August 2011


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Jeremiah 36:1-2  The Lord spoke to Jeremiah in the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah. 2 “Get a scroll. Write on it everything I have told you to say about Israel, Judah, and all the other nations since I began to speak to you in the reign of Josiah until now. … 4 So Jeremiah summoned Baruch son of Neriah. Then Jeremiah dictated to Baruch everything the Lord had told him to say and Baruch wrote it all down in a scroll. (NET)

In 1975 approximately 200 clay bullae turned up in the hands of a Palestinian antiquities dealer.  One of those bullae (measuring 0.67” x 0.63”) contained an inscription in Paleo-Hebrew on three lines: “Belonging to Berechiah (Baruch) son of Neriah the scribe.”  Berechiah is the name Baruch with the abbreviated divine name (yah) attached at the end.  The bulla is dated to the late 7th or early 6th century BC.

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2 Chron 32:9a  Afterward King Sennacherib of Assyria, while attacking Lachish with all his military might, sent his messengers to Jerusalem. (NET)

Jer 34:6-7  The prophet Jeremiah told all this to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem. 7 He did this while the army of the king of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem and the cities of Lachish and Azekah. He was attacking these cities because they were the only fortified cities of Judah which were still holding out. (NET)

In the 1930s archaeologists discovered 21 ostracons in a guard room next to the outer gate at Lachish(~25 miles southwest of Jerusalem).  The ostracons were written by Hoshaiah (Nehemiah 12:32, Jeremiah 42:1, 43:2), a military officer stationed near Jerusalem, and addressed to Joash, the commanding officer at Lachish.

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One way to avoid self-righteousness when your brother falls is to keep in mind that each of us is capable of the worst evil, because we are all equally fallen. That’s why Paul said, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal 6:1) and “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).  See also 1 Cor 9:27.

2 Kings 24:12; 25:27-30  King Jehoiachin of Judah, along with his mother, his servants, his officials, and his eunuchs surrendered to the king of Babylon. The king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took Jehoiachin prisoner. [597 BC] … 27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month [March 22, 561 BC], King Evil-Merodach [Amel-Marduk] of Babylon [son of Nebuchadnezzar, 562-560 BC], in the first year of his reign, pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prestigious position than the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 Jehoiachin took off his prison clothes and ate daily in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 30 He was given daily provisions by the king for the rest of his life until the day he died.

During his excavation of Babylon in 1899-1917, Robert Koldeway discovered a royal archive room of King Nebuchadnezzar near the Ishtar Gate.  It contained tablets dating to 595-570 BC.  The tablets were translated in the 1930s by the German Assyriologist, Ernst Weidner. Four of these tablets list rations of oil and barley given to various individuals—including the deposed King Jehoiachin—by Nebuchadnezzar from the royal storehouses, dated five years after Jehoiachin was taken captive.

One tablet reads:

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Just up at the Institute for Biblical Studies: “The (In)adequacy of Darwinian Evolution.”

Recently I was listening to the July 23, 2011 broadcast of Unbelievable, a great UK radio program that faces off Christians and non-Christians on a range of theological, philosophical, and moral/social topics.  The July 23rd broadcast addressed the issue of abortion.  Representing the pro-abortion side was Wendy Savage, and representing the anti-abortion side was Madeleine Flannagan.  While much could be said concerning the dialogue, I want to focus on one particular comment from Ms. Savage.  Ms. Flannagan was arguing that it was just as wrong to kill a baby in the womb as it is to kill a baby outside the womb.  Ms. Savage responded to the effect, ‘It’s not a baby, it’s a fetus.”

Pro-choicers often make this sort of “argument.”  The problem is that it commits a categorical error.  “Fetus” is not a type of life distinct from a “baby” or “human being,” but the name we give a particular stage of human development—on the same level of “adolescence, toddler, adult,” etc.  So to say “it’s not a baby, it’s a fetus” is only to say “it’s a younger human being, not an older one.”  But that observation does not tell us whether or not it is morally acceptable to kill younger human beings.  That’s the million dollar question, and one pro-abortion advocates like to skirt.

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2 Kings 24:1,6,8a,10-17  During Jehoiakim’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked. Jehoiakim was his subject for three years, but then he rebelled against him. 6 He passed away and his son Jehoiachin replaced him as king. … 8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. … 10 At that time the generals of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched to Jerusalem and besieged the city. 11 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city while his generals were besieging it. 12 King Jehoiachin of Judah, along with his mother, his servants, his officials, and his eunuchs surrendered to the king of Babylon. The king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took Jehoiachin prisoner. 13 Nebuchadnezzar took from there all the riches in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace. He removed all the gold items which King Solomon of Israel had made for the Lord’s temple, just as the Lord had warned. 14 He deported all the residents of Jerusalem, including all the officials and all the soldiers (10,000 people in all). This included all the craftsmen and those who worked with metal. No one was left except for the poorest among the people of the land. 15 He deported Jehoiachin from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with the king’s mother and wives, his eunuchs, and the high-ranking officials of the land. 16 The king of Babylon deported to Babylon all the soldiers (there were 7,000), as well as 1,000 craftsmen and metal workers. This included all the best warriors. 17 The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in Jehoiachin’s place. He renamed him Zedekiah. (NET)

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True tolerance is how we treat people, not how we treat ideas. All people are equal, but all ideas are not. I am glad we live in a society that allows people the freedom of mind and conscience to believe as they choose, but we must not confuse one’s right to believe what they choose with the absurd notion that beliefs are true. Some beliefs are true, and others are false.  That is why all beliefs should be critically examined, including our own.

 

Back in March I blogged about new research which called into question whether life has existed on this planet for 3.5 billion years.  A fossil believed to be a bacteria is now thought to be a hermatite (a mineral), making the oldest life form 2 billion years old.  Now a 3.4 billion year old extremophile fossil has been discovered inAustralia.  The organism is thought to have been sulfur-based rather than oxygen-based.

Such is the nature of science.  Life gets a 1.5 billion year age reduction in a single day, and then a few months later, it ages quickly to just 100 million years short of its original mark.

HT: Uncommon Descent

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Numbers 6:22-26  The Lord spoke to Moses: 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the way you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 “The Lord bless you and protect you; 25 The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’” (NET)

In 1979 Gabriel Barkay was excavating an area on the outskirts of Jerusalem in the backyard of St. Andrews church.  He had a group of 12 and 13 year old kids helping him.  They discovered some tombs, but they were empty—having been looted long ago.

One boy, Nathan, was given the task of cleaning out the dirt from the nooks under the burial benches.  Like a true boy, he started banging the nook with a hammer.  It broke, revealing an entrance to a secret chamber containing more than 1000 objects.  There were 125 objects of silver, 40 iron arrowheads, gold, ivory, glass, bone, 150 semi-precious stones, and skeletons.  The objects dated to the late 7th and early 6th centuries BC.  Among the objects were two, tiny rolled-up silver scrolls 1” long.

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A man by the name of Andre from Brazil wrote to Dr. William Lane Craig seeking help in responding to one of his college professors who denies the existence of reality.  In Andre’s words: “some days ago, a professor of mine said that there is no reality. I don’t know why, but I didn’t like this affirmative because seems to me that, if it’s true, then we can take all science and throw in the garbage, because, in the end, nothing is real. At last, there is no reality?

Dr. Craig’s full response was “Who wants to know?”  Classic!  If you didn’t bust up laughing, either you didn’t get it or you aren’t a geek.

Related: “Who’s Asking

While doing some research on the Dead Sea Scrolls I discovered a website that shows the entire Great Isaiah Scroll found in Qumran.  The site allows you to literally scroll through the scroll, and provides a zoom feature as well.  Very cool!

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Forty-two years after the discovery of Hezekiah’s tunnel (1880), two boys discovered a Hebrew inscription on the wall near the center of the tunnel.  Analysis of the writing, C-14 dating of the plant life killed by the construction of the tunnel, and dating of the stalactites/stalagmites that grew after the tunnel was constructed all converge at a date of 2700 years before present (~700 BC).  When translated, it became clear that it was written by one of the teams who constructed the tunnel, celebrating its completion as the two teams met in the middle.  The inscription reads:

[...when] (the tunnel) was driven through. And this was the way in which it was cut through: While [...] (were) still [...] axe(s), each man toward his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellows, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right [and on the left]. And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock), each man toward his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits.”

The inscription was cut from the wall of the tunnel not long after by looters and broken into fragments.  They were later recovered.  Today it resides in The Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Significance:

  1. Confirms the Biblical account of Hezekiah’s preparations for an Assyrian siege.

 

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2 Kings 20:20  The rest of the events of Hezekiah’s reign and all his accomplishments, including how he built a pool and conduit to bring water into the city, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. (NET)

2 Chron 32:2-6,32  When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had invaded and intended to attack Jerusalem, 3 he consulted with his advisers and military officers about stopping up the springs outside the city, and they supported him. 4 A large number of people gathered together and stopped up all the springs and the stream that flowed through the district. They reasoned, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” 5 Hezekiah energetically rebuilt every broken wall. He erected towers and an outer wall, and fortified the terrace of the City of David. He made many weapons and shields. 6 He appointed military officers over the army and assembled them in the square at the city gate. 30 Hezekiah dammed up the source of the waters of the Upper Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the City of David. (NET)

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2 Kings 18:1-3  In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. (ESV)

Professor Avigad, a distinguished epigrapher, published a book in 1986 titled Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah: Remnants of a Burnt Archive.  The book featured a hoard of bullae discovered from the time of Jeremiah, preserved by the fires that destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.  He always hoped to find a seal or bullae of a Judahite king, not knowing that one of the bullae featured in his book was just such a find.

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2 Kings 18:1,7,13-16; 19:5-7,20-21,28,32-36  In the third year of the reign of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Ahaz’s son Hezekiah became king over Judah. 7 The Lord was with him; he succeeded in all his endeavors. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to submit to him. 13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria, who was at Lachish, “I have violated our treaty. If you leave, I will do whatever you demand.” So the king of Assyria demanded that King Hezekiah of Judah pay three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace. 16 At that time King Hezekiah of Judah stripped the metal overlays from the doors of the Lord’s temple and from the posts which he had plated and gave them to the king of Assyria. [in verses 17-36 the Assyrian emissaries taunt Jerusalem, saying YHWH can’t save them, so Hezekiah sends servants to inquire of Isaiah the prophet] 19:5 When King Hezekiah’s servants came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master this: ‘This is what the Lord says: “Don’t be afraid because of the things you have heard – these insults the king of Assyria’s servants have hurled against me. 7 Look, I will take control of his mind; he will receive a report and return to his own land. I will cut him down with a sword in his own land.’’”” … 20 Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I have heard your prayer concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 This is what the Lord says about him: … 28 Because you rage against me, and the uproar you create has reached my ears; I will put my hook in your nose, and my bridle between your lips, and I will lead you back the way you came.” 32 So this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city, nor will he shoot an arrow here. He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors, nor will he build siege works against it. 33 He will go back the way he came. He will not enter this city,” says the Lord. 34 I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’” 35 That very night the Lord’s messenger went out and killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When they got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses. 36 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh. (NET)   See also 2 Chron 32:1-23 and Isaiah 36-37.

Colonel R. Taylor discovered a clay prism in ancient Nineveh in 1830.  The six-sided prism contains 500 lines of text written in the Akkadian language describing the exploits of King Sennacherib (705-681 BC).  Dated to 689 BC, it is only 15” x 5.5”.  Of Biblical significance is Sennacherib’s account of his invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC.[1]  The prism reads:

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2 Kings 18:13-17a  In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 18:14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria, who was at Lachish, “I have violated our treaty. If you leave, I will do whatever you demand.” So the king of Assyria demanded that King Hezekiah of Judah pay three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace. 16 At that time King Hezekiah of Judah stripped the metal overlays from the doors of the Lord’s temple and from the posts which he had plated and gave them to the king of Assyria. 17 The king of Assyria sent his commanding general, the chief eunuch [Tartan], and the chief adviser from Lachish to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, along with a large army.

Sargon II was followed by his son Sennacherib who ruled from 705-681 BC.  Early in his reign he began to attack and defeat the fortified cities of Judah.  One of those cities was Lachish, which he defeated in 701 BC[1], and was still present in the city when Hezekiah engaged in correspondence with him in a desperate plea to spare the overthrow of Jerusalem.

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Isaiah 20:1-2  In the year that the commander in chief [Tartan], who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it—2 at that time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

Ashdod was a Philistine city.  They rebelled in 713 BC, and were defeated by 711 BC by the commanding officer [Tartan] of Sargon II’s army.  The only problem was this story was that there was no extra-biblical evidence of Sargon’s existence.  Scholars once believed that either Isaiah was mistaken, or that Sargon was an alternate name for another Assyrian king.  The mystery was resolved in 1842 when Sargon II’s palace was discovered.  Sargon II was a genuine historical figure.  He reigned from 722-705 BC.  The reason scholars did not find any trace of him in the Assyrian records at Ninevah is because his palace was not located in Ninevah, but in Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad,Iraq).  Sargon had moved the capital there.

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“We theists must admit that we, like everyone else, are certainty seekers and that we, like everyone else, are willing to accept less than compelling evidence for our favored conclusions and to ignore evidence unfavorable to our beliefs.” — Kelly James Clark, Five Views on Apologetics, pp. 88-9.

“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”—Isaac Newton

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