Dakotas Christian Believers Arena
Come on in and browse 
   Home      Archaeology
 
 
{There are 16 articles on this page}
 
Even the prettiest little towns disappear over time and soon nothing is left of their memory except what is dug up by those professionals who have made investigating the past their life's work.  Unfortunately, not all who investigate are believers in Jesus and we have to sift through their work to find the nuggets of gold to help our spiritual lives.

There are many who say they are Christians yet the preach a different message than what is found in the Bible and we must be careful not to listen to their re-writing of history but ask God to lead us through their words till we can see where they erred and avoid the same mistakes.

One of the favorite strategies these people use is denial, if there is no evidence they say then the event or kingdom did not take place as recorded in the scriptures Yet K.A.Kitchen coined and made famous the phrase 'absence of evidence is not evidence for absence' and the truth of these words is borne out by the example of the Hittite Empire, long thought mythological until evidence was discovered in the late 19th century to verify the Biblical record and show the world such an empire did exist.

We cannot let non-believers, their conclusions or theories guide our thoughts and sermons but we must remain steadfast in our faith that though there is no physical evidence to prove the Bible true, we still hold to its words by faith and regardless of what the non-believer does, we stand with the Bible.

The Bible is the only real eye-witness we have of all the events described in its pages and we must remember that God will not provide or allow physical evidence to be discovered that will destroy faith but only enough which will strengthen our faith in Him and His work. We do not really need physical evidence to believe but we do need some to defend what we believe, if only to demonstrate that faith is real and grounded in truth not theories or fiction.

Here are some links to help find that physical evidence to make our position stronger: 

http://www.bibleinterp.com/ ; http://www.biblicalarcheology.net/    

http://www.bibarch.com/ ; http://www.harkarkom.com/

http://www.christiananswers.net/archaeology/home.html#general

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/ ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_archaeological_periods_%28Levant%29

http://megiddo.tau.ac.il/sciencearticle.html

http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Steiner-10th-9th_Century_1.htm

http://www.mega.nu/ampp/eden/roots.html

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1457410/posts

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/14/healthscience/snedom.php

http://www.imja.com/Archeology.html

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=789534

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1162378414035&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

http://www.stanford.edu/~meehan/donnellyr/summary.html

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23651

http://s8int.com/water1.html

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467792041&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

http://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa080700a.htm

 

Were the Ancients Different From Modern People?

One of the things that has always bothered me with archaeological theories, conclusions and archaeologists themselves is the trend to label every unknown structure a temple or a holy site and every artifact as worship tool or god.  These conclusions make it seem that the ancient world only had time to sleep and pray and only worked when the king felt like building something.

Anyone can look around their house and see objects they have purchased or have been given and think that in a thousand years (if the world survives that long) archaeologists will think that our modern age homes were filled with religious artifacts.  This mistaken identity leads to mistaken ideas about the past civilizations and provide the people with false pictures of what went on 2-7,000 years ago.

Why can't some structures be sports arenas, restaurants, and little shops and so on?  Why must they almost always conclude that these non-houses were always a place of religious ceremony?  One thought is that, similar to TV. and the movies where sex sells, the archaeological world has found that religion sells and thus must make every interpretation fit that idea to keep the interest and funding continuing.

I disagree heartedly with this trend and with the idea that the ancients were oppressed to the point that they could not move unless they bowed in worship somewhere along the street.  Granted some ancient regimes were quite totalitarian in nature but not all were and it would be ridiculous to even suggest that the entire ancient world functioned the same as them.  Different cultures had different rules and behavior and it is not difficult to see ancient man's ideas at work.

Another source for such trends and fads is the idea, held by many archaeologists, that the ancient world was and people were vastly different than our modern age thus we need to view the relics in a different light.  This different light, of course, is their own conjectural, fantasy of how they would like the ancient world to be and not what it was really. 

Again i disagree with this line of thinking mainly because we have the God factor on our side and not the evolutionary line of thinking where man developed differently.  God created all men the same.  All humans, both past and present, were affected by the 'fall of Adam', so all men are affected by sin.  God gave all men the same characteristics, emotions, thinking capabilities, learning abilities and so on.  There is nothing that modern man has that ancient man did not possess. (Not talking technology here).

Thus it is safe and correct that ancient man did most things the same as modern man does now.  They eat, sleep, choose to worship or not, love, hate, get angry, lie, copy, plagerize, care for their families, work, play and you get the idea.  Life in the past in essence was not that much different than it is now. 

If one takes time to look through museums they would see beauty aids, farm implements, pots, dishes and a host of other items we take for granted in this age.  Attitudes were not different from now and those archaeologists who think the ancient world was different need to re-think their position for they are just wrong.

Granted life may have been simpler, harsher, but in reality we have that today in what we call third world countries.  The modern world is not equal and the ancient is just as diverse, dependent upon the rulers and their underlings. It would be a grave error to think that ancient man thought, lived or operated any differently than we do now. 

We need to re-think many ideas about the past and put God into the picture and see man for who he is--man, created by God & given the same attributes as anyone else. We do not see a special creation for the ancient world and another special creation for the modern world.  The secular arena would love to have us think that, for then they get to spin their tales of their version of what might have been and not be locked into the truth and declaring what it really was which in turn lends more credibility to the Biblical accounts.

 
Does archaeology prove the bible true?

This is a topic that is addressed quite often and the general consensus is that it does not do so but it does help its credibility and reliability.  In general i take a different approach and perspective to this idea as i feel at times it does prove not only that the Bible is true but also very accurate.

Not all discoveries will point to a specific part of the bible and say--'look we have the evidence, this is true.'  At times and for the most part it shows that what the bible mentions is accurate and it is in the right time period for whatever it is talking about.  For example, the name Abraham,  we have proven that such a name, or even Abram, was in use during the time of the patriarchs yet this discovery does not prove that any of the names recovered refer to the biblical man who fathered many nations.  Thus we know that the bible is very accurate and this helps dispel arguments from those who think the scriptures were written long after the fact.

The same for the recent discovery of the name Goliath.  Though that potsherd with the name inscribed on it doesn't point to the biblical goliath, it does shoe that it was a philistine name and it was in use when the bible stated it was.  So again, we can draw strength from this fact knowing that the bible can be relied upon to give factual and accurate information.

Then we have other discoveries which i believe can point to the truthfulness of the biblical accounts thus proving the bible true.  K. A. Kitchen in his career as an Egyptologist found and proved that the going price for a slave at the time of joseph was 20 shekels.   Does this prove that joseph was sold to the Midianites? No, but it does show that the bible is true when talking about the price of slaves and that its record should not be dismissed.

Or in another example, over the past few decades, not sure exactly when, there was a discovery of a foot bone with a nail through it.  This artifact demonstrated that crucifixions took place and were practiced by the romans just as the bible said.  Now does this prove that Jesus was crucified? No, but it does show the bible as true when talking about the fact that the romans practiced such a penalty for crime.

Thus through archaeology, we will get verification of the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible though we won't get all the evidence we seek because the bible is needed to be taken by faith.  God wants people to believe and to take His word for it when all others look for the physical evidence.  God sees the difference:  those who believe His words without proof and those who doubt even with physical proof.  Faith not archaeology is the key; as archaeology takes a supportive role here because its work is limited and it (and archaeologists) should not be elevated to being the final authority even though it provides much evidence to back the bible.

The field of archaeology is not infallible and its discoveries are often misused, misinterpreted and used to lead believers astray.  Yes it helps the bible but it is not the authority the secular world wants it to be.

 
 
Who owns archaeology?

 

This question has been on my mind for a while and usually incorporates this area into the general category of science for that is where it belongs.  Too often, people defer in their opinions to those who are experts in the field of a specific science and more often than not, they give credence to those who are not believers.

They feel that since these people have studied and researched in their area that they have a basic hold on that field and their opinion means more than that of the Bible's. Yet as i pondered this question and looked at what the Bible says about walking in the ways of those who are deceived or are deceiving one cannot grant to the unbelievers of their field the right to be 'an expert'.  Why?  Simply for the reason they dismiss what God has said and place it on the level of a human book or just religious writings with an agenda.

They diminish what is written in its pages because they do not have all the evidence they want or are looking for.  They place the infallible under the criteria of the fallible and make their conclusions based upon what they do not have instead of what they have.  For the believer, we cannot ascribe to the words of those who do not believe, their agenda, or purpose is not of God nor do they look to God for guidance, understanding but rely solely upon their own intelligence and comprehension.

Who owns archaeology and science?  God does as He is the one who created all things and ultimate ownership is His.  At best, the secular professionals in these fields are trespassers as they use their own double standard criteria to try and determine if the Bible records are true or not.  They try to make God out to be the fool when it is their own efforts, their own faulty research, investigations, theories and conclusions which make them look unwise and with an agenda.

We know that the secular 'rules' of science omits any divine intervention or participation and with such publically stated intentions, we can see that those who do not believe in God are not headed in the right direction despite their credentials but are in fact looking for any alternative which allows them to escape following what the Bible has said.  The rejection of the Biblical accounts as valid or credible shows us that it is not the Bible which has the agenda but the secular archaeologist or scientist.

What this boils down to is that the believer needs to stop listening to those who are not believers but are 'experts' in their field and start applying scripture to the evidence discovered.  We need to listen to God as we review the artifacts, ancient writings and other discoveries unearthed by those who work in these fields.  At no time can we rely on the conclusions of those who do not follow Christ as, being exampled by the theory of evolution, they are not interested in the truth but look for answers outside of God and that is just impossible.

Too many professionals have lost their faith as they have taken their eyes off Jesus and put it on the physical world/evidence which we know to be incomplete due to various reasons.  A person cannot rely on experts who create theories based upon the minutest find and are not privy to all the events and evidences of the past.  This is especially so when they appeal to the subjective to prove their position.  There are so many mitigating factors ignored by professionals which disqualify their conclusions or influence them into the wrong direction.

Who owns archaeology and science?  Christians do as they are the ones who have access to the only eye-witnesses of past events, they do not dismiss their words and they see usually see more than the non-believing world.  The secular world has not right nor title to say what went on in the past nor do they have the right to determine the rules of discovering the past.  The past is incomplete and one is left with the only option available that pleases God---faith. Since the unbelieving world has little of that then we know we cannot take their word for anything as such goes in the opposite direction of God and His directions to His followers.

The secular world is not the experts and final authority in any field and the believer must be cautious when analyzing their words and conclusions, putting them under the microscope of God's directives and see what is true or not.  Just because they make science their profession, have many advanced degrees does it mean that the unbeliever is the final say on anything pertaining to God's word or the past. God owns it all and He is the final authority.   Man is fallible and under the evil influences of the devil, who does not want people to know the truth, thus we must make adjustments based upon these facts and dismiss the secular world's position and remain steadfast with the Bible.

 
 
What is the Evidence  for the Israelite Sojourn?  

For decades, if not centuries, Biblical scholars have searched for and discussed the evidence that proves the Israelites actually resided in Egypt for the four hundred years the Bible records.

James Hoffmeier, in his book, “Israel in Egypt,” has this to say on Pg. 55:

For many, the underlying reason for rejecting the history of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt and the Exodus tradition is the absence of corroborating historical or archaeological evidence in Egypt. Recently, Niels Peter Lemche has noted that, “the silence in the Egyptian sources as to the presence of Israel in the country” is “an obstacle to the notion of Israel’s four hundred year sojourn.” Thus, scholars are faced with a dilemma not unlike that encountered in Canaan with the absence of evidence for an invasion by Israel and have arrived at similar conclusions; the lack of evidence means the events described in Genesis and Exodus are retrojections of a later period and do not reflect historical reality. Indeed, no one has been able to identify any unimpeachable evidence in Egypt, either historical or archaeological to support the biblical accounts of the sojourn and exodus events. To draw any conclusions from the current state of knowledge (or ignorance) would be to succumb to the fallacy of negative proof.”

But is this correct? Another examination of the Biblical record must be conducted as it is the only ancient document we have that records the events that led up to and include the sojourn. There is a reason why this is so and why we need to re-examine the only eyewitness account (the Bible) again to see why we cannot uncover some evidence for this event and then answer the question, What evidence are we looking for?

First, let’s look at where Abraham originated from. In chapter 11 verse 31 of Genesis we read:

“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 unto Haran, and dwelt there.”

Abraham came from a non-Hebrew speaking country and moved into the land of Canaan. Thus, the culture that Abraham and his descendant’s used would not have been Jewish, but either a Western Semitic one or Sumerian or Babylonian, depending on where you place the location of Ur. The language, unless a dialect of a Semitic version, would also be non-Hebrew in origin. Since, we do not know exactly when the Israelites began speaking and writing Hebrew, it is safe to say that it is possible that during their sojourn in Egypt they would not have used the language to communicate in ways that would have left written record.

So, we have Abraham moving to Canaan which indicates that his life style would have reflected not only his original upbringing but also be influenced by the Canaanite (among others) culture of the time. We see this evidenced by Abraham’s purchase of the cave in which to bury his wife Sarah. (Ch. 23)

Throughout Abraham’s life, we see little or no departure of his originating culture save for the pre-mosaic practice of circumcision (Gen. 21-4). We do see God’s direct interaction with Abraham and we see his obedience to God’s directives; yet nothing that would change the cultural practice of Abraham to the extent that takes place at Mt. Sinai, hundreds of years later.

Thus, from Abraham’s time down to the changes God made at Sinai; we do not see a distinct people with a distinct or separate culture from those nations they live amongst. There may have been different moral and religious practices but the normal day to day lifestyle, which would leave the most evidence, would not be discernable from their neighbors.

Second, what language would be spoken at that time? We see by the whole account that Abraham had no real problem communicating with the Canaanites or the

Egyptians, yet there is no mention of how Abraham, was able to communicate so freely with so many different nationals. We are left to assume that his language was spoken broadly or that he had translators, or the people then, were multi-lingual and spoken communication was not a problem.

Plus, after four hundred years of residing in Egypt, the Israelites would have known Egyptian as well as their own language. Especially, when, as slaves, the restrictions placed upon them would have forced the people to communicate only in the Egyptian tongue. So, if we are looking for distinct Israelite written records; that would be an idealistic pursuit, as the common language used by the Israelites would be Egyptian and not any other. They may have preserved their own language but out of fear it is highly unlikely that its use would be to the extent of a free society.

Third, let’s skip ahead till the time of Joseph and look at another key piece of  evidence that the Biblical record gives as a clue as to why there is a little physical evidence preserved that records the Israelite entrance into Egypt’s lands. In Genesis chapter 25 we find the reason why:

“45:17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, this do ye;

lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;

45:18 and take your father and your households, and come unto me: and 

I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the

fat of the land.

45:19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the

land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring

your father, and come.

45:20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is

yours.

45:21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons,

according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them

provision for the way.”

For the loyal and faithful service of Joseph, the Pharaoh of that time invited the Israelites to come and live in the land. This was not a conquest, this was not a capturing of slaves, and it was a personal invitation by the Pharaoh. Thus, there would be no reason to record such an event for posterity or for the Pharaoh’s exploits. It was a simple invitation that anyone who wants to reward a servant would extend.

To try and look for some evidence of entrance in the normal manner, would be futile especially since they were not known as the nation of Israel at that time. According to the biblical record, they were known as the “House of Jacob,” (or even as “the family of Joseph).

“46:27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two

souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt,

were threescore and ten.”

With a peaceful and nameless entrance into the land of Egypt it is no wonder that solid evidence cannot be found to corroborate such an event. Now we must turn to the later stage of the Israelite sojourn and examine the situation at that time. We see that throughout the Israeli time in Egypt, they used Egyptian methods and practices, not their own. We can come to this conclusion because of Genesis 50:2:

“50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his

father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.”

Israel had no distinct culture of its own at this time. They had no Mosaic law to guide them. Thus, they adopted practices that their host culture performed for their own people. There is no mention of the Israelites forming their own businesses or producing their own products. Thus, it stands to reason, that physical evidence for a distinct society developing in Egypt would be minimal at best.

The alternative would be the House of Jacob would be producing what they knew, not only from the Canaanite influence upon their Chaldean heritage but also the Egyptian culture they learned. There is nothing to suggest that this group produced anything that could be called Israeli in nature. Thus, again, to look for Israeli evidence would be looking in the wrong direction and for the wrong evidence.

Finally, when the Pharaoh, “who knew not Joseph”, came to power, the Israelite status changed. Their freedom was removed from them and they were turned into forced labor (E. 1:8-11) and instead of producing anything material evidence for their own people, they were required to produce Egyptian buildings for their Egyptian masters.

Showing that there was no time for the Israelites to spend in manufacturing their own cultural properties, thus, leaving no physical evidence of their existence behind, when they departed the country. When they left on the exodus, they did not take with them Israeli made items but they took, Egyptian:

“12:35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and

they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of

gold and raiment:”

Thus, any evidence the Israelites would have discarded during their wandering would have been Egyptian items made in Egypt according to Egyptian culture not Israeli. This fact needs to extend to the conquest as well. For here you have a group of people, who were not set apart as a nation, until Sinai. They had no real identity as Israelites until they settled in the land they were promised. They would have practiced the culture of the lands they lived in. They would have produced buildings according to those cultures and they adopted many of the practices of those whom lived around them.

When they were made into slaves, they lost all freedom to produce anything other than what there overlords required of them and if they did produce their own product, it could not have been done on a scale that would indicate of a distinct culture was at work.

They would not get another chance to do so till after they had conquered and settled the land God had given them. Why? They were not stable enough to have the time to develop and manufacturing processes that would provide their own cultural wares until that time.

Wandering and fighting leaves little room for producing. Thus, if any evidence is to be searched for, it must be that evidence which points to the history of the Israelite people, and not their culture identity of modern thinking.

 
A Few words on Carbon-14 Dating

 

For many of those who are new to this idea and do not know much about C-14 dating, there are many good web sites which explain how it works and the problems which trouble this dating system and those who use it.

 

The purpose of this piece is not to be redundant nor re-hash the same old arguments or even to pit the Bible against science.  Its purpose is to inform more on the reality of what takes place in the archaeological world with this form of dating and its use.

 

First off, C-14 is still very expensive to use and not all artifacts found are subjected to this method for verification so it would be wise for observers not to assume that all artifacts are automatically screened and have their exact date found.

 

The limitations of C-14 prevent a lot of evidence from being scanned:

 

            “For C-14 dating the conditions are:

1.          The material to be dated must be organic
2. The organism to be tested must have gotten its C-14 from the atmosphere
3. The sample has remained chemically and physically a closed system since its
emplacement.
4. That we know what the atmospheric concentration of C-14 was when the
organism lived.” {Problems with Radiometric & C-14 Dating}

 

So artifacts made out of stone or metals do not qualify.

 

Second, an exact date cannot be found through this method, thus most researchers make multiple tests on the piece to be scanned and take a date that has the most consistency.  So what date is finally published is only an approximation and the reader has to factor in this and other influences like corruption and so forth.

Third, most of the dating is still done by other methods and C-14 is reserved for special cases. The pottery clock is the most common form of dating as it is far more reliable than the scientific method described here {Dr. Livingstone-A.B.R.}

Thus C-14’s influence on historical events is greatly limited in this aspect and should not be assumed that it has the pulse of history at its finger tips.  The past does not come with labels like ‘made in Assyria’ or ‘made in 1500 B.C.’ or any other neatly packaged product of the modern age.

 

When something was made is dependent upon the archaeologist’s analysis and how well they conform to the accepted practices for dating and how well they can control their own bias or theories when making the analysis.

Yes there is a claim to objectivity but that claim usually comes without the controlling influence of honesty.  I am not saying archaeologists are out there conspiring to give dates to support their theory, I am saying it is easier to let bias influence a conclusion when one claims to be only objective.

There are many archaeologists and researchers out in the field that do have an agenda, it is a given fact, yet if they can be honest then there probably would be less subjectivity to the field and we would have more accurate information.

Is C-14 valuable to archaeology?  In my opinion I would say more No than Yes.  With its limitations, assumptions and corruption factor it would be better to have some other more reliable and accurate method to use.  Science doesn’t get it right all the time and its track record should leave the unprofessional wary of its results and those results or appeals to science should be taken with caution, not blind faith. 

The problems that come with science in these matters usually outweigh the benefits as the muddy the waters more than they clear up an issue.  The unprofessional must also be aware that the quoting of C-14 dates is also an attempt by the archaeologist or the organization they represent, to establish credibility for their theory or opinion on history.

Manipulation is an option for many to use if one wants to ‘make a name’ for themselves in the archaeological community.  This does not mean that all archaeologists or their organizations are this way but that this tool can be mis-used for purposes that seek to undermine the Biblical record.

Caution is the key when reading books which rely and quote C-14 results.  Below are some good websites which provide some of the problems that are found in this dating system.

1.      http://www.specialtyinterests.net/carbon14.html

2.      http://contenderministries.org/evolution/carbon14.php

3.      http://www.wrestedscriptures.com/c03carbon-14/carbon14.html

4.      http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/carbondating.html

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/carbon_dating.asp

 

 
A Few Words on Physical Evidence

 

It is often heard, ‘the physical evidence tells us…’ and this, or something similar, has become the battle cry of the non-believer who looks to what archaeology has discovered to justify their unbelief and sinful lifestyle.

 

A good example of this is Dr. Erich Cline’s book, ‘from Eden to Exile’, as he goes through some of the ‘mysteries’ of the Bible.  Throughout its pages the author appeals to the physical evidence as proof for his theory that the Bible is wrong on many fronts or is only a metaphorical book for religious purposes (more on his book can be found in the book review section of this site).

 

BUT there are very big problems that come with this kind of attitude and this work will highlight a few of them so you can get an idea how physical evidence can be mis-used or mis-applied to the Bible.

 

First, it must be made known that everyone has the same evidence.

 

Second, very rarely do they find written records or explanations for this physical evidence.   Investigators simply find it lying buried in the ground by itself and the real work begins as they try to decipher the context and reasons why it was found in that spot.

 

Third, Bias, religious beliefs or lack of them, prejudices, arrogance, close-mindedness and so on all play a part in the interpretation process and makes an archaeologist vulnerable to being lead down the wrong path to the wrong conclusion.

 

Fourth, as stated in other pages on this site, the amount of evidence comes from a very miniscule part of the whole history of the area and with this missing data it is very easy to make the wrong assumption or draw the wrong conclusion.

 

When looking at an inscription that is fragmented and only says (as an example) ‘King Babel’ on it, archaeologists have numerable options they must choose from. Questions need to be answered, like: “Is this mentioning a real king?”; “Is this something from a play?”; or “is this just a child’s playing with names?”  And the options continue.

 

Researchers can and do get corroborating evidence but not all the time and a lot of guess work is involved when trying to fit the pieces into some sort of puzzle, but this puzzle doesn’t have a picture on the box top to help one determine if they got it right.

 

Also a fifth problem is the acceptance or rejection of the evidence or is it attributed to the wrong event, dynasty or time period.  Take the example of Noah’s flood.  Most people reject whatever evidence there is that supports the account.  We know by reading books like, Path to of the Poles’ by Dr. Charles Hapgood, that in South America there are numerous caves containing bones thrown together in a manner that only could be done by some violent action.

 

Such evidence is dismissed as opponents to the flood point to the lack of evidence for a global flood. Of course they may see the evidence for such an event but attribute that to a local event, so physical evidence is not always handled in the most honest or objective manner.

 

Another example we can point to, is the popular thought that the Biblical authors contradicted God’s teachings and violated His rules by coping from other myths or legends.  Dr. Cline mentions this in his book but the problem with this thought is if this theory was true then the whole Bible is invalidated as its authors committed sin which makes Jesus, heaven, God and other important aspects of Christianity a lie and makes God full of sin which disqualifies Him as God.

 

For the unbeliever this would be good news for then they do not have the worry of a final judgment and hell awaiting them and they can live as they please.  For the believer, this idea would destroy their lives and ruin them psychologically as well as other areas.

 

It must be remembered that first discovered does not mean it is the original nor does it mean that the Biblical writers copied from other nations. There would be no point to their copying as they would soon be found out as frauds and their work discarded, not accepted and followed.

 

Physical evidence can be wielded two ways, as a tool which helps faith strengthening it or as a weapon seeking to destroy those who believe the Bible.  The latter is used quite often as discoveries are down dated to fit personal agendas, or credited to other events or places in history.  We can see this latter reason at work in the Egyptian chronology and the Israeli sojourn and exodus.

 

If you look at the traditional chronology you can see how the evidence is placed throughout Egyptian history where it then makes no sense and refers to nothing in particular.  But if you read the arguments for a revised Egyptian chronology, ‘Unwrapping the Pharaohs’ by John Ashton and David Down, you will see the evidence placed in the proper context and see how it makes reference to an actual event.

 

We have the evidence to support the Biblical accounts unfortunately it is subject to those who do not believe the Bible nor want to prove it true.  Where does this leave us?  With a lot of work to do to get what evidence we have in its proper place and context despite the unbelieving professional’s objections.

 

Also we cannot solely rely on what the physical evidence says as that is subjective and depends on who is doing the interpreting.  We need to look to The Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth even if it disagrees with experts and popular thought, keeping physical evidence in its proper place.

 

The Bible is a book which requires faith, to please God we need to exercise that faith as there are things contained in the Bible which archaeology and science can never prove true, i.e. heaven, hell , angels etc.,

 

We will never get all the physical evidence that would destroy that requirement and those who rely on physical evidence to cause them to believe will be severely disappointed.  Then to judge the Bible false because one does not have complete evidence or information shows arrogance unmatched in the world.

 

Physical evidence is not the final authority on whether or not the Bible is correct and i am reminded of the parable of the rich man &Lazarus, as the rich man asks that someone be sent back to his brothers but that request is denied because even that bit of evidence would not cause the unbelieving brothers to repent and believe in Jesus.

 

So even if we found Noah’s ark and verified it as the true ship, I highly doubt we would win converts to Christ as there would be found some way to disbelieve the correct evidence.  So for the unbelieving world they are stuck.  They must use faith and believe or when they get the proof they seek, it will be too late to do anything about it.

 
 
Archaeology or Faith?

 

This may seem like a tough question but in reality it really isn’t.  You probably heard many times over words like: ‘The experts say…’ or ‘According to the experts…’ or something similar.  The problem is that the experts do not have all the information they need to make such judgments.

 

This is true not only for some areas of science but for archaeology as well.  K. A. Kitchen, in his book ‘The Bible in its World’, has laid out the minute amount of actual evidence, artifacts, written records that have been uncovered  through 150 years of exploration.

 

Dr. Bryant Wood has echoed this assessment in his lecture, ‘Defining Biblical Archaeology’, with the following:

 

- A small fraction of past societies actually survives

- A small fraction of ancient sites are actually excavated

- A small fraction of an ancient site is actually excavated

- A small fraction of information is published

 

Most experts are ‘interpreting’ what evidence they find and such interpretation is influenced by the personal beliefs of the archaeologist, his/her personal bias, and the lack of competing evidence, subjective dating systems and so on.

 

With such sparse information the ‘expert’ is not a reliable source.  They can present an idea of the past but since they are trying to look back 20, 30 or more centuries with incomplete data it is just impossible for them to present an accurate picture.

 

These experts then (if they are unbelievers) trash the only record written by the only eye-witness to all the events of the past and they expect you to take their word based upon incomplete physical evidence over God’s word.  

 

The world will never get all the physical evidence it needs or wants no matter how hard the demand it.  Time has taken its toll on it and it is just gone.  So all a person is left with is –faith.  For the believer this is an easy option for we know that God is pleased when we use faith and that is exactly what we are left with when it comes to things like the past.

 

We can reject God’s words because an ‘expert’ says differently than the Bible or we can please God and believe Him, even though science or archaeology says differently.  The choice is left up to the person, as God wants those with Him who are willing to take His word for it over those who are finite and corruptible.

 

It is not a hard choice, we need to choose faith and keep archaeology in perspective, in that it is only a tool which will provide information that will strengthen and shore up our faith when the enemy to tear it down.

 

 

In reality, we cannot listen to those experts who are not believers because they do not believe in God and demand physical proof for every event that has been recorded in the Bible while dismissing the only physical evidence that tells them the truth—the Bible.

 

The double standard that exists in the unbelieving world is immense as not only is the Bible dismissed as evidence (solely on the reason that it is religious writings) but it is subjected to strict standards and criteria that are not applied to any other ancient work.  This is done in spite of the massive amounts of ancient mss. for both the Old and New Testaments plus the thousands of artifacts and other records which support the Biblical accounts.

 

One must be discerning, informed and holds fast to their faith if they want to get to the truth and avoid the mis-leadings of those who claim to be experts in the past.  In this case, the experts do not know it all nor can they guess, if they leave the Bible out of the equation.

 

 
JERICHO

 

 

One of the problems we have in archaeology is the art of interpretation.  Archaeologists all have the same evidence yet they come to many different conclusions.  This city, titled above, is no exception as it has been dug over and over by many different archaeologists over the past 150 years or so.

 

Starting in 1868, and on to the present, the conclusion about this city and the biblical accounts has changed every time someone new digs at the site. First they ‘prove’ that the Israelites didn’t conquer the town, then they do ‘prove’ that it did happen then they reverse that decision and go back and say they didn’t and you get the picture.

 

But if one looks at the evidence, one can see that there is enough discovered to prove that the Israelites did conquer the city as described in the Bible.  According to a lecture given by Dr. Bryant Wood entitled, ‘The Walls of Jericho Fall on Bible’s Critics’, we are given a list of the evidence that shows the Bible is correct. Here is what he discloses:

 

n  walls had tumbled outwards and formed a ramp for the Israelites to climb up over

n  house on the north of the old city found untouched by the falling wall

n  piece of charcoal dated to 1400 b.c.

n  scarabs found with Egyptian Pharaoh’s names

n  Cemeteries in use in the 15th century b.c.

n  Possible imported pottery found in the Louvre Museum

 

The evidence is there one just has to accept it as fact and dismiss the alternatives.  One such alternative comes from K. Kenyon who dug at Jericho in the 1950’s and her conclusions , which went against the Biblical record, was based upon what she DID NOT find—a certain kind of imported pottery she thought should have been present.

 

But as you see in the list, a bag of pottery was found which possibly contains that item Kenyon wanted to see.  The other weakness of Kenyon’s conclusion was that she ‘dug in what was determined as the poor section of town’ so it would be unrealistic of her to expect to find such expensive pottery.

 

These are the kinds of opposition that Bible believers face.  Opinions and conclusions made on unrealistic expectations and partial data and unfortunately for Jericho and believers, Kenyon’s conclusions were accepted basically without question and publication.  According to Dr. Wood, ‘it would take a massive amount of evidence to overturn the impact of Kenyon’s work.’

 

What conclusion can we draw?  That the Biblical record is true, the evidence is there and suffers at the hand of those who do not believe, and that scholars make mistakes (either on purpose or accidentally) or errors in judgment.  We have to be careful when listening to those who proclaim themselves as experts for they are as fallible as any common man and draw conclusions influenced by bias and non-belief.

For further study here are some websites that you can peruse and get more information to draw your own conclusions:

 

1.     http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/archaeology/sites/middle_east/jericho.html

2.     http://www.christiananswers.net/q-abr/jericho.html

3.     http://www.jewishmag.com/31mag/jericho/jericho.htm

4.     http://www.ancientdays.net/mooncity.htm

 

Sumerian Myths?

 

Over the years there have been a lot of discussions by archaeologists and biblical scholars concerning where did the Biblical stories originate.  The common idea is that the Biblical authors copied from the Sumerian writings stories like, creation, the flood and others but gave their renditions a twist so that they would be applicable to their own people. {Mesopotamia & the Bible ed. by Chavalas & Younger}

I for one do not accept this idea as it is based upon the thought that 'the oldest is the original' or 'the oldest written is the original'.  Sure, we may not know exactly when, God had His human writers pen the words to many of the books of the Bible and we may not even know many of the author's names (i.e. Job, Ecc. to name a couple) but that doesn't mean that God would violate His own teachings and have His writers plagiarize, copy or steal other people's works.

It makes no sense to tell people in a commandment, 'thou shalt not steal' when the originator of the faith does just that.  Hypocrisy in this case would destroy the message of the Bible and make the teachings of salvation useless and void, leaving all people without hope. Then since God does not sin, this would be an act of sin and God would no longer be perfect and in no position to set the rules for nor be able to judge this world.  Of course those who disbelieve would love the latter as then they would be free to live as they want without fear of judgment.

let's take a look at the situation, historically it is believed that the Sumerians were the first organized society which influenced many others {Ibid} civilizations and we know that that is true but we also know there were people present on earth prior to the Sumerians and who could have had these stories and events in their history as well. {Dailey Life in Ancient Mesopotamia y Nemet-Nejat & The Bible}

The simplest mistake made by those who oppose the validity of the Biblical record and give credit to the Sumerians is the one of chronology.  First, if one has a disbelief in a pre-Sumerian flood, it is easy to reject accounts of a civilization from which the Sumerians arose yet the Sumerians themselves place a flood in the middle of their kings list and if they took it that seriously, so should everyone else.

Second, we know that the Sumerians did not follow after God and His ways thus copying, plagiarizing and adapting was not beyond their moral code so it is highly likely they took the truth and adapted it to their own personal beliefs and made the accounts fit their society.

Third, they weren't the first people on earth as the above reference tells us, the Sumerians came from another group of people and the Bible tells us who those people were: the descendants of Noah.  So here is where chronology comes in and shows how the oldest written or even the first discovered is not the original.

Noah and his family were citizens of the pre-flood civilization and their fore-father, Adam, died about 160 years previous to Noah's birth.  Thus they would have first-hand knowledge of what took place in the beginning.  Then since Noah was a righteous man, he would not lie but pass down the stories to his own family as he was told them (obviously we do not have written record of this but since God promised that His words would not pass away it is quite clear that He would have preserved the stories from the pre-flood world exactly as they happened and had them passed on correctly).

Then as the new post-flood civilization were deceived and began to stray from God and the truth, we can see how they would take the Biblical accounts and adapt them to their own accept beliefs and religious feelings. These events were present (and could have been written down) long before the Sumerians decided to do so.

So prior to the Sumerians we have Noah and his link back to Adam as predecessors who would have related the truth to his descendants  so the Sumerian myths could not be copied by the Biblical writers for they had the truth all along and long before any secular nation had them.

The other mistake many scholars make is that they remove God from the picture which opens up many different avenues of speculation, all of which are just not true.  We cannot remove God from the picture for then we remove the stability and the reason why the stories were preserved in the first place.  No God- no flood & no creation = no examples to follow.  No, the Biblical writers did not copy from the Sumerian myths; it was the other way around as secular nations, not wanting the truth, composed their own ideas of what took place replacing the truth with their own religious beliefs.

Thus the oldest written (according to some scholars), the Sumerian myths, are not the original at all but mere altered copies of the original accounts as related by those who preceded them, Noah and his family.  This idea that the Biblical authors copied is just a weak attempt to undermine a believer's faith in the promises and words of God.

 
 
Archaeologists & the Bible

In listening to a Dr. James Charlesworth lecture entitled, The Symbol of the Serpent in the Bible, the realization came that too many archaeologists are not qualified to handle and explain Biblical truths. Fartoo many scholars and archaeologists do not believe the Bible, they are experts in the ancient languages, they are experts in the dating process and the digging up ancient sites but even with a theology degree, they will not be experts in spiritual truths nor grasp the meaning of what the Bible says.

The reason for this is partially found in 2 Tim. 3:13: "...while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived..." Without Christ as their Savior these men are under the power of evil and are being deceived in what they study and because of their unbelief are easily led to false ideas and thoughts concerning what God meant in the Bible.

Archaeologists are experts in their fields but that expertise is limited to ancient languages, dating, digging and discovering artifacts and mss. but even with a theology degree they are not experts in what the Bible says.  Especially if they do not have the Holy Spirit guiding them to the truth.

Thus archaeologists have no right to determine if the Bible is true or not, if certain events happened or not or what certain symbols mean.  They do not have their minds regenerated by Christ and they cannot grasp all the teachings of the Bible.  As they dig and study the past they fall prey to a common trap, Drs. Dever and Ehrman have done this, which takes their eyes off God and places it upon the limited amount of physical evidence uncovered.

They limit their faith to what they can see, which is contrary to what God said to do.  In Dr. Dever’s case, he sought physical evidence and when he did not fond what he wanted, his faith went out the window, disillusioned with God and His word. For Dr. Ehrman, he put his eyes on the lack of original mss. for the books of the Bible and by doing so, opened a door for the devil to work his deception and lead Dr. Ehrman away from his salvation.

In no verse or passage of scripture does God say to do this, He says, and Jesus does as well, follow me or keep your eyes on me and that is what counts for as peter sank in the water in the storm, so will people sink when they take their eyes of God or Christ and place it upon what secular archaeologists and bible scholars say or conclude.

This is not to say that those few archaeologists and scholars who are Christians are getting it right as well but needless to say, if the archaeologist or scholar is an unbeliever then you know they will only have enough truth to confuse the issue and lead people into the devil's trap.

In Dr. Charlesworth case, I am no fan of his as his arrogance leads him to declare that the Bible is wrong when it states that John the Baptist grew up in the desert. (Dead Sea Scroll Lectures-BAR).  He uses his experience in the desert to claim that what God said about John was untrue and there was no way for that to take place.  Well he is wrong as he forgets that God is in the equation and that God does not lie and that God would make sure that John would be protected.  Of course Dr. Charlesworth's experience would not lead him to that conclusion because he is not/was not walking with God and his experience is not the same as John's was.

This is the key, when trying to learn about the past. Archaeologists will only go where their faith or lack of it will let them.  They do not have God on their side (most of them) or if they do some are too compromised by the world's ways that they cannot see what God wants them to see and follow. This makes them very unqualified to determine what the Bible means or what the symbols are.

Without God, they feel free to retranslate words, change meanings of actions, change the time frame and other misleading acts and lead people away from the truth.  No one saying this is a conspiracy but it is a natural result of those who do not believe God or the Bible.  When archaeologists start saying what a Bible passage means, do not listen, for they do not have the Holy Spirit leading them to the right answer.

The Bible is God's word and no secular scientist, archaeologist, bible scholar has the qualifications to expound on Biblical stories or message.  No matter what they say they have discovered and what they say it means, look at the evidence yourself and let God lead you to the truth for the secular 'experts' do not know what that is and look for alternatives.

When it comes to the Bible, to the past only God is the expert for He has all the evidence, He (Trinity) is the only eye-witness to all events; He is the one who allows what evidence, artifact, mss. to be discovered.  The archaeologist and Bible scholar have no control over those things and are mostly groping in the dark.

So what is a believer to do?  Look to God  to help them examine the evidence themselves, to lead them to those true believing archaeologists who do present the truth and counteract the secular world, to help them see the truth for themselves and be strong enough to withstand the false ideas which deny the Biblical record.  Then finally, to please God by using their faith that God did not lie and that the Bible is correct no matter what 'the experts' claim.

 
 
Responsibility

The following article brings to light a growing problem in the Christian world and it is one that needs to be address so it can be rectified.  It can be found at:http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/09/Tabloid-Archaeology.aspx  and is titled: Tabloid Archaeology.  Here is a quote from the first paragraph:

"One day a friend sent me an invitation to a church meeting and asked me if I knew anything about the subject. On the flyer was a picture of a human skeleton with crooked teeth and a rock embedded in his forehead. The title above the skull read: “They’ve Found Goliath’s Skull!” Needless to say, that caught my attention."

In the ever on going assault on the Bible, church congregations, ministers or just congregants feel the pressure to prove the Bible and their faith true.  They get over-whelmed by the many scholars and archaeologists publishing their popular works citing some discovery or dating change which renders the Bible untrue. Or they become weak in the faith because physical evidence supporting the Biblical record is sparse or long in coming.

Well the church does NOT need to resort to the above tactics, nor do they need to mis-identify a piece of wood foundin the mountains of Turkey as Noah's ark to be strong in their faith or justify their belief in the Bible. Such acts show desperation not a belief in Jesus as the church is looking for something the world will accept and then spur them to beat a path to the church door.

Won't happen.  The church does NOT need to prove the Bible true, we accept it as such when we believe and we do not need one piece of physical evidence to back us up because we believe God's word.  Faith, not physical evidence, is what pleases God; 'without faith ye cannot please God' If God wanted us to rely on physical evidence then we would be finding so much more than we have and there would be little question about the truthfulness of the Bible.  We would have all the physical evidence at our fingertips that we would need to prove God's word.

What should the church and its members do?  They do as the Bible says, stand upon the truth, the words of God and live the life as Jesus and the apostles instructed.  We do not need to get desperate because the truth does not change despite the 'discoveries' of 'theories' of the secular world. They need to get responsible in their information gathering and check the sources of where they are getting their news.  If the source is not credible, then the church needs to dismiss the story, for if they don't then they end up embarrassed and their impact diminished.

There are enough credible websites, archaeologists, and sources who are Christian which can help the church examine the stories they have come across and will give them tips on how to view such articles. The church does not need people who claim to be Christian running round the world making all sorts of exotic, exciting claims when they are not true. Such people cause more problems than they solve.  The church needs to be responsible and hold these people in check, placing guidelines upon them so that their actions do not hurt the cause of Christ and embarrass the church.

Just because the article or story contains what the church wants to hear does it mean the discovery is true and the church has to be cautious when dealing with archaeology because there are frauds in that field who do not care who they mislead, there are fanatics who kick over a stone and call it a holy artifact when it is not and there are those who do not believe the Bible who will dismiss legitimate discoveries that prove the Bible true, for whatever reason they want to use.

The church needs to be serious, calm, steadfast for they have believed the Bible, they have believed the truth and they do not need to be afraid.  Let the secular world be desperate for they are the ones who want to escape the message of the Bible and the final judgment of God. We do not have to do anything but preach the truth and the above quote, is not the truth so the church must be responsible in their actions and make sure they have the truth BEFORE proclaiming such discoveries or stories.

The last point is very important for the church is not in the gossip business, the world does not need more gossip; it needs the truth and the church cannot blindly accept any person's word for the story they are promoting.  They need to verify the article and discovery FIRST before sharing the news with the world.  The secular world will double check and if they find that the church is wrong, then the church has either lost a soul(s) or made it more difficult to win the lost.

The church has very little room for error, for publishing something not true reflects upon them, their belief, the Bible and Jesus. The church needs to be careful, this is not a game and people's eternity stands on the line. The church has to be put down the childishness and start being adults.

 
 
Does Age Matter?

This commentary is based upon an old idea expressed back in 1902 by F. Delitzsch in a paper called 'Babylon and Bible'  The quote can be found in the book, 'Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia' by Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat, pg.6.  It reads:

"Delitzsch argued that the Bible was preceded by literature from an earlier time period; it was not the world's oldest book. Delitzschcontended that the Old Testament could no longer be regarded as unique and divine revelation."

This is an odd conclusion to make as we all know that the Biblical books were written over a period of 1-2000 years by different men who were led and inspired by God. With Job thought of as the most ancient of all.  What Delitzsch's conclusion is saying is that because there were earlier writings the Bible could not be original and that God is nothing more than a plagiarist.

It must be remembered that oldest written, or first discovered, does not mean it is the original nor true, such thinking just demonstrates that limitedness applied to the Bible as it seeks to undermine its words, message and claims.  All the existence of earlier books, mss., tablets and other written artifacts show is that literacy and writing have a deeper history than most, if not all, minimalists want.  They do not demonstrate or prove copying, editing or some other false charge non-believers throw at the Bible.

When studying ancient writings, it must be kept in mind that we have not discovered every book that was written or every tablet that was carved and it must be remembered that the few we do have do not give dates as to when they were penned. In fact many tablets recovered were written a lot later than the actual date credited to the story, so it is difficult to say which was written first.

Except, with the Bible we have an unbroken link between the pre- and post-flood worlds, Noah and his family. Thus we know that the events found in the Bible are accurate as God has promised to keep His word intact and He didn't start that promise with the KJV but from the beginning with Adam.  This is why the genealogies are so important when we find them in the Bible, especially those found in the early parts of the book of Genesis, because they provide confidence and support God's promise to provide us with the truth even though there are so many copies, alternatives and false accusations swirling around.

The Dangers of Bible Scholars

There is a similar article to what will be written here but it focuses on archaeologists not biblical scholars.  In some ways these scholars are worse than archaeologists as they study the words of God and other ancient mss. and should really know better.  But they don't.  While having the truth right in front of them, they do not see what the Bible is saying and turn away to other ideas they think are more credible.

One of the problems that create this situation is that many Biblical scholars seem to put the same weight upon secular manuscripts as they do with the Bible or they make the Biblical mss. to be of lesser value. In doing this these scholars tend to ignore the warnings of the Bible concerning true and false right and wrong doctrines, teachings, and they do not consider copycats or that the cultic adherents would adapt their beliefs to fit what the gospels teach.

Usually, these people make the false accusation that it was the biblical writers who did the adapting and stealing but can never present a credible argument to back up these charges. When one does some real investigations, they will find that most cultic writings that we have come from a later period than the Bible thus there is no possibility that the biblical writers copied from these false religions.

This piece of truth doesn't stop the biblical scholars, and maybe I should make a distinction between Christian and secular but that is difficult as many Christian scholars also tend to follow the secular conclusions and compromise themselves for whatever reason.

Another problem that arises out of these scholars studies is that they tend to over-think a situation or problem.  They resort to human understanding and ideas forgetting that the Bible is not a human book and though humans were a part of the writing process they were NOT the sole authors. Though most secular scholars would assume so and try to make it a human product so they can sit there re-writing history without fear.

Far too often, these people talk about and search for 'the sources' the biblical writers used.  They spend years theorizing about where this information came from and some (Robinson/Hoffmann/Kloppenborg) actually construct their own source from thin air.  These three are only a few who have sought to re-construct 'Q', the supposed original gospel writings from which the writers of the biblical gospels drew their information.  Problem is, they do not have any copy or even fragment of this so-called source nor even an ancient reference to it and have sought to 'reconstruct' this ms. through a method which hap-hazardly takes a quote from different biblical passages and incoherently join them together to establish the 'Q' source.

Such acts ignore what both Paul & Peter stated about the source for the Biblical books--God, the Holy Spirit and the fact that Matthew & John were eyewitnesses to all that Jesus said and did.  Then Mark and Luke had access to those who were apostles and other eye-witnesses thus making a 'Q' source worthless.

But I digress, one has to watch carefully what Biblical scholars say because it is easy to think they are Christian and many talk like they are and some even worship in churches yet what they say is not of Christ.  Take this example from Dr. James Sanders, in his essay From Prophecy to Testament: an Epilogue, found in the book of the same name edited by Dr. Craig Evans, pg. 258:

"The ultimate fulfillment of Torah as prophecy will surely be human recognition that God is truly One, the ultimate Integrity, both ontological and ethical of reality. The One God of all cannotbe limited to any one perception of God whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other. This is probably the greatest hurdle most Christians have to face. Not only does popular Christianity think the Trinity includes three distinct gods; it is basically idolatrous in its making of Jesus a personal deity. Popular Christianity also makes 'of the devil' a rival deity."

If one is not careful they would be surprised and confounded by such heretical teachings by one who considers himself a Christian.  This is the danger of listening too much to biblical scholars.  Yes they discover many things we need to think upon and know but most also do not come from a position of belief in God's word, its  manner of writing, its warnings and its teachings nor do they accept what it says in all of these areas.

Found on the same page is the following quote, from the same author:

"Our first obligation as scholars is to see if we can appropriately understand the canonical thrust of the Bible in critical terms.  To do so, however, cannot limit ourselves to working in an academic box, scoring schools of thought against each other in a quest for 'the meaning of a text' while packing footnotes to do so."

The passage continues the theme that we cannot rely on God to grant us the meaning of the Biblical words but we must learn to our own understanding, allowing false religions to help determine their meanings.  In other words Christianity and the Bible do not hold the truth but it can be found with a collective effort sans God. Most Biblical Scholars start from the wrong source and do not realize that the Bible is not on the same level as other ancient works and that they cannot grasp its meaning without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, these scholars are too arrogant to submit themselves to this idea and really learn what the truth is.  One must be careful when listening to a person who describes themselves as Biblical scholars as one needs to investigate who they really are and what they really believe first before giving them an ear.

 

A Response to Dr. Eric Cline

 

About a year and a half ago, Dr. Cline wrote a little article for the Boston Globe entitled, Raiders of the Faux Ark, in which he complained that the field of archaeology is being over-run by a group of people that do not meet his standards.

 

He feels that archaeology should be pure and undefiled by those who take advantage of the naïve by making all sorts of claims they can’t substantiate.  Yet he ignores the fact that even professionals do the exact same things he whines & complains that the amateurs are doing.

 

One only has to look at Dr. Steven Collins, & assoc., and the claims being made about Tell El-Hammam.  The words ‘location of Sodom and Gomorrah’ are bandied about even though there is not one shred of archaeological evidence to support such statements.

 

It is clear that Dr. Cline is providing colleagues a professional courtesy as he ignores their sins while pointing out the sins of the amateur.  Such hypocrisy is not needed in the field nor is it professional.

 

He then goes on to trumpet the qualifications of professional archaeologists and how they know this ancient language or labored through years of study, and so on.  Dr. Cline feels that the field of archaeology should be left to such men and women because they deserve it.

 

Again he ignores the facts of life and which has been consistent throughout the history of the field which is-- that professionals do not make the best discoveries.  The most dramatic and field changing discoveries are usually done by the very people he complains about—amateurs.  To refresh his memory, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by normal men in an area the professionals were not even looking.

 

So why is he complaining?  What is his problem?  Is Dr. Cline jealous of the success of those who do not spend years and tons of money to pursue a career like he has to?  Whatever the reason, Dr. Cline is way out of line.  If it weren’t for the amateurs, archaeology would be a hundred years further back than it is.  Why does he persist in shooting the field in the foot?

 

Then let’s take a look at what happens when ‘experts’, ‘scholars’ and ‘professional archaeologists’ get a hold of a monumental discovery.  As in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls, once the professionals got exclusive rights, the public got the shaft.  In fact it was approx.  over 40 years before some of the professionals started publishing (Shanks:1993).  This elitist attitude displayed by these scholars shows that Dr. Cline is like a spoiled child who wants everything for himself and who cannot share.

 

One of the problems with archaeologists like Dr. Cline is that they think their education, their language ability, their years of experience gives them omniscience and that they know everything.  As illustrated by Dr. Israel Finkelstein and his attempts to down date the Solomonic gates because of his reading of the construction evidence.

 

It is quite clear that Dr. Finkelstein does not know the difference between construction and renovation.  Yes archaeologists have training but they do not have training in the fields that matter and so much is missed because of their egos and stubbornness.  Because of this, the public suffers from their futile attempts to re-construct the past and their weak attempts to change history.

 

Provenance does not help us much as we do not get the place of origin, just the ending spot.  Finding an artifact, say a table, in a house doesn’t tell us any more than the owners of that house may have had a table.  We do not know what it was used for, as there are many different uses of such, nor do we know anything else except there was a table there in that house.  For all we know, it was thrown there before it was buried.

 

Yet professional archaeologists would have us believe that they alone can divine the past from looking at these artifacts.  They can’t and in many cases, a majority, these professionals can’t agree with each other on the purpose or when it was put in the house. And Dr. Cline wants us to leave the field to them…he must be joking.

 

Archaeologists and amateurs each have their place in this field and it is very unrealistic of Dr. Cline to think that he can bar people from exploring the past just because they do not meet his criteria.  Last I looked, he and the professionals do not own the field and they have no right to self-appoint themselves as rulers of the past, with the authority to determine who gets to explore and who doesn’t. It is just wrong and keeps needed discoveries buried, which is of value to no one.

 

Maybe Dr. Cline should do more educating of the masses so they can be wary of those who abuse the field for their own gain, instead of trying to restrict archaeology to the elite. Whatever he does, he should not be roping the field off so no one knows if the professionals are telling the truth or not. 

 

This is one danger of Dr. Cline’s position, a withholding of the truth because some secularists don’t like what he or she finds and who doesn’t want their beliefs to be challenged, changed or proven wrong.

 

The Philistines

 

I. Introduction

 

In 1914 R.A. Stewart Macalister wrote the following words,

 

If we had any clear idea of what the word 'Philistine' meant, or to what language it originally belonged, it might throw such definite light upon the beginnings of the Philistine people that further investigation would be unnecessary. The answer to this question is, however, a mere matter of guess-work. (1)

 

And over the next ninety-five years not much has changed and their origin is still debated but some scholars lean towards their being part of the Sea Peoples who terrorized the eastern Mediterranean coastlines. (2) Or their origins came from the Mycenaean area, possibly Crete or other nearby islands.(3)

 

I have a hard time accepting the Sea People theory simply because there is such little proof of their involvement, with these people as their realm of influence remained quote small; five cities in the western part of modern Israel.

 

Of course with the unknown that surrounds these people, there is always controversy as K.A. Kitchen reports in His book, On The Reliability of the Old Testament, Israel Finkelstein’s attempts to drastically down date the 12th-10th centuries B.C. and compact them into the 9th or the time of Omri(4)

 

This bad attempt at rewriting history carries a Finkelstein trademark, no proof.  He has to invent another migration to make his theory work. The problem is that the ancient texts are silent on such an event. (5)

 

This is the problem with dealing with a group of people whose major influence on the Levant, and surrounding area, lasted, in comparison to the scope of history, a very short time.  Possibly only a few hundred years at best.

 

This brief emergence on to the world stage does not allow the Philistines to leave any lasting evidence of who they were, where they came from and where they went; for they disappeared as quietly and quickly as they came. 

 

They did not have the luxury that the Egyptians had, where they were able to enjoy longevity in one place and remain independent of other nations, building monuments, leaving inscriptions and memorials detailing their exploits or history.  In fact we have virtually next to nothing when it comes to their original tongue.

 

For instance, relatively little is known about the original Philistine language except that, upon arriving in Canaan, it seems they quickly adopted the Semitic language of the area while retaining words from their original Indo-European tongue, including personal names. In November 2005, a small pottery shard bearing an inscription containing two names linguistically resembling "Goliath" was found in the ruins of Gath. There is no evidence that it refers to the biblical Goliath, but it confirms the general historicity of the story in I Samuel 17.(6)

 

With such little information there is little to do but return to what Dr. Macalister said and rely on ‘guess work’.  Yes we have archaeological discoveries that are fleshing out the culture of the Philistines:

The artifacts being dug up from the ruins of Philistine cities reveal that Philistine culture was as advanced as their weaponry. Their art was refined, being heavily influenced by typically Mycenaean motifs with Egyptian and later Canaanite styles added to their repertoire. While its roof may not have been redundantly supported (see Judges 16:23-30), their Temple of Dagon in Gaza—similar in design to Cretan architecture—supported about three thousand people on its roof, making it an imposing edifice. The evidence found in the tells of the Pentapolis bears out that, for the time, the Philistines built large, planned cities complete with fortresses, palaces, temples, and markets, all of which were surrounded by thirteen-feet-thick walls.(7)

Unfortunately, none of this sheds any light as to their origins, or their original language, it just tells us how they lived in their adopted land.  This paper is going to focus on several aspects of these people, the controversial Biblical inclusions, their origins, and their disappearance.

The last is quite interesting as their exit from history was far quieter than their assumed appearance in the Promised Land. There is no smoking gun on this issue or people.  There are no hidden pieces of evidence that can be pulled out which answers all the questions asked about these people.

Thus this paper will try to illuminate the controversies, provide a different perspective on some of the important issues and take a look at why they went out so meekly from the historical record and international scene.

It is not going to be a definitive treatise on these people, given the amount of space and time allotted for this work combined with the fact that new revealing research is lacking.  With no new discoveries, the author is left to re-examine the old evidence and put a fresh set of eyes on the mystery surrounding the Philistines.

The order in which I will look at the Philistine people will be the controversial encounters will be dealt with first, as chronologically they are far more important than the origins at this point in time. Second, will be a look at their origins including the Biblical passages which provide a clear statement as to their original lands. 

Finally, this paper will deal with their disappearance, for having gone out quietly, in contrast to their war like reputation and not fighting to the last man, their exit deserves examination to see why such a tough people would leave without a sound.

II. Biblical Controversy

 

The Bible mentions the Philistines many times, with the most familiar passages coming from the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and so on. Very few of these passages of scripture cause any concern as the Philistine people are well attested archaeology for this time period:

 

A new document from Calah (Nimrud), sheds considerable light on the background of the early Assyrian relations with Philistia. It is a letter from an Assyrian official stationed near Tyre, perhaps at Simirra, to Tiglath-pileser, stating that he had sent orders to the people of Sidon not to trade with the Egyptians and the Philistines(8)

 

This letter being but one piece of the myriad of evidence that has been discovered in Palestine concerning the Philistine people for their existence in Canaan.  There are excavations that have uncovered their cities and more is learnt about them every day but little is learned about their origins. I will address different controversial issues separately and not in any particular order.

 

A. Philistine Mercenaries.

 

There is one theory out there that the original philistines arrived in Egypt as mercenaries to work as soldiers of fortune, much like professional soldiers do today. Their country is at peace but they cannot live life in that manner and need to fight so they immigrate to other countries selling off their talents to the highest bidder.

 

This has led Prof. Dothan to conclude that the people buried at Deir el-Balach were probably non-Egyptians employed as mercenaries, and under heavy Egyptian cultural influence.

This theory is consistent with the increasingly well-supported view that the Philistines originally came to Palestine as Egyptian mercenaries. According to this view, when Egyptian power waned, other Philistines joined the mercenaries to occupy the five coastal cities comprising the Philistine pentapolis.(9)

 

The problem with this thinking is that no self-respecting citizen has ever followed a soldier of fortune to another country. Nor has any large group of people done the same.  Most abhor the attitude of these men and do not want to associate themselves with such uncivilized behavior or character.

 

Soldiers of fortune are usually independent people who are looked upon as having a problem, they are usually outcasts of regular society and not looked upon:

 

The tendency to revile mercenaries as ‘the dogs of war’ is an ancient one. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote 400 years ago that they were ‘Seditious unfaithful disobedient destroyers of all places and countries whither they are drawn as being held by no other bond than their own commodity’.(10)

 

And,

 

Many soldiers of fortune were political or religious exiles. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes forced Huguenots to leave France in their thousands, and many of them took service in the armies of the states they fled to(11)

 

Thus the above theory by Dr. Dothen and others just does not hold any merit, which means that the Philistines that Abraham encountered were not ruthless men seeking a war where it may be found but actual leaders of an army who served their king who ruled a people long established in the land.

 

B. The Philistines as Many People

 

Mr. David M. Howard writes in his article, Philistines and Israel, that because the Bible tells us that the Philistines are a descendent people from Ham and not from Japheth that these people are ‘not a product of a single group but a combination of many different people.(12). His words:

 

Genesis 10 links the Philistines with various Hamitic peoples, including Canaanites (10:6-20), and not the Indo-European sons of Japheth from the coastlands or islands (10:2-5). This suggests that the "Philistines" not a single group with a single origin or living only in one sort period of time in southwestern Canaan. They appear rather to have been an amalgamation of several different peoples, and the Philistines descended from the Casluhites would thus have been different from those who came from Caphtor. This fits with the current picture of the Philistines being revealed by archaeological discoveries.13

 

The problem with this thinking is that the Bible gives NO such indication that the Philistines were anything BUT a single entity.  All the references to these people regard them as a whole, one nation. Amos 9:7 has God referring to them as ‘the Philistines from Caphtor’.  There is nothing here that allows one to speculate that they were an amalgamation of different people from different nations.

 

Also, I know of no archaeological evidence that supports such a claim made by Mr. Howard nor does he provide any examples to back up his ideas. He simply makes a generic, unsubstantiated statement and then leaves it at that.

 

We have no Philistine writings, no books, no manuscripts, no monuments nothing so there is no written record available which would provide any evidence for Mr. Howard’s or others assertion that the Philistines were of different peoples.  In fact, in the same article Mr. Howard defeats his own point by relating some archaeological discoveries yet none point to any influences from different cultures which would be necessary for this theory to work.

 

A few Philistine temples have now been excavated, which have several distinctive features setting them off from Canaanite temples. The Philistines had soothsayers and diviners, like most peoples around them (Isa 2:6; cf. 2 Kgs 1:2).

Many discoveries have been made of Philistine cultic apparatus that give glimpses into some Philistine religious practices. These include various types of ceramic cups, rings, and figurines. Even their burial coffins reflected some sort of religious awareness. Many Philistines were buried in "anthropoid clay coffins," which were similar to large storage jars, into which bodies were placed. The top third or half of the coffin was cut away so that the body could be inserted and the top replaced. Over the face a rough and somewhat grotesque likeness of the deceased was molded in the clay (see Howard, "Philistines," 246-49 and references there for more on Philistine religious customs).(14)

This lack of influence provides more proof that the Philistines were their own people, a single entity, with their own cultural practices separate from other nations.  Since we lack information concerning their origin, we also lack any archaeological evidence supporting this theory as an earlier act, and that this different culture matured prior to the arrival of the Philistines in Canaan.

C. The Genesis Philistines Were Not Real Philistines

This theory is recorded by Dr. Bryant Wood in his article, The Genesis Philistines, and he summarizes it down to the idea that the Philistines Abraham and Isaac met were “are all anachronisms”, that is, material that is chronologically out of place”(15)

The problem with this thinking is that it ignores the fact of immigration.  All over the modern world, we have pockets of people in different lands who are not native.  They have migrated, individually or in groups, from their own lands for a various number of reasons: employment, marriage, hardship, persecution, seeking a better life, and so on.  None were done by invasion or violent means and would merely be recorded as a matter-of-fact move by governmental records.

 

After 3,000 years those records would be lost, if any were kept at all as the ancient world may not have had strict immigration laws which aliens had to meet, and nothing official would remain to validate the unofficial native records discovered which talked about interacting with people from other nations.

 

Would those records be considered falsified or out of place?  Possibly, but such conclusions do not over-rule the reality of life or what took place.  In trying to look back over time, it is difficult to know what really happened because information is lost, destroyed, or not recorded or the ground is just silent:

 

“How unreliable such ‘gaps’ in the record can be may also be illustrated at a biblical site across the Jordon in the land of Moab. One of the most famous towns of ancient Moab was Dibon…where the renowned inscription of King Mesha of Moab was found over a century ago. Excavations at Dhiban produced definite traces of the early Bronze Age Township, then practically nothing for the entire 2nd millennium. From the first millennium parts of the citadel of the dynasty of Mesha was unearthed, plus remains of later epochs.  Now from such a gap for the late Bronze Age, the unwary might be led to conclude that biblical mentions of Dibon no later than the 13th century BC….were in fact errors or anachronisms. But they would be mistaken. Because, in that very period, the pharaoh Ramses II conquered Dibon a few decades before the Israelites reached it, and celebrated his victory in sculpted reliefs in his temple at Luxor in Upper Egypt. Thus, Dibon certainly existed in the late Bronze Age according to first hand inscriptional evidence, evidence which supplements and corrects the quite inadequate results obtained from digging at Dibon itself.” (16)

 

Archaeological evidence is not a true measure of the past’s activities and due to its incompleteness, which is then coupled with the ignorant speculation and assumptions made by modern archaeologists, the modern person is given a very distorted and biased view of history.

 

There is no archaeological record which clearly states that immigration did not take place in the ancient world, we know it did even if we simply use Abraham as an example.   Such movements would not be recorded on monuments, or temple walls, nor made with such fanfare that scribes would record them in the most important annals of the times, they would take place quietly with only a few with knowledge of its happening.

 

It is quite possible that the Philistines quietly moved into the area and established themselves and developed like a normal group of immigrants would do naturally.

 

D. The Philistine Attitude

 

Another theory that is being used to say that the Genesis Philistines are not the same people as later renditions is the difference between the descriptive characters of both sets of people.

 

We have to consider the possibility that the various Old Testament references to Philistines do not in fact refer to the same ethnic group. There are numerous important differences between the group mentioned in the Genesis accounts, and those mentioned in Judges/Samuel. The Genesis group are friendly, largely well-disposed to Abraham and his household, and for the most part have Semitic names (particularly Abimelech and Ahuzzath, though Phicol is of uncertain derivation). The main city they are mentioned as inhabiting is Gerar. The lattergroup is warlike, hostile and expansionist, and have Hurrian names. Gerar is within their sphere of influence, though a little to the south-east, but the main cities are (from north to south) Ekron, Ashdod, Gath, Ashkelon, and Gaza (17)

 

This theory is weak at all points, for it ignores so much and imposes assumptions without any fact at all.  First off it assumes that only ‘friendly’ people make treaties. We know from history and the modern world that that is not so and because a group of people makes a treat doesn’t mean that they have changed their personalities.

 

A warlike nation can be friendly to some and remain warlike to others. We have too many modern examples to dispel this idea as the cold war alone showed how warlike people remain enemies with some nations while befriending others.

 

The idea that the early group was not the latter simply because they seem to maintain different outlooks on life and people are further dispelled by the example of the American nation.  It is clear that the people of the 17th, 18th centuries America are  different from their 20th and 21st century counterparts yet all would be considered American and neither would be attributed to being people from a different nation of people.

 

As for the discrepancy between cities, the author of that piece forgets that nations grow, they abandon previous cities to meet their needs or find better protection.  We would not have the field of archaeology if nations maintained each and every city from their inception. The authors of this theory rely on very limited thinking when it comes to trying to disprove the Bible.

 

To use America as an example once again, their first permanent settlement was named Jamestown and it was an important city in the days of the first settlers into the colonial period until the capital was moved to Williamsburg. (18) It then declined and disappeared from history, only to remain today as a park.

 

Of the 17th-century settlement, only the old church tower (built c.1639) and a few gravestones were visible when National Park Service excavations began in 1934. Today, most of Jamestown Island is owned by the U.S. government and is included in Colonial National Historical Park (19)

 

Thus to say that the Genesis Philistines are not the same as the Judges, Joshua, etc., people is ridiculous and shows a very blatant attempt to re-write history to fit one’s biased views and unbelief. The reasons given in the quoted passages do not hold up and are another weak attempt to distort the past and change the reality.

 

We also need to make note that with the lack of written records from the Philistines themselves and a lack of external recordings of their movements it is not right to say that these people are different and that it is correct to say that the Bible has it right, they are all the same Philistine people.

 

III. Origin

 

Much is said concerning the origins of the Philistines yet little is new material and certainly no new evidence has been discovered since Dr. Macalister wrote the words quoted in the Introduction of this paper.  The scholarly world is not in agreement pertaining to the original land of these people.

 

Scholars are divided concerning the location of Caphtor. The most probable location is the island of Crete, together with the nearby Aegean isles. The Septuagint, however, reads Cappadocia, a province in eastern Asia Minor, instead of Caphtor (Deut. 2:23; Amos 9:7). The Caphtorim (Gen. 10:14; Deut. 2:23; 1 Chr. 1:12) were people who came from Caphtor (20)

 

No one seems to have any idea where the Philistines originated nor do they have any idea where and what is Caphtor.  The latter alone has caused some debate and it merits being mentioned here.

 

A. What and Where is Caphtor?

 

Dr. Macalister in his 1914 book discusses the possibility that Caphtor could mean ‘sea coast’ and does not refer to a nation or land mass.  He writes;

 

The connexion of the Philistines with a place called Caphtor is definitely stated in Amos ix. 7: 'Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?' It is repeated in Jeremiah xlvii. 4, where the Philistines are referred to as 'the remnant of the ̕ī of Caphtor'. The word ̕ī is rendered in the Revised Version 'island', with marginal rendering 'sea coast': this alternative well expresses the ambiguity in the meaning of the word, which does not permit us to assume that Caphtor, as indicated by Jeremiah, was necessarily one of the islands of the sea. Indeed, even if the word definitely meant 'island', its use here would not be altogether conclusive on this point: an isolated headland might long pass for an island among primitive navigators, and therefore such a casual mention need not limit our search for Caphtor to an actual island.(21)

Yet his theory and translation of the word Caphtor can be discounted because of the other pieces of evidence which support the idea that Caphtor mentioned in the Bible is a geographical area;

An Egyptian inscription of the most recent period has been found, however, which, copying an earlier geographical list, enumerates "K(a)ptar" among Asiatic nations, insuring thus the correctness of the Hebrew tradition as against the versions(22)

And Kitchen agrees with the latter’s conclusion when he writes:

Caphtor is ancient Kaptara, well attested from the early second millennium, when the Mari archives actually mention a king of Hazar sending gifts to Kaptara. (23)

Thus Macalister’s theory would only be useful if it were applied to the sea coasts of an island and would remain consistent with the idea that Caphtor was modern Crete.  There is no evidence, at this time, to suggest that Caphtor is referring to a mainland area as it is commonly accepted that Caphtor refers to an island.

B The Philistines and Cyprus

Another location for the source of the Philistine people is the island of Cyprus, it would fit some of the Biblical references, it is an island and it has a sea coast but like these pieces of evidence, other proofs are just circumstantial.

If you really want to know about Philistine origins, come to Cyprus. Not that the Philistines originated here, but here the evidence seems clearest.(24)

 

Here we have a statement but no details.  The author refers to the evidence for a Cyprus origin but for some reason fails to provide any to support his contention. The next quote goes a bit further:

 

Cyprus is named as the homeland of the Philistines especially in recent literature. J. Strange points out that both Cyprus and the Philistines were familiar with metallurgy at a high level and that pottery from Cyprus strongly resembles pottery from Philistia (Mycenaean III C:1b). It is furthermore known from literary references that Cyprus, like Crete, was inhabited in the 13th and 12th centuries B.C. by a variety of

Peoples.9 However, the many different names given to the island in the various cultures of that time make it very difficult to identify Cyprus as Caphtor.10

V. Karageorghis adds to the arguments in favor of Cyprus the evidence from excavations on the island (near Pyla and Maa): a mixed population (from Crete, Greece and Anatolia) appears to have lived here in fortified villages during 25 years. The inhabitants were wealthy, but clearly preferred a defendable place over a location that favored trade and agriculture. After these 25 years both places were abandoned or burnt down. Maa was rebuilt by the conquerors who also manufactured type Myc. III C:1b pottery.11 Karageorghis moreover refers to Cypriotic myths about Greek heroes who founded cities on the island.12 Finally, Raban and Stieglitz showed that the architecture on the island was comparable with that of Philistia as far as the use of ashlars (large building blocks) was concerned.

Another argument in favour of Cyprus is a definite resemblance between Philistine and Cypriotic - Minoic writings from that period.13

The presence, though perhaps temporary, of Philistines in Cyprus or Crete is given wider perspective if the contemporary events in this part of the Mediterranean are also taken into consideration. Literary references and excavations from the Late Bronze period only demonstrate the great importance of such a widened perspective.(25)

The problem with this idea is that all the evidence is circumstantial and means that any group of people could have achieved such advances in civilization. There is nothing here that excludes all others save for the Philistines.

It also fails because there is no recorded catastrophe in ancient annals that require God to save the Philistine people taking place on the island of Cyprus, especially on the grand scale of Santorini on Thera with the Minoans.

Even the pottery record is inconclusive and does not help but confuses the issue. (26)

C. The Sea People

This is a group of people who invaded the Levant and were so ferocious that they were able to bring the demise to different empires yet were never so strong that they could establish their own in replacement and remain known for millennia.  In fact as little is known about the Sea People as the Philistines except with the Philistines we have a place of origin.

 

Surprisingly for such a pivotal moment in world history, the events which took place at that time are not well understood and are widely debated. Many theories have been advanced to explain these times, and their participants have been declared to come from Anatolia, or the Aegean, or even Atlantis. We will consider the various theories, as well as a new composite view which does not appear to have been considered previously.(27)

The Philistines are often included in this group

Finally, of course, the Peleset eventually became the Philistines and gave their name to Palestine, but they too probably originated somewhere in Anatolia(28)

But the problem is we have no ancient records confirming this idea or theory, at best it is speculation that makes them a part of these invaders.  Their participation does not answer the questions that arise concerning the results obtained by the invasion;

‘If they invaded with such force, why did they only remain in 5 cities in a small area?’ ‘Why were their people not known in the records of other nation’s texts?’ ‘Why was their influence on culture and other areas of life so limited?’

Such questions are but a sample of the myriad of illogical explanations that permeate the discussion on the origins of the Philistines.  Invasion is not usually the method that God uses to preserve a people, usually, when someone is saved they are provided humble refuge and given another chance to live right not to be warlike and slaughter innocent people along the way to re-development.

We must be content with the Biblical statement that the Philistines originated in Caphtor, and in the words of Dr. Charles Pellegrino,

“Jeremiah, who lived in about 620 BC, defined the Philistines as a remnant from the coasts of Crete…”(29)

Knowing their point of origination has no bearing on the believer’s life and salvation and they must rely on God’s word, for as it was once said, ‘when the books of the Bible were written, the people of the time knew who, where and what the ancient names were and referred to and did not need to question or research to find their locations’ (30)

IV. Disappearance

There seems to be conflicting ideas amongst scholars about the demise and disappearance of the Philistine people.  If one looks at the biblical record we find that as the Israelite kingdoms went on, the Philistines were mentioned less and less until they were no more, quietly going out in direct contrast to their emergence. 

 

What happened to these people? Where did they go? To address these questions three options will be discussed.

 

A. The Assyrian Conflict

 

To return to 1914 we read in Dr. Macalister’s book that the Philistines did not go quietly but fought to the bitter end. He states:

 

At this point we glean some welcome details of history from the annals of the Assyrian kings. Hadad-Nirari III (812-788) enumerates the Philistines among the Palestinian states conquered by him about 808 B. C., but miters into no particulars… The next king, Sennacherib (705-681), had trouble with the remnant of the Philistines. Mitinti's son Rukipti had been succeeded by his son Sarludâri, bat it seems as though this rater had been deposed, and a person called Zidka reigned in his stead. Sennacherib found conspiracy in Zidka, and brought the gods of his father's house, himself, and his family into exile to Assyria, restoring Sarludgri to his former throne, while of course retaining the suzerainty. In this operation he took the cities of Beth-Dagon, Joppa, Bene-Berak, and Azuri, which belonged to Zidka… At the same time the Ekronites had revolted against the Assyrian, Their king, Padi, had remained a loyal vassal to his overlord, but his turbulent subjects had put him in fetters and sent him to Hezekiah, king of Judah, who cast him into prison. The Ekronites summoned assistance from North Arabia and Egypt, and met Sennacherib in EL-Tekeh. Here they were defeated, and Sennacherib marched against Ekron, slaying and impaling the chief officers,(31)

 

So according to Macalister, the Philistines were a proud lot who rebelled quite often down through the centuries until they were completely gone.   One has a hard time accepting this theory because Macalister at another point, claims that the scribes of Sargon said that the people they fought were Hittites  but Macalister claims they are Philistines.(32)

 

He offers no textual or monumental evidence to support this change of history and does not provide even a weak source to back his claims.  He does provide enough material to support his claim that the Philistinian people were not completely exterminated as he says their ancient language was used into Nehemiah’s time and their gods were still worshipped into the Maccabean period. (33)

 

If so then why do we not have any records of their ancient tongue and why do we know so little about them?  These are questions that Dr. Macalister does not answer when he moves on to his next point.

 

B.  The Disappearance Theory

 

Here we have some scholars who felt that the Philistines just disappeared quietly into the sunset as they diminished over time and from a result of their wars with King David.

 

What then happened to the Philistines? According to scholarly speculation, they were overwhelmed by, and eventually assimilated into, the major population groups of Israelites or Phoenicians. It is true that distinctive Philistine cultural markers—architectural and artifact traditions that the Philistines had brought with them from their Aegean homeland—disappeared. After about 1000 B.C.E., for example, distinctive Philistine anthropomorphic figurines, like the famous Ashdoda are absent from the archaeological record(34)

 

Yet that was only part of the answer. It seems that they survived in smaller groups, moved from one location to another, though only a short distance and had lesser influence than before.  The neighboring countries were far too overwhelming for the Philistines to make a comeback.(35)

 

It does seem that the Philistines made down into the 7th century BC as an independent people so to speak but were no threat to anyone:

 

Philistia then fell under Egyptian influence, and olive-oil production at Ekron declined. This marked the beginning of the final chapter in the history of Philistine Ekron, which ended in 604 B.C.E. As documented by the Babylonian Chronicles, when the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar—the same Babylonian leader who destroyed Jerusalem and brought an end to the kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C.E—in the course of preparing to conquer Egypt, burned the Egyptian-allied cities of Philistia to the ground. Even a last-minute appeal by the last king of Ekron, Adon, to his patron, the Pharaoh of Egypt, which is documented in an Aramaic papyrus, could not save Ekron. The population of Ekron, the great seventh-century B.C.E. industrial center, was apparently carried off into Babylonian captivity, as were the inhabitants of the other destroyed Philistine cities—as would be, only a few years later, the inhabitants of Judah.

So overwhelming were the cumulative effects of the trauma of being uprooted from their homeland, and of the long process of acculturation, which was greatly accelerated during the Assyrian control of Philistia, that by the time of the Babylonian conquest, the Ekronites no longer had a sufficiently strong core culture to maintain themselves in exile. Thus, after a long period in captivity, they eventually disappeared from the pages of history.(36)

 

This theory seems to be the better fit for the demise of the Philistines as they did go very quietly in the end, as they were continually overwhelmed by superior forces over the years since their 10th century defeat.  There seems to be no other alternative for their relinquishing the world stage, the Assyrian war theory does not annihilate the Philistines and the archaeological and textual records just seem to let them go without any notice or acclaim.

 

C. The Prophecies of God

 

We now that God is in control of all things in this world and that he has the final say on who will continue and who will be removed from the history or memory of other people. He did so with the Amalekites and He did it to the Philistines as we will see by the following verses.

 

Ezekiel 25:15-17 15 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because the Philistines dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy because of the old hatred,” 16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast. 17 I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I lay My vengeance upon them.”’”

 

Amos 1:6–8 6 Thus says the LORD:  “For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four,
      I will not turn away its punishment, Because they took captive the whole captivity
      To deliver them up to Edom.  7 But I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza,
      Which shall devour its palaces.  8 I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod,
      And the one who holds the scepter from Ashkelon;  I will turn My hand against Ekron,
      And the remnant of the Philistines shall perish
,” Says the Lord GOD.

 

Zephaniah 2:5,65 Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites!
      The word of the LORD is against you,  O Canaan, land of the Philistines:
 “ I will destroy you; So there shall be no inhabitant.”

 

And there are more verses which provide God’s judgment against the Philistine people. So for the believer, it was not the Assyrians or the quiet disappearance But God’s judgment upon a sinful people which caused the demise of the Philistine nation.

 

 

 

V. Conclusion

 

As we have seen if one believes the secular world, then the Philistine people are a mystery, not only in their origin, but in their migration, their language and basically almost all of their cultural aspects and interaction with others.

 

Most of what we know is pure guess work as the lack of Philistine records leave to many gaps to fill plausibly.  Researching the Philistine people is like working blind because we only gets bits and pieces here and there and we have no way of knowing how to connect them together to create a credible analysis of their existence.

 

As a case in point, here is what the Dothans do when they are faced with little information:

 

Trude and Moshe Dothan have suggested that the Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery was the

Precursor that influenced and led to Philistine bichrome pottery of subsequent

Occupation levels(37)

 

 

The bolding is mine and is used to highlight what takes place in archaeology.  The Dothans ‘suggest’.  In other words they have no clue and without any written record all we can do is suggest, guess, theorize or speculate.  There is no way to tell which came first the Mycenaean IIIC pottery or the bichrome.  But this is what takes place when dealing with the past and the Philistines are no exception.

 

It is best not to be too confident when dealing with ancient people for far too much is lost, overlooked, or missed when an archaeologist conducts a dig.  As K.A. Kitchen has written:

 

At periods when a town-site was deserted, driving winds, sand and rains would often erode away the uppermost levels of the abandoned houses and walls. Thu, at Ur, the town of Neo-Babylonian times was largely swept away, while 20 feet depth of human occupation remains had been lost from ancient Babylonian Eshnunna before it was excavated(38)

 

So it comes as no surprise that what we know about the Philistines is next to nothing.  We have clues but clues are not always enough, for we need confirmation and that confirmation is just not available at this time. Even the best discoveries, the Phaistos disk (discovered 100 years ago) and the pottery sherd with the name Goliath on it, only provide a scant amount of vocabulary and nothing else to help discover more about the Philistines.

 

At best we can conclude from what we have discovered that the Philistines were actually the Minoans, displaced from Crete and other islands when Santorini exploded and from previous migrations. 

 

Abimelech, the Philistine king or kings Abraham and Isaac had dealings with, ruled at Gerar (Gn 26:1). Ancient Gerar has been identified as Tel Haror, 17 miles east of Gaza in the western Negev. The Middle Bronze urban settlement there is one of the largest in southern Canaan, occupying an area of about 38 acres. It was enclosed by an elaborate system of earthen ramparts fronted by a deep ditch. Within the city a sacred precinct was excavated, including a “migdol temple,” remains of animal sacrifice, and cultic and imported pottery. Also found within the fortified enclosure was a 10 foot diameter well, excavated to a depth of 38 feet. The wells of Gerar were a major issue between both Abraham (Gn 21:25) and Isaac (Gn 26:17–22), and the Philistines.

Of particular interest is a Minoan graffito found in the sacred precinct dating to ca. 1600 BC. Analyses of the sherd determined that it originated in Crete, most likely the south coast. There are four Minoan signs on the graffito, inscribed prior to firing, which represent a bull’s head, cloth, branch and figs. In addition to the graffito, an unusual chalice of Canaanite shape and fabric was found in a room on the east side of the sacred area. What makes the chalice unusual is its high arching handles, a well-known feature of Minoan chalices, but not of Canaanite(39)

 

They were world sailors thus it is no stretch of the imagination that they would have citizens move to other parts of the world, or even sought to expand their territory but without real historical records, we will never confirm their origins.

 

The same goes for the controversial passages of the Bible.  The secular world usually dismisses the Bible but in reality one needs to side with scriptures as it is the one that is true, not the archaeological professionals. The Bible is written by the only Eye-witness to all events thus it has the advantage of observation while the modern archaeological professional only has limited, partial, and corrupted pieces to fit together.

 

Thus if the Bible says that Abraham met Philistines, then he met with Philistines, not some other culturally different people.  It has been shown that it is possible and probable that an early group of people could have migrated over to the new area as reports sent back from established outposts or trading centers were favorable, sparking an interest in other citizens to change their locales.

 

Such happens all the time and it cannot be disallowed for the ancient people for there is no reason for them not to travel like their modern counterparts. They had needs and desires, just like the people of today and they would set out for a different or better way of life, or they just traveled to see the world and found a place they liked. The options are endless.

 

As for the demise of the Philistines, we can see God’s hand in it all and the Christian scholar needs to put aside the secular academic methods and focus on that aspect of life.  The philistines did not just disappeared; they met their demise because God had had enough of their sinful behavior and directed their end as punishment for their sins.

 

The believing scholar needs to take note and write about this for God has provided an example of what happens when people do wrong in His sight.  They cannot let it slide by in pursuit of academic acceptance by secular scholars, for such people are not the ones who need to be pleased, God is.

 

The truth needs to be told, not the same old mindless regurgitation of the same old facts or lack of information.