Ahab Defeated – 2 Chronicles 18

Michelangelo's Asa-Jehoshaphat-Joram.jpg. The ...

Michelangelo’s Asa-Jehoshaphat-Joram.jpg. The man on the left is generally considered to be Jehoshaphat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jehoshaphat sought to make a marriage alliance with the northern king, Ahab. Ahab wanted Jehoshaphat to  bring his troops and fight against the Syrians at Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat wanted to inquire of the Lord first. So Ahab gathered 400 prophets who predicted success. But one named Micaiah (who Ahab despised) predicted otherwise. He said that his vision saw the Lord with His hose asking how best to entice Ahab to Ramoth-gilead so that he would fall. And it was decided to place a lying spirit in the tongues of all of his prophets.

The relating of this vision angered Ahab, and he had the prophet locked up. So Ahab and Jehoshaphat took their forces to Ramoth-gilead. There, Ahab told Jehoshaphat to remained dressed in his kingly robes, while Ahab would change into a disguise.. Jehoshaphat mysteriously seems gullible in agreeing to this – or did he just have that much faith in God?  The plan worked for Ahab, as the Syrians mistook Jehoshaphat for the northern king.

But Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord and he was protected. Ahab, however, was defeated and mortally wounded. He had his men take him out of the battle and they left him propped up in his chariot , facing the Syrians. He died that evening at sunset.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 


 

 

 

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Jehoshaphat! – 2 Chronicles 17

Statues of Josaphat and Ezechias on the Monast...

Statues of Josaphat and Ezechias on the Monastery of El Escorial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not many people know much about king Asa’s son Jehoshaphat, except that the name has been used in the phrase “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!” There is a lot of speculation about where that phrase came from, and if you query any search engine, you will come across some very entertaining attempts to explain it. None that I have seen seem very likely, though. It is just possible that it became popular because it is phonetically pleasing as a substitute for swearing.

As king, Jehoshaphat worked hard to strengthen Judah against the northern kingdom. He set garrisons and occupied cities all over, including some that his father had captured. Unlike his father, the Lord was with him, the scripture tells us in verse 3, and did not “seek the Baals.”  With God’s help, he grew strong in power and in riches.

verse 7 says that in the third year of his reign, he sent several men, including Obadiah, around to teach the Book of the Law in all the cities of Judah. Verse 10 says that all of the kingdoms around Judah feared them during his reign, and none of them bothered Judah. In fact, verse 11 says that the Philistines, of all people, “brought Jehoshaphat presents and silver for tribute, and the Arabians also brought him 7,700 rams and 7,700 goats.”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 


 

 

 

Azariah the Prophet Speaks to Asa – 2 Chronicles 8

English: Asa destroys the idols and forbids wo...

English: Asa destroys the idols and forbids worship in local shrines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spirit of God visited Azariah the prophet so that he would go talk to the newest king, Asa. He told hi how that God would be with him as long as he was with God. But if he forsakes the Lord, God will forsake him. As soon as Asa heard this prophecy, he got rid of the idols from Judah and Benjamin, as well as from the cities that he had taken.

And he gathered the people of Judah and Benjamin together and related these things, no doubt making clear to them that things would be different now concerning God. And many others who learned that the Lord was with him, came to live under his rule as well. Asa even removed his own mother, Maacah from being queen accuse she had made an idol to Ashera. He crushed and burned her idol as well.

He did not take away the high places, however. But verse 17 says: “Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days.” He showed God respect, and he brought sacred gifts into the House of God,. As a result of Asa’s actions, there was no more war until the 35th year of his reign.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 


 

 

 

Asa Reigns as King – 2 Chronicles 14

English: Asa of Judah was the third king of th...

English: Asa of Judah was the third king of the Kingdom of Judah and the fifth king of the House of David. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having just assumed the throne in Chapter 13, Abijah is laid to rest at the start of chapter 14. It is longer, however, than the account of his reign in 1 Kings 15, which does at least note the war. His son, Asa, takes over; and the text tells us that the land had “rest” for ten years. One reason for that was undoubtedly because verse two says that he “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” He took away the foreign altars, got rid of the Asherim, and commanded Judah to keep God’s commandments.

Asa built fortified cities and towers and walls, and also built up a strong army – 300, 000 might men of Judah and 280,000 from Benjamin. There was peace until Zerah the Ethiopian came up against him with a million men and 300 chariots. verse 9 says they came as far as Mareshah, which had been one of Rehoboam’s fortified cities. Asa went out to meet him and prayed to the Lord with both pleading and praise. So, verse 12 says, the Lord defeated Zerah and his forces. Asa and his men pursued those who fled, and none were left alive.

Asa and the men of Judah took much spoil, the text says, from both the Ethiopians and the cities they attacked near Gerar, before returning to Jerusalem.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 


 

 

Finding Sodom and Gomorrah

Henry Ossawa Tanner: Destruction of Sodom and ...

Henry Ossawa Tanner: Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (1929) (Photo credit: freeparking :-|)

We read the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, when God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” In verses 20-22, Lot requested to go to Zoar, calling it “a little one.” In fact, the city’s name was derived from that Hebrew word meaning “small.” The five cities that are referred to as the “cities of the plain” are Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela (Bela being another name for Zoar). It has long been thought that these cities were located in the plain south of the Dead Sea.

This region contains  underground deposits of bitumen. Bitumen is a petroleum-based material that is highly concentrated with sulfur. The area was studied by geologist Frederick G. Clapp, who came there in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. His findings led him to the theory that tremendous pressure from an earthquake could have forced bitumen out of the ground through a fault line that has been found to exist there. Any sort of spark, surface fire, or lightning could then have ignited the gas-filled mixture, which would then fall to the earth in burning masses that would indeed cause much destruction.

A clay tablet found at Ebla, Syria

A clay tablet found at Ebla, Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1975, cuneiform clay tablets were found in Syria at Tell Mardikh (formerly ancient Ebla), one of which was a geographical atlas. In addition to confirming the location, at least two of the cities of the plain are mentioned by name in that atlas – Sodom and Admah.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, excavations in the area of the Dead Sea revealed much more.

Though secular cynics are naturally not in full agreement with the analysis, archaeologist Dr. Bryant G. Wood and his party located city gates, and a cemetery-like building with structures that had all been burned and destroyed. They found crushed graves, towers, a temple, the water supply, and thick city walls. Dr. Wood identified the remains as Sodom and Gomorrah. Geologist Dr. Steve Austin studied the geological evidence, including the fault zone, the burn layer, and the bitumen evidence, confirming Dr. Wood’s findings. Today, the names of the locations of the two main cities of the Bible are Bab edh-Dhra, which is believed to be Sodom, and Numeira, which is believed to be Gomorrah.

For a much better account of these findings, please see these two articles at “Associates For Biblical Research”: “Sodom and Gomorrah: Is There Evidence for Their Destruction?” and “The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah“.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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The Great Commitment

 

Creator of Abor Day, Julius Sterling Morton in...

Creator of Abor Day, Julius Sterling Morton in 1858. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last two verses of Luke chapter 14, Jesus talks about salt that has lost its flavor. Numerous explanations have been given us for how salt can lose its flavor, and some sound pretty close to accurate, while others do not (IMHO). So I am going to offer my own. Julius Sterling Morton was a philanthropist and early settler of Nebraska. Deciding that it was much too flat, he began the business of planting enormous amounts of trees there. He eventually created a 400 acre arboretum, which has grown into a 1700 acre wonder of living trees, bushes, etc. Grover Cleveland made him the 3rd U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and a notable addition to his accomplishments was the founding of Arbor Day.

In 1911, one of his sons, Joy Morton, turned the business he had bought into the incorporated Morton Salt Company. The slogan “when it rains, it pours” was adapted from an old proverb. The little girl holding the umbrella in the rain was created with the slogan. The company had begun adding magnesium chloride to prevent caking when it became humid. It worked very well, but in a shaker you will still sometimes see that people have put a few grains of rice in to absorb moisture and prevent clumping, as it is out of the box and it sits for a long time.

The salt we buy these days with that little girl and the umbrella (or a more generic brand, if you prefer) can be bought for about 50 cents a box today. It is refined salt, which removes many natural minerals, and various companies add different chemicals for various reasons. But the salt that was around in Jesus’ day was unrefined salt – just the way God made it. You can buy unrefined salt today, but the same amount of unrefined salt as what you get in that round box will set you back anywhere from $6 -$15. But many of us believe it is much healthier for you.

Salt farmers harvesting salt, Pak Thale, Ban L...

Salt farmers harvesting salt, Pak Thale, Ban Laem, Phetchaburi, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This unrefined salt contains many minerals (some would call “impurities,” which is a bogus assessment). In those times, if the salt became moist and started to dissolve over a long period of time, it would eventually become bland in taste, as the ratio of sodium chloride to mineral content began to become smaller.

So what has that to do with us? The context in which Jesus was talking about this was all about “counting the cost” of what it takes before becoming a Christian. And in these last two verses, he said “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away.”

When we first become Christians – assuming we are truly committed – we are full of zeal and enthusiasm. But as time goes by and the cares of this life begin taking their toll, some of that zeal and enthusiasm can easily be lost. It is easy for us to begin the race and then slow down over time – or even veer off the path. If we are not careful, we can lose our way, and our faith can become in vain – useless to anyone who might otherwise be positively influenced by our example.

The best way to keep the “moisture” of life’s troubles and temptations from leaching away our “saltiness” is by keeping the light of God’s word in our lives and nurturing our relationships and love with other Christians. We need a daily dose of reading God’s word, and fellowship that not only gives us encouragement, but also accountability.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Digging Up the Past – The House of David

We’ve written recently of some glaring examples of the secular world being so desperate to prove the Bible wrong that non-believing scholars often stick their feet in their mouths about the Bible’s historical accuracy. This post about the Hittites, and this one about the “camel fallacy” demonstrate this quite well. The March/April 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review proclaimed that “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” This is fascinating reading, and it is especially satisfying that before the evidences were found, several of these real people were claimed by skeptics to have been merely mythological.

One such person was King David himself. Now don’t get us wrong. The evidence for a Davidic empire is not so overwhelming that all skeptics concede the point (it is the opinion of this blogger that some of those could not ever be given enough evidence to do so). But if this evidence was related to a historical king that was not written about in the bible, we would wager that there would be no doubters. The issue is presupposition – pure and simple.

The Tel Dan Stele resides in the Israel Museum

The Tel Dan Stele resides in the Israel Museum

Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran began digging at Tel Dan in Israel in 1966. From 1993 – 1994, after nearly 30 years of excavations, his expedition uncovered a basalt (an igneous rock) stone with an inscription in Aramaic.  It has been dated to about the mid-800’s B.C. The inscription described military victories by an Aramaean king (almost certainly Hazael of Damascus). In the inscription, the king bragged about killing the king of Israel (Joram) and the king of Judah (Ahaziah) in one of his campaigns. Later, once the occupying forces were finally defeated at Dan, they broke the stone up and used the pieces in construction of their city gate; and this is how the expedition found it in the dig.

In 2 Kings 9, it was actually Jehu that assassinated these two kings. But the text does detail Hazael’s extensive fighting against both kings (2 Kings 9:14-16). It is not surprising that Hazael would erect this inscribed stone in Dan, which he occupied, taking credit for these assassinations in order to show his “bright feathers” for all men there to see. Though Jehu did the assassinations, Hazael was nonetheless responsible for the demise of their reigns in every other respect. More than one biblical passage make that clear, including 2 Chronicles 22:1-9, and 2 Kins 8:7-15, and 28. And in 1 Kings 19:15-17, God told Elisha:

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.”

Mesha Stele: stele of Mesha, king of Moab, rec...

Mesha Stele: stele of Mesha, king of Moab, recording his victories against the Kingdom of Israel. Basalt, ca. 800 BC. From Dhiban, now in Jordan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A huge significance of the find in this dig is that the inscription refers to the kingdom of Judah as the “House of David.” It is the earliest known reference to it outside the Bible. A few naysayers, of course, say that all it proves is that there was a tribe of Israel and that they had a leader named David at one time. But they come off like whiny children who just cannot stand not getting their way. It is highly unlikely that this Aramaean king would be so proud as to erect this monument to boast about defeating relatives of a small tribal sheep-herder.

But there is more. The Moabite Stone or “Mesha Stele,” first discovered in 1868 contains the words “House of David” in the Moabite language, meaning that he was the beginning ruler of the dynasty. It is a ninth century B.C. inscription that the Moabite king Mesha had erected as bragging rights for his victory over the king of Israel and his accompanying armies. Though his boasting differs greatly from what the Bible tells us in 2 Kings 3, it is nonetheless important for several reasons beyond the confirmation it gives us from the “house of David” reference.

The Stele (now housed in the Louvre in France) also confirms by name two other kings written about by scripture (Mesha himself, and King Omri of Israel), the tribute extracted from the Moabites by Israel, and the tribe of Gad. It is also the oldest secular evidence we have of the Tetragrammaton YHWH (Yahweh) as the name that God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14. But it also was the best confirmation at the time of the existence of Moab itself – yet another factual place that skeptics had long doubted.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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King David’s Favor With God (1 Chronicles 17-18)

English: Nathan advises King David

English: Nathan advises King David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was important for the chronicler to communicate well the events of I Chronicles 17 to the post-exilic Jews because it contains the covenant of God with David. Covered first in 2 Samuel 7, it begins with David wanting to build God a house. But God tells Nathan the prophet to let David know that it would not be him that builds such a house. Instead, God promises that He would build David’s “house” – that David’s offspring (Jesus) would reign forever.

In answer to God’s covenant, David makes a prayer to God (verses 16-27). It is one of the longest prayers in the bible, and incredibly humble and heartfelt. It begins with “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” They are words that each of us should ask God in prayer as well. The blessings that He has given us and the promises He has made to us are no less magnificent and undeserved that those made to David.

Hama

Hama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter 18 contains some stunning military victories, some of which were reported in 2 Samuel 8. Here, David defeats the Philistines, and also takes Gath. The Moabites are defeated and become servants to David. He also “defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah-Hamath, as he went to set up his monument at the river Euphrates.” The plunder he took from the cities of Hadadezer included 1,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers, and shields made of gold.

In addition, verse 9 tells us that Tou king of Hamath was so pleased when he heard of the defeat of Hadadezer that he sent his son with gifts of gold, silver and bronze that Solomon would later use in building the pillars and the sea, and the bronze vessels for the temple.  Hamath is associated with modern Hama, which is located on the Orontes River in western Syria. There is an article with a picture there of a noria (a machine for lifting water into an aqueduct) at this link to Ferrell’s Travel Blog. We also recommend this article at BiblePlaces.com and this one at BiblicalArcheology.org for information on discoveries related to Tou (also called Toi and possibly Taita).

The victories continue against the Syrians and 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. And the text says that God gave victory to him wherever he went. Verses 14-17 detail how just and fair David was as a ruler, and how stable and well-organized his administration was. Joab was established as military commander, and “Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests; and Shavsha was secretary; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were the chief officials in the service of the king.”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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It’s the Camel Fallacy (Again!)

If one has studied apologetics for a considerable length of time, the recent news stories about the camel bones proving the Bible wrong might very well lead one to react by saying “again? seriously?” The whole thing has been answered quite thoroughly many times already. And not so surprising is the glaring fact that only when disputing the Bible would a conclusion based upon a logical fallacy be so widely reported in the media.

Camel_220214In case you haven’t seen any of the stories, here is a brief summary. The Bible first begins to mention camels as domesticated (in the sense of someone possessing them, rather than simply being in the wild) in Genesis 12:16. Abram and Sarai have come to Egypt, and it is Pharoah that has them, among his other livestock. But we find Abraham himself, Isaac, and Jacob all in possession of the humped animal as well; and the time period is generally accepted as being from 2000 – 1500 BCE.

The source of the dispute is the fact that researchers from Tel Aviv University have studied the bones of camels found at the site of ancient copper mines near the Dead Sea. Through radiocarbon dating, they have determined that the camels were used in those operations around the end of the 10th century BCE. In fairness to these learned researchers, it should be pointed out that (despite what the news stories say) these researchers only wrote one thing in their report that is related to the “patriarchal narrative” (that would be the word of God, folks):

“This together with the depiction of camels in the Patriarchal narrative, has generated extensive discussion regarding the date of the earliest domestic camel in the southern Levant.”

This seal shows a divine couple sitting on the two humps of a Bactrian camel, one of the earliest images of this animal. Above them hovers a winged rosette, which is a protective emblem. A smaller figure holding a bow stands on the head and neck of the camel. A winged female deity, stands off to the side, facing a contest between a man and a beast. The surrounding space is filled with a variety of animals, including a lion, scorpion, bull, and gazelle. 1800-1650 BC (Syria II-III)

This seal shows a divine couple sitting on the two humps of a Bactrian camel, one of the earliest images of this animal. Above them hovers a winged rosette, which is a protective emblem. A smaller figure holding a bow stands on the head and neck of the camel. A winged female deity, stands off to the side, facing a contest between a man and a beast. The surrounding space is filled with a variety of animals, including a lion, scorpion, bull, and gazelle. 1800-1650 BC (Syria II-III)

That’s it. All of the other titles in articles (some we list below) contain things that these researchers did not say. Okay, so now that we have covered that, what is the big deal? Well, since no bones of camels have been found in Israel at sites known to be older than that date, that has led others to the conclusion that there were no domesticated camels in Israel prior to the 10th century BCE. This would mean that the writers of the Old Testament books had to have just inserted camels into the narrative mistakenly because they didn’t exist there at the time they were writing about.

The headlines of the fore-mentioned news stories range from simply misleading and erroneous to downright irresponsible, outlandish, and even insulting. The Huffington Post’s headline reads “Major Discrepancy in the Bible.” The New York Times article proclaims “Camels Had No Business in Genesis,” and writes: “These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history.” The “Fashion Times” article headlines the “trending news” “Historical ERROR in Bible’s Old Testament, REVEALED.” We’re still mystified as to what camels and the Bible (error or no error) could possibly have to do with the world of fashion, but we digress.

The logical fallacy here is one known by several names:  “argumentum ad ignorantiam,” “appeal to ignorance” or “absence of eveidence.” One common comment about this is that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” This is certtainly true. But in Todd Bolen’s article at BiblePlaces.com (“The Domestication of the Camel: Observations from Heide”), he quotes the following – more aptly put:

A camel in the Haran area, Turkey, known as Charran in ancient Mesopotamia.

A camel in the Haran area, Turkey, known as Charran in ancient Mesopotamia.

“Proving that something did not exist at some time and place in the past is every archaeologist’s nightmare because proof of its existence may, despite all claims to the contrary, be unearthed at some future date.” (p. 337, Heide, Martin, 2011 “The Domestication of the Camel: Biological, Archaeological and Inscriptional Evidence from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel and Arabia, and Literary Evidence from the Hebrew Bible”).

We recently underscored that point when we wrote in this previous post about the fact that skeptics claimed for a very long time that the Hittites were a figment of the Bible writers’ imaginations because no evidence had ever been found of their existence. That is, not until such evidence was found. Then it was discovered that they were a vast empire that dated back to the 14th century BCE.

We could easily be persuaded to believe that the camel was not widely used for domestic purposes by the common people until after the 10th century BCE in Israel, which would be one possible explanation of why a plethora of camel bones from earlier periods has not been found. We should remember that Pharaoh and yes, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been men of considerable wealth (Genesis 13:2, Genesis 26:12-13, Genesis 30:42-43). Many have suggested that Abraham brought his camels from Egypt, and that is certainly possible. But we should also remember that he had been in Mesopotamia – Haran (Genesis 12:4), and Mesopotamia’s ancient domestication of camels is just as well-documented.

So these wild leaps of unwarranted conclusions give skeptics and scoffers fodder to fan the flames of their frivolous fancies. And we find the unbelievers saying “well of course,  the Bible is not an accurate historical record” (a statement already proven time and again to be so absurd that it hardly deserves comment). And many of those who know that the Bible is the word of God – just wait for the truth. And if perchance convincing physical evidence is found in our lifetimes that categorically dates camel bones in Israel much earlier, you can be sure that the news will be relegated to a small blurb in a very inconspicuous place in most publications.

As for us, we know that Proverbs 30:5 is right: “Every word of God proves true.”

If you want to read the truth about what we know outside of the Bible concerning this subject, we suggest the following articles as examples:

“Abraham’s Camels” – ApologeticsPress.org
“The Annual Camels-Disprove-the-Bible Story” – Todd Bolen, BiblePlaces.com
“The Latest Challenge to the Bible’s Accuracy: Abraham’s Anachronistic Camels?”- ChristianityToday.com
“Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai” – BibleArcheology.org
“The Domestication of the Camel: Biological, Archaeological and Inscriptional Evidence from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel and Arabia, and Literary Evidence from the Hebrew Bible” – Martin Heide

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Faith Based on Reason – Hittite Accuracy

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6

As someone who has spent a substantial number of hours studying in the area of apologetics, the lack of respect by some people for the Bible as a historical source is a source of some irritation for me. Take the Apostle Paul, for example. A question I read recently about evidence for the existence of the man who wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament, was answered by citing Clement of Rome’s letter to the church in Corinth in 95 C.E.  and Iraneus’s “Against Heresies” (written about 175 – 185 C.E.), among others. And yes, these are excellent secular examples of confirmation of what any Biblical scholar already knows about Paul. But personally, I prefer to refer to Luke’s account of his conversion, missionary journeys, etc. in the Book of Acts, or to Peter’s reference to him in 2 Peter 3:14-16.

Archaeologist Prof. Nelson Glueck in Israel, 1956

Archaeologist Prof. Nelson Glueck in Israel, 1956 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seriously, I do understand the desire to find extra-biblical sources that confirm what is written in the Bible. It is comforting for the believer, and can be used as a tool in apologetics – if used correctly. But as Christians, we can be confident in what is written in the bible. We fully stand behind the famous words of one of the greatest archaeologists of the twentieth century, Nelson Glueck. In his book entitled “Rivers In the Desert: A History of the Negev,” he wrote “it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible’s almost incredibly correct historical memory”(p. 31).

In fact, the Bible is so reliable historically that any reference to an event, place, or date in the Bible that can be checked for accuracy in modern times has always ultimately stood the test. And you had better believe that many have tried very hard to disprove any part of it that they can. If it were just a matter of a few instances of proven facts, they could be explained away as simply some correct details being inserted into an otherwise flawed literary work. But when one begins to string hundreds of such instances together, the overwhelming weight of such evidence makes the divinely inspired nature of the Bible quite obvious.

For the rest of our time here, let us examine just one such instance. The Bible mentions the Hittite people over and over again in the Old Testament. They are first mentioned in Genesis 15:20 and can be found in all five of the Books of Law, and throughout the Books of History (for example, 2 Kings 7:6). But as recently as the 1800’s, skeptics claimed that the Hittites were a purely fictional product of the Bible because no secular evidence had ever been found that they even existed.

English: An ancient Hittite rhyton on display ...

English: An ancient Hittite rhyton on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then in 1882, Archibald Henry Sayce, a British philologist (the study of language in written historical sources), announced in a lecture to the Biblical Archaeology Society in London that not only had the Hittites existed, but that they could be described as the people of a lost empire. He believed that Boğazkale, a province of the Black Sea region of Turkey, was the capital of this empire. In 1906, Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist and historian, excavated Boğazkale along with Ottoman Greek archaeologist Theodore Makridi Bey for 6 years, proving that the city was indeed part of a once great empire. Among the finds there, were more than 10,000 clay tablets, written in the Hittite language, that once deciphered, allowed them to begin dating the Hittites back to the 14th century B.C.

Again, this is but one example of such confirmation (and yes, vindication) of Biblical historicity. But it serves very well to emphasize the point made by the Apostle Peter as he quoted Isaiah 40:8 in 1 Peter 1:24-25: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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