Convince Me There’s A God: Archaeology 4

by Mark McGee

As any good atheist would have done more than 40 years ago, I ridiculed the history of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible. How could anyone believe what the Jews wrote about their national history when they were just trying to promote their own brand of ”religion?” Why should I believe them?

The problem with that line of thinking, I discovered, was what to do about the histories of other ancient nations that gave credibility to many of the historical records in the Old Testament? Were the historians of other countries who served other gods somehow joined in the Jewish conspiracy to promote the one God of Israel? That didn’t seem logical to me, so I looked deeper into several archaeological discoveries to see if I could find the truth. Could archaeology have the answer to my challenge to “Convince me there’s a God?”

[I am not including any archaeological discoveries made after May of 1971 since I was investigating the claims of Christianity between January and May of 1971.]

Israel is one of the oldest nations and peoples in the world, dating back to the beginning of the 2nd Millenium with God’s call to Abram to leave his Chaldean homeland and move his family to Canaan. In the years that followed, the descendants of Abram through Isaac and Jacob dealt with many peoples and countries, both large and small.

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We’ve already looked at Israel’s interactions with the Philistines and Hittites, so we now turn to Assyria.  It is first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 2:14. Nimrod, the great kingdom builder of Genesis 10, is identified as the builder of many cities in Mesopotamia.

“Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.’ And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).” Genesis 10:8-12

The map of Nimrod’s expanding kingdom included much of the Middle East. Assyria was a major player in the northern part of the kingdom (now part of northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey). It was both a regional and major power during the years from the 3rd millennium to 1st millennium BC. Assyria rose to prominence during the 1st millennium under kings like Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal. What can we learn about Israel through Assyrian archaeology?

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