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Fort Gibson

January 13, 2014

Ancient evidence of Bible accuracy being uncovered

The thing I like the most about the Bible is that it is true! If it were not true, then none of the stories, no matter how compelling, would be life-changing, or give us any hope of anything beyond this life. But since new proof is always an exciting faith-builder, it is encouraging when evidence from archaeology, science, astronomy, or geology agrees with Biblical history.

You may remember the Old Testament story from Joshua 6 of how the walls of Jericho fell, after God’s people, by faith, marched around the city for seven days at the Lord’s command. This is a God-inspired story that took place about 3,400 years ago, after Joshua took over for his mentor Moses in leading the Israelites to the land God promised, one military victory after another. It’s a story of hope and motivation to side with God, and let Him break down the walls before you as He chooses. It has been part of the Bible, and protected by Jewish scribes since it was written as far back as 1400 B.C. Jews from then on, accepted the story, and believed it as truth.

But in the 1950’s, British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon meticulously excavated the ancient site of Jericho at the request of another British archaeologist named John Garstang in the 1930s, who was hoping she would confirm his findings that the story of the Jericho wall happened just the way the Bible said. Unfortunately, she came to the conclusion that the story “… so vividly described in the book of Joshua” did not happen. O yes, Kenyon found a huge wall that had been destroyed, but her theory is that the Egyptians did it 150 years earlier, and that Jericho of the Bible did not exist during the time Joshua led the Israelites.

However, as with any statement contrary to God’s word, just because someone disagrees with the Bible, doesn’t mean their theory is true. Kenyon based her ideas on the fact that she could not find a particular type of pottery that was very popular during that time. The problem for her theory turned out to be that the pottery she was looking for was expensive and imported. That is an important detail since her own evidence (and from other archaeologists) showed the area she was digging in was a poor section of the city.     

In more recent years, an American archaeologist named Bryant G. Wood who specializes in Canaanite Late Bronze Age pottery has continued to lecture on this topic. His findings have turned Kenyon’s theory upside-down. His work came about 40 years after Kenyon’s research. He visited the site and re-examined the evidence discovered by a German team in 1907, by Garstang in the 1930s, by Kenyon in the 1950s, and by an Italian-Palestinian team in 1997.

Among other evidence, Dr. Wood reported these findings:

• Large amounts of home-made pottery with red and black patterns common to the 1400 B.C. time frame.

• Large quantities of grain stored in ceramic containers. Joshua 2:6 indicates it was harvest time, as opposed to the pre-harvest time of year in which an Egyptian siege would have likely used to starve out their opponent. Also, God commanded the Israelites to leave all valuables behind because it was to be devoted to God (Joshua 6:17).

• Houses attached to the north section of the excavated Jericho wall were undamaged, and are close to the mountains as described in Joshua 2:15. The Bible says Rahab hid spies in her house in the wall with the assurance that she would remain unharmed.

• Large amounts of mud brick that had fallen toward the outside, making the perfect incline for the Israelites to “go up” into the city (Joshua 6:5).

So what do we do with this information? I believe it is just one more thing to encourage all of us to be faithful to the Bible’s teachings, even when we don’t fully understand the details of how such amazing things happened. Yes, being a Christian and believing in our creator God take faith. Still, the mountains of evidence here on earth, and among the stars and planets, are more than enough to tip the scales of doubt and faith in favor of the Bible and all of its amazing accounts therein. Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@ftgcc.org.

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