his son Cambyses governor.

1.13 In the Old Testament, there are a number of copyist errors, especially on numbers and names. For example, the Greek version of Proto-Theodotion says "Artaxerxes", and not "Darius" in Daniel 6:1. In particular, there are a number of additions to the Greek translation (Septuagint) in the Book of Daniel. Jerome mentions that while the early church generally used the Septuagint, they did not use the Septuagint of the Book of Daniel, but rather the Greek version of Theodotion. Apparently, they saw too many problems with the Septuagint in Daniel.

1.14 All our "Hebrew" copies of Daniel have the middle section of Daniel, 2:4b-7:28, written in Aramaic, not Hebrew. Either it was originally written in Aramaic, or it was translated from an earlier Hebrew manuscript.

2. Biblical Observations

The Darius in Daniel was a Mede, 62 years old, who had 120 administration districts (not necessarily satrapies) under him. He was the son of Ahasuerus. He could make decrees, and he was worshipped. In Daniel 6:6, he was called a king. From Daniel 9:1, this Darius, was emphasized to be a Mede, not the Persian Darius. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.287 mentions that the usual work malak means became king, but the word here homlak, which is a passive and means made king. The liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 2 p.39 also points this out. Thus a higher ruler made him ruler. Also, the phrase "all the earth" could be translated as "all the land".

3. Identity of Darius the Mede

Since Darius was the one who took over Babylon, there are three choices.

3.1 Cyrus: This was really Cyrus, and the incorrect name was transcribed, similar to how in Jeremiah 27:1 Jehoiakim was incorrectly transcribed in a majority of Hebrew manuscripts when both the context and other manuscripts show it was Zedekiah. While Cyrus was a Persian, his mother was a Mede and the daughter of Astyages, and Cyrus. Either he really was half-Mede and a grandson of the previous king, or else he just claimed to be to keep the support of the Medes.

3.1.1 Since many kings had throne names, Cyrus might have had a throne name of Darius the Mede. Daniel 6:28 could be translated as "reign of Darius, "even the" reign of Cyrus the Persian" This view is advocated by D.J. Wiseman, and John F. Walvoord speaks well of this view in Daniel : The Key to Prophetic Interpretation p.134. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1347 also mentions this view but prefers the Gubaru view that follows. Other examples of synonyms or throne names being used in the Bible are:

Joram for Jehoram (2 Kings 8:23)

Jehoash for Joash (2 Kings 12:1)

Coniah for Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22:9)

Shallum for Jehoahaz (Jeremiah 22:11, 2 Kings 23:30-34)

3.1.2 Cyrus did not have the throne name of Darius. The name Darius got in here as a copyist error, confusing Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C. with Darius’ conquest of Babylon in 522 B.C.

3.2 Gubaru is mentioned here, since Cyrus appointed him the governor of Babylon, as When Critics Ask p.295 espouses. However, we have no historical record saying whether or not Gubaru was a Mede. Either Darius was how the Hebrews would refer to Gubaru, or else a confused Hebrew scribe put in the name Darius. While Gubaru was replaced by Cambyses after a year or two, Daniel never mentions anything beyond the first year. Governors could be called "kings", because the Behistun Rock says that Hystaspes was "made king" by Cyrus, as Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.287-288 says.

3.3 (not an answer) Darius here some might think might really be Darius I, and there would be a 19-year gap between the Babylonians being overthrown in Daniel 5:30, and Darius mentioned at the end. However, this is highly unlikely because the book especially notes that this Darius was a Mede. Furthermore, no verse says this Darius was over all the Medes and Persians, but rather that he was made king over just the Babylonians.

In summary: Since the third view is unlikely, the person intended here is either

S1. Gubaru, the first governor of Babylon under Cyrus, or

S2. Cyrus. Either Darius was a throne name for Cyrus, or the scribes had a manuscript error, where it should have said Cyrus.

Copyist errors and changes are not unknown in the Old Testament, and the Septuagint of the Book of Daniel has a number of known changes.

Q: In Dan 6:1, when did Babylon fall?

A: Archaeologists believe it was the night of October 11 or 12, 539 B.C.

Q: In Dan 6:6-9, is there any archaeological evidence for this thirty-day decree?

A: No, but this is something King Darius probably would not desire to have remembered either.

Q: In Dan 7:3-7,17-19, what are the four beasts?

A: Daniel 7:17 says these are four kings or kingdoms. They are Babylon, Medeo-Persia, Greece / Macedonia, and the Roman Empire. Here is how they fit the imagery.

Lion with eagle wings: Creatures appearing like winged lions covered the magnificent-looking Ishtar Gate in Babylon. Babylon was referred to as a lion Jeremiah 4:7. Babylon's horses were swifter than eagles in Jeremiah 4:13. Babylon and Egypt were both referred to as eagles in Ezekiel 17:3,7. Later, the Babylonians treated the Jews well, when Daniel was in the court. Habakkuk 1:8-9 is not relevant here, as the Babylonian horses are compared to leopards and wolves, as well as eagles.

Bear raised on one side: The Medeo-Persian Empire had two parts, with the Persian side being dominant.

Leopard with four wings and four heads: Though a leopard is the fastest large land animal, reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour, a leopard with four wings would be even faster. Alexander the Macedonian conquered the entire Persian Empire and parts of even India in a breathtaking thirteen years. After his death, the empire was divided up among his four generals. While a leopard was not a typical symbol of the Greeks, no other animal could represent the speed of Alexander's conquests any better.

Iron-toothed beast: The fourth beast was different, had horns, and was arrogant. The Roman Emperors had themselves declared as gods, and even had annual sacrifices made to them.

In addition, many see a dual fulfillment of this prophecy, with the Antichrist coming from a revived Roman Empire.

The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.610 claims the leopard was the Persian Empire, its four heads were four kings known to Daniel, and the fourth beast was Alexander's Empire. Asimov says this because he separates the Median Empire from the Persian Empire. However, the Medes, aside from assisting the Babylonians in destroying Assyria, fighting the Scythians, and merging with the Persians, had no other effect on world history.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1350-1351 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1082-1083 for more info.

Q: In Dan 9:1, who was Darius the Mede?

A: See the discussion on Daniel 5:30-6:1 for the answer.

Q: In Dan 9:24-27, how do we know the decree in the 20th year of Artaxerxes I was 444 B.C., and how do we know it was not Artaxerxes II?

A: When Artaxerxes became king by defeating his brother Hystaspes in Bactria, this was almost immediately known in Egypt by January 2/3, 464 B.C., as the Elephantine Papyrus Cowley #6 proves. This first "reigning year" was counted as starting April 13, 464 B.C. The fired Athenian general Thucydides, who was also a historian, wrote about Artaxerxes I, as did the historians Ctesias and Diodorus Siculus (c. 20 B.C.).

We know this was Artaxerxes I (not II) because a Papyrus found in Elephantine Island, Egypt (Cowley #30), dated 407 B.C. mentions the sons of Sanballat, the governor or Samaria. (There was a Persian fort made up of Jewish mercenaries at Elephantine).

See Persia and the Bible p.242,247-248 for more info.

Q: Does Dan 11:1, contradict history, which says the Persian King who conquered Babylonia was Cyrus I, not Darius I?

A: Neither Cyrus nor Darius captured Babylon. The man who captured Babylon was a general under Cyrus, name Gubaru (Gobryas in Greek). The was likely the individual mentioned here under the name Darius. Gubaru was an interesting man. He was actually the Babylonian governor of Gutium, who defected to the Medes and Persians.

For the contrary view that Darius here was Cyrus, see the Concordia Self-Study Commentary p.577, 581-82 for more info. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.66-67 for more info. In addition, see the two questions on Dan 5:30-6:1.

Q: In Dan 11:1-33, who were the kings of the Persian Empire?

A: They were:

Cyrus the Great (559 B.C. - Anshan, 550 B.C. Medeo-Persia - 530/529 B.C.

Cambyses II 530/529-523/522 B.C.

Pseudo-Smerdis (Guatama) 523/522-522/521 B.C.

Darius I 550-522/521-486 B.C.

Ahasuerus (Xerxes in Greek) 486-465/464 B.C.

Artaxerxes I 464-423 B.C.

Darius II 423-404 B.C.

Artaxerxes II 404- B.C.

Artaxerxes III -336 B.C.

Darius III 336-331 B.C.

Then Alexander of Macedon conquered Persia.

Q: In Dan 11:45, how did Antiochus Epiphanes IV "come to his end, with no one to help him" (NKJV)?

A: Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) reigned from 165-163 B.C. He was humiliated when the Roman Senate forbade him to invade Egypt again. The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 1 p.271 says that Appian Syr. 66 says that Antiochus IV withdrew to Tabae and died of consumption in late 164 B.C.

Q: Was Dan written down in the second century (after Alexander's conquest), because of the Greek words found in Daniel?

A: No. Two points to consider in the answer.

Only 3 Greek words are in Daniel (Daniel 3:5,10,15), and all three of them refer to musical instruments. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.193 says that this does not show 2nd century authorship, as Assyrian inscriptions say Greek captives were in Mesopotamia in the 8th century B.C. In addition, in the 7th century, the Greek Alcaeus of Lebos mentions that his brother was serving in the Babylonian army.

7 Persian words are in Daniel referring to administration (Daniel 6:1-4,6-7). As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.193 says, "…Daniel's correct use of these words simply cannot be explained if the author were an unknown second -century writer unfamiliar with the details of Persian government three hundred years before his time."

Q: Was Dan written after Sirach, since Sirach 47-49 contains a fairly exhaustive list of the Old Testament, omitting Daniel, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.623 says?

A: The time of the Maccabees was until about 165 B.C. However, four pieces of evidence are against this second century theory.

1. In the Apocrypha, 1 Maccabees 2:49-60 mentions Daniel and the three young men in such a way to imply that the book was already written by then. Otherwise, how would the readers of 1 Maccabees be expected to understand Daniel and the three young men? See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.367 for more info on this.

2. Archaeologists have dated a copy of the manuscript of Daniel at 120 B.C. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438 mentions this, saying that this "brings into question the alleged Maccabean date of its composition."

3. Babylonian excavations show that the details of Daniel are correct. M. Lenormant says, "The more the knowledge of cuneiform texts advances, the more is felt the necessity to revise (correct) the too hasty condemnation of the book of Daniel by the German exegetical school (La Magie p.14) (quoted from 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.367.)

4. Also the reference in Josephus already mentioned in the previous question.

Q: In Hos 10:14, who are Shalman and the town of Beth-arbel?

A: Shalman could be Shalmaneser V of Assyria 727 B.C., or it could refer to the king of Moab, who was named Salamanu. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1102 for more info. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1402 says that Salamanu lived at the same time as Hosea and was mentioned in the tribute list of Tiglath-Pileser III.

Beth-Arbel (House of Arbel) could be the town of Arbela in Jordan, 18 miles (29 kilometers) southeast of the Sea of Galilee according to Eusebius. Alternately, it could be modern Arbel, 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) west of the Sea of Galilee (1 Maccabees 9:2)

Q: In Jo 3:6, does the mention of Jews among the Greek lands indicate a post-exilic date?

A: No. Arvid S. Kapelrud mentions that there was an active slave trade in the 6th and 7th centuries B.C. (Joel Studies p.154-158). The Mycenean Greeks came to Greece a little before the time of Moses.

Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.296 mentions that Greek coins from the late 6th century were found in Palestine from the issues of Peristratus, which would be prior to the exile. After listing numerous references to Greek mercenaries in Neo-Babylonian documents, he concludes "In light of such data as these, it is nothing short of naïve to suppose that a late ninth-century Joel could not have known anything about the Greeks, or to imagine that no slave-traders ever went to Greek ports with captives from Near Eastern slave raids."

This wording, of the people of Tyre, Sidon, and the Philistines selling Jews to the Greeks , that they might be sent far away actually show a date prior to Alexander the Great. As When Critics Ask p.301 points out, in Alexander’s time the Greeks already controlled the Mideast so they would not be going far away. All of the people of Tyre were sold into slavery by Alexander, so they were in no position to sell slaves to the Greeks themselves.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament for more info. See the discussion on Joel 1:1 for the date.

Q: In Jo 3:8, what do we know about the Sabaeans?

A: These people lived in the southwest part of the Arabian peninsula, and include the modern nation of Yemen. The ancient kingdom of Sheba was there.

The Encyclopedia Britannica volume 1 (1956) p.678-682 shows the Sabaean (Himyaritic) alphabet with 28 letters. It shows there are roughly 4 similar letters between it and the Brahmi alphabet of India, and 5 similar letters between it and the Aramaic alphabet. It has 18 similar letters with the oldest Ethiopic and 24 similar letters with Libyanic. It has 21 similar letters to Thamudenic and 12 similar letters with Safahitic in Egypt.

Q: In Am 1:1, where was Tekoa?

A: Tekoa was a small village 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Jerusalem.

Q: In Am 1:1, when was the book of Amos written?

A: Amos 1:1 says it was written two years before the earthquake, which occurred in the year that King Uzziah died. (This is two years before Isaiah 6 was written.) It was written about 762 B.C. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1426, archaeological evidence at Hazor and Samaria shows an earthquake 760 B.C. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.203 says it was written between 780 and 760 B.C.

Q: In Am 1:1, was this earthquake merely a legendary rabbinical tradition, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.633 says?

A: No. While we do not have any evidence of this earthquake, Asimov provides no evidence that this was a rabbinical tradition either. There were priests and Levites back then to teach the people, but there were no "rabbis" in the strict sense of the Pharisees of Jesus time, or the Jews of later. One should be more inclined to believe Amos, who lived back then, instead of Asimov.

Earthquakes were common in that region. For example, the archaeology at Qumran shows there was a damaging earthquake in 31 B.C., and yet no ancient writers record this event.

Q: In Am 1:5, what is the house of Eden?

A: There are two possibilities.

Name: Beth [house of] Eden was the actual name of a city in Syria, which archaeologists have not located yet. It has no relationship to the Garden of Eden.

Metaphor: The use of "Eden", referring to the Garden of Eden, was a poetic metaphor to Damascus, the "garden spot" of Syria. The NIV Study Bible p.1348 mentions this possibility.

Q: In Am 5:26, who are Moloch and Chiun?

A: There is some uncertainty about these names here, as the Massoretic text and Septuagint differ. Regardless, these were idols the Israelites worshipped in the wilderness. Archaeological excavations in Palestine have shown a flourishing cult of idol worship, more or less throughout most of the time of the Israelites up to the Exile. Some liberals have pointed out that this polytheistic religion was very different from what is handed down to us in the Bible. Rather than detract from the Bible, this evidence further confirms its authenticity. The Bible itself records almost constant idolatry of some Israelites in the land. The Bible would have left this all out, if it was trying to present a "sanitized" whitewash instead of actual history.

Q: In Am 9:7, where were Caphtor and Kir?

A: Caphtor was the ancestral home of the Philistines prior to them coming to southeast Palestine. Kir was the ancestral home of the Arameans prior to them coming to modern-day Syria. We are not sure where these places were. However, the Philistines were an Aegean people, and it is believed that they likely came from the Island of Crete.

Q: In Am 9:12, when did the Jews possess the remnant of Edom?

A: This not only refers to the land but the people. During the time of Herod of Great, a little before Christ’s birth, Herod forced the Edomites to become assimilated with the Jews.

Q: In Jon 1, is this book fictional because of its elements of fantasy, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.642 says?

A: No. Asimov did not list any elements of fancy, so it is hard to answer a vague objection. Here are the possible points Asimov might have seen, along with answers.

Going to Tarshish: Tarshish (Tartessus) in Spain was founded by the Phoenicians around the ninth or tenth century B.C., so there is no problem trying to travel to Tarshish, since it already existed.

Great Storm: The eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea often has violent and sudden storms. Another storm you can read about is documented in Acts 27:13-38.

Ninevah’s existence: According to archaeologists, Ninevah existed as early as 5000 B.C. Ninevah was mentioned in cuneiform tablets of King Gudea (about 2200 B.C.) and Hammurapi (c.1700 B.C.). Therefore, it is expected that Ninevah was prominent enough in early times to be mentioned in Genesis 10:11.

Ninevah’ s size: Ninevah was a great city from before the time of Jonah, so there is no problem here. As evidence, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208 mentions that Calah was a city less than half the size of Ninevah, and it had 69,574 people in 879 B.C.

The King in Ninevah: Ninevah was not the capital of Assyria until King Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), which was soon after the time of Jonah. Nevertheless, Ashurbanipal II (884/883-859 B.C) and Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.) were among the kings who lived in Ninevah part of the time. Harper’s Bible Dictionary p.493 says that Ninevah was one of the royal residences from 1100 B.C. onward. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208-1210 for more info

Swallowed by a great fish: While this could have been a miraculously-created fish, there is no reason to require that it be so. There have been a number of other cases of men being swallowed by a great fish (called a Jewfish), being vomited out, and living to tell about it. See the discussion on Jonah 1:17 for more info on this.

The rapidly-growing gourd plant: It is conceded that this would be a miraculous plant

The east wind: There is nothing fantastical about an east wind coming down off the mountains.

See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.301-302 and When Critics Ask p.307 for more on taking Jonah as literal history. As Walt Kaiser summarizes in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.332-333, "Thus, the objections to the book come down to this: it has too many miracles!"

Q: In Jon 1:2, is this an anachronism, since Ninevah was not a great city in Jonah’s time, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.645 says?

A: No. It is conceded that Assyria had not reached the maximum of its power until a century after Jonah. However, Assyria was a military force to be reckoned with, from back in King David’s time. From Asimov’s mention of anachronisms, it is unclear to me how much he knew of Assyrian history.

Q: In Jon 1:3, to which Tarshish was Jonah fleeing?

A: There are three possibilities.

Tarshish (Tarsus) in Asia Minor: This was a medium-sized port city about ten miles (16 kilometers) from the Mediterranean Sea. Centuries later, Paul the apostle came from here.

Tarshish (Tartessus) in Spain: This is the more likely location. Tarshish, mentioned in Herodotus 4:152, was probably west of Gibraltar. It was the farthest west civilized city at that time, short of the Olmec civilization in Mexico. Tarshish was founded by the Phoenicians in the ninth or tenth century B.C. The New International Bible Dictionary p.987 says this was the Tarshish to which Jonah was fleeing. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1662 says that the gold, silver, and copper mined there make this one of the richest mining districts in the Mediterranean today.

Tarshish in Sardinia: According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1662, the Phoenician word Tarshish comes from the Akkadian word for "to melt" or "to be smelted". In the ninth century the Phoenicians captured a smelting town in Sardinia which they also called Tarshish. However, besides the name, there is no other reason to link this city to Jonah.

See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.54-55 for more info.

Q: In Jon 1:17 and Matt 12:40, how could this be a whale, since only sperm whales have throats large enough to swallow a man whole, and sperm whales do not live in the Mediterranean Sea, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.647 says?

A: There are four possibilities.

1. Jewfish are various species of large sea bass. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica vol.12 1972 p.1040, many of them reach 500 to 700 pounds and 7 to 12 feet long.

2. Whale sharks (Rhineodon Typicus) have swallowed men who were later found alive in their stomachs.

3. Sperm whales can swallow large objects whole. One even swallowed a 15-foot shark. This was documented by Frank T. Bullen, in Cruise of the Cachalot Round the World after Sperm Whales. (1898).

In 1771 Marshall Jenkins was swallowed by a sperm whale. James Bartley also was swallowed by a sperm whale in 1891. The October 1928 issue of the Princeton Theological Review shows that some details of Bartley’s story are inaccurate, but that the evidence of inaccuracy on some details does not disprove it. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.95 for more on these two occurrences.

While sperm whales are not normally found in the Mediterranean, they can swim great distances, and God could have one swim to the Mediterranean. Asimov’s dismissal of a sperm whale in the Mediterranean presupposes there is no God who causes events to occur.

4. It was a unique fish, especially prepared by God for this purpose. However, perhaps this was unnecessary, as there are three other types of fish that not only are theoretically capable of swallowing a man alive, but they have actually done so.

There have been other accounts of men swallowed alive by some great fish and living to tell about it. One was a sailor off the New England coast in the 1800’s. A more recent one is in The Dallas Morning News in the 1970’s in the Gulf of Mexico

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1462-1463 for more info.

Q: In Jon 3-4, why did the Ninevites repent?

A: In more modern accounts of people swallowed by Jewfish that have survived, their skin looks very bleached. Undoubtedly Jonah must have had a strange appearance when he came to Ninevah.

In addition, God may have used a few other factors prior to Jonah’s coming around 758-757 B.C.

Plague in Ninevah 765 B.C. The mightiest army in the world was powerless before a plague.

Eclipse in 6/15/763 B.C. The ancient people were afraid of eclipses, and the Assyrians as well as others saw a solar eclipse in 763 B.C. The skeptic Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.636 also accepts the fact of an eclipse occurring then.

Another plague in Assyria 759 B.C. This was just one to two years prior to Jonah.

Q: In Jon 3:3 and Jon 4:11, how was Ninevah such a great city, with 200,000 people?

A: According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208, the city of Calah was less than half as large as Ninevah, and in 879 B.C. it had 69,574 inhabitants.

As Geisler and Howe say in When Critics Ask p.308, three days does not refer to a straight walk through open territory, but the time to go in and around through the city. A city 16 miles (26 kilometers) in diameter would be about 50 miles (80 kilometers) in circumference, and could be about 600,000 people.

Q: In Jon 4:5, why would this prophet go east of Ninevah to sit down?

A: The Khosr River was on the west side of Ninevah. An army invading Ninevah would likely come from the east side, and Jonah would first see it by sitting on the east side. Perhaps Jonah had "enough faith" to see Ninevah’s destruction. However, God’s working does not depend on our faith, but on His will.

Q: In Jon 4:6, what kind of gourd was this?

A: Scripture does not say if it was a normal type of plant that miraculously grew, or a species of plant that did not otherwise exist on earth. The skeptic Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.648 guesses that it was a castor-oil plant, which can grow to the size of a tree.

Q: In Jon, do we have any extra-biblical evidence of the Assyrians repenting?

A: Perhaps so. While the skeptical work Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.647 says no, there actually is evidence. The Assyrian army fought every single year, except that, strangely there were two years, around 758-757, where apparently they did not fight at all. This was either under Ashur-dan III (about 772-754 B.C.) or else his successor Ashur-nirari V (about 754-647 B.C.). While it cannot be proved that Jonah came during either of these two years, he came at approximately that time, and Jonah’s preaching makes a good explanation for why a whole nation of career soldiers chose not to fight for two years.

Later the Assyrians went back to their old ways, and they were destroyed in 612 B.C., as Nahum 2:1-3:9 and Zephaniah 2:13-15 prophesied.

Q: In Mic 1:1, where was Morasheth?

A: Micah’s hometown was about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, southwest of Jerusalem.

Q: Why does Mic 1:1 mention the city of Samaria, since the Samaritans first existed a century later, after the exile?

A: The Samaritans did not exist until the exile, but the city of Samaria pre-dated them. The city of Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel from the time of Jeroboam prior to 900 B.C.

Q: In Mic 2:12 and Isa 34:6, where is Bozrah?

A: It was in Edom according to Amos 1:12. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 6 p.219, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1084 and the New Geneva Study Bible p.1081 say the capital of Edom is modern day Buseirah, which is 25 to 30 miles south of the Dead Sea.

Q: In Nah 2, what do we know about the city of Ninevah?

A: Ninevah was built on the east bank of the Khosr River. Archaeologists have extensively excavated the city. Ninevah’s walls were so massive, that one person said that if Ninevah had been placed between France and Germany during World War I, it would have survived any attacks by either side. A map of the city of Ninevah is in New International Dictionary of the Bible p.710. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.376 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208-1210 for more info.

Q: In Nah 2:3-8, 3:13-15, what do open rivers and the destruction of the palace have to do with Ninevah?

A: Ninevah was destroyed in part when the heavy rains caused the Khosr River to flood and break down part of the wall.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1495 lists many prophecies of Nahum concerning Ninevah’s destruction.

Nahum 1:8; 2:6,8 Ninevah would be destroyed by a flood. Diodorus Siculus (c.20 B.C.) wrote that in the third year of the siege heavy rains caused the Khosr River to flood and breach part of the wall.

Nahum 1:8 the Assyrians would be pursued into darkness. The final attack on Ninevah came at night. Many Assyrian soldiers escaped in the night.

Nahum 1:9,14 Ninevah would never be rebuilt. Many ancient cities were rebuilt, but not Ninevah.

Nahum 1:10; 2:13; 3:15 Ninevah would be destroyed by fire. The temple was burned, and archaeologists have found a two-inch layer of ash.

Nahum 1:10; 3:11 At the end, the Ninevites would be drunk. Diodorus Siculus wrote that the Assyrian king distributed food and wine, and that night, while the men were drunk, the attack was made.

Nahum 1:14 Ninevah’s carved images and cast idols would be destroyed. Archaeologists R. Campbell Thompson and R.W. Hutchinson said the status of the goddess Ishtar lay headless.

Nahum 2:8 The Ninevites would try to escape. Diodorus says that the king sent his three sons and two daughters to Paphlagonia to escape. Also, after the fall of Ninevah, the surviving Assyrian army went west into Assyria, before finally being wiped out.

Nahum 2:9-10 There would be plundering and pillaging. The Babylonian Chronicle said that "great quantities of spoil from the city, beyond counting, they carried off."

Nahum 3:3 Many Assyrians would be killed. According to Diodorus, so many were killed that the River was red for a considerable distance.

Nahum 3:12 Outlying fortresses would be captured easily (Nahum 3:12) The Babylonian Chronicle says the fortresses began to fall in 614 B.C.

Nahum 3:13 The city gate would be destroyed. Olmstead says the main attack was directed from the northwest on the Hatamti gate. (History of Assyria)

Nahum 3:14 The Ninevites would prepare bricks and mortar for emergency repairs. A.T. Olmstead says that south of the gate the moat is still filled with stone and mud brick fragments.

Nahum 3:17 The Ninevite officers would weaken and flee. The Babylonian Chronicle says the Assyrian army ran away before the king.

Q: Why does Nah 2:11-13 speak of lions?

A: Almost every empire has a symbol by which it identifies itself, and the Assyrians thought of themselves as lions. Assyrian kings liked to hunt lions, which were often depicted in Assyrian art.

Q: In Nah 3:1, how was Ninevah a bloody city?

A: In ancient times, one could compare the Assyrians with the modern Nazis due to their torture, ruthlessness, and military tactics. The Empire was built on oppression, and they were constantly putting down rebellions. In contrast to this, the Persian Empire gave a measure of toleration to their subjects, and there were few rebellions in the Persian Empire (Greek cities and Egyptians excepted).

As to whether the Assyrians were really all that cruel, we will let King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859) speak in his own "defense".

"I slaughtered them; with their blood I dyed the mountain red like wool…. The heads of their warriors I cut off, and I formed them into a pillar over against their city; their young men and their maidens I burned in the fire. … I destroyed, I demolished, I burned. I took their warriors prisoner and impaled them on stakes before their cities. …flayed the nobles, as many as had rebelled, and spread their skins out on the piles [of dead corpses]… many of the captives I burned in a fire. Many I took alive; from some I cut off their hands to the write, from other I cut off their noses, ears and fingers; I put out the eyes of many of the soldiers." (taken from TimeFrame 1500-600 BC Time Life Books and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1494.) Other leaders made similar boasts, but probably we do not need to go any further.

Q: In Nah 3:8, where was the city of "No"?

A: No Amon was another name for the city of Thebes, which was an important city of Egypt. Nahum speaks of No as already being destroyed, and Thebes was destroyed in 663 B.C. The city of Thebes was rebuilt in 654 B.C. according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1496.

Q: In Nah 3:16, how did Assyria multiply merchants?

A: It had many traders to buy goods with all the tribute Assyria continually received from its conquered subjects. As an example, the book TimeFrame 1500-600 BC (Time-Life Books) p.18 mentions that the Assyrians annually received 12,000 horses and 2,000 cattle from just one people, the Nairi.

Q: In Nah 3:19, why is God speaking of the Assyrians cruelty, since most conquerors were cruel?

A: The Assyrians were especially cruel. We have Assyrian sculptures of the chained slaves with their eyes being pecked out by birds. They had rather different ideas of what was good art (and they did not even have the NEA [U.S.A. National Endowment for the Arts] back then!). Assyrians wrote with pride of mutilating, skinning and burning people alive. Shalmaneser III made a pyramid of heads. Overall Ashurbanipal’s reign (669-626 B.C.) was one of the cruelest. Among many other things, Ashurbanipal put a dog chain through a captured king’s jaw and made him live in a dog kennel. Subject peoples paid excessive tribute for the privilege of staying alive. For some strange reason, the Assyrians had many revolts. I suppose you might say that, in the end, God found them revolting too.

Q: In Hab 3:3, where is Teman?

A: In Edom, just across the Dead Sea and a little south of Judah. Ezekiel 25:13, Amos 1:12, and Obadiah 8-9 mention Teman as a part of Edom. Jeremiah 49:7,20 poetically uses Teman as a synonym for Edom. Teman was named after a chief of Edom and a grandson of Esau named Teman (Genesis 36:11,15,42 and 1 Chronicles 1:36,53). Eliphaz, in Job was a Temanite, and 1 Chronicles 1:45 says the Temanites were descendants of Esau. See also the next question.

Q: In Hab 3:3 and Dt 1:1, is Mount Paran really Mecca, as some Muslims claim?

A: No, for Paran was directly east of the Sinai Peninsula. Ishmael originally lived in the wilderness of Paran in Genesis 21:21, but his descendants were apparently not there anymore when the Israelites came. Deuteronomy 1:1-2 says the Israelites camped on the plain near Paran. It was eleven days journey for them from Mount Horeb. They spent a lot of time in Paran, as Numbers 10:12, 12:16; 13:3, and Deuteronomy 33:2 show. Numbers 13:26 shows that Kadesh, which is in the far south of Israel, is in the wilderness of Paran. David went to Paran in 1 Samuel 25:1. Hadad the Edomite fled from Edom to Egypt by way of Paran in 1 Kings 11:18.

In summary, Paran was eleven days from Mount Horeb, Kadesh was in Paran, and Paran was the place where the Israelites camped and sent spies into Canaan.

Q: In Zeph 1:5, who was Malcom/Milcom?

A: This was another name for the idol Molech. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.705 mentions that Molech was an Ammonite god worshipped with human sacrifice. Molech might be the same as the idol Muluk worshipped at Mari around 1700 B.C..

Q: In Zeph 2:9, how come there were Moabites and Ammonites after the exile?

A: This verse did not say when the Moabites and Ammonites would be come extinct, only that they would. In fact, Nabateans (325 B.C.) and other Arabs later came and settled in these lands of modern-day Jordan. The Nabateans also conquered the east part of Edom. According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.41-42, the Ammonites were finally conquered by Judas Maccabeus in 1 Maccabees 5:6.

The land also became desolate, in that it is dry desert today where it used to simply be arid range.

Q: In Zeph 2:12, how are "Ethiopians slain by my sword"?

A: While this could refer solely to the land of Ethiopia, it is more likely that it refers to Egypt as well, as Egypt was under the control of Ethiopia from about 728 B.C. to the conquest of Egypt by Eserhaddon of Assyria in 671 B.C. The Ethiopians tried to revolt around 664 B.C. but are defeated.

Zephaniah wrote around 630 to 612 B.C. He might have been referring to Egypt as well as Ethiopia, since they were one kingdom just prior to the Assyrian invasion.

See Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.22-23 for more info.

Q: In Hag 1:1, when was Haggai written?

A: According to what was written in Haggai 1, this would be about 520 B.C. The skeptical work Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.661 says the same. Here were the kings of Persia during this time period.

-530 B.C. Cyrus II (killed in battle)

530-522 B.C. Cambyses II

522-521 B.C. Artaxerxes (an imposter who reigned 7 months. He is called Pseudo-Smerdis by the Greeks and historians today) (He wrote the letter in Ezra 4:7-23 stopping the building)

522/521-486 B.C. Darius I (Killed the imposter king. Fought the Scythians and Greeks, defeated at Marathon in 490 B.C. Esther was his queen)

520 B.C. Haggai and Zechariah gave their first prophecies

486-465/464 B.C. Xerxes I (murdered) (same as Ahasuerus in Ezra 4:6 and Esther)

464-336 B.C. Artaxerxes I (called I to erase the memory of the imposter Artaxerxes.

445 B.C. Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to build the city wall

336-331 B.C. Darius III (defeated by Alexander of Macedon)

Q: In Zech 1:11-15, around the world, what wars and epidemics were going on at this time?

A: Here are the years of apparently no wars, followed by the wars. Then is a list of famines and plagues.

Years of apparently no wars 859-121 B.C.

637-634, 629,628, 619-617, 600, 595-594, 592, 590, 586, 573-571, 569, 566-561, 544, 542-541,

538-536, 532-529, 527-526, 523, 520, 518-514, 127-126

In the years 528, 525, 522, 521, 519, and 513-512 B.C., the only known wars were when the Persians were involved.

Wars of this time

c.650 B.C. Messinians revolt against Spartans

650 B.C. Scythians/Cimmerians raid Palestine

648 B.C. Assyrians sack the city of Babylon

646 B.C. Assyrians exile the Elamites

642-639 B.C. Assyrians sack Susa in Elam, and behead King Teumman

638 B.C. At Hong River, the Chu defeat Song

633 B.C. Assyrians sack Thebes in Egypt

632 B.C. Kylon tries to take Athens

c.631/627 B.C. Kyaxares the Mede besieges Ninevah

630 B.C. The Di people attack north China

628-571 B.C. Lydians fight Cimmerians

626/625 B.C. Babylonians gain independence

625 B.C. Cyaxares the Mede rebels from Scythians

623 B.C. The Di people attack north China again

620 B.C. The Di people attack north China again

615 B.C. Assyrian city of Arrapkha captured

614 B.C. Assyrian city of Asshur captured

614 B.C. Medes try to take Ninevah

c.613-7-8/612 Medes sack Ninevah (Babylonians come too late)

612 B.C. Medes conquer Armenia

612-609 B.C. Last of Assyrians destroyed

611-604 B.C. Lydia fights Miletus in Asia Minor

609 B.C. Medes capture Tuspa, capital of Urartia

609-606 B.C. Babylonians raid north Israel

609/608 B.C. Egyptians destroy Megiddo and attack Gaza in Judah

606-605 B.C. The Di people attack north China again

604 B.C. At Carchemish, the Babylonians defeat the Egyptians

11-12/605/604 B.C. Babylonians sack Ashkelon in Palestine

603 B.C. Babylonians sack Ekron in Palestine

601 B.C. Babylonians and Egyptians fight to a draw; there are heavy losses

599-598 B.C. Babylonians fight Arabs

3/16/597 B.C. Babylonians capture Jerusalem

596 B.C. Babylonians fight Elamites

595-594 Nebuchadnezzar II puts down revolt

593 B.C. Egyptian Psamtik II plus Greek, Phoenician, and Jewish mercenaries defeat the Kingdom of Cush in the Sudan

591 B.C. Egypt invades Nubia

589-587 B.C. Jews rebel against Babylonians

585-573 B.C. Babylonians besiege Tyre

585 B.C. War ends between Medes and Alyattes of Lydia eclipse 5/28/585

584-584 Nebuchadnezzar II besieges Tyre

581 B.C. Babylonians deport more from Judah

570 B.C. Greeks in Cyrene defeat Apries of Egypt

568-567 B.C. Apries and Babylonians invade Egypt

560 B.C. Croesus conquers Ionian cities

560-547/546 Persians subdue King Croesus of Lydia

559 B.C. Medes and Babylonians combine against Persians

554 B.C. East of the Hyrminus River, Camarina tries to rebel from Syracuse

554 B.C. Tyrant Phalais of Acragas, Sicily overthrown

553 B.C. Camarina, Sicily tries to revolt from Syracuse

550 B.C. Cyrus the Persian defeats Mede Astyages

549 B.C. Persians raid Assyria

c.550’s B.C. Babylon tries to revolt from Persia 3K killed

545 B.C. Cyrus and Persians conquer Bactria

Greeks 2.1 million mobilized Persians 5 million (Herodotus)

543 B.C. Sinhalese conquer Veddahs in Sri Lanka

540 B.C. Polycrates leads revolt in Samos,

540-10/16/539 B.C. Persians conquer Babylonian Empire

Persian Empire

539 B.C. Greeks defeat Carthaginians

535 B.C. At Alalia 120 Etruscan+Carthaginian vs. 60 Phocaean ships 2K killed

534-533 B.C. Tarquinis Superbus, last King of Rome, kills many Senators/citizens

528 B.C. Persians fight Egyptians

525 B.C. Persians conquer Cyprus

525 B.C. At Pelusium Cambyses II/Persians/Arabs conquer Egypt/ Psamtik II

Jews under Persia-Esther 9:12-16 76K killed

524 B.C. Aristodemus of Cumae defeats Etruscans

522 B.C. False Bardiya and Persian Civil War

522 B.C. Persians put down Babylonian rebellion; Persians take Samos

521 B.C. Persians crush Babylonian revolt

519 B.C. Persians conquer Gandhara, India

516 B.C. Darius of Persia campaigns

513 B.C. Scythian Idanthyrsus repels Darius I of Persia

512 B.C. Darius I fights Scythians in Thrace

512-510 B.C. Celts invade Etruria. Etruscan Lars Porsens attacks Rome

510 B.C. Tarquinius Superbus, last king of Rome, overthrown

510 B.C. Kroton and other cities raze Greek city of Sybaris in Italy

510 B.C. Darius invades South Russia

510-474/473 B.C. Gou Chian of Yueh conquers Fu Chai of Wu in China

508 B.C. Etruscan Lars Porsena attacks Rome

507 B.C. Athens defeats Thebes

507 B.C. Spartans try to restore aristocracy in Athens.

506 B.C. Athenians occupy Chalcis in Greece

504 B.C. Northeast Indian Vijaya conquers Sri Lanka

501 B.C. Cathaginians capture Cadiz, Spain

500/499-478 B.C. Greco-Persian Wars

500/499-496/493 B.C. Ionian Revolt against Persians

500 B.C. Semites invade Eritrea, Africa

500 B.C.- Bantus expand in Africa

500 B.C. Persians besiege Naxos in Greece

499 B.C. Persians capture Ephesus

498 B.C. Ionians revolt against Persia

c.498-415 B.C. Selinas and Segesta fight in Sicily

494 B.C. Secession of Roman Plebeians due to the debt laws of Caludius

494 B.C. Persians sack Miletus and end Ionian revolt

494 B.C. At Ner Lade, Greek naval battle 100 vs. 210 ships

494 B.C. At Sepeis, Sparta defeats Argives

492 B.C. Mardonius fails in leading Persian fleet against Athens

490 B.C. Persians destroy Eretia in Greece

8/12/490 B.C. At Marathon 10K Greeks defeat 20K Persians. 192 Greeks and 6,400 Persians died

Plagues:

There is little information on the plagues, but here is what we do have.

765 B.C. Plague in Assyria before Jonah

759 B.C. Plague in Assyria before Jonah

701 B.C. Plague of the Assyrian army besieging Jerusalem, 185,000 died

700 B.C. Syphilis known among Greeks in Italy

430 B.C. Plague in Athens, Greece

Q: In Zech 3:1, was this evidence that Persian dualism had influenced Jewish religion, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.665 claims?

A: Not at all. Persian Zoroastrians believed in two gods: a good god of fire and an evil demon. They also believed in many lesser evil demons, and many of these evil demons had the same names as the gods of Hinduism. The belief of a good Creator, and a lesser evil tempter goes all the way back to Genesis 3.

Q: In Zech 6:8, how was God’s Spirit quieted in the north country?

A: This prophecy says that God’s people will have rest in the north. There are four possibilities for the specific fulfillment of this prophecy.

Persia was considered in the north (Isaiah 41:25; Jeremiah 50:3; 51:48). It was actually northeast, but to go to Persia from Israel, one would go straight north first.

Khazars: After about 700 A.D., a Turkish tribe called the Khazars conquered most of the eastern Ukraine. Rather than become Muslims, and alienate the Byzantines, or become Christians and alienate the Muslims, they chose to convert to Judaism. However, some might think this is not a fulfillment of Zechariah 6:8, as some Christians believe that since the crucifixion Jews are no more God’s chosen people.

Later in history: On one hand, after Muslim conquests, Christians could emigrate to Europe and be safer. However, throughout the Middle Ages, and even today, in many Muslim countries Christian residents were safe, as long as they paid the extra tax on Jews and Christians.

A future time: One could see this fulfilled during the end times. Joel 2:20 also mentions invaders from the north.

Q: In Zech 9:5, when would Ashkelon not be inhabited?

A: When the Babylonians invaded Palestine, they devastated Philistia as they did Judah. Ashkelon was rebuilt later, because Judas Maccabaes captured it in 1 Maccabees 10:86; 11:60. Of course, Zechariah 9:5 did not say Ashkelon would be abandoned forever. See the International Dictionary of the Bible p.100 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.159 for more info.

Q: In Zech 9:5-7, Am 1:6-8, Zeph 2:4-5, why are only four of the five principle Philistine cities mentioned, and Gath is not?

A: According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.657, Assyrian records mention "Gimti in the land of Ashdod", but there are no historical references after that time. A Muslim cemetery on the site restricts further excavation. See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.374 for more info.

Q: In Zech 10:13, when will the future pride of Assyria be brought down?

A: The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.668 has a helpful comment here. It says that after Alexander, the two main empires were the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. Since Egypt and [As]syria are mentioned, this was probably a copyist error for Syria.

Either way, the land of the Assyrians was part of the Seleucid Empire.

Q: In Zech 10:13, when will the scepter of Egypt depart?

A: From the time of the Babylonians onward, there would never be another Pharaoh. Egypt would never be an independent country, except for a brief revolt from the Persians, and under the Greek Ptolemies, and much, much later under the Muslim Fatamids, and of course, modern times.