An Israeli professor has found evidence that certain books of the Bible could easily be as old as their texts claim. Some scholars had believed that Hebrew writing did not yet exist when these books were purportedly written. But though it does not quote the Bible, a 3,000-year-old piece of pottery from Israel bears text inked in Hebrew, the language of the original Old Testament.
The pottery shard was excavated in 2008 about 18 miles west of Jerusalem, at Khirbet Qeiyafa. It was translated by Professor Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa, who determined:
It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah (“did”) and avad (“worked”), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah (“widow”) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages. The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society.1
Modern critical scholars have often contended that many portions of the Bible were actually written long after the events they describe, and that the text was then attributed after the fact to the ancient authors. The conservative view that the Bible was authored by the individuals it names clashes with the liberal assertion that the people at the time were illiterate, or that the Hebrew language did not even exist then. But this newly translated artifact demonstrates that the Hebrew language was alive and well, in both spoken and written form, during the time that many portions of the Bible were written.
Fox News reported, “The inscription is the earliest example of Hebrew writing found, which stands in opposition to the dating of the composition of the Bible in current research.”2 How could “current research” have been hundreds of years off regarding its dates?
One reason that some academics have posited much later dates of authorship has been their bias against the supernatural. For example, significant prophecies were recorded by Daniel, chief advisor to several Babylonian kings, in about 536 B.C. God revealed to Daniel the number of years until the promised One, Jesus Christ, would enter Jerusalem, then be “cut off.”3 Christ fulfilled these prophecies to the exact year during His triumphal entry and crucifixion, respectively.
Since a centuries-earlier prophecy of this future event could only have occurred through a supernatural revelation, a much later date (though still over a century prior to Christ) was asserted for prophetic portions of Daniel’s book, along with the idea that Daniel was attributed false authorship after some of the prophesied events had actually occurred. For example, he foretold the rise of Alexander the Great, who unified the Greek empire in the third century BC.4
The newly deciphered Hebrew inscriptions date from the 10th century BC, long before Daniel.5 Therefore, the claim can no longer be made that much of the Bible could not possibly have been written by the listed authors because the Hebrew language did not exist until later. It is now more apparent than ever that these assertions of late-date authorship were not rooted in evidence, but in a certain ideology.
- Most ancient Hebrew biblical inscription deciphered. University of Haifa press release, January 10, 2010.
- When Was the Bible Really Written? FOX News. Posted on foxnews.com January 9, 2010, accessed January 12, 2009.
- In his study Bible, Dr. Henry Morris provided the following note for Daniel 9:26: “Messiah be cut off. If the 483-year period began in 446 B.C., its end would seem to be in A.D. 37. However, there is much evidence that what might be called a ’prophetic year’ was 360 days instead of 365. The original created year was apparently twelve 30-day months (compare Ge 7:11,24: 8:3,4). Also, the year associated with the end times seems to be the same (Re 11:2-3). If this factor were applied to the 70-week prophecy, then 483 calendar years would only be 476 prophetic years. Allowing for the fact that Jesus was actually born about 4 B.C. (this was the date when King Herod died, soon after Jesus was born), then the terminal date of the prophecy becomes sometime in A.D. 30, the year when Jesus was between 33 and 34 years of age. This, of course, is the year of His crucifixion, when He was ’cut off, but not for himself.’ This prophecy was given in about 536 B.C., well over half a millennium before its fulfillment. The probability that Daniel could guess the date of the manifestation and crucifixion of the Messiah is essentially zero. Only supernatural inspiration can account for fulfilled prophecies like this. In fact, these events were fulfilled almost two centuries even after the date assigned to Daniel by liberal scholars who deny that such prophecies can be valid!” Morris, H. 2006. The New Defender’s Study Bible. Nashville, TN: World Publishing, 1275-1276.
- Daniel 8:5 states, “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.” Dr. Henry Morris notes: “This ‘he-goat’ represents the Greek empire (Daniel 8:21), which Daniel prophesied would eventually conquer the Medo-Persian empire, just as he had prophesied the latter would conquer the Babylonian empire. These events, of course, came to pass as predicted….This ‘notable horn’ on the goat is said to be the ‘first king’ of the future conquering Greek empire (Daniel 8:21)—none other than the famous Alexander the Great, whose conquests were so swift that it seemed like his legions ‘touched not the ground’ as they advanced.” Morris, New Defender’s Study Bible, 1271.
- This was confirmed with carbon dating, which is understood to yield reliable dates for artifacts a few thousand years old like this one. See Morris, J. 1998. Doesn’t Carbon Dating Prove the Earth Is Old? Acts & Facts. 27 (7).
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on January 18, 2010.