Archaeology and the Land Support the Word of Truth
“You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.”—Josh. 23:14.
1. To whom are Jehovah’s gifts of the land and the Word given?
THE Land of Promise, which Jehovah God gave to his people Israel, supports and confirms his Word of truth, the Bible, which he has given as an invaluable gift, not to the Israelites alone, but to all who would worship him. The Word refers to the land; the land supports the Word and particularly conquers the evil Bible criticism with the good facts from archaeology. We feel you will be interested in some of these facts and in the comments relative to them made by authorities in the field of archaeology.
2, 3. Give experts’ opinion that evil Bible criticism is conquered by good from archaeology.
2 “It is perfectly true to say that Biblical archaeology has done a great deal to correct the impression that was abroad at the close of the last century and in the early part of this century, that Biblical history was of doubtful trustworthiness in many places.” So states J. A. Thompson in The Bible and Archaeology.
3 “In Palestine, places and towns that are frequently mentioned in the Bible are being brought back once more into the light of day. They look exactly as the Bible describes them and lie exactly where the Bible locates them.” This is the view of Werner Keller in The Bible As History, Introduction, and he continues, “There kept hammering in my brain this one sentence: ‘The Bible is right after all!’”
4. Is there evidence outside the Bible of the great deluge?
4 Have you heard of the Bible account of the great deluge, the Flood, being called in question? It has been ridiculed by some Bible critics who have thereby dishonored God and Christ Jesus, doing injury to those whom they succeeded in influencing. Yet archaeological excavations are interpreted as confirming the Bible account of the Flood, appearing in the seventh chapter of the book of Genesis. There is archaeological support of the truthful Scriptural account of the “tower with its top in the heavens.”—Gen. 11:3, 4.
5. Point to the maps to locate sites now determined as here listed.
5 Places referred to in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Genesis account, the existence and location of which are confirmed by the reports of archaeology, include the site of Calah, Erech, Ur of the Chaldeans, Haran, cities all of them; and the persons of Genesis chapter eleven, namely, Peleg, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Haran, referred to in cuneiform writings that were found in the ruins of the palace of Mari. The ancient site of Shechem and of the wells at Beer-sheba are likewise so indicated.
6. State the confirmed facts regarding Jericho, and locate the site on one of our maps.
6 The destruction of the ancient city of Jericho, located on the west side of the great Rift Valley is mentioned in Joshua 6:20, 24, showing the miraculous fall of the walls of Jericho and that city’s overthrow by the Hebrews under Joshua. When no archaeological confirmation of the Bible’s account was available, the truthfulness of it was glibly disputed. This is no longer possible. Archaeology confirms the Bible account of the destruction of the city. Excavations began at Jericho in 1930. Excavators found that the double walls surrounding the city had fallen down the slope as if toppled by an earthquake or some other unseen force. Houses had been built on rafters that bridged the tops of the two walls and in one section part of the wall stood and could have been where Rahab’s house had been preserved in the Biblical catastrophe. The excavators found evidence of intense fire. The city had been burned. This was no ordinary burning, because the layer of ashes was unusually thick and it appeared that all available fuel had been gathered to accomplish a thorough destruction. The city had not been looted, neither had there been any substantial rebuilding of the city until hundreds of years thereafter, about the time of King Ahab, when the Bible tells us that it was rebuilt. Today you can go to the Rift Valley, to the site of the excavations of the ruins of that ancient city of Jericho and see this archaeological support of the Bible account.
7. Here many other sites claim attention. What is each, and where is it on the large map?
7 As in the case of the ruins of Jericho, so the ruins of another city taken by the Israelites under Joshua, Hazor, together with evidences of Joshua’s destruction of it are included in the archaeological findings. Documentary evidence outside of that of the Bible, referring to the Israelites’ actually being in the land of Canaan, is the Nephtoah monument (Josh. 15:9) containing such reference. In the list of the archaeologists’ findings are the remains at Bethel (Judg. 1:22-25), sites of certain Philistine cities (Jer. 25:17, 20), the ruins of Gibeah (1 Sam. 10:20-26), the Michmash site still there (1 Sam. 13:5, 23), the place where David conquered Goliath (1 Sam. 17:2, 3), the ruins of Beth-shan and the house of Ashtoreth (1 Sam. 31:10), Megiddo in the north plain of Jezreel with its great stables (1 Ki. 9:15), Ezion-geber with its copper and ship works (1 Ki. 9:26), the site of Gebal (Ezek. 27:9), the stronghold at Mizpah (1 Ki. 15:16, 22) and the palaces of Samaria with their ivory and other luxurious furnishings (1 Ki. 22:39).
8. Relate the Bible account concerning King Mesha.
8 The book of the Word of truth states at 2 Kings 1:1: “Moab began to revolt against Israel after the death of Ahab.” In 2 Kings 3:4, 5 this is verified: “As regards Mesha the king of Moab, he became a sheep raiser, and he paid to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand unshorn male sheep. And it came about that as soon as Ahab died, the king of Moab began to revolt against the king of Israel.” The 2 Ki chapter 3 continues in respect to action taken by King Jehoram against King Mesha of Moab. The Moabites were greatly humiliated and they were defeated.
9. What has archaeology contributed to the Mesha account in support of the Bible?
9 Archaeology has provided an account of the revolt written by King Mesha, a stone called the Moabite Stone. Written in a dialect differing little from Biblical Hebrew, it was erected by King Mesha partly to commemorate his revolt. In 1868 this stone was found within the territory of Moab about halfway along the east side of the Dead Sea. The king of Moab shows himself to be a worshiper of the god Chemosh. In his account he mentions the name of Israel’s God, Jehovah. The false god Chemosh could not save Moab. The writing of Mesha on the Moabite Stone could not cover up Jehovah’s victory over Moab. Said Jeremiah: “The people of Chemosh have perished.” And Zephaniah prophesied: “Moab herself will become just like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah.” (Jer. 48:46; Zeph. 2:9) This has been the case with Mesha and his people, the Moabites. The Moabite Stone not only uses the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew-Phoenician characters but it mentions fourteen places found in the Bible record. This stone has long been available to Bible researchers.
10. Where lie the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, and this according to what authority?
10 “Moab herself will become just like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah,” stated Zephaniah. What was the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities of the plain? “We can say with certainty today that . . . the riddle of the disappearance of the two cities has been solved,” declares Werner Keller. The solution is that these corrupt cities of the plain lie in ruins in the area that at the present time is beneath the surface of the waters of the southern end of the Dead Sea, the waters of which are at a level higher than they were before the destruction of these cities. Surely it is true that “from . . . when Israel consolidated its occupation of . . . Palestine . . . Biblical tradition is increasingly illuminated by archaeological and documentary material of all kinds.” “To sum up, we can now again treat the Bible from beginning to end as an authentic document of religious history,” says archaeologist Albright.
11. Name the “wonders” here listed and locate each one that is shown on the accompanying maps.
11 The fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophetic pronouncements of destruction upon his enemies as they were centered in the various cities of their times is shown in the ruins of those cities. Such ruins are wonderful confirmations of the accuracy of the pronouncements of God’s prophets. These “wonders” are listed by one authority as including Tyre, Sidon, Bethel, Samaria, Jerusalem, Babylon and the nations of Egypt, Edom and the Philistines. Sites that have been the scene of excavation for archaeological research include: Hazor, Chorazin, Nazareth, Caesarea, Samaria, Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Jericho, Gibeon, Gibeah, Jerusalem, Qumran, Beth-zur, Lachish, Debir and Ezion-geber, and this does not complete the list by any means.
12. What are Lachish and Azekah, where are they located, and what support do they now give to the Word of God?
12 On the large map in this issue in the Shephelah you will find located Lachish, near which was Azekah. The ruins of both of these cities have been excavated. From these excavations have come archaeological treasures that establish a multitude of details in confirmation of the Bible accounts. In 1935 in the ruins of a guardroom of the Double Gatehouse there were found eighteen pieces of pottery inscribed with writings. These turned out to be a number of letters, and the collection is now known as the “Lachish Letters.” They confirm the Bible’s mentioning fire signals in Jeremiah 6:1, and Lachish as a neighboring town of Azekah referred to in Jeremiah 34:7. They confirm the Scriptures in mentioning Lachish and Azekah as the last two fortified cities left remaining. They confirm the fact that Judah went down to Egypt for assistance in violation of Jehovah’s commands. We have in the “Lachish Letters” the record of this military outpost holding out against Nebuchadnezzar. Furthermore, they show that the Jews at that time did not object to using the name Jehovah. The four Hebrew letters, the Tetragrammaton, of the name of God, Jehovah, are included in the “Lachish Letters.”
13. (a) What are some of the Bible-supporting sites found today in Samaria? (b) What other points can travelers now see? Where are they on the map?
13 In the eighth chapter of Joshua the account states that Mount Ebal was the place where Joshua built an altar to Jehovah, and the people of Israel, their old men, officers, judges, priests, Levites, alien residents and the natives, all gathered there in front of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. To Israel were read the blessing and the malediction. Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are there today. You can visit them. In 1963 hundreds of Jehovah’s witnesses went to this geographical site and to other sites in the Land of Promise, and there in the southern part of the land of Samaria in the vicinity of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal many of them, as Jesus did, drank water from Jacob’s Well near the village of Sychar where the cool, refreshing underground stream still flows. The Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, towns of Bethlehem and Hebron, the Valley of Hinnom, with many, many other geographical locations, are still there and you can see them. Anyone can see them, and, inasmuch as they are still observable today, they serve as support for the Word of truth.
14. Today, what corresponds to the view Jesus had when he sat on the Mount of Olives?
14 These last-mentioned examples are quite obvious and so is this one establishing the accuracy of the Scriptural setting of Jesus’ great prophecy. Mark 13:3 says: Jesus “was sitting on the Mount of Olives with the temple in view.” The Mount of Olives is still there today. From it you look to the west, past the Garden of Gethsemane, over the Kidron Valley to the easterly walls of the present city of Jerusalem and you see the location where, in Jesus’ day, the marvelous temple was standing as depicted on the Watch Tower Society’s 1968 calendar. The location previously occupied by the temple is now occupied by a Mohammedan mosque, the Dome of the Rock. The place is there, the land is there, the geography verifies Mark 13:3. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives he had the temple in view and the temple site is in view today from the Mount of Olives.
15. In addition to the Bible, what is proof of the existence of Pontius Pilate? Where was it found?
15 Pontius Pilate figured in the ministry of Jesus, as that ministry drew to a close, and quite recently Caesarea on the coastal plain contributed a valuable archaeological find in respect to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Jerusalem in the time of Christ Jesus. Pilate was known only by the record concerning him in the Bible and the writings of ancient historians, particularly Josephus, but archaeological evidence concerning him has been unknown. However, in 1961 an Italian archaeological expedition from the University of Milan found near Caesarea a stone slab thirty-one by twenty-three inches in size bearing writings including the Latin names of Pontius Pilate and Tiberius. This is archaeological proof of Pilate’s existence. Jehovah’s witnesses know Pilate existed because of what is stated in the Bible. As for those who deny the Bible: what are they going to do about the Pontius Pilate inscription?
16. What benefit is there for us in the support of the Bible provided by archaeology?
16 The record of the support that the land gives to the Word of truth continues and here is set out but a small portion of it. What effect should this knowledge have on us? What benefit is it to us? What benefit is there to us in the support of the Bible provided by archaeology? Wherein is the wonderful gift of Jehovah in the Promised Land an aid to us at this late date? Knowledge of the Bible and the land, support of the Bible by archaeology and by the land itself should increase our appreciation for the Word of truth. As the discovery of ancient manuscripts has helped restore the pure, original text of the Bible, so the discovery of the multitude of artifacts has brought convincing confirmation that the things stated in the Bible text are historically, chronologically and geographically reliable right down to the minutest detail.
17, 18. (a) What is the published view of the principal librarian of the British Museum? (b) of archaeologist Glueck?
17 Thus archaeology confounds the critics of the Bible. A noted British scholar, director and principal librarian of the British Museum for many years, said concerning the Bible: “The evidence of archaeology has been to re-establish its authority and likewise to augment its value by rendering it more intelligible through a fuller knowledge of its background and setting. Archaeology has not yet said its last word; but the result already achieved confirms what faith would suggest that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase of knowledge.”
18 Archaeologist Nelson Glueck in his book, Rivers in the Desert, says (1959, p. 31): “As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.”
19. (a) What does archaeology confirm? (b) How can we familiarize ourselves with the Promised Land?
19 Let us list or relist benefits brought to the cause of truth and the Word of God by the facts of archaeology. Archaeology: confirms the patriarchal narratives, the rule of Saul, the reign of David, aids in the location of geographical places, helps fix the chronology of Bible events, informs us regarding the customs and the culture of Bible times, gives historical background to the Bible and aids in the understanding of the meaning of some Bible words. Undeniably the land of the Word of truth is existing; it is there. So are we going to become as well acquainted with it as we can? When places and areas are mentioned in the Bible account or in our study of the Word of God, will we consult maps that we have in our Bibles or other maps and locate these places? Do we wish to increase our understanding of what we read in the Bible? We certainly do. Visualizing the geography enhances our understanding of the written word (something that we should desire). We can gradually familiarize ourselves with the Promised Land and thereby gain more familiarity with the Bible itself.
20. How should we respond to Jehovah’s gift of the land and the Word?
20 The land exalts its Creator. We are glad for his exaltation. The gift vindicates the Giver. We rejoice in Jehovah’s vindication. We love and appreciate the gift of God’s Word. We say with Psalm 119:130, 140: “The very disclosure of your words gives light, making the inexperienced ones understand. Your saying is very much refined, and your own servant loves it.” We are Jehovah’s servants. We love his Word of truth!
21. For us, Joshua 23:14 has what import?
21 The critics and contradictors of God’s Word have nothing to offer but falsehood, doubt, perplexity, perversion. That is not for us. Rather, the truth expressed by Joshua is recognized by Jehovah’s witnesses, who join in saying: ‘We well know with all our hearts and with all our souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah our God has spoken to us has failed. They have all come true for us. Not one word of them has failed.’—Josh. 23:14.
[Map on page 561]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
[Picture on page 562]
Moabite Stone, showing the Divine Name
[Picture on page 563]
One of the “Lachish Letters,” containing ancient Hebrew letters for “Jehovah”
[Picture on page 564]
Partial inscription found at Caesarea, second line of which reads “[Pon]tius Pilatus”