Archaeology Confirms the Bible Again
by Tom Robinson
The British Museum has just announced the remarkable discovery of a biblically significant cuneiform inscription within its vast collection of Mesopotamian tablets. Many are hailing it as sensational proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament—as indeed it is.
Searching for Babylonian financial accounts among the ancient records, Michael Jursa, a visiting professor from Vienna, came across the name of a court official of the famed Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The name is also found as one of the king’s officials in the book of Jeremiah, though with a slightly different spelling.
More than 2,500 years old, the tablet—which sat in the museum’s collection with its significance unrecognized since 1920—identifies Nabu-sharrussu-ukin as the chief eunuch of Nebuchadnezzar. This equates to “Nebo-Sarsekim” in the Hebrew of Jeremiah 39:3 (New International Version).
Actually, this new information helps with a translation problem in the verse. Most Bible versions do not obviously contain this name. Notice Jeremiah 39:3 in the King James Version: “And all the princes of king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo, Sarsekim, Rabsaris, Nergal-sharezer, Rab-mag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.”
The New King James Version‘s list of names is essentially the same, although it offers footnotes that Rabsaris and Rabmag are titles. Other translators recognize that two individuals in this list are named Nergal-sharezer—leading them to conclude that the word following each of them is a further identifier so as to distinguish between them.
Notice the New International Version‘s list of the names: “Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon.”
Here, as well as in the New Living Translation, Samgar has been reckoned as a place name associated with the first Nergal-Sharezer rather than as part of a compound name with Nebo, which follows it, as in the King James Version. Thus, in the NIV and NLT, Nebo is taken to be the first part of the name Nebo-Sarsekim. And indeed, we now know that this is the name of one of Nebuchadnezzar’s chief officials.
So is the official on the tablet the same as the one mentioned in Jeremiah? It’s more than likely that the answer is yes…
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