Scholars Believe Writing on Pottery Shards Corroborates With Biblical Narrative in Jeremiah

Lachish Credit Wilson44691TEL AVIV, Israel — Scholars in Israel state that they believe ancient writing found on First Temple era pottery shards corroborates with the biblical narrative found in the book of Jeremiah.

For the past 100 years, archaeologists have been unearthing potsherds in the Holy Land, some of which contain writing in Paleo-Hebrew, the language used in ancient Israel. The largest collection believed to be from the First Temple era was found in Samaria, dating back to 8 B.C.

In recent years, scholars have been studying text from photographs of the shards, also known as ostraca, from a collection of pieces found in Arad, near the Negev Desert. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained in 2000, “Over 100 ostraca inscribed in biblical Hebrew were found in the citadel of Arad. This is the largest and richest collection of inscriptions from the biblical period ever discovered in Israel.”

A number of the shards provided a glimpse into the lives of the Jewish people, including into government and military matters.

“Among the personal names are those of the priestly families Pashur and Meremoth, both mentioned in the Bible. (Jeremiah 20:1; Ezra 8:33) Some of the letters were addressed to the commander of the citadel of Arad, Eliashiv ben Ashiyahu, and deal with the distribution of bread (flour), wine and oil to the soldiers serving in the fortresses of the Negev,” the organization explained. “Also, in one of the letters, the ‘house of YHWH’ is mentioned.”

“Scholars suggest that the King of Arad mentioned in the Bible was in fact the ruler of the Kingdom of Arad, ‘the Negev of Arad’ (Judges 1:16), whose capital was another city,” it notes.

In an article published last week by Haaretz, it is explained that ostraca found in Lachish, the second largest Judahite town, are also believed to corroborate with the Scriptural account. The shards outline that a military official sends a message to his commander about the fall of a nearby kingdom, stating that “we can see the signals from Lachish, but we no longer see Azekah.”

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“Scholars have taken this as a confirmation of the biblical narrative of Jeremiah, which recounts that Azekah and Lachish were the last fortresses of Judah to fall before Jerusalem was besieged and destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II,” the publication explains.

The Scripture referenced is Jeremiah 34:7, which reads, “When the king of Babylon’s army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defensed cities remained of the cities of Judah.”

Other books of the Bible, such as Joshua, II Kings, II Chronicles, and Isaiah also cite the locations in discussing the land and the rulers that oversaw the nations.

“So Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem, appealed to Hoham, king of Hebron; Piram, king of Jarmuth; Japhia, king of Lachish and Debir, king of Eglon,” Joshua 10:3 reads.

Some scholars, which date the find to the 7th century B.C., state they believe the writings demonstrate that the Kingdom of Judah was a sophisticated land with well-literate people.

But “[s]cholars debate whether biblical texts were first put in writing before the destruction of Jerusalem or after Judahite deportees returned from their exile in Babylon, in the Persian or even the later Hellenistic period,” Haaretz explains.

A team of mathematicians, physicists and archaeologists at Tel Aviv University continue to study the ostraca, as further information about the analysis will be forthcoming in a scientific journal.

Photo: Wilson44691/Wikipedia


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  • uzza

    This is pretty cool.

    • Names_Stan

      Ya know, I’ve been looking for an unbiased book on OT archaeology for a long time, and I’ve yet to find one.

      I’ve often read guys like Robert Price who say “not one shard” of real evidence has ever been found. And I’ve read plenty of these stories that claim close confirmation to OT sources.

      I want to find out if there’s a source who doesn’t bring bias into it, and who writes in an easily understood language for non-archaeologists.

      There’s no doubt that the Torah was written centuries later than people once believed. But was there an Exodus? If so, by how many? Was there a David and Solomon, and were there kingdoms anywhere near as large as the bible says?

      I think archaeology surely has spoken to this in some consensus, but I’ve never tracked anything down that wasn’t trying to “sell” one POV or the other.

      • akosipatriot

        Names_tan, it is really hard to prove anything in relation to the Biblical accounts and archaeology. For example, the Hezekiah’s tunnel(Siloam tunnel) you could create a different person and replace Hezekiah to be the creator of this tunnel to remove the Biblical connection. The idea that Hezekiah dig the tunnel is a common hypotheses(wikipedia) so it depends on your POV as a reader of this report. It is entirely possible that a different tribe dug the tunnel, but where is the evidence? So let us agree that if there is no other ancient account written that corroborates the archaeological evidence other than the Bible, it is probably true that the Bible recorded it as it happened in their time. It is also possible that it is just a coincidence, but let us just follow the evidence wherever it takes. The example of Exodus really.

        • Names_Stan

          I think that’s true in general, but there are some rather large questions archaeology will probably prove someday.

          One example is population during certain periods. Scripture chronicles a reign of David and Solomon that entailed a vast kingdom in a settled society. Some have posited that it’s doubtful the descriptions, especially of Solomons rule, are accurate based on what we think we know of ME civilization at the time outside of Egypt.

          A later example is the question of whether there were synagogues in Galilee during the early 1st century. Robert Price, for one, argues that there wouldn’t have been synagogues there prior to the destruction of the Temple.
          Your point here would be, how can you know a first century synagogue from a 2nd century synagogue. And I don’t know the answer, as archaeology isn’t my field.

          But of course Jesus is said to have taught in them before 60 AD.

          One other very critical question that may be answered someday: was any part of scripture written down prior to the Babylonian captivity? That can’t be proven if the answer is no, but the converse could be proven.

  • oregon_man

    This can’t be true because all methods to determine date/age of archaeological objects have been ruled fake by Christians. Therefore these shards were actually made in the last 100 years by scientists looking for grant money.

    • Jerome Jerry Beers

      Ad hominem attack against a straw man who does not represent the majority of Christians. Nice try though…

      • oregon_man

        You don’t know what an ad hominem attack is, but you’ve heard it a lot on the internet so you figured it would be good to use. Look it up and after you know the meaning you’ll realize it is YOU who just made an ad hominem attack, LOL. Prove I’m wrong! Check out the Christian evolution deniers websites and you’ll see I am right. Nice try though.

        • Jerome Jerry Beers

          You are wrong on both counts. You sought to cast doubt on the credibility of those who disagree with carbon 14 dating because they are “Christians.” That is the epitome of an ad hominem attack. You set up the straw man of “Christians don’t accept carbon 14 dating and think scientists are just in it for the money.” Then you used sarcasm to cleverly knock down your straw man. Congratulations. You based all this off of a very narrow view based on reading some “Christian evolution deniers websites.” Don’t look now, but your uniformed bias and and lack of understanding of basic definitions is showing!

          • oregon_man

            Well you’re just plain wrong and apparently delusional and I can prove it. Can you please cite the source where I said, as you deluded, ” “Christians don’t accept carbon 14 dating and think scientists are just in it for the money.”

            You are trying to sideline the real issue: the satire that happens to have a factual basis. There are indeed Christians, lots of them, who demand that the Earth is God’s creation and only 6000 years old, and scientific dating methods are a fraud just because scientists want to get grant money.

            You can’t dispute the facts, so it’s understandable you would avoid them.

          • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

            You don’t know how to stop, do you? (And you don’t seem to know the difference between archeology and paleontology either.)

          • oregon_man

            I was “stopped” but someone came on here and made a fresh bunch of charges against me. So I responded. Then I ran across your post. I do know the difference between the two. I’ll bet I know far more than you do. Isn’t it you that can’t stop? How are you different than me?

          • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

            Yep, you don’t stop. You don’t listen. You’re on broadcast-only.

          • oregon_man

            Yes, I agree ole chap. You can’t stop.

          • Jerome Jerry Beers

            You proved nothing…except in your own closed mind. Try to read the context of your own post, you did everything I said you did. Yes, I paraphrased and grouped your statements into one quote. I didn’t realize I was dealing with someone who could not discern that or grasp basic logic and simple definitions. And one thing you are dead wrong on for sure…the majority of Christians do not claim “6.000 year old earth.” You simply do not know the Christian community. Even many of the most conservative young earthers will say 10,000 years. The Christian spectrum goes all the way from Theistic Evolution (It happened essentially as the general theory of evolution prescribes guided by God) to the handful of 6,000 year people. Millions of Christians land somewhere in between those views on the spectrum. Try reading outside your circle sometime rather than spouting media myths and angry atheist rhetoric.

          • oregon_man

            I am so happy you speak for the Christian majority in declaring you’re only slightly as insane as the Creation/intelligent design fruitcakes. You should straighten those guys out. They are giving you, the Christian majority a bad name. Now how ’bout those supernatural events?

    • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

      A syllogism should begin with true statements from which a conclusion is drawn. Without true statements, no true conclusion is possible. You dishonestly twisted reported beliefs about the origin of the pottery into a baseless accusation of fraud. The onus is on you to support your accusation, but you cannot do this.
      Think about it: pot shards corroborate Jeremiah, and you have to deploy your very best sarcasm and misdirection. Why so defensive? Why are you so angry with a pot?

      • oregon_man

        This website’s articles and its Christian readers seem to have no problem condemning scientific dating methods when it comes to evidence of evolution, but when it comes to relating a find to the Bible it is OK. You admit knowing my post was sarcasm and it was, so I think no further explanation is necessary, do you?

        • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

          In matters of science careful consideration is required, and real debate happens in the preparation of detailed and quantified examinations. A comments forum is a poor medium for scientific debate, and is much more suited to sarcasm and raw appeals to authority.
          Being able to troll the unwary does not establish that you know the truth, but only that you are a skilled debater. You agree with the pot dating? Why so defensive then? Is this shard the thin edge of a bigger wedge?

          • oregon_man

            If comment section is a bad place as you say then why are you doing it? There is no real debate in science on aging methods. They are proven by cross testing with other methods that yield same results. The “debate” is only disinformation provided by the ID Complex, who are in it for the money.

            Keep denying science. It will have its effects. Did you see the new Pew Research on religion in America that was released today? Those deniers and ID’s are responsible for that.

          • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

            There’s no real debate here: I’m here for the slanging match: to watch the squirming and evasion without a shard of substantive content (e.g. your comment above).

          • oregon_man

            There is plenty of factual evidence to support my comment. Several new dating methods have come along in the last 20 years that are completely different than Carbon14 dating, yet amazingly the tests ran on the various methods all show the same approximate dating. You can see this for yourself if you stay clear of ‘Christian’ websites and Google search “archeological dating methods”.

          • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

            You don’t have a point in your comment that requires support. All you’re trying to say is that unspecified Christians are opposed to unspecified archaeological dating methods and unspecified science for unspecified reasons. This is known as the “troll”. Google “troll”.

          • oregon_man

            Nonsense. Look no further than this website and the thousands of comments by Christians to make your “unspecified” quite factual. Watch a couple of the mass-propaganda blitz campaigns on national religious TV syndicates. Stop playing ignorant. You know you are wrong. Don’t bear false witness. Why am I a “troll” and you are not?

          • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

            You have said this kind of thing already: yet you have not been at all specific. Google, TV .. what next? Should we read some popular book? A newspaper? A magazine? Watch a movie? You’re a troll because trolls do not belong under bridges.

          • oregon_man

            I don’t know what next, maybe you’ll stop??? Yell me what is the difference between my posts and your totally lacking substance snide posts?

          • http://www.google.com/ Jan van Niekerk

            No.