15 Archaeological Proofs of Old Testament Accuracy
‘God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth.’ (Catechism 136)
The following are summaries of some of the arguments that I have made in depth, with scientific documentation, in my new book, The Word Set in Stone: How Archaeology, Science, and History Back up the Bible.
1. I contend for a local flood that took place in the Mesopotamian plain (current-day southern Iraq), which is a very flat area with two major rivers (the Tigris and Euphrates) that drain into a sea (the Persian Gulf). The floodwaters took 10 months to totally subside (Genesis 7:11; 8:13). Likewise, a great flood occurred in 1926-1927 at virtually the same latitude, in a very flat area (Louisiana) with a major river (the Mississippi) that drains into a sea (the Gulf of Mexico). It rained in this instance for eight months and the floodwaters took an entire year to completely dry up.
2. The Bible states that Abraham lived in Beersheba (Genesis 21:14, 29–33; 22:19). Skeptics have charged that this is an anachronism; that no such town existed in his time. But none of the 11 biblical mentions in Genesis require the interpretation of a town, let alone a city. The first mention, during Abraham’s life (Genesis 21:14, RSV), refers to “the wilderness of Beersheba.”
3. Sodom and Gomorrah were judged by God with “brimstone and fire” (Genesis 19:24). Current science has proposed that a “meteoritic airburst” devastated the area in c. 1750-1700 BC, during Abraham’s lifetime. (Lot was his nephew.) The blast was so hot that rocks were turned into glass.
4. Genesis 37:28 informs us that Joseph was sold into slavery for “20 shekels.” The Laws of Hammurabi and documents from Mari (Syria) from the 19th and 18th centuries BC confirm that the price for slaves during those times was 20 shekels. Joseph lived in the 18th century BC.
5. Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy contain treaty-like covenants between Israel and God. We know of more than 100 similar covenant-type documents in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Specifically, the forms between c. 1350 to c. 1180 B.C (unlike those before and after), are consistent with the biblical covenants. This was during Moses’ lifetime. Since he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:10), he would have had ample opportunity to learn about Egyptian law and diplomacy.
6. An Egyptian leather scroll that is dated to the fifth year of the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1275 BC) refers to slaves being responsible for a quota of 2,000 mud bricks. This is reflected in Exodus 5:8 (“number of bricks”) and 5:19 (your daily number of bricks”).
7. God miraculously fed the wandering Israelites with quail. Or was it a miracle? The Bible located the quails in the Sinai Peninsula, particularly along the coastlines (Exodus 16:1) and during the spring (Exodus 16:1; Numbers 10:11, 11:31, 34). Modern science has confirmed annual massive spring migration patterns of quail that line up perfectly with these descriptions. God, in his omniscience, knew when they would arrive.
8. The Bible records accounts of Moses drawing water from rocks in the desert wilderness (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:10; Deuteronomy 8:15). The Sinai Peninsula contains a lot of sandstone and limestone, which are porous rocks, able to absorb and store water. In the very hot conditions there, they develop a hard crust, which, if struck hard enough, can cause this water to flow out.
9. Biblical skeptics and atheists delight in pointing out that archaeology furnishes no evidence for Jericho existing at the time of Joshua (c. 1200 BC), when the Bible claims that its walls fell down (Josh 6:20). They’re right, but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Jericho is 21 miles from the Dead Sea, one of the saltiest (hypersaline) lakes in the world — almost 10 times more so than the oceans. A salt-induced erosion process called haloclasty occurs in arid climates and along coasts. Jericho also has a long rainy season (late October to April). All of these factors plausibly explain the massive erosion seen there.
10. King David is (or was) regarded by many biblical skeptics similarly to how most historians view King Arthur — a real person, but vastly mythologized. That quickly changed in July 1993 with the discovery in northern Israel of the Tel Dan Stele, dated to the 9th century BC. It contained the phrase “House of David” (see 1 Samuel 20:16; 2 Samuel 3:1-6).
11. Amos the prophet lived in the 8th century BC. He wrote about an earthquake (Amos 6:11; cf. 1:1, 8:8, 9:1, 5). Evidence of this in northern Israel has been known to archaeologists for at least 20 years. But in 2021 it was shown for the first time to have also occurred in Jerusalem, and this was noted in Smithsonian Magazine.
12. In 2015, the royal bulla (or seal) of the biblical king Hezekiah (r. 715– 687/6 BC) was found in the most ancient part of Jerusalem. It was dated to between 727 and 698 BC. Hezekiah dug the famous tunnel bearing his name (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:2–4,30; Isaiah 22:11). I was thrilled to be able to walk through it in 2014.
13. The prophet Isaiah lived from c. 740 to c. 681 BC. A bulla with his name on it was found in 2018 in Jerusalem, most excitedly within six and a half feet of the Hezekiah bulla. The two men are associated in the Bible 14 of 29 times that Isaiah’s name occurs.
14. The prophet Jeremiah lived from c. 650 to c. 570 BC. In my book I outlined 19 separate and independent archaeological verifications of the text of the book bearing his name.
15. King Nabonidus, the last king of Babylonia (r. 556–539 BC) is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, Instead, his son Belshazzar is called “king of Babylon” (Daniel 7:1; cf. 5:1, 5-10, 13, 30; 8:1). That’s because his father was abroad for 10 years, so he acted as his regent (hence, could be called “king”).