The Bible is a book full of history – in fact, many historians use it as a valuable source. But it can also be used in this sense for us, to prove, by history, that the Bible is true.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in a series of 11 caves near the Dead Sea and the settlement of Qumran, 13 miles east of Jerusalem. They make up a large section of the original Bible manuscripts in existence today, and date from as early as the third century BC. In these scrolls are sections of Leviticus (the book of the Jewish laws), the Psalms, the book of Esther, and Isaiah’s prophecy, as well as parts of the Jewish Torah and further books from that time period that do not appear in the Bible.
Israel in Egypt
The people of Israel, God’s chosen people lived in Egypt for 400 years – from the time of Joseph to the time of Moses when God delivered them into the Promised Land. The Pharaoh at the time of Joseph promised him and his descendants a place to live; “Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers are come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my livestock.” Gen 47:5 & 6. Goshen is an area in the North of Egypt, also known as Gessen, Kos or Kus. It is very close to the Nile floodplains, and very fertile. But what does this all mean?
Artefacts have been found in the Goshen area that prove the existence, and hasty exit, of a Semitic people – jars and bowls, and the graves of people identified by archaeologists to be Israelites. Many of these graves were of small children, mainly boys under two years old, which indicates the truth in the decree of Pharaoh in the time of Moses: “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth, and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The number of adult graves – three men to every five women, again reinforces this. Pharaoh’s plan was to reduce the number of Israelite men, and by the evidence found in Goshen, he was successful.
A large house has also been discovered in Goshen; the oldest house in the region. It is built in the style of Haran, a people who were known for their stylish and grand houses. In Genesis 11:31 we are told Abraham settled in Haran, so the architectural influences are characteristic of Israelite buildings. This house had 12 pillars outside, two identical bedrooms, and 12 graves in the courtyard. The most impressive of these graves is a pyramid, and in it a sarcophagus with red hair, yellow skin and multicoloured robes – all symbolic of royalty but also of a foreigner. This house is thought to be that of Joseph – his connections with a Pharaoh gave him royal status. This grave is also empty, not even the bones are there just as Joseph instructed. (Gen 50:25)
Josephus was a Jew who lived in Jerusalem during the first century AD, the time when the apostles of Jesus were writing the gospels, and when Israel was under Roman occupation. Josephus recorded in great detail the Roman rule and politics evident in the book of Acts, and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. He mentions more than twenty people frequently mentioned in the New Testament, including John the Baptist and many of the Herods, the Roman governors over Israel. Josephus was not a Christian himself, so his writings are unbiased and factual – a very useful tool in proving the truth of the Bible.
History unfolds the truth and accuracy of the Bible time and time again. There is not opportunity in this article to tell of the Jews being the only nation in history to re-occupy their original homeland and being exiled for hundreds of years; of the persecution and humiliation they would suffer at the hands of many oppressors; of Jerusalem’s chequered and conflict ridden existence; of cities like Tyre and Babylon’s fate, accurate to the last detail. This article might not, but history set against the Bible does.
(Quotations form the New International Version of the Bible)