By VICTOR SHARPE, RENEW AMERICA

When I was still a teenager I had the great good fortune to find a book in my local library that had a profound effect on my understanding of the Book of Books, the Bible; both as a most marvelous history book as well as an indispensable affirmation of personal faith. The book in question I took down from the library shelf was called, “The Bible as History,” written by Werner Keller.

The Bible has often been maligned by atheists, by academics and intellectuals. I have often thought that intellectualism does not in itself confer intelligence and many of those who deride the biblical narratives as being unsubstantiated by historical fact increasingly now find themselves discomfited. Archaeologists are finding in the soil of Israel ever mounting evidence that substantiates what is written in the biblical texts.

Even as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, a French archaeologist, Paul-Emile Botta, digging in Khorsabad in what then was Mesopotamia, discovered reliefs of King Sargon 11 of Assyria; the very king who ravaged ancient Israel and led its people into captivity.

Similarly in the Nile Delta, archaeologists discovered the remains of the twin cities of Pithom and Raamses where the ancient Hebrews toiled as slaves for centuries under the cruel pharaohs. In Gibeah, King Saul’s mountain fortress was discovered and those of us who have visited Har Megiddo (the site of future Armageddon in Christian tradition) have marveled at the site of one of King Solomon’s palaces and of the amazing tunnel hewn out of the living rock which brought precious water to the inhabitants during times of siege.

Who has not been captivated by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947/48, or of the 1961 unearthing in the Judean Desert of the coins struck by Bar Kochba, known as the Son of a Star, the legendary leader of the Second Jewish Revolt against Emperor Hadrian’s Rome; the national hero as great as Arthur or Ulysses, who liberated Jerusalem in the Second century AD and who held off the Roman Legions for three desperate years. And who has not been moved by the earlier discovery in the heart of Old Jerusalem of the pavement upon which Jesus stood before Pilate.

These, and many other breathtaking discoveries discomfort the scoffers who even now attempt to ridicule so much that is written in the bible about places and events.

In 2013 alone, Biblical archaeologists have continued making amazing discoveries. For instance, here are a few of the finds which all attest to biblical and post-biblical narratives from various periods:

Iron Age Stone Altar Discovered in Shiloh (November)
Ancient Samson Mosaic Uncovered in Huqoq Synagogue (September)
2,700 Year Old Inscribed Pottery Shard Found in Jerusalem (August)
Ancient Egyptian Sphinx Discovered in Northern Israel (July)
2,000 Year Old Cooking Pots Uncovered in Jerusalem (June)
2,000 Year Old Stone Quarry Discovered in Jerusalem (May)
Second-Temple Period Ritual Bath Uncovered in Jerusalem (April)

And just recently, Professor Gershon Galil, from the Department of Biblical Studies and Jewish History at the University of Haifa, deciphered the oldest Hebrew inscription yet found in Jerusalem. The translation was of early Hebrew texts appearing on an urn that once contained wine dating to the reign of King Solomon from the second half of the 10th Century BC.

It was found during excavations near the southern wall of the Temple Mount and proves that scribes who wrote such complex texts on urns of that long ago period were certainly able to compose literary and historiographical texts. It is the oldest Hebrew inscription yet found in Jerusalem and is at least two hundred and fifty years older than any other inscriptions previously known from Jerusalem or its environs.

It was at this period, that King Solomon was involved in his monumental building projects, which included the Temple and palaces and castles such as at Har Megiddo. Solomon also built the original walls of Jerusalem which included the three main quarters in that time: the Ophel, the Temple Mount and the City of David.

This finding is of major archaeological and biblical importance for understanding the development of the biblical texts we are all so familiar with.

Prof. Galil published his findings in the Strata Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society. These and vast numbers of similar discoveries give the lie to the deplorable denial by the Palestinian Authority of the existence of the Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

This denial started with the arch-terrorist, Yasser Arafat, and continues to be reiterated by the Palestinian Authority which systematically distorts the ancient history of Jerusalem, ignoring the vast historical documentation and thousands of archeological finds related to Jewish and Christian history that have been found in Jerusalem and throughout the region.

Indeed, what may well be one of the worst crimes against civilization is the ruthless and relentless destruction of Jewish and Christian artifacts and antiquities by the Moslem authorities, the Waqf, who were foolishly given permission to control the Temple Mount in 1967. The Muslims soon began using heavy bulldozers to dig up the ground in order to build yet another mosque under the mount, disturbing tons of precious archaeologically rich soil.

One archaeologist described the disturbed sites as “an archaeological crime” and an assault upon Jewish and Christian history.

Now, funded by the City of David Foundation, and directed by Professor Gabriel Barkai, Israeli and other archeologists and volunteers are desperately searching through the tons of disturbed earth and rubble unceremoniously dumped by the Muslim Authorities in the nearby Kidron Valley.

The intrepid archaeologists and their helpers have uncovered thousands of rare and important artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods, as well as from Roman and Byzantine periods, among them a rare bulla dating from the First Temple period.

But each precious find, ripped and torn by Palestinian Muslims from their age old locations upon the Temple Mount, fatally compromise what each item can tell us: a most grievous and barbarous sin against history and civilization.

One can only shudder at what irreplaceable antiquities have now been destroyed and lost.