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Hello, Hezekiah!

Archaeology and Biblical History



An amazing find in Israel has set the archaeological world on its ear. And once again we see the veracity of biblical history.

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Eric Metaxas

Five years ago, a team of archaeologists digging “at the foot of the southern part of the wall that surrounds Jerusalem’s Old City” came across a refuse dump dating to the eighth century before Christ.

As the New York Times told its readers, it’s “an area rich in relics from the period of the first of two ancient Jewish temples.” Among their findings were thirty-three clay imprints or seals, known as bullae. These seals were catalogued and stored.

It wasn’t until recently that these bullae were examined more closely, and what the closer examination revealed is rocking the archaeological world. One of the bullae bore the inscription “Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah.”

That would be the Hezekiah of which the Bible says, “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses” (2 Kings 18:5-6).

As Eliat Mazar of Hebrew University told the Times, “It’s always a question, what are the real facts behind the biblical stories . . . Here we have a chance to get as close as possible to the person himself, to the king himself.”

You’ll pardon me for saying, but how cool is that?!

daily_commentary_12_04_15Now, if you’re a regular BreakPoint listener, you know that this is only the most recent in a series of archaeological finds that are confirming the historical nature and veracity of the biblical narratives. A few years ago, I told you about the discovery of Shaarayim, one of the two cities of David mentioned in First Chronicles, as well as the remains of one of David’s palaces and royal storehouses.

I also told you about the discovery of a coin, dating from the 11th century before Christ, which depicted “a man with long hair fighting a large animal with a feline tail.” As if that didn’t ring your biblical bell enough, the coin was discovered “near the Sorek River, which was the border between the ancient Israelite and Philistine territories 3,100 years ago.”

Of course, the coin depicted Samson.

You’ve got to remember that it was not that long ago that many historians and scholars were convinced that the biblical narratives that described the time before the Babylonian exile were largely the creation of pious scribes whose goal was to justify their contemporary concerns by creating a usable past. In fact, it was widely doubted that people like David and Solomon ever even existed, and if they did, they were little more than glorified tribal chieftains.

Then in 1993, a stone slab or stele dating from the 9th century B.C. referring to the “House of David” was found in northern Israel. More recently, archaeologists have discovered ancient copper mines south of Jerusalem that dated from the time of Solomon. The mines included “an impressive collection of clothing, fabrics, and ropes made using advanced weaving technology; foods, like dates, grapes, and pistachios; ceramics; and various types of metallurgical installations.”

So much for myths and glorified tribal chieftains!

Now the evidence left by their descendants is coming to light. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. As John Stonestreet has said, “Biblical faith is an historical faith. The accounts in the scripture do not take place in some mythical time-before-time like that of their pagan neighbors or the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism.”

Thus, we should not be surprised when evidence of this history turns up, even in a refuse dump.

Further Reading and Information

Hello, Hezekiah!: Archaeology and Biblical History
Click on the links below for details on recent archaeological discoveries that confirm the historical narratives of scripture. And for a deeper look at the Judean king Hezekiah, check out the biblical record in 2 Kings, chapters 18 and 19.

Resources

Evidence of Solomon's mines: Archaeologists dates mines in south of Israel to days of King Solomon
American Friends of Tel Aviv University | Sciencedaily.com | September 3, 2013

Rare Mark From Biblical King's Seal Found in Jerusalem
Reuters | New York Times | December 2, 2015

Coming Soon to Mapquest: A Palace of King David
Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | July 30, 2013

Archaeological Evidence
Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | January 14, 2015

The God Who Works in History: Archaeology Testifies in Stone
John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | August 17, 2015


Comments:

Some people are arguing about the egyptians symbols in hezekiah's seal and saying that this reveals his idolatry, but this is not a solid argument. There is not ans religious involvment but rather a political strategy because Judah and Egypt were allies at that time. http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/Hez1.htm
A bit more research on the 'pagan' symbols
From http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org:

The Hebrew University press release explains the iconography on the Ophel bulla and other seal impressions of Hezekiah:

The symbols on the seal impression from the Ophel suggest that they were made late in his life, when both the royal administrative authority and the king’s personal symbols changed from the winged scarab (dung beetle)—the symbol of power and rule that had been familiar throughout the ancient Near East, to that of the winged sun—a motif that proclaimed God’s protection, which gave the regime its legitimacy and power, also widespread throughout the ancient Near East and used by the Assyrian kings.
Pagan Symbols on the Seal
Hezekiah had a son Manaesseh that ruled after him and he reversed the centralizing reforms of his father Hezekiah, and re-established local shrines. He restored polytheistic worship of Baal, and Asherah this is found in 2 Kings 21. Could the son have put the pagan symbols on his fathers seal?
This Is a Fascinating Discovery...
... but would you care to comment on the pagan symbols that we clearly see on the seal?

Hezekiah is named in the Hebrew scriptures as a king who destroyed the places of pagan worship in the nation, ridding his kingdom of all gods but Yahweh. Here, however, we see two markedly pagan symbols as part of his very own seal. We see overt references to the Sun God and Egyptian superstitions. Is this not an enormous contradiction?
What are the implications of this?




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