A Brief Sample of Old Testament Archaeological Corroboration
by J Warner Wallace
I’ve learned to test witnesses in my criminal investigations before trusting their testimony, and I evaluate them with the template we typically use in jury trials. One dimension of this template is corroboration: Is there any verifying evidence supporting the claims of the eyewitness? Corroborative evidence is what I refer to as “touch point” evidence. I don’t expect a surveillance video confirming every statement made by a witness, but I do expect small “touch point” corroborations. The authors of the Bible make a variety of historical claims, and many of these claims are corroborated by archaeological evidence. Archaeology is notoriously partial and incomplete, but it does offer us “touch point” verification of many Biblical claims. Here are just a few of the more impressive findings related to the Old Testament:
Related to the Customs of the Patriarchs
Critics of the Old Testament have argued against the historicity of the books of Moses, doubting the authenticity of many of the stories found in Genesis (and sometimes rejecting the authorship of Moses along the way). Skeptics doubted primitive people groups were capable of recording history with any significant detail, and they questioned the existence of many of the people and cities mentioned in the oldest of Biblical accounts. When the Ebla archive was discovered in Syria (modern Tell Mardikh) in the 1970′s, many of these
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criticisms became less reasonable. During the excavations of the Ebla palace in 1975, the excavators found a large library filled with tablets dating from 2400 -2300 BC. These tablets confirmed many of the personal titles and locations described in the patriarchal Old Testament accounts.
For years, critics also believed the name “Canaan” was used incorrectly in the early books of the Bible, doubting the term was used at this time in history and suspecting it was a late insertion (or evidence of late authorship). But “Canaan” appears in the Ebla tablets. The term was used in ancient Syria during the time in which the Old Testament was written. Critics were also skeptical of the word, “Tehom” (“the deep” in Genesis 1:2), believing it was also a late addition or evidence again of late authorship. But “Tehom” was also part of the vocabulary at Ebla, in use 800 years before Moses. In fact, there is a creation record in the Ebla Tablets remarkably similar to the Genesis account. In addition, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (once thought to be fictional) are also identified in the Ebla tablets, as well as the city of Haran. This latter city is described in Genesis as the city of Abram’s father, Terah. Prior to this discovery, critics doubted the existence of this ancient city. The Ebla discovery confirmed the locations of several ancient cities, corroborated the use of several terms and titles, and confirmed ancient people were capable of being eloquent and conscientious historians…