Tag Archives: Old Testament

53 individuals from the Scriptures that have been authenticated by Archaeology

One of the main objections put forward by those who question the validity of the Scriptures is that the individuals mentioned therein are made up and that there is no evidence to back any claim for the validity of the information. The following list and information has been taken from the “Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014” which has been compiled by the BAS (Biblical Archaeological Society) and gives Archaeological evidence for 53 such characters which are mentioned in the Bible.

Name

Who was he?

When he reigned or flourished B.C.E.

Where in the Bible?

Egypt

1

Shishak (= Sheshonq I)

pharaoh

945–924

1 Kings 11:40, etc.

2

So (= Osorkon IV)

pharaoh

730–715

2 Kings 17:4

3

Tirhakah (= Taharqa)

pharaoh

690–664

2 Kings 19:9, etc.

4

Necho II (= Neco II)

pharaoh

610–595

2 Chronicles 35:20, etc.

5

Hophra (= Apries)

pharaoh

589–570

Jeremiah 44:30

Moab

6

Mesha

king

early to mid-ninth century

2 Kings 3:4–27

Aram-Damascus

7

Hadadezer

king

early ninth century to 844/842

1 Kings 11:23, etc.

8

Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer

king

844/842

2 Kings 6:24, etc.

9

Hazael

king

844/842–c. 800

1 Kings 19:15, etc.

10

Ben-hadad, son of Hazael

king

early eighth century

2 Kings 13:3, etc.

11

Rezin

king

mid-eighth century to 732

2 Kings 15:37, etc.

Northern Kingdom of Israel

12

Omri

king

884–873

1 Kings 16:16, etc.

13

Ahab

king

873–852

1 Kings 16:28, etc.

14

Jehu

king

842/841–815/814

1 Kings 19:16, etc.

15

Joash (= Jehoash)

king

805–790

2 Kings 13:9, etc.

16

Jeroboam II

king

790–750/749

2 Kings 13:13, etc.

17

Menahem

king

749–738

2 Kings 15:14, etc.

18

Pekah

king

750(?)–732/731

2 Kings 15:25, etc.

19

Hoshea

king

732/731–722

2 Kings 15:30, etc.

20

Sanballat “I”

governor of Samaria under Persian rule

c. mid-fifth century

Nehemiah 2:10, etc.

Southern Kingdom of Judah

21

David

king

c. 1010–970

1 Samuel 16:13, etc.

22

Uzziah (= Azariah)

king

788/787–736/735

2 Kings 14:21, etc.

23

Ahaz (= Jehoahaz)

king

742/741–726

2 Kings 15:38, etc.

24

Hezekiah

king

726–697/696

2 Kings 16:20, etc.

25

Manasseh

king

697/696–642/641

2 Kings 20:21, etc.

26

Hilkiah

high priest during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

2 Kings 22:4, etc.

27

Shaphan

scribe during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

2 Kings 22:3, etc.

28

Azariah

high priest during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

1 Chronicles 5:39, etc.

29

Gemariah

official during Jehoiakim’s reign

within 609–598

Jeremiah 36:10, etc.

30

Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah)

king

598–597

2 Kings 24:6, etc.

31

Shelemiah

father of Jehucal the royal official

late seventh century

Jeremiah 37:3, etc.

32

Jehucal (= Jucal)

official during Zedekiah’s reign

within 597–586

Jeremiah 37:3, etc.

33

Pashhur

father of Gedaliah the royal official

late seventh century

Jeremiah 38:1

34

Gedaliah

official during Zedekiah’s reign

within 597–586

Jeremiah 38:1

Assyria

35

Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul)

king

744–727

2 Kings 15:19, etc.

36

Shalmaneser V

king

726–722

2 Kings 17:3, etc.

37

Sargon II

king

721–705

Isaiah 20:1

38

Sennacherib

king

704–681

2 Kings 18:13, etc.

39

Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu)

son and assassin of Sennacherib

early seventh century

2 Kings 19:37, etc.

40

Esarhaddon

king

680–669

2 Kings 19:37, etc.

Babylonia

41

Merodach-baladan II

king

721–710 and 703

2 Kings 20:12, etc.

42

Nebuchadnezzar II

king

604–562

2 Kings 24:1, etc.

43

Nebo-sarsekim

official of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

Jeremiah 39:3

44

Nergal-sharezer

officer of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

Jeremiah 39:3

45

Nebuzaradan

a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc.

46

Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk = Amel Marduk)

king

561–560

2 Kings 25:27, etc.

47

Belshazzar

son and co-regent of Nabonidus

c. 543?–540

Daniel 5:1, etc.

Persia

48

Cyrus II (= Cyrus the Great)

king

559–530

2 Chronicles 36:22, etc.

49

Darius I (= Darius the Great)

king

520–486

Ezra 4:5, etc.

50

Tattenai

provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates

late sixth to early fifth century

Ezra 5:3, etc.

51

Xerxes I (= Ahasuerus)

king

486–465

Esther 1:1, etc.

52

Artaxerxes I Longimanus

king

465-425/424

Ezra 4:7, etc.

53

Darius II Nothus

king

425/424-405/404

Nehemiah 12:22

 

EGYPT

1. Shishak (= Sheshonq I), pharaoh, r. 945–924, 1 Kings 11:40 and 14:25, in his inscriptions, including the record of his military campaign in Palestine in his 924 B.C.E. inscription on the exterior south wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes. See OROT, pp. 10, 31–32, 502 note 1; many references to him in Third, indexed on p. 520; Kenneth A. Kitchen, review of IBPSEE-J Hiphil 2 (2005), www.see-j.net/index.php/hiphil/article/viewFile/19/17, bottom of p. 3, which is briefly mentioned in “Sixteen,” p. 43 n. 22. (Note: The name of this pharaoh can be spelled Sheshonq or Shoshenq.)

Sheshonq is also referred to in a fragment of his victory stele discovered at Megiddo containing his cartouche. See Robert S. Lamon and Geoffrey M. Shipton, Megiddo I: Seasons of 1925–34, Strata I–V. (Oriental Institute Publications no. 42; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), pp. 60–61, fig. 70; Graham I. Davies, Megiddo (Cities of the Biblical World; Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1986), pp. 89 fig. 18, 90; OROT, p. 508 n. 68; IBP, p. 137 n. 119. (Note: The name of this pharaoh can be spelled Sheshonq or Shoshenq.)

Egyptian pharaohs had several names, including a throne name. It is known that the throne name of Sheshonq I, when translated into English, means, “Bright is the manifestation of Re, chosen of Amun/Re.” Sheshonq I’s inscription on the wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes (mentioned above) celebrates the victories of his military campaign in the Levant, thus presenting the possibility of his presence in that region. A small Egyptian scarab containing his exact throne name, discovered as a surface find at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan, now documents his presence at or near that location. This site is located along the Wadi Fidan, in the region of Faynan in southern Jordan.

As for the time period, disruption of copper production at Khirbet en-Nahas, also in the southern Levant, can be attributed to Sheshonq’s army, as determined by stratigraphy, high-precision radiocarbon dating, and an assemblage of Egyptian amulets dating to Sheshonq’s time. His army seems to have intentionally disrupted copper production, as is evident both at Khirbet en-Nahas and also at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan, where the scarab was discovered.

As for the singularity of this name in this remote locale, it would have been notable to find any Egyptian scarab there, much less one containing the throne name of this conquering Pharaoh; this unique discovery admits no confusion with another person. See Thomas E. Levy, Stefan Münger, and Mohammad Najjar, “A Newly Discovered Scarab of Sheshonq I: Recent Iron Age Explorations in Southern Jordan. Antiquity Project Gallery,” Antiquity (2014); online: http://journal.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/levy341.

2. So (= Osorkon IV), pharaoh, r. 730–715, 2 Kings 17:4 only, which calls him “So, king of Egypt” (OROT, pp. 15–16). K. A. Kitchen makes a detailed case for So being Osorkon IV in Third, pp. 372–375. See Raging Torrent, p. 106 under “Shilkanni.”

3. Tirhakah (= Taharqa), pharaoh, r. 690–664, 2 Kings 19:9, etc. in many Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions; Third, pp. 387–395. For mention of Tirhakah in Assyrian inscriptions, see those of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal in Raging Torrent, pp. 138–143, 145, 150–153, 155, 156; ABC, p. 247 under “Terhaqah.” The Babylonian chronicle also refers to him (Raging Torrent, p. 187). On Tirhakah as prince, see OROT, p. 24.

4. Necho II (= Neco II), pharaoh, r. 610–595, 2 Chronicles 35:20, etc., in inscriptions of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (ANET, pp. 294–297) and the Esarhaddon Chronicle (ANET, p. 303). See also Raging Torrent, pp. 189–199, esp. 198; OROT, p. 504 n. 26; Third, p. 407; ABC, p. 232.

5. Hophra (= Apries = Wahibre), pharaoh, r. 589–570, Jeremiah 44:30, in Egyptian inscriptions, such as the one describing his being buried by his successor, Aḥmose II (= Amasis II) (Third, p. 333 n. 498), with reflections in Babylonian inscriptions regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Hophra in 572 and replacing him on the throne of Egypt with a general, Aḥmes (= Amasis), who later rebelled against Babylonia and was suppressed (Raging Torrent, p. 222). See OROT, pp. 9, 16, 24; Third, p. 373 n. 747, 407 and 407 n. 969; ANET, p. 308; D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (626–556 B.C.) in the British Museum (London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 1956), pp. 94-95. Cf. ANEHST, p. 402. (The index of Third, p. 525, distinguishes between an earlier “Wahibre i” [Third, p. 98] and the 26th Dynasty’s “Wahibre ii” [= Apries], r. 589–570.)

 

MOAB

6. Mesha, king, r. early to mid-9th century, 2 Kings 3:4–27, in the Mesha Inscription, which he caused to be written, lines 1–2; Dearman, Studies, pp. 97, 100–101; IBP, pp. 95–108, 238; “Sixteen,” p. 43.

 

ARAM-DAMASCUS

7. Hadadezer, king, r. early 9th century to 844/842, 1 Kings 22:3, etc., in Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser III and also, I am convinced, in the Melqart stele. The Hebrew Bible does not name him, referring to him only as “the King of Aram” in 1 Kings 22:3, 31; 2 Kings chapter 5, 6:8–23. We find out this king’s full name in some contemporaneous inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria (r. 858–824), such as the Black Obelisk (Raging Torrent, pp. 22–24). At Kurkh, a monolith by Shalmaneser III states that at the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.E.), he defeated “Adad-idri [the Assyrian way of saying Hadadezer] the Damascene,” along with “Ahab the Israelite” and other kings (Raging Torrent, p. 14; RIMA 3, p. 23, A.0.102.2, col. ii, lines 89b–92). “Hadadezer the Damascene” is also mentioned in an engraving on a statue of Shalmaneser III at Aššur (RIMA 3, p. 118, A.0.102.40, col. i, line 14). The same statue engraving later mentions both Hadadezer and Hazael together (RIMA 3, p. 118, col. i, lines 25–26) in a topical arrangement of worst enemies defeated that is not necessarily chronological.

On the long-disputed readings of the Melqart stele, which was discovered in Syria in 1939, see “Corrections,” pp. 69–85, which follows the closely allied readings of Frank Moore Cross and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold. Those readings, later included in “Sixteen,” pp. 47–48, correct the earlier absence of this Hadadezer in IBP (notably on p. 237, where he is not to be confused with the tenth-century Hadadezer, son of Rehob and king of Zobah).

8. Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer, r. or served as co-regent 844/842, 2 Kings 6:24, etc., in the Melqart stele, following the readings of Frank Moore Cross and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold and Cross’s 2003 criticisms of a different reading that now appears in COS, vol. 2, pp. 152–153 (“Corrections,” pp. 69–85). Several kings of Damascus bore the name Bar-hadad (in their native Aramaic, which is translated as Ben-hadad in the Hebrew Bible), which suggests adoption as “son” by the patron deity Hadad. This designation might indicate that he was the crown prince and/or co-regent with his father Hadadezer. It seems likely that Bar-hadad/Ben-hadad was his father’s immediate successor as king, as seems to be implied by the military policy reversal between 2 Kings 6:3–23 and 6:24. It was this Ben-Hadad, the son of Hadadezer, whom Hazael assassinated in 2 Kings 8:7–15 (quoted in Raging Torrent, p. 25). The mistaken disqualification of this biblical identification in the Melqart stele in IBP, p. 237, is revised to a strong identification in that stele in “Corrections,” pp. 69–85; “Sixteen,” p. 47.

9. Hazael, king, r. 844/842–ca. 800, 1 Kings 19:15, 2 Kings 8:8, etc., is documented in four kinds of inscriptions: 1) The inscriptions of Shalmaneser III call him “Hazael of Damascus” (Raging Torrent, pp. 23–26, 28), for example the inscription on the Kurbail Statue (RIMA 3, p. 60, line 21). He is also referred to in 2) the Zakkur stele from near Aleppo, in what is now Syria, and in 3) bridle inscriptions, i.e., two inscribed horse blinders and a horse frontlet discovered on Greek islands, and in 4) inscribed ivories seized as Assyrian war booty (Raging Torrent, p. 35). All are treated in IBP, pp. 238–239, and listed in “Sixteen,” p. 44. Cf. “Corrections,” pp. 101–103.

10. Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, king, r. early 8th century, 2 Kings 13:3, etc., in the Zakkur stele from near Aleppo. In lines 4–5, it calls him “Bar-hadad, son of Hazael, the king of Aram” (IBP, p. 240; “Sixteen,” p. 44; Raging Torrent, p. 38; ANET, p. 655: COS, vol. 2, p. 155). On the possibility of Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, being the “Mari” in Assyrian inscriptions, see Raging Torrent, pp. 35–36.

11. Rezin (= Raḥianu), king, r. mid-8th century to 732, 2 Kings 15:37, etc., in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria (in these inscriptions, Raging Torrent records frequent mention of Rezin in  pp. 51–78); OROT, p. 14. Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III refer to “Rezin” several times, “Rezin of Damascus” in Annal 13, line 10 (ITP, pp. 68–69), and “the dynasty of Rezin of Damascus” in Annal 23, line 13 (ITP, pp. 80–81). Tiglath-pileser III’s stele from Iran contains an explicit reference to Rezin as king of Damascus in column III, the right side, A: “[line 1] The kings of the land of Hatti (and of) the Aramaeans of the western seashore . . .  [line 4] Rezin of Damascus”  (ITP, pp. 106–107).

 

NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL

12. Omri, king, r. 884–873, 1 Kings 16:16, etc., in Assyrian inscriptions and in the Mesha Inscription. Because he founded a famous dynasty which ruled the northern kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians refer not only to him as a king of Israel (ANET, pp. 280, 281), but also to the later rulers of that territory as kings of “the house of Omri” and that territory itself literally as “the house of Omri” (Raging Torrent, pp. 34, 35; ANET, pp. 284, 285). Many a later king of Israel who was not his descendant, beginning with Jehu, was called “the son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 18). The Mesha Inscription also refers to Omri as “the king of Israel” in lines 4–5, 7 (Dearman, Studies, pp. 97, 100–101; COS, vol. 2, p. 137; IBP, pp. 108–110, 216; “Sixteen,” p. 43.

13. Ahab, king, r. 873–852, 1 Kings 16:28, etc., in the Kurkh Monolith by his enemy, Shalmaneser III of Assyria. There, referring to the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.E.), Shalmaneser calls him “Ahab the Israelite” (Raging Torrent, pp. 14, 18–19; RIMA 3, p. 23, A.0.102.2, col. 2, lines 91–92; ANET, p. 279; COS, vol. 2, p. 263).

14. Jehu, king, r. 842/841–815/814, 1 Kings 19:16, etc., in inscriptions of Shalmaneser III. In these, “son” means nothing more than that he is the successor, in this instance, of Omri (Raging Torrent, p. 20 under “Ba’asha . . . ” and p. 26). A long version of Shalmaneser III’s annals on a stone tablet in the outer wall of the city of Aššur refers to Jehu in col. 4, line 11, as “Jehu, son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 28; RIMA 3, p. 54, A.0.102.10, col. 4, line 11; cf. ANET, p. 280, the parallel “fragment of an annalistic text”). Also, on the Kurba’il Statue, lines 29–30 refer to “Jehu, son of Omri” (RIMA 3, p. 60, A.0.102.12, lines 29–30).

In Shalmaneser III’s Black Obelisk, current scholarship regards the notation over relief B, depicting payment of tribute from Israel, as referring to “Jehu, son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 23; RIMA 3, p. 149, A.0. 102.88), but cf. P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “‘Yaw, Son of ‘Omri’: A Philological Note on Israelite Chronology,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 216 (1974): pp. 5–7.

15. Joash (= Jehoash), king, r. 805–790, 2 Kings 13:9, etc., in the Tell al-Rimaḥ inscription of Adad-Nirari III, king of Assyria (r. 810–783), which mentions “the tribute of Joash [= Iu’asu] the Samarian” (Stephanie Page, “A Stela of Adad-Nirari III and Nergal-Ereš from Tell Al Rimaḥ,” Iraq 30 [1968]: pp. 142–145, line 8, Pl. 38–41; RIMA 3, p. 211, line 8 of A.0.104.7; Raging Torrent, pp. 39–41).

16. Jeroboam II, king, r. 790–750/749, 2 Kings 13:13, etc., in the seal of his royal servant Shema, discovered at Megiddo (WSS, p. 49 no. 2;  IBP, pp. 133–139, 217; “Sixteen,” p. 46).

17. Menahem, king, r. 749–738, 2 Kings 15:14, etc., in the Calah Annals of Tiglath-pileser III. Annal 13, line 10 refers to “Menahem of Samaria” in a list of kings who paid tribute (ITP, pp. 68–69, Pl. IX). Tiglath-pileser III’s stele from Iran, his only known stele, refers explicitly to Menahem as king of Samaria in column III, the right side, A: “[line 1] The kings of the land of Hatti (and of) the Aramaeans of the western seashore . . .  [line 5] Menahem of Samaria.”  (ITP, pp. 106–107). See also Raging Torrent, pp. 51, 52, 54, 55, 59; ANET, p. 283.

18. Pekah, king, r. 750(?)–732/731, 2 Kings 15:25, etc., in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III. Among various references to “Pekah,” the most explicit concerns the replacement of Pekah in Summary Inscription 4, lines 15–17: “[line 15] . . . The land of Bit-Humria . . . . [line 17] Peqah, their king [I/they killed] and I installed Hoshea [line 18] [as king] over them” (ITP, pp. 140–141; Raging Torrent, pp. 66–67).

19. Hoshea, king, r. 732/731–722, 2 Kings 15:30, etc., in Tiglath-pileser’s Summary Inscription 4, described in preceding note 18, where Hoshea is mentioned as Pekah’s immediate successor.

20. Sanballat “I”, governor of Samaria under Persian rule, ca. mid-fifth century, Nehemiah 2:10, etc., in a letter among the papyri from the Jewish community at Elephantine in Egypt (A. E. Cowley, ed., Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923; reprinted Osnabrück, Germany: Zeller, 1967), p. 114 English translation of line 29, and p. 118 note regarding line 29; ANET, p. 492.

Also, the reference to “[  ]ballat,” most likely Sanballat, in Wadi Daliyeh bulla WD 22 appears to refer to the biblical Sanballat as the father of a governor of Samaria who succeeded him in the first half of the fourth century. As Jan Dušek shows, it cannot be demonstrated that any Sanballat II and III existed, which is the reason for the present article’s quotation marks around the “I” in Sanballat “I”; see Jan Dušek, “Archaeology and Texts in the Persian Period: Focus on Sanballat,” in Martti Nissinen, ed., Congress Volume: Helsinki 2010 (Boston: Brill. 2012), pp. 117–132.

 

SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH

21. David, king, r. ca. 1010–970, 1 Samuel 16:13, etc. in three inscriptions. Most notable is the victory stele in Aramaic known as the “house of David” inscription, discovered at Tel Dan; Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “An Aramaic Stele from Tel Dan,” IEJ 43 (1993), pp. 81–98, and idem, “The Tel Dan Inscription: A New Fragment,” IEJ 45 (1995), pp. 1–18. An ancient Aramaic word pattern in line 9 designates David as the founder of the dynasty of Judah in the phrase “house of David” (2 Sam 2:11 and 5:5; Gary A. Rendsburg, “On the Writing ביתדיד [BYTDWD] in the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan,” IEJ 45 [1995], pp. 22–25; Raging Torrent, p. 20, under “Ba’asha . . .”; IBP, pp. 110–132, 265–77; “Sixteen,” pp. 41–43).

In the second inscription, the Mesha Inscription, the phrase “house of David” appears in Moabite in line 31 with the same meaning: that he is the founder of the dynasty. There David’s name appears with only its first letter destroyed, and no other letter in that spot makes sense without creating a very strained, awkward reading (André Lemaire, “‘House of David’ Restored in Moabite Inscription,” BAR 20, no. 3 [May/June 1994]: pp. 30–37. David’s name also appears in line 12 of the Mesha Inscription (Anson F. Rainey, “Mesha‘ and Syntax,” in J. Andrew Dearman and M. Patrick Graham, eds., The Land That I Will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honor of J. Maxwell Miller. (JSOT Supplement series, no. 343; Sheffield, England:Sheffield Academic, 2001), pp. 287–307; IBP, pp. 265–277; “Sixteen,” pp. 41–43).

The third inscription, in Egyptian, mentions a region in the Negev called “the heights of David” after King David (Kenneth A. Kitchen, “A Possible Mention of David in the Late Tenth Century B.C.E., and Deity *Dod as Dead as the Dodo?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 76 [1997], pp. 39–41; IBP, p. 214 note 3, which is revised in “Corrections,” pp. 119–121; “Sixteen,” p. 43).

In the table on p. 46 of BAR, David is listed as king of Judah. According to 2 Samuel 5:5, for his first seven years and six months as a monarch, he ruled only the southern kingdom of Judah. We have no inscription that refers to David as king over all Israel (that is, the united kingdom) as also stated in 2 Sam 5:5.

22. Uzziah (= Azariah), king, r. 788/787–736/735, 2 Kings 14:21, etc., in the inscribed stone seals of two of his royal servants: Abiyaw and Shubnayaw (more commonly called Shebanyaw); WSS, p. 51 no. 4 and p. 50 no. 3, respectively; IBP, pp. 153–159 and 159–163, respectively, and p. 219 no. 20 (a correction to IBP is that on p. 219, references to WSS nos. 3 and 4 are reversed); “Sixteen,” pp. 46–47. Cf. also his secondary burial inscription from the Second Temple era (IBP, p. 219 n. 22).

23. Ahaz (= Jehoahaz), king, r. 742/741–726, 2 Kings 15:38, etc., in Tiglath-pileser III’s Summary Inscription 7, reverse, line 11, refers to “Jehoahaz of Judah” in a list of kings who paid tribute (ITP, pp. 170–171; Raging Torrent, pp. 58–59). The Bible refers to him by the shortened form of his full name, Ahaz, rather than by the full form of his name, Jehoahaz, which the Assyrian inscription uses.

Cf. the unprovenanced seal of ’Ushna’, more commonly called ’Ashna’, the name Ahaz appears (IBP, pp. 163–169, with corrections from Kitchen’s review of IBP as noted in “Corrections,” p. 117; “Sixteen,” pp. 38–39 n. 11). Because this king already stands clearly documented in an Assyrian inscription, documentation in another inscription is not necessary to confirm the existence of the biblical Ahaz, king of Judah.

24. Hezekiah, king, r. 726–697/696, 2 Kings 16:20, etc., initially in the Rassam Cylinder of Sennacherib (in this inscription, Raging Torrent records frequent mention of Hezekiah in pp. 111–123; COS, pp. 302–303). It mentions “Hezekiah the Judahite” (col. 2 line 76 and col. 3 line 1 in Luckenbill, Annals of Sennacherib, pp. 31, 32) and “Jerusalem, his royal city” (ibid., col. 3 lines 28, 40; ibid., p. 33) Other, later copies of the annals of Sennacherib, such as the Oriental Institute prism and the Taylor prism, mostly repeat the content of the Rassam cylinder, duplicating its way of referring to Hezekiah and Jerusalem (ANET, pp. 287, 288). The Bull Inscription from the palace at Nineveh (ANET, p. 288; Raging Torrent, pp. 126–127) also mentions “Hezekiah the Judahite” (lines 23, 27 in Luckenbill, Annals of Sennacherib, pp. 69, 70) and “Jerusalem, his royal city” (line 29; ibid., p. 33).

During 2009, a royal bulla of Hezekiah, king of Judah, was discovered in the renewed Ophel excavations of Eilat Mazar. Imperfections along the left edge of the impression in the clay contributed to a delay in correct reading of the bulla until late in 2015. An English translation of the bulla is: “Belonging to Heze[k]iah, [son of] ’A[h]az, king of Jud[ah]” (letters within square brackets [ ] are supplied where missing or only partly legible). This is the first impression of a Hebrew king’s seal ever discovered in a scientific excavation.

See the online article by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Impression of King Hezekiah’s Royal Seal Discovered in Ophel Excavations South of Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” December 2, 2015; a video under copyright of Eilat Mazar and Herbert W. Armstrong College, 2015; Robin Ngo, “King Hezekiah in the Bible: Royal Seal of Hezekiah Comes to Light,” Bible History Daily (blog), originally published on December 3, 2015; Meir Lubetski, “King Hezekiah’s Seal Revisited,” BAR, July/August 2001. Apparently unavailable as of August 2017 (except for a rare library copy or two) is Eilat Mazar, ed., The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009-2013: Final Reports, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: Shoham Academic Research and Publication, c2015).

25. Manasseh, king, r. 697/696–642/641, 2 Kings 20:21, etc., in the inscriptions of Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (Raging Torrent, pp. 131, 133, 136) and Ashurbanipal (ibid., p. 154). “Manasseh, king of Judah,” according to Esarhaddon (r. 680–669), was among those who paid tribute to him (Esarhaddon’s Prism B, column 5, line 55; R. Campbell Thompson, The Prisms of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal [London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1931], p. 25; ANET, p. 291). Also, Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627) records that “Manasseh, king of Judah” paid tribute to him (Ashurbanipal’s Cylinder C, col. 1, line 25; Maximilian Streck, Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen Könige bis zum Untergang Niniveh’s, [Vorderasiatische Bibliothek 7; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1916], vol. 2, pp. 138–139; ANET, p. 294.

26. Hilkiah, high priest during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 2 Kings 22:4, etc., in the City of David bulla of Azariah, son of Hilkiah (WSS, p. 224 no. 596; IBP, pp. 148–151; 229 only in [50] City of David bulla; “Sixteen,” p. 49).

The oldest part of Jerusalem, called the City of David, is the location where the Bible places all four men named in the bullae covered in the present endnotes 26 through 29.

Analysis of the clay of these bullae shows that they were produced in the locale of Jerusalem (Eran Arie, Yuval Goren, and Inbal Samet, “Indelible Impression: Petrographic Analysis of Judahite Bullae,” in The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin [ed. Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011], p. 10, quoted in “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34).

27. Shaphan, scribe during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 2 Kings 22:3, etc., in the City of David bulla of Gemariah, son of Shaphan (WSS, p. 190 no. 470; IBP, pp. 139–146, 228). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

28. Azariah, high priest during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 1 Chronicles 5:39, etc., in the City of David bulla of Azariah, son of Hilkiah (WSS, p. 224 no. 596; IBP, pp. 151–152; 229). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

29. Gemariah, official during Jehoiakim’s reign, within 609–598, Jeremiah 36:10, etc., in the City of David bulla of Gemariah, son of Shaphan (WSS, p. 190 no. 470; IBP, pp. 147, 232). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

30. Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah), king, r. 598–597, 2 Kings 24:5, etc., in four Babylonian administrative tablets regarding oil rations or deliveries, during his exile in Babylonia (Raging Torrent, p. 209; ANEHST, pp. 386–387). Discovered at Babylon, they are dated from the tenth to the thirty-fifth year of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylonia and conqueror of Jerusalem. One tablet calls Jehoiachin “king” (Text Babylon 28122, obverse, line 29; ANET, p. 308). A second, fragmentary text mentions him as king in an immediate context that refers to “[. . . so]ns of the king of Judah” and “Judahites” (Text Babylon 28178, obverse, col. 2, lines 38–40; ANET, p. 308). The third tablet calls him “the son of the king of Judah” and refers to “the five sons of the king of Judah” (Text Babylon 28186, reverse, col. 2, lines 17–18; ANET, p. 308). The fourth text, the most fragmentary of all, confirms “Judah” and part of Jehoiachin’s name, but contributes no data that is not found in the other texts.

31. Shelemiah, father of Jehucal the official, late 7th century, Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1 and
32. Jehucal (= Jucal), official during Zedekiah’s reign, fl. within 597–586, Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1 only, both referred to in a bulla discovered in the City of David in 2005 (Eilat Mazar, “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” BAR 32, no. 1 [January/February 2006], pp. 16–27, 70; idem, Preliminary Report on the City of David Excavations 2005 at the Visitors Center Area [Jerusalem and New York: Shalem, 2007], pp. 67–69; idem, “The Wall that Nehemiah Built,” BAR 35, no. 2 [March/April 2009], pp. 24–33,66; idem, The Palace of King David: Excavations at the Summit of the City of David: Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005-2007 [Jerusalem/New York: Shoham AcademicResearch and Publication, 2009], pp. 66–71). Only the possibility of firm identifications is left open in “Corrections,” pp. 85–92; “Sixteen,” pp. 50–51; this article is my first affirmation of four identifications, both here in notes 31 and 32 and below in notes 33 and 34.

After cautiously observing publications and withholding judgment for several years, I am now affirming the four identifications in notes 31 through 34, because I am now convinced that this bulla is a remnant from an administrative center in the City of David, a possibility suggested in “Corrections,” p. 100 second-to-last paragraph, and “Sixteen,” p. 51. For me, the tipping point came by comparing the description and pictures of the nearby and immediate archaeological context in Eilat Mazar, “Palace of King David,” pp. 66–70,  with the administrative contexts described in Eran Arie, Yuval Goren, and Inbal Samet, “Indelible Impression: Petrographic Analysis of Judahite Bullae,” in Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman, eds., The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011), pp. 12–13 (the section titled “The Database: Judahite Bullae from Controlled Excavations”) and pp. 23–24. See also Nadav Na’aman, “The Interchange between Bible and Archaeology: The Case of David’s Palace and the Millo,” BAR 40, no. 1 (January/February 2014), pp. 57–61, 68–69, which is drawn from idem, “Biblical and Historical Jerusalem in the Tenth and Fifth-Fourth Centuries B.C.E.,” Biblica 93 (2012): pp. 21–42. See also idem, “Five Notes on Jerusalem in the First and Second Temple Periods,” Tel Aviv 39 (2012): p. 93.

33. Pashhur, father of Gedaliah the official, late 7th century, Jeremiah 38:1 and
34. Gedaliah, official during Zedekiah’s reign, fl. within 597–586, Jeremiah 38:1 only, both referred to in a bulla discovered in the City of David in 2008. See “Corrections,” pp. 92–96; “Sixteen,” pp. 50–51; and the preceding endnote 31 and 32 for bibliographic details on E. Mazar, “Wall,” pp. 24–33, 66; idem, Palace of King David, pp. 68–71) and for the comments in the paragraph that begins, “After cautiously … ”

 

ASSYRIA

35. Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul), king, r. 744–727, 2 Kings 15:19, etc., in his many inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 46–79; COS, vol. 2, pp. 284–292; ITP; Mikko Lukko, The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud (State Archives of Assyria, no. 19; Assyrian Text Corpus Project; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013); ABC, pp. 248–249. On Pul as referring to Tiglath-pileser III, which is implicit in ABC, p. 333 under “Pulu,” see ITP, p. 280 n. 5 for discussion and bibliography.

On the identification of Tiglath-pileser III in the Aramaic monumental inscription honoring Panamu II, in Aramaic monumental inscriptions 1 and 8 of Bar-Rekub (now in Istanbul and Berlin, respectively), and in the Ashur Ostracon, see IBP, p. 240; COS, pp. 158–161.

36. Shalmaneser V (= Ululaya), king, r. 726–722, 2 Kings 17:2, etc., in chronicles, in king-lists, and in rare remaining inscriptions of his own (ABC, p. 242; COS, vol. 2, p. 325). Most notable is the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series, Chronicle 1, i, lines 24–32.  In those lines, year 2 of the Chronicle mentions his plundering the city of Samaria (Raging Torrent, pp. 178, 182; ANEHST, p. 408). (“Shalman” in Hosea 10:14 is likely a historical allusion, but modern lack of information makes it difficult to assign it to a particular historical situation or ruler, Assyrian or otherwise. See below for the endnotes to the box at the top of p. 50.)

37. Sargon II, king, r. 721–705, Isaiah 20:1, in many inscriptions, including his own. See Raging Torrent, pp. 80–109, 176–179, 182; COS, vol. 2, pp. 293–300; Mikko Lukko, The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud (State Archives of Assyria, no. 19; Assyrian Text Corpus Project; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013); ABC, pp. 236–238; IBP, pp. 240–241 no. (74).

38. Sennacherib, king, r. 704–681, 2 Kings 18:13, etc., in many inscriptions, including his own. See Raging Torrent, pp. 110–129; COS, vol. 2, pp. 300–305; ABC, pp. 238–240; ANEHST, pp. 407–411, esp. 410; IBP, pp. 241–242.

39. Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu), son and assassin of Sennacherib, fl. early 7th century, 2 Kings 19:37, etc., in a letter sent to Esarhaddon, who succeeded Sennacherib on the throne of Assyria. See Raging Torrent, pp. 111, 184, and COS, vol. 3, p. 244, both of which describe and cite with approval Simo Parpola, “The Murderer of Sennacherib,” in Death in Mesopotamia: Papers Read at the XXVie Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, ed. Bendt Alster (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1980), pp. 171–182. See also ABC, p. 240.

An upcoming scholarly challenge is the identification of Sennacherib’s successor, Esarhaddon, as a more likely assassin in Andrew Knapp’s paper, “The Murderer of Sennacherib, Yet Again,” to be read in a February 2014 Midwest regional conference in Bourbonnais, Ill. (SBL/AOS/ASOR).

On various renderings of the neo-Assyrian name of the assassin, see RlA s.v. “Ninlil,” vol. 9, pp. 452–453 (in German). On the mode of execution of those thought to have been  conspirators in the assassination, see the selection from Ashurbanipal’s Rassam cylinder in ANET, p. 288.

40. Esarhaddon, king, r. 680–669, 2 Kings 19:37, etc., in his many inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 130–147; COS, vol. 2, p. 306; ABC, pp. 217–219. Esarhaddon’s name appears in many cuneiform inscriptions (ANET, pp. 272–274, 288–290, 292–294, 296, 297, 301–303, 426–428, 449, 450, 531, 533–541, 605, 606), including his Succession Treaty (ANEHST, p. 355).

 

BABYLONIA

41. Merodach-baladan II (=Marduk-apla-idinna II), king, r. 721–710 and 703, 2 Kings 20:12, etc., in the inscriptions of Sennacherib and the Neo-Babylonian Chronicles (Raging Torrent, pp. 111, 174, 178–179, 182–183. For Sennacherib’s account of his first campaign, which was against Merodach-baladan II, see COS, vol. 2, pp. 300-302. For the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series, Chronicle 1, i, 33–42, see ANEHST, pp. 408–409. This king is also included in the Babylonian King List A (ANET, p. 271), and the latter part of his name remains in the reference to him in the Synchronistic King List (ANET, pp. 271–272), on which see ABC, pp. 226, 237.

42. Nebuchadnezzar II, king, r. 604–562, 2 Kings 24:1, etc., in many cuneiform tablets, including his own inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 220–223; COS, vol. 2, pp. 308–310; ANET, pp. 221, 307–311; ABC, p. 232. The Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series refers to him in Chronicles 4 and 5 (ANEHST, pp. 415, 416–417, respectively). Chronicle 5, reverse, lines 11–13, briefly refers to his conquest of Jerusalem (“the city of Judah”) in 597 by defeating “its king” (Jehoiachin), as well as his appointment of “a king of his own choosing” (Zedekiah) as king of Judah.

43. Nebo-sarsekim, chief official of Nebuchadnezzar II, fl. early 6th century, Jeremiah 39:3, in a cuneiform inscription on Babylonian clay tablet BM 114789 (1920-12-13, 81), dated to 595 B.C.E. The time reference in Jeremiah 39:3 is very close, to the year 586. Since it is extremely unlikely that two individuals having precisely the same personal name would have been, in turn, the sole holders of precisely this unique position within a decade of each other, it is safe to assume that the inscription and the book of Jeremiah refer to the same person in different years of his time in office. In July 2007 in the British Museum, Austrian researcher Michael Jursa discovered this Babylonian reference to the biblical “Nebo-sarsekim, the Rab-saris” (rab ša-rēši, meaning “chief official”) of Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 604–562). Jursa identified this official in his article, “Nabu-šarrūssu-ukīn, rab ša-rēši, und ‘Nebusarsekim’ (Jer. 39:3),” Nouvelles Assyriologiques Breves et Utilitaires2008/1 (March): pp. 9–10 (in German). See also Bob Becking, “Identity of Nabusharrussu-ukin, the Chamberlain: An Epigraphic Note on Jeremiah 39,3. With an Appendix on the Nebu(!)sarsekim Tablet by Henry Stadhouders,” Biblische Notizen NF 140 (2009): pp. 35–46; “Corrections,” pp. 121–124; “Sixteen,” p. 47 n. 31. On the correct translation of ráb ša-rēši (and three older, published instances of it having been incorrect translated as rab šaqê), see ITP, p. 171 n. 16.

44. Nergal-sharezer (= Nergal-sharuṣur the Sin-magir = Nergal-šarru-uṣur the simmagir), officer of Nebuchadnezzar II, early sixth century, Jeremiah 39:3, in a Babylonian cuneiform inscription known as Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (column 3 of prism EŞ 7834, in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum). See ANET, pp. 307‒308; Rocio Da Riva, “Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 103, no. 2 (2013): 204, Group 3.

45. Nebuzaradan (= Nabuzeriddinam = Nabû-zēr-iddin), a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II, early sixth century, 2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc., in a Babylonian cuneiform inscription known as Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (column 3, line 36 of prism EŞ 7834, in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum). See ANET, p. 307; Rocio Da Riva, “Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 103, no. 2 (2013): 202, Group 1.

46. Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk, = Amel Marduk), king, r. 561–560, 2 Kings 25:27, etc., in various inscriptions (ANET, p. 309; OROT, pp. 15, 504 n. 23). See especially Ronald H. Sack, Amel-Marduk: 562-560 B.C.; A Study Based on Cuneiform, Old Testament, Greek, Latin and Rabbinical Sources (Alter Orient und Altes Testament, no. 4; Kevelaer, Butzon & Bercker, and Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener, 1972).

47. Belshazzar, son and co-regent of Nabonidus, fl. ca. 543?–540, Daniel 5:1, etc., in Babylonian administrative documents and the “Verse Account” (Muhammed A. Dandamayev, “Nabonid, A,” RlA, vol. 9, p. 10; Raging Torrent, pp. 215–216; OROT, pp. 73–74). A neo-Babylonian text refers to him as “Belshazzar the crown prince” (ANET, pp. 309–310 n. 5).

 

PERSIA

48. Cyrus II (=Cyrus the great), king, r. 559–530, 2 Chronicles 36:22, etc., in various inscriptions (including his own), for which and on which see ANEHST, pp. 418–426, ABC, p. 214. For Cyrus’ cylinder inscription, see Raging Torrent, pp. 224–230; ANET, pp. 315–316; COS, vol. 2, pp. 314–316; ANEHST, pp. 426–430; P&B, pp. 87–92. For larger context and implications in the biblical text, see OROT, pp. 70-76.

49. Darius I (=Darius the Great), king, r. 520–486, Ezra 4:5, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own trilingual cliff inscription at Behistun, on which see P&B, pp. 131–134. See also COS, vol. 2, p. 407, vol. 3, p. 130; ANET, pp. 221, 316, 492; ABC, p. 214; ANEHST, pp. 407, 411. On the setting, see OROT, pp. 70–75.

50. Tattenai (=Tatnai), provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates, late sixth to early fifth century, Ezra 5:3, etc., in a tablet of Darius I the Great, king of Persia, which can be dated to exactly June 5, 502 B.C.E. See David E. Suiter, “Tattenai,” in David Noel Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 6, p. 336; A. T. Olmstead, “Tattenai, Governor of ‘Beyond the River,’” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3 (1944): p. 46. A drawing of the cuneiform text appears in Arthur Ungnad, Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler Der Königlichen Museen Zu Berlin (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907), vol. IV, p. 48, no. 152 (VAT 43560). VAT is the abbreviation for the series Vorderasiatische Abteilung Tontafel, published by the Berlin Museum. The author of the BAR article wishes to acknowledge the query regarding Tattenai from Mr. Nathan Yadon of Houston, Texas, private correspondence, 8 September 2015.

51. Xerxes I (=Ahasuerus), king, r. 486–465, Esther 1:1, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own (P&B, p. 301; ANET, pp. 316–317), and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (COS, vol. 2, p. 188, vol. 3, pp. 142, 145. On the setting, see OROT, pp. 70–75.

52. Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king, r. 465-425/424, Ezra 4:6, 7, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own (P&B, pp. 242–243), and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (COS, vol. 2, p. 163, vol. 3, p. 145; ANET, p. 548).

53. Darius II Nothus, king, r. 425/424-405/404, Nehemiah 12:22, in various inscriptions, including his own (for example, P&B, pp. 158–159) and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (ANET, p. 548; COS, vol. 3, pp. 116–117).

 

Following are some individuals who are thought to be the same as seen in the Hebrew Scriptures, but are uncertain. Nevertheless, similarities of geography and names lead us to believe these are also accurate.

AMMON

Balaam son of Beor, fl. late 13th century (some scholars prefer late 15th century), Numbers 22:5, etc., in a wall inscription on plaster dated to 700 B.C.E. (COS, vol. 2, pp. 140–145). It was discovered at Tell Deir ʿAllā, in the same Transjordanian geographical area in which the Bible places Balaam’s activity. Many scholars assume or conclude that the Balaam and Beor of the inscription are the same as the biblical pair and belong to the same folk tradition, which is not necessarily historical. See P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “The Balaam Texts from Deir ‘Allā: The First Combination,” BASOR 239 (1980): pp. 49–60; Jo Ann Hackett, The Balaam Text from Deir ʿAllā (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1984), pp. 27, 33–34; idem, “Some Observations on the Balaam Tradition at Deir ʿAllā,” Biblical Archaeologist 49 (1986), p. 216. Mykytiuk at first listed these two identifications under a strong classification in IBP, p. 236, but because the inscription does not reveal a time period for Balaam and Beor, he later corrected that to a “not-quite-firmly identified” classification in “Corrections,” pp. 111–113, no. 29 and 30, and in “Sixteen,” p. 53.

Although it contains three identifying marks (traits) of both father and son, this inscription is dated to ca. 700 B.C.E., several centuries after the period in which the Bible places Balaam. Speaking with no particular reference to this inscription, some scholars, such as Frendo and Kofoed, argue that lengthy gaps between a particular writing and the things to which it refers are not automatically to be considered refutations of historical claims (Anthony J. Frendo, Pre-Exilic Israel, the Hebrew Bible, and Archaeology: Integrating Text and Artefact [New York: T&T Clark, 2011], p. 98; Jens B. Kofoed, Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text [Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005], pp. 83–104, esp. p, 42). There might easily have been intervening sources which transmitted the information from generation to generation but as centuries passed, were lost.

Baalis, king of the Ammonites, r. early 6th century, Jeremiah 40:14, in an Ammonite seal impression on the larger, fairly flat end of a ceramic cone (perhaps a bottle-stopper?) from Tell el-Umeiri, in what was the land of the ancient Ammonites. The seal impression reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual, so it is not quite firm. See Larry G. Herr, “The Servant of Baalis,” Biblical Archaeologist 48 (1985): pp. 169–172; WSS, p. 322 no. 860; COS, p. 201; IBP, p. 242 no. (77); “Sixteen Strong,” p. 52. The differences between the king’s name in this seal impression and the biblical version can be understood as slightly different renderings of the same name in different dialects; see bibliography in Michael O’Connor, “The Ammonite Onomasticon: Semantic Problems,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 25 (1987): p. 62 paragraph (3), supplemented by Lawrence T. Geraty, “Back to Egypt: An Illustration of How an Archaeological Find May Illumine a Biblical Passage,” Reformed Review 47 (1994): p. 222; Emile Puech, “L’inscription de la statue d’Amman et la paleographie ammonite,” Revue biblique 92 (1985): pp. 5–24.

 

NORTHERN ARABIA

Geshem (= Gashmu) the Arabian, r. mid-5th century, Nehemiah 2:10, etc., in an Aramaic inscription on a silver bowl discovered at Tell el-Maskhuta, Egypt, in the eastern delta of the Nile, that mentions “Qainu, son of Geshem [or Gashmu], king of Qedar,” an ancient kingdom in northwest Arabia. This bowl is now in the Brooklyn Museum. See Isaac Rabinowitz, “Aramaic Inscriptions of the Fifth Century B.C.E. from a North-Arab Shrine in Egypt,” Journal of the Near Eastern Studies 15 (1956): pp. 1–9, Pl. 6–7; William J. Dumbrell, “The Tell el-Maskhuta Bowls and the ‘Kingdom’ of Qedar in the Persian Period,” BASOR 203 (October 1971): pp. 35–44; OROT, pp. 74–75, 518 n. 26; Raging Torrent, p. 55.

Despite thorough analyses of the Qainu bowl and its correspondences pointing to the biblical Geshem, there is at least one other viable candidate for identification with the biblical Geshem: Gashm or Jasm, son of Shahr, of Dedan. On him, see Frederick V. Winnett and William L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia (University of Toronto Press, 1970), pp. 115–117; OROT, pp. 75. 518 n. 26. Thus the existence of two viable candidates would seem to render the case for each not quite firm (COS, vol. 2, p. 176).

 

SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH

Hezir (=Ḥezîr), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early tenth century, 1 Chronicles 24:15, in an epitaph over a large tomb complex on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. First the epitaph names some of Ḥezîr’s prominent descendants, and then it presents Ḥezîr by name in the final phrase, which refers to his descendants, who are named before that, as “priests, of (min, literally “from”) the sons of Ḥezîr.” This particular way of saying it recognizes him as the head of that priestly family. See CIIP, vol. 1: Jerusalem, Part 1, pp. 178‒181, no. 137.

Also, among the burial places inside that same tomb complex, lying broken into fragments was an inscribed, square stone plate that had been used to seal a burial. This plate originally told whose bones they were and the name of that person’s father: “‘Ovadiyah, the son of G . . . ,” but a break prevents us from knowing the rest of the father’s name and what might have been written after that. Immediately after the break, the inscription ends with the name “Ḥezîr.” Placement at the end, as in the epitaph over the entire tomb complex, is consistent with proper location of the name of the founding ancestor of the family. See CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1, p. 182, no. 138.

As for the date of Ḥezîr in the inscriptions, to be sure, Ḥezîr lived at least four generations earlier than the inscribing of the epitaph over the complex, and possibly many more generations (CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1:179–180, no. 137). Still, it is not possible to assign any date (or even a century) to the Ḥezîr named in the epitaph above the tomb complex, nor to the Ḥezîr named on the square stone plate, therefore this identification has no “airtight” proof or strong case. The date of the engraving itself does not help answer the question of this identification, because the stone was quarried no earlier than the second century B.C.E. (CIIP, Part 1, p.179, no. 137–138). Nevertheless, it is still a reasonable identification, as supported by the following facts:

1) Clearly in the epitaph over the tomb complex, and possibly in the square stone plate inscription, the Ḥezîr named in the epitaph is placed last in recognition of his being the head, that is, the progenitor or “founding father” of the priestly family whose members are buried there.

2) This manner of presenting Ḥezîr in the epitaph suggests that he dates back to the founding of this branch of the priestly family. (This suggestion may be pursued independently of whether the family was founded in Davidic times as 1 Chronicles 24 states.)

3) Because there is no mention of earlier ancestors, one may observe that the author(s) of the inscriptions anchored these genealogies in the names of the progenitors. It seems that the authors fully expected that the names of the founders of these 24 priestly families would be recognized as such, presumably by Jewish readers. In at least some inscriptions of ancient Israel, it appears that patronymic phrases that use a preposition such as min, followed by the plural of the word son, as in the epitaph over the tomb complex, “from the sons of Ḥezîr,” functioned in much the same way as virtual surnames. The assumption would have been that they were common knowledge. If one accepts that Israel relied on these particular priestly families to perform priestly duties for centuries, then such an expectation makes sense. To accept the reasonableness of this identification is a way of acknowledging the continuity of Hebrew tradition, which certainly seems unquenchable.

See the published dissertation, L. J. Mykytiuk, Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), p. 214, note 2, for 19th- and 20th-century bibliography on the Ḥezîr family epitaph.

Jakim (=Yakîm), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early tenth century, 1 Chronicles 24:12, on an inscribed ossuary (“bone box”) of the first or second century C.E. discovered in a burial chamber just outside Jerusalem on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the Temple. The three-line inscription reads: “Menahem, from (min) the sons of Yakîm, (a) priest.” See CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1, pp. 217–218, no. 183, burial chamber 299, ossuary 83.

As with the epitaph over the tomb complex of Ḥezîr, this inscription presents Yakîm as the founder of this priestly family. And as with Ḥezîr in the preceding case, no strong case can be made for this identification, because the inscriptional Yakîm lacks a clear date (and indeed, has no clear century). Nevertheless, it is reasonable to identify Yakîm with the Jakim in 1 Chronicles 24 for essentially the same three reasons as Ḥezîr immediately above.

Maaziah (= Ma‘aziah = Maazyahu = Ma‘azyahu), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early 10th century, 1 Chronicles 24:18, on an inscribed ossuary (“bone box”) of the late first century B.C.E. or the first century C.E. Its one-line inscription reads, “Miriam daughter of Yeshua‘ son of Caiaphas, priest from Ma‘aziah, from Beth ‘Imri.”

The inscription is in Aramaic, which was the language spoken by Jews in first-century Palestine for day-to-day living. The Hebrew personal name Miriam and the Yahwistic ending –iah on Ma‘aziah, which refers to the name of Israel’s God, also attest to a Jewish context.

This inscription’s most significant difficulty is that its origin is unknown (it is unprovenanced). Therefore, the Israel Antiquities Authority at first considered it a potential forgery. Zissu and Goren’s subsequent scientific examination, particularly of the patina (a coating left by age), however, has upheld its authenticity. Thus the inscribed ossuary is demonstrably authentic, and it suits the Jewish setting of the priestly descendants of Ma‘aziah in the Second Temple period.

Now that we have the authenticity and the Jewish setting of the inscription, we can count the identifying marks of an individual to see how strong a case there is for the Ma‘azyahu of the Bible and the Ma‘aziah being the same person: 1) Ma‘azyahu and Ma‘aziah are simply spelling variants of the very same name. 2) Ma‘aziah’s occupation was priest, because he was the ancestor of a priest. 3) Ma‘aziah’s place in the family is mentioned in a way that anchors the genealogy in him as the founder of the family. (The inscription adds mention of ‘Imri as the father of a subset, a “father’s house” within Ma‘aziah’s larger family.)

Normally, if the person in the Bible and the person in the inscription have the same three identifying marks of an individual, and if all other factors are right, one can say the identification (confirmation) of the Biblical person in the inscription is virtually certain.

But not all other factors are right. A setting (even in literature) consists of time and place. To be sure, the social “place” is a Jewish family of priests, both for the Biblical Ma‘azyahu and for the inscriptional Ma‘aziah. But the time setting of the Biblical Ma‘azyahu during the reign of David is not matched by any time setting at all for the inscriptional Ma‘aziah. We do not even know which century the inscriptional Ma‘aziah lived in. He could have been a later descendant of the Biblical Ma‘azyahu.

Therefore, as with Ḥezîr and as with Yakîm above, we cannot claim a clear, strong identification that would be an archaeological confirmation of the biblical Ma‘azyahu. We only have a reasonable hypothesis, a tentative identification that is certainly not proven, but reasonable—for essentially the same three reasons as with Ḥezîr above.

See Boaz Zissu and Yuval Goren, “The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma‘aziah from Beth ‘Imri’,” Israel Exploration Journal 61 (2011), pp. 74–95; Christopher A. Rollston, “‘Priests’ or ‘Priest’ in the Mariam (Miriam) Ossuary, and the Language of the Inscription,” Rollston Epigraphy (blog), July 14, 2011, www.rollstonepigraphy.com/?p=275, accessed October 10, 2016; Richard Bauckham, “The Caiaphas Family,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 10 (2012), pp. 3–31.

Isaiah the prophet, fl. ca. 740–680, 2 Kings 19:2; Isaiah 1:1, etc., in a bulla (lump of clay impressed with an image and/or inscription and used as a seal) unearthed by Eilat Mazar’s Ophel Excavation in Jerusalem. It was discovered in a narrow patch of land between the south side of the Temple mount and the north end of the City of David. The bulla, whose upper left portion is broken off, reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual in the Bible, not three, which would have made a virtually certain identification of a Biblical person. The first mark is Isaiah’s name in Hebrew, Y’sha‘yahu, except for the last vowel, -u, which was broken off. No other letter makes any sense in that spot. This name and other forms of the same name were common in ancient Israel during the prophet Isaiah’s lifetime. The second mark of an individual is where he worked, as indicated by the place where the bulla was discovered. In this case, that seems to have been in or near Hezekiah’s palace, which, given the location of the royal precinct in the Jerusalem of Hezekiah’s day, was likely not far from where the bulla was discovered. Less than ten feet away from where this bulla was discovered, at the exact same level, the Ophel Excavation also discovered the royal bulla inscribed, “belonging Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah.”

Although these facts may seem enough to make an identification of the prophet Isaiah, the case is not settled. On the last line of the bulla are the letters nby. These are the first three letters of the Hebrew word that means prophet, but they lack the final letter aleph to form that word. It was either originally present but broke off, or else it was never present. These same three letters, nby, are also a complete Hebrew personal name. We know that, because this name was found on two authentic bullae made by one stone seal and discovered in a juglet at the city of Lachish. Back to the bulla found by the Ophel Excavation: these three letters, nby, follow the name Y’sha‘yahu, exactly where most Hebrew bullae would have the name of the person’s father. As a result, to identify Isaiah the son of nby, (perhaps pronounced Novi), who apparently worked as an official in the palace, or possibly the Temple, is a perfectly good alternative to identifying Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz. Therefore, a firm identification of Isaiah the prophet is not possible. He remains a candidate. See Eilat Mazar, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” Biblical Archaeology Review, 44, no. 2 (March/April/May/June 2018), pp. 64–73, 92; Christopher A. Rollston, “The Putative Bulla of Isaiah the Prophet: Not so Fast,” Rollston Epigraphy, February 22, 2018; Megan Sauter, “Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem: Evidence of the Prophet Isaiah?” Bible History Daily, February 22, 2018.

Shebna, the overseer of the palace, fl. ca. 726–697/696, Isaiah 22:15–19 (probably also the scribe of 2 Kings 18:18, etc., before being promoted to palace overseer), in an inscription at the entrance to a rock-cut tomb in Silwan, near Jerusalem. There are only two marks (traits) of an individual, and these do not include his complete name, so this identification, though tempting, is not quite firm. See Nahman Avigad, “Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” IEJ 3 (1953): pp. 137–152; David Ussishkin, The Village of Silwan (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), pp. 247–250; IBP, pp. 223, 225; “Sixteen Strong,” pp. 51–52.

Hananiah and his father, Azzur, from Gibeon, fl. early 6th and late 7th centuries, respectively, Jeremiah 28:1, etc., in a personal seal carved from blue stone, 20 mm. long and 17 mm. wide, inscribed “belonging to Hananyahu, son of ‘Azaryahu” and surrounded by a pomegranate-garland border, and (WSS, p. 100, no. 165). This seal reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual, the names of father and son, therefore the identification it provides can be no more than a reasonable hypothesis (IBP, pp. 73–77, as amended by “Corrections,” pp. 56‒57). One must keep in mind that there were probably many people in Judah during that time named Hananiah/Hananyahu, and quite a few of them could have had a father named ‘Azariah/‘Azaryahu, or ‘Azzur for short. (Therefore, it would take a third identifying mark of an individual to establish a strong, virtually certain identification of the Biblical father and/or son, such as mention of the town of Gibeon or Hananyahu being a prophet.)

Because the shapes of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet gradually changed over the centuries, using examples discovered at different stratigraphic levels of earth, we can now date ancient Hebrew inscriptions on the basis of paleography (letter shapes and the direction and order of the strokes). This seal was published during the 19th century (in 1883 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau), when no one, neither scholars nor forgers, knew the correct shapes of Hebrew letters for the late seventh to early sixth centuries (the time of Jeremiah). We now know that all the letter shapes in this seal are chronologically consistent with each other and are the appropriate letter shapes for late seventh–century to early sixth–century Hebrew script—the time of Jeremiah. This date is indicated especially by the Hebrew letter nun (n) and—though the photographs are not completely clear, possibly by the Hebrew letter he’ (h), as well.

Because the letter shapes could not have been correctly forged, yet they turned out to be correct, it is safe to presume that this stone seal is genuine, even though its origin (provenance) is unknown. Normally, materials from the antiquities market are not to be trusted, because they have been bought, rather than excavated, and could be forged. But the exception is inscriptions purchased during the 19th century that turn out to have what we now know are the correct letter shapes, all of which appropriate for the same century or part of a century (IBP, p. 41, paragraph 2) up to the word “Also,” pp. 154 and 160 both under the subheading “Authenticity,” p. 219, notes 23 and 24).

Also, the letters are written in Hebrew script, which is discernibly different from the scripts of neighboring kingdoms. The only Hebrew kingdom still standing when this inscription was written was Judah. Because this seal is authentic and is from the kingdom of Judah during the time of Jeremiah, it matches the setting of the Hananiah, the son of Azzur in Jeremiah 28.

Comparing the identifying marks of individuals in the inscription and in the Bible, the seal owner’s name and his father’s name inscribed in the seal match the name of the false prophet and his father in Jeremiah 28, giving us two matching marks of an individual. That is not enough for a firm identification, but it is enough for a reasonable hypothesis.

Gedaliah the governor, son of Ahikam, fl. ca. 585, 2 Kings 25:22, etc., in the bulla from Tell ed-Duweir (ancient Lachish) that reads, “Belonging to Gedalyahu, the overseer of the palace.” The Babylonian practice was to appoint indigenous governors over conquered populations. It is safe to assume that as conquerors of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., they would have chosen the highest-ranking Judahite perceived as “pro-Babylonian” to be their governor over Judah. The palace overseer had great authority and knowledge of the inner workings of government at the highest level, sometimes serving as vice-regent for the king; see S. H. Hooke, “A Scarab and Sealing From Tell Duweir,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 67 (1935): pp. 195–197; J. L. Starkey, “Lachish as Illustrating Bible History,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 69 (1937): pp. 171–174; some publications listed in WSS, p. 172 no. 405. The palace overseer at the time of the Babylonian conquest, whose bulla we have, would be the most likely choice for governor, if they saw him as pro-Babylonian. Of the two prime candidates named Gedaliah (= Gedalyahu)—assuming both survived the conquest—Gedaliah the son of Pashhur clearly did not have the title “overseer of the palace” (Jeremiah 38:1), and he was clearly an enemy of the Babylonians (Jeremiah 38:4–6). But, though we lack irrefutable evidence, Gedaliah the son of Ahikam is quite likely to have been palace overseer. His prestigious family, the descendants of Shaphan, had been “key players” in crucial situations at the highest levels of the government of Judah for three generations. As for his being perceived as pro-Babylonian, his father Ahikam had protected the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24; cf. 39:11–14), who urged surrender to the Babylonian army (Jeremiah 38:1–3).

The preceding argument is a strengthening step beyond “Corrections,” pp. 103–104, which upgrades the strength of the identification from its original level in IBP, p. 235, responding to the difficulty expressed in Oded Lipschits, The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem: Judah under Babylonian Rule (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), p. 86 n. 186.

Jaazaniah (= Jezaniah), fl. early 6th century, 2 Kings 25:23, etc., in the Tell en-Naṣbeh (ancient Mizpah) stone seal inscribed: “Belonging to Ya’azanyahu, the king’s minister.” It is unclear whether the title “king’s minister” in the seal might have some relationship with the biblical phrase “the officers (Hebrew: sarîm) of the troops,” which included the biblical Jaazaniah (2 Kings 25: 23). There are, then, only two identifying marks of an individual that clearly connect the seal’s Jaazaniah with the biblical one: the seal owner’s name and the fact that it was discovered at the city where the biblical “Jaazaniah, the son of the Maacathite,” died. See William F. Badè, “The Seal of Jaazaniah,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentlishe Wissenschaft 51 (1933): pp. 150–156; WSS, p. 52 no. 8; IBP, p. 235; “Sixteen Strong,” p. 52.

 

Conclusion
The Historical and Archaeological evidence keeps on piling up each year in favor of the Scriptures, supporting our faith in the Scriptures to be a real Historical document rather than a Religious ideology.

Is Yeshua the Promised Messiah?

By the mere fact that this question is being raised, some Christians may feel uncomfortable or become enraged even. But this is a legitimate question when it comes to a person who is yet to accept Yeshua (Jesus’ true Hebrew name) as the Messiah. In my personal journey, I like many other Christians believed in the Old Testament because I believed in Jesus. But now I can confidently say that I believe in Yeshua because of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

The Scriptures were the basis for the New Testament writers to prove that Yeshua was truly the promised Messiah. Over and over, throughout the Gospels, we see the writers bring references from the Torah, Writings & Psalms to show how Yeshua fulfilled specific Prophecies, thereby proving to the reader that He is the promised One.

To the most part, Christians have grown up with the belief that Yeshua is this promised Messiah, and have had no need to question its authenticity.

Those who claimed to be or was pronounced to be Messiah

  1. Todah (Theudas) mentioned in Acts 5:36
  2. Judah HaG’lili (Judas of Galilee) mentioned in Acts 5:37
  3. Bar-Kosiba pronounced as Messiah by Rabbi Akiva in 132AD and given the name Bar-Kochva
  4. Sabbatai Zevi pronounced as Messiah in 1666
  5. Jacob Frank who proclaimed to be a Messiah in 1759
  6. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) who is believed to be the Messiah among the “Chabad” movement, and is said to be coming again.
  7. and many others…

Why believe Yeshua is the promised Messiah?
There are many prophecies about the Messiah in the Scripture, of which some prophecies are significant and clear while others are not. The clearest way to convincingly answer whether Jesus/Yeshua could be the promised Messiah would be to compare these Scriptures against His story. This story is laid out in detail throughout the 4 Gospels and some of the other Books and Letters of the New Testament. The main purpose of the Gospels were to prove to the reader that Yeshua is this promised Messiah. So let us compare the Prophecies and the fulfillments of the prophecies mentioned in the New Testament writings according to the witness of these writers who laid their lives for what they believed.

PROPHECY (Messiah must…) Scripture Reference Fulfillment
Be the Seed made of a woman
bruise the head of the serpent
Gen 3:15 Gal 4:4, 1Jn 3:8
Be the Seed of Abraham Gen 12:3 Mat 1:1, Gal 3:16
Be the Seed of Isaac Gen 17:19, 21:12 Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Heb 11:17-19
Be the Seed of Jacab
Be the Star of Jacob
Gen 28:14,
Num 24:17-19
Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Rev 22:16
Descended from Judah Gen 49:10 Mat 1:2-3, Luk 3:33,
Heb 7:14
Descended from David
Heir to the Throne
2Sam 7:12-13, Jer 23:5,
Isa 9:6,7, 11:1-5
Mat 1:6, Rom 1:3,
Luk 1:32
Exist Forever Micah 5:2 Joh 8:58, Col 1:15-19
Be the Son of God Psalm 2:7, Pro 30:4 Mat 3:17, Luk 1:32
Bear the Name of God (YHVH) Jer 23:5,6 Philip 2:9-11
To appear 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:25,26 Mat 2:1,16,19.
Luk 3:1,23
Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Mat 2:1, Luk 2:4-7
Be born of a Virgin Isa 7:14 Mat 1:18-25,
Luk 1:26-35
Be Revered by Kings Psa 72:10,11 Mat 2:1-11
Follows a messenger who
prepares the way
Isa 40:3-5, Mal 3:1 Mat 3:1-3,
Luk 1:17, 3:2-6
Be anointed by the
Spirit of God
Isa 11:2, 61:1, Psa 45:7 Mat 3:16, Joh 3:34
Act 10:38
Be a Prophet like Moses Deut 18:15,18 Act 3:20-22
Liberate the afflicted, proclaim
freedom to the prisoners and
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
Isa 61:1,2 Luk 4:18,19
Engage in a Healing Ministry Isa 35:5,6, 42:18 Mat 11:3-5
Lead a Ministry in Galilee Isa 9:1-2 Mat 4:12-16
Be Caring, Compassionate,
Meek & Humble
Isa 40:11, 42:1-3 Mat 12:15-21, Heb 4:15
To be Sinless Isa 53:9 1 Pet 2:22
Bear the Transgressions of others Psa 69:9, Isa 53:12 Rom 15:3
Be a High Priest after the order
of Melchizedek
Psa 110:4, Heb 5:5,6, 6:20, 7:15-17
Enter Jerusalem riding on a Donkey Zec 9:9 Mat 21:1-11, Mar 11:1-11
Enter the Temple with authority Mal 3:1 Mat 21:12 – 24:1,
Joh 2:13-22
Be hated without a cause Psa 69:4, Joh 15:24-15
Undesirable and rejected by
His own people
Isa 53:2, 63:3, Psa 69:8 Mar 6:3, Joh 1:11, 7:3-5
Rejected by the rulers Psa 118:22 Mat 21:42, Joh 7:48
Rejected by Jews & Gentiles alike Psa 2:1,2 Act 4:25-27
Betrayed by a friend Psa 55:12-14 Act 1:16-18
Mat 26:21-25, 47-50;
Be sold for 30 Pieces of Silver Zec 11:12 Mat 26:15
Pay the price for the Potter’s field Zec 11:13 Mat 27:3-10, Act 1:18,19
Must be abandoned by His disciples Zec 13:7 Mat 26:31,56
Be beaten with a Rod Mic 5:1 Mat 27:30
Be Beaten and Spat upon Isa 50:6 Mat 26:67, 27:30,31
Have His Feet and Hands Pierced Zec 12:10, Psa 22:16,17 Mat 27:35, Luk 24:39
Joh 20:25,27
Be craving of Thirst Psa 22:15 Joh 19:28
Be given Vinegar to Drink Psa 69:21 Mar 15:36, Joh 19:29
Have none of His bones broken Psa 34:20, Joh 19:33-36
Be Considered a Sinner Isa 53:12 Mar 15:28, Luk 22:37
Be put to death after 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:24-26 Mat 2:1, Luk 3:1,23
1Pet 3:18
Be a whose Death will be
atonement to all mankind
Isa 53:5-7,12 Mar 10:45, Joh 1:29, 3:16,
Acts 8:30-35
Be Buried among the Rich Isa 53:9 Mat 27:57-60
Rise again from the dead Isa 53:9-10, Psa 16:10,
Psa 2:7
Mat 28:1-20, Act 2:23-36,
Act 13:33-37
Be lifted up to the right hand of God Psa 16:11, 68:18, 110: 1 Luk 24:51, Act 1:9-11,
Act 7:55, Heb 1:3
Perform priestly duties in Heaven Zec 6:13 Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, 8:2
Be the Cornerstone of
God’s Congregation
Isa 28:16, Psa 118:22,23 Mat 21:42, Eph 2:20,
1Pet 2:5-7
Be the Person to whom even
the Gentiles will turn to
Isa 11:10, 42:1 Mat 12:21, Rom 15:12,
Act 10:45
Be accepted by the Gentile Nations
as Ruler
Isa 49:1-12, Psa 18:49,
Deut 32:43, Psa 117:1
Rom 15:9-11
Fulfill God’s Appointed Days Lev 23 View the graph

Conclusion
While there are many claimants to the Messiah-ship of God, there is only one person in history who fulfilled a large array of Scriptures to prove that He is indeed the Messiah. Any person who is unsure whether He truly matches this position must read and compare the Scriptures with the writings of the New Testament to see whether these match up. To those of us who firmly believe that Yeshua is indeed the promised Messiah, we should also know the reason for that belief is all of the evidence laid out in the New Testament pointing at the Scriptures. The Scriptures and the many pieces of evidence it puts forth is why we believe that Yeshua, unlike other claimants, is the real “Messiah Ben Joseph” who will return someday as “Messiah Ben David”.

The meaning of the word “Hebrew” and Crossing Over

Estimated Reading time – 10 to 20 Minutes

God’s chosen people identified themselves as Hebrews both in the Old Testament(Jon 1:9) and in the New(Philip 3:5). Abram was the first person to be called a Hebrew, even though he was from Ur of the Chaldaeans(Gen 11:31). So what does “Hebrew” really mean?

The word Hebrew in its simplest sense means “one from beyond”.

H5680 – עברי – ‛ibrı̂y – Hebrew
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
Hebrew = “one from beyond”

Abraham's route from Ur to Canaan

Abraham’s route from Ur to Canaan

This makes sense, as the first time we see the word “Hebrew” used is when Abram is called a “Abram the Hebrew”. This may have referred to the fact that Abram came from the other side of the Euphrates River and settled in the plains of Mamre. A closely connected word to “Ivri”/”Hebrew” in the Hebrew language is “Eber” which means beyond/across. So one who comes across or comes from beyond is a Hebrew.

H5676 – עבר – ‛êber – Eber
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
region beyond or across, side, opposite side

Another word connected with “Ivri” (Hebrew) is “Avar” which means “pass over”. All of these words are connected as the root (Ayin-Bet-Resh עבר) in Hebrew stays the same.

H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress
to pass over, cross, cross over, pass over, march over, overflow, go over, to pass beyond, to pass through, traverse, passers-through, to pass through, to pass along, pass by, overtake and pass, sweep by, passer-by, to be past, be over, to pass on, go on, pass on before, go in advance of, pass along, travel, advance, to pass away, to emigrate, leave (one’s territory), to vanish, to perish, cease to exist, to become invalid, become obsolete (of law, decree), to be alienated, pass into other hands, to be crossed, to impregnate, cause to cross, to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote, to cause to pass through, to cause to pass by or beyond or under, let pass by, to cause to pass away, cause to take away, to pass over

It should be noted that the story of Abraham is connected to the word “Abar” Pass-over, as we see it is one of the first things mentioned about him.

Gen 12:4-6 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through(H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

So it is now abundantly clear why Abram was called a Hebrew. This characteristic of “passing over” becomes part of the Hebrew experience, and is seen as part and parcel of the journey of God’s people as seen below.

Jos 24:2,3 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
Jos 24:6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
Jos 24:8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
Jos 24:14,15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Israel crosses the Red Sea

Israel crosses the Red Sea

In the above passage Joshua makes a distinction between Abram before he passes over, to the life he is called to live after he crossed over. Abram served other gods beyond the river, but when he passed over, he was committed to God. This repeats again with Israel as they cross the Red Sea towards freedom and Israel as they cross the Jordan towards the promised land. Passing over was a distinct feature of God’s people. Passing over the waters as much as it is a physical act, it also signifies a symbolic act of leaving the past behind and starting afresh. This is enacted in the Baptism/Mikveh that each of us go through as young believers as well.

When God speaks to Moses about the passover sacrifice, He Himself says that He will Pass Over the land using the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, as seen below.

Exo 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
Exo 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

We see the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, used again in the Song of Moses, after the Hebrews cross the Red Sea.

Exo 15:16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

Essentially, the Hebrew is a person who has passed from death to life; from a life of sin to a life of righteousness through God’s Commands; from obeying false gods to obeying the one true Creator of the universe.

Yeshua speaks of this fact, saying that whoever hears Him and puts his/her trust in YHVH, would pass from death to life:

Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What is the evidence that one has passed from death unto life and become a true Hebrew? John explains it in the following way.

1Jn 3:14-24 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

John explains that the evidence that we have moved from death to life, shines through the love of God which is in our lives. A love that is ready to give even our own life for others. A love that is not in word but in deed, but according to the commandment that Yeshua raised to the next level – “Love one another(Lev 19:18), as I have loved you”(John 15:12). Through God’s love, we show whether we are truly a Hebrew or not. Whether we have truly crossed over from Death to Life. Let us strive to be like the great Hebrews of old such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua and many more ; not forgetting Yeshua – A Hebrew of Hebrews, who gave His life so that we may cross over. Like the patriarchs, we may all have our shortcomings. But we should never forget the most important characteristic of a Hebrew – a willingness to cross over from our lives in slavery and death to a life in Covenant and Loving Obedience to God and Love towards everyone who has crossed over and is in the process of crossing over to God’s camp.

Can God, His Word or His Covenants change?

We live in a world that take words and promises lightly. A few generations back though, a person’s word would be invaluable. When a person makes a promise, it was for life. “As good as his/her word” had real meaning. Things have changed drastically in this past century – people say one thing, and do another. They say “yes” today and “no” tomorrow. In the time of Paul it was 3d80f50502b6aa9b2f2c361aafab2853incontestable that even a man-made promise could not be changed – as we see Paul explaining “Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto”(Gal 3:15).

“Words” & “Covenants” can be frail & brittle today, but is it the same with The Word of God? Can His Word change? Does He change? Does His Word ever go void? Can Scripture ever be annuled? Can it ever be added to? Can His Covenants change? Let’s see what Our Creator YHVH has to say about Himself and the Word that proceeds from Him.

 

God does not change

Mal 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Num 23:19  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

1Sa 15:29  And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

Ecc 3:14  I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Isa 46:10  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Heb 1:11,12 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

 

God’s Word does not change

Psa 111:7,8 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

Psa 119:89  For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Psa 119:160  Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Isa 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (also quoted by Peter in 1Pet 1:24,25)

Isa 55:10,11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Mat 5:18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Luk 16:17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

Joh 10:35  If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Rom 11:29  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Pro 30:6  Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 

God’s Covenants do not change

Gen 9:16  And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (Speaking of the Noahide Covenant)

Gen 17:7,8 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant)

Gen 17:19  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant)

Exo 31:16,17 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant – specifically of the Sabbath as a sign of the Covenant)

Jdg 2:1  And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant) 

1Ch 16:15-18 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant & Mosaic Covenant)

Psa 89:28  My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. (speaking of the Davidic Covenant)

Psa 89:34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. (speaking of the Davidic Covenant)

Psa 105:8-10 He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant & Mosaic Covenant)

Psa 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant) 

Lev 26:44,45  And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant)

Jer 33:20-26 Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them. (Speaking of the Davidic & Levitical Covenants)

Jer 31:35-37 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant) *please note that this proclamation follows right after the announcement of the New Covenant in Jer 31:31-34 also quoted in Heb 8:8-11

Gal 3:15-17 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (The Mosaic Covenant cannot abolish the Abrahamic Covenant which was before it. Here Apostle Paul is laying down an argument that if man-made covenants cannot be changed, how can God’s Covenants change? See relevant section of the study on the letter to the Galatians)

 

But what about the many times that God seems to change His Mind?
Even though we see many times God delays His prophecy/word/Judgement, never does it cease to be. What He says may get postponed by 15 years (in the case of Hezekiah – Isa 38:1-5) or even more than a 100 years (in the case of Nineveh, which was destroyed by the Babylonians) but it will surely come to pass. Some readers look at the Prophet Jonah with contempt for waiting outside the city to look at what would happen to the city. But the fact is, Jonah knew God’s Word will come to pass – God had stayed His hand for the time being because of the repentant. His Words though would come to pass in 612BC, a significant time after the prophet walked in its streets.

Examples of the unchanging Scriptures in the New Testament
While Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) Himself says that “Scripture cannot be broken“, this would have been a well known fact in the 1st Century. In Acts 10, as Peter saw the Vision of the Cloth filled with Animals, he proclaimed “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Many believers gloss over the fact that after the vision Peter “doubted in himself” what the vision was about. The reason was that what God had called unclean could never be called clean – in other words, His Word could not change. Later he would understand the true meaning of the Vision to be “not calling Gentile believers as common or unclean”(Acts 10:28).

Even though the letter to the Hebrews is generally used to say that the Mosaic covenant has been abolished (which is tackled in a separate study which you are able to read here), it is ironic that the author actually speaks of the opposite – where God’s Word stands unchanged even today. Consider Heb 7:14 & 8:4 where the author makes the case that Christ could only be a High Priest in the Heavenly Temple and not on earth as the Law does not speak of the tribe of Judah (of which He came from), to have anything to do with the priesthood. This shows that the Law is still unchanged and binding even towards Messiah Yeshua.

Conclusion
Everything around us changes – but Our Creator & Heavenly Father is the one constant which we can depend on. Neither He, nor His Word, nor His Promises, nor His Covenants can ever change. He relents, but His judgements stand. If He proclaims it, the Word which goes out of His mouth cannot be made void. May He be blessed, as He is the only true God, who we can put our trust upon. The never ending. Unchanging. God of Heaven & Earth – Yehovah Eloheem!

The Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue & Church – What is the House of God?

What is the difference between the tabernacle, the temple, the synagogue and the church? Does God reside in buildings? Can any place of assembly be called “The House of God”? There is little clarity on this subject. Many believe that there was no requirement for a temple of God, and that it was an Old Testament precept removed with Messiah’s sacrifice on the cross. We shall delve into the subject and see what the Bible truly teaches about “The House of God”.

A. What is the Church & Synagogue?
B. What is the Tabernacle & Temple?
C. What is the difference between the Temple and a Church/Synagogue?
D. Can any place of assembly be equated to the Temple of God?
E. Does God reside in a building?
F. Did Christ Replace the Temple of God?

G. The temple of our Bodies

A. What is the Church & Synagogue?
Moses' Seat fromIn an earlier study, we have discussed the biblical definition of the word “Church”. Our findings were very clear – both, “Church” and “Synagogue” meant bodies of people. Not a building or a place – biblically speaking. It is a little known fact that the 1st Century believers attended Synagogue as per James’ Epistle (The word assembly in Jas 2:2 should be translated as synagogue). Even though modern Christians feel a Synagogue is for Jews while Church is for Christians, there was no such separation in thought among the 1st century believers. Both represented bodies of people and not any type of religious building.   

B. What is the Tabernacle & Temple?
The Tabernacle

After the deliverance from Egypt by the hand of God, the children of Israel were commanded to build a sanctuary(H4720 – Mikdawsh – Holy/Set-apart place). Specific instructions were given for the creation of this Tabernacle(H4908 – Mishkawn – Tent/Dwelling Place) and everything inside, to Moses on the Mount of Sinai(Exo 25:8,9,40, 26:30, Heb 8:5). The work was done accordingly (Exo 39:42,43) and the Tent was setup and finished according to further instructions(Exo 40:1-33). The Glory of Yehovah filled the Tabernacle with a physical thick cloud(Exo 40:34), so much so, that even Moses could not enter it. The physical Cloud and Fire were present in the Tabernacle for all the Children of Israel to see, wherever they went henceforth(Exo 40:35-38).

framework-and-tabernacle-layers-lesson-23The Levites were specifically chosen for the keeping of the Tabernacle(Num 1:50,51,53, Chap 3) and the Tabernacle itself was a covering (a sort of capsule) for God to walk with the Children of Israel(2Sam 7:6). This dwelling place moved to a variety of locations till finally under David, the Kingdom was unified. The main content of the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant, which carried the tablets of the covenant written with the hand of God. After God settled the Children of Israel in the land promised to Abraham, there was no more reason for a tent which was pitched and removed – so King David planned to build a House for God which would house His Ark and His Glory(2Sam 7). But God wanted it built by Solomon, the Son of David(2Sam 7:12,13). It is clear that the Tabernacle, even though it was not a permanent structure, was also known as the House of God(Exo 23:19, 34:26, Deut 23:18, Jdg 18:31, 20:18, 21:2).

The Temple in Jerusalem
solomon-templeAfter Solomon came to power, he started the work for God’s House according to God’s command(1Kin 5:3-5) and finished it by moving the Ark from the Tabernacle to the Temple(1Kin 8:3-9). And similar to the establishment of the Tabernacle, where Moses could not enter because of the Glory of God, the cloud filled the holy place so that the priest could not stand to minister(1Kin 8:10,11). Furthermore, God appeared to Solomon and told him that He has consecrated the Temple to Himself by putting His name there, and His eyes and heart would be there perpetually. But He also warned Solomon, that if he or his children turn away from God, that the Temple will be destroyed(1Kin 9:2-9).

Babylonian Chronicles Because of the sins of Solomon, God decided to separate the unified nation of Israel(1Kin 11:9-13). Ten tribes were handed over to Jeroboam, known as the House of Israel, while the rest were left in the hands of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon(1Kin 11:29-36), known as House of Judah, from thereon. These were the two houses of Israel, mentioned in Jeremiah and Hebrews where the New Covenant is mentioned. Both these kingdoms would fall, according to the warnings of the Prophets due to their disobedience, firstly the Kingdom of Israel to Assyria; and then the Kingdom of Judah to Babylonia, where the Temple built by Solomon was also razed to the ground(2Chr 36:19, Ezr 5:12) in 587BC.

The 2nd Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple would be rebuilt under the patronage of King Cyrus of the Persian Empire, by Ezra and Nehemiah(Ezr 5:13, 6:14). The Ark of the Covenant is not mentioned being carried away by the Babylonians or to have been in the 2nd Temple, but is believed to have been hidden by the Prophet Jeremiah before the sack of Jerusalem according to the Apocryphal book “Second Maccabees”.

titusThe Temple we read in the Gospel accounts was the 2nd Temple built by Ezra & Nehemiah, and added onto by Herod the Great, while the same would be destroyed again according to the words of Yeshua, in 70AD by the Romans under Titus. It is believed that all the Disciples of Yeshua other than John, and even Paul would have been killed off by Rome, before the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70AD.

The 3rd Temple in Jerusalem
Even though there is a fair amount of debate among Christian Denominations whether a 3rd Temple would ever be built, prophetic verses such as 2Thes 2:3,4, Dan 9:27 would have us believe, a main sign of the end of days which is the “Antichrist” better known as the “Son of Perdition/Destruction” would set himself up in the Temple of God, and shall stop the sacrifices. Considering sacrifices can only be offered in the temple of Jerusalem(Deut Chap 12, Psa 78:68, Psa 132:13,14, 1Kin 8:29) the place in which He chose to put His name (2Chr 6:6, 1Kin 11:36), we can deduce that the Temple of God where sacrifices will be offered in these prophetic verses is none other than a temple in Jerusalem. But since the 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70AD, for such prophecies to come to fruition, there must be a 3rd Temple built in the future.

C. What is the difference between the Temple and a Church/Synagogue?
The Temple was built according to the command of God(1Kin 5:5) where God chose to place His Name – the city of Jerusalem/Zion(2Chr 6:6, 12:13). There was only one Temple where sacrifices could be brought to God. The Levites were given the right of service and the Sons of Aaron were the priests. No one else could serve in the temple of God in Jerusalem. Jer 33:17-26 shows forth that the word of God and the Covenants He has made with the Levites and David can never be broken.

In the 1st Century AD, synagogues were in every city around the Hellenistic empire which was under Roman rule(Act 15:21), as we see Yeshua, His disciples and even Paul attending many such assemblies. But there was ONLY ONE Temple. And Yeshua, His disciples and even Paul frequented the Temple in Jerusalem often. Paul even offered sacrifices of Purification for himself and others in Acts 21. This was the Temple where Yeshua was tempted(Mat 4:5). The place where Yeshua overthrew the moneychangers/sellers saying “My House shall be called the house of prayer(Mat 21:13/Isa 56:7), but you have made it a den of thieves(Mat 21:13/Jer 7:11). Where He healed(Mat 21:14). Where He taught daily(Mat 26:55, Luk 21:37,38). This was the same Temple where the 1st Century believers gathered daily(Acts 2:46). Where they taught(Acts 5:20,21). Where Paul offered sacrifices of purification(Acts 21:26,27, 24:18). And which was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.

The Temple in Jerusalem cannot be equated to a building or assembly, as it was ordained, planned & created according to God’s Word and Will. God let the House that was built for Himself be destroyed twice in history, because of the transgressions of the people. But as per the Prophet Micah:

Mic 4:1-3 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

As many of us know, the above verse talks of the Reign of Messiah, in which the House of God and Jerusalem are both mentioned to be active and very much in existence.

While the Church/Synagogue are assemblies of people, the Temple in Jerusalem was a vessel for God to have an existence on the earth. It was His palace on earth from where He ruled as King over His people.

D. Can any place of assembly be equated to the Temple of God?
You may have heard some of today’s church buildings being called the House of God. While our bodies are called the “House of God” in several places in the New Testament, nowhere has a building ever been called the Temple/House of God, or equated to the Temple that stood in Jerusalem.

E. Does God reside in a building?
Even though the Temple in Jerusalem was known to be a place of high importance in the scriptures, there are many who believe that the Temple was purposeless after the Resurrection of Messiah. The fact that the early church spent most of their time in the temple(Acts 2:46) and that Apostle Paul offered sacrifices of purification at the temple(Acts 21:26,27, 24:18) should be enough to show that the importance of the Temple never dwindled in their eyes.

Many question the necessity of the temple because of verses such as:

Act 7:48-50 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?

Act 17:24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

The fact is that the thoughts conveyed above by Stephen and Paul are nothing new, but originate from the Old Testament Scriptures. The Temple was not a place made for God to live in, as even the Heavens cannot contain Him. These thoughts are not new ideas revealed after Christ, but what was always apparent to everyone before Christ.

1Ki 8:27  But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

2Ch 2:6  But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?

2Ch 6:18  But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!

Isa 66:1  Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

Also read Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy on Acts 17:24

The Temple was never built to contain God, but as a place/vessel/body that was specially chosen to host His Holy presence on Earth. It is very unlikely that the significance of the Temple ever changed after Messiah’s resurrection, because of this reason.

F. Did Christ Replace the Temple of God?
Another reason many do not see a reason for a physical Temple in Jerusalem, is because of the thought that Christ replaced it. It is true that He equaled Himself to the Temple(John 2:19-21). Rightly so, as God’s full glory resided in Christ just as in the Temple.

Verses such as these have led people to believe that Christ has done away the Temple of God:

Joh 4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Mar 15:37,38  And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

While John 4:21 could be most likely speaking of the destruction about to fall of Jerusalem as He spoke of many a time in His ministry(Luk 19:44, 21:6), the idea of the Veil being torn has become one, if not the main reason that many believe in the futility of a Temple. In the Gospels, Christ’s death leads to the veil of the Temple being torn in two. Many interpret this as a sign that the separation between God and Man was removed through this act, and that we can now freely go into the holiest of holies. While I do not disagree that Christ’s Death & Resurrection corrected our standing with God, I see a few key details which need to be pointed out before we make any assumptions.

map32It is important to point out that there were 2 veils in the Temple. One which separated the Courts from the Holy place and one which separated the Holy place from the Holiest of Holies. In Hebrews 9:3, when the author speaks of the veil between the Holy place from the Holiest of Holies – He calls it “the second veil”. So it is very likely that what was torn was the outer veil. Furthermore, if the Temple acted as a Garment/Covering that encapsulated God, the tearing of the Veil at the death of Messiah could signify an act of mourning done by God towards His only begotten Son. We see similar practices in the Scriptures in Gen 37:34, 2Sam 13:31, Jos 7:6.

G. The temple of our Bodies
Some believe that our bodies have wholly replaced the Temple in Jerusalem. There are many verses in the New Testament writings that compare our bodies to the Temple of God, such as:

1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
2Co 6:16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

tmSo what are we to make of this? Have our bodies replaced any remnant of a physical Temple in Jerusalem? While our bodies are a dwelling place for God, as Paul himself writes in 2Corinthians 6:16, he is quoting “I will dwell in them, and walk in them” from the Old Testament Scriptures (Exo 29:45, Lev 26:12, Eze 43:7). So it is not a new thought to think of ones body as a dwelling place for God.

The physical Temple in Jerusalem on the other hand, is a central part of both God’s Word and prophecy.

Isa 2:2,3 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isa 56:6,7 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

See Ezekiel chapter 40 to 48

Conclusion
As we saw God instituted the tabernacle, and later the temple in Jerusalem, while the synagogue and the church both stood for bodies of people and not physical structures. While God is not contained in a man-made house, it was His choice to create such a place for His glory to reside and for the people to come to Him with the designated Sacrifices. While not all assemblies or buildings can be called “The House of God” in a Biblical sense, The Temple of God is for from an abolished precept. Yeshua(Jesus’ true name), His disciples or Paul never directly said anything about the Temple being anything other than the House of God. In fact the interaction between the Temple and the 1st century believers was a close one, as we even see with Paul. The tearing of the veil at Christ’s death or the fact that our bodies are called a dwelling place of God, does not mean that the Temple in Jerusalem was any less important in the Bible we hold in our hands today.

 

Lost in Translation – Are our English Bibles accurate?

While the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings are most definitely inspired by God, the Translations we carry are not. Translation is an extremely hard task with so many variables, since it is done by human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, doctrines & biases. The mere fact that there are so many different English Translations should show us that there are issues with our translations that lead to erroneous doctrines and twisting of God’s Word. These additions, subtractions and changes whether done in purpose or not, effect how we read and perceive the Bible. It is of utter importance to look into these changes and be informed so that we get to know the unadulterated truth.

Foxe's_Book_of_Martyrs_-_Tyndale

We must all be thankful for the people who have spent their precious time, resources and sometimes done it under duress – so that we have a translation which we can read. In this sense, the following inspection is in no way an attempt to undermine the work of Translators but an undertaking, so that we are all informed of the less than perfect translations we are left with to learn from.

While this post will not provide an exhaustive list of all additions, subtractions and changes seen in our English Translations, I hope to provide some key flaws I have noted in my own personal study. You are most welcome to provide your findings – so that I can add them into this post!

Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Rev 22:18,19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

With dire warnings against Adding to and Subtracting from God’s Word, we should shudder about the fact that such additions, subtractions and changes still exist in our translations. These could be categorized under the below list:
1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
2) Parenthesis
3) Additions & Changes
3) Mistranslation & Bias

1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
The word “LORD” in capital letters can be seen in our English Translations over 6500 times, and each of those times the root Hebrew word is “יהוה” (Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay) or YHVH commonly known as the Tetragrammaton. While there is a Hebrew Word for the title “Lord” which is “אדני” Adonai, wherever our Bible Translations have “LORD” in CAPITALS, it is signifying God’s Divine name. In a few rare instances in the King James Version, God’s Divine Name is seen in it’s original form as “JEHOVAH” – a very close transliteration to the original Yehovah (Exo 6:3,Psa 83:18,Isa 12:2,Isa 26:4). Can God’s name, known as His Memorial Name(Hos 12:5), My Holy Name(Eze 39:7) & My Name(Isa 42:8, Jer 16:21) be substituted with a mere title such as Lord? One of the biggest changes seen in our translations is that all of them mask God’s one true name. (Read this article for further study)

But it does not stop there. It comes as a shock to many people to know that “Jesus” was not the name that Christ was addressed by, by any of His disciples or any contemporaries of His day. Even though the name Jesus is seen close to 1000 times in the New Testament translation, The Hebrew Name He was known by was “ישׁוּע” “Yeshua” the same name given to Moses’ aid commonly known as Joshua.  In two instances in the King James Version, Joshua is even referred to as Jesus (Acts 7:45, Heb 4:8) proving that the two names Jesus and Joshua are derived from the same name. But how did the name “Yeshua” end up being turned to “Jesus”? This is the cause of transliterations done from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German to English. (Read this article for further study)

Almost all of the names we read in our English Translations are anglicized versions of the originals. Even though there are too many to point out, a few key names are mentioned below. Mary’s true name is “Miriam”(the same name as Moses’ Sister), John is “Yochanan”, Jude, Judas and Judah is “Yehudah”, James and Jacob is “Yaakov”, Matthew is “Mathityahu”, Simon is “Shi-mon”, Thomas is “Taome”, Saul is “Sha-ul”, Eve is “Chavah”, Isaac is “Yitzach”, Isaiah is “Yeshiyahu”, Solomon is “Sh-lomo” and so on. This begs the question – can we change or Anglicize names? If we can’t do it to our own names… how come we change Biblical names?

2) Parenthesis
Translators use words or phrases in certain instances to help readers understand verses. But many of these additions marked by bracket marks or italicized letters are thought by readers to be part of the original text. Thus the translators make certain decisions in the interpretation of Scripture which has a profound impact on readers perception and understanding which may not be accurate at certain times.
A) Mark 7:19 –  (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
One of the biggest cases against God’s Food Laws, is based on Mark 7:19 in which Christ is making a statement about the question in context – “Does one become unclean by eating with unwashed hands?”. The translators add “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)”, thereby making Christ an advocate of breaking God’s Food Laws. This insertion seen in translations such as ESV, NIV, NLT, NASB, NET, etc., gives a wrong understanding to the lay reader. (Read this article for further study)
B) Heb 8:7, Heb 8:13, Heb 9:1 – Covenant
The Word “Covenant” appears in the Letter to the Hebrews a number of times. But the translators have inserted this all important word in 3 places thereby changing the whole context of the Letter. The main question addressed in this Letter is the “Priesthood”(8:1), and not the Covenant. By inserting the word to where it does not exist, the translators thereby change the context of the priesthood towards the covenant, which has led to “Hebrews” being used as a proof text to say that “Old Covenant” is done away. There is no argument that when a certain line speaks about the first (as in priesthood), inserting the word “covenant”, changes the context to a completely different path. (Read this article for further study)

3) Additions & Changes
In some instances two sets of Manuscripts may have vast differences, which are carried to different English translations, making different versions of translations carry completely different verses. While some of these are rectified in newer editions, some ideas which were not communicated by the writers may end up and remain in our translations to this day.
A) Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes”

H.B. Swete's The Apocalypse of St. John... (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

Difference between Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes “H.B. Swete’s The Apocalypse of St. John… (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

In the conclusion of Revelation written by John, some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) say “Blessed are those who wash their robes”  while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “Blessed are those doing His Commands”. The change comes from two different sets of Manuscripts. While the Greek text of the two versions (as seen above) have minor differences, the messages that the two different versions give out are vastly contrasting. Long before the books were compiled to form “The New Testament,” Rev. 22:14 was quoted, as “Blessed are those doing His Commands”, by Tertullian (CE 208) and by Cyprian (CE 251).

B) 1John 5:7 – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” or “For there are three that testify”
In some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) this verse says “For there are three that testify” while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The longer form that is central to Trinitarian Doctrine, is thought to have been added by Desiderius Erasmus in 1522, while they were absent from the first modern Greek critical text published by him in 1516.

C) Mark 16:9-20 – Missing from the oldest Greek Manuscripts
Even though the vast majority of later Greek Manuscripts carry verses 9-20 in the Gospel of Mark, two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, end at verse 8. While there is scholarly consensus on this addition, the question remains why it is still part of our translations. At the least there should be a note accompanied in our translations on this fact.

D) Mattew 28:19 – Missing from the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew
It is a known fact that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew as mentioned by Irenaeus of Lyons in “Against Heresies 3:1:1” written in 180AD. These Hebrew Manuscripts have survived to this day, which was translated by George Howard – Professor of Religion, University of Georgia in 1995. These manuscripts do not contain the words “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” which is found in verse 19 of our Bible Translations. Instead the Hebrew Manuscripts merely go on from verse 18 to 20 saying “Go, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The command to baptize using a trinitarian creed seems to be missing in the Hebrew Manuscripts. This agrees with the Book of Acts where everyone is baptized in the name of Christ, whilst the trinitarian baptism creed is not mentioned anywhere(Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16). (Read this article for further study)

4) Mistranslation & Bias
There are many occurrences where a translator or set of translators have translated the same word in the Original Greek/Hebrew to different English Words. While this maybe helpful at times, it can also cause quite a lot of confusion, especially when the translation is changing the text to fit a certain idea/doctrine. While there certainly are hundreds if not thousands of such instances, I will point out the main ones I have noticed which makes a vast difference in understanding what we read. I invite you to add any other instances which you have found, so that this article gets improved.

A. H4150 – mô‛êd – Appointed time/place
Gen 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Lev 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. The fact is that Gen 1:14 should have been translated as “appointed time/Feast” and not “seasons”, which gives the idea of Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. God’s Appointed Times or Feasts depend on the Sun & Moon, and it is fitting for this reason that God created the lights for the calculating of His appointments. (Read this article for further study)

B. H8577 – tannı̂ym – Sea Creatures, Whales, Dragons or Serpants
Gen 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Exo 7:9  When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
Deu 32:33  Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. Gen 1:21 should not be translated as Whales in any case, as the same word is translated Serpent and as Dragon. Vastly different to the idea which is given in our English translations pertaining the Creation account.

C. Lucifer or Heylel
We are all familiar with the name Lucifer, by which Satan is known in popular culture. But oddly enough the name “Lucifer” does not originate from the Hebrew Text, but from Latin. The Hebrew Haylel (meaning “Shining One”) seen in the Hebrew Manuscripts can only be seen in Isa 14:12. The using of Lucifer here in our translations makes a false claim that this is the name of the Adversary, when there is no mention of such in the Original Manuscripts.  (Read this article for further study)

D. H7585 – she’ôl – Hell or Grave
In some instances “she’ôl” is translated as Hell instead of Grave, when it is very clear that the correct translation should be Grave as in the Ground in burial, rather than a fiery place as communicated in popular media. (Read this article for further study)

E. Luke 23:43 and the placing of the Comma
We are all familiar with the famous words Christ spoke to the thief who believed on the cross. These words are also a central part of the theology that people go to heaven immediately when they die. Most Christians would not know that there are no punctuation marks in the Greek Manuscripts. So the placing of the Comma (marked in red) makes a vast difference to the meaning of the verse. If you place it in between “I say to you” and “today you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that the thief will be in paradise the same day. Alternatively, if you place the comma in between “I say to you today” and “you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that Christ is merely proclaiming that the thief will be in paradise. The placement of the comma in our English translations make a vast difference to the message derived from it. See both version below. Whichever version is right, it certainly shows the power of a simple punctuation mark.
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

F. Acts 12:4 – Passover or Easter
In the King James Version the word “pascha-G3957” is translated as “Easter” in Acts 12:4 – a word which is translated “Passover” everywhere else. The word “Easter” is a clear insertion which is foreign to the Greek text, and is not present in any other translation or passage of the Bible.

G. G4864 – sunagōgē – Synagogue
Jas 2:2 (KJV, NET, ESV, ISV) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Jas 2:2 (NIV) Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
Jas 2:2 (YLT, ASV) For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing;
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Greek Manuscripts. The fact that the believers that James is writing to are attending Synagogue is skewed by some of the translations by replacing the word with “assembly”/”meeting”. While this particular verse is changed, the 50 odd other times “sunagōgē” is seen in the Greek text it has been left translated as “Synagogue”. It begs the question why the translators left the same word in Rev 2:9 & 3:9 as “Synagoge” when it was speaking of a “Synagogue of Satan”. Should it not have been translated as Assembly of Satan or Meeting of Satan to keep it consistent?

H. G5515 – chlōros – Pale Horse or Green Horse
The Famous verse in Revelations where Death comes riding a Pale Horse(6:8) might be not a Pale Horse, but a Green Horse – as the word used there is “chloros” seen translated as Green in Mar 6:39, Rev 8:7, 9:4. You may think what does it matter whether it is “Pale” or “Green”… but could it mean that Death comes through the Green Trees, Fruit, etc food that are eaten? This is why accurate translation is of such importance.

Conclusion
Don’t agree with any of the above? Found out something that you would like to share? Please do let us know, so that we may also learn. There are many things wrong with our translations, but let us also be happy that we are fortunate enough to have a copy of the Bible in our own languages, so that we can read it for ourselves. Let us be thankful to God and ask Him to show us His Truth that we may seek Him alone!

Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17

Paul’s letter to the Colossians contain one, if not the most famous of verses used to prove that God’s Law is done away with Christ’s death. While many Christians quote this passage, not many of us pay proper attention to the words used by Paul – which ultimately leads us to read our own doctrines into the text. Peter was right to warn believers to be careful when reading Paul’s Letters, as many were distorting his words in their day(2 Pet 3:15,16). Nothing much has changed, as the letters and words of this Misunderstood Apostle are still unwittingly distorted by many. Let’s try to put our preconceived ideas and beliefs away so that we can approach the text afresh, and see the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Colossians.

This study is broken down to the following areas
1. Introduction (Col 1:1-2:9)
2. The meaning of Principalities and Powers (Col 1:16, 2:10,15)
3. Circumcision made without hands (Col 2:11)
4. Buried with Him in Baptism (Col 2:12)
5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances (Col 2:14)
6. Let no one judge you (Col 2:16)
7. A shadow of things to come (Col 2:17)
8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:18-23)
9. Conclusion

Abraxas. Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

Abraxas.
Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

1. Introduction
The congregation at Colosse was most probably established and had not even seen Paul face to face(Col 2:1). Paul greets them and thanks God for their faith, telling the Colossians that his prayer is for them to increase in the knowledge and understanding of God. He then thanks God for making them part of His kingdom through Christ. Paul explains that everything in Heaven and on Earth were created through Him, whether it be thrones, dominions, principalities or powers. (This proclamation of authority whether it be in heaven or earth, being under Messiah will be an important thought to consider when we come to the verses in question, as the letter deals with who has authority over the Colossian believers) He goes onto explain that Christ is above all things, being made the head of the body of believers. His blood made peace, reconciling everything to God. Even though the Colossians were aliens before God, when they were doing things contrary to God, Messiah had reconciled them to God through His blood. Paul then explains his ministry to the gentiles of revealing Christ in each and everyone who believes, which was a mystery revealed in their day.

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

In the second chapter Paul once again speaks of the mystery of God, and how wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Him. He asks them to beware of being deceived by persuasive language – in context of Knowledge and wisdom. It is apparent reading the letter thus far, that the Colossians were being persuaded by some party or parties in the realm of wisdom and knowledge. There is a strong probability that these were Gnostics who believed in “Hidden Knowledge” (Gnostikos in Greek meant “Having Knowledge”) – they were known to shun the physical/material world and wanted to embrace the spiritual world. Gnosticism could also be likened unto the “traditions of the elders” which practiced justification through certain works. Gnostics believed that gnosis (knowledge, enlightenment or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for knowledge/wisdom by helping others. Outwardly, it looked like a good way of life, but inwardly it did nothing to help believers, being just man-made ideas. This will be apparent when we reach the end of Chapter 2.

Paul advises them to be rooted and built up in Christ, and be steadfast & established in the faith they had received. In Col 2:8, Paul once again tells them to beware of philosophy, empty delusions which are according to human traditions and principle of the world. And then proclaims once again that all “principality and power” is under him, as the fullness of divinity resides in Him. In other words, their is no higher authority than the savior and lord of our lives, Yeshua the Messiah.

2. Principalities and Powers
At this juncture, before proceeding to verse 11, we must identify the true meaning of “Principalities and Powers”. The usual explanation is that these are spiritual entities which had authority over humans, before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Let’s test this against the writings. Paul uses this phrasing 3 times in the letter to the Colossians, denoting a certain importance of said phrase to the point he is trying to make.

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities – Strong’s Dictionary – G746 – ar-khay’ – From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Powers – Strong’s Dictionary – G1849 – ex-oo-see’-ah – From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

The use of the phrase “Principalities and Powers” in the New Testament 
Luk 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates(G746), and powers(G1489), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power(G746) and authority(G1489) of the governor.
1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule(G746) and all authority(G1489) and power.
Eph 1:21  Far above all principality(G746), and power(G1489), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities(G746), and powers(G1489)in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities(G746), against powers(G1489), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Tit 3:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities(G746), and powers(G1489), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

These two Greek words “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” are mostly used for rule/authority/governance in an earthly sense, as in magistrates, governors, rulers, etc. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the same words to speak of spiritual rule and authority, but he clearly mentions “high places” or “heavenly places” to explain that he is not speaking of it in an earthly sense. Luk 12 and Titus 3 are clearly speaking of earthly rulers and authorities using the same Greek words. Looking at the above evidence, it is most likely that Paul was speaking of an earthly “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” in the letter to the Colossians. Colossians 1:16 further explains the fact that he was speaking of earthly rulers and authorities as well as the heavenly.

3. Circumcision made without hands
Returning to the Letter to the Colossians, we see Paul suddenly addressing the topic of circumcision. One of the main concerns in the 1st century was whether gentile believers in the faith should be circumcised or not before they were accepted as believers – in other words, some were saying that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved. The 15th Chapter of Acts shows the conflict and the resolution created by the Jerusalem Council. Many of Paul’s letters directly tackle this idea of “justification by Works” – in other words “being saved because of becoming circumcised”. And it is the same argument that Paul brings to the Colossians. Just after explaining that Christ is above all so called rulers and authorities, he explains that the Colossians have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands – The circumcision of the heart – both spoken by Paul(Rom 2:29) and God Himslef(Deut 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4) in the Old Testament Scriptures. Circumcision of the heart was repentance and turning from your iniquities towards God.

4. Buried with Him in Baptism
After explaining that they have received “salvation” (putting off the body of sins of the flesh) without physical circumcision, Paul then turns to baptism. Explaining that they have died to the old life in baptism (burial in water) and being resurrected through the faith in God, Paul writes that they were dead in sin and uncircumcision – but have now been forgiven their sins.

It is important to note that the Jewish Rabbinic authorities believe a proselyte(convert to Judaism) must engage in Circumcision and Baptism before they are regarded part of the congregation ([A] Refer discussion by Maimonides on Yevamot 47a-b). This is still considered mandatory and is in practice even today. It is proven through archaeology that there were ritual baths (special places for baptism) even before the time of Christ, so it is safe to say Jewish Proselytes were circumcised and baptized before they were accepted into the community, even in the 1st Century. It should now be apparent to you why Paul discusses Circumcision and Baptism in his letter to the Colossians. These were new converts into the faith, and most definitely, the rulers/authorities wanted them to adhere to the customs/traditions of their day. In the eyes of these “principalities” and “powers” a proselyte was to be physically circumcised and then baptized before they were part of the faith. The Jerusalem Council had announced this was not necessary to become part of the congregation as one is saved only by faith and the grace of God. Circumcision was never a requirement to approach God. In fact it was a commandment for parents, as they are the one who circumcised a child on the 8th day.

Paul explained that the Colossians had been circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, and with baptism to Christ – so that they did not need any further acts to be done in accordance to the principalities and powers of their day.

5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances
As we step into the main verses in question, the context leading to this verse becomes all the more important. Christians are quick to say that the phrase “Handwriting of Ordinances” refers to the “Law of God” or “Law of Moses” or “The Old Testament Scriptures”. Nothing can be further than the truth.

Handwriting – G5498 – khi-rog’-raf-on – Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting. This word can only be found in Col 2:14

Ordinances – G1378 – dog’-mah – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The phrase “handwriting of Ordinances” is only seen in the letter to the Colossians. The word “Ordinances” (Dogmah) is seen 5 times in the New Testament and 3 of those occasions clearly refer to “man-made Decrees”.

Eph 2:15 stands out amongst them, as Paul connected it to the “middle wall of partition” (also known as the soreg). While God had given Commandments and His Law, the word Dogmah stood for man-made Decrees/laws/ordinances. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree”(dogmah) in his letter. These “ordinances” which were prescribed by the principalities and powers, were hostile to the worship of God, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” (as per their definition) from worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12).

Coming back to Col 2:14, we see that which is blotted out and nailed to the cross is “Dogmah” or man-made decrees, and not any parts of the Scriptures. Just as Paul explains in Eph 2:15, these were hostile towards us. He repeats those words to the Colossians by saying that those decrees were against and opposed to believers of God. In the same breadth Paul explains these rulers and people of authority(principalities and powers) who create and subject others to these man-made decrees had been made powerless by Christ, as He alone held authority over all.

6. Let no one judge you
One of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the New Testament, this verse is commonly used as a proof text to say that the Sabbath and feast days that God called “His Feasts” are now discarded after Christ. Let’s look at the verse a little closer.

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Paul writes that “therefore”, hinting at the so called rulers & authorities (principalities and powers) who are powerless because of the true person who has authority over all of God’s children; For this reason the Colossians should not let anyone judge/condemn them. They were under a higher authority. But what were these Principalities and powers condemning the Colossians for? This verse can be read in the following ways:

A) Let no man therefore judge you FOR NOT ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.
B) Let no man therefore judge you FOR ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.

The majority of Christians understand this verse to be read according to “reading A” in which Paul is asking the Colossians to let no one judge them for not keeping God’s Law. The inverse maybe true as well. As per “reading B”, Paul could also be asking them to not let anyone judge them for adhering to God’s Law.

According to the context, it is clear that these gentile believers were being influenced by the Jewish authorities of their day in the realm of adherence to their man-made laws and authority. Paul had already explained that these “dogmah” ordinances/man-made laws were done away in Christ. It is likely that these “principalities and powers” were judging these new Gentile believers for keeping Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons and Sabbath days without proper adherence to their laws which were made for proselytes. In their eyes, these proselytes were keeping the ways of God before being officially accepted into the fold. They were acting outside their authority, and that was not acceptable.

7. A shadow of things to come
Paul concludes the advice about not letting anyone judge them by saying that the Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons & Sabbaths “are” a shadow of things to come. Note that Paul did not say “were” but “are” indicating they are still a shadow of things to come. The next part of the verse is written “But the body is of Christ”, which can also be translated as “and the body is of Christ”. However it is translated, it is apparent that Paul is saying that the Shadow is cast by a body which is Christ. Meaning that these Laws “are” a shadow of the coming Christ and His Kingdom.

8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men
Paul completes his advise on coming under authority/rule of men and obeying their man made laws/doctrines/commandments by speaking of the Gnostic influence on the Colossians once again. We saw that he had mentioned the pursuit of wisdom at the start of the second chapter possibly indicating influence by Gnostics. Now paul speaks of asceticism (a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals), worship/religion of angels, pride in wisdom and intrusion into the unknown. These were all Gnostic ideas/teachings, making it obvious that one of the main parties trying to influence the Colossian believers were indeed the Gnostics.

Paul reminds them to be firmly connected to Christ, the head of authority, who nourishes all believers in faith. And also to not be in subjection to principles of the world or doctrines/commands of men that say do not touch, taste, handle – which appear to be wise, but is self-made religion and asceticism which neglect the body, but do nothing to stop the indulgences of the flesh. In other words, they seem to be spiritual commands but are man-made ideas which does nothing to bring you closer to God. Some see these verses to be speaking of God’s Law, such as the food laws… but Paul is very clear in saying that these are “commandments and doctrines of men”.

9. Conclusion
The Colossians were a group of new believers who were being influenced and criticized by certain authorities. These “principalities and powers” as Paul put them, were in places of power but had no authority over the Children of God, as Christ was the head of the body. Through His sacrifice, He had put those man-made ordinances/doctrines to shame by triumphing over them. There was no more barrier for Gentiles to approach God in repentance. These proselytes need not be subject to the ways of man anymore. The second influencing factor were the Gnostic thoughts in their day. These ideas rejected the earthly life altogether for Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in worshiping angels and in asceticism.

The Colossians who were most likely being pushed, bullied and rejected by both Jews who held onto the “Traditions of the elders” and the Gentiles who were peddling Gnostic thought, were being influenced in the middle – to which Paul writes to strengthen them in the Gospel they have heard and to advice them to separate God’s Word from the Word of man. Separate God’s eternal Law from the temporary man-made commands and doctrines. Separate Christ who has full authority over them to the powerless “principalities and powers” of their day.

It is important to dissect Paul’s words carefully, and to always remember that we do not fully know the backgrounds of the assemblies he wrote to, nor the troubles and conflicts they faced. We must understand that Paul adhered and walked according to God’s Law, and that his common rebuke was against justification/salvation through the doing of the Law. When taken in context there is no doubt that Paul was speaking of man-made doctrines being nailed to the cross and being blotted out, and not God’s eternal Law.

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[A]”By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)…When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice…And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice…The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.”