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The Bible and history

 

  

There is tremendous evidence for biblical events and the historicity of individuals - including Jesus. Check out this evidence

 

 

Foreword

 

We often read or hear that some researchers doubt the historicity of events mentioned in the Bible. This is especially true about tales of the Fall, the Flood, the tower of Babel, and miracles that were described in the Gospels. These are accounts that researchers regard as unreliable. They may think them to be legends or myths, and think them unworthy of serious consideration.  

   We are going to study this difficult subject by considering many examples. This study is especially designed for people who sincerely want to study the historic accuracy of Biblical accounts.

   In the text we will introduce many archaeological discoveries that support Biblical accounts. They have many times confirmed information originally found in the Bible.

 

Generally, archaeological research has undoubtedly added confidence in the truth of the Bible. More than one archaeologist has noticed that his respect towards the Bible has grown with excavations carried out in Palestine (1). The archaeological evidence has, in many cases, proved the modern critics wrong. It has been proven in many cases that these views have been based on incorrect hypotheses and unreal, fictitious views. There is no reason to belittle this genuine help from archaeological resources." (2)

 

It is important to understand that archaeological excavations have produced a lot of evidence that clearly proves that the Bible is not filled with false information. To this day, none of the historical events of the Bible have been proven false on the basis of this evidence obtained by archaeological research. (3)

 

 

1. The early history of the nations
2. Other events and people in Genesis
3. Wandering in the desert
4. Towns and places in the Bible
5. People in the Old Testament
6. John the Baptist and Jesus
7. Peter and Paul
8. Other people in the New Testament
9. Events, issues, and towns in the New Testament
 

 

1. The early history of the nations

 

THE SEVEN-DAY WEEK

 

- (Gen 2:2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

 

In the beginning of Genesis, we learn about God’s creation of the world, and learn that He did His work in six days, then rested on the seventh day.  

    It is interesting to note that this system of a seven-day week is familiar to all nations from very ancient times. It has been known globally for thousands of years and so it is difficult to explain its origin in any other way than that we inherited it from common ancestors:

 

We can find information about the seven-day week from very ancient times to be in the knowledge of all nations – including Ethiopians, Arabs, Native Americans – all nations in the East have at all times used this seven-day week which is difficult to explain without admitting that this information has been received from the common ancestors of mankind. (4)

 

THE CREATION OF MAN

 

- (Gen 2:20-23) And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

 

We find in Genesis a description of the creation of man. It is mentioned there that when God created man, He first made a man and after that a woman. He made the woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, so that the woman was "taken out of the man".

   The MIAO tribe in China has a similar order concerning the creation of man. They also believe that man was created first, and woman was then made from man. This order does not differ from the story of Creation in the Bible. 

   Another similarity between the two versions is found in the names used for characters in the stories. The MIAO story includes character names that resemble those in the Bible: Seth, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Overall, the story told by the MIAO nation appears to be very similar to the Creation story in the Bible:

 

On the earth he made a man from mud,

From this he created a woman.

Then patriarch Loka made a scale from stones

estimating the weight of the earth down to the bottom,

counting the mass of the orbits,

contemplated roads of the divinity, roads of God.

To patriarch Loka was born patriarch Se-teh.

To patriarch Se-teh was born son Lusu,

and Lusu had Kehlo and to him was born Lama.

To patriarch Lama was born the man Nuah.

His wife's name was ancestress Kau Po-lu-en.

Their sons were: Lo-Han, Lo-Shen and Jah-hu.

Like this the earth started to fill with tribes and families.

In creation the families and nations were formed. (5)

 

THE FALL 

 

- (Gen 3:6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.

 

- (2 Cor 11:3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

 

- (1 Tim 2:13-14) For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

 

We can find evidence that the story of the Fall has been known and passed down by other cultures for thousands of years.

 

Near Nineveh in Tepe Gawra was found the imprint of a seal in which there is an image of a man and a woman with bowed heads as a result of an accident, and a snake is following them. It has been thought that the picture may represent being banished from Paradise. This seal is preserved in a museum in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

 

In Mesopotamia another imprint of a seal was found. It features a man and a woman seated on either side of a tree. A snake stands in an upright position just behind the woman. This seems to be an accurate picture of the story of the Fall of man told in Genesis. It shows us that people across Mesopotamia knew the story and understood its message.

 

One Sumerian poem, a part of which has been translated, also seems to refer to the Fall. It tells about a woman who ate that which was forbidden and thereby became the mother of sin. This seems to be a description of Eve, the spouse of Adam, who first fell into sin and then lured her husband to sin. (Alfred Jeremias, Das Alte Testament im lichtes des alten orients, Leipzig 1930, 4. part, p. 99):

 

"The woman ate it which was forbidden and the woman, the mother of sin, did wrong. The mother of sin had a painful experience.”

 

Accounts of the Fall that have spread as different versions among the nations are one possible reference to the historicity of this event. One of these accounts has been preserved by the Santaals, a tribe found in India. What is interesting in the story is that in addition to the Fall, the Flood, and the confusion of languages are mentioned.

 

According to Kolean a long, a long time ago Thakur Jiu, genuine God, created the first man, Haram, and the first woman, Ayo, and put them to live far away from India towards the west, to the region named Hihiri Pipiri. There a creature called Lita tempted people to make rice beer. After that, she provoked them to pour a part of the beer on the ground as an offering to Satan. Haram and Ayo got drunk from the rest of the beer and slept. When they woke up they saw that they were undressed and were ashamed of it.  

The similarities between the story of Kolean and the Bible story made a deep impression on Skrefsrud. But the story still continued...  

Ayo later bore Haram seven sons and seven daughters, who married and established seven tribes. Those tribes wandered to the country, which was called Kroj Kaman, and there were met with destruction. Thakur Jiu called people "to return to him". When they refused, Thakur Jiu took "the devout married couple" for protection into some cave of mountain Harata (note the similarity with the Bible’s name of Ararat). Then Thakur Jiu allowed the rest of the mankind to drown in the flood. Later the descendants of "the devout married couple" multiplied many times and wandered to a plain, which was called Sasan Beda ("mustard field"). There Thakur Jiu separated them into many different nations (the confusing of languages in Babel?). (6)

 

- The Karens who live In Burma also tell a story about the Fall. The lyrics of one of their songs tell how Y'wa, the true God, in the beginning created the world, and indicated also "the test fruit" but Mu-kaw-lee betrayed two persons. This is how people started to become ill and to age, and how death came into the world:

 

In the beginning Y'wa gave form to the world.

He indicated food and drink.

He indicated "the test fruit".

He gave accurate commands.

Mu-kaw-lee betrayed two persons.

He got them to eat the test fruit.

They disobeyed; did not believe Y'wa...

When they ate the test fruit,

they faced illnesses, ageing, and death. (7)

 

THE FLOOD

 

- (Gen 7:6) And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was on the earth.

 

- (Isa 54:9) For this is as the waters of Noah to me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with you, nor rebuke you.

 

- (Matt 24:37-39) But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

The Flood is referred to in about 140- to 150 stories told by many different tribes found around the world. Many of these stories have, of course, been changed over the centuries but all of those accounts mention floodwaters causing devastation. In some stories, told in Babylonian and Chinese languages, stories included the names of rulers and dynasties that existed before the Flood. One of these stories, that of Gilgames, describes how “generations of people turned into clay.”

 

After having hit firmly like an army.

The sea calmed down, lulled

the whirling storm, ended

the expansion of waters. (…)

All generations of people had

turned into clay.

Like a wet open space above. (…)

On a mountain the ship of Nisiri drifted.

The mountain of Nisiri restrained the ship,

It did not allow it to sway.

 

Belief in the Flood appears in other places, as well. The next story describes how a Native American tribe regarded the dove as a holy bird because this bird brought a leaf of a willow tree during the large flood! This is just one of several stories.

 

Almost all nations have a consistent story about the Flood. In this respect it is very miraculous how nations in opposite parts of the world are able to tell so precisely of a large flood that covered all mountains, a large ship that saved eight or four persons, and even be consistent in many details. The Europeans in North America found a Native American tribe that regards the wild dove as a holy bird and do not kill it. When they were asked the reason for this, they explained that this bird brought to their forefathers in a large ship a leaf of a willow tree. The leaf of a willow tree is similar to the leaf of an olive tree as comes to the shape, size, and color. Does this not clearly prove the ancient story of Noah and his sons? (8)

 

NOAH’S ARK

 

- (Hebr 11:7) By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 

- (1 Peter 3:20) Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

 

Noah’s ark and its sighting on Mount Ararat have been preserved in books of history. In the following quote (Tauno Linkoranta, Kun maailma hukkui, magazine Yliopisto 17 / 1999) there is a reference to how people went to the site of this ark and carried off relics long before the earthly life of Jesus. In those times, the ark was obviously still widely known by men:

 

…According to the Bible, the ark landed on Mount Ararat, and the people of antiquity or the middle Ages did not have any reason to doubt the authenticity of this. The Hebrew, Armenian, Syrian, and Mesopotamian cultures recognized the existence of the ark much earlier than the Christians, and the younger Islamic world adopted this legend without difficulties.

   It is not surprising because according to the contemporaries, anyone who climbed up the slope of Ararat high enough could see the ark with his own eyes. Sometimes it could be seen even from the plains below as a black figure against the glacier and the snow. The records preserved earlier also state the same.

   Babylonian priest Berossus wrote in 275 B.C about how people who had climbed to the ark had scraped pitch from its side to make amulets for themselves. According to other sources, pieces of the wood from the Ark were taken away for the same purpose. However, the journey to the ark was so difficult that even a few centuries later the relic hunters did not have time to do very much damage.

   Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who lived in the first century, has recorded how "the Armenians present the remains of the ark still today". He also remarked how near the mountain was the town of Nahitseva which meant in the language of the Armenia "landing place". In the 3rd century, Salami Epiphanius gave his support to this statement when he used the visible existence of the ark as a proof of the reliability of Christianity, "Do you assume really seriously that we cannot prove our point of view when still this day the relics of Noah’s ark are shown in the country of Kurds?” Also the well-known traveler of the 13th century, Marco Polo, confirmed the existence of the ark.

 

THE TOWER OF BABEL

 

- (Gen 11:1-9) And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelled there.

3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the face of the whole earth.

5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.

6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there on the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from there did the LORD scatter them abroad on the face of all the earth.

 

Different cultures have preserved stories about the tower of Babel. That story has been found recorded on ancient stone slabs, and it is related in stories told people of many different nations:

 

- In the history of Mexico (Mexican antiquity, 9. Part, p. 321), we find a story preserved that tells of destruction that is in many ways similar to the texts in the Bible. It describes the Flood, the increase of the people after it, the building of a tower, and the confusion of languages. One significant similarity is that the mountains were under water to the depth of 15 cubits, as is mentioned in Genesis (Gen 7:20):

 

Frightening rains and lightning from the sky destroyed the people and also the whole country without exception, and also the highest mountains were covered by water, to the depth of fifteen cubits. After the Flood, the people multiplied on earth and built a very high zacual (tower) for protection, in case the other world would be destroyed. Shortly after this, their language was confused, and when they could not understand each other, they scattered around the earth. (9)

 

- One more reference to the confusion of languages is found in the traditions of Babylonia. It tells about the destruction of a tower and confusion of languages in much the same way as the Bible does. The only major difference is that the story is told from a polytheistic point of view:

 

Building this temple insulted the Gods. One night they threw to the ground what had been built. They scattered people to different countries and made their speech strange. They prevented any advances in work. (10)

 

- The Sumerians are regarded to be the earliest civilization in the Middle East. We also find Sumerian stories about the early development of mankind. One example was provided earlier – in the “Fall” passage. The Sumerian poem below about the origins of mankind describes a time before the confusion of languages, when all people praised one supreme god, Enlil, in one language:

 

Once upon a time there were no snakes,

no scorpions,

no hyenas, no lions,

no fear, no fright,

the man did not have any competition.

There was a time when the countries of Subur and Hamaz

(later) multilingual Sumer, the great land of princely divine laws,

Uri that had everything that is imaginable,

The land of Martu, which rested in security,

The whole world, all people together

praised supreme Enlil in one language. (11)

 

- One special reference to the ancient tower of Babel can be found in the writings of Nabopolassar, who was the founder of the New-Babylonian kingdom (626–605 B.C.) and the father of Nebuchadnezzar of Biblical fame. About the tower of Babel and its construction, he wrote:

 

At that time Marduk commanded me to build the tower of Babel, which had been destroyed in the old days, to lay down a firm foundation when the top of the tower reached heaven.

 

His son Nebuchadnezzar wrote about his effort to build a tower that competed with heaven:

 

I still built the tower for Etemenank so that it competed with heaven.

 

 

 

2. Other events and people in Genesis

 

Abraham. When we continue examining the events and people mentioned in the Bible, we often run into the name of Abraham. The Bible tells us that Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a metropolis of its time, and later moved to Canaan.

   The historicity of Abram/Abraham cannot be absolutely proven but there are good reasons to believe he truly existed. Clay tablets have been found with the name "Abraham" inscribed on them. Other sources including those listed below support his existence:

 

- Names in tablets in Chaldea. Tablets thought to have been created sometime around the year 2000 B.C, in Ur of the Chaldees (Abraham's hometown) point to the historical existence of Abraham. These tablets mention "Abraham" and other biblical characters including Jacob, Terah, Sarai, Milcah and Laban. They are mentioned among the witnesses of an agreement. Presence of these names does not prove the existence of the biblical Abraham or his relatives, but at least they show that similar names were commonly in use at that time.

 

- In the tablets of Mari, dated at around 1700 B.C., recorded names include Peleg, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Haran. Those same names appear in the Bible.

 

- In the clay tablets of Ebla are found the names Abramu (the name of Abraham was initially Abram), Esaum, Saulum, Daudum, Mikail, Ismael, Ishmail, and Israel-Ishrail. These names are not necessarily people mentioned in the Bible but at least they suggest that similar names were in use at that time.

 

- In the book "History of Israel" (5.p.1976. p.91), John Bright described the historicity of the accounts of patriarchs in the Bible, and provided good reasons to believe that these events really took place:

 

The evidence that has been presented to us so far gives reason to believe that the accounts of the patriarchs are firmly based on history. (…) We can confidently claim that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were real historical people. (…) it is clear that the accounts of the patriarchs, not describing later times perfectly, describe the conditions that existed during the period in question. (12)

 

- Abraham as forefather. The fact that the Jews and Arabs regard Abraham as their forefather is in itself proof that he was a real person. These people firmly believe that Abraham is their forefather and we have no reason to doubt this.

 

- (Gen 11:27-28) Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.

28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

 

- (Ex 3:5-6) And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground.

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look on God.

 

- (Joshua 24:2-4) And Joshua said to all the people, Thus said the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelled on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

4 And I gave to Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave to Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

 

- (Isa 51:2) Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah that bore you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

 

- (Ezek 33:24) Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance.

 

- (Luke 1:72-73)  To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73 The oath which he swore to our father Abraham,

 

- (Matt 3:9) And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say to you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

 

- (John 8:53) Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom make you yourself?

 

- (Acts 7:2) And he said, Men, brothers, and fathers, listen; The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelled in Charran,

 

- (2 Cor 11:22) Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

 

Moab. One of Abraham's relatives was Moab, who was a descendant of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. The Bible tells us that Moab had many descendants and that there was a nation by that name – the kingdom of Moab -- which was often a nuisance to Israel.

   Moab’s name appears in writings on the “stone of Moab.” Writings on the stone also mention Omri the king of Israel:

 

I am Mesha, the son of Chemosh (…) the king of Moab, Dibonite. (…) The king of Israel Omri (…) oppressed Moab for a long time because Chemosh got angry with his country. And his son became the king in his place and said: 'I will oppress Moab..."

 

- (Gen 19:36-37) Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

37 And the first born bore a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites to this day.

 

- (Deut 2:11) Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites called them Emims.

 

- (Ruth 2:2) And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.  And she said to her, Go, my daughter.

 

- (Isa 16:2) For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.

 

- (Jer 48:13) And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.

 

Israel. The name Israel is closely associated with Jews. Israel was the name given by God to Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham.

   Perhaps the most interesting reference to the name of Israel is found in the so-called Stone of Israel, which was created sometime around the year 1200 B.C.  The text honors the Pharaoh Merenptah. The stone contains the earliest reference to Israel from a source outside Israel.

 

- (Gen 32:27-28) And he said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob.

28 And he said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed.

 

Edom. The brother of Jacob was Esau, or Edom. Esau was his elder twin brother who had his own nation. The king Sargon of Assyria has preserved a statement about him. In this statement we also see other familiar names from the Bible, such as Judah and Moab:

 

"I conquered Ashdod, Gath. I moved inhabitants to them from eastern countries. I collected tax from Philistia, Judah, Edom, and Moab."

 

- (Gen 25:30) And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray you, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

 

- (Gen 36:1, 19) Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

19 These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes.

 

- (Num 20:23) And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,

 

- (Jer 9:26) Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.

 

- (2 Chron 28:17) For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.

 

The Hittites. The existence of the Hittites has been confirmed. This nation that was not known in the beginning of the 19th century other than from the Bible and whose existence was doubted for a long time has now become well-known. Findings of the nation have been made in their own capital Hattusas. In addition, notes about them have been found in Egyptian and Syrian sources.

   The "Encyclopedia Britannica" dedicated only eight lines to this nation in its edition in 1860. The 1947 edition had ten full pages of text about them because archaeologists had discovered much more about them.

   The following Bible verses describe Hittite activities (the Bible contains almost fifty references to Hittites):

 

- (Gen 10:15) And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth,

 

- (Judges 1:26) And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof to this day.

 

- (1 Kings 10:29) And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.

 

Jacob. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

   Inscriptions on the monument of Pharaoh Thutmos lll, found in the pylon of the temple of Karnak, contains references to such place names as Jacob-Er and Joseph-El, as well as Kadesh, Megiddo, Dothan, Damascus, Hazor, Carmel, Gath, and Bethel – all places mentioned in the Bible.

 

- (Gen 25:26-27) And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was three score years old when she bore them.

27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

 

- (Isa 27:6) He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.

 

- (John 4:5-6, 9-12) Then comes he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

9 Then said the woman of Samaria to him, How is it that you, being a Jew, ask drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water.

11 The woman said to him, Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from where then have you that living water?

12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

 

Benjamin was a "patriarch" and one of the twelve sons of Jacob, from whom one of the tribes of Israel descended. A few references to Benjamites can be found among inscriptions in the clay tablets of Mari. One of these is:

 

Inform this to my master on behalf of your servant Bannum: Yesterday I left Mari and spent the night in Zuruban. All Benjamites sent signs of fire. From Samamum to Ilum-Muluk, from Ilum-Muluk to Mishlam, all Benjamin villages in the area of Terqua answered with signs of fire; I do not yet know what these signs mean. (13)

 

- (Gen 35:17-18) And it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, Fear not; you shall have this son also.

18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

 

- (Judges 19:16) And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.

 

- (Rom 11:1) I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

 

Asher. One of the sons of Jacob was Asher. His descendants – called the tribe of Asher – played a role in Israel’s story. Both Old and New Testaments contain references to the tribe of Asher:

 

- (Gen 30:13) And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

 

- (Num 1:41) Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Asher, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.

 

- (Luke 2:36) And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

 

Levi was a son of Jacob, and his descendants are called the tribe of Levi. Levi and his descendants were responsible for taking care of the temple and all its ceremonial objects. The New Testament mentions descendants of Levi:

 

- (Ex 6:16) And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.

 

- (John 1:19) And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?

 

- (Acts 4:36) And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

 

Rachel, Leah and Perez. Rachel and Leah, mentioned in the verses of the Bible below, were the wives of Jacob. He went to get them from the eastern countries. Perez was the son of Leah's son Judah, from Tamar:

 

- (Gen 31:14) And Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?

 

- (Gen 38:29) And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How have you broken forth? this breach be on you: therefore his name was called Pharez.

 

- (Ruth 4:11-12) And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into your house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do you worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

12 And let your house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give you of this young woman.

 

Rachel’s sepulcher. When Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob, died, we are told that she was buried by the road to Ephrath. We find a reference to the same sepulcher in the book of Samuel, which was written much later than the book of Genesis. People knew about the sepulcher when the Book of Samuel was written.

 

- (Gen 35:19) And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

 

- (Gen 48:7) And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.

 

- (1 Sam 10:1-2) Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD has anointed you to be captain over his inheritance?

2 When you are departed from me to day, then you shall find two men by Rachel’s sepulcher in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, The asses which you went to seek are found: and, see, your father has left the care of the asses, and sorrows for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?

 

Joseph’s bones. Joseph was called "prince among his brothers." He served as Pharaoh’s chief administrator. Joseph asked that after death, his bones to be taken back to the land he considered home:

 

- (Gen 50:25-26) And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from hence.

26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

 

- (Joshua 24:32) And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

 

 

 

 

3. Wandering in the desert

 

Moses. One of the most significant people in the Old Testament was Moses, who led the nation of Israel to the Promised Land, or more accurately, just to the border. The Law and the Commandments were given to the nation of Israel through him, and his books were read diligently during the time of Jesus. They were read in the synagogues every Sabbath, as we can see from Acts:

 

- (Exo 2:10) And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

 

- (1 Chron 6:3) And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

 

- (Jer 15:1) Then said the LORD to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

 

- (Matt 23:1-3) Then spoke Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

3 All therefore whatever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not you after their works: for they say, and do not.

 

- (John 9:27-29) He answered them, I have told you already, and you did not hear: why would you hear it again? will you also be his disciples?

28 Then they reviled him, and said, You are his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.

29 We know that God spoke to Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from where he is.

 

- (Acts 15:21) For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

 

Leaving Egypt. The fact that the people of Israel were physically in Egypt is confirmed by a few sources. Many Levites mentioned in the Bible have Egyptian names such as Moses, Assir, Pashur, Merari, Hophni, Phinehas, and Putiel. And many writers of books of the Bible considered it a historical fact:

 

- (Jer 7:25) Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt to this day I have even sent to you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:

 

- (2 Chron 7:21-22) And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passes by it; so that he shall say, Why has the LORD done thus to this land, and to this house?

22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore has he brought all this evil on them.

 

- (Isa 11:16) And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

 

- (Eze 20:10-11) Why I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.

11 And I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.

 

- (Hos 2:15) And I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

 

- (Hag 2:5) According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so my spirit remains among you: fear you not.

 

Miracles in Egypt

 

- (Ps 105:26-27) He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.

27 They showed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.

 

- (Jer 32:20-21) Which have set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even to this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and have made you a name, as at this day;

21 And have brought forth your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror;

 

Many people these days have difficulties in believing in the miracles that were performed in Egypt. However, proof of them exists, in the Papyrus Ipuwer (PI) that was found in Egypt and that is nowadays preserved in Leiden, the Netherlands. It describes events that are very similar to those recorded in the Bible. These similarities suggest that the same events are being described. The Papyrus Ipuwer provides a description of the plagues as told from the perspective of Egyptians:

 

PI: Plague is everywhere in the country. Blood is everywhere. (…) For the river is indeed bloody. (…) If it is drunk, the man will vomit and thirst for water. (2:5-10)

 

(Ex. 7:20-24): ... and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood (...) and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt (...) And all the Egyptians dig round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

_________

 

PI: The trees have been destroyed (4:14) The grain has been destroyed everywhere (6:1, 3)

 

(Ex. 9:25) And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.

__________

 

PI: Fire has worn away gates, columns and walls (2:10)

 

(Ex. 9:23, 24) And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along on the ground; and the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.

24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

__________

 

PI: The birds do not find fruit or herbs and the grains have disappeared from everywhere. (…) The store is empty. (6:1-3).

 

(Ex. 10:14-15) And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.

15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

__________

 

PI: For really the hearts of all animals cry, the livestock groans because of the condition of the land. (5:5)

 

(Ex. 9:19) Send therefore now, and gather your cattle, and all that you have in the field; for on every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down on them, and they shall die.

__________

 

PI: The country is dark. (9:11)

 

(Ex. 10:22-23) And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

__________

 

PI: People buried the dead ones everywhere (2:13). (…) There is sighing and moaning everywhere in the country. (3:14)

 

(Ex. 12:29-30) And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

________

 

PI: Gold and jewels are tied to the neck of slaves (3:2)

 

(Ex. 12:35-36) And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:

36 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent to them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

__________

 

PI: People rebel against the government (6:6)

 

(Ex. 10:7) And Pharaoh’s servants said to him, How long shall this man be a snare to us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: know you not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

__________

 

PI: Pharaoh lost his life in a way that has never taken place before. (7:1)

 

(Ex. 14:28) And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

  

Dividing the sea was one of those miracles performed by Moses and also through Joshua. Writers of other books in the Bible also considered it a historical fact:

 

- (Ex. 14:21) And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

 

- (Neh 9:11) And you did divide the sea before them, so that they went through the middle of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors you threw into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.

 

- (Ps 66:6) He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.

 

- (Isa 43:16) Thus said the LORD, which makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;

 

Water from the rock. Water flowing from a rock is one of the miracles that occurred when the Hebrews were wandering in the desert. Writers of later books referred to it as truly occurring.

 

- (Num 20:10-11) And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said to them, Hear now, you rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

 

- (Ps 78:15-16) He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.

16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

 

- (Isa 48:21) And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he split the rock also, and the waters gushed out.

 

The Urim and Thummim were used in various situations to search for the will of God. They were on the breastplate of the High Priest, and were still in use during the later times of Saul and Ezra:

 

- (Ex. 28:30) And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel on his heart before the LORD continually.

 

- (1 Sam 28:6) And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

 

- (Ezra 2:63) And the Tirshatha said to them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.

 

The serpent of brass. When the wandering Hebrews began grumbling about their condition, they began suffering bites from poisonous snakes. Moses made a serpent of brass and raised it up in front of the people. They received healing by just looking at it. We find a mention of the same serpent of brass in the book of 2 Kings, which was written several centuries later. King Hezekiah destroyed it:

 

- (Num 21:9) And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it on a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

 

- (2 Kings 18:4) He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for to those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

 

The tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments, which Moses received on Mt. Sinai, were among the most important objects mentioned in the Old Covenant. They were stored in the Ark of the Covenant and they were known to have existed as late as the reign of King Solomon:

 

- (Ex. 31:18) And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him on mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

 

- (1 King 8:9) There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

 

The daughters of Zelophehad appear for the first time in the books of Moses. In addition to this, they are mentioned in 1 Chronicles:

 

- (Num 27:1) Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.

 

- (1 Chron 7:15) And Machir took to wife the sister of Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister’s name was Maachah; and the name of the second was Zelophehad: and Zelophehad had daughters.

 

The Ark of the Covenant was made during the time of Moses and was kept in the tabernacle. It is mentioned in the Book of Samuel and also later, but through Jeremiah information was given out that it would not have any meaning in the future:

 

- (Num 14:44) But they presumed to go up to the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.

 

- (1 Sam 4:4-5) So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwells between the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.

 

- (Jer 3:16) And it shall come to pass, when you be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, said the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.

 

 

 

 

4. Towns and places in the Bible

 

Babel, Erech, Accad, and Nimrod or Calah were the first towns founded after the Flood. They were built by a man called Nimrod, who "began to be a mighty one in the earth" (Gen 10:8). Interestingly, all of these towns are well-known today thanks to efforts by archaeologists.

 

- (Gen 10:8-11)  And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: why it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.

10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and built Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,

 

Nineveh was founded by Nimrod (see Gen. 10:8-11), and it is well-known today because of many archaeological discoveries.

   What is significant about this city whose existence was doubted for a long time is that it was founded under the double hill of Tell nebi Junus (the prophet Jonah) and Kuzundzik. The location of Nineveh indicates a very clear connection with the prophet Jonah, who preached in this city:

 

- (Jonah 3:1-3) And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,

2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you.

3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

 

Ur of the Chaldees

 

- (Gen 11:31) And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran, and dwelled there.

 

Some of the most interesting discoveries in the Middle East, mainly in the southern Babylonian region, are associated with the hometown of Abraham, Ur of the Chaldeas. Nowadays, it is one of the best known ancient city ruins.

   Archaeological discoveries indicate that the city was at one time a significant center of activity. Houses reflected a luxurious environment. The city had an efficient underground sewage system, and several schools existed. Tablets containing mathematical equations proved that the square root was well-known.

   Thus, it is a mistake to think that Abraham descended from a nomadic tribe or that his origins were in a small village where people suffered miserable living conditions. On the contrary, these discoveries suggest that Abraham was a resident of a metropolitan area that served as a political and cultural center more than 4,000 years ago.

   Leonard Woolley, who excavated some of the ruins in this city, wrote:

 

We have to thoroughly check our view of the Hebrew patriarch when we have seen how grand an environment he had lived. He was the resident of a large city and took part in the traditions of a very highly developed civilization. The houses give evidence of a grand life of comfort. We have found hymns, which had been used in temple services and tablets with mathematical exercises. These tablets had, in addition to simple sums, even formulas from square roots to cubic roots. In some writings the author had copied writings, which were on the buildings of the city and thus draw up a short presentation about the history of the temple. (14)

 

Haran. When Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees with his family, he went to Haran. This town is mentioned in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, among others. Its name in Assyrian sources is Harranu (road, route, caravan) because it was situated along a very important trade route:

 

- (Gen 11:31) And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran, and dwelled there.

 

Shechem. The town of Shechem was one of the towns Abraham lived in. Archaeologists have explored its ruins; and it is mentioned in ancient Egyptian inscriptions, and in the letters of Amarna.

 

- (Gen 12:6) And Abram passed through the land to the place of Sichem, to the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

 

Bethel, a town started in the time of Abraham, was recently found by archeologists. It is also mentioned in an Egyptian inscription.

 

- (Gen 12:8) And he removed from there to a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he built an altar to the LORD, and called on the name of the LORD.

 

Nahor, the hometown of Rebekah, is mentioned often in the clay tablets of Mari, which were found in 1935 but date back to 1700 years B.C. The servant of Abraham went to fetch Rebekah from this town to be the wife of Isaac.

 

- (Gen 24:10) And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.

 

Sodom and Gomorrah. One of the most dramatic events recorded in the Bible is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These towns were destroyed because of their residents’ evil and sinful acts.

   Clay tablets found in Ebla in Syria dated back to between 2600- and 2300 B.C. mention the sale of goods in Damascus, Admah, Zeboim, Sodom and Gomorrah. All these names are familiar to students of the Bible. This indicates that those towns have really existed.

 

- (Gen 10:19) And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as you come to Gerar, to Gaza; as you go, to Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even to Lasha. 

 

- (Gen 13:10) And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as you come to Zoar.

 

- (Lam 4:6) For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.

 

- (Eze 16:49) Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

 

- (Luke 17:32- 33) Remember Lot’s wife.

33 Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

 

- (2 Peter 2:6-7) And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample to those that after should live ungodly;

7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

 

Hazor is a town whose king was Jabin, according to the Bible. The name of this town is recorded in many Egyptian and Acadian writings. Archeological digs of the town have produced cuneiform texts that mention the name Jabin, the same king who, according to the Bible, ruled this town.

 

- (Jos 11:1) And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,

 

Gezer is a town mentioned in the Book of Joshua. Archeologists have uncovered many artifacts there, and it is mentioned in an Egyptian inscription.

 

- (Jos 16:3) And goes down westward to the coast of Japhleti, to the coast of Bethhoron the nether, and to Gezer; and the goings out thereof are at the sea.

 

Megiddo is first mentioned in the Book of Joshua. It was mentioned later as one of King Solomon’s administrative towns. This town has been found by archaeologists; it is mentioned in one Egyptian inscription, and it is mentioned in the clay tablets of Ebla.

 

- (Jos 17:11) And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.

 

Shiloh was the center of worship during the time of Joshua. It was conquered by the Philistines in about 1050 B.C. and was destroyed because of the wickedness of Israel. The prophet Samuel spent his childhood in this place:

 

- (Jos 18:1) And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

 

- (1 Sam 1:24) And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.

 

- (Ps 78:60) So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;

 

- (Jer 7:12) But go you now to my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.

 

Mizpeh. One of the judges of Israel was Jephthah the Gileadite, who lived, among other places, in a town called Mizpeh. This town has been found by archaeologists.

   Handles of clay dishes have been found bearing the name Mizpeh from a place called Tell en-Nasbe, which is situated 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of Jerusalem.

 

- (Judges 11:11) Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.

 

The gold of Ophir. According to the Bible, Ophir was a place from which gold was fetched. Even though that place has not been found, its existence can be indirectly verified. A broken piece of a crock originating from the middle of the 8th century B.C has been found from the north side of the Tel Aviv harbor. On it was written the following:

 

"Gold of Ophir to Beth-Horon: 30 shekels.”

 

- (1 King 9:27-28) And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.

28 And they came to Ophir, and fetched from there gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.

 

The tunnel of Hezekiah. According to the Bible, one of the just rulers of Judah was King Hezekiah, who also built Jerusalem to some extent.

   Archaeologists discovered a 520-meter-long (approximately 1,706 feet) water conduit running beneath Jerusalem. This aqueduct bears his name. The tunnel was first built so residents could get water if the city was under siege. In 1880, six lines of text hammered into rock were found at one end of the tunnel. This text tells about the completion of the tunnel and about the joy of two worker groups when they faced each other deep inside the hill of Ophel.

 

- (2 King 20:20) And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

 

 

 

 

5. People in the Old Testament

 

Shishak. One of the people who appeared in the Old Testament was Shishak, the king of Egypt.

   Writings on the walls of the temple of Karnak in Egypt have been found that list the towns and villages that Shishak conquered. They also describe how Shishak’s troops stormed into Gilead. In addition to those references, a memorial stone bearing Shishak’s name was dug up in Megiddo.

 

- (1 King 14:25-26) And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:

26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.

 

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, is a person mentioned quite often in the Bible, especially in the Book of Daniel where he is described in detail. Among other things, he is reported to have said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Dan 4:30)

   Several discoveries prove that King Nebuchadnezzar existed. The following text is similar to one recorded in the Book of Daniel. In it, the king boasts of Babel, a town he had built. The following text bearing his name was found inscribed on a flagstone:

 

I am Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the son of the king of Babylon, Nabopolassar. I have paved the streets of Babylon with sadu stones for the parade of the great ruler Marduk. Marduk, my lord, please give me everlasting life.

 

A vase was found in Susa. On the vase is a text that refers to Nebuchadnezzar and Amel-Marduk (Evilmerodach, 2 King 25:27- 30), and to the king’s palace:

 

The palace of Amel-Marduk, King of Babylon, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.

 

- (Dan 4:28-30) All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar.

29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.

30 The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?

 

- (Jer 27:6) And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.

 

- (2 King 24:1) In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.

 

Belshazzar

 

- (Dan 7:1) In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head on his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.

 

Just like people doubted the existence of Nebuchadnezzar, they also for a long time doubted whether another Babylonian king, Belshazzar, was a historical person. Many even thought that he was a fictitious person. They also thought that Belshazzar could not have been the last king of Babylon as recorded in the Bible, because in all well-known archives it was mentioned that Nabonidus was the last one.

   However, the discovery of a document in Babylon changed people’s minds. The text states that Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, and that he ruled together with his father until the fall of Babylon. His father Nabonidus had been "on leave" and had gone to Arabia for 10 years.

   So Belshazzar was really a king in Babylon together with his father. His status as the second ruler of Babylon is also suggested in the following text taken from Daniel. This verse reveals that Daniel was promised the status of the third highest ruler – not the second highest – in the kingdom, if he could explain the writing that appeared on the wall. We can conclude that at that time there were two rulers in Babylon, and Belshazzar was one of them:

 

- (Dan 5:16) And I have heard of you, that you can make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if you can read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, you shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.

 

R.P Dougherty, a professor of Yale University, compared the Book of Daniel to other ancient writings and commented on this issue:

 

The account of the Bible can be regarded better, because it mentions Belshazzar’s name and it expresses that Belshazzar had the powers of a king, and also because the Bible knows that there were two rulers in the kingdom. (15)

 

Cyrus was the "king who set people free," as described in the Bible.

   His impact on history is recorded on the cylinder of Cyrus. He describes the conquest of Babylon and the return of prisoners to their home countries.

   Aside from this cylinder, other accounts were recorded by Greek historians.

 

- (2 Chron 36:22) Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

                

Job was one of the most severely tested people described in the Bible. Besides the book named after him, Job was mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel together with Noah and Daniel:

 

- (Job 1:1) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

 

- (Eze 14:13-14, 20) Son of man, when the land sins against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out my hand on it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine on it, and will cut off man and beast from it:

14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, said the Lord GOD.

20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, said the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

 

- (Jam 5:11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. 

 

King David is certainly one of the most important people in the Old Testament. He is mentioned in several books.

   In addition, we can find proof of David’s existence because in 1993 in Tel Dan, North Israel, his name was found inscribed on a piece of a flat rock. It refers to his family of rulers:

 

"The room of David"

 

- (Ruth 4:22) And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

 

- (Ps 18:50) Great deliverance gives he to his king; and shows mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for ever more.

 

- (Isa 29:1) Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelled! add you year to year; let them kill sacrifices.

 

- (Jer 22:2) And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sit on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people that enter in by these gates:

 

- (Amos 6:5) That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David

 

- (Matt 15:22) And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried to him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, you son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

 

- (Acts 2:29) Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.

 

- (Rev 22:16) I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

 

The prophet Nathan lived at the same time as King David, and he could be called the "court prophet" of the king, because the Lord often sent him to David. He is also mentioned in several books of the Bible:

 

- (2 Sam 12:1) And the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

 

- (2 Chron 9:29) Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?

 

Benhadad, king of Syria, was one of the many kings of foreign countries. 

   As far as his historicity is concerned, a flat rock that was found in Northern Syria in 1940 has his name inscribed on it, proving his existence. In addition, the black obelisk of Shalmaneser lll, king of Assyria, has writings about him and Ahab, king of Israel (1 King 16:28-30):

 

I crossed Euphrates; in Karkar I destroyed 1,200 chariots, 1,200 horsemen and 20,000 men from Ben-Hadad, and 2,000 chariots and 10,000 men from the Israelite Ahab.

 

- (1 King 20:1) And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.

 

Sargon. The Bible mentions several Assyrian kings: Shalmaneser, Tiglatpileser or Pul, Sennacherib and Sargon. References to all of them have been found in other sources.

   The next inscription of Sargon, the king whose existence was doubted for a long time, was found in his palace in Khorsabad:

 

I laid siege to Samaria and I conquered it. I took 27,290 of its residents. (…) I gave them to others (other countries). I put my officials to rule them and to pay the tax of the former king.

 

- (Isa 20:1-2) In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;

2 At the same time spoke the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off your loins, and put off your shoe from your foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

 

Sennacherib was one of the kings of Assyria and he tried to conquer other countries. A text has been preserved which speaks of the siege of Jerusalem. Hezekiah, King of Judah, is also mentioned there:

 

I confined Hezekiah in Jerusalem, his royal city, like a cage bird.

 

- (2 Chron 32:1) After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.

 

- (Isa 36:1-2) Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defended cities of Judah, and took them.

2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.

 

Omri. Even though Omri, King of Israel, is not mentioned often in the Bible, his name can be found in other sources. He and his son Ahab are mentioned in the famous stone of Moab, which was found in the 1800s. In addition, since the times of Omri, Israel was known by the name of Bit-Humri, or Omri’s room, which probably refers to the appreciation of Omri in other foreign kingdoms.

 

I am Mesha, the son of Chemosh (…) the king of Moab, Dibonite. (…) The king of Israel, Omri (…) oppressed Moab for a long time, because Chemosh had gotten angry with his country. And his son became the king instead of him and said, “I will oppress Moab (…)”

 

- (1 King 16:22,23) But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.

23  In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah.

 

- (Micah 6:16) For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and you walk in their counsels; that I should make you a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore you shall bear the reproach of my people.

 

Jehu. One of the many kings of Israel was Jehu. His name appears at least on the black obelisk of Shalmaneser lll that is preserved in the British Museum. Omri’s name is also mentioned on the same obelisk:

 

This is the tax of Jehu, who is the son of Omri. I got from him silver, gold, a gold bowl, a gold tankard, iron goblets, golden goblets, lead bars for the king's bed, and spears.

 

- (2 King 10:36) And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.

 

Jeroboam ll. The Old Testament mentions two kings called Jeroboam, the latter being Jeroboam ll. A seal was found in Megiddo bearing his name:

 

Shema, the servant of Jeroboam.

 

- (2 King 14:23) In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.

 

Manasseh. One of the worst kings of Judah was certainly Manasseh, until he repented during the latter part of his life. Of the kings of Assyria, both Esarhaddon (681 –669) and Assurbanipal (669–626) mentioned him in their documents.

 

- (2 King 21:9) But they listened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.

 

- (Jer 15:4) And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.

 

Pekah. Assyrian sources mentioned some of the kings of Judah and Israel, adding up to at least ten; one of them was Pekah. The following text is written about him and Hosea, Tiglath-Pileser:

 

Their king Pekah they had overthrown. I placed Hosea as their leader. From him I received ten talents of gold and a thousand talents of silver.

 

- (2 King 15:29-30)  In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.

30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.

 

Jehoiachin. One of the last kings of Judah was Jehoiachin, who had to surrender to the king of Babylon. It can be mentioned that in Babylon, near the gate of Ishtar, 300 cuneiform tablets were found where the name of Jehoiachin appears along with other imprisoned princes.

   Handles of ceramic pots have been found in Tell Beit Mirsim and Beet-Semes bearing the name of Jehoiachin. The inscription says:

 

This belongs to Eliakim, the housekeeper of Jehoiachin.

 

- (2 King 24:12) And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.

 

- (Jer 52:31) And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison.

 

- (Eze 1:2-3) In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,

3 The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there on him.

 

Daniel. One of the wisest people mentioned in the Bible is the prophet Daniel. He was a contemporary of the prophet Ezekiel, and the Book of Ezekiel speaks of his wisdom:

 

- (Dan 1:17) As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

 

- (Eze 28:3) Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from you

 

Sanballat, Tobiah and high priest Johanan were men who lived during the times of Nehemiah. Sanballat and Johanan are mentioned at least in the famous papyrus findings from the Island of Elefantine. In addition, Tobiah’s family grave was found in Jordan, in Araq El Emir near Amman. The first two were strongly against building the wall:

 

- (Neh 2:19) But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king?

 

- (Neh 12:23) The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.

 

Isaiah. One of the major prophets in the Old Testament is Isaiah. We see his name recorded in many other books of the Bible:

 

- (2 King 19:1-2) And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.

2 And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.

 

- (2 Chron 26:22) Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.

 

- (Isa 1:1) The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

 

 

 

6. John the Baptist and Jesus

  

JOHN THE BAPTIST. When we read the New Testament, the first person we meet is John the Baptist – the person who got his nickname "the Baptist" because he baptized people after they had repented and confessed their sins. He lived to prepare the way for the first coming of Jesus: "The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.  And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. (1 John 1:29-31)

   The name of John the Baptist has appeared in other sources. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote about him and described his baptism of people. He also wrote about John’s imprisonment and death. The information that Josephus brings out gives a similar picture of John the Baptist as that found in the Gospels:

 

Many Jews saw that God was behind the falling of the Herod’s groups: they thought that God punished Herod because of John the Baptist. Herod had executed him, even though he was a righteous man. John the Baptist had urged the Jews to live virtuously and to follow the righteous ways in their relationships with their neighbors. To obey God, they had to be baptized. In this sense baptism was pleasing to God. It is true that it only meant purifying the body and not reconciling the soul; the soul had been sanctified through righteous life. As people came from everywhere to him and received encouragement from his speech, Herod started to fear the effect of his kind of an influential man whose advice everyone wanted to follow. John could cause a rebellion. That is why Herod thought it would be better to eliminate a threatening danger so that he would not have to regret his hesitation later when matters had gone too far. Suspicious Herod arrested John and sent him to the Castle of Makairos, about which we talked earlier, and there he was executed. However, the Jews were convinced that the reason for his death was that the armies of Herod had incurred the anger of God.

 

Let’s look at several Bible verses that mention baptism by John the Baptist. These verses show how well baptism by John the Baptist was known in the society. They show that it is a matter of historical fact:

 

- (Mark 1:4-5) John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out to him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

 

- (John 1:24-28) And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said to him, Why baptize you then, if you be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s lace I am not worthy to unloose.

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

 

- (John 3:23-24) And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

 

- (Luke 7:29-30) And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.

30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

 

- (Matt 21:23-27) And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority do you these things? and who gave you this authority?

24 And Jesus answered and said to them, I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.

25 The baptism of John, from where was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say to us, Why did you not then believe him?

26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said to them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

 

- (Acts 1:5) For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

 

- (Acts 1:21-22) Why of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

22 Beginning from the baptism of John, to that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

 

- (Acts 10:37) That word, I say, you know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

 

- (Acts 13:24-25) When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think you that I am?  I am not he. But, behold, there comes one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

 

- (Acts 18:24-25) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

 

JESUS is clearly the central figure in the Gospels and letters of the New Testament. The four Gospels tell us about His life here on Earth, and the epistles describe the significance of His death and resurrection to disciples. We can truthfully say that if He had not lived on Earth, none of these would have been written.

   We can find evidence of the historical Jesus. This evidence was preserved by both followers and opponents. Early church fathers are only one source of evidence.

   Next, we will consider various sources that refer to Him as a historical person. They clearly show that Jesus really lived on this Earth:

 

The notes of Josephus. The Jewish historian Josephus mentioned Jesus. In his notes we find material about several people from the Bible: John the Baptist, Herod, Pilate, Cyrenius, Archelaus, and the clergy of Jerusalem. He also tells in some passages that the Sanhedrin was called together with the task of condemning “Jacob, the brother of Jesus, whom they call Christ”. He is referring to Jesus’ brother Jacob, the child of Mary and Joseph, who was one of "the pillars" of the congregation of Jerusalem. This man was condemned by the Sanhedrin because he followed Jesus Christ.

   Another longer statement about Jesus written by Josephus has been preserved. In it, he mentions that Pilate sentenced Jesus, and describes Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He mentions that Jesus taught and performed miracles. He also had followers:

 

In those days, there lived a man called Jesus, a man filled with wisdom, if He can be called man. He did some quite unbelievable things and was the teacher of all of those who gladly heard the truth. Many Jews and Greeks followed Him. He was the Christ. Provoked by our influential men, Pilate condemned Him to death on the cross. However, they who had loved him remained faithful to him. He actually appeared to them alive on the third day as the prophets sent by God prophesied about Him in thousands of marvelous prophecies. There is still a sect whose members have named themselves after him: Christians.

 

A Roman historian called Cornelius Tacitus is one of the people who mentioned the death of Jesus and also wrote about the fire of Rome in 64. He mentions in his writings that Jesus died on the cross – just as is described in the Gospels – during the reign of Caesar Tiberius (14–37 A.D.) when Pontius Pilate (26–36 A.D.) was a judge. He also points out that the Christian faith spread to Rome from Judea – where it started:

 

A popular belief is that Caesar Nero was the one who started the fire. To silence the rumor, he accused a sect called the Christians of this crime. They were commonly shunned because of their customs and services. The name had been given to them because of a certain Christ, whom the procurator Pontius Pilate condemned and nailed on the cross during the reign of Tiberius. This dangerous sect, whom I have described earlier, has not only been rooted in Judea from where it has come, but also in Rome where all frightening and shameful things gather and find their home.

 

Thallus, a Samaritan by birth, mentioned Jesus. He writes in his historical book dated approximately 52 A.D. that the darkness that fell at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus was caused by an eclipse of the Sun.

 

In the Talmud, we can find several passages that are consistent with the Gospels. We are told how Jesus was known by the name of Jesus the Nazarene; He said that He had not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it; He mocked the teachers who interpreted the law like Pharisees; His miracles were explained to be sorcery (this can also be found in the Gospels when the Pharisees accused Jesus) and it was also said that Jesus misled people; He was crucified on Easter Eve as an instigator of people; He had five disciples; the disciples preached the teachings of Jesus to others; His disciples healed the sick in His name but nobody could seek safety in them even when faced with death.

 

Roman Suetonius, who was a contemporary of the historian Tacitus, also refers to Jesus. In The Life of Caesar, he writes about Caesar Claudius (the Caesar in 41–54 A.D.) and Jesus. He, as Tacitus, says how the Christian faith had already reached Rome by then but that Claudius had banished the Jews because so many of them believed in Christ (compare Acts 18:2: “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them.…”):

 

Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome, since they had become a permanent source of disorder because of Christ.

 

Elsewhere in his book, Suetonius writes about the persecution of Christians by Caesar Nero (the Caesar during in 54–68 A.D.). He writes that in the ’50s and ’60s the message of Jesus was still quite new:

 

During his (Nero’s) reign, many malpractices were punished severely and banned, and as many new laws were regulated. (…) The targets of the punishment were Christians, people who belonged to the new and wicked cult.

 

Plinius Secundus, who is generally known as Plinius the Younger, a contemporary of Tacitus and Suetonius (61–120 A.D.), mentioned Jesus. In a letter to Caesar Trajanus he writes about Christians and their services:

 

They had a custom of assembling on a specific day before daybreak to sing praise to Christ, quite like to the king, and they swore that they would not join in any criminal activities, steal, rob, or commit adultery, neither would they betray anyone’s confidence or refuse to give money back to those who had entrusted it to their care. When they had done this, they broke up and later assembled again for a common meal, but the food was quite ordinary and harmless.

 

Plinius described the spreading of the Gospel in his long letter. He also notes the above-mentioned fact (cf. the notes of Tacitus and Suetonius regarding the same issue) of how the Gospel had spread to the kingdom of Rome:

 

The faith that spreads like an epidemic has spread to the towns and small villages, emptying the temples of idols.

 

One possible reference to Jesus is a letter written by Syrian Mara Ben-Serapion. It has been estimated that it was written a few years after the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.). In the beginning of this letter, he writes about the murders of Socrates and Pythagoras, and then about the king of the Jews and his death. The identity of this wise king is not mentioned, but Jesus could fit the description:

 

How did it benefit the Athenians to kill Socrates, especially as it was later revenged by famine and an epidemic? What good did it do the residents of Samos to burn Pythagoras at the stake, since it resulted in all of their country being covered in sand in a second? Or the Jews to kill their wise king since after that, they have been without a kingdom? God justly revenged the death of these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger, the people of Samos did not get help when the sea covered them, and the Jews were killed and driven away from their kingdom to live scattered around the world.

   Socrates is not dead, thanks to Plato; Pythagoras is not dead, thanks to the statue of Hera, and neither is the wise king, thanks to the new laws he gave. (16)

 

The fragment of Quadratus: As we continue to examine the writings about Jesus' life on Earth, let us consider a fragment of a message written by Quadratus, an influential person who lived in the beginning of the second century and prepared an apology for Caesar, writing about Christianity. He told Caeser about Jesus who had healed and raised people from the dead, some of whom were still alive:

 

The acts of our Savior were always there to be seen because they were real. There were people who were healed and people who had been risen from the dead. We not only saw how they were healed or raised from the dead, but they were always present when the Savior lived here on Earth, and also after He left. They lived on earth for a long time and a few of them are still alive these days.

 

The Apostolic Fathers who influenced events between 80- and 180 A.D., also mentioned Jesus. A letter from Clemens, the bishop of Rome, has been found. It was addressed to the Corinthians and dates back to 96 A.D.

   In the letter, Clemens refers to the resurrection of Jesus and says that it is something other people will also experience. He also writes about how Christ sent His apostles and how they preached the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Finally, he refers to the most important issue: Jesus dying for us.

 

Let us note, dearest brothers, how the Ruler continually shows us that the resurrection is a part of our future. The first fruit of this resurrection is that He has raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. (24:1)

 

God sent Christ and Christ sent the Apostles; both have taken place in good order by the will of God. 3. When the Apostles received their task, when they discovered the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and became stronger in faith in the word of God, they started to be filled with the Holy Spirit and preached the good news that the kingdom of God was at hand. 4. From country to country and from town to town they preached their message. (42:2-4)

 

In love the Ruler has taken charge of us. Jesus Christ, our Lord, was filled with love towards us, and for this reason He shed His blood for us by the will of God and gave His body for the sake of our bodies and in the same way He gave His soul for the sake of our souls. (49:6)

 

Ignatius, who was the bishop of Antioch and suffered a martyr’s death in 110 A.D., or just before that, wrote about the life of Jesus in many letters. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote that Jesus was born of Mary, suffered, was crucified, and was raised from the dead. These are all described in the Gospels and associated with the life of Jesus:

 

There is One who is Doctor, physical and spiritual, who had been born and unborn, God in flesh, real life that came to die, born both of Mary and of God, first under suffering, then outside of it, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (7:2)

 

If those, who did this faced physical death, how much more he who by a bad doctrine spoils the faith in God, the faith on whose behalf Jesus Christ was crucified. This kind of a person has become unclean and he will have to go to the inextinguishable fire and also those who hear him. (16:2)

 

If Jesus Christ due to your prayers deems me worthy and if it is the will of God, I will explain to you more accurately what I have begun, the dispensation of God, which is all about a new creation, Jesus Christ, faith in Him and love for Him, His suffering and resurrection. (20:1)

 

In his letter to Magnesias, Ignatius wrote more about how God had revealed Himself through Jesus, how Jesus pleased the one who sent Him, how He suffered and rose from the dead during the governorship of Pontius Pilate. References to Pontius Pilate and his governorship appear several times in Ignatius’ letters:

 

Also the prophets who were men of God lived according to Christ Jesus. For this reason, they were persecuted. In them was the spirit of His grace, so that they would completely convince the disobedient that there is only one God, He who has revealed himself through His son Jesus Christ, who is His word that has come from silence and has in all pleased the One who sent Him. (8:2)

 

Instead, I wish that you could be completely sure of the birth and suffering and resurrection that took place during the governorship of Pontius Pilate. This was all put into effect in real life and by Jesus Christ, our hope; if only none of you would turn away from Him. (11:1)

 

In his letter to the believers of Trallis, Ignatius again refers to how Jesus was the son of David, born of Mary, lived during the times of Pontius Pilate, and was raised from the dead. The Bible also speaks of this and the other issues mentioned above:

 

Be like deaf when someone speaks to you and does not know anything about Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, born of Mary, who really lived, ate, and drank, really met persecution during the time of Pontius Pilate, was really crucified and died in front of those who are in Heaven, on Earth and under the Earth, 2. From him, who also really was raised from the dead when his Father raised him; in the same way the Father in Christ Jesus will also raise us who believe in Him, and without Him we have no real life. (9:1, 2)

 

In his letter to the believers in Smyrna, Ignatius referred to many of the issues in the life of Jesus. He mentions how Jesus was born of the family of David and of a virgin, was baptized by John, suffered during the time of Pontius Pilate and Herod, was crucified, and rose from the dead:

 

Yet you are completely convinced that He was born of the family of David, the Son of God from the will and power of God, born of a virgin, baptized by John so that He would fulfill all righteousness. 2. He really suffered during the time of Pontius Pilate and tetrarch Herod, was nailed on the tree for us. His suffering before God by which we are born was so that He, through His resurrection, would raise His saints and believers, whether Jew or Gentile, to be the one and only body of His church.” (1:1, 2)

 

It is thus right to keep away from such ignorant people and not to talk about them privately or publicly, but instead hold onto the prophets and especially to the Gospel, in which the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus have clearly been presented to us. (7:2)

 

In his letter to Polycarpos, Ignatius mentions, among other things, how Jesus suffered for us and how He, before that suffering, became visible by taking the form of a man:

 

Wait for Him who is above time, timeless, invisible. He who for us has become visible, who cannot be touched, who is above suffering but has submitted to suffering for our sake and who has endured everything possible for our sake. (3:2)

 

Polycarpos, the bishop of Smyrna, is another Apostolic Father who wrote about Jesus. This bishop was a person who, in his youth, was a student of the Apostle John, and received the letter from Ignatius that was mentioned above. Polycarpos himself wrote in his letter to the Philippians that Jesus died for our sins, He was raised from the dead, we are saved through grace, the Gospel was given through the Apostles, and Jesus carried our sins so that we would have life in Him. It is typical for Polycarpos to use verses from the New Testament as parts of his letters:

 

In our Lord Jesus Christ, in Him, who showed perseverance and went to death for the sake of our sins. Him God raised and freed from the pains of Hades. 3. . In him you believe, even though you have not seen him, with an inexpressible and glorious joy, which many would like to have; you know, it is by grace you have been saved, not by your works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.” (1:2, 3)

 

We live before the eyes of the Lord and God, and we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and each of us will give an account of himself to God. 3. Let us serve Him with fear and timidity as He himself has commanded, in the same way that the Apostles, from whom we have received the Gospel, and the prophets who have preached the coming of our Lord. (6:2, 3)

 

Let us hold constantly and firmly to our hope and our seal of righteousness who is Christ Jesus, He who carried our sins in His own body on the tree, He who committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. He endured all for us, so that we would have life in Him. (8:1)

 

The letter of Barnabas that dates to the beginning of the second century also refers to Jesus. The letter mentions that the Lord was submitted to suffer for us, even though He is the Lord and Creator of the universe. This letter refers to prophecies about Jesus, how He became a man but destroyed death by His resurrection, and how He did great wonders and miraculous signs and showed His special love for Israel:

 

There is also the next point, my brothers. If the Lord was submitted to suffer for us, even though He is the Lord of the whole universe, and to whom God said in the foundation of the world, Let us make man in our image and likeness; how could He submit to suffer in the hands of people? Learn this. 6. The prophets received their gift from Him and they prophesied about Him. And when He had to appear in flesh to destroy death and give an example of the resurrection of the dead, He agreed to that. 7. He did it to fulfill the promise made to the fathers, but also to prepare people for Himself and to indicate while He was still on Earth that after His resurrection He would exercise judgment Himself. 8. He also preached through teaching Israel and performing wonders and miracles and showed a special love for Israel. (5:5-8)

 

A letter to Diognetos, whose writer is not known, refers to Jesus and the Apostles. It mentions the phrase "Word" that also appears in the Gospel of John. It also refers to how the Apostles preached about Him and also the pagans believed in Him:

 

Can anyone who has received the right kind of teaching and loves the word do anything else than try to learn what has been revealed to the disciples in the Word? After appearing, the Word revealed to them by teaching them publicly. The unbelievers did not understand Him, but to His disciples He explained everything. He found them reliable and revealed the secrets of His Father to them. 3. For this reason, the Father sent His Word to appear to the world. His people, however, did not receive Him. But the Apostles preached about Him and the pagans believed in Him. (11:2, 3)

 

THE DEATH OF JESUS

 

- (Matt 27:50-51) Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

 

When we consider the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can find one interesting verification in the old Jewish sources. These sources refer to something "special" taking place 40 years before the destruction of the temple (70 A.D.). It is widely thought that Jesus died in 30 A.D.

   Both Mishnah Sanhedrin and Avoda Zara tell of something "shocking" taking place 40 years before the destruction of the temple. Suddenly all of "the offerings have lost their meaning and the doors to the Most Holy have been opened". These signs indicate that something supernatural took place in the temple when Jesus died.

   We find another reference to this sudden event in the Talmud (Yoma 39: b). The account states that forty years before the destruction of the temple (in 70 A.D.) the ram no longer was supernatural because the woolen thread, which used to change from blood red to white - as a sign of forgiveness - no longer changed. It also mentions other supernatural signs, including "the doors of the Most Holy opening by themselves":

 

Forty years before the holy temple was destroyed, the following things took place: on the Day of Atonement, the ram stopped being supernatural; the red woolen yarn that normally changes into white continued to be red and did not change; and the candle of the candelabra on the west side of the sanctuary did not burn and the doors of the holy temple opened by themselves.

 

What these special signs meant was that Jesus brought a New Covenant and was an offering for us Himself. When He went to Heaven's Most Holy and before God’s eyes for us, earthly symbols were no longer needed. They lost their significance after His death and resurrection:

 

- (Hebr 9:24) For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

 

 

 

7. Peter and Paul

 

PETER OR CEPHAS. As we continue our study of people in the New Testament, we must mention Peter or Cephas, who was one of the original twelve Apostles. Evidently, Peter was the most talkative of the disciples. Some estimate that he spoke more than the other disciples put together. Either that, or more of his statements were recorded in the Gospels than those of other disciples. Of the Twelve, Peter was the one who delivered his first public sermon on the Day of Pentecost, which resulted in about 3,000 people turning to God.

   Evidence of Peter’s existence is found, in addition to the Bible, in other sources. One of the church fathers, Clemens, writes about him in his letter to the Corinthians in 96 A.D. Clemens mentions how Peter lived not so long ago, how he had to suffer because of the brethren's anger not only once or twice but several times, and finally refers to Peter going after his death to the place of honor, which had been prepared for him: 

 

But there are already enough examples from ancient times. Let us concern ourselves with those people who have lived not so long ago, and let us speak about the noble examples of our own generation. 2. Because of brotherly anger and envy, those greatest and most righteous people were persecuted and had to struggle until death. 3. Let us study the heroic Apostles. 4. Because of wrong brotherly anger, Peter had to suffer, not only once or twice but several times, and after giving his testimony, he went to the place of honor, which had been prepared for him. (5:1-4) 

 

Ignatius, who suffered a martyr’s death around 110 A.D., mentioned Peter in his letter to the Romans. In this letter, he also mentions Paul, and writes that they were both apostles:

 

I do not command you as Peter and Paul did. They were apostles, I am under judgement. They were free, I am still a slave. But if I can suffer, I will become freed by Jesus Christ, and I will rise from the dead free in Him. And now I, in chains, learn to give up all of my desires. (4:3)

 

 - (Luke 6:13-14) And when it was day, he called to him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

 

 - (John 1:42) And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

 

- (Acts 1:15) And in those days Peter stood up in the middle of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

 

- (1 Cor 3:21-22) Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s;

22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s;

 

- (Gal 1:18-19) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days.

19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

 

- (1 Peter 1:1) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

 

THE DEATH OF PETER. Peter's death was mentioned by Jesus, who said that Peter would experience the same kind of death as his Master: death at the hands of other people.

   An interesting statement was reportedly made by Bishop Ambrosius (350 A.D.), but we cannot verify it truthfulness. 

   According to the bishop’s account, Peter escaped from Rome so he could avoid a martyr’s death, because other devoted Christians asked him to do so.

   When he was walking away from Rome, he met Jesus on the Via Appia, and Peter asked Him, "Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered that, "he was going back to Rome to be crucified because Peter escaped it".

   It is said that Peter was so ashamed of being a coward that he returned to Rome. The result was that Peter was crucified there with his head downwards – at his own request. This was because he saw himself as too unworthy to be crucified in the same way as his Lord.  

 

- (John 21:18-19) Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you gird yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not.

19 This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, Follow me.

 

 - (2 Peter 1:13-15) Yes, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has showed me.

15 Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

 

PAUL – A PREACHER TO THE GENTILES. Paul was certainly the most goal-oriented and active of the Apostles described in the New Testament, based on his own words: "but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10). He devoted himself to his task and was the specially "chosen instrument" of God. His calling was to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, even though he also worked with his own people: 

 

- (Acts 9:15) But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

 

- (Acts 22:21) And he said to me, Depart: for I will send you far hence to the Gentiles. 

 

- (Gal 2:7-9) But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to me, as the gospel of the circumcision was to Peter;

8 (For he that worked effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.

 

- (Eph 3:8) To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

 

- (1 Tim 2:7)  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

 

Accounts of Paul’s life outside the New Testament are found among writings by the Apostolic Fathers. Clemens, the bishop of Rome, wrote about Paul in his letter to the Corinthians in 96 A.D. Clemens mentioned that Paul was a prisoner seven times, he was stoned, preached both in the east and west, and that he had also given his testimony before the rulers. Clemens wrote that Paul was the greatest example of endurance. This last statement is consistent with the life of Paul: he had to suffer a lot because of his faith (2 Cor 11:21-30 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. However, when ever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.  Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.  Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brothers; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which comes on me daily, the care of all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?  If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.): 

 

For the sake of brotherly anger and quarrel, Paul gained the prize by standing firm. 6. Seven times he was in prison, he was driven away from the country, and was stoned, but this is how he became a preacher both in the east and the west and earned the noble reputation that is connected to his faith. 7. And when he, after having taught righteousness all over the world, had come to the borders of the west and given his testimony before the rulers, he left this world and was taken to his holy place as the greatest example of perseverance. (5:5-7) 

 

Ignatius, a contemporary of Bishop Clemens of Rome, suffered a martyr’s death around 110 A.D. Ignatius wrote about Paul in a letter addressed to the Ephesians. He referred to Paul's letters, which the Ephesians would have known about because they received them: 

 

I know who I am and to whom I write. I am under judgment, while you have received mercy. I am in danger; you in none. 2. The road of those people who are taken to God goes past you. You have a share in the consecration with Paul, that holy man of whom there has been a good testimony, and who is called the blessed. If only I could be seen to follow in his footsteps as I get my share of God! He remembers you in Christ Jesus in all of his letters. (12:1,2) 

 

Polycarpos, who was a student of the Apostle John, mentioned Paul in his letter to the Philippians. He also raised an interesting point about how Paul had been among them earlier and written letters to them. This really happened, because Paul had contact with the Philippians and also the Ephesians and Corinthians (see the previous letters): 

 

Not I or anyone else like me can equal the blessed and honorable Paul in wisdom, Paul who personally lived among you and diligently and surely taught the word of truth to you. And when he was not with you, he wrote letters to you; if you study them well, you can grow in the faith that has been given to you. (3:2) 

 

The so-called “Acts of Paul and Tecla” is one of the Apocryphal texts from the second century that describes Paul's appearance. The source for this document cannot be verified, but it may be that its description of Paul is generally accurate. It was certainly true that Paul was full of mercy because he lived his life filled with the spirit of God: 

 

This man was small, bald at the top of his head, had twisted legs, but his body seemed to be in good condition; his eyebrows had grown together and he had a hooked nose. And he was full of mercy; sometimes he looked like a man, sometimes his face was like the face of an angel.”

 

THE LETTERS OF PAUL. Paul was diligent in everything he did, including in writing letters. He used to send them to congregations that were born out of his preaching so that he could guide them in the right direction. He asked that his letters be read and circulated among the believers in different congregations. In those times, his letters were regarded as “powerful and energetic," though in other ways Paul may have been underrated.

   Paul’s letters were obviously well-known at that time because Peter, even though he lived in Jerusalem, knew about them. He wrote that some of Paul’s letters “contain some things that are hard to understand, which unlearned and unstable people wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction:

 

- (2 Peter 3:15-16) And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you;

16 As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. 

 

- (1 Cor 5:9) I wrote to you in an letter not to company with fornicators:

 

- (2 Cor 10:9-10That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. 

 

- (Col 4:16) And when this letter is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that you likewise read the letter from Laodicea.

 

- (2 Thess 3:17) The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is the token in every letter: so I write.

 

In their writings the Apostolic Fathers also mentioned the letters of Paul. In 96 A.D., Bishop Clemens of Rome was one of those Apostolic Fathers. He mentioned Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (in the NT there are two letters that Paul wrote to the Corinthians). He warned the Corinthians about the same spirit of division that Paul had warned them about earlier (1 Cor 1:10-13: Now I beseech you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me of you, my brothers, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?): 

   Bishop Clemens wrote:

 

Take a look at the letter of the blessed apostle Paul. 2. What did he first write to you in the early days of the Gospel? 3. Led by the Spirit he wrote to you about himself, Cephas, and Apollos because you had already then been divided. 4. But the spirit of division led you to a smaller sin: you joined the Apostles about whom there was a good testimony, and a man whom they accepted. 5. But look at you now! Who is it that has tempted you into confusion and brought discredit to that noble mutual love of which you were famous? It is shameful, dearest brothers, very shameful, and it does not have any value in your lives as Christians when we hear that the firm and old congregation of Corinth is rebelling against the elders because of one or two people. (47:1-6) 

 

Ignatius was a contemporary of Bishop Clemens of Rome and suffered a martyr’s death around 110 A.D. Ignatius is one of the people who mentions Paul's letters. He writes about them in his letter to the Ephesians, with whom Paul was also in contact: 

 

The road of those people who are taken to God goes past you. You have a share in the consecration with Paul, that holy man of whom there has been a good testimony, and who is called the blessed. If only I could be seen to follow in his footsteps as I get my share of God! He remembers you in Christ Jesus in all of his letters. (12:2)

 

The letters of Paul were well-known and appreciated in those days, as we can see from the following comments of Polycarpos. He was the Apostle John's student and his letter was directed to the Philippians who knew Paul personally: 

 

Not I or anyone else like me can equal the blessed and honorable Paul in wisdom, Paul who personally lived among you and diligently and surely taught the word of truth to you. And when he was not with you, he wrote letters to you; if you study them well, you can grow in the faith, which has been given to you. (3:2) 

 

Or do we not know that the saints will judge the world as Paul teaches? 3. As for me, I have not noticed any such thing nor have I heard of you, among whom the blessed Paul has worked and whose name is in the beginning of one of his letters. He boasts about you in every congregation who then knew God; we had not yet known him. (11:2, 3) 

 

 

 

8. Other people in the New Testament

 

Herod. If we were to look for the cruellest people in the Bible and the New Testament, one good candidate would certainly be King Herod. Even though he built great architectural structures – among others the Temple of Jerusalem, the Castle of Antonia, the mountain Castle of Masada, and the city of Caesarea (well-known from the Acts) – he was also a very cruel ruler.

   His evil is evident in that he killed his wife, three sons and other relatives, in addition to many others. It is written that Caesar Augustus said that, "it is better to be Herod's pig (hys) than his son (hyios)". Augustus said this, because Herod did not eat pork.

   The historian Josephus also wrote about Herod’s corrupted character. He wrote that he was "the most cruel tyrant that ever ruled," and that he killed and molested his own citizens:

 

This was not a king but a most cruel tyrant that ever ruled. He killed a group of people, and the destiny of those who were still alive was so sad that the dead people could be called lucky. He not only tormented his citizens, but molested the whole country. To make foreign towns beautiful, he robbed from his own people and donated the spoils to foreign nations, all of which were paid with the blood of the Jews. As a result, the previous welfare and old valuable customs were replaced with total poverty and moral corruption of the nation. Because of Herod, the Jews have had to suffer more tribulations during a few years than their forefathers during the long period between the departure from Babylon and the homecoming during the times of Kserks.

 

- (Matt 2:13) And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be you there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

 

Nicodemus

 

- (John 3:1-3) There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

 

Nicodemus, to whom the previous verses refer and with whom Jesus talked about being born again, is mentioned also in the Talmud and the notes of Josephus as being a Pharisee who was also one of the leaders of the nation. These sources tell us that he was one of the wealthiest men in Jerusalem and was stingy with money. It is also known that his son Joseph was one of the defence leaders in Jerusalem and took part in the negotiations of surrender to Rome decades later.

 

Caiaphas and Annas. The historian Josephus and the Talmud paint a very bad picture of the high priest Caiaphas and his father-in-law Annas, who were Jesus' strong opponents. These sources describe the greediness of Annas and other clerical families and how they extorted money from other people. According to the Talmud, one of Annas' sins was "whispering", meaning that he manipulated the courts of law.

   We have historical support for the existence of Caiaphas. A bone coffin was found in Jerusalem containing the bones of a man who was about 60 years of age. On top of this beautifully decorated coffin there is carved the name "Caiaphas". A coin dated 41 / 42 A.D. was found in the same tomb. It is likely that this coffin belonged to the high priest Caiaphas who lived in the days of Jesus. The date would seem to fit.

 

- (Luke 3:2) Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

 

- (John 18:12-13) Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,

13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

 

- (Matt 26:3) Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, to the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

 

- (Acts 4:5-7) And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,

6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

7 And when they had set them in the middle, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have you done this?

 

Pilate

 

- (Luke 23:20, 23-24) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spoke again to them.

23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

 

- (Acts 3:13) The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Son Jesus; whom you delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

 

- (1 Tim 6:13) I give you charge in the sight of God, who vivifies all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

 

About Pilate to whom the verses above refer and who finally condemned Jesus to death, we can find many other accounts of this governor of Samaria, Judea, and Idumaea (in 26–36 A.D.).

   The historian called Josephus referred to Jesus and Pilate in the same writings as were mentioned above. He wrote:

 

In those times lived Jesus (…) Provoked by our influential men, Pilate condemned him to death on the cross, however.

 

The Roman historian Tacitus mentions both Jesus and Pilate in his Annals:

 

Their name came from someone called Christ, whom the procurator Pilate condemned and nailed on the cross during the reign of Tiberius.

 

Alexandrian Philo who lived in 25 B.C–50 A.D. wrote about the character of Pilate. He said that Pilate was cruel and hardhearted, and that despotism and unfairness ruled in his days:

 

He was cruel and his hard heart did not know mercy. During his reign, corruption and violence, robberies, oppression, despotism, executions without judicial questioning, and unlimited cruelty reigned in Judea.

 

Pilate’s name appears also in a paving flag. It has the names of Tiberius and Pilate (Luke 3:1). It was found in Caesarea in 1961 and is the dedication of a building, which was made in the honor of Caesar Tiberius. It says:

 

To the inhabitants of Caesarea, honoring Tiberius by Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea.

 

Simon Cyrene

                                     

- (Mark 15:21) And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

 

A man to whom only the Gospels briefly refer is Simon Cyrene. The Gospels tell us that he carried the cross of Jesus and was also the father of Alexander and Rufus.

   It is interesting that a tomb was found near Jerusalem with the following writing on it: "Alexander, the son of Simon – Alexander Cyrene.” It is possible that the person who had been in the tomb might have been the son of the same person who carried the cross of Jesus.

 

Barabbas

 

- (Matt 27:20-21) But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered and said to them, Whether of the two will you that I release to you? They said, Barabbas.

 

- (Acts 3:14) But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted to you

 

Another man to whom the New Testament only briefly refers is Barabbas. He was the man, actually the murderer, whom the people asked to be freed instead of Christ; an incident that is referred to in the Gospels and later in the speech Peter made to the people.

   Barabbas, however, was not just another thief or murderer. It seems that he was guilty of rebelling against the Roman administration to drive them away from the country. He had been imprisoned together with other rebels after having murdered someone (Mark 15:7: And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.).

 

The Caesars. The New Testament mentions the various Caesars who were in power during the events of the New Testament. Caesar Augustus is mentioned to have been in power in the times of Jesus' early childhood, and Tiberius was Caesar when John the Baptist and Jesus begun their mission. The Caesars also appear in incidents like the Pharisees asking Jesus whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not, or in how Paul appealed to Caesar to solve his case. These verses well describe the situation of the society and the greatness and power of Rome in those days.

 

-  (Luke 2:1) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

 

- (Luke 3:1) Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

 

- (Matt 22:17-22) Tell us therefore, What think you? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt you me, you hypocrites?

19 Show me the tribute money. And they brought to him a penny.

20 And he said to them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say to him, Caesar’s. Then said he to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.

22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.

 

- (John 19:15) But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him.  Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

 

- (Acts 25:9-12) But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Will you go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as you very well know.

11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.

12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Have you appealed to Caesar? to Caesar shall you go.

 

- (Phil 4:22) All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

 

Gamaliel

 

- (Acts 5:34-35, 38-39) Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

35 And said to them, You men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do as touching these men.

38 And now I say to you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nothing:

39 But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God.

 

- (Acts 22:1-3) Men, brothers, and fathers, hear you my defense which I make now to you.

2 (And when they heard that he spoke in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he said,)

3 I am truly a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as you all are this day.

 

The Acts mentions a person named Gamaliel who was a Pharisee and a well recognized teacher of the law.

   It is interesting to note that he is also mentioned in other sources; his teachings appear, among other places, in the writings of rabbis. For example, Pirket Avot (Pirket avot meforashim me-et Eliezer Levi 5:17, p. 90) includes a statement that resembles the words of Gamaliel in the Acts. It says:

 

Each party (Hebr. mahloket, “division” or “controversial question”) that has been founded in the name of God will continue to be; and if something has not been built in the name of God, it will not stay.

 

Also, the Talmud contains the following statement about Gamaliel's important status:

 

When the Rabban Gamaliel died, ended the respect of the law's cleanliness and holiness.

 

Barnabas is one of those believers who is mentioned in the Acts. He helped Paul in the beginning of his Christian life and worked with Paul among the congregation of Antioch. From Antioch, they were both sent "to do foreign mission work", to be apostles in other new areas.

   It is, however, peculiar that these two important apostles quarrelled over a small issue: should they take Mark with them or not. As a result, their ways parted. This shows us that they, too, were only imperfect people, even though God acted powerfully through them.

 

- (Acts 9:27) But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

 

- (1 Cor 9:6) Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

 

 - (Acts 15:2) When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.

 

- (Gal 2:1) Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

 

- (Acts 15:37-39) And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus;

 

John Mark. In the previous passage we mentioned that Paul did not want to take Mark with him because he had once left when things were not finished yet.

   Later, however, we read that Mark the cousin of Barnabas was working together with Paul. He is mentioned with others, including Luke, as his fellow worker.

 

- (Acts 13:13) Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

 

- (Acts 15:37-39) And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus;

 

- (Col 4:10) Aristarchus my fellow prisoner salutes you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom you received commandments: if he come to you, receive him;)

 

- (2 Tim 4:11) Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

 

- (Philemon 1:23-24) There salute you Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus;

24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow laborers.

 

Sergius Paulus

 

- (Acts 13:6-7) And when they had gone through the isle to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

 

Sergius Paulus was one of the people Paul met on one of his many mission journeys. He was a proconsul and had a great interest in the word of God.

   An inscription was found in Cyprus, near the old town of Paphos, which dates back to the times of Paul and it mentions a person who has the same name. The text reads, "during the proconsul Paulus". This person very probably is the same man as he who is mentioned in the Acts, Sergius Paulus, whom the Bible describes as a prudent man.

 

Gallio

 

- (Acts 18:12-16) And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

13 Saying, This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.

14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O you Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:

15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look you to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.

16 And he drove them from the judgment seat.

 

Another proconsul called Gallio is also mentioned in the Acts.

   A letter of Caesar Claudius (41–54 A.D.; Claudius is mentioned in the Acts 11:28 and 18:2) was found in the old Delphoi in Greece. This proves that Gallio must have been in Corinth around 51–52 A.D. The letter, carved into limestone, contains the following text:

 

Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend and the proconsul of Achaia...

 

Aquila and Priscilla. Some of Paul's fellow workers were also a married couple called Aquila and Priscilla. They were Jews like Paul, but they had to leave Rome because of Claudius’ command. This couple is mentioned in the letters of Paul several times:

 

- (Acts 18:18) And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brothers, and sailed there into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

 

- (Rom 16:3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

 

- (1 Cor 16:19) The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

 

- (2 Tim 4:19) Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

 

The high priest Ananias

 

- (Acts 23:1-5) And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brothers, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

3 Then said Paul to him, God shall smite you, you white washed wall: for sit you to judge me after the law, and command me to be smitten contrary to the law?

4 And they that stood by said, Revile you God’s high priest?

5 Then said Paul, I knew not, brothers, that he was the high priest: for it is written, You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.

 

The high priest Ananias was one of the corrupted high priests of those days.

   The historian Josephus referred to him several times, writing about his despotism and brutality. The Talmud also describes him as a glutton and a drunk, and mentions that he stole funds from the temple for his own use.

 

Felix

 

- (Acts 24:24-27) And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go your way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for you.

26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: why he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

 

The governor Felix was one of those who questioned Paul during his imprisonment. The historian Tacitus refers to him in his Annals (Xll.54.). Tacitus wrote about Felix:

 

He used the power of a king with the attitude of a slave.

 

Apollos was certainly one of the best preachers mentioned in the Bible, since he was "a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures." He often worked in the same places as the Apostle Paul, at least in the congregations of Corinth and Ephesus.

   In Corinth, however, there was some division of a kind that can still be found in today’s churches. The people had started to compare the servants of God to each other and rank them, resulting in different divided parties. Paul warned them against such behavior:

 

- (Acts 18:24) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

 

- (1 Cor 3:4-6) For while one said, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

 

- (1 Cor 16:12) As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come to you with the brothers: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

 

- (Tit 3:13) Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting to them.

 

Titus was one of Paul's fellow workers. He was a Greek by birth and is mentioned also in many of Paul's letters:

 

- (2 Cor 8:23) Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brothers be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

 

- (Gal 2:1) Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

 

- (2 Tim 4:10) For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

 

- (Tit 1:4) To Titus, my own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

 

 

 

9. Events, issues, and towns in the New Testament

 

The Pharisees and the Sadducees

 

- (Matt 22:15) Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

 

- (Matt 22:23) The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

 

- (Acts 23:6-10) But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

 

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were people who often tried to trap Jesus by his own words. They tried to find some "flaw" in what He said or did. The great Apostle Paul belonged to one of these groups: he was a Pharisee before he turned to God.

   These two groups have also been mentioned in other sources. The Jewish historian Josephus mentioned them when discussing resurrection and eternal life: "The Sadducees taught that the soul dies with the body." (Antiq.XVll, 1:4) – as found in the Bible verses above. Josephus also compared the differences between these two groups and wrote about their attitude towards the law:

 

The Pharisees passed many commands which they had inherited from their fathers, but which were not written in the law of Moses; and for that reason, the Sadducees refused to obey them, saying that they were only obligated to obey the written Torah (…) and for that reason there were many debates and disagreements between them.

 

The Talmud also explains that these two groups had different attitudes towards eternal life:

 

The Sadducees use gold and silver plates and say; “the Pharisees refuse this life (enjoyment), even though they won't get anything in the coming life (compensation)”.

 

On the mountain. Peter, James and John were with Jesus on a mountain when He was transfigured. This made such a great impression on Peter that he later mentioned it in his letter:

 

- (Matt 17:1,2,5) And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

5 While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.

 

- (2 Peter 1:17,18) For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

 

The temple. The disciples did not always understand the teachings of Jesus until after his resurrection. A good example of this is the incident when Jesus spoke about the raising of the temple in three days – referring to his own resurrection. Other people have also misunderstood this. This incident is described in the following verses:

 

- (John 2:18-22) Then answered the Jews and said to him, What sign show you to us, seeing that you do these things?

19 Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?

21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.

22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

 

- (Matt 26:59-61) Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

60 But found none: yes, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

 

- (Matt 27:40) And saying, You that destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself. If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

 

Taxing. According to Luke, there were several censuses during the Roman occupation. The first census took place during the reign of Caesar Augustus. We can also find a reference in the Acts to one census, and to Judas the Galilean who was some kind of a rebel. The historian Josephus refers to him (Antiq. XVll, 1.). He mentions in his writings the disturbance and rebellion caused by this person.

 

- (Luke 2:1-3) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

 

- (Acts 5:37) After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

 

The banishment from Rome

 

- (Acts 18:2) And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them.

 

In addition to the reference found in the Acts, a Roman called Suetonius referred to the banishment of Jews from Rome. He also mentioned Jesus:

 

Claudius banished the Jews from Rome because they had become a permanent source of confusion because of Christ.

 

Rome was the capital of the kingdom of Rome, and it is mentioned in the New Testament a couple of times. Paul being in Rome is described in Acts and in one letter:

 

- (John 11:47, 48) Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles.

48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

 

- (Acts 23:11) And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also at Rome.

 

- (Acts 28:16, 30, 31) And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
30 And Paul dwelled two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in to him,

31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

 

- (2 Tim 1:16, 17) The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:

17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.

 

Damascus. One of the places where Paul spent time after becoming a Christian was Damascus. The Acts and the letters of Paul mention it:

 

- (Acts 9:22-25) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelled at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

 

- (2 Cor 11:32, 33)  In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

 

- (Gal 1:17) Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

 

Antioch, Iconium and Lycaonia. Paul suffered all kinds of trials during his mission journeys, some of them in the towns of Antioch, Iconium and Lycaonia. These three towns are mentioned in Acts and in Paul’s letter to Timothy. The following verses together with the Acts support each other and prove that Paul really experienced these events:

 

- (Acts 13:14, 49-52) But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

 

- (Acts 14:1-6, 19-22) And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brothers.

3 Long time therefore stayed they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony to the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them spitefully, and to stone them,

6 They were ware of it, and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the region that lies round about:

19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

20 However,, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

 

- (2 Tim 3:10,11) But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience,

11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

 

Macedonia. The province of Macedonia was one of the places where Paul worked during his apostleship. He often writes about this province in his letters. These following verses indicate how Paul really was in this area:

 

- (Acts 19:21) After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

 

- (Rom 15:26) For it has pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

 

- (1 Cor 16:5) Now I will come to you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

 

- (2 Cor 8:1) Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

 

- (Phil 4:15) Now you Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but you only.

 

- (1 Thess 1:7,8) So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

                                                               

Ephesus was another place where the Apostle Paul preached. A great door for effective work was opened to him there, even though he also had many opponents:

 

- (Acts 19:1) And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

 

- (1 Cor 16:8, 9) But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.

9 For a great door and effectual is opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. Millar Burrows, What Mean These Stones? Bible Archaeology of Vos.

2. Same, p. 291-292

3. Keith N. Schoville, Biblical Archaeology in Focus (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1978, p. 156)

4. Dr. John Kitto in Encyclopedia of Biblical Literature, II, keyword "Sabbath", p. 655

5. E.V. Koskinen, Alusta loppuun, p. 12

6. Don Richardson, Iankaikkisuus heidän sydämissään (Eternity In Their Hearts), p. 52,53.

7. Same, p. 96.

8. Fr. Bettex, Raamatun ensimmäinen lehti, p. 5

9. Quote from Oliko vedenpaisumus ja Nooan arkki mahdollinen?, Toivo Seljavaara, p. 6,7.

10. Joseph P. Free, , Archaeology and Bible History, 12. p. 1973 – Quote from Voiko Raamattuun luottaa, Uuras Saarnivaara, p. 187.

11. Armas Salonen , Sumeri ja sen henkinen perintö (Keuruu 1962), p. 138,139.

12. Quote from Voiko Raamattuun luottaa, Uuras Saarnivaara, p. 229.

13. Quote from  Miksi uskon? (The Answer To Moscow’s Bible), Richard Wurmbrand, p. 54.

14. Arkeologia ja Raamattu, p. 102, published by Kirjatoimi and Kirjeopisto Codex.

15. Raymond Philip Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, 1929, p. 200.

16. Quote from Nasaretilaisen historia, edited by Risto Uro and Outi Lehtipuu.

 

 

SOURCES:

 

- Apostoliset Isät, (suomalainen teologinen kirjallisuusseura)

- Arkeologia ja Raamattu (published by Kirjatoimi and Kirjeopisto Codex.)

- Eskola Timo and Junkkaala Eero, Tyhjän haudan arvoitus

- Elämä maan päällä - kehityksen vai luomisen tulos, Jeh. Witnesses. (Life – How Did It Get Here? By Evolution Or By Creation?)

- Keller, Werner, Raamattu on oikeassa (Und Die Bibel Hat Doch Recht)

- Little, Paul, Tiedä miksi uskot (Know Why You Believe)

- Richardson, Don, Iankaikkisuus heidän sydämissään (Eternity In Their Hearts)

- Saarnivaara, Uuras, Voiko Raamattuun luottaa?

- Santala Risto, Kenenkä te sanotte minun olevan?

- Same, Kristinuskon juuret ll

- Same, Paavali ihmisenä ja opettajana

- Seljavaara, Toivo, Oliko vedenpaisumus ja Nooan arkki mahdollinen?

- Stewart, John: Mikä on Raamattu?

- Unger, Merrill, F., Raamatun lukijan käsikirja (The New Unger’s Bible Handbook)

- Uro, Risto and Outi Lehtipuu, Nasaretilaisen historia

- Wurmbrand, Richard, Miksi uskon? (The Answer To Moscow’s Bible)

 

 

 

More on this topic:

The early stages of mankind. The first 11 chapters of the Bible are real history. This includes creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the mixing of languages. Read here

The Flood. There is ample evidence for the historical nature of the Flood in nature and in human tradition. Read how much evidence there is

Can we trust in Criticism of the Bible? Bible criticism and liberal theology are contemporary phenomena. However, critics have a naturalistic preconception that is not based on science and facts

"The Bible isn’t historically reliable"

 

Josephus' book War of the Jews and biblical history. The same people and events mentioned on the pages of the Bible also appear in other sources. Read what the historian Josephus has written

 

Apocrypha of the Old Testament and the history of the Bible. The same persons and events mentioned on the pages of the Bible also appear in other sources, such as the Old Testament apocryphal books. Read more here

 

Evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. The only logical conclusion is to hold the resurrection of Jesus true. The birth of the early church and the early success of the Christian faith require it

 

Has there been an ice age? Ice age or ice ages. Read how there is no sensible theory for the origin of ice ages, and how signs in nature refer to the Flood, not ice ages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!

 

More on this topic:

The early stages of mankind. The first 11 chapters of the Bible are real history. This includes creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the mixing of languages. Read here

The Flood. There is ample evidence for the historical nature of the Flood in nature and in human tradition. Read how much evidence there is

Can we trust in Criticism of the Bible? Bible criticism and liberal theology are contemporary phenomena. However, critics have a naturalistic preconception that is not based on science and facts

"The Bible isn’t historically reliable"

 

Josephus' book War of the Jews and biblical history. The same people and events mentioned on the pages of the Bible also appear in other sources. Read what the historian Josephus has written

 

Apocrypha of the Old Testament and the history of the Bible. The same persons and events mentioned on the pages of the Bible also appear in other sources, such as the Old Testament apocryphal books. Read more here

 

Evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. The only logical conclusion is to hold the resurrection of Jesus true. The birth of the early church and the early success of the Christian faith require it

 

Has there been an ice age? Ice age or ice ages. Read how there is no sensible theory for the origin of ice ages, and how signs in nature refer to the Flood, not ice ages