Palestinian archaeology has become a fad for Jewish and Christian scholars alike. Yet the whole Jewish and Christian world is filled more than ever with doubt concerning the reliability of the Bible. Is there no evidence that the Bible is true? Or have men found and rejected the evidence? Here, written from on the scene, is the shocking truth about the conspiracy to hide the facts!
Ashkelon, Israel UNEXPECTEDLY, this summer, I had the privilege of becoming a participant in the archaeological excavations now going on at Ashdod, Israel. I want to tell you about it and the truth about archaeology — and why most, scholars refuse to believe the Bible. Never has there been such a vast array of historical and archaeological knowledge available to man to confirm the Bible. Why, then, with all this confirmation of the truth of the Bible available, is agnosticism, skepticism, and doubt so common today? Why are historians and archaeologists in the forefront of those who deny the authority and reliability of the Bible?
There Is a Reason
If the Bible is a revelation from God for man, then why do we not hear of more proof outside the Bible — confirmation from history and archaeology — that the events of the Bible really happened and its great characters actually lived? All the world looks to archaeologists for evidence on WHAT to believe about the Bible. Even the ministers derive many of their opinions from archaeological reports. And I am finding anew in this Ashdod digging that archaeological reports do not disclose all that is found in archaeological diggings. Archaeologists dig up much more evidence than you hear about. Their facts are fine. But their theory of how facts are to be understood is in error. Neither archaeologists nor ministers want to accept anything that supports the Bible — because they are unwilling to accept the Bible at face value. Of course not! None of us — of ourselves — want to accept the complete, unaltered message of God's Word! If you accept the Bible as historically true, HOW can you escape this obligation to obey its laws? You can't! And neither can the ministers or the archaeologists. It is altogether impossible to separate Bible history from Bible commands! Either ALL the Bible is TRUE or all of it is FALSE. That is the crux of the whole problem. Since most ministers and archaeologists do not want to obey God, they are determined to discredit the Bible as a historical record. In this age of increasing knowledge — or is it mistaken knowledge — many of the greatest men plead ignorance to life's most important problems. "We have outgrown God," they contend. "He was suitable for a period of superstition and ignorance when religion predominated. But we do not live in a religious age. We have created a scientifically minded world."
What Ministers Say About the Bible
It would probably be SHOCKING to you if you knew what many leading ministers personally think and publicly say about the Bible! Here is what Harry Emerson Fosdick, a noted American minister of New York, wrote in his book The Modern Use of the Bible: "We know now that every idea in the Bible started from primitive and childlike origins..." and that it is an impossible attempt to harmonize the Bible with itself, to make it speak with unanimous voice, to resolve its conflicts and contradictions.... Why did Dr. Fosdick write this? Was he convinced that there was no proof of the inspiration of the Bible? OR WAS HE OVERLOOKING THE PROOF AND NEGLECTING THE TRUTH? Dr. James Moffat, who produced a famous English rendering of the Bible, says in his introduction to the Bible that many of its books are "notes by disciples, worked up into literary papers which have been repeatedly edited, sometimes by pious collectors." To this learned man it seemed the earlier portions of the Bible stemmed from "the natural desire to gather up the primitive traditions of the people." Notice! Here is one of the foremost Biblical scholars declaring that the Bible has a natural origin in human traditions! — implying that it is not backed by fact! What made him believe such an idea? Was he without proof of the inspiration of Scripture? Surely, if there were proof for the inspiration of the Bible, these men would NOT have overlooked it — would they... or DID THEY FIND THE PROOF AND REJECT IT?
Sincere, but Ignorant?
SHOCKING UTTERANCES SUCH AS THESE ARE THE PRODUCT OF HUMAN REASON! To the natural mind the Bible seems merely a book of tales and stories, and fabulous solutions to the question of human origin and destiny. What irrefutable proof do these men offer for propounding the concept that the Bible was fraudulently written by Hebrews who only "claimed" divine authority for their mere human utterances? None! HAVE THESE MEN BEEN ABLE TO DISPROVE THE BIBLE — to disprove the existence of its great characters — to disprove the occurrence of its outstanding historic events? No! Would man go to all this trouble to imply the Bible is false if he thought it to be actually true? INDEED MAN WOULD! People secretly want to serve their own lusts. They want to be in ignorance of God's law and way of life! They do not want the astounding proof that the Bible is true, that it is inspired — that it can be proved right! As Jeremiah the prophet was inspired to write: "An appalling and horrible thing is come to pass in the land: the prophets prophesy in the service of falsehood, and the priests bear rule at their beck; and My people love to have it so" (Jer. 5:30-31). The ministers just won't preach the truth!
Where Is the PROOF?
Everyone today demands proof of the authority of the Bible! They reject the proof within the Bible itself. People have a chip on their shoulders, so to speak. They want some MAN to prove whether the Bible is true. They accept God's Word only if a man verifies Him! Of course it is right that we should prove it! And there is plenty of confirming evidence — evidence of the most amazing kind — evidence that ought to rock civilization to its foundation! But the world is willfully ignorant of it. Believe it or not, THE WORLD ALREADY KNOWS OF THE EVIDENCE but is unwilling to accept it. It has seen the evidence; it has felt it; it has dug it up; it has read it; it has published it — but the world has rejected it because it does not want to surrender its will to the Bible. ONLY THE FOOL WOULD REJECT THE EVIDENCE of creation and of prophecy. But, sadly, the world is filled with fools! It has rejected both. The world has not only turned the truth upside-down, but it has also turned the evidence upside-down — making right seem wrong and making factual evidence tell lies. For well over a century and a half Biblical scholars labored to undermine the authority of the Bible. They taught the world that Moses could not have written the books attributed to him. They claimed writing was not invented until after Moses' time. This made the Bible appear — as they claimed — just an uninspired collection of Jewish folklore and religious myths. But just when scholars had convinced much of the literary world that the Bible is just the work of pious ancients searching for a concept of God, something went wrong! In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Europeans became aware of the treasures of the tells or mounds of the Mesopotamian flatlands. Archaeological expeditions cut into many of the most impressive ones. Hoards of private and public documents were discovered — most of them lying to this day untranslated in the basements of European museums. A few, however, were translated. A multitude of undreamed-of facts was disclosed for the first time. Many clay tablets and inscriptions — positively dated before Moses' time — revealed a very advanced culture, with students doing math problems in cube root and learning very advanced, complicated grammars — in addition to confirming many Old Testament accounts. For decades this archaeological confirmation of the Old Testament has progressed remarkably. Earlier claims of German rationalists and higher critics were exploded with every new excavation in Palestine and the Middle East. There again confronting the theologians was the frightening specter of the AUTHORITY of Scripture — which they thought they had banished from the classrooms a century ago. Biblical archaeology became such a fad — and evidence confirming the Bible piled up so rapidly — that critics were soon forced to adopt a new approach in their attack on the Bible. Here, helping dig up Ashdod, a famous old Philistine city (I Sam. 5), I am witnessing this modern approach to Bible criticism. Today men can no longer get away with rejecting the Bible outright. But they still refuse to accept the Bible as the basis from which to begin their studies. Instead, they interpret the Bible by facts that they have to arrange to fit their concept of what the Bible should say. While they pretend they are searching for evidence to support the Bible, they are in reality hoping to find evidence that can be interpreted to say the Bible is inaccurate — which would in turn be interpreted to mean the Bible is not a divinely inspired book. Then they can say God's laws are just a part of a book of fables and need not be obeyed. Today a framework of isolated and often unrelated facts unearthed by archaeology is built into an elaborate house of cards. Then the Bible is judged by this fictitious interpretation of history. When a difference appears, it is the Bible which is judged to be wrong! Yet the Bible is the ONLY authentic, ancient, and well-organized framework in which to fit all the facts. No secular source contains such a vast array of historical fact from which to interpret the myriads of tiny unrelated details of archaeology.
How Facts of Archaeology Are Rejected
What men dig up are facts. Facts are fine. But it is the THEORY of how facts are to be understood that is in error. They go to the Philistines to understand the Bible, not to the Bible to understand the remains left by the Philistines. I am finding that out here first-hand! What really is the purpose of excavation in Biblical sites today? Is it to find the truth? To confirm and to illuminate the Bible? "The answer is not so straightforward as it might seem," replies Franken in his book A Primer of Old Testament Archaeology, page 141. On page 142 he writes, "A further trend has been to concentrate on the prehistory of Palestine rather than Old Testament times... because it saves the archaeologist the laborious problems of trying to fit archaeology and Biblical evidence together without either losing professional integrity or giving offense to colleagues." Notice he admits that more and more archaeologists are shying away from excavating anything that might tend to confirm the Bible. Why? Because excavation only results in further confirming the already-established unimpeachability of the Bible. They would rather work with non-Biblical matter so the Bible will not continuously prove them in error. To justify their preconceived dislike of anything "Biblical," archaeologists have had to discard or gloss over literally thousands of ancient texts and day tablets — explain away or deny the plain evidence before them — actually falsify the original on-the-spot accounts of the digging. Rejected records include not only carefully preserved annals, but eyewitness accounts of every major Biblical event, including the building of the Tower of Babel and the Exodus!
Eyewitness Account of Building of Babel
The most complete secular record of the building of the Tower at Babel is found in the Akkadian creation epic. This account, like most from ancient pagan sources, is encrusted with myth. But that does not nullify the basic historical evidence contained in the epic. Following are extracts, freely translated, from Ancient Near Eastern Texts, by James B. Pritchard, pages 68-69: "'Now, O Lord, thou who hast caused our deliverance, what shall be our homage to thee? Let us build a shrine... Brightly glowed his features, like the day: 'Like that of lofty Babylon, whose building you have requested. Let its brickwork be fashioned. You shall name it "The Sanctuary." 'For one whole year they molded the bricks. When the second year arrived, they raised high the shrine equaling a great height. Having built a stage-tower a great height, they set up in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil, and Ea (pagan gods of the Babylonians). This is Babylon, the place that is your home... The account in Genesis describes exactly what is given here — due to the early deception and subsequent worship of pagan gods — the building of a Tower, or religious edifice, and of a city. But as soon as this account was translated, the literary critics seized the opportunity. The Babylonian accounts of creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel were interpreted as the originals from which the Genesis account was taken. Then they claimed Moses patterned the law after the set of laws King Hammurabi enacted. No one questioned whether Hammurabi lived before or after Moses. Or whether Genesis was written before, rather than after, the idolatrous Mesopotamian accounts of creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. A long list of Mesopotamian kings — placed one after another in time order by archaeologists — supposedly proved these Babylonian accounts were as old as claimed. Then came an astounding discovery. Business documents, public monuments, and literary classics were translated, giving proof that certain kings who were supposedly hundreds of years apart were in actuality living at the same time, ruling neighboring city-states, and carrying on trade and diplomatic relations with one another. What were the historians to do? They were trapped by their own misinterpretations! Wrote Leon Legrain in 1922: "The problem of parallel dynasties is one of the most troublesome for Babylonian chronologists" (Publication of Babylonian Section of University of Pennsylvania, XIII, 17). Weidner of Austria forced the historical world to recognize the problem despite themselves. His famous articles, pointing out that several successive dynasties were in fact contemporary, appeared in 1923 in Archiv fuer Kielschriftforschung (I, 95), and in 1926 in Archie fuer Orientforschung (III, 198).
Saul and David in Archaeology
But the strongest evidence against the modern interpretation of archaeology was discovered by the French at Mari on the Euphrates River. There it was discovered that during the lifetime of Hammurabi — who was mistakenly dated by historians in the time of Abraham — the Benjamites were in control of Palestine and men like David were famous! (See Werner Keller's The Bible as History, pages 49-52). From the tablets found at Mari, we read these clear words: "The year in which Landulim went to Hen and laid hands upon the territory of the Benjamites," and "The year that ZimriLim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites." Of course! Under King Saul, a Benjamite, the tribe of Benjamin was dominant. Gentile nations regarded all Palestine as the land of the Benjamites. And David was the greatest of all the generals of the Benjamites (I Samuel 18:7; 21:11). David's fame spread so far and wide that the Gentiles called all the generals of Israel Davidum, or "Davids" — men like David — just as the world's "great" Roman Caesars gave their name to the Kaisers of Germany and the Czars of Russia. How were the historians and archaeologists to interpret these astounding discoveries? Were they to date Hammurabi properly to the time of Saul and David? Not at all! Rather, they cleverly assumed that Benjamites were in Palestine long before Benjamin was born — that the name of David was famous for nearly a thousand years before David was born! They hoped thereby to keep their interpretations of the king lists and reject the Bible. Human reasoning was used to escape the AUTHORITY vested in the laws of the Bible! Scholars even claimed Abraham and his ancestors were merely legends. It is time such nonsense were banished from archaeology and education. It is time that the truth is made plain.
The Ancestors of Abraham!
During the years 1934 to 1939 excavations were methodically conducted at ancient Mari (on the southwestern bank of the Euphrates River near the border of present-day Iraq). What do you suppose they found? Ancient towns and cities in Mesopotamia were named after every one of the patriarchs — ancestors of Abraham — who lived this side of the Flood! Recently unearthed records of 3,000 years ago speak of the "city of Nahor" (named after the Old Testament patriarch Nahor) mentioned in Genesis 24:10. It was located near the city of Haran which still exists to this very day! Who said those men are legends? "Beside the definite location of the patriarchal cities of HARAN and NAHOR in northwestern Mesopotamia, hardly less clear indications of Hebrew residence in this region appear in the names of Abraham's forefathers, which correspond to the names of towns near Haran: SERUG (Assyrian Sarugi), Terah (Til Turakhi, 'Mound of Terah,' in Assyrian times). REU also corresponds to later names of towns in the Middle Euphrates valley. PELEG, for example, recalls later Paliga on the Euphrates just above the mouth of the Habur" (from Unger's Archeology and the Old Testament). Let the scoffers laugh at these records. Let them call the Bible a book of legends. Their time of reckoning is around the corner and fast approaching! The Bible does not lie.
The Million Men That Disappeared
The skeptics have laughed at the Biblical account of the one-million-man army that perished to the last man (II Chron. 14:8-15). Did real miracles ever actually occur? Has God ever delivered a nation who relied only on Him instead of on their own military strength and scientific armaments? "And Asa had an army that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin... two hundred and fourscore thousand.... And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with a host of a thousand thousand [one million troops], and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. Then Asa went out against him... And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, 'Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, THOU ART OUR GOD; let not man prevail against thee.' "So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host; and they [Judah] carried away very much spoil." Did this really occur? One would hardly expect to discover the full truth of such a catastrophic defeat engraved on the monuments of the defeated. Perchance the defeat is glossed over and made to appear a victory. What do the monuments of Egypt silently utter of this battle? In Egypt Amenhotpe II was reigning. His authority extended south beyond Napata in Ethiopia (Ancient Records, by Breasted, vol. II, sect. 797). At the beginning of his seventh year the king set out on a grand expedition into Palestine. The Memphis Stella reads: "Year 7, 1st month of the third season, day 25... His majesty proceeded to Retenu (Palestine)... His majesty reached Shamash-Edom." On the Karnak Stella the next move is also dated: "1st month of the third season, day 26. His majesty's crossing the ford of the Yerset on this day." Egyptologists, without any authority, alter the text at this point. They substitute "Orontes" for "Yerset" because they think the king had already reached Syria! But he had advanced only one day's march from Edom. He could not possibly have reached the Orontes in North Syria. The text is absolutely correct. One day's march from ShamashEdom northward would have brought the army to the valley of Zephath, which extends from near Hebron to Azotus (Ashdod, which we are now excavating) on the coast. This is the very geographic area in which the Bible places Zerah. In the valley are located the sites of ancient Mareshah and Moresheth-gath (Micah 1:14). The word Moresheth is the Hebrew equivalent of Amenhotpe's "ford," or "waters of the Yerset." The "Mo" of Moresheth signifies "waters" and "resheth" is derived from the Hebrew root "Yereshah" (see Young's Concordance), of which the Egyptian "Yerset" is the equivalent. Think what this means. At the time and the place the Bible records Zerah in the Zephath valley, the Egyptian records reveal Amenhotpe II was crossing the same valley's stream, the Yerset. Amenhotpe II is Zerah. Herodotus designates him "king of Ethiopia" in his Persian Wars, book III, 21ff. But what of the annihilation of the king's army? Let the Memphis Stella relate what befell the Ethiopians: "His majesty crossed the Yerset on dangerous waters" — or, as Drioton translated it: "waters shaking with fury." "Then he turned about to watch his rear, and he saw a few Asiatics... : " Now carefully observe the next line: "Not a single one was with his majesty, except for himself with his valiant arm... He returned thence" to Egypt. Why were the waters of the valley shaking with fury? God was intervening! The king "turned about to watch his rear" because he was terrified at the presence of God. Before the battle was over he was left fleeing alone. His entire army was wiped out to the last man! To facilitate his escape, he later pounced upon an unsuspecting Asiatic, killed him, took his horses, chariot and possessions, then hurried to Egypt two weeks later in pretended triumph! His claimed booty is found on the Karnak Stella: "List of that which his majesty captured on this day: his horses, 2; chariots, 1; a coat of mail; 2 bows; a quiver full of arrows; a corselet." (Consult Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts, page 245, and footnotes 8 and 9; also Breasted's translation of the Karnak Stella, section 784) A striking confirmation of the Biblical record! Amenhotpe II was utterly vanquished by the supernatural intervention of the Almighty. A million troops vanished in the holocaust. Not one remained alive to accompany the king back to Egypt. The Bible is true!
Yes, the Bible Is Supernatural!
You need to know — and know that you know — that the Bible is of God. This world does not know! This world has been willingly deceived by religious and secular leaders — themselves willingly deceived (Rom. 1:21-22) — posing as men of highest education. They are scoffers who teach that the Bible is the work of men — that the Flood and other miracles didn't really happen (II Pet. 3:3-5) — that at best the Bible is only partly true, mixed with error and therefore unreliable. You need to know that it is this false education which has brought the authority of the Bible into question and promulgated the doubt that grips the world today. It's time you knew that God's Word cannot be broken (John 10:35) — that God's laws stand fast forever and ever (I Pet. 1:23, 25). It's time this world stood aghast at the awesome AUTHORITY of every word of God (Mat. 4:4).
As a participant in the Hebrew Union College Summer Institute on Near Eastern Civilizations, Dr. Hoeh is spending 8 weeks in Israel. He is engaged in the excavation of the ancient Philistine city of Ashdod (mentioned in I Samuel 5). The excavation is jointly sponsored by the State of Israel, Carnegie Museum, and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and partly financed by U.S. Aid.