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Author's Journal Transcripts for Bill Humble
Bible Archeology - Proofs From the Earth

 


Professor Bill Humble has traveled to the Holy Land numerous times over the past 30 years. He has visited many of the ancient sites that provide evidence of the accuracy of the Bible. He shares his insights with us in the KNLS series,  Bible ArcheologyóProofs from the Earth.

 

 


 

 

This stone carving depicts the Siege of Lachish. This section shows the city gate, with defenders throwing burning torches at the Assyrian battering ram. The relief was discovered in Sennacheribís palace in Nineveh.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Sennacheribís Relief

 

This is Bill Humble. Did you know that the Old Testament city of Lachish was besieged and destroyed by the Assyrians in 701 BC and that we actually have a picture of that siege? Let me tell you about it.

King Hezekiah reigned in Jerusalem c. 700 BC, and Lachish was the second most important city in his kingdom, second only to Jerusalem. But Lachish was doomed. In 701 BC Sennacherib and the Assyrians invaded Judah. They laid siege to Lachish and destroyed it. They moved on to Jerusalem but could not capture it. Sennacheribís own records claim only that he shut Hezekiah up in his royal city "like a bird in a cage."

When Sennacherib returned home to Nineveh in Assyria, he build a great new palace, and he celebrated his destruction of Lachish in that palace. His artists decorated one room with a relief carved in stone picturing the siege of Lachish. And when British archaeologists excavated Nineveh in the 19th century, they found that stone relief and carried it back to the British Museum where it is now on display.

The stone mural pictures the Assyrian army attacking the walls of Lachish. They have built a siege ramp at the Lachish city gate, and they have moved a battering ram up the ramp to attack the gate. Archers on the gate are shooting arrows at the Assyrians. And they are trying to set the battering ram on fire by throwing burning torches down on it. The Assyrians, in turn, use long-handled buckets to put out the torches.

After Lachish falls, the Assyrians execute some of the Israelite soldiers in very cruel ways. Some are flayed alive. Others, naked, are stuck on sharpened stakes and left to a slow death. The relief shows the survivors beginning their thousand-mile journey into Assyrian captivity. Two frightened little boys cling to their father. The Assyrians, in turn, are shown carrying away the gold and silver treasures they have captured. Sennacherib is pictured on his throne, and prisoners are prostrate before him begging for mercy. An inscription reads, " I am Sennacherib on my throne at Lachish."

I have seen this stone relief in the British Museum in London many times. It fills all four walls of a room about forty feet long. I have sat gazing at the picture and Iíve thought, how utterly remarkable to be able to read about the siege of Lachish in my Bible and then see this 2700-year-old picture of that siege. What an amazing example of the trustworthiness of my Bible.


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This is the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock, as seen from the Mount of Olives. The Dome was built by Muslims in 691 A.D. and is Islamís third holiest place. But 1700 years before the dome was built, Solomon built the first temple here.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

The Temple Mount

 

Did you know that when you visit the temple mount in Jerusalem, you are walking in the footsteps of Abraham and Solomon and Jesus? Let me tell you about it.

Today the beautiful Dome of the Rock stands on the temple mount in Jerusalem. The Dome is a Muslim building. The Muslims believe that Mohammed came to the temple mount and was caught up into heaven to meet Abraham and Moses and Jesus. So after the Muslim armies conquered Jerusalem in 638 A.D., they built the Dome and itís now the third holiest shrine in Islam. But 1700 years before the Dome was built, Solomon had built Godís temple on the temple mount. Solomonís temple was destroyed in 587 B.C., then rebuilt, and Herod the Great built a much larger temple in the years just before Jesus was born. So does the temple mount belong to Jews? Or to Muslims? Thatís one of the issues causing turmoil in the Middle East today.

But my interest lies elsewhereóin the Bible and the many men and women in Scripture who visited the temple mount across the ages. When God tested Abrahamís faith, he and Isaac went to "the land of Moriah," and it was probably on the temple mount, perhaps on the large flat rock inside the Dome, that Abraham proved his faith. Nearly a thousand years later, David bought Ornanís threshing floor, perhaps the same flat rock, as a site for Godís temple, and his son Solomon built the first temple. The temple was the center of Jewish life. David and Solomon were there. All the kings of Judah, like Josiah and Hezekiah, came to the temple, as did the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple. When they lost him at age 12, they found him in the temple. During his public ministry Jesus often taught in the temple. All of his apostles would have visited the temple.

I have taken many tour groups to the temple mount, and I have told themójust think of all people you read about in your Bible who have been here. Abraham and Isaac, David and Solomon, the kings of Judah, the Old Testament prophets, Joseph and Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Jesus, the twelve apostles, Paul and Titus and Timothy and Luke. We are walking in the footsteps of all those people. So for me, there is no place on earth where the Bible comes alive like it does on the temple mount in Jerusalem.


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This is a 1/50-scale model of Herod the Greatís temple, showing the massive retaining walls around the Temple Mount.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Herodís Temple

Did you know that when Jesus visited Jerusalem, the temple towered over the city and was one of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in the world? Let me tell you about it.

When Herod the Great became King of the Jews in 31 B.C., the temple had already been standing on Mt. Moriah, the temple mount, for a thousand years. Solomon had built the first temple about 1,000 B.C., and after it was destroyed, Zerubbabel built the second temple in 5l5 B.C. When Herod the Great came to the throne, he began work rebuilding the temple on a grand scale. Mount Moriah was not large enough for the temple he envisioned. So Herod enlarged the temple mount by building massive retaining walls around it and creating a great platform for his temple. This platform was about 1500 feet long, from north to south, and about a thousand feet wide.

The platform was surrounded on all four sides by colonnaded walkways, and much of it was an open area called the Court of the Gentiles. Gentiles were welcome to visit this area, but no further. A large wall enclosed the temple, and at each gate a sign warned all Gentiles not to enter on pain of death. There were three courts around the temple. The first was the Court of Women, and as the name suggests, Jewish women were allowed here. Next was the Court of Israel, where Jewish men came. And finally, the Court of the Priests where thousands of animals were sacrificed on the great altar.

The temple itself was as tall as a 15-story building. The doors were 60 feet tall. The temple was made of white marble, with some blue and brown marble, and around the top it was decorated with gold. Josephus, who saw the temple many times, said that it looked like a snowy mountain glittering in the sunshine. And the rabbis said, "If you have not seen the temple, you have not seen a beautiful building." When Jesus and his disciples visited the temple, they must have stood in awe at its beauty. But in Matt. 24, Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple, and this happened in 70 A.D. when the Romans under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.


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The Western Wall is one of the two retaining walls of Herodís temple. The two walls are all that remain of the temple after the Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D. This is the Jewsí holiest shrine. The Israelis opened the large plaza in front of the wall after they captured Old Jerusalem in the Six Days War in 1967. (Click photo to view a larger image)

The Western Wall

Letís go to the old city of Jerusalem and visit the Western Wall of the temple mount. For the Jews, itís a place of prayer and their holiest shrine.

When Herod the Great began rebuilding the temple in 20 B.C., Mount Moriah, the temple mount, was not big enough for the great building he envisioned, so Herod built massive retaining walls on all four sides of the temple mount to increase its size. The temple itself is gone, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., but the walls Herod built around the temple mount are still standing on the south and west. The Western Wall is the most important. Itís always been a holy place to Jews, but for hundreds of years, Muslims controlled that part of Jerusalem, and Jews were not allowed to visit the wall. That changed in the Six Days War in 1967. When the Israeli army captured old Jerusalem, they opened up a large plaza in front of the Western Wall. Long ago in Old Testament times, Jews came to pray here at the temple wall in Jerusalem, and now, itís once again a Jewish place of prayer. I have been to the wall on Pentecost, at four or five oíclock in the morning, and Iíve seen thirty or forty thousand people are praying at the wall.

That wall that Herod built along the western side of the temple mountain was about 1500 feet long, but less than half of it can be seen today. Arab buildings are located just north of the plaza where the Jews pray, and with the tensions in the Middle East, they canít be torn down. But in recent years the Israelis have dug a tunnel under those Arab buildings, and they have found that the western wall is still there. I have taken tour groups through that tunnel, and we have followed the western wall to the north end, where the Fortress Antonio stood in New Testament times. The lowest courses of stone are very large. The archaeologists found one stone that is 44 feet long and 11 feet tall, and estimated to weigh 625 tons. It was cut at a quarry a half-mile away and moved to its place in the wall. Iíve seen that huge stone and tried to imagine how the workmen could have moved it there 2000 years ago. No one knows.

When I have come to the western wall and prayed there, I come as a Christian. I go to the Father in the name of Christ, for I believe that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, and our Savior. But when I pray there, I am praying at the temple wall, where Jews have prayed for over 2,000 years. And I am standing where Jesus stood, praying where he once prayed. Itís a deeply moving experience.


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