Archaeology and the Bible
by Eric Metaxas
Israeli archaeologists recently discovered a coin dating from the 11th century before Christ. It depicted “a man with long hair fighting a large animal with a feline tail.” Ring any Old Testament bells?
The coin was found near the Sorek River, which was the border between the ancient Israelite and Philistine territories 3,100 years ago. Sound vaguely familiar?
The archaeologists thought so, too. While Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University don’t claim that the figure depicted on the coin is proof that Samson actually existed, they do see the coin as proof that stories about a Samson-like man existed independently of the Bible.
Stated differently, the story of Samson was not the literary invention of a sixth-century B.C. scribe living in Babylon, as has commonly been assumed by mainstream biblical scholarship.
Bunimovitz and Lederman made another interesting discovery: the Philistine side of the river was littered with pig bones, while there were none on the Israelite side. Bunimovitz told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “these details add a legendary air to the social process in which the two hostile groups honed their separate identities …”
I suppose that’s one way to put it. Another would be to see it as evidence of the Israelites’ sense of being set apart from their pagan neighbors…
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