Anthropoid Sarcophagus, or Cartonnage
HARRY RIMMER, D. D., Sc. D.
With 37 Plate Illustrations in the Text
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Dead Men Tell Tales
BY HARRY RIMMER, D.D., SC.D.
Copyright 1939 by
Research Science Bureau, Incorporated
Printed in the United States of America
All rights in this book are reserved
No part of the book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission.
For information address the publishers.
In an older generation, especially among the writers of the more lurid types of fiction, it was an accepted axiom that “Dead men tell no tales!” But this was before the great era of modern archeology had impressed its findings on the general public, and indeed before most of those discoveries had been made.
Our generation knows better. Dead men do tell tales, and marvelous and wonderful are the stories they bring to us. By means of an archeological resurrection, the great men of antiquity are with us again. Once more we hear the accounts of their fascinating lives and adventures, and read again the records of their culture. The tongueless tombs of the distant past have suddenly become vocal, and this mighty chorus of the dead great has forced us to revise many of our once cherished opinions.
Nowhere is this more strikingly true than in the case of the coincidence of these old ages with the page of the Holy Bible. The richest finds of archeology come to us from the very periods of history that are dealt with in the pages of Holy Writ, and names that were known only from the record of the Scripture 4 are now the common possession of the scholarly world. So much is this the case, that we have a new technique of Bible study in our day. Just as the microscope is the instrument for the study of biology, and the spectroscope has become the means of study in physics, so the Bible is best read today in the light that is reflected upon its pages from the blade of a spade! This, of course, is intended to apply to the historical sections of the Book, and refers to the problem of its authenticity and historicity. It still remains true that spiritual understanding of its message can be derived only from study that is supervised and directed by the Holy Spirit.
This volume, the fourth in the promised series to be known as the
“JOHN LAURENCE FROST
will deal with some of those fascinating discoveries that bear particularly on the problem of the Old Testament. The succeeding and companion volume, which will be entitled “Crying Stones,” will deal in like manner with the records of the New Testament.
The material contained in this apologetic is derived from various sources. Much of it came from records in the famed British Museum, in London, England. This marvelous storehouse of treasure from the most remote antiquity is the greatest collection 5 of evidence bearing upon these questions, that is at present in the possession of man. There is scarcely a section of the Bible that does not receive some authentication from the limitless wealth of this noble treasury.
A great deal of the remainder of this information and proof has been derived from other museums, such as the Egyptian Museum at Cairo, Egypt, and the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. Much of the contents of this book has come from the excavations now in progress in Egypt, and from the ruins at Sakkara, Luxor, Karnak, Iraq, and other centers of present activity. The earth seems eager indeed to offer its treasures of proof concerning the Word of God.
The author is especially grateful for the help accorded to him in Egypt by Mr. and Mrs. Erian Boutros of Cairo, and by certain officials of the Egyptian government, chief of whom in helpfulness was M. Abdul Nabi, and the Egyptian Tourist Bureau, whose gracious efforts on our behalf won us many privileges from the Department of Antiquities.
The illustrations used in this volume are largely from the author’s own photographs of exhibits and evidences, made by him and presented with the assurance that they are not retouched or altered in any manner. In the course of his studies and travels in search 6 of this material, he made hundreds of negatives, only a few of which appear in this work. The exceptions to this are noted where they appear. The zinc etchings are made from original drawings by Miss Elizabeth Elverhoy from our photographs, and are authentic in all details.
We hand you now Tales of Dead Men, rendered by Men Long Dead, as they unconsciously accredit the sacred page of the Word of God. If you have a tithe of the pleasure and profit in the reading of these pages that we have experienced in the gathering of their contents, we shall be repaid for the labor involved.
In the romantic vocabulary of the twentieth century few words are more potent to arouse the interest of the average man than the fascinating word “archeology.” A flood of volumes has come forth from the press of our generation covering almost every phase of this now popular science. After one hundred years of steady plodding and determined digging, this school of research has at last come into its own and today occupies deserved prominence in the world of current literature. This science, which deals exclusively with dead races and the records of their conduct is, to many, the most fascinating field of investigation at present open to the inquiring mind of man. Nothing is of such interest to the human as is humanity. The study of the life and record of our own kind rightly means more to us than can most other subjects.
But the true appreciation of the value of the contribution of archeology to our modern learning can be appreciated only by those who grasp an outstanding fact that should be self-apparent, but is so often overlooked: 14 Namely, these records derived from musty tombs and burial mounds constitute the daily events in the lives of human beings! The folks who left these records were ordinary people such as make up the nations of the earth today. They are not merely names on tablets or faces carved in stone. They were actual flesh-and-blood individuals with all that this implies. In hours of merriment they laughed, and they shed tears in moments of sorrow. They hungered, and ate for satisfaction; they drank when they were thirsty. They loved and they hated; they lived and they died. Pleasure and pain were their alternating companions, while ambition, aspiration, and hope drove them on the endless round of their daily tasks.
In a word, they were real. Their life was as important to them as is your life, and they lived it in much the same way. Therefore, the records written by humans and studied by their kind, who now live these thousands of years later, constitute the source of the most human science with which our generation has to deal.
The contributions of archeology have reached almost every branch of study, but to no particular group of people have they been more timely and valuable than to students of the Bible. The hoary antiquity of the Book which has been received in every generation by the intelligent and the discerning 15 as the Word of God, has its roots in the same generations that archeology is investigating today. It is inevitable that much of the material being recovered by modern excavations shall have important bearing upon the various questions skepticism may raise concerning the text of the Scripture.
To the open-minded scholar who approaches this subject without prejudice, the science of archeology has a twofold contribution to make. Some of the evidences derived from digging are (a) of incalculable value in illuminating the text of the Scripture, and are (b) equally priceless when viewed as a body of indisputable evidence. Under this latter heading the proofs would come into four classifications:
1. The historicity of the text
2. The accuracy of the account
3. The authenticity of the record
4. The inspiration of the whole
By way of illustrating the manner in which the Scripture may be illumined by the findings of archeology, we would introduce a semi-humorous and partially tragic event that occurred in the dim and distant days of our own earlier studies. During a short term spent at a well known California college, we were specializing in the field of history. The teacher of this course, Professor Rosenberger, was one of the ablest pedagogues 16 who ever wasted her life in the more or less important task of teaching a rising generation how to think! At the end of the first few weeks in a class in English history, she informed the student group that the following day we would be privileged to have a test in this particular subject. When the class gathered for the happy event, there were twenty questions written on the board which were to constitute our examination.
The first question was something like this, “What new treaty had just been signed between France and Spain at this particular period?”
The next question had to do with the political commitments of the Holy Roman Empire.
The third question took us into the Germanic states, and in all of the twenty questions not one word concerning England was mentioned!
As the class sat with the usual and habitual expression of vacuity which generally adorns the countenance of a college student facing a quiz, the Professor said, “You may begin.”
Some hapless wight procured the courage to protest, by saying, “But you said this was to be an examination in English history!”
The Professor replied, “Quite so! This is English history!”
Then leaning forward over the desk she said, in impressive tones, “How can you expect 17 to know what England is doing, and why, if you do not know the pressure upon her of her enemies and friends at that particular period?”
A long distance back in our mental vacuum a dim light began to glow, and we never were caught that way again! When the teacher said French history, we read everything else! When she said German history, we specialized on the surrounding countries. One day as we were thinking over this helpful technique of understanding, the idea began to grow that if this was the proper way to study secular history, it ought to apply to Bible study as well!
There is an illumination that brightens the meaning of the Sacred Text when read in the light of collateral events that can come no other way. As an instance of this, we will remind the reader of the background of Isaiah. When this prophet first began to write, there was trouble between Israel, the northern confederation, and Judah, the southern kingdom. The king of Israel at this time was Pekah, the son of Remaliah, and although his people were numerically superior to Judah, he was fearful that he might not be strong enough to overcome the southern kingdom in the threatened war. Therefore, he made a close alliance with Rezin, the king of Syria, promising him all the spoils of the battle, if he would aid with 18 his army and strength. The Syrian king hastened to accept this offer, and signed the required covenant. When this alliance became known in Judah, a natural alarm spread throughout the tiny kingdom. Realizing that they were incapable of resisting the strong forces of Israel and Syria which had combined against them, the princes of Judah desired outside help. The only apparent source of such assistance was Egypt. So in the court of Ahaz, the king of Judah, a strong party began agitating for a military alliance with Egypt. That being the only apparent aid within any reasonable distance, it seemed natural to turn to them for a military alliance.
The prophet Isaiah, who was a strong force and exercised a vital influence in the policies of Judah, began to object most strenuously. In the light of this background, we can understand such outbursts of Isaiah as are found in the thirtieth chapter of his prophecy, verses one to three:
“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
“That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
“Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be 19 your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.”
His protest seems to reach a climax in the thirty-first chapter in that magnificently written plea for faith in God which we find in these graphic words:
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!
“Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evil doers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.”
All through this period of prophecy, Isaiah’s voice is aggressively raised against the folly of trusting Egypt. His protest is, “Since God redeemed us once from bondage in that land, why put ourselves back again under their yoke?”
The princes replied in some such terms as this: “The objection is o. k. in principle; as a basic thesis we will admit that it is safe to trust in God. But right now we need real help and we need it in a hurry.”
The prophet cried out in response, “God will send the help that you need!”
The natural question was “Whence? Syria and Egypt are the only two powers near us. One is arrayed against us and the help of the other you forbid us to seek. Whence then is the aid that God will send?”
The prophet’s reply was short and terse, “God will send aid from very far off.”
The reluctant court agreed to take a chance on Isaiah’s insistence, and so to trust their cause to the God of Israel. Quickly, then, upon the heels of this decision, as we learn from the records of archeology, there came one of the earlier battles that were fought at Charchemish.
The rising power of Assyria first made itself felt in that engagement. As a result, Syria was shattered and Israel made captive. The help that God had promised did come, and now the definite prophecy of Isaiah, in chapters seven and eight, may be correlated into this simple summary; and against this background we can understand the vehemence of Isaiah in crying out against an alliance with Egypt.
It is not too much to say, as we shall later show in detail, that in our present possession there is sufficient knowledge derived from the monuments and records of antiquity to authenticate every prophecy that Isaiah made concerning Egypt, Israel, Syria, and 21 Assyria. Thus the text of the Old Testament is illumined, and a floodlight of understanding thrown upon its prophetic utterance by the findings in this field.
Even more striking is the contribution of archeology in the second field, that of evidence in defense of the accepted text. The museums, monuments, and libraries of the world are teeming with such evidences, and it shall be the purpose of this volume to condense, epitomize, and present much of that evidence in a simple and readable form, divorced from technical obscurities. Right here, however, we offer just one simple illustration under each of the subdivisions suggested in the paragraph above.
To demonstrate the evidence of the Bible’s historicity, we shall offer the illustration made famous by the late Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, as to the record of the forty-seven kings of antiquity. It is probably known to the reader that the historical sections of the Old Testament contain the names of forty-seven kings, aside from the rulers of Israel and Judah. These foreign, or Gentile kings, have been known by name for many centuries to every reader of the Old Testament.
The odd thing is that until comparatively recent times, these names had been dropped out of secular history. Mighty as these men had each been in his day, they were completely forgotten by posterity and for some 22 twenty-three hundred years their names were unknown to the scholars of secular events. For this reason the learned leaders of “higher criticism” relegated these forty-seven monarchs to the columns of mythology. They were grouped among “the fables and folklore of the Old Testament” which this deluded school mistakenly taught was one of the basic weaknesses of the text. Then one after another these disputed monarchs began to rise from the dead in an archeological resurrection. In some cases a burial mound was uncovered; in others, an annalistic tablet, a boundary marker, or a great building inscribed with the monarch’s name. Now, all forty-seven of these presumably fabulous characters have been transferred from the columns of “mythology” to the accepted records of established history.
In forty-seven specific instances, as these kings rose from the dead past, they were recognized, as their names were not strange to true historians. Each was remembered from his appearance in the page of the Old Testament which had preserved his memory with accuracy. Thus, in this simple instance there are forty-seven definite and specific evidences of the complete historicity of the text.
To stress this point, the accuracy of the record, we shall cite a semi-humorous illustration. The great Greek historian, Herodotus, 23 who is supposed to be the “Father of History,” wrote some more or less accurate observations concerning the land of Egypt. Among other things, he said that the Egyptians grew no grapes and drank no wine.
There was another ancient who preceded this historian by many centuries, who also wrote voluminously about Egypt and her customs. This was the man Moses, who being reared in the bosom of the royal family as the crown prince and heir apparent, might be presumed to know considerably more about Egyptian customs than any casual visitor. Moses stated that the Egyptians did grow grapes and that they did drink wine. In fact, he recounts that Joseph was in jail with the chief cupbearer of Pharaoh, the butler whose business was the purveying of wine to the royal table. It may be remembered that in the butler’s dream he saw himself standing by the vine, squeezing the grapes into the cup.
This brought these two authorities into sharp opposition. Since Herodotus was supposed to be the final authority on matters of antiquity, the critics fell upon this discrepancy with considerable glee. The argument might still be going on, if it were not for the discovery of an unquestionable bit of evidence among the frescoes that decorate the tombs of Egyptian antiquity. These frescoes showed the Egyptians engaged in the art of 24 viticulture. In some of these pictures they were dressing and pruning the vines, cultivating and tending their crop. In others of the pictures they were seen to be gathering the grapes and conveying them to the press. The ingenious method of extracting the juice was clearly portrayed in these illuminating frescoes, which showed the juice being stored in stone jugs, clay pots, and skin bottles for future use. Since the ancients called any fruit juice that was used for drinking purposes by the name of wine, whether it was fresh or sweet, it is highly probable that some of this juice was drunk in an unfermented condition.
However, one of the murals depicted an Egyptian party gathered around the banquet board, making merry with the juice of the grape (See Plate 1). The incidental evidences show very clearly that the juice was fermented. Off in the corner, the picture depicts a noble lady who is portrayed with her slave holding a silver bowl, while she gave up the excess fluids that had evidently disagreed with the more commendable parts of the banquet! Another of these murals showed the morning light coming into such a banqueting hall, as the slaves were all carrying their masters home; with the exception of one inebriate who had slid under the table and had evidently been overlooked in the excitement!
Did the Egyptians grow grapes and drink wine?
Herodotus said “No.”
Moses said “Yes.”
The critics, to their later embarrassment, lined up solidly with Herodotus.
But since archeology has accredited the accuracy of Moses, this argument is no longer heard in the halls of learning.
When we come to the question of authenticity, we shall later give many evidences that none of the records of the Bible, either the Old Testament or the New, are, in any sense of the word, forgeries. They are uniformly authentic in that they were written by the men whose names they bear.
A classical illustration of this is found in the fact that Sir William Ramsay, one of the greatest archeologists of our generation, began his work in his early days under the bias of the critical position that Luke was not the author of either the Gospel that bears his name or the book of the Acts of the Apostles. After forty years of research in Asia Minor, Sir William Ramsay himself discovered the evidence that converted him personally to the orthodox and historical view, and demonstrated conclusively that Luke unquestionably wrote the two books that are accredited to him. As we shall deal with this matter more extensively in the fifth volume of this series, we pass on to the present 26 cause of modern controversy, namely, the inspiration of the text.
The fact of inspiration is stated so often by the writers of the Scripture that we must accept their explanation of the origin of these pages, or else classify them as the most consistent liars that humanity has ever produced. They claim a supernatural guidance by the Holy Ghost which has kept their records free from error or discrepancy. For one who has examined and analyzed the Scripture in the unprejudiced light of archeology, this claim is vindicated at every turn of the spade.
A simple illustration of the manner in which our science does show the inspiration of the Scripture, may be found from the prophetic sections of the Old Testament. In the days of Isaiah and his fellow prophets, the capital of Egypt was the city of No. It is also called Amon, and sometimes, No-Amon. It was a populous city of wealth and culture, being the center of learning, as well as the seat of government. In a day when Egypt dominated the world and No-Amon was the mistress of antiquity, obscure Hebrew prophets raised their voices in denunciation of No in such arbitrary and extreme statements as are found in the thirtieth chapter of Ezekiel. Denouncing the sin of Egypt and their repeated betrayals of Israel, Ezekiel warns Egypt that her land 27 shall be overrun with fire and sword, and that No-Amon shall be desolate and forsaken.
There must have been a strong element of humor in all of this outcry to the proud mind of the Egyptian of that day! No-Amon, also called Thebes, spreading out on both banks of the Nile, in complacent, serene command of the ancient world, apparently had nothing to fear from the bitter cries of a prophet of Israel. Yet today the visitor to the site of Thebes, or No-Amon, to use the more ancient name, is faced with a scene of desolation that is utterly devoid of any human habitation.
Since it is impossible for the human mind to pick up the curtain of time and peer ahead into future events, prophecy can derive only from the Holy Spirit. The work of archeologists in identifying the bleak and barren site of No-Amon portrays the inspiration of the Scripture. The proud city is forgotten except for its inscriptions on records of antiquity and the denunciations to be found in the Word of God. Thus we have simply illustrated how this dignified and sober science is bringing to us illumination of the text, together with the evidences of the HISTORICITY, ACCURACY, AUTHENTICITY, and INSPIRATION of the Bible.
This is eminently fitting, since this peculiar science is most intimately concerned with the problem of the credibility of the Bible. The 28 unique and heavenly nature of the Book is in itself a divisive factor. Multitudes of men and women love it and would die for its preservation. Indeed, it is no exaggeration of fact to say that multitudes have died in its defense. There are others who hate the Book and would go to any length to discredit it, except the extreme length of martyrdom. It is very natural for men to die for what they believe, but few men will surrender their lives for what they disbelieve!
This division is decidedly fitting and proper. Men and women who are saved by the grace of God recognize the supernatural nature of the Book that is the means of their redemption. Men and women who are lost, resent the honesty of that Book in that it condemns their sin and iniquity.
In our day and age, infidelity has, under the guise of an attempted scientific refutation, directed its chief argument against the integrity of the Scripture. Living in an age of science, when all things are again evaluated in the light of man’s technical knowledge, it is inevitable that the Bible should come in for this type of investigation. No exponent of Scripture would wish it otherwise. If the Bible is honestly examined without prejudice, under any system of truth, it will maintain its integrity and establish its own supernatural character.
The so-called scientific investigation of the 29 Scripture, however, has not been made on the basis of credible science. Rather, the prejudiced enemies have sought to gather from pseudo-scientific claims such help and hope for their opinions as would bolster their failing school. We frankly admit that the text of the Bible does refute the fallacies of men of science. There is a great deal of theoretical speculation indulged in by men who call themselves scientists, and who march under the banner of technical learning. In every age, when such fallacious theories are current, the Bible is necessarily repudiated by the exponents of those false ideas. Few such men, however, know the Bible, and their opposition has no lasting effect. This Book does not stand in any age by human consent, but has been able to maintain itself in every age by the inherent power of its supernatural character.
The science of archeology has played a great and leading role in demolishing these fallacies of a pseudo-scientific generation.
As an instance of this, we may note that the theory of organic evolution is unquestionably incompatible with the record of the Scripture. In the “dark ages” of biology which began to draw to a close at the beginning of this present decade, the thoughts of men were so darkened by the general acceptance of the baseless and unscientific theory of man’s animal origin, as sadly to 30 handicap capable research and frustrate the pursuit of real knowledge. We see again, however, that truth, though crushed to the earth, will rise again. For certainly no one who is within ten years of being up to date in the facts of biology and the discoveries of archeology, will contend any longer for the animal origin of the human species.
The theory cannot be harmonized with the record of the Scripture. Therefore, in the days of blindness, when this particular theory possessed the imagination of men, it was used as an argument against the integrity of the text of the Word of God. This whole problem simmers down to a simple illustration. In dealing with the origin of man, there are two horses. The problem of every man is to decide which one he shall ride. One horse is known by the name of “specific creation,” and the other is called “organic evolution.”
It is impossible to ride them both at once. In riding two horses at one time, it is necessary to keep them close together and both going in the same direction. There is no record of anyone who successfully rode two horses simultaneously when they were headed in opposite directions!
These two premises are irreconcilable. The first is that man was created in perfection. In the moment of his fiat origin, he was formed by the hand of God, gifted with all 31 the arts and cultures by a process of involution. The word “involution” simply means “to come down into.” That is to say, all of the graces and abilities possessed by man were imparted by creation.
The second theory is that “man has himself consummated a gradual ascent from a brutish state to our present high and civilized condition.” (If there were room in such a work as this for sarcasm, we might say that this is another way of noting that we have left the arrow and the club for heavy artillery, poison gas and aerial bomb. If one were to wax facetious, one might be tempted to suggest that if the present condition of international hatred, mass murder, violated treaties, forgotten honor, and civilian extermination in the holy name of war, are the best that evolution can accomplish, we should hand the whole mess back to the monkeys and ask them to stir up another batch!)
But to remain upon the sober grounds of scientific inquiry, it is not too much to say that the archeologist speaks upon this problem with absolute finality. There is nothing theoretical about archeology. What you dig up with your own hands, you are inclined to believe.
Some years ago we had a college lad on one of our expeditions who was strongly addicted to the theory of organic evolution. At the beginning of the work the lad showed 32 some disposition to argue, and was somewhat disappointed that we refused to enter into debate with him upon our differing theories. As day followed day, however, and we got into the rich contents of burial mounds containing a fabulous amount of ossi, this lad became deeply concerned with the discrepancies between his textbook learning and what he saw in his own personal recoveries of ancient skeletons.
Every time he came to us with some bone that did not fit in with his classroom theories, we would laugh and say, “Don’t bother us. You dug that up. This poor bone never read your textbook and it doesn’t know how you want it to be. Now, which are you going to believe? The schematized drawing in a textbook written by some professor who never saw a burial mound, or this evidence that you yourself have acquired by your own labor?”
At the end of that one summer, this student returned to the campus an ardent and bitter anti-evolutionist, denouncing the false teachings which had misled him by means of the printed page.
In a word, other sciences may speculate, theorize and deduce, but archeology delves and demonstrates. Some of these demonstrations will be seen in the contents of the following pages. We say some: for if all the evidence from the realm of archeology were massed into one great volume, no derrick ever built by man could lift its tremendous bulk and weight. In such a work as this one we are handicapped and embarrassed, not by the paucity of evidence, but rather by its over-abundance.
Egyptians at a wine orgy
Crude hieroglyphics on an ancient statue. Depicting the early development of art and writing
It shall be the purpose of the following pages to cull and summarize some of the striking facts of archeology, which demonstrate beyond question that the Book which men call the Bible is historically credible, scientifically accurate, and has been derived by inspiration from the Spirit of God.
In almost every branch of this fascinating science, archeology has been the handmaid of revelation. Even more, it has acted as a beacon to illuminate the pathway to God, which men call the Bible. The problem of the antiquity and culture of man was the battleground of infidelity which the skeptical chose to demonstrate the fallacy of the Bible’s claims to supernatural origin.
If it can be proved by the aid of science that the human race is older than is implied by the Genesis account of creation, and if it can be shown that man has ascended from a dim and brutish ancestry, instead of being created perfect by the hand of God, the foundation would admittedly be swept from beneath the Scripture, and the entire structure of revelation collapses. However, this unwarranted attempt to confuse the issue and refute the Scripture, is manifestly unfair to science. It is not too much to say that this is a debasing of the highest labors of human mentality. Research, in the exact sense of the word, cannot be used legitimately to establish a pet theory to which the advocate 38 clings without regard to evidence in the case. The attempt to demonstrate the organic evolution of man belongs in the realm of philosophy and not of science. The work of science is the correlation of facts. The sphere of philosophy is the interpretation of facts. In all of this controversy, we are not debating the facts of humanity, but are at odds concerning the application of those facts. The real issue then is not the antiquity of man, but the origin of man!
In the hope of obscuring the manner of origin, the enemy of our faith has sought to raise the dust storm of antiquity. It is here more than anywhere else, that archeology has been such a tremendous aid to the establishment of the truth. This science has demonstrated the premise of the Scripture, namely, the fixity and origin of our species. As far back as the spade has been able to thrust the history of humanity, we find the same types and varieties of the human family that exist upon the earth today. Since we are covering this problem of antiquity and origin in the sixth volume of this series, we will hasten on with this brief statement of the issue involved. We will later show that all of the statements made in the text of the Scripture concerning the degeneration and moral collapse of humanity have been abundantly demonstrated in the realm of archeology. Further, the claims that we make as 39 to the historicity of the Bible can be demonstrated satisfactorily in one single field; namely, the recording of the story of man and the care used by the Scripture writers in the exactness of their statements. In this display of historical accuracy, the writers of the Bible have incidentally repudiated the entire philosophy of organic evolution. It is not too much to say that no single evidence derived in the entire realm and history of archeology has sustained the theory of organic evolution. Remember that we are dealing specifically with evidence. If the evidence is rightly interpreted and honestly implied, item by item and in the aggregate mass, it refutes the entire fallacy of this weird philosophy.
Since it deals with the realm of human history, archeology is the final voice as to the antiquity and culture of man. No race of man has ever lived upon the face of this earth and failed to leave some relics or evidences of its existence and culture.
The science of anthropology postulates the beginning of the human family somewhere in Mesopotamia. The Bible is a little more specific, in that it states that it was in that portion of Mesopotamia which lies between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The oldest relics of man, however, are not found in Mesopotamia. This is due to the climatic conditions in certain parts of that 40 ancient land. The rainfall is heavy. We have ourselves suffered great inconvenience, delay, and loss by being isolated from our objective in Mesopotamia by floods that filled the wadies and gullies and made travel impossible. Also, the outlying country is underlaid to a great extent by water. When excavators dig but a short way into the strata of that land, they are handicapped and hindered by seepage. Because of this excess moisture, some of the oldest relics of our race have been destroyed by the ravages of time and the power of the elements.
The situation in Egypt, however, is quite the opposite. In most of that land there is no rain and in no part of that bleak country do we experience frost. The climate is dry to the utmost extreme, and the soil is largely sand. Due to this natural condition, the oldest records of the human race are found in Egypt. The oldest records of man and the most complete records so far recovered of his early existence have been preserved for us by this combination of climate and soil. Since the Egyptians buried in sand or in stone tombs, the deposits being protected from the elements, man was the only destroyer. Even though there has been a sad record of vandalism, as ruthless hands of the ignorant have despoiled magnificent tombs of priceless records and information, there is much that remained undisturbed. The people of Egypt built for endurance. The mighty pyramids, from Sakkara to the Great Pyramid; the Colossi at Luxor and the awe-inspiring ruins of Karnak, are present evidences of the durability of their labors. (See plates 2, 3 and 4.) Because of the strange beliefs concerning the life after death, these people also buried for eternity. We shall later consider, in the light of their customs and religious practices, the tremendous value that modern civilization has derived from this ancient fact. We have mentioned this fact now merely to note that the greatest treasure trove of preserved antiquity is found in the land of Egypt.
Magnificent example of embellished statue, conveying the name, hopes, and some of the record of an early ruler
Colossi at Luxor
The Sheltered Wife
Strangely, in view of the consistent demands of the evolutionary school, we find no evidence of human evolution in the land of Egypt. More than this, the doctrine that man began with a brutish intellect and gradually developed his high and peculiar culture, is refuted by the evidences from this country. In fact, the contrary is strikingly the case. Instead of proving a process of evolution, the history of man as found in the archeology of Egypt is a consistent record of degeneration.
The eminent Sayce, one of the ablest archeologists in the whole history of that great science, expressed his wonder and amazement at the high stage of culture met with in the very earliest records of the Egyptian 42 people. Other authorities, such as Baikie, have written voluminously upon this subject. It had been hoped that when excavators finally reached undisturbed tombs of the first dynasty, they would find themselves in the dawn of Egyptian culture. It was our fortunate privilege to be at Sakkara a year ago when the first complete and unmolested tombs of the first dynasty were uncovered. It was our privilege to keep a close check and watch upon all that was done at that time, and the conclusions and postulations of hopeful theorists were utterly shattered in such discoveries as were made.
Indeed, we can no longer start Egyptian culture with the beginning of the dynastic ages. Through the first tombs, we peer back into an older preceding culture that dazzles and amazes the human understanding. Instead of finding the dawn of a developing humanity, we see mankind already in the high noon of cultural accomplishments. Instead of nomadic dwellers in shaggy tents, we look upon works of enduring stone. Instead of brutish, Egyptian ancestral artifacts, we find a pottery culture that is really superb. It almost seems that the farther back we go into Egyptian antiquity, the more perfect was their culture and learning. The art of writing was the common possession of the Egyptian in the pre-dynastic period.
It is true that there was a so-called stone 43 age in Egypt, which preceded the first dynasty. We are showing here, however, a photograph of one of the most ancient open burials ever discovered in Egypt. This is accompanied by various heads of mummies, to show the state of preservation. (See Plate 5.) Before the art of embalming was invented and the dead were mummified, they were buried by intrusion in the dry sands. You will note the perfection of the culture of this people as depicted by the pottery undisturbed in this grave. In contrast to this type of burial, the mummies shown in this same plate are no better preserved than the earlier burial. Indeed, there is no evidence to show that these cultures were consecutive rather than contemporary. In various sections of Egypt it is quite probable that different burial customs prevailed simultaneously, and it is a pure speculation to say that the more primitive type of burial is ages older than the advanced style.
There are many anomalies and mysteries in this so-called stone age in Egypt. In the museum at Cairo there will be found some of the most remarkable specimens of stone flaking to be seen on the face of this earth. Others may be seen in the British Museum, in the various exhibits of Egyptian culture. One of these knives is equipped with two points, and all of them are equally sharpened on both edges. In the author’s own gatherings from 44 the various stone cultures of mankind, there are something over 25,000 artifacts. We have seen every important collection of stone implements in the present world, but these specimens from ancient Egypt are unquestionably the most magnificent types of stone culture we have ever been privileged to observe.
The significant and startling fact is that these stone knives have handles of beaten gold. At once we are impressed with the anomalous fact that the stone age was thus synonymous with an age of metal. Furthermore, it was an artistic age. The golden handles on these stone weapons are engraved with scenes common to the life of the people. On one side of the stone dagger with the double points, there is a sailing vessel typical of the pleasure craft that were common to all ages of Egyptian life. On the raised deck of this boat, dancing maidens were entertaining the circle of spectators. This work was not crude and brutish, but showed a high development of the engraver’s art. The reverse side of the handle was even more interesting in that it contained, in beautifully incised characters, the cult sign of the owner.
Here is, indeed, a weird super-imposition of ages and cultures. The body of the weapon is of a stone age; the handle of the weapon is of an age of metal; the engravings upon that metal show an age of art and the 45 possession of written characters. There is no comfort for the evolutionary hypothesis in the antiquity of Egypt. The contrary rather is the case. There is a strange tide sweeping through the record, portraying an ebb and flow of culture that is fascinating to observe.
The culture of Egypt starts on a magnificently high level and is later reduced to a tremendous degree by a consistent record of degeneration. It might be said that by the end of the fourth dynasty, the people had reached the high peak of Egyptian art and learning. But after the sixth dynasty had well begun, a definite decline and retrogression had set in. We find ourselves then groping in a dark age wherein were no arts and no written history. No great monuments come from that period, and no great buildings were begun, repaired, or finished. Writing became extremely scarce and in many sections of the land the art seems to have been completely forgotten. As in the dark ages of medieval Europe, learning was in eclipse and the mental life of man degenerated. Just when the renaissance began, it is impossible to say, but in the eleventh dynasty we are suddenly back into the light again.
Egypt emerges from those dark ages, ruled by powerful feudal lords, with the pharaohs appearing to be mere figure-heads. These 46 great barons left voluminous records, which depict their conquests and their powers, and tell of their own individual greatness. They constructed magnificent tombs for their eternal rest, and the land blossomed culturally under their dominion.
These conditions prevailed until the coming of the Hyksos dynasty. These conquering kings were of Semitic origin and they seem to have come from the region of Ur. After this conquest, Egypt suddenly became an unlimited monarchy. The great lords became landless, stripped of their power and robbed of all authority. The people literally passed into the possession of the crown, and Egypt became a nation of slaves who owed their very existence to the royal head of the government. The reason for this change will be made manifest later in this present work. We are now interested only in presenting these strange cycles of culture as shown by archeology.
It would take many volumes to give a detailed picture of the early golden age in Egypt. As an illustration of the art and development of that culture, we refer the reader to the tomb of a court official at the dawn of the sixth dynasty. Buried with this minor official were certain small wooden effigies depicting customs, trades, and tools of his day. There were porters laden with their heavy burdens. There were scribes bearing stylus 47 and plaque. Certain tradesmen were found in these brilliant statuettes, each man’s craft being shown by the tools that he carried in his hand. Priests appeared clad in their pontifical robes. Perhaps the most interesting of all were the statuettes of candy vendors, each man equipped with his tray of sweets, and a horsehair tail wherewith to fan the flies. Some of these statues were so perfect in their execution that the eminent Phidias might well have envied their perfection. When we compare this art and culture with the so-called pictures of brutish cave-dwellers, we have one more failure in the collapsing chain of evidences that was supposed to show man’s constantly advancing culture.
We might also give, by way of illustration, the magnificent statue of Kephren. This memorial was exquisitely carved from stone so hard that it would blunt most modern tools. Kephren constructed one of the pyramids at Giza. This latter work was notable in that there were evidences that some of the stones had been cut with what appeared to be tubular drills. Since this is possible in our modern culture with the use of diamond-pointed instruments, there is food for considerable thought and speculation as to the culture and learning of Kephren’s age! As a general statement, it is not too much to say that the farther back we go into Egyptian 48 antiquity, the more perfect the arts and culture in general seem to be.
When we compare, for instance, the brilliant workmanship of the priceless pectoral of the daughter of Usertesen (or Usertsen) with the crude and amateurish workmanship of the jewelry of the later queen Abhotep, it is evident that the centuries brought retrogression. The reign of Usertesen may be correlated with the early period of the patriarchal age, which fact has an important bearing upon our study. The hopeful critics of the Book of Genesis have postulated for the age of Abraham a barbaric lack of culture comparable to the nomadic tribes of Arabia in the Middle Ages. We now see, however, that the entire age of the patriarchs was a period of exquisite culture and high learning. To refer again to Usertsen, he seems to have been a capable strategist, and his system of working out his plan of battle was something like the game of chess. His artists had made for him models of the various kinds of soldiers that made up his variegated corps. The bowmen were armed with exquisite miniature weapons that had, to our delight and wonder, been preserved against all the passing centuries. The black troops that he used, of whatever origin, were carved from a wood like our ebony, and the tiny features were negroid in faithful representation of the difference between the races 49 of men employed in his army. These model soldiers could be moved about a board which depicted the terrain of battle, and his strategy thus wrought out. Our present point, however, is the artistic perfection of the models of the soldiers that he used. The art of his age was as nearly perfect as one could wish.
Then there came another cycle of retrogression and decay which climaxed in a period of cultural darkness that reigned too long over that ancient people. It is highly significant, for instance, that the best glass of Egypt is dug from the more ancient sites. There came a time when the art of making glass was forgotten by the people of Egypt and had later to be rediscovered by other races.
If there is one voice that can be heard in archeology, and one lesson that can be specifically learned, it is the certainty of the fallacy of the theory of evolution. Egypt, as elsewhere, shows us no dim, brutish beginning, but a startling emergence of this people in a high degree of culture. No gradual ascent up the ladder of learning, but cycles of retrogression and advancement, followed by decay: then a new dawning of art and science. The entire record of archeology is thus a complete vindication of the premise and basic contention of the inspired record of God’s Word. No greater voice may be 50 heard in our day than this definite, adamant cry from Egypt, which depicts cycles of culture that begin with a crest of learning. It must not be presumed that this condition is unique in Egypt, or peculiar to any one race or country. The same queer discrepancy between the fallacious theories of the philosophy of organic evolution and the facts of human history is observed wherever archeology has been able to hold the torch of discovery over a given area.
We have illustrated, for instance, in Plates Number 6 and 7, one of the most interesting of the exhibits in the British Museum. This is a stone weapon from the archaic ages of the Chaldeans. It consists of a mace head, made of limestone. Incidentally, this was a very common type of weapon among those people in their warlike culture. The particular one that is illustrated is typical of its time. Note that it is a STONE AGE WEAPON.
A note of wonder is caused in our inquiring minds by the odd and utterly incompatible fact that it is engraved clearly in high relief, thus testifying to the fact that in the archaic stone age of Babylon, men who wrought in a time when the evolutionary advocates demand a dim and brutish stage of development were already gifted in the art of sculpture!
To complicate the case still further, they were possessed as well with a highly developed 51 written language! Their stone implements are in some instances crude, as they did not spend time polishing and decorating rude tools that were used for a base purpose. Others of their artifacts, like this stone mace head, are not only covered with finely sculptured figures but are also inscribed with written characters that are clear and well executed. A “stone age” with a written culture, scholars, and books, is an anomaly, indeed!
Where, then, in the light of these archeological facts, is the evidence of the slow development of the human mentality and the emergence of primitive man from his “brutish” state? Unfortunately for the high-priests of the dying sect of organic evolution, the science which delineates the true condition of ancient races offers them no help or proof whatever. The opposite is the case in archeology, as all the evidence that has come to us from the honest attempt to see man as he was, and not as he was reported to have been, has proved conclusively that organic evolution is a false religion. It is inevitable that this fact should some day come to light; for although it may be that science moves with leaden feet, when it does finally overtake error, it smites with an iron fist!
Thus the false theory that man has struggled upward from a valley of brutish darkness is refuted by archeology, and the premise 52 of specific creation, as set forth in the Bible, is established by the discoveries in the realm of this science. In every land that man has occupied for a long period of time, the tide of culture has ebbed and flowed from that hour to this present moment of writing. Just as the night follows the day, and the next day dawns only to be succeeded by the darkness in turn, so the learning and progress of man has been a cycle, rather than a steady climb up a ladder of learning, from level to level, until the heights of present civilization were reached. The old error must now be abandoned, or else we must close our eyes to the entire record of archeological discovery, and frankly confess that we are not interested in facts which refute erroneous, but accepted theories.
In a systematic presentation of the evidences in the field of Christian apologetics, it is necessary to review the Egyptian and Chaldean records as they bear upon the text of the Scripture, and illumine its meaning. For it is here that the streams of History and Revelation converge, to continue their flow in mingled harmony throughout all the centuries which follow this original conjunction.
In the very nature of the case we would not expect direct archeological confirmation of a great deal of the earlier portions of the Old Testament. The record of creation which was handed down from Adam to each generation delineated an event which was not witnessed by any human being. As has been very clearly shown in the illuminating book, “New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis,” by P. J. Wiseman, this record was undoubtedly preserved in a written form from the very time of Adam himself.
Khnum and Thoth in Creation Tradition.
The events of the Garden of Eden and the subsequent history are not such as would leave archeological material for the exact enlightenment of later generations. There is, however, a manner in which the study of antiquity can bring a tremendous light to shine upon the dark problem of the credibility of these records. It is generally conceded by ethnologists that when races of people hold a strongly developed idea or belief, in common, there must have been an historical incident as the basis of that universal tradition. Thus, among the very earliest traditions of ancient Egypt, there is a record of the creation of man that bears a valuable relationship to the account in Genesis.
The Mosaic record states that God stooped and created the body of man out of the dust of the earth. Life was imparted to that body by the very breath of God.
The earliest Egyptian record recounts how the god Khnum took a slab of mud, and placing it upon his potter’s wheel, moulded it into the physical form of the first man. The illustration facing this page shows the entire process, with Thoth standing behind Khnum, and marking the span of man’s years upon a notched branch. Here then is a coincidence of traditional belief in the manner of creation of man that is of tremendous significance.
We also note that the earliest records of Sumeria have this same incidental bearing upon certain portions of the Old Testament text.
All of the records of antiquity begin the history of man in a garden. This is of considerable 58 significance in view of the account of Eden that is so prominently given in the record of Genesis.
Among the seals to which we shall occasionally refer and which are shown in Plate 8, there is one from an early period in Sumeria from which we have derived considerable understanding of Sumerian beliefs. This seal shows Adam and Eve on opposite sides of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and can be nothing less than a direct reference to the event that is recorded in the Book of Genesis.
One of the most constantly cited documents of antiquity, is the so-called Gilgamesh epic. The high antiquity of the original form in which this occurs may be seen from the fact that many of the seals that go as far back as the year 3,000 B. C. are made of illustrations of the various episodes that are contained in this valuable document. The original home of Gilgamesh seems to have been at Erech. The city was evidently besieged by an army led by Gilgamesh, who, after a three-year war, became the king of the city. So harsh was the despotic rule of the conquering monarch that the people petitioned the goddess Aruru to create a being strong enough to overthrow Gilgamesh and release them from his sway.
Some of the gods joined in with this prayer and as a result a mythical being, partly divine, 59 partly human, and partly animal, was created and dispatched to Erech for the destruction of Gilgamesh. This composite hero bears a great many different names, but the earliest accepted form in the Babylonian account was Enkedu. Gilgamesh, learning that an enemy had been created for his destruction, exercised craft and lured Enkedu to the city of Erech. The two became fast friends and set out finally to do battle with a mighty giant named Khumbaba. When they arrived at his castle, they besieged and captured the stronghold of the giant, whom they slew. They carried off his head as a trophy and returned to Erech to celebrate their victory.
The plan of the gods being thus frustrated, the goddess Ishtar besought her father Anu to create a mighty bull to destroy Gilgamesh. The bull being formed and dispatched upon its duty, also failed of its purpose when Enkedu and Gilgamesh vanquished the animal after a tremendous battle. And so on, the story goes with episode after episode, culminating with a crisis in the account of the deluge.
In this climax, in a notable and fascinating manner, we see again the coincidence of tradition with a record of the Scripture. In the Babylonian account of the deluge, every major premise of the Mosaic record is sustained in its entirety. The Gilgamesh account tells of the heavenly warning, it depicts the gathering of material and the building 60 of an ark. In the ark was safely carried the hero, his wife and his family with certain beasts of the earth for seed. The ark of the Gilgamesh episode was made water tight with bitumen exactly as was the ark of Noah in the record in the Book of Genesis. Entering this ark, the Babylonian account tells how the boat came under the direct supervision of the gods. On the same night a mighty torrent fell out of the skies. The cloudburst continued for six days and nights, until the tops of the mountains were covered. The sea arose out of its banks and helped to overflow the land. After the seventh day, the storm abated and the sea decreased. By that time, however, the whole human race had been destroyed with the exception of the little company who had been within the Babylonian ark.
The ark of Babylon grounded in that portion of the ancient world known as Armenia, the Hebrew name of which is Ararat. Seven days after the landing of the ark, the imprisoned remnant sent forth a dove. When she found no place to light and rest, the dove returned to the ship. They waited a short while and then sent forth a swallow. The swallow also returned, wearied from a long flight, and several more days were allowed to elapse. The next attempt to discover the condition of the earth by the imprisoned remnant resulted in the sending forth of a 61 raven. The bird returned and approached the ark, but refused to re-enter the ship. The remnant knew then that the flood was ended. They accordingly went forth with all the redeemed life, and celebrated their preservation by offering up sacrifices to the gods upon the mountains.
The goddess Ishtar was so pleased with the sacrifice of the godly remnant that she hung in the heavens a great bow, which Anu, the father of the gods, had made for the occasion. She swore by the sacred ornaments that hung about her neck that mankind should not again be destroyed by a flood, and this heavenly bow was the sign of that covenant.
The incidental details which are found in this hoary manuscript coincide too closely with the record of Genesis to admit of coincidence. Archeology has brought no stronger testimony to the historicity of the Mosaic record of the deluge than this great account in the Gilgamesh epic, although interspersed with mythological characters and deviating from the simplicity of the Genesis account.
One of the most valuable publications of the British Museum is their monograph on the Gilgamesh legend, which contains a fine and scholarly translation of the deluge tablet in an unabridged form. Our own copy of this publication has been of great value to many students who have sought its aid in their detailed studies of the Old Testament.
Another one of the disputed portions of the Old Testament text which brought great comfort to the habitually hopeful among the destructive critics, is that section of Genesis which deals with the record of Nimrod and the tower of Babel.
Modern archeology not only has failed to bring any aid to the critics in this particular incident, but has robbed them of all their carefully erected structure of argument which was predicated upon the assumption that the tower of Babel was entirely mythological. Among the recent excavations in Mesopotamia was the work in the region which bore the oriental name of Birs-nimroud. When the excavators had finished their enormous task, they had laid bare a magnificent ziggurat of tremendous antiquity which was the largest so far discovered. At the time these ruins were first seen, this enormous tower covered an area of 1,444,000 square feet. It towered to the height of a bit more than 700 feet. Time has, of course, ravished this monument to some extent, but enough of its grandeur and glory remains to show it forth as the most ancient as well as the most magnificent of the Babylonian ziggurats.
According to the description given by Herodotus, in the middle of the fifth century, B. C., the structure then consisted of a series of eight ascending towers, each one recessed 63 in the modern fashion of cutting-back that is used in certain types of sky-scraper architecture. The famous Step Pyramid at Sakkara is another ancient example of this type of structure, each successive and higher tower being smaller than the one upon which it rests. A spiral roadway, according to Herodotus, went around the entire ziggurat, mounting rapidly from level to level. He states that at each level a resting place was provided in this spiral roadway. At the top of the structure was a magnificent temple in which the religious exercises of the day were observed.
That this was the tower of Nimrod is generally accepted by the authorities of our present day. The name of Nimrod which in the Sumerian ideographs is read “Ni-mir-rud” is found on a number of artifacts and records of high antiquity, and reference is made as well to the great monument that he built.
So as we read our way through the episodes which constitute the earlier records of Genesis, we also dig our way into the older strata of humanity and find ourselves walking hand in hand with the twins of revelation and scientific vindication! They coincide in all their utterances, teaching us that all that the Word of God has to say to men may be accepted without question or doubt.
The late Melvin Grove Kyle has written extensively of his own researches at Sodom 64 and Gomorrah, so that it is unnecessary to recapitulate the results of his lifetime of labor. The sulphurous overburden and the startling confirmation of the Book of Genesis derived from the work of Dr. Kyle and his associates would vindicate the Scriptural claims to historical accuracy even if they stood by themselves.
In the general argument and discussion that long has clustered about the record of Abraham, the starting point of critical refutation has generally been the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. It is stated that the battle of the kings that occurred in this disputed portion of Holy Writ, was in the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar. Since a contemporary is named as Ched-or-la-o-mer, a storm of argument has swept over and about that one opening verse of this important chapter. The allies of Ched-or-la-o-mer are well known from his own records, and Amraphel was not to be found among them. It was a tremendous blow to criticism when the discovery was made that Amraphel is the Hebrew name of the Sumerian form, Khammurabi.
Colossi of Karnak
Colossi of Luxor
Colossi of Amen-Hetep III guarding Valley of the Kings
At tomb of Tutanhkamen, in the Valley of Kings
The brilliant ability of this mighty ruler is one of the high points of far antiquity. The king-lists of antiquity, derived from many sources, were compiled by order of several of the kings of Assyria and constitute another of the many valuable records to be found in the British Museum. A recent publication of the Museum entitled “The Annals of the Kings of Assyria” is well worth many times the price of one pound sterling which is demanded for the volume. This scholarly and brilliant piece of work contains the original Assyrian text transliterated and translated with historical data that the careful scholar cannot be without. It settles the question of Khammurabi. This Khammurabi, whom we shall now call by his Hebrew name Amraphel, has left us a long series of tablets, monuments, letters, and a code of laws which stands engraved upon a great monument preserved also in the British Museum.
It is a long way back to that twentieth century before Christ, but neither time nor distance prevents our hearing the clamoring voices of men long dead, who shout to us their vindication of the nature, character, and integrity of these testimonies which are the Word of God!
It is a matter of common knowledge in our day that the word, or name, pharaoh, may be applied either to a person or to an office. Exactly as our modern word “president” may be applied to the function of the office, or to the possessor of it in person, so the ruler of Egypt could be known simply as The Pharaoh, or shorter still, as Pharaoh. As every president, emperor or king, however, has his 66 own proper name, so each pharaoh also is designated by his personal name. Fortunately for our purpose, many pharaohs are mentioned in the pages of Holy Writ under the clear identification of their proper names. Many of them, however, are not identified by their personal name but are referred to only by the title of their kingly office. Thus, for instance, the pharaoh of the Exodus is not named personally in the text. Such attempts at identification of this pharaoh as are made, must be made from external sources. However, there can be no question of the identity of the rulers of Egypt, who are specifically named in the Word of God. Such men as the Pharaoh Shishak, the Pharaoh Zera and the Pharaoh So, are identified beyond any possibility of question.
It is a happy circumstance for the student of apologetics that each of the pharaohs who is so named in person by the writers of the Bible, has been discovered and identified in the records of archeology. No more emphatic voice as to the credibility and the infallible nature of the historical sections of the Scripture can be heard than that which is formed by the chorus of these pharaohs.
To note the background of this record, may we remind the reader that in early times, Egypt was a divided kingdom. It was known as Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, and a separate monarch reigned over each section. It 67 happens that in the period of the divided kingdom, there were fourteen dynasties in each section of the land. The Egyptian, like all Eastern people, highly prized ancestral antiquity. The farther back into antiquity a man’s family could be traced in his genealogy, the more the honour that accrued to him. We are not without modern counterparts, even in our present democracy.
Therefore, when the two kingdoms were united, the first kings of the united kingdom added together the fourteen dynasties of Upper and Lower Egypt, making them consecutive instead of contiguous. Thus they built a spurious antiquity of twenty-eight dynasties to enhance their greatness.
The earlier archeologists fell into this trap, and consequently erected an antiquity phantom which obscured the problem of chronology for some considerable time. When it was discovered that these dynasties were concurrent, a great deal of the fallacious antiquity of Egypt was abandoned. This fictional antiquity, which doubled the factor of time for that period, had been used to discredit the text of the Bible by the critical scholars, so-called. Now, in the light of our present learning, we find no discrepancy between the antiquity of Egypt, properly understood, and the chronology of the Scripture, when it is divorced from the errors of Ussher. Incidentally, the chronology and 68 antiquity demands of both archeology and revelation coincide beautifully with the demands of sane anthropology.
To delineate this background so necessary to the proper understanding of the record of the pharaohs, it is necessary to introduce the first occasion of the coincidence of the text of the Scripture with the land and the people of Egypt, as it is here that the streams of revelation and history begin to converge. This beginning is made, of course, in the flight of Abraham into Egypt at the time of a disastrous famine. Overlooking for the moment the reprehensible conduct of Abraham concerning the denial of his wife Sarah, and the consequent embarrassment of the pharaoh, we digress to make a brief survey of the incidents that lead up to the kindness of Pharaoh to Abraham.
There had been previous Semitic invasions of Egypt. The first reason for these forays, of course, was famine. Due to the unfailing inundation by the river Nile, the fertile land of Egypt was a natural storehouse. The land of Egypt is fertile, the sun is benevolent, and wherever water reaches the land, amazingly prodigious crops are the inevitable result. So in the ancient days, whenever there was drought in the desert countries surrounding Egypt, the hungry hordes looked on the food supplies of their neighboring country, and, naturally, moved in that direction. Thus 69 the pressure of want was the primary reason for these early Semitic invasions.
The secondary cause was conquest. These people of antiquity were brutal pragmatists, as are certain nations in our present Twentieth Century. The theme song of antiquity undoubtedly was, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” The motive for living in those stern days seems to have been, “He takes who can, and keeps who may.”
The activating motive of much past history is simply spoils. Here now is a case in point. A family of kings ruled in Syria, who counted their wealth by flocks and herds. Driven by a combination of circumstances, they descended upon Egypt. They were pressed by the lack of forage in their own land, due to the drought, and they also lusted after the treasure and wealth of the neighboring country. So, without need for any other excuse, they descended with their armed hordes and conquered Egypt. There they ruled, established a dynasty and possessed the land for themselves. Since their principal possessions were their flocks and herds, they were known as the Shepherd Kings. They have come down in history as the Hyksos Dynasty. They unified Syria and Egypt, and it is intriguing to study the development of this unification as that process is seen in the pottery of that period. The work of Egyptian artisans began to take on 70 certain characteristics of Syrian culture until, finally, the characteristic Egyptian line and decoration disappeared and the pottery became purely Syrian. The Shepherd Kings established commerce between the two halves of their empire and prosperity followed their conquest. These kings imported artists from their native Syria, together with musicians and dancers innumerable.
This intrusion of a foreign culture so changed the standards of Egypt that for generations the ideal of beauty was a Syrian ideal. Later, when the Syrian kings were expelled by Tahutmas the 2nd, the situation was reversed and Egypt, now governed by an Egyptian, kept Syria as her share of the spoils.
Four hundred years later another Semitic invasion swept over the land from Ur. It is quite probable that these conquerors were Sumerians. They established the sixteenth dynasty and brought with them also their treasure in the form of livestock. Thus, when Abraham entered Egypt, he found that it was ruled by his relatives! Thus we have an explanation of the cordial welcome that a Sumerian from Ur received from a pharaoh in Egypt. This contact is well established through the arts of that day, by pottery, by frescoes, and by means of the records of ancient customs. We know these things to be facts.
So when we read of the record of Abraham, we have at our disposal a vast and overwhelming source of evidence as to the credibility of this section of the record. The statements that are made in Genesis could have been written only by one who was intimately familiar with the Egypt of that day and time.
The second contact of Egypt and the Genesis record is found in the experience of Joseph. Although harsh and unkind, the action of the brothers in selling the youngest into slavery was perfectly legal under the code of that day. The younger brethren were all subject to the elders, and the law of primogeniture gave to the elder almost unlimited power over the life of the younger. The brutality and envy of this act are far from unparalleled in the secular records of that day. Nor was Joseph’s phenomenal rise to power unusual in the strange culture of that day and time. We must remember that Joseph was a Semite at a Semitic court. There is an unconscious introduction of a collateral fact in the simple statement of Genesis, chapter thirty-nine, verse one. After being told that Joseph was sold to a man named Potiphar, the statement is made that Potiphar was an Egyptian.
At first thought it would seem to be expected that a trusted officer in the court of a pharaoh would naturally be an Egyptian. 72 The contrary is the case here, however. The pharaoh himself being an invader, he had surrounded himself with trusted men of his own race and family. As far as may now be ascertained, Potiphar was the only Egyptian who had preserved his life and kept his place at the court. He seems to have been the chief officer of the bodyguard of Pharaoh, and as such was entrusted with the dubious honor of executing the Pharaoh’s personal enemies. This, then, is a simple and passing statement that gives us an unexpected means of checking the scrupulous accuracy of the Genesis record.
Joseph was comely, attractive, and faithful. With an optimistic acceptance of his unfortunate circumstances, which seem much harder to us in our enlightened generation than would actually be the case to one accustomed to such vicissitudes of fortune, he set himself to serve with fidelity and industry. But above all this, the blessing of God rested upon him and upon all that he did. Since he was in the line of the promised Seed, and was under the direct blessing of that promise, it was inevitable that he should prosper.
There is a flood of illumination that shines upon this period from the frescoed tombs, the ancient papyri, and the records crudely inscribed upon walls and pillars. Particularly is this true of the entire section of Genesis that begins with the fortieth chapter and continues to the end of that Book.
Open burial lower left
Another mural from an ancient tomb: butchers at work
The god Hapi drawing the Two Kingdoms into one
Among the quaint frescoes of antiquity, there is one that has no word of explanation. There are many such murals in Egyptian tombs, and the cattle also figure often in the pictures on the papyri. (See Plate 9.) This fresco, however, was quite unique. Across the scene there parade fourteen cattle. The first seven are round, fat and in fine condition. They are followed by seven of the skinniest cows that ever ambled on four legs! No word of explanation is needed to clarify this scene for those who are familiar with the history of that time.
There is another mural showing the chief baker of Pharaoh, followed by his servants and porters. In his hand he holds a receipt for the one hundred thousand loaves that were daily delivered to the palace of Pharaoh. These “loaves” were in the nature of large buns.
The multiplicity of these paintings would require a volume to delineate carefully, but there is information here that cannot be passed over in silence. They bring to us the solution of one of those mysteries of Egyptian history, which is found in the collapse of the feudal system and the consequent complete possession of the land by the crown. We can now read from the secular evidences thus derived, that in a time of plenty a 74 trusted lieutenant of the king built granaries to store the surplus left over from the time of plenty. Of course, to our enlightened times or in the culture of this generation, that is the height of ignorance. The proper thing to do in a time plenty is to destroy the surplus and plow under the excess. We sometimes wonder what would have happened in Egypt if our modern culture had prevailed in the seven years of plenty, in the light of the famine that followed!
We now find that when the whole land hungered, the lords ceded their real estate to the crown for grain to keep themselves and their families alive. The people sold themselves to Pharaoh and became slaves, on condition that he feed them as he would his cattle. When this time of famine was ended, Egypt was so absolute a monarchy that Pharaoh owned even the bodies of those who had been his subjects.
As an illuminating collateral incident, we now learn that a Sumerian name was given to Joseph, the trusted lieutenant. To him was accorded the title “Zaph-nath-pa-a-ne-ah.” The Sumerian meaning is “Master of hidden learning,” and was a title of honour and distinction which was conferred because of his wisdom and forethought in providing for the future. To him also was accorded the royal honour. He was to be preceded by a herald who called upon the people to bow 75 down as Joseph passed by. Herein there comes the explanation of a slight philological difficulty in the text of Genesis. They have tried to make this title of honour to mean “Little Father.” This difficulty, however, disappears when we understand that it is not a Hebrew word that is found in the text, but an ancient Egyptian phrase. The common form of the word is “Ah-brak” and literally it means “bending the knee.” The Babylonian form of the word is “Abarakhu.” In some parts of the ancient world the term “Ah-brak” is still used by cameliers to make their beasts of burden kneel to receive their load. Thus when Joseph, the master of the hidden learning, went abroad throughout the land the herald preceded him crying, “Bend the knee,” and all the populace bowed in homage to him in acknowledgment of his distinguished accomplishments.
Against this background of understanding, we now turn our thoughts to one of the most stirring dramas in all human history. Again there was a famine in the entire land of Sumeria, and the people turned, as was customary, to the land of Egypt for succor and relief. Had this epic been invented by some literary genius of antiquity, the arrival of the brothers of Joseph to buy grain for their starving clan would be deemed one of the most melodramatic episodes ever conceived by the human mind. Therein we see 76 again how God overruled the evil deed of the brethren, and by that very deed saved the guilty. In a time of world oppression and bitter famine, the family of Abraham was reunited in the shelter of Egypt.
As the story unfolds, we see the significance of Joseph’s instructions to his brethren. These Semitic kings were shepherds who highly prized their flocks and herds. The Egyptians, however, despised husbandry, and thus the monarchs were in great distress because of the want of capable herdsmen. The brethren of Joseph were distantly related to the reigning pharaoh. They were of the same race of people, and their father Abraham had been a prince in that land of Sumeria. So when the pharaoh asked them what their occupation was, recognizing them as distant relatives, they were canny enough to reply, “We be shepherds; to sojourn in the land are we come.” With great delight, the pharaoh employed them to be the personal overseers of his treasured animals.
Goshen, which consisted of two hundred square miles of fertility, and was the finest province and the juiciest plum in Egypt, was turned over to them for a pasture! They entered into a life of comparative ease, of absolute security, and of importance in the court of their day.
So there came into Egypt that group which 77 was to constitute the spring that gave rise to the historic stream of the Hebrew people. The tribes were there in the persons of their founders, and the long contact of Israel and Egypt began through the pressure and want occasioned by a time of famine.
One further interesting and collateral evidence of the accuracy of these records is found in the various texts and sections of the Books of the Dead, and in the records of the customs and practices of the ancient art of embalming. In Egypt the general rule was to allow seventy days for the embalming of a dead body, the burial, and the mourning for the dead. But the fiftieth chapter of Genesis dealing with the death and burial of Joseph tells us, in the third verse, “And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.”
These statements could be true only in the days of a Hyksos or Sumerian dynasty. The manner of embalming introduced by these Syrian conquerors, required forty days for the complete process and the burial. Seventy days was their custom for mourning, thus making a total of one hundred ten days. Only in these exact periods of Egyptian history could this record of Genesis be thus established and accredited.
It is a fascinating experience for the student of archeology to wend his way through the mass of evidence derived from these generations and now in the possession of the great museums of our earth. A pilgrimage begun in the British Museum, at London, continuing through the Egyptian Museum at Cairo, passing by way of Sakkara to culminate at Karnak, will enable the fascinated student to read this entire book of Genesis from the sources of antiquity. Thus in the very beginning of the convergence of the two streams, Revelation and History, we see that dead men indeed tell tales; and their stories vindicate the record of the Word of God!
Much of this evidence is, in the very nature of the case, inductive, and is valuable largely because of the light it sheds on dark places in the text of the Scripture. The customs of the people of antiquity were in many ways so different from those of our day, we have lost the comprehension of their conduct that is dependent upon mutual experience. There are thus certain obscurities in the pages of the Bible that have baffled modern man for a long time, but which are now clearly understood in the light of fresh understanding of the beliefs and practices of the times that are dealt with in the Scriptures. This is by no means the least of the benefits of archeological investigation.
One such field will be found in the record 79 of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, and the manner in which God shook the power of the conquering pharaoh and devastated Egypt for the relief of the oppressed. The entire record has been repudiated point by point by the various critics and the varying schools of criticism, until their limited opinions leave no grounds for belief in the very fact of the event itself. These objections, when analyzed carefully, are all predicated upon the personal ignorance of the individual critic concerning some phase of the proceedings that climaxed with the departure of Israel from servitude.
One of the commonest objections to the credibility of the Old Testament history was the oft-repeated assertion that though the children of Israel were in bondage for a long period in Egypt and left that land in the most dramatic exodus antiquity had known, there is no record from Egyptian sources of the people or history of Israel. Such is not now the case, but had it been so this would not necessarily have diminished the value of the historical statements to be found in the record of the book of Exodus.
Very few of the races of antiquity recorded in detail their defeats! Certainly no nation that prided itself upon its greatness and power ever suffered a more complete overthrow than did Egypt in the redemption of Israel. 80 It is only natural to presume that they would make very little reference to the crushing blow that they suffered at that time. There is even today a strong tendency on the part of the Egyptians to hush up all evidence of this event as far as it is possible to do so. In the great Egyptian Museum at Cairo, for instance, we find a record of one of these texts that does refer to the Israelites.
Exhibit 599 in this aforesaid Museum is a large stele in dark gray granite, which is beautifully engraved on both sides. On one side there is an extensive inscription in which Amenophis the Third gives a categorical list of his gifts and offerings for the temple of Amon. The other side of the stele has been appropriated by Amenpthah. He gives a highly dramatic account of his battles and victories over the Libyans, and then alludes to the assault of Ascalon, of Gezer, and of Yanoem in Palestine. In the course of this later record, the inscription reads, “Israel is crushed. It has no more seed.”
In the Egyptian Museum this exhibit is accompanied by the following ingenious statement: “This is the sole mention of the Israelites in the Egyptian texts known up to the present day.”
This is not exactly the truth. The Egyptian Museum itself at Cairo has a number of the tablets containing the correspondence between 81 the Egyptian court and the kings and governors who were vassals to Egypt in Palestine and Syria. These communications make urgent demands upon the crown of Egypt for military help against the invasion of an armed horde who are called in the text, Hebiru. The word “Hebiru” is commonly identified with the modern term Hebrew.
Again, the late Director General of the Department of Antiquity of Egypt and the great founder of the Cairo Museum, Maspero, has left us an interesting note of this monument of Menepthah. Maspero points to the fact that in comparison to Egypt, Chaldea and Assyria, Israel was a very insignificant race. If this was true when the nation was ruled by her greatest and most glorious dynasty, that of David and Solomon, it would be more so when the nation consisted of a slave company lodged in a corner of the delta.
The later ravages undergone by the temples of Egypt, when they suffered incalculable harm through the vandalism of the darker ages, makes it indeed extraordinary that any record of those earlier times has remained.
In the very nature of the case, these details could not have been comprehended by the scholars of the past generation, as they dealt with customs and ideas that were lost to our age. The insatiable curiosity of the 82 archeologist, combined with the care with which the Egyptians preserved their records, can be credited with the recovery of this lost information, the possession of which so wonderfully establishes our faith in this more enlightened age.
The prosecutors of the old charge of “folklore and mythology” so constantly directed against the faith of those who hold to the credibility of our present Scripture text, found some of their keenest shafts in the Biblical account of the exodus from Egypt. Scrutinizing the record of that notable event under the microscope of prejudice, the critics claimed to have found many outstanding weaknesses in the text. Particularly was this so in that section of the story which dealt with the plagues with which Almighty God smote the land and broke down the resistance of Pharaoh.
There is, therefore, a manifestation of a sardonic humor in the present situation. After denying for generations that these plagues ever occurred, the critics now seek to rob the account of any value by their new technique of acquiescence. The really modern method of discrediting the Scripture is to admit that there is some truth in the record and then subtly twist the meaning of the text out of all harmony with the general plan of revelation. As a noteworthy example of this 86 modern technique of criticism, we submit a leading article which appeared in the London Express of Sunday, September 6, 1936.
Professing to accept the historical record of the ten plagues, the writer of this article then craftily proceeds to offer a peculiarly human and mechanistic theory to account for the disaster. In reading this news item, we are at once struck by the fact that every element of a supernatural nature is deleted from the strange series of events, and the credit for the entire victory of Israel is ascribed to the human genius of the man Moses. This news item appeared in the following form:
THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT
SHOW THAT MOSES ANTICIPATED BY 3,000 YEARS THE GREATEST FEAR OF MODERN SCIENCE
Science has been inquiring into one of the greatest catastrophes that befell a nation—the ten plagues of Egypt.
They have found that modern theories are in accord with the Bible story.
The plagues were brought upon the Egyptians by Moses in the days of Israel’s captivity. Dr. Charles J. Brim, a New York authority on public health, says that Moses must have anticipated by 3,000 years modern science’s greatest fear—the use of disease germs, water pollution and other attacks on sanitation as war weapons—in short, bacteriological warfare.
Moses, states Dr. Brim, 87 in addition to being the founder of the science of hygiene, showed that germ warfare could annihilate man and beast more effectively than arms and man power. With it he bent the mighty Egyptians to his will and thus brought about the Exodus, the release of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. With it he so undermined their man power and morale that it became impossible for them to face the hardships of war.
The ten plagues, in their order, were:
Changing the water into blood;
The murrain of cattle;
The boils on the Egyptians;
The death of the first-born.
“The first step in this carefully planned attack,” says Dr. Brim in a newly published book, “Medicine in the Bible,” “was the pollution of Egypt’s water supply.”
This had two results: First, it attacked the god of Egypt—the Nile; secondly, it sapped the very fountain of the country.
Egyptian legend said that the Nile sprang from the blood of the god Osiris. Hence, “the waters of the Nile were turned into blood.”
Egypt depended on the Nile for its drinking water, on its yearly inundations for the irrigation of the fields.
A polluted Nile was a smashing blow at the water supply and at the crops and cattle. Nobody could wash or drink.
The fish—one of the staple foods—died. Frogs were forced to leave their natural haunts in the river banks and invaded the streets, fields and houses in their millions.
Swarms of frogs, with no water or food, died and rotted over the countryside. Cartloads were burned, but not before the germs of pollution had time to multiply.
The air became filled with the disease germs bred in this ideal forcing-ground. 88 People and animals became infected.
Flies descended in swarms greater than people had ever seen, bringing more germs with them. Cattle died in their thousands.
Dust, in a naturally dusty country, became infected, spreading more disease and death. Nature took a turn. A terrific hailstorm shrieked over Egypt. The few crops that were left standing were flattened and destroyed. Animals were killed by the force of the hailstones. Next came the locusts, dropping in their millions on the fields, eating everything the hail had left.
When they passed, a dust storm, caused probably by the hot, electrical wind known as the hamsin, blew up and darkened the sky for days on end, as sandstorms still do in that part of the world. The tenth and last plague, the death of the first-born, was a natural consequence of all that had happened since the day the water became polluted.
The Bible does not say explicitly that only the first-born died in this plague.
What it does say is:
And it came to pass that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon.
The epidemic killed many others, but in the death of the first-born lay the greatest calamity, for the first-born son was chief in every Egyptian household.
Dr. Brim does not explain how the first plague was brought about, but if Moses did pollute the Nile it must have been done when the water was low.
It is certain that Moses was a medical genius, as his laws of health prove, and knew the certain effects of water pollution.
Neither does the doctor explain how Moses foresaw the hail, but it is possible he could judge atmospheric conditions with precision.—V. B.
It is perhaps an inaccuracy to talk about “modern” attempts to thwart and deny the Word of God! There is nothing modern about this entire propaganda, popular as it may be in our own day. The error is ancient, as is the attitude of mind that would set aside the element of the supernatural in Holy Writ, and oppose the time-honored revelation of God’s will by the modern self-satisfaction with human learning. Indeed, this common and basic sin of our generation is so far from being modern, that the very first recorded case of denial of God’s Word comes from the Garden of Eden, man’s first and original home.
Even before sin had reared its ugly head, to shatter the sweet communion and spoil the fair harmony that was the basis of man’s fellowship with his Creator, this error appeared. It was Satan who, encroaching upon the beauty of Eden’s fair content, first said, “Hath God said?” The denial of the truth of God’s spoken word originated with the enemy of man: and it would behoove us all to remember that any man who has questioned His written word from that hour to this, is also an enemy, and an emissary of the original foe of mankind! Do we owe Satan so great a debt of gratitude for the deep and dark pit of woe into which he has lured our race, that we must lend slavish attention to the same old error when he sponsors it today?
For this “modern” attempt to discredit the Scripture is but a recrudescence of his ancient and simple strategy for the hurt of mankind. Well does he know that if he can but shake the faith of our generation in the integrity of the Bible, faith in God must soon be lost as well. Once more pedantic scoffers, professors of this and of that, arise solemnly to refute the truth of the only “map” that can ever guide men back to the Paradise we lost when the first man rejected God’s revelation.
It is interesting to see that this old error is in no new guise, in the article referred to above. This is nothing new, it is just an original approach to the same old mess of Satanic whispering. Indeed, Paul warned us of the possibility of this very article and method in II Timothy 3:8, when he said:
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
He introduces the very age of Egyptian history, and the events connected with the Exodus in speaking thus of the false teachers of the apostate days that should precede the time of our Lord’s return. And lo! the event transpires in this year of grace, as the press of the twentieth century casts doubt upon the Ten Plagues in this subtle manner.
It is subtle. Also dishonest to the nth degree. 91 Professing to accept the historicity of the events, the article then proceeds to demolish the credibility of the record, by ascribing all the plagues to natural forces, directed by the genius of a human being, namely, Moses. God is ruled out, the supernatural denied, and common sense prostituted to infidelity in a manner that the shallowest thinker could not countenance. For a man of medicine, or a scholar in any realm of science, to foster such a contemptible evasion of plain fact, passes understanding.
A few years ago it was customary for criticism to deny that these plagues ever happened. Classifying them among the reputed folklore of the Hebrews, and relegating them to the realm of the purely mythological, the critic calmly and boldly denied that they ever occurred at all. But these past years of research and study have so established the historicity of the record, that this procedure is no longer possible; so the new attack is made, on the basis of naturalism.
It is plainly stated that Moses himself brought about these plagues upon the Egyptians, and that he did so by the use of his own superior knowledge. In a word, he was a bacteriologist, three and a half thousand years before Pasteur! That in itself is a greater miracle than the plagues could ever have been! No microscope, no instruments 92 of research, yet he not only anticipated the discoveries of Lister and Pasteur, but he also applied germ warfare to the redemption of Israel, and “bent the Egyptians to his will.”
More marvelous than all this, he did it by simply polluting the Nile River, the source of the life of Egypt. This of course was a simple task! The Nile is a mighty river. If we follow its course just from the First Cataract at Assuan to the mouth, it is over five hundred miles as the river twists and bends round and about.
Now all Moses had to do was to impregnate those five hundred miles of winding river with some deadly form of disease germs, that would affect the Egyptians but not the Israelites! Any nice germ would do! Of course, he had also to keep those five hundred miles of flowing stream polluted, in spite of the rushing current that swept fresh water down day by day! Let us not forget, that he did all this while Pharaoh was looking on: and that for seven days the condition continued, then to end as suddenly as it had begun. We should like to know something of his technique!
Then, after the river had cleared its waters, Moses boldly announced that the Lord would overrun the land with frogs! This was done, not as a result of a polluted river, but rather after the river was clear. Pollution with 93 disease germs might have driven the frogs out of the river: but how did Moses get them to go back, as Pharaoh entreated him to do?
Most conveniently, the author of the above cited article does not mention how the lice were spread over the land by Moses! Did he personally catch them and spread them all around, or had he been breeding and storing them for years in advance? The flies may have increased in the rotting piles of frogs, but what kept this pest of flies out of the small section of Egypt called the Land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were? Given the conditions that caused the flies to breed, why did they refrain from the particular portion of the land where Moses and his people were camping?
So also for the murrain on the cattle, and the boils on the Egyptians. None of Israel were affected by these disasters. Did Moses have some kind of salve or prophylactic serum that he used, he being the great medical genius that this article makes him to be? Even that will not account for the fact that when the hail came, it, also, avoided the camp of Moses and his three and a half million compatriots!
But even a great medical genius and an accomplished meteorologist could not have foreseen the coming of the locusts that darkened the sky and the land as well. Nor 94 could this great medical genius, even had he also been an able entomologist, have seen to it that the locusts ate only Egyptian vegetation, as Goshen greenery would have been just as acceptable to hungry locusts! And who ever saw any other kind?
Passing over the supernatural darkness with the simple observation that it was not an ordinary phenomenon such as a sandstorm (which left the houses of the Israelites unaffected), we will hasten to the conclusion of the matter, the death of the first-born. The article we are quoting makes a terribly strained attempt to prove that others died as well as the first-born, but the text of the Scripture does not so state or imply. Indeed, the text very clearly sets forth the fact that it was only the first-born who died. They died dramatically; all at the same hour.
At midnight, simultaneously, death smote a certain restricted class.
The prince in the palace, and the felon in the dungeon; the cattle as well.
But the first-born of Israel did not die!
They were all under the blood!
Quaint epidemic, was it not? It came as a result of disease germs in the river Nile, it killed all its victims out of just one class, the first-born, and it passed over any home that had lamb’s blood on the door posts!
Is it necessary for a man to believe such arrant nonsense, and accept such utterances of folly before he can qualify as an educated man, or a scientist?
Most fortunately, it is not!
To show the truth of this matter, we can indeed study these ten plagues in the light of modern science. Not by the flickering rays of the lamp of human speculation can understanding be achieved. Only in the full illumination of the sunshine of historical fact can the truth be discerned. So, we will turn to the great and truly modern science of archeology to study the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and see what the truth of the matter really is.
In the first place, thanks to the vast amount of research in the archeology of Egypt, we now know that these ten plagues were a contest between the Lord God of the Israelites, and the pantheon of Egypt.
The genesis of the contest is given in Exodus 3:18. Here Moses is instructed by God to ask Pharaoh for a three-day furlough for the entire company of the Twelve Tribes, that they might go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah. This initial request was to be the first step in a campaign that would result in the redemption of Israel from their long bondage, 96 and the apparently reasonable request was made with the certainty that it would be refused. Indeed, the request was such that Pharaoh could not grant it!
As we shall later see, the Egyptians were the most polytheistic nation that ever lived. In their pantheon of deities there were more than twenty-two hundred gods and goddesses, and each of them had a particular theophany. That is to say, these gods and goddesses had certain animals that were sacred to them, and in which animal form the particular god or goddess occasionally manifested a personal presence. So very often the deities of Egypt are depicted in stone and painting as having a human body, but an animal head. Thus Thoth might be seen with the head of an ibis, while Hathor sometimes has a human head, but more often she is portrayed with the head of a cow.
So there was no animal that the Hebrews could sacrifice to their God, Jehovah, that would not be sacred to some Egyptian deity. This sacrifice would constitute blasphemy in the eyes of the Egyptian masters, and trouble would eventuate immediately! Indeed, when Pharaoh, worn out by the troubles brought upon him by the plagues, suggested to Moses that the people sacrifice to Jehovah without going to the wilderness, 97 Moses simply replied in the language that is recorded in Exodus 8:26:
“What shall we sacrifice, that will not be an abomination in the eyes of the Egyptians? Will they not stone the people if they sacrifice in the land?”
The justice of the reply was so self-apparent that the ruler did not press his suggestion, as the text shows. Thus God forced the issue and provoked the conflict that not only freed His people from slavery and eventually established them in the land that He had promised them through Abraham, but also showed His supremacy over the gods of Egypt. Even more than that, in the resultant series of events, the Lord God brought such glory to His own Name, and showed such omnipotence that the world has never forgotten this drama, even to our own day and time. Witness the very article that is the subject of this present comment!
The clear statement of God’s attitude toward the conflict is seen in Exodus 4:23, 24. The figure of speech used there is a divine choice, therefore we use it just as God Himself expressed His own mind to Moses. The “first-born” was the chief object of interest in every Egyptian household, for two reasons. The law of primogeniture ruled in that day and land, even as it does in England and other 98 countries today. Also, the first-born of every species, animal or human, was dedicated to the gods, and was a sacred object, in a very strong sense of that word. So later, we hear the law of Israel as set forth by God, that the first-born of man or beast in the land is to be sacred to Jehovah: not to the gods of Egypt.
Now then, as Moses was sent to Pharaoh, to carry the demands of God for the release of the people, he was instructed to tell the ruler that Israel was, in God’s sight, as prized and beloved a group as the “first-born” was in an Egyptian household. In a figure of speech that Egypt as a whole could most clearly grasp, God said: “Israel is My son, My first-born: And I have said unto thee, Let my son go that he may serve me; and thou hast refused to let him go; behold, I will slay thy son, thy first-born.”
With this introduction, we can see clearly the genesis of the conflict. It is most clearly stated in Exodus 5:1-3. When Moses said to Pharaoh, “Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness:” the ruler of the land said, in just so many words, “Who is Jehovah? I never heard of him!” Not only did the mighty king reject the word and the commands of God, but he also denied Him in no uncertain terms. 99 This upstart Jehovah, who was He to give orders to Pharaoh the mighty? He was the god of an humbled and captive people, therefore the king reasoned that his own gods must be far mightier! So the proud and haughty monarch said, “I’ll stick by the gods of Egypt; I know not this Jehovah, and I will not obey His words.”
Moses left with the clearly expressed warning that the king might not then know Jehovah, but that he was certainly destined to find out about Him! The call to arms, the challenge to combat, and the prophecy of God’s victory are all expressed in the single verse in Exodus the seventh chapter, where God tells Moses that “the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I stretch out my hand upon Egypt....” This, then, was the primary reason for the ten plagues. God would teach the Egyptians a lesson through judgments that the land would never forget! When he finished with them, none were ever again able to say, “And who is this Jehovah? The gods of Egypt are stronger.”
Thus we see that the contest was primarily between the monotheism of Israel and polytheism of Egypt. We would emphasize the fact that the Egyptians were perhaps the most polytheistic race the world has so far known. It is impossible to say just how many deities existed to the Egyptian mind, but 100 “their name was legion”! Two hundred separate deities are named in the Pyramid Text, and four hundred and eighty more are named in the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead. Altogether, archeologists have recovered the names of over two thousand two hundred different gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Egyptians! Is it any wonder that Jehovah must start His laws to His people with the commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me!”?
A word about these objects of Egyptian worship will be necessary to clear up the necessary later references to the practices and the beliefs of the Egyptians. While these ancient folks never had the idea of an immanent, pervasive God, in the monotheistic sense, they still had a dim conception of a super-god principle, behind and over the various individual gods and goddesses. There was first of all the grouping of gods into triads, which was a widely accepted custom. Since each triad consisted of a god, a wife, and a son, this grouping is less a degeneration of the principle of the Trinity than might seem to be suggested at first thought. Rather, it was a glorification of the family principle.
Thus we see that at Thebes, the principal triad of deities consists of Amon-Ra, the king of all the gods, Mut, his Wife, and Khons, their son.
Ba-neb-Ded, with his wife Het-mehit, and their son Harpakhrad (whom the Greeks later called Harpokrates) constituted the triad at Mendes. In like manner, the Memphis triad was composed of Ptah, Sekhmet, and Imhotep. Sometimes the greater gods were grouped into a company of nine, called the Ennead. There was also the grouping of the major deities into the “Three Companies,” being the gods of the heaven, the earth, and the Other or Under World.
All the gods had human bodies, but some of them had animal heads. Sometimes a god who customarily had a human head would appear wearing the animal head of his theophany, as in the case of Hathor, cited above. Thus when Hathor appears with a cow’s head upon a human body, she appears with the solar disk between her horns; and when she appears with the human head, she wears as a headdress the bonnet of the goddess Mut, the wife of Amon-Ra, the horns of the cow, the solar disk which shows her relationship to Horus, and the feather of the goddess Maat.
We have previously asserted that each plague was a direct blow at one of these celestial beings, and it might be profitable to demonstrate this fact with a few concrete illustrations.
The First Plague was a direct and definite blow at a numerous company of these objects of worship. In the first place, the River Nile was itself an object of worship. It was reputed to flow from the celestial stream called Nu, and was heavenly in its origin. It brought life to the entire land of Egypt, and was worshipped with appropriate and very exact ritual. There were hymns to the Nile, prayers and offerings to and for the Nile, and the river possessed in itself a very real personality. The River is pictured in the form of a man wearing a cluster of water plants upon his head, and the idea of fertility is conveyed by giving him the heavy pendant breasts of a nursing mother! In the British Museum may be seen a remarkable papyrus, containing the Hymn to the Nile. To show the reverence felt for the power of the great River, we quote just a sentence or two from this Hymn:
... Thou art the Lord of the poor and needy. If thou wert overthrown in the heavens, the gods would fall upon their faces, and men would perish....
This deified river, then, the source of life 103 and blessing in Egypt, was smitten by God, and its waters turned to blood. Frantically the Egyptians sought to dig shallow wells by the banks of the stream, as their water supply failed them for the first time in the memory of man! Truly, Jehovah was greater than the Nile! And not only greater than the River itself, there was more than this involved. There were many issues involved, and many deities suffered “loss of face” that day!
There was the mighty Osiris, who was himself the cause and source of the resurrection and of everlasting life. Greatest of all the gods of the underworld, he has an important part in the text of the Book of the Dead. The Nile was supposed to be his bloodstream! When God smote the Nile, he laid the mighty Osiris low in the dust! With him fell Hapi—who was the Nile-god, and also Satet, the wife of Khnemu, the goddess of the annual inundation. Her divine sister, Anqet, bit the dust that day, as she was the personification of the Nile waters, which turned into an offense and a stench when Moses stretched out his staff. Time will not permit the presentation of the characters of Isis-Sothis, Isis-Hathor, Ament, Menat, Renpit and at least two score more, 104 all of whom met defeat in the First Plague. None of them could sustain their prestige and power in the face of the action of Jehovah, and He emerged victorious in the first trial of strength.
The Second Plague was likewise a contest between the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and certain specific ideas of the Egyptian system of worship. The plague of frogs that covered the land, making life a burden to the people, was a blow struck at Heqt, the wife of the great Khnum, whose theophany was a frog. Indeed, she was called the “frog-goddess,” and this lowly creature was sacred to her. The frog was the symbol of the resurrection, and the emblem of fertility. It was reverenced by the people, and to have one around the dwelling place was a sign of good fortune and was supposed to ensure a fertile year for farm and family alike.
They got enough of this quaint object of reverence when God flooded their land with myriads of the beastly things! They were in the bread-trough, and got tangled up in the dough, thus adding a rather quaint flavor to the bread! The bread could not be baked, 105 however, as the baking ovens crawled with frogs, and the fires could not be lighted. They hopped all over the master of the house, and when he sought his bed in disgust they were there before him.
Like a blanket of filth the slimy, wet monstrosities covered the land, until men sickened at the continued squashing crunch of the ghastly pavement they were forced to walk upon. If a man’s feet slipped on the greasy mass of their crushed bodies, he fell into an indescribably offensive mass of putrid uncleanness, and when he sought water to cleanse himself, the water was so solid with frogs, he got no cleansing there. In sheer desperation the mighty king was forced to beg, “Call off your frogs, and I will let the people go!” Read Exodus 8:1-15.
And with that cry, the prestige of Heqt and Khnum was gone forever, drowned out in the tidal wave of disgust that rolled up in protest at too much of her theophany!
It is a bit difficult to imagine that generation of Egyptians ever worshipping the Frog again.
Plagues Three and Four are a bit more difficult to deal with at the present writing, because of the personal ignorance of the writer. By that he means to say that more light is required here as he does not know definitely the exact god that was meant to 106 suffer in the estimation of the people, with the plague of lice. There can be no question, however, that the people themselves were hard hit, as any veteran of the A. E. F. will be only too glad to testify! This unclean parasite must have been a source of misery that was well-nigh insuperable, when it became as numerous as the very dust of the ground! It must have made the Egyptians somewhat envious to see the Israelites basking in peace and bodily comfort, while they, the lords of the land, itched and scratched and suffered the misery of this vicious pest! How much better to trust the God Jehovah who demonstrated His ability to keep His followers free from even such a plague as this.
As for the flies, there is this suggestion, at least: one of them was sacred to the name of Uatchit. What variety of fly is intended in the text we cannot definitely say, as there are numerous species of flies. But the ichneumon fly is a symbol of this god, and their figures in tiny statues and on papyri are well known to the modern archeologist. They are a brilliant and beautiful insect, somewhat prized by the entomologists of our day as specimens, but they can be a pest when they come in too numerous companies!
Some years ago we were encamped in Mexico, with a company who were digging 107 for archeological treasure. The site was pleasant, the camp was near a clear, meandering stream, and the shade trees were enjoyable. There was just “one fly in the ointment” and that fly was the ichneumon. Every time food was placed upon the camp table, this gorgeous insect responded with enthusiasm and delight. They came in regiments and companies, bringing all their relatives and friends with them! So we could say from experience, that anyone who had to fight with a swarm of ichneumon flies for his own share of the lunch, would soon come to revile the god to whom this symbol was sacred! Not only Jehovah, but any god would seem preferable to Uatchit after an invasion of his particular pets. Or should we turn this last word around and make it pest, instead?
When we come to the Fifth Plague, we are again on solid and assured territory. Once more firm archeological ground supports the theme of this chapter. When God smote the cattle of Egypt, He dealt most definitely and drastically with Egyptian polytheism. There were many of the supreme objects of Egyptian worship that met their Waterloo in the murrain on the cattle.
Chief of these is the mighty and venerated Hathor. She was the “cow-goddess” that was universally worshipped in all the land, and was to the human race of that day the “mother” principle of deity. Her most common name in the Egyptian language is Het-Hert, which literally means “the House of Horus.” The House of Horus is that portion of the sky where Horus lives and is daily born, namely, the east. Hathor is depicted in antiquity in many forms. Always she appears with a human body, and may sometimes have a human head as well. But more often she has a cow’s head on a human body, as the cow was her symbol. She often walked the land in the theophany of a cow, and one could tell when a calf was born, whether Hathor had come to earth, or not.
When this great goddess is pictured with a human head, she wears an impressive headdress. This is composed of the spreading horns of a cow, between which are seen the bonnet of Mut, the divine wife of Amon-Ra, the king of the gods. Above this is seen the solar disk, as Hathor was of “The Great Company” and was associated with all the beneficence of the glorious and life-giving sun. The Book of the Dead teaches that Hathor provides nourishment for the soul in the other-world, and as such a provider she excels all the minor gods. So in all the forms in which she is carved or drawn, she wears 109 the sacred uraeus, to show her exalted power.
When God smote the cattle, her especial symbol, He struck a mighty blow at the tottering system for which Pharaoh had confidently expressed his preference. The other forays were but skirmishes: this was a real and decisive battle! This shrewd and telling victory was the beginning of the end of the conflict. If the divine Hathor could not protect her faithful following from the power of Jehovah, who could?
For not only Hathor was thus challenged and defeated, but other important members of the Heavenly Company met defeat and disgrace in the plague that smote the cattle. A common object in the Egypt of that day was the sacred bull, Apis, whose power was vast indeed. His temples dotted the land, and the priests of his cult were many and their power was impressive in the extreme. On the forehead of Apis appears the sacred triangle of eternity, and on his back is always seen the sacred scarab, with spread wings.
Apis was the theophany of the god whose name was Ptah-Seker-Asar, and he also was one of the triune resurrection gods. The living worshipped him that they might live again in the world to come, and the dead, of course, all worshipped him because he 110 had made them to live again. Now, alas, for those who trusted in him against Jehovah! He could not even defend his own earth-form from the blight that his new enemy, Jehovah, had sent on all that represented the great and powerful Ptah-Seker-Asar. Thus God humbled the sacred Apis in the same stroke that crushed the cult of Hathor.
To this record must also be added the name of Nut, the goddess of the sky, and the wife of Geb. She it was who produced the egg out of which the sun hatched, so in reality she preceded Horus and even Amon-Ra, even though they ascended to a higher power and authority later. She is depicted with a female human body, and the head of a cow. However, she does not wear the solar disk, nor the headdress of Hathor, as she was a little lower in the social company of the weird organization of nonsense and mysticism that was the religion of Egypt.
The simple summary of the whole record is just this: all the gods of Egypt were not able to defend the cattle, when the Lord God Jehovah stretched out His hand to smite them! This the people of Egypt were forced to concede, as their cattle died by the thousand before their bewildered eyes, while not one of the herds of Israel lost so much as one head of cattle by the murrain.
The Sixth and Seventh Plagues are simple to deal with, as the record of Egypt gives valuable aid to the unprejudiced student here. Imhotep was the god of medicine, and the guardian of all the healing sciences. Prayers were made to him for protection as well as for cures, and he was greatly revered. In like manner, Reshpu and Qetesh were the gods of storm and of battle, and they controlled all the natural elements except the light. So the noisome and painful boils struck the devotees of Imhotep and left him powerless to aid his praying following, and their plight was pitiful indeed. How little it helped to see that the followers of the god Jehovah, at whom Pharaoh had sneered with ridicule, were comfortable, and with unblemished skins! No suppurating sores advertised the pain of the Hebrews; the good hand of their God was upon them, to protect them from the very disaster that came upon all the Egyptians for Israel’s sake!
The medical man of the twentieth century, whose article we are now considering, attributes all this painful consequence to the bacteriological pollution of the Nile, which was accomplished by the skill and wisdom of Moses. The present writer of this refutation 112 is not utterly ignorant of the science of bacteriology, but he humbly confesses that he does not know of any pathogenic micro-organism that would bite everybody except a Hebrew! We would like to know the name and the nature of such a bacterium or bacillus! The Hebrews were exposed to the same flies, the same germs, the same stench of the dead frogs, the same epidemic that was consequent upon this chain of events, unless Moses vaccinated or inoculated them all, some three and a half millions in number. Truly the natural explanations of the supernatural cause reason to totter on her throne!
But if God was at war with Imhotep, Reshpu and the gods of healing, and desired to scatter their following and to open their eyes to the folly of idol worship, we can see how He might protect His own, while smiting the followers of the false religion. In that case also, Moses would not need to be the only man in antiquity who could call up a devastating hail storm at the dictate of his own will. Moses could leave it to God to shame Reshpu and the other gods of the elements in the eyes of their devotees.
The Eighth Plague, that of the locusts, is 113 the easiest of all to comprehend. This was a direct blow at the Egyptian conception of Providence, and a sweeping victory over all that was holy in the eyes of this idolatrous people. These ancient people ascribed the fertility of their fields and the abundance of the harvests to certain specific deities. The modern scholar establishes this fact by studying the hymns of praise and the votive records of the Egyptians. But after the hail had hammered their lovely ripening crops flat on the ground, and even while they mourned their loss, swarms of locusts descended like a cloud, and swept the land as clean of vegetation as a forest fire could have done.
To see God’s purpose in this act, we need only consider the prophecy of Joel. With a fidelity to detail that arouses the admiration of the modern entomologist, this prophet of Israel portrays the devastation of the land by a swarm of locusts, as a judgment from God upon His own people. When famine and want stare men in the face, and they are beyond the hope of other aid, then they turn back to God in sorrow and in repentance. For where can men turn except to God, when the land lies barren and devastated, and famine stalks the earth?
Thus in Egypt, when God would teach an unforgettable lesson to the proud and haughty 114 king whose impertinent comment had been, “Who is this Jehovah?”, He punctuated His answer to Pharaoh’s question with a swarm of locusts. It is reasonable to conclude that long after the starving Egyptians had forgotten the pangs of hunger that came inevitably on the heels of that visitation of consuming insects, the lesson of that visitation remained.
All these disasters, following one after the other, had struck telling blows at the very foundation of Egypt’s religion. But a worse was to follow.
The Ninth Plague struck at the very apex and head of all the Great Company of the pantheon. The most essential thing in all the physical realm is light, and the Egyptians seemed to realize this fact. The darkness of the ninth plague was a supernatural darkness. This much is evident from the record, which says that it covered the land so grossly, the people sought refuge in bed! Evidently artificial light would not penetrate that fearful gloom; but the children of Israel had light in their dwellings!
Of course they had it!
They are the people who later sang: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation.”
But the songs of the Egyptians were directed to different gods entirely. Here, then, 115 was a golden opportunity to test the might of these conflicting ideas of deity. Is Jehovah able to maintain His superiority over the hosts of the Egyptian gods? They were indeed mighty in the hearts of the people, and the contest was long and grim.
First of all to consider, there was the incomparable Thoth who had worked out the system of placing all the stars, the sun and the moon in the heavens. He had arranged also the seasons, as they had been decreed by Ra. Although inferior to Ra and to Horus, nevertheless Thoth gave light by night, and on those days that the sun was not visible. He also gave Isis the power needed to raise the dead, and to offend him was to suffer eternal loss. Remembering that the Hebrews had lived under this culture and psychology for generations, and considering that they all must have been tinctured somewhat with these beliefs, many of them must have trembled indeed when Jehovah calmly engaged in battle with Thoth! So the Lord God not only smote the god of Egypt in this part of the conflict, but He also established His personal superiority in the minds of His own despairing people. Certainly, when this plague ended, the Hebrews hastened to follow His next commands without hesitancy, even though those commands laid them in danger of the death penalty under Egyptian law.
A lesser deity, but also a powerful one who suffered grievously in loss of prestige while the darkness reigned, was the fire-goddess Sekhmet. She was the divinity of fire, and thus also of artificial light. This darkness that covered the land during this plague was called “thick” darkness, and it was so impenetrable that for three days and nights, the Egyptians stayed in bed! They saw the face of no man in those dark days and dense nights, and it is evident that artificial light was useless. Only in the houses of Israel did any light shine, but in each dwelling in Goshen the light was undimmed. So it was demonstrated in the case of Sekhmet, the lioness-headed goddess of artificial light, that she was powerless when Jehovah invaded her realm.
With what delight did Moses remember all this, when later he wrote the words of the First Chapter of Genesis. How his heart must have thrilled as he spoke of God commanding the light to shine on the first day of creation, and recorded the obedience of the light to the spoken word of Israel’s God. He had seen that when God commanded darkness all the gods of Egypt were powerless before Jehovah, and that it was therefore 117 simple for God to reverse the process, and bring light to alleviate the darkness of the chaos.
The section of the pantheon that crumbled in the regard of the devoted Egyptians that hour was a broad and numerous company. No divinity of all the polytheistic company was very much more reverenced than Horus, the hawk-headed. He was called “the eye of Ra,” and was the god of the noontime sun. When the flaming heat of Ra was just overhead at the hour of midday, and when its light and heat were the most intense, Horus was in the ascendancy. When the deep darkness of the ninth plague hit the land, the hearts of the people were sick with fright. Believing that the sun was born anew every morning, and having an intense and well-thought-out system of deities connected with this rite, they must have thought that there had been wholesale slaughter and failure among the heavenly beings. But there still would smoulder in their deepest thinking, the dim hope that at noon the incomparable Horus would glow, as Ra was the omnipotent, and his eye could not be dimmed. But not only did the noon pass in the same awful darkness, but two more noons followed each other in slow succession, and the feebleness of the once-revered Horus could no longer be doubted. So when they said, “Who is mightier than Horus?” the children of Israel 118 could reply with grateful hearts, “Jehovah is; see, we have light in our dwellings!”
But like many other heathen and idolatrous people, the chief object of Egyptian worship was the sun itself. The natural mind can comprehend this, and there is a little of the Parsee in most modern men. So to the ancients the sun was a personification of beneficence and providence. The worship of the sun took many forms in Egypt, but the oldest and most general form of that worship was in the person of the god Ra, who appears in ancient records in many guises, and under many names. Perhaps the most common of these names is Amon-Ra. He was unquestionably the chief form of deity to the Egypt of Moses’ generation.
As far as it can be said that the Egyptians conceived of a god-principle, this was expressed in the person of Ra. He was the creator of earth and of heaven, and of all things therein. All other gods were parts of his person, and members of his body and substance. The pantheon was headed by Ra, and after him came the gods and goddesses who were parts of his body. One was his eye, another his ear, while still another was his foot. This quaint conception was carried 119 out for every known section of the anatomy, which the Egyptians seemed to have known fairly well.
Seeing, then, that Ra was immanent, pervasive, and the principle back of all deities, he was the chief object of Jehovah’s enmity, and the real subject of the contest and conflict. In all the other plagues the parts of Ra were defeated, and now at last the two ideas are locked in the final struggle. It was preposterous to the Egyptians that any god or power could be superior to Ra, as the sun is the source and seat of all power. But the plague of darkness left him shorn of power and greatness, and prostrated him before the feet of Jehovah forever. Three theophanies had Ra, and God desecrated every one of them!
Ra appeared in the form of the sun: so that was blotted out of the sky for three days. Sometimes he walked the earth in the form of the first-born of a cow, if that first-born was a bull. So the first-born of all the cattle died, and Ra was covered with shame. Occasionally he was supposed to visit men in the form of a ram. The first-born were all sacred to him and dedicated to him from birth: yet when all the first-born of Egypt died, the babes of Israel, with their cattle and flocks were all safe, because they were under the shed blood of what was Ra’s chief theophany, next to the sun! The application 120 of the blood to the lintel and the doorpost was an act of blasphemy against Ra, yet in that very defiance the Hebrews were acknowledging at last that Jehovah should be their God forever, in that He had proved His power.
The Tenth Plague intrudes into the sphere of the ninth. The death of the first-born was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, as far as the Egyptian resistance to Jehovah was concerned. This is still aimed primarily at Ra, although there were notable deities other than he that suffered defeat in this last and awful skirmish. When the Children of Israel left Egypt, bribed to depart by a people who were prostrated with grief, the mourning Egyptians pressed upon them the cattle and the flocks, the gold and the jewels requested. Anything to get rid of the devotees of the awful Being who left every home in Egypt bowed in sorrow, and who had slain, as well, every particle of faith the people had in the once-powerful gods of the land of captivity!
To name many of these gods would be to weary the reader. But we cannot refrain from naming Meskhemit, who was the goddess of birth. She was also the companion 121 of Hathor, and overshadowed the first-born of the land. To what avail, when all died who were under her divine protection! And even stronger than she, was the mighty Min, the god of virility and generation. Closely related to Amon-Ra, being the means of extending the power of Ra to those who worshipped him, he too, fell with a resounding crash, when the hand of The-Only-God-That-There-Is swept all the idols of Egypt off their pedestals, in what might be called the greatest “ten rounds” ever fought! Not only did Jehovah win the battle and the crown, He also won every round! The victory was complete and crushing.
Many centuries later, Paul the Apostle recalled all that is implied and stated here, when he wrote the ninth chapter of Romans and the seventeenth verse. Here it is stated that God dealt so with Pharaoh, that the name of God should be advertised throughout all the earth.
Is it so advertised?
Witness this article, cited above! Thirty-five hundred years have come and gone since these things transpired, but the mind of man has not been able to escape from the demonstration of God’s power that He gave in 122 that far-off day. And all we can say about this latest attempt to explain the victory of God in the land of Egypt by attributing it all to the smartness and genius of a learned man, is, it just will not stand up! For the God who smashed the pantheon of Egypt evidently knew that this attempt was due, and He raised from the dead, in an archeological resurrection, the witnesses to the facts at issue. And we have done nothing in this simple reply but review their evidence! But in so doing, we note again that modern science, whenever her voice may be heard, establishes the Scripture and vindicates its claim, that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the spirit of God.”
One of the many questions that are frequently asked of the archeologist, and one that is most difficult to answer in a few brief words, concerns the source of his material. There is a sort of mystery that hovers over this modern calling which intrigues the fancy of the average layman. When an archeologist begins to dig in some barren waste of sand and comes upon a buried city that has been missing from the history of men for multiplied centuries, it impresses the casual observer as magic of the blackest kind. There is, however, nothing supernatural or uncommon about these discoveries, although the element of chance does enter in to a minor extent. Some of the greatest and most prolific fields we personally have investigated were brought to our attention when the plow of a farmer cast up a human skull and focussed attention upon that particular field. Generally, however, the sources of archeology are uncovered by hard, patient, painstaking labor.
When an able prospector starts out in his search for gold, he is guided by certain known 126 factors that have been derived from the experience of generations. Panning his way up a stream-bed, the keen-eyed hunter of fortune tests every spot that previous experience had taught him might be profitable. He may labor at one thousand barren sites before he strikes gold. If he is in a mountainous country and the placer deposits are not rich enough to pay him to tarry on the spot where the first discovery was made, he will work his way on up the stream, testing site after site for increasing values. If the show of color in his pan suddenly ceases, he knows that he has passed the sources of these wandering fragments. He then goes back to the last point where he found traces of gold and then begins to search the side canyons and branch streams that lead into the main channel. In this way he traces his path step by step to the ledge from which the gold originally came. After laboring weary months, or even years, with heart-breaking disappointment and grim, hard work, if he is fortunate he announces a discovery. The thoughtless immediately credit his good fortune to the goddess of luck and wonder why they also could not be blessed that way.
This illustration is an exact picture of the manner in which archeologists go about their business. There are certain sites that experience has taught us should be profitable 127 to investigate. The region is carefully combed for surface indications. These may be such things as shards of pottery, arrowheads, fragmentary bones, or any of the ordinary debris that indicates a site of human habitation or burial. When the surface indications suggest the probability of a real find, then the digging commences. Most of our great discoveries are made only after months, and even years, of painstaking survey. These surveys must be made by men who are expert in the interpretation of surface indications and fragmentary evidences. Thus it is at once apparent that there is really nothing supernatural or magical about this sober craft; it is scientific in its procedure. There is no “doodle-bug” for archeology such as is sometimes used by those who are found around the fringe of geology.
It must be remembered that the orientals differed greatly in their building methods from the occidentals. It is customary among us to excavate to bed rock before we lay the foundation for a building. The orientals, however, began to build right on the surface of any site that suited their fancy. For instance, a wandering tribe of nomads desiring to settle either temporarily or permanently, would pick out a hill that was more easily defended than a level site would be. Upon its crest, they built their houses and generally fenced the scene for the purposes of 128 defense. Within these fortifying walls they dwelt in more or less security until they became rich enough to be robbed. It would not be long, however, under the brutal law of might that prevailed in those ancient days, before some marauding band would overrun that site with fire and sword. The walls would be breached or cast down and the inhabitants put to sword or carried away into slavery. Usually fire would sweep the homes of this once contented people and their memory would soon be forgotten.
To one who has seen the sand storms of the East, the rest of the story is self-evident. Even in our own times and in our own land, we have seen what can happen when drought and wind begin to move the surface of a country and make the efforts of man fruitless and unavailing. When men lived in these sites of antiquity and kept the encroaching sands swept and shoveled out, they were able to maintain their position of security. As soon, however, as the site was deserted, the sand would begin to drift over the deserted ruins. In a very few years the remains of the ruined city would be lost from the sight of men. Perhaps a century or two would pass by, during which this abandoned region would be devoid of habitation.
Mace-head in British Museum
Note cuneiform writing and sculpture on stone weapon
Then another company of people looking for a permanent dwelling place would chance upon this hill. Finding it suited to their requirements they would immediately start building upon the surface. With no knowledge whatever that a previous group of people had made this hill their habitation, the new dwellings and walls would rise high upon the covered ruins of the earlier period. Within a comparatively short time they also would be the victims of some wandering conqueror, and once again the wrecked habitations of men would be repossessed by the drifting sands of the desert. It is not uncommon that in the course of a thousand years such an experience would be repeated from three or four to a dozen times upon the same site.
When the archeologist finds such a mound or hill, he has a treasure indeed. By excavating this deposit one stratum at a time, he builds up a stratographical record which is highly important in reconstructing a consecutive history of this region. The date factors of the various strata are generally established by the contents of each horizon of dwelling, in turn. If the archeologist depends upon facts instead of his imagination, a credible chronology for the entire region can thus be constructed.
In such a recovery the common life of the people of antiquity is revealed in amazing detail. We learn their customs of living, something of their arts and crafts and their manner of labor. Their knowledge of architecture 130 is clearly portrayed through such ruins as remain, and the general picture of the incidental events that made up their living is clearly developed as the work proceeds.
Since the destruction of such a city was usually catastrophic, the record suddenly breaks off at the point of the tragedy. The abruptness wherewith the life and activity ceased, leaves all of the valuable material undisturbed in situ. This circumstance, though unfortunate for the ancients, is a happy one for the archeologist who thus is enabled to rebuild their times and lives.
These sites yield many types of material. In establishing chronology, the most important of all of these is probably the pottery. There is no age of men so ancient that it does not yield proof of human ability in the ceramic art. Without aluminum cooking utensils or iron skillets, the folk of antiquity depended upon clay for the vessels of their habitation. Dishes, pots, jars, and utensils of a thousand usages were all made of this common substance. Before the invention of paper, clay was also the common material for preserving written records. As each race of people had its own peculiarities in the use of clay, the pottery that is found on a given site is one of the finest indications of a date factor that the site can contain.
Even after the invention of papyrus or parchment, these types of writing material 131 were too costly for the average person to use. Requiring some cheap, common, readily accessible material upon which to write, the poor of antiquity laid hold upon the one source of supply that was never wanting. This consisted of shards of pottery. By the side of every dwelling in ancient times might be found a small heap of broken utensils of clay. The ingenuity of man suggested a method of writing on these fragments. In every home there was a pen made of a reed and a pot of homemade ink. With these crude tools, the common people corresponded and made notes on pieces of clay vessels. When a fragment of pottery was thus inscribed, it was called an ostracon.
These ostraca are among the most priceless discoveries of antiquity. They were written in the vernacular and dealt with the common daily affairs that made up the lives of the humble. They shed a flood of light upon the customs and beliefs of the mass of the people. Some of the wall inscriptions of great conquerors, if taken by themselves, would give an impression of grandeur and splendor to their entire era, if we believed such record implicitly. But for every king or conqueror there were multiplied thousands of poor. These were the folks who made up the mass of humanity and whose customs and lives paint the true picture of ancient times. Therefore, these ostraca, being 132 derived from the common people, are the greatest aid in the reconstruction of the life and times wherewith the Bible deals.
Another source of evidence is found in tools and artifacts which show the culture of any given time and region. Knowing how the people worked and what they wrought, has been of priceless value to the Biblical archeologist. Since the critics made so great a case out of the alleged culture of the people in every age, it is eminently fitting that the refutation of their error should come from the people themselves.
Still another source of archeological material is to be found in the art of antiquity. It seems that from the time of Adam to the present hour the desire to express our feelings and emotions in the permanent form of illustration has been common to man. The sites of antiquity testify to this fact in unmistakable terms.
In the art of the days of long ago many subjects were covered. Much of the painting and sculpture had to do with the religion of the time. Thus we can reconstruct the Pantheon of Egypt very largely from the illustrations that come to us from monuments and papyri.
Another large section of ancient art dealt with the history of the time in which the artists lived and wrought. Since the work 133 of such artists was generally intended to flatter and please the reigning monarch, most of this illustrated history is military in nature. Thus we are able to confirm much of the Old Testament history through the recovery of ancient art.
Other artists, in turn, dealt with the human anatomy, the style of dress and the industries of old. When we gather together all of this illuminating material, it is safe to say that ancient artists have brought to us a source of material which is not the least of the treasures of antiquity.
A final source of material is found upon the walls that made up the actual dwellings of old. This business of scribbling names and dates upon public buildings or objects of interest is not unique to modern men. Deplorable as the custom may be, this ancient vulgarity has, nevertheless, proved a great boon to the archeologist of our day. For instance, many of the scribes and officials of antiquity, traveling about the country upon the business of their lords, would visit one of the tombs of a former age. Prompted by curiosity and interest in the grandeur of antiquity, they came to stare and to learn. Their emotions being aroused they desired some expression. This desire they sometimes satisfied by inscribing upon the wall of a certain tomb or temple their names and the fact that at such a date they visited and 134 saw this wonder. Since they generally dated their visit by the reign of the king under whom they lived and served, a chronology may be builded for antiquity from this source of material alone.
It has been more or less customary in our era for the itinerant gentry to leave valuable information for fellows of their fraternity who come along after them. This custom also is a survival of an ancient day. A man journeying from one region to another would stop by the side of a blank wall and inscribe road directions for any who might follow after him. Sometimes he would add his name and the year of the reign of a given monarch. It was not unusual also for such an amateur historian to make some caustic and pertinent comments upon the country, the officials, or the people. These spontaneous records are priceless. They are the free expression of an honest opinion and are not constructed with the idea of deluding posterity with a false standard of the grandeur of some conquering king.
It is rather amusing now to look back to the long battle that was fought between criticism and orthodoxy in this very field. With a dogmatic certainty which was characteristic of the assumptions of the school of higher criticism, these mistaken authorities assured us that the age of Moses was an age of illiteracy. In fact, the extreme scholars 135 of this school asserted that writing was not invented until five hundred years after the age of Moses. We have ourselves debated that question with living men.
One such occasion occurred recently, when we were delivering a series of lectures at Grand Rapids, Michigan. The subject had to deal with archeology and the Bible, and the men in attendance seemed to appreciate the opening lecture extremely. Therefore, we were the more surprised when a gentleman, clad in clerical garb, came forward and in the most abrupt and disagreeable manner demanded,
“By what authority do you state that Moses wrote the Pentateuch? Your dogmatic assertion is utterly baseless!”
In some surprise we replied, “I am sorry to sound dogmatic, as I try never to dogmatize. All that I mean to imply is that I am absolutely certain that he did write it!”
Our humor, which was intended as oil on troubled waters, turned out to be more like gasoline on raging fires! The exasperated gentleman exclaimed with considerable more heat than he had previously manifested, “You can’t prove that Moses wrote the Pentateuch!”
“I don’t have to,” I replied, “as the boot is on the other foot! May I quote to you a section from Greenleaf on Evidence? Here is the citation: ‘When documents purporting 136 to come from antiquity, and bearing upon their face no evident marks of forgery, are found in the proper repository, the law presumes such documents to be authentic and genuine, and the burden of proof to the contrary devolves upon the objector.’ Now, my dear brother, these documents do come from antiquity. They bear no evidence of forgery, and have thus been accepted and accredited in all of the ages that make up three millenniums of time. You face a problem if you are going to repudiate all the evidence and tradition of their credibility. Just how are you going to prove that Moses did not write these books ascribed to him?”
“That is easy,” the scholarly brother retorted. “Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible, because writing was not invented until five hundred years after Moses died!”
In great amazement I asked him, “Is it possible that you never heard of the Tel el Armana tablets?”
He never had!
So we took time to tell him of the amazing discovery of this great deposit of written records from the library of Amenhetep the Third, and their bearing upon the great controversy. Then we told him also of the older records of Ur, that go all the way back to the days of the queen Shub Ab, and manifest a vast acquaintance with the art of writing as far back of Abraham as this patriarch in turn preceded the Lord Jesus Christ! He frankly confessed his total ignorance of this entire body of accumulated knowledge, and then closed the debate by stating,
Ancient seals, depicting historic events.
Section of a funerary papyrus, showing the progress of the soul on its journey in the Other World
“Well, it may be that every one else in antiquity could write, but Moses couldn’t...!”
And such an one would accuse another of dogmatism! Because we stand upon the certainty of the approved and orthodox conception of the credibility of the Scriptures, and maintain our case with the most exact evidence, we are not “scholarly.” Yet here is a reputedly religious leader, utterly ignorant of an enormous body of knowledge derived from a generation of research, who misleads those who are unfortunate enough to be under his ministry, and offers them the fallacious, repudiated, and utterly baseless conclusions of higher criticism, in the place of the living bread which God has provided for His children! This is but to be expected when we think the matter through. The bread of life is to be found only in the pages of God’s Book. Therefore, if the source of this bread is rejected and derided, the bread cannot be available!
The great pity of the matter is seen in the fact that this attitude is entirely untenable, in the light of our present knowledge. Although our science has demonstrated a remarkable 138 culture for the very age of the patriarchs, we are faced with religious leaders who are so far behind the advanced learning of our day that they still teach the outmoded nonsense of criticism, and claim that Moses could not write!
It is rather amusing in the light of this dogmatic assurance of critical authorities to journey back through the hallways of time and find that writing was a common custom a thousand years before Moses, or even a thousand years before that! Throughout Egypt especially, the art of writing was a universal possession among all classes of the populace. The toilet articles used by the beauties of Ancient Egypt were highly engraved with charms, and with prayers to the goddess of beauty. As an Egyptian damsel prepared herself for the evening’s engagement, she would read these prayers and charms which were supposed to give her divine aid in impressing the ladies with her outstanding beauty! Poems of love and lyrics of passion were engraved upon her toilet articles and were incised upon the walls of her apartment as well.
In addition to this, most of the ancients wore amulets to guard them against the evil eye and every sort of disaster.
Some wore engraved pectorals that showed the high development of the art of writing to a great antiquity.
Businessmen of various kinds, minor officials and even the common people carried upon their persons seals wherewith to sign the documents and contracts of their casual business affairs.
From this common source there is a kaleidoscopic view of ancient life that thrills the observer with its ever-changing magnitude. It is almost impossible to limit the value of such discoveries as to the integrity of the Scriptures. In all this enormous mass of authoritative data not one single fact has ever been derived which argued against the credibility of any statement in the Bible.
An even more important source of historical evidence is found among the papyri of old. This valuable material was invented in Egypt at a very early age. In Upper Egypt the Nile was bordered, and in some places overgrown, with a prolific reed which is scientifically called “cyperus papyrus.” It is from this name that the paper manufactured from this substance derives its identification. The manufacture of papyrus was a simple procedure which nevertheless required time. Briefly stated, strips of the papyrus reed, cut to a uniform length and saturated with water, were laid down side by side. Another layer of strips was laid across them transversely, and usually a third layer was superimposed upon the second layer. These layers of reed, 140 being laid in alternate directions, were then pounded with a flat paddle and smashed into a pulp. When the mass dried, it was a sheet of rough paper, somewhat comparable to the paper towels that are used in our generation. The edges were trimmed smoothly and the surface of the paper was smoothed off with a shell or rubbed with sand. This finished side of the paper was called the obverse and was the side upon which writing was customarily inscribed. So expensive was this substance, however, that frequently both sides would be covered with writing. In that case the rough side was always known as the reverse. Many of these papyri not only were inscribed with a written text but were highly illustrated with scenes depicting the life and customs of the people. These illumined papyri, some of which go back to a very remote age, are of tremendous value to the student of the Scriptures.
We have, for instance, papyri from Egypt at the time of Moses, showing the fowlers engaged in capturing quail. (See Plate 10.) These birds being tired by their long flight in their annual African migration, fell easy victims to the men who smote them to the earth or captured them in hand nets. Incidentally, the author has frequently been offered such quail upon the streets of Cairo by vendors who earned a precarious living by peddling such game. Many Scriptural 141 events are attested in this manner by these illustrated manuscripts.
Since there was a high content of starch in the finished papyrus, it was possible to make them any length desired. By moistening the edges of two sheets and pressing or pounding them together, the result would be a single sheet when the joint had dried. This process could be continued indefinitely. As a method of comparison let us note that the entire Gospel of John could be written on a papyrus of the usual width, if it was eighteen feet in length. Such a long sheet would be rolled to form a complete volume. The longest papyrus we have ever seen is in the British Museum and is exhibit No. 9999. This single sheet is 135 feet long.
Another papyrus of unusual length is that which shows the funery experiences of the scribe Ani. This is a highly illumined specimen and contains many illustrations of the soul of Ani, as he goes through the intricate process of achieving eternal life in the realm of Osiris. This papyrus is 78 feet long and is one foot, three inches wide. The average sheet of papyrus, however, is about six by nine inches.
These papyrus records are divided into many kinds and types. Some of them are funery, and deal with the events of the decease and resurrection of the individual. Most 142 noteworthy among the papyri of this type are the various texts of the “Book of the Dead.” These are illuminated with scenes of religious beliefs. They depict the experience of the soul on its pilgrimage into the hereafter. They tell of the conditions of life in the other world and the manner of entering into a blessed state after death.
There are also papyri that deal with pure literature. Almost every subject common to modern literature is found in the ancient records of this type. For instance, fiction was a common field for the scribe of antiquity. The British Museum contains many of these prized papyri, as does the Egyptian Museum at Cairo.
It might surprise the modern reader to know that the Egyptian people of old highly prized stories of mystery and imagination. Some of their greater manuscripts bear a strong resemblance to portions of the Arabian Nights, and they may indeed have been the original basis of that later production.
In the British Museum a papyrus, No. 10183, is a fine example of this common theme. This is entitled, “The Tale of the Two Brothers.” In the introductory section, the life of a humble farmer in ancient Egypt is given in detail. The familiar triangle develops between the elder brother, his wife and the younger brother. The plot develops when the wicked wife made herself sick by 143 rancid grease, and, bruising herself with a stick, lay moaning on the floor when her husband returned. Accusing the younger brother of attempted assault, she aroused her husband’s anger to the point where he grabbed an edged weapon and set out to kill the suspected villain. The oxen, however, told the younger brother of the ambush that was set for him and he fled the home. Marvelous miracles occurred during this flight, which opened the eyes of the elder brother to the injustice that he had been about to perpetrate. Whereupon he returned home, and satisfied the demands of the stern justice of his day by slaying his wife and feeding her body to his pet dogs. The rest of the story is taken up with the wanderings and adventures of the younger brother. This record goes back to the thirteenth century B. C., and is a perfect specimen of the fiction of that time.
Limited space will not permit the introduction of other notable classics of fiction such as the story of the shipwrecked sailor; the story of the doomed prince; the story of the possessed princess; the story of the eloquent peasant, and any number of other records, nor is their presentation essential to the development of our thesis. Their value, however, is seen in the fact that not only do they depict the literary tastes of antiquity, but they delineate many of the common details 144 and incidents of the daily life of those ages.
There are also any number of poems which have a high historical value. We shall refer later to the famed poem of Pentauer, which immortalizes the victories of Ramses the Second, which this great conqueror achieved over Egypt’s ancient enemies the Hittites. The discovery of this record was the first appearance of the Hittites in archeology and caused a sensation in the ranks of Biblical criticism.
Among the more sober types of literature will be found narratives of pure history. Such would be the lists of the kings, giving the chronology of the dynasty of each. Records of conquest, lists of tribute, and the names of captive races form the bulk of this type of material.
There are also books of maxims teaching the higher morality of the age in which the papyrus was written. In a word, the literature preserved in the papyri of Egypt deals with religious aims, books of magic, records of travel, and the science of that day. From the latter we learn their beliefs and technique in the realm of astronomy. Their system of mathematics is preserved for us in such prize records as the Rhind Papyrus which deals with the geometry of that age. This papyrus is in the British Museum and is numbered 10,057. In the Museum at Cairo is a papyrus 145 illustrating the geography and cartography of antiquity. This famous map shows the religious divisions of that province, which is now called the Fayyum. Others of these papyri deal with medicine as it was practiced in that ancient day. There are, of course, biographical papyri that are almost innumerable, all of which reconstruct for us the lives and times of these people who are so long dead, but far from forgotten.
Among the most important of all the varieties of papyri are those which preserve for us the embalming technique practiced at various stages in the development of this art in Egypt. Since the Egyptians believed that the resurrection of the body and its eternal life depended upon the preservation of the physical form, they took great pains in their preparations for the burial of their dead. The most graphic description of the method used is given by Herodotus and is thus familiar to all students of history. This noted writer states that three general methods were used by the Egyptians and the cost of each was graduated to the thoroughness of the method.
The most expensive means of embalming was an elaborate process indeed. The abdominal cavity was opened and the viscera were removed from the body. These were carefully washed in palm wine, thoroughly dried and sprinkled with certain aromatic spices. The brains were withdrawn from 146 the head and treated in this same fashion. These cavities were then dried and filled with a combination of bitumen, myrrh, cassia and various other expensive and astringent spices. The openings were then sewed up. A tank was prepared which was filled with a solution of soda, and the body was steeped in it for seventy days. After removal from this pickling solution the body was thoroughly dried in the hot sun and anointed with spicy compounds which had the two-fold purpose of imparting a fragrant odor to the mummy and of further preserving its structure. The process was completed when the body was wound with the strips of linen with which all students of Egyptology are so familiar.
The cost of this type of embalming varied, of course, in each dynasty, but as a general average it would be in the neighborhood of $1500 in our modern currency. When we consider the disparity between our standard of money value and that of ancient Egypt, it can be seen that such a preparation was enormously expensive.
A cheaper method of embalming consisted of dissolving the viscera by means of oil of cedar. The flesh also was dissolved with a caustic soda solution, and the skin shrunk tightly to the bones. This dessicated form was then wrapped in the traditional linen bandages. The cost of this process was in 147 the neighborhood of $300 in the currency of our day.
For the very poor, however, a cheaper form of preparation was used. The body was dumped into the tank of soda, where it was alternately saturated and dried for a period of seventy days. The pickled body was then handed over to the relatives, who wrapped it according to their own ability and means and arranged for burial at any convenient site. This process would cost in the neighborhood of $1.50 in our present standard of currency.
It will be noted that the customary period of embalming was seventy days. A discrepancy has been fancied here between this ordinary custom and the embalming of Israel, as it is recorded in the fiftieth chapter of Genesis. The third verse of that chapter states, “And forty days were fulfilled for him, for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him three score and ten days.” The discrepancy, however, has been cleared up by the discovery of the fact that under the Hyksos Dynasties the period of the embalming was forty days instead of seventy, and the mourning of the dead was more important than the time used in preserving the body.
In the Egyptian Museum at Cairo, exhibit No. 1270, is a magnificent anthropoid sarcophagus 148 from the time of Psammetichus the Second. The inscription on this sarcophagus confirms the statement that the embalming process lasted seventy days and is a testimony of the honesty of the undertaker in that he did not shorten the time for the extra profit involved.
It is to the reverence for their dead that was manifested by all in Egypt that we owe our present wealth of archeological material. The most voluminous evidences for the accuracy of the Bible come to us from burial sources. Very often the coverings of the corpse were inscribed with verbose descriptions of the life, morals, and piety of the dead individual.
A further source of material is found on the cartonnage. When the body had been encased in bandages a type of coffin was made that is called mummiform or, more commonly, anthropoid. (See Frontispiece.) This first covering was made of some plastic material, which was moulded to the form of the individual to be buried. In the earlier days this cartonnage was made of strips of linen cloth pasted together and covered with a type of shellac. While still plastic, this material was moulded to the contour of the head and shoulders of the occupant until it took on a rough resemblance to the individual. This may have been the origin of the death-mask custom which continues in some 149 regions even to the present time. In later times this first covering was gilded, and, in the case of the very rich, might be decorated also with eyes of obsidian or lapis lazuli.
In later periods, the cartonnage was made of outmoded papyri. These were dampened and moulded into a mulch like the method of using papier-mache in our generation. In so doing, however, the writing was not demolished. Some of the greatest discoveries of antiquity have come to us when a cartonnage made of papyrus has been carefully separated into its original sheets and the writing thereof recovered.
When the mummy was enclosed in its cartonnage, a wooden coffin was then prepared, which quite frequently was also anthropoid in shape. (See Plate 11.) Not only did it maintain the form of the human body, but very often it had also a painted portrait of the dead person to identify the deceased. This wooden coffin was painted and inscribed on the inside and the outside with a record and history of the individual, to which were added scenes and texts from the Book of the Dead. (See Plate 12.) This second coffin was not always made of wood, however. In the case of Tut-ankh-amen, the coffin was of solid gold, and constituted a tremendous treasure in itself. This was possible only to a monarch or a noble of enormous wealth.
The final covering was the sarcophagus, 150 a great rectangular box sometimes made of wood, but often formed of stone. In this box the anthropoid coffin was carefully placed and the lid was tightly sealed. In preparing the sarcophagus, every inch of the inside would be engraved with a record of the history of the individual as well as of the times in which he lived. On the inside of this box, the bottom, both ends, and the two sides would be covered with writing as closely as the characters could be engraved. Not content with this, the industrious scribe of antiquity also covered the outside of the sarcophagus, both ends, both sides, and the top with further writings. We have illustrated this custom clearly in Plate 13.
To make the case complete, the noble, the wealthy, and the great of antiquity were buried in tombs, the walls of which were illuminated with frescoes, murals, and texts in written script that covered every square inch of space on the ceiling, as well as on the four walls. All of the visitors to the Valley of the Kings in Upper Egypt have wondered over these remarkable and complete records. They are, however, more than just a curious sight to satisfy the interest of the tourists. They are one of the priceless sources of valuable information concerning the coincidence of ancient history with the text of the Scripture! (See Plate 14.)
Still another source of material and information 151 is found in the innumerable stelae which covered the ancient world. The word “stele” is a Greek word meaning “an upright stone.”
Archeologically it applies to slabs of stone which were erected over a burial site in the fashion of a headstone in our modern custom. Some were square, some rectangular, and some were artistically rounded at the top. In the case of a burial stele, the name of the man so honored, together with a record of his life and conduct, was carved in high relief upon the stone. Thereon were named the king and the dynasty under which the dead man had lived, and sometimes the important historical events of that reign. Always such a stele contained the episodes of history to which the given individual had personally contributed. They are a large source of historical information. These stelae were sometimes erected in public places as memorials of great events. (See Plate 15.)
When Ramses the Second won his great campaign against the Hittites, he ended a five hundred year period of warfare in which the Egyptians had been consistently defeated. To celebrate his victory, a voluminous account of his valor and skill was carved upon a large number of stelae and erected in prominent centers throughout his kingdom. So 152 also Amenhetep the Third set up a stele to record his conquest of the country of Abhat. This beautifully preserved record may be seen in the British Museum. It is exhibit No. 657 in Bay 6.
In the Egyptian Museum at Cairo there is a stele originally erected by Amenhetep the Third. We shall refer to this one again because his successor Menepthah appropriated this stele, and because it contains his record of the Israelites, who are thus acknowledged by the monarchs of Egypt to have been a people of importance in the annals of their empire.
The most stupendous source of material is found in monuments. The larger and most important type of monument is of course the buildings of antiquity. To the Egyptologist the most entrancing and magnificent spectacle on the face of the earth is the ruined temple at Karnak. The general public is so familiar with the magnitude and extent of these stupendous ruins, it is not necessary to make more than a brief reference to them in this paragraph. Any standard encyclopedia, such as the current Britannica, carries a more or less lengthy article on this subject, and the number of interested observers who have studied these ruins is almost beyond estimating.
The present city of Luxor, in Upper Egypt, 153 was once known as Thebes, and was the center of government in times long past. Three very important sources of study are found in that vicinity. There is the great Valley of the Kings, where so many of the dead great of Egypt were buried. Then also there is the great temple at Luxor, which is still in the process of recovery. It is to be regretted that excavations there have been halted for some time, due to the fanaticism of the Moslems, who refuse to permit a mosque to be moved from the top of the remaining mound, under which the balance of this great temple still lies buried.
Last, but far from least, there is the great temple, called Karnak. The evidences that have been recovered from this site carry us as far back as the early stages of the Old Kingdom, and may indeed be pre-dynastic. There are a number of temples that have been erected upon this site, which contribute to the glory of its past history. The earliest relics found are flint instruments, and there are a number of recoveries from the Middle Kingdom also. While the famed archeologist Legrain was in charge of the work of recovery here, he opened one great pit from which an unbelievable amount of material was recovered. In this one find, seven hundred and fifty large statues were dug up, and more than twenty thousand smaller objects were recovered from this same pit. This was 154 largely a Middle Kingdom deposit. It may be said that the entire history of the land is seen here, from the archaic age to the end of the Ptolemaic period.
There are three major ruins that make up the vast monument of Karnak, which, with the avenue of ram-headed sphinxes, is almost a mile in length. Each of these three enclosures has its own story to tell. The smallest one is the most northerly, and was built by Amenhetep the Third. Ramses the Second added to its structure, and the imposing gate was built by Ptolemy Euergetes the First. This magnificent gate is practically all of the original structure that remains today. The outline of the foundation of the original temple may be traced, but its material, with the exception of the gate, has long since disappeared.
The south enclosure contained the temple built to the glory of the goddess Mut by Amenhetep the Third, of which also very little of the original structure remains. Behind this temple, however, is a sacred lake, shaped like a horseshoe, upon which tradition says the barge of the sacred lady used to appear. Indeed, there are fellahin in Egypt today who maintain that at certain times when the moon is just right, this notable barge may still be seen if one is fortunate enough to be on the spot at the right time. (We regret to say that the times that 155 we were there were never the right ones!)
There were small temples and shrines inside both of these enclosures where various kings honoured other deities in the lengthy pantheon. Some traces of these may still be seen here and there, and much more may yet be brought to light by the excavations now being conducted there by the Department of Antiquities.
It is the third enclosure which is the great one, and the really thrilling monument. It is about 1,500 feet square, so that it is at once apparent that it is immense. Undoubtedly it is the largest temple ever constructed by man. Two million, two hundred and fifty thousand feet of floor space make quite a place of worship in any day and age!
The original sanctuary was probably begun by Usertesen the First, who dedicated it to Amon-Ra. Having done so, the king then used the walls, pillars, beams, and all other available space to carve a record of his own reign and greatness; not forgetting, of course, to give Amon-Ra due credit here and there for such divine aid as the Pharaoh may have needed from time to time! The drawings, paintings, and carvings of this monarch are a fine source of information concerning his times and peoples.
This seems to have established a precedent at Karnak, for the original temple was added to by Thothmes the First, who faithfully followed 156 the example of his predecessor, and told what a mighty man he also turned out to be! Then Seti the First followed him, to be in turn replaced by Thothmes the Third, and neither neglected to carve the tale of his power and successes on the additions to the original temple that Usertesen had started.
The next builder was Amenhetep the Third, and after him the three successive Ramses all built extensive votive shrines and temples. The amount of carving, painting, and hieroglyphics that covers all this mighty pile of stone work is almost unbelievable, and leaves the beholder amazed and somewhat awed.
The most noteworthy section of the standing ruins is the great hypo-style hall, which is one of the architectural wonders of the world. This hall is 171 feet deep and 338 feet in breadth. The roof was supported by 134 mighty columns, set in 16 rows, of which the two central rows were by far the highest. The roof of this great hall was 78 feet above the floor, and the entire structure was covered with reliefs and painted scenes from the conquests and lives of the builders.
Here are to be found the most gratifying evidences of the integrity and accuracy of the Scripture that the most ardent devotee of the Bible could desire. The Pharaohs who appear in the text of Holy Writ are there on Karnak’s walls as well, and this testimony 157 of ancient heathen monarchs is conclusive and final.
As the kings of antiquity consistently carved upon the walls, the pillars, and the beams of Karnak the proud record of their conquests, it is inevitable that this source of material should be drawn upon heavily by the exponent of the Scripture. In a later chapter we shall return to Karnak again and again to read these treasured accounts.
There are many other temples of antiquity that are of almost equal value, such as the great temple at Luxor. Students have long been familiar with the nature of the great pyramids which have also a great contribution to make to our sources of evidence. It is to be noted, however, that only an honest and honorable evaluation of these evidences is of any aid to the faithful student of the Scripture.
One of the greatest but most nonsensical heresies of our generation is the false teaching that parades under the name of “British-Israelism.” This ridiculous fantasy is predicated upon the false premise that the Great Pyramid is a prophecy erected under divine leading. By a weird interpretation of its mathematical proportions, it is presumed to portray a prophetic record of coming events. It is the source of more fantasy than has ever been derived from any other misapplication of coincidence!
The advocates of British-Israel heresy claim that the pyramids were never used as burial sites. This is, of course, arrant nonsense. They were nothing but stupendous graves.
We have ourselves been in the burial chambers of the Great Pyramid and have seen the sarcophagi.
We have had the pleasure of examining the great stone casket that was taken out of the pyramid, containing the mummy of the buried king, as well as the replica thereof which was put back into this burial chamber to satisfy the interest of visiting tourists.
We have been in the burial chamber of the queen and the royal children as well.
We have seen these mummies that came out of the Great Pyramid, have poked our way into the treasure room and have seen some of these recoveries which were made when the pyramid was entered.
To show something of the interest the kings of antiquity had in their resting places, it is recorded on credible ancient authority that the building of this Great Pyramid occupied twenty years, and that three hundred thousand men were employed in the building. Ten years were occupied in the one task of quarrying the stone. Another decade passed by in the erection of the monument. Herodotus states that the men worked in groups of ten thousand, laboring three months at a 159 shift. The records of Herodotus contain a description of the construction of earthen ramps up which the stones were skidded by means of wooden machines.
The Cairo Museum contains a number of very valuable exhibits from this greatest of all burial mounds. So also has the second pyramid of Gheza, in turn, yielded its mummies, as have the others which have since been breached.
We cannot ignore the great evidence given by the type of monument composed of the obelisks, the erection of which delighted the ancient conquerors. These consisted of enormous stone shafts that towered into the air sometimes to a distance of seventy feet. These great spires were engraved with the name of the monarch, a description of his greatness, and some of the more important records of his reign.
In closing, we must not neglect to mention also the boundary markers that were so common in the Assyrian culture. These engraved stones, often illustrated with sculptured figures in high relief, are of unique importance not only because of their written records but also because of their ubiquity. Throughout all of the ancient world of Mesopotamia they seem to have been in general use. Since they were an important factor in deciding the title of a section of land, they were carefully made and preserved. The date factor is 160 generally a certain year of the reign of a given king, and the historical information derived from monuments of this type is practically unlimited. (See Plate 16.)
Also, since the ancients had no hinges, it was customary in constructing a door to have it turn upon a pivot. Beneath the door sill was a hollowed stone customarily called an ouch. This acted as a bearing which supported the weight of the door and enabled one man easily to swing a very heavy structure. These ouches were generally engraved with the name of the building, the purpose of the building and, perhaps, the cost and record of the construction. (See Plate 17.)
From all these scattered sources, then, we gather together the unified testimony of multiplied thousands of men once dead who speak from the long silence of their forgotten era. Their united testimony is an unbroken chorus of assurance for those who are concerned over the integrity of the text of the Scripture.
In the bewildering mass of all this evidence which together would weigh so many tons that the figure, if computed, would appear fabulous, there is not one word, one testimony, or one fact that has contradicted or disproved a single line of the Holy Bible.
Herds of cattle, such as the Hyksos kings possessed
Ancient mural of the slaughter of cattle
Papyrus showing the capture of quail
“Rome was not built in a day,” is a self-evident truth: but it is equally true that it was not excavated in a day, either! In fact, as all visitors to Italy can testify, the Department of Antiquities is still working on some of the more ancient sites, and certain of the most extensive ruins are just beginning to emerge for the delight of our generation. Archeology is a very fine exposition of the truth inherent in the old proverb of science: “Research is the examination of the tenth decimal place.”
There are many stupendous monuments that have been uncovered with surprising speed, but the majority of our most valuable evidence has been derived from long and patient digging, and is often composed of innumerable fragments from here and there. Standing alone, any one of the many items that appear to be inconsequential would arouse no interest in the average observer, and would be passed over without comment. Such evidence is similar in its accumulative force to the action of water. A drop, or any number of single drops of water, attracts very 164 little attention, but when enough of them combine to form a flood, great cities and whole nations sit up in alarm and pay strict attention to the course of the flow.
So it is today with the flood of facts that make up the great stream of discovery, and constitute so forceful a demonstration of the value and accuracy of the Bible. A few facts from Egypt suddenly fit into the pattern of certain other events that occurred in Assyria, and these in turn naturally correlate themselves with a record inscribed upon a stone by some king of Moab. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, these isolated and apparently unrelated facts make a complete picture when they are intelligently assembled, but careless or ignorant handling can never show the marvelous pattern in its complete beauty.
In this chapter we will offer a group of these fragments from here and there, and show their value to the student who seeks evidence on the question of the authority of the Holy Word. Their accumulated force is irresistible, and their final authority cannot be refuted. Just as grains of sand make up a mighty mound when they are assembled into one great heap or deposit, these fragmentary facts have an imposing authority when they are taken together. In support of this statement, we shall cite the problem of chronology.
One of the greatest difficulties that has always 165 faced the students of antiquity was the construction of an accurate and detailed chronology. The early Egyptians paid no attention whatever to chronological sequence, but dated the episodes and events which they recorded by the year of the contemporary monarch. Among the Chaldeans and the Sumerians, however, lists of eponyms were carefully kept. In the Assyrian meaning of this word an eponym was an official whose name was used in a chronological system to designate a certain year of office. From these consecutive records of the eponyms, king-lists of unusual and detailed accuracy were compiled. A great deal of the difficulty in harmonizing the chronological factors in the study of antiquity has recently been solved by a close study of these canons, which studies were first begun by Sir Henry Rawlinson. As an instance, we note that one such consecutive list gives all of the eponyms from B. C. 893 to 666.
Another magnificent aid to the Biblical chronologist is found in the astronomical data which were so carefully kept at the same historical period. Through these credible records we have the material to check the accuracy of the king-lists that adds to their tremendous value. For instance, a tablet has come to us stating that in the eponym of one Pur-sagali, there was an eclipse of the sun which took place in the month Sivan. 166 Since Sivan would be composed, according to our calendar, of the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June, it is easy to make an astronomical calculation to fix this date. We are delighted to find that there was an eclipse of the sun which would have been visible at Nineveh on June 15, 763 B. C. With this factor fixed, we can now date all of the events of that period of antiquity from these king-lists to the time of the beginning of the reign of Assur-bani-pal.
Another such tablet, which came from Babylon, gives us an opportunity to check back the other way. This tablet merely states, “In the seventh year of the reign of Cambyses, between the 16th and 17th of the month Phemenoth, at one hour before midnight, the moon was obscured in the vicinity of Babylon by one-half of her diameter on the north.” We then turn to our modern astronomical sources and learn from them that there was just such an eclipse of the moon which would have been visible in Babylon in the year 522 B. C. Since this was the seventh year of Cambyses, it follows that he must have ascended in the year 529.
This is exactly what is demanded by the Biblical chronology accepted at our present time. Incidentally, by correlating the prophecies and history of the Old Testament to the proved chronological points in these records, archeology has vindicated the historical 167 and traditional acceptance of those dates which criticism unsuccessfully disputed. The kings of Israel and Judah, with the writing prophets of each monarch’s reign, may now be correlated into this accredited system of chronology. When this is done, the traditional and accepted dates for the prophecies of the Old Testament which orthodox scholarship has always maintained, are established beyond reasonable doubt.
In the confused condition of the Egyptian chronology it is difficult to dogmatize concerning the exact identification of certain pharaohs whose records are contained in the Sacred Text, but who are not identified by their prenomen in Holy Writ.
A good deal of this confusion, however, is being dissipated with surprising rapidity due to the recovery of some hitherto unknown sources. The tendency of our present day is to concede that the Pharaoh Thotmes, whose name is more commonly given as Tuthmosis, was the pharaoh of the Oppression. There is a great deal of reliable authority for adopting this view. This mighty sovereign, whose history we have partly covered in connection with his sister, wife and domineering queen, Hatshepsut, in the portion dealing with the times of Moses, according to the best chronologist, reigned fifty-one years. He died in 1447 B. C., and was succeeded by Amenhetep the Second. This fact 168 would make it practically certain that the latter monarch was the pharaoh of the Exodus.
There is a great deal of gratifying demonstration in the new chronology which, being purged from the gross errors that naturally resulted from chronological differences inevitable to pioneers in Egyptology, has brought great comfort and aid to the orthodox believer in the Old Testament. There were almost as many different dates given by the critics for the Exodus from Egypt as there were critics. It may be noted in passing that one of the major difficulties of criticism and one of its foundational weaknesses is to be seen in the fact that each individual critic is his own highest authority. The only finality that criticism recognizes is the dogmatic decision of a particular individual to believe one way or the other.
So it is rather hard to say that criticism in general held to any certain thing. The consensus of opinion, as far as such can be gathered from criticism, however, would make the date of the Exodus not any earlier than 1220 B. C.
Cartonnage in the anthropoid sarcophagus
Showing both outside and inside writings and decorations on anthropoid sarcophagus
The new chronology, derived from archeological research, has utterly and finally upset these critical conclusions. The Exodus can be credibly dated now to within a span of ten years. The earlier probability is 1447 B. C. and the latest possible time would be 1437. It may be said that if we consider the archeological sources alone, there is a possible spread of thirty years, but no more. Even if we make the most liberal concessions, the Exodus must be fitted into the record between 1447 and 1417 B. C. Allowing then for the years of wandering in the wilderness, the fall of Jericho occurred with a possible spread of ten years, between 1407 and 1397. The earlier date is now accepted as by far the most credible. We may state almost with finality that Jericho was destroyed in 1407 B. C., and remain secure in that conclusion.
Therefore, if Tuthmosis died in 1447, the reign of Amenhetep the Second would have ended in 1421. These perplexing seals of Amenhetep, if they have not been derived by intrusion, would thus have had a sufficient time to reach Jericho in connection with some official business of the kingdom in the forty years elapsing between the Exodus and the assault on the Canaanite city.
It will be remembered that Josephus makes a passing reference to the statement of the Egyptian historian, Manetho, that the pharaoh of the Exodus was Amenophis. Amenophis is another form of the name Amenhetep, which would add a great deal of authority to our present conclusions. Josephus is not willing to acknowledge the dependability of Manetho, due to the fact that Manetho came 170 so long after the event. But since the Egyptian historian preceded Josephus by some three hundred years, the older authority would seem to be at least as dependable as Josephus! Incidentally, this fact, if accepted, would be a confirmation of the accepted date for the Tel-el-amarna tablets with the reign of Amenhetep.
The final word as to the date, based upon authoritative evidence derived from the pottery culture as given by Dr. Garstang, makes the destruction of Jericho to have been not later than 1400 B. C. Thus the pendulum of opinion and discussion has now swung back to the point where we can authoritatively stand upon the earlier conclusions of the Book of Joshua and accept its credibility without the slightest question.
Most of us can remember how recently it was the fashion for the opponents of the Bible to laugh at those who believed in the historicity of Joshua’s strange conquest of the Canaanite city of Jericho. The collapse of the walls of that ancient city has long been a source of mystery to the scientific student, and of hilarity to the unbeliever. The faith of the intelligent is vindicated, however, and the laughter of the unbeliever is stilled, by the exhaustive work that archeology has done in the vicinity of Jericho.
The site has been explored a number of times, but the most comprehensive and conclusive 171 work was done by the 1933 expedition that was headed by Dr. Garstang. The walls of Jericho were mighty, and as long as they stood the city was impregnable to the armed forces of antiquity. The unusual structure of Jericho’s walls was manifested when they were uncovered from the dirt and debris of centuries. The word “walls” is properly given in its plural form as there were outer and inner walls that entirely encircled the city. There was, first of all, surrounding the city completely, an outer wall, which seemed to have been held up as much by faith as by gravity!
Ever since we had the first opportunity of personally examining the geology of Jericho and noting the insecure structure upon which those walls were builded, our own private wonder has not been that the walls fell down; rather we have been bewildered by speculating as to what in the name of physics ever held them up! Perhaps it was the binding of the buildings that anchored the outer wall to the inner wall, and made a sort of tripod structure of the whole, which accounted for this phenomenon. Some fourteen feet back from the outer wall and roughly paralleling the convolutions of the former, there was an inner wall of the same height as the outer one. Across these two walls great beams had been laid, and dwellings constructed upon this unique foundation. The outer wall was 172 pierced by the one gate, in exact accordance with the description in the Book of Joshua.
There is no natural explanation to account for the unique evidence of the collapse of these walls. They were not undermined by military engineers, for they all seem to have collapsed around the entire circumference of the city at one and the same time. They were not shaken down by an earthquake. This would have resulted in a haphazard piling of the wall material in a number of different directions. It seems as though a mighty blast had been set off in the center of the city, thrusting the walls outward, in what might roughly be described as a circle. This collapse of the walls naturally resulted in the wrecking of the houses builded thereon. When the preliminary clearance had been made and the excavators came down to these great ruins, every demand of the Book of Joshua was satisfactorily met by the conditions there uncovered.
In the remnants of the houses found in Jericho there was overwhelming evidence of a systematic destruction by fires that were set to sweep the entire ruin. Among the most interesting and significant of the charred evidences were the great stores of burned grain which showed that even the food of Jericho had been dedicated to the fire, as Joshua had commanded.
When the discoveries of Jericho were first 173 publicized, Dr. Garstang could find only one apparent contradiction between the record of Joshua and the evidences in the city. That was in the time factor, or chronology, that was involved. In the cemetery of Jericho upon its excavation, there were found two seals of the Pharaoh Amenhetep the Third. Since this monarch reigned probably at least a hundred years after the time of Joshua, it was difficult to reconcile the apparent discrepancy. The apparent difficulty, however, dissolves when we consider the possibility of later intrusion.
Before the excavations at Jericho could begin, it was necessary for the workers to clear away the remains of a fortress of Ramses, the monarch who headed the nineteenth dynasty, which in turn followed that of the dynasty of Amenhetep the Third. Since this site had been temporarily used by the Egyptians two hundred years after its destruction, it is highly probable that it might also have been temporarily visited by them the century immediately following its destruction. If the presence of two seals of Amenhetep are to be taken as a date factor in view of the fact that burials at that site were by intrusion, then a great case could be made for a later date by the ruined fortress of Ramses.
The pharaoh who ruled in the day when Joshua led the conquest of Canaan was most 174 probably Tuthmosis the Third, who reigned contemporarily with the Queen Hatshepsut until he was sufficiently entrenched to overthrow her dominion. This queen, as all the evidence most clearly suggests, was most probably the one who drew Moses out of the Nile. The contemporary and collateral evidence is fairly conclusive, so that this fact is generally accepted. Relegating the one anomalous discovery, then, to the probability of intrusion, we find that Jericho, perhaps more than any other site in antiquity, has vindicated the record of the Old Testament text.
In this very connection, it is interesting to note how the queen Hatshepsut came into the record, and first interested the student of apologetics. The eminent archeologist, Flinders Petrie, found a tablet on the slope of Mt. Sinai which was written in an archaic script that baffled every attempt to decipher its mystery for nearly thirty years. But at long last Professor Hubert Grimme, who held the chair of Semitic languages at the University of Munster, made out two words. One of these was the ancient Hebrew name for God, which in this form of writing appeared as “JAHUA.” The other word that Dr. Grimme succeeded in reading was “HATSHEPSUT,” who was known from her monuments and obelisk.
With this key, the table was quickly deciphered, 175 and was ascribed to Moses. The text as it appeared follows:
“I am the son of Hatshepsut
overseer of the mine workers of sin
chief of the temple of Mana Jahua of Sinai
thou oh Hatshepsut
wast kind to me and drew me out
of the waters of the Nile
hast placed me in the temple (or palace).”
On the reverse were directions for locating the place where the writer reported he had buried certain tablets of stone, which he had broken in his anger. Since all the landmarks the writer used to identify the place of burial have disappeared, nothing has so far come from the search that resulted when this tablet was at last read.
Incidentally, this queen Hatshepsut left her mark upon the age in which she lived, as she was one of the most persistently determined women who ever appeared upon the pages of ancient history. There is a remarkably complete record of her history and her imperial reign which may be read today in the relics of her times and in the ruins of the great works which she caused to be constructed.
Her important place illustrates one of the difficulties of chronology, which we have previously mentioned. Her background is clear and undisputed. When Tuthmosis the 176 First died, his son and heir Tuthmosis the Second succeeded to the throne. He was a physical and mental weakling, and very little is known of him from the monuments of old. But he married his half-sister Hatshepsut, and started a train of events that had surprising consequences. Incidentally, it was the custom for Egyptians to marry in the closest family ties, and brother and sister more often wed than not. In view of this famous lady’s character and later conduct, it is highly probable that the king had no choice in marrying his sister, but was led to the slaughter whether he would or not! At any rate, he died very soon after the wedding, and the widow Hatshepsut declared herself queen. To make her position secure, she married her young stepson and half-brother, Tuthmosis the Third, who was the legal and rightful heir to the throne. During his boyhood the queen reigned in undisputed power, and developed the country in a surprising manner.
She was a feminist with a vengeance, and called herself KING Hatshepsut, and stated that she was a god and as such was entitled to worship and obedience. What is more, she made it stick! Since she could not lead her armies in person, she pursued the ways of peace, and the troubled land had rest and prospered. Some of the greatest building operations of the ancient world were begun and finished under her direction and patronage.
Detailed study of outside and inside of anthropoid coffin. Note voluminous record
Outside, or rectangular coffin also covered with writing and records
Murals and frescoes from tomb walls
When her husband-brother-consort became of age, he naturally rebelled against her usurpation. He gathered a company of adventurous nobles about him and forced the queen to abdicate, after which she disappeared under circumstances which would have interested Scotland Yard, if that noted institution had been in existence in that day and place! The ambitious young king took the name of Tuthmosis the Third, and left a brilliant record as a conqueror and builder. Counting the twenty-one years he lived as co-regent with Hatshepsut, he ruled the land fifty-three years, which was an enviable span for those warlike days.
If the present accepted chronology is right, he came to the throne in 1501 B. C. and died in the year 1447. This would have made him the Pharaoh of the Oppression! In which case, the queen Hatshepsut would have unconsciously offended him in elevating Moses to a place of prominence and power, which might explain why Moses felt it necessary to flee from Egypt when he was in trouble. At any rate, out of this tangled skein of human conduct and ambition, some present help is offered to the learning of our day by the known facts that have been clearly established from the relics of this embattled couple. The name of the queen Hatshepsut 178 was abhorrent to her brother-husband-regent-successor; and he tried to obliterate it wherever it appeared. But she had built so many great works and had left such ample records that his actions in this matter came to nought, and she lives today to shed the assurance of probability upon the record of Moses.
We have seen her obelisks, her records and some of the ruins of her great works, and the entire pattern is of a piece with the demands, both chronological and ethnological, of the text of the Scripture. It is apparent that not only dead men, but also dead women, may tell tales, if their voices are heeded and the ears of the listener are not stopped with the wax of infidelity and disbelief.
The amazing and scrupulous accuracy which is maintained by the Old Testament in its historical statements is once again demonstrated by the record of Ahaz as it is given in the Old Testament and found on the monuments in Assyria. We read in II Kings and the sixteenth chapter, these words:
In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.
Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father.179
But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.
And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
Then Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.
At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and dwelt there unto this day.
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.
And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.
And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.
The visit of Ahaz which closes this record was made in 732 B. C. Tiglath-pileser has left his own story of these stirring events and has called Ahaz by name upon his monument. The unfortunate action of Ahaz in calling for Assyrian aid against his enemies Pekah king of Israel and Rezin king of Syria, resulted, according to Tiglath-pileser’s account, in his invasion of both Syria and Palestine. From 180 thence he carried away into captivity the two tribes of Reuben and Gath, and the half tribe of Manasseh. The distress of Israel was not ended until Hoshea, shortly afterward, became the new king of Israel. As a matter of policy he formally accepted the yoke of Assyria and became the vassal of Tiglath-pileser.
In the Assyrian Room of the British Museum, Wall Cases 14 to 18 contain a valuable collection of inscribed bowls, ostraca, and fragments of records which extend from the days of Assur-resh-shi, down to the end of the Assyrian dynasty. Among them are fragmentary inscriptions from the reign of Tiglath-pileser the Third. He is known in the Scriptures also by his Babylonian name of Pul. In I Chronicles 5:26 both names are found in the one verse, as though the scribe were anxious that the identification should be complete:
And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
Tiglath-pileser again appears under the name of Pul in II Kings 15:19:
And Pul the king of Assyria came against 181 the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
In the twenty-ninth verse of this chapter, however, his Assyrian name is given alone, as is done in the sixteenth chapter.
In the above cited wall cases, exhibit K 2751, is an inscription of Tiglath-pileser’s setting forth some of his conquests, and an account of certain of his building operations. Among the tributary kings who accepted his yoke, he specifically mentions Ahaz king of Judah.
Modern man is so used to the phenomena that make up the miracle of our modern living that such fascinating possessions as this are not generally appreciated and properly valued. Here, however, we hear again the voice of a man who died in the year 727 B. C. The phenomenon is seen in the fact that in spite of the indescribable vandalism and wreckage wrought by those intervening ages, a fragment of clay persisted, and remained in existence until it could be uncovered from the dust heaps of antiquity by the one generation that desperately needed its testimony and was able to interpret and prize its record!
Here indeed is a dead man who tells tales, and who tells them with such authority and accuracy that the mouth of criticism is stopped and the Word of God completely 182 vindicated. Incidentally, Tiglath-pileser’s record corroborates the prophecy of Isaiah, concerning the destruction of both Israel and Syria, because they had joined their forces to make war upon Judah.
This prophecy is given at length in the seventh chapter of Isaiah and was the instance of introducing the greater prophecy of the final redemption of the people with the coming of Messiah. He was to be identified, according to Isaiah, by means of the miracle of the virgin birth.
When Omri, the general of the armies of Israel, was elevated by popular acclaim to the throne of dominion, he climaxed an astonishing career that left a deep impression upon antiquity. At the beginning of his reign the nation was divided in its allegiance and this division resulted in a civil war that was bitter, though brief. The power and might of Omri quickly pacified and subdued the land, which accepted his dominion, and for twelve years his hand guided the helm of the ship of state. One of his earlier acts was to buy the hill of Samaria for a sum that is given as two talents of silver, which would be in the neighborhood of $4,000 in our reckoning. So impressive was his personality that from his day on to the end of the kingdom, the land of Israel was generally known among the Assyrian peoples as the Land of Omri.
On the black monolith for instance, which 183 was set up by Shalmaneser the king of Assyria, there are many sculptured pictures which illustrate the text of this priceless historical record. One of the scenes shows that among the conquered rulers, one is entitled “Jehu the son of Omri.” A record is made of the silver, gold, lead, vessels of gold, and of other materials that Jehu brought in tribute to Shalmaneser. (See Plate 18.) This black obelisk may be seen in the Nimrud Central Saloon of the British Museum in London. That this was a general is seen from the fact that on the nine-sided prism which gives the record of Sargon concerning his conquests in Palestine, the great Assyrian lists the people of Israel whom he calls “Bit-Khu-um-ri-a” (Omri-land), among other subdued races. Omri was succeeded on the throne by Ahab, who was a young man when he came to the throne. He left an unenviable record of apostasy and idolatry, but was none-the-less a courageous and able administrator whose work strengthened the realm greatly. In the twenty-two years of his reign the Word of God was ignored and unbelief swept over the land. In his day the first persecution of God’s people, which was directed against their ministry, began when his wife Jezebel caused the slaughter of the prophets.
The entire career of Ahab occupies considerable space in the records of the Old Testament and is almost as prominent in the 184 monuments of antiquity. One of the most outstanding and notable of his early acts was the famous overthrow of Benhadad, the king of Syria. The invasions of Israel by Benhadad are fully covered in the historical texts of the Old Testament, so they need no recapitulation here. When the Syrian king suffered an overwhelming and crushing defeat at the hands of Ahab, he submitted himself to the king of Israel with a humble plea for mercy. In spite of the denunciation of the prophet, who warned that Benhadad would bring disaster upon the realm, Ahab restored him to his Syrian dominion and made a covenant of brotherhood with him. Later on, Ahab and Benhadad united in a rebellion against their Assyrian overlord in one of the most disastrous acts of his career. The battle that decided the campaign was fought at Karkar.
In the British Museum, the Nimrud Central Saloon exhibits a stele of Shalmaneser the Third which bears the identifying number of 88. The inscription sets forth the names, titles, and ancestry of the king and gives a complete account of several of his military adventures. He states that in the sixth year of his reign, he battled against certain allies who had rebelled against his authority. Among them he lists “Ahab of the land of Israel.” Shalmaneser tells how he defeated this coalition and slew fourteen thousand of the Syrian warriors in one great battle.
Ancient boundary markers
On the monolith of Shalmaneser the record begun on this stele is further continued. This battle, according to Shalmaneser’s chronology, would be about 854 B. C. This Benhadad is known on the Assyrian monuments variously by the names of Hadad-ezer and Hadad-idri. He is authenticated by the finest type of historical proof that the most carping critic could demand. Incidentally, Benhadad is one of the forty-seven kings mentioned in our preliminary remarks, who were supposed to be legendary characters, until archeology called them forth from the dead to testify in their own behalf.
Ahab was one of the most industrious builders who ever occupied the throne of Israel. Although he lacked the resources of Solomon, there are a number of records in the Scripture that shed light upon his architectural interests. In I Kings 22:39 all of this activity is summarized in their brief epitome:
Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
The hill of Samaria, which Omri had purchased, passed by inheritance to Ahab. 186 The ivory palace that is mentioned in I Kings 22:39 was built on this site. Solomon may have had his throne of ivory, but Ahab improved upon that idea, as this text seems to imply. This summer palace which he built for himself and Jezebel on the crest of the hill of Samaria has been the scene of recent expeditions. A great deal of archeological industry has been expended in reconstructing the beauty and marvel of this palace of Ahab. It has been discovered that the walls were decorated with ivory carvings, and that much of the furniture was inlaid with ivory. This valuable substance was used with a profligate hand to construct one of the most splendid edifices of all antiquity.
Some of the most skilled craftsmen of human history were employed by this enterprise. To show something of the ability of these ancient artists, we present a photograph of the figure of an ivory lion which came from the site of Ahab’s palace. The illustration is magnified four times, but tiny as this priceless relic is, the lines and perfection of the carving cannot be excelled by any craftsman today.
The Harvard expedition under Dr. Reisner, and the joint expedition of 1931, both made delighted comment on the unprecedented perfection of the structure of this great palace. It covered an area between seven and eight acres in extent; the masonry of the 187 building was no less than marvelous in the perfection of its structure and joining. Concerning these ivory miniatures, inlays, and friezes, the leader of the expedition said, “These ivories are the most charming example of miniature art ever found on an Israelite site.” By referring to the ivory lion in Plate 19 the reader can see that this is indeed the fact.
The excavations at Samaria have been going on since the Harvard expedition began in 1908. Among the valuable finds from the ivory palace of Ahab must be listed a group of seventy-five ostraca. These ancient fragments of pottery, inscribed and engraved with the homely affairs of the daily life of Ahab’s time, contain the same script as is found on the Moabite stone.
This great relic of antiquity has had a fascinating but unfortunate history in itself. It will always be a matter of sincere regret that the first discoverer of the Moabite stone did not make a copy of its complete text. The Moabite stone states that Ahab reigned forty years. The Scripture record, however, makes his reign to be twenty-two years. According to the credible chronology of II Kings, upon the death of Ahab, his son, Jehoram, ascended to the throne and reigned twelve years. Mesha, who had accepted the lordship of the able Ahab, rebelled against the weaker son.
At some time during this reign, Mesha, a minor king of Moab, tired of paying to Israel the annual tribute of one hundred thousand lambs, plus one hundred thousand rams, with the wool thereof. He rebelled against the overlord of Israel and successfully threw off the yoke. On an enormous stele which was erected at Dhiban by the successful king we find these words:
“I Mesha, son of Chemosh-melech, king of Moab, the Dibonite. My father reigned over Moab 30 years and I reigned after my father. I have made this monument for Chemosh at Qorhah, a monument of salvation for he saved me from all invaders and let me see my desire upon all my enemies. Omri was king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. His son, Ahab followed him and he also said: I will oppress Moab. In my days Chemosh said: I will see my desire on him and his house and Israel surely shall perish forever. Omri took the land of Medeba and dwelt in it during his days and half the days of his son, altogether 40 years. But Chemosh gave it back in my days. I built Baal-Meon and made therein the ditches; I built Kirjathaim. The men of God dwelt in the land of Ataroth from of old, and the king of Israel built there the city of Ataroth; but I made war against the city and took it. And I slew all the people of the city, for the pleasure of Chemosh and of Moab and I brought back from the Arel of Dodah and bore him before Chemosh in Qerioth. And I placed therein the men of Sharon and the men of Mehereth. And 189 Chemosh said unto me: Go, seize Nebo of Israel and I went in the night and fought against it from the break of dawn till noon; and I took it, slew all of them, 7,000 men and boys, women and girls and female slaves, for to Ashtar-Chemosh I devoted them. And I took from thence the Arels of Yahwah and bore them before Chemosh. Now the king of Israel had built Jahaz and he dwelt in it while he waged war against me, but Chemosh drove him out from before me....”
When this great monument was first discovered in 1868, its value was of course not appreciated and no copy of the text was made. The Museum of Berlin heard of it and moved for its purchase. An employe of the French Consulate heard of the negotiations, and offered a large bribe for the possession of the stone. The Turkish officials then interfered. The superstitious Arabs, believing that the monument must have some magical value, broke it into a number of fragments and distributed the pieces as amulets, or charms. A French agent, however, industriously pursued these fragments and with the help of a squeeze which he had made, reconstructed the major portion of the writings. The ancient name of Jehovah occurring on this text was an additional delight to these students of antiquity.
Certain small cities that Israel had wrested from Moab were returned to Mesha at the time of this rebellion. Jehoram, and Jehoshaphat, 190 the kings of Judah, later battled against the increasing power of Moab and administered a crushing defeat to the Moabites sometime after the successful uprising that is recorded here in this text.
Among the ostraca excavated at Samaria, were some that mentioned many of the historical personages of the Old Testament, which also enhanced their value in the eyes of archeologists.
The later expedition to Samaria which was working in 1931, apparently reached the foundations of the first buildings of Omri. They have left a record stating, “No remains earlier than the building of Omri are to be found upon this site.” This being so, we cannot question the statement of the text that Omri was the original builder on the crest of the hill of Samaria, which fact is in itself of considerable importance to the subject of our present study. The question has been raised as to what the effect would have been on the problem of the integrity of the text of the Scripture if this site had proved to have been like the other regions excavated, and was occupied by many older and underlying ruins! The simple answer is that such a discovery was not made; and the evidence that has been derived is of such nature that this portion of the sacred Book must be accepted by the intelligent and informed scholar.
These fragmentary events and references are of as much value as are the individual bricks that make up the mass of a wall or a building. One or two standing alone would be relatively unimportant, but when scores of such evidences are gathered into a composite unit, they offer a formidable and impressive structure of evidence that is extremely difficult to refute. Although it has been the custom to construct the critical argument against the integrity of God’s Word from imagined minor errors in the text, so intrenched is critical dogmatism that nothing but a major rebuttal will be heeded. Happily, a major structure may be erected from minor materials: and thus these fragments serve their destined purpose.
Stone ouches, or door-sockets
The famed Black Obelisk, which confirmed the record of Jehu
Among the ancient races that are catalogued in the lists which appear in the pages of the Old Testament, the most important one in the presentation of this thesis is the Hittite race. In the heyday of their brief popularity the higher critics indulged in an orgy of refutation concerning these sections of the Scripture. Since the Hittites are mentioned forty-eight times in the pages of the Bible, if it could be proved that these people were fictitious in character, the critical case against the Old Testament would be demonstrated beyond question. It would almost seem as though the writers of the ancient word had invited this contest with deliberate intention. It is impossible to justify the manifold appearances of the Hittites in the Sacred Word, if they were not an actual people.
In addition to the many other references, in the various lists of races given as occupying different portions of the ancient world, the Bible mentions the Hittite peoples twenty-one separate and distinct times. The eminent dean of higher criticism, the late Canon Driver, ascribes these historical catalogs of 196 peoples to imagination and fiction, and refers to them in such words as these, “The Hittites are also regularly mentioned in the rhetorical lists.” Canon Driver is careful to note that these lists of peoples are found in that section of the Scripture which he calls the “Elohistic Manuscript.” It is not hard to understand that one who starts with the assumption of incredibility, would have trouble believing in the reality of the statements in a document so treated.
The writers of the Scripture, in their dealings with the subject of this forgotten people, sketch an amazing picture indeed. They portray a warlike, powerful, well organized race whose genius at colonization and military ability combined to win for them a veritable world empire. The center of their dominion was Syria, but from thence they reached out to lay their yoke upon Egypt, to overrun Palestine, and to force the early Assyrians to pay tribute to their might and power.
It seems almost inconceivable that in the voluminous records of antiquity there should have been no single word concerning this mighty race. For until the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the Hittites had no place in secular history. They were preserved to the memory of man, simply and only because of the forty-eight Old Testament references which we have previously mentioned. The scholarly critics argued that 197 it would be impossible for a world empire to disappear from history without leaving a single trace. They insisted that if a race of men had ever lived who dominated the world of their day, common sense would incline us to the conclusion that they could not suddenly fade away from the memory of man and leave no evidence of their existence.
But they did! From the very beginning of this argument, it should have been apparent that there were two ways to approach the problem. One way was the method which was adopted by the higher critics, namely, to assume that the Old Testament is fallible. Adopting as the grounds of investigation the pre-conceived conclusion that the records of the Old Testament are fallacious and incredible, the critics then proceeded to search for proof of this basic assumption. By dogmatically asserting that the Old Testament was not historical, but that much of its contents consisted of folklore and myth, inductive conclusions were offered as proof of this presumption.
It did not seem to occur to the higher critical scholars that a better way to study the Word would have been to concede the historicity of the text until it was disproved by evidence. This, of course, has ever been the method used by the orthodox student of the Word. We might say in passing that this is not only the intelligent technique but 198 is also the safer process. To say the very least, it saves the embarrassment that inevitably comes to him who arrays himself against the integrity of the Word of God!
The first appearance of the Hittites in the Bible is in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, verse twenty:
“And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims.”
This is perhaps the very earliest coincidence of archeology with the records of the Scripture. In the various lists of races who were to be displaced by Israel, according to the covenant God made with Abraham, the Hittites are frequently named. Without any reservation or qualification whatever, this text which we have just cited states that the Hittites were Canaanites. According to Genesis 10:15, the Canaanitish people came through the line of Sidon and Heth. It is apparent also from Genesis 10:6, where Canaan the son of Ham first comes into the record, that these Hittites, if they had existed, would have been akin to the early population of Chaldea and Babylon. It is an interesting fact to note that the monuments of antiquity which have restored these Hittites to their proper place in secular history, show them to have had a mixture of Semitic and Mongolian characteristics.
In the various appearances of these people in the Old Testament records, it is to be noted that several characters married Hittite wives. Bathsheba, who was the mother of Solomon, and thus infused a Gentile strain into the genealogy of Mary, who was the mother of our Lord, was a Hittite woman. In I Kings 11:1, it is also stated that Solomon, among his many political marriages, had taken to himself wives from among the Hittites.
These people, although unknown in the orderly annals of human history, might have been recognized had the scholarly ability of earlier generations been able correctly to interpret obsolete systems of writings. The Assyrians called them the “Khatti.” In the Egyptian inscriptions they are known as the “Kheta.” The fact that these names referred to the Hittites was not known until the Hittite inscriptions themselves were read and interpreted and the fact of their reality established. It is to be regretted that in a work as short as this one we have not room to recapitulate their long and fascinating history. The romance of their recovery of their rightful place in the annals of human conduct is all that we can present in this chapter. They were thrust by human ignorance into the outer darkness of forgotten things, but we can trace the hand of God in bringing them back into the light of remembrance and establishing them in their 200 proper place of glory and prominence among the empires of antiquity.
Without hesitation we would offer this as the perfect demonstration of the manner in which Almighty God cares for His Word. When His Book is assailed and discredited, He will, if need be, raise the dead to establish the integrity of the Inspired Record. It might be noted in passing that secular history is now often corrected by archeology. The misunderstandings and errors which were alleged to appear in the Bible, and which are common to the production of a purely human document, are being done away with as we read them again in the light of the monuments. Wherever such correction has been made, it has had the effect of bringing secular history into complete harmony with the Bible. So in restoring the empire of the Hittites to the staid columns of accredited history, the Divine Record is again confirmed.
It is inevitable that these Hittites should appear in the Ancient Word, as they largely parallel the history of the Hebrew kingdom in point of time. From the days of Abraham to the end of the kingdom of Israel, the Hittites and the Hebrews walked side by side and hand in hand. During that time Hittites and Israelites alike are the enemies of Egypt. Alike they battled against Babylon and Assyria, they intermarried, had treaties and covenants each with the other, and had a well developed system of commerce between the nations.
Small ivory lion from Ahab’s palace
Author’s collection (Photo by Dworshak)
Fragmentary frieze showing ancient chariots (Museum of the University of Pennsylvania)
King Solomon, the merchant prince, had developed business relations with all of the many chieftains and kings of the Hittite peoples, and had a well developed trade in the horses and chariots for which the Hittites were famous in their day. (See Plate 20.) This coincidence of affairs began when Abraham consummated the first commercial transaction that is mentioned in human history. Before Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees to begin his strange pilgrimage, the Hittites were already established in Canaan. It must not be thought that Abraham at that time was the ancient prototype of our modern hobo, wandering from point to point with no estate! The pastoral pursuits of Abraham had built up for him flocks and herds that made him enormously wealthy. He was an able strategist, and his military skill, combined with his personal valor, had elevated him to a high position of power and influence.
In the land of Canaan he was treated with honor and admiration as befitted his station and position. His armed retainers constituted a formidable army for that day, and this trained manpower compelled respect for Abraham, the wandering prince. When Sarah died, the Hittites were in possession of the land and Abraham recognized the validity of their title when he opened the 202 negotiations for a burial plot for Sarah, by defining himself as a stranger and a sojourner in their land. With typical oriental courtesy in bargaining, the Hittites replied to his request for a burying place for his dead wife by saying, “Hear us, my lord, thou art a mighty prince among us,” and they offered him freely and without price the choice of a plot for a sepulchre. Abraham designated the cave of Machpelah as his choice and offered to pay the full value of the site. This courtesy, of course, was expected of him. Though it had been offered as a free gift, it would have been a breach of manners of the worst type, according to the customs of that day, for him to have accepted the gift.
It will be noted in this account in Genesis that when Abraham weighed out the requested price of four hundred shekels of silver, the statement was made that it was the shekel which was the current money with the merchants. The sum was equivalent to about $300 in our present system of values. This is the first reference made to coinage, and it fits in beautifully with the archeological indications that the Hittites were the inventors of the principle of coining both gold and silver as a medium of exchange.
From this first moment of their contact with Abraham there is no period of Hebrew history, up to the time of the fall of Samaria, where the people of Israel lost contact with 203 the nation of the Hittites. Their mercenary soldiers became captains in the army of David and Solomon, and they were occasionally allied in important battles in which the people of Israel fought side by side with them. It is amazing that the critics, in the face of the tremendous emphasis laid upon the Hittite empire by the writers of the Scripture, did not exercise some discretion in their repudiation of the historicity of this people. Even while the tongues of the unbelieving were clamoring with loud denunciations of the text of the Word of God, Libya, Syria, and Asia Minor in general exhibited magnificent sculpture, incised stones, and monuments written in a strange system of hieroglyphics that none had been able to read. These proved later to be the records of the Hittite peoples as they themselves had cut them with their own hands.
We shall later refer to the great work of Dr. A. H. Sayce in deciphering these hieroglyphics. His achievement in that instance was, in the annals of human history, one of the greatest triumphs of pure reason. Before this was done, however, the Hittites had begun to stretch themselves and stir in the tomb of oblivion. Their long sleep was ended and they began to rise from the dead, when experts in Egyptology read the record of Ramses the Second. It is not too much to say that these early discoveries threw the 204 camp of higher criticism into utter confusion.
Ramses the Second successfully ended a period of warfare with the Hittites which had vexed and distressed Egypt for more than five hundred years. So great was the power of the Hittite empire that no previous conqueror or king in Egypt had been able to shake off their yoke completely. Indeed, Ramses the Second succeeded in so doing only by contracting an important political marriage with a Hittite princess.
The center of the Hittite empire was Charchemish. On the site of Megiddo, which was so often the scene of battles in successive years, the forces of Ramses fought with the armed forces of the Hittites. There the Egyptian monarch successfully defeated the Hittites in one of the most stirring battles preserved to us in ancient records. The Hittites at this time were governed by a number of kings who had a close confederation in all affairs pertaining to the empire. In the day of Ramses the confederation was headed by the king of Kadesh. According to Ramses’ record, which is preserved for us on the walls of Karnak, all “the kings and peoples from the water of Egypt to the river-land of Mesopotamia obeyed this chief.”
This army of the confederation massed itself on the bloody field of Megiddo in a battle which lasted six hours. Ramses tells in detail 205 how he marched and maneuvered his forces to gain strategic advantages.
It was a coincidence that the battle began on the morning of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ascension of Ramses the Second. He celebrated the anniversary of his crowning by throwing off the yoke of the Hittites. A complete victory was denied Ramses, due to the fact that when the Hittite force broke and fled before him, his army failed to take advantage of the rout. Falling upon the rich plunder, they fought among themselves over the spoils so long that the Hittites were able to enter their fortified city and barricade it against the Egyptians. An element of humor enters into the final statement. Ramses recounts that he besieged the city for a number of days, but since “Megiddo had the might of a thousand cities, the king graciously pardoned the foreign princes.” In the list of the spoil that the Egyptians gathered from this battle, there occurred the names of one hundred nineteen towns and cities which henceforth paid tribute to Egypt. The next important item was the capture of nine hundred twenty-four chariots, including the personal chariot of the Hittite king which was plated and armored with gold. (See Plate 20.)
Although Ramses boasted that he had “completely overthrown the might and power of the Hittites,” the future history of this Pharaoh depicts campaign after campaign 206 lasting until the end of his life. At least nine campaigns are recorded on the walls of Karnak, in each of which the Hittites were singularly exterminated, completely overthrown, and defeated for all time hereafter. The only trouble seems to have been that the Hittites didn’t realize how completely they were defeated, so that they came back again and again! The nearest to peace that Ramses ever achieved, in his dealings with this race, was when upon his marriage with a Hittite princess, a great treaty was signed. In the records of his battles, Ramses refers to the Hittite king as “the miserable lord of the despised Hittites.” When he records the treaty that he made at the time of his marriage, he refers to the same man as “his noble and magnificent brother, a fellow to sit with the god of the sun by the side of Ramses himself.” It is evident, then, that some of Ramses’ records must be taken with a grain of salt. We noticed recently, as we were studying and photographing the battle scene of Megiddo which is portrayed on the north side of the great temple at Karnak, that Ramses is shown as having thrown to the ground all the Hittites and as having slain their king. Seven years later, however, the king is still alive to give his daughter in marriage to Ramses!
Since the Hittites were at this time the central power of the ancient world, peace 207 with them meant peace with all the other enemies of Egypt. Perhaps, for this reason, Ramses’ boasting of his great victory might be pardoned.
This great battle is also immortalized by a contemporary poet. The papyrus copy of this poem is now in the possession of the British Museum. Many stanzas from this notable work, however, are to be seen in connection with the magnificent battle pictures at Karnak. Some of these are also repeated in the temple at Luxor, as well as on the great monument at Abydos.
Professor Wright refers to this poem as “the earliest specimen of special war correspondence.” This work is known as the poem of Pentauer. Pentauer is the name of a Theban poet who wrote his dramatic ode two years after the battle between Ramses the Second and the Hittite horde. The boastful extravagance of his language becomes a bit wearisome as he sings the praises of Ramses and chants of the impossible feats of the monarch. An example of hyperbole is offered in this verse:
“King Pharaoh was young and bold. His arms were strong, his heart courageous. He seized his weapons, and a hundred thousand sunk before his glance. He armed his people and his chariots. As he marched towards the land of the Hittites, the whole earth trembled. His warriors passed by the path of the desert, and went along the roads of the north.”
The “miserable and deceitful king of the Hittites,” however, had prepared an ambush. When the Hittites sprang their trap with their king in their midst, Pharaoh called on his mighty men to follow him. Leaping into his chariot, he assaulted the numberless horsemen and the armored footmen of the horde of the Hittites, and plunged into the midst of their ablest and bravest warriors. As he fought his way into the press of these noble horses, Ramses looked around to see how his force was getting along. To his surprise he found that they had not followed him; and he was hemmed in by two thousand five hundred chariots which were manned by the mightiest of the Hittite champions. Deserted by his entire army, Pharaoh saw that he had to rely upon his own ability, so “shouting for joy, with the aid of the god Amon, he hurled darts with his right hand and thrust with the sword in his left hand!” He “slew two thousand five hundred horses which were dashed to pieces!” He “laid dead the noble Hittite knights until their limbs dissolved with fear and they had no courage to thrust!” He swept them into the river Orontes and slew as long as it was his pleasure.
It is quite evident that Pentauer relied largely upon his imagination for the details of this great battle. However exaggerated this poem may be, nevertheless it has some historical value. Especially is this so since the poem of Pentauer and the Karnak record of Ramses the Second are in virtual agreement as to the essential details of this battle.
From such funerary papyri much valuable information regarding Egyptian beliefs and customs is derived
Incidentally, the walls of Karnak yielded from the records of other kings the historic evidence of an actual Hittite empire. Tuthmosis the Third immortalized the Hittites on the walls of Karnak when he gave a list of towns in the land of the Hittites over which he was victorious. Unquestionably this list contains the first and oldest authentic account of ancient cities, which are frequently afterwards mentioned in the Assyrian records as well. This record is found in the splendid temple which is called the “Hall of Pillars” and which was erected by this notable pharaoh. It has been said that in this work the art of Egypt reached its highest point. Certainly the walls and pillars are literally covered with the beautifully engraved pictures and names of the races and cities which the pharaoh had conquered.
When the Department of Antiquities was working upon the wall of a lower section, a catalog of one hundred nineteen conquered places came to light. This record showed that, more than three hundred years before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, the Hittites were established in a powerful dominion over that lovely land. There are seven separate records of the contacts of 210 this pharaoh with the people who were the Hittites.
Ramses the First has also left a record of the treaty of peace that he made with the Hittite king Seplal at the end of the war that he unsuccessfully fought to throw off the yoke of this people. On the north wall of the temple at Karnak, he gives the route of his march and tells of the victories that he won. He did not, however, delineate his final capitulation. This conflict resulted in a treaty of peace which is recorded in this account.
The successor of Ramses the First was Seti the First, and in his day the treaty was broken. According to Seti, it was the Hittites who offended against the covenant, and he also engraved on the walls at Karnak an account of the consequent battle with its result. To bring just a short line from his voluminous record, he acknowledges his own greatness in such an inscription as the following:
“Seti has struck down the Asiatics; he has thrown to the ground the Kheta. He has slain their princes.”
Telling them how he concluded a treaty with the Hittites, to the enhancement of his own glory, Seti’s record concludes with these words:
“He returns home in triumph. He has annihilated the people. He has struck to the ground the Kheta. He has made an end of his adversaries. The enmity of all people is turned into friendship.”
With just this brief reference to the voluminous records to be found in Egyptian archeology, we would be able to establish the triumph of the Bible in the realm of historical accuracy, had we no other sources. The fact of the matter, however, is that the Assyrian and Babylonian accounts of the Hittites are at least as numerous as are the Egyptian.
It may be noted in passing that, although filled with consternation at these marvelous discoveries in Egyptology, the critics were by no means silenced. It would have been better for their later reputation had they graciously accepted their defeat and acknowledged that they were in error. Instead, they rushed into vociferous refutation of the newly discovered Egyptian records. Unfortunately, their denunciations and renewed claims were given wide publicity by being included in the then current edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is to be regretted that this great encyclopedia has often been a tremendous aid to criticism in spreading its errors and fallacies. This in large measure is due to the fact that there is a common reverence for this great work in 212 the mind of the average human. There is a certain class of readers who hold this notable reference work in such great reverence that its authority to them is greater than that of the Word of God. It must be remembered, however, that the encyclopedia of each generation represents only the current thought of that brief period of human experience. Anything that is written by man is subject to later revision or repudiation, as human knowledge increases. So in this great compendium of human wisdom it is unfortunate that much space was given to the famed critic, the Rev. T. K. Cheyne.
This eminent authority was a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. In the above cited article, he treated the statements of the Bible as unhistorical and classified them as pure folklore. Concerning the Biblical references to the Hittites, he used these exact words, “They cannot be taken as of equal authority with the Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions!” In dealing with Abraham’s purchase of the burial plot for Sarah, he had a great deal to say in refutation of the possibility of any accuracy in the record. At the conclusion of his criticism he stated, “How meager the tradition respecting the Hittites was in the time of the great Elohistic narrator, is shown by the picture of Hittite life in this reference.”
Dr. Cheyne fell into the great error of 213 claiming that the Hittites were only warriors. Because they are thus shown on the walls of Karnak, he concluded that they were mercenary troops who never entered into business transactions. In his article on the Canaanites in this above cited encyclopedia, he goes so far as to say, “The Hittites seem to have been included among the Canaanites by mistake. Historical evidence proves convincingly that they dwelt beyond the borders of Canaan.” These conclusions were also advocated by his great colleague and collaborator, Prof. W. H. Newman.
Dr. Newman was also a Fellow of Balliol College at Oxford and is the author of the once famous “History of the Hebrew Monarchy.” In all of this work he maintained that the Hittite references in the Old Testament were unqualifiedly unhistorical. They prove beyond question, according to the author, that the writers of the Old Testament were totally unacquainted with the times of which they wrote. His conclusion was that the Old Testament was written many centuries after the events which it purports to depict. He stated with finality, along with Dr. Cheyne, that the Hittite people were limited to Syria and had no place in Palestine. Thus the story of Abraham buying territory from them at Hebron is unquestionably mythological.
These ardent advocates of a collapsing 214 theory should have waited! It was not long after these utterances were printed that Prof. Sayce deciphered certain of the Assyrian records of Tiglath-pileser. These showed that in the reign of this monarch, as late as 1130 B. C., the Hittites were still in command of all the territory from the Euphrates to Lebanon!
Again the Word of God was vindicated, when the monuments, as they were deciphered, yielded the interesting information that the Hittites were notable colonizers. They also covered all the ancient world as merchants, and their caravans and trade-routes were the earliest to be established. They are in Assyrian annals depicted as artisans and artists. Although all of them could fight when war was inevitable, they had a standing army for the casual and necessary protection of the realm. Dr. Newman was unfortunate also in choosing the time in which he charged the Bible with error. At a most unfortunate period for criticism in the history of archeology he questioned the details of Hittite prowess in the incidental references of the Scripture. As though the scientists of that day were in league with the Lord, they laid bare in site after site a refutation of all the critics maintained!
It will be remembered that in connection with the siege of Samaria, as the story is given in II Kings, the seventh chapter, there 215 is a peculiar but important reference to the Hittites and their known power. The people of Israel who were commanded by Jehoram were distressed by the siege of their capital when Benhadad of Damascus had pressed them to the limit of their resistance. Famine and disease had swept Samaria, so that the remnant faced the choice of surrendering or perishing. Elisha had prophesied a deliverance, and in verses six and seven in the seventh chapter of II Kings, the fulfillment of God’s promise is given in this way:
“For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.
“Wherefore, they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.”
Professor Newman found a great deal of grounds for hilarity in what he called this “childish narrative.” He says, “The unhistorical tone is too manifest to allow of our easy belief in it.” He admits that there may have been some unusual deliverance of Samaria, because of collateral records of dangerous night panics among various hordes of antiquity. He adds, however, in reference 216 to the Bible account, “The particular ground of alarm attributed to them does not exhibit the writer’s acquaintance with the times in a very favorable light. No Hittite kings can have compared in power with the king of Judah, the real and near ally, who is not named at all. Nor is there a single mark of acquaintance with the facts of contemporaneous history.”
Two sources of information, however, have since been derived that flatly refute the learned Professor and vindicate the accuracy of the record of God’s Word. The Assyrian sources show conclusively, upon the examination of their records, that the Hittites at that time were the greatest power with which the monarchs of Chaldea had to deal. In the records of Assur-Nasir-pal a long and powerful tribute is paid to the military might of the Hittites. So in that day they were still a strong and warlike people. They were especially dreaded by the armies of antiquity because of the unique distinction of their chariots. It is to this fact that the writer of II Kings refers when he speaks of “the noise of chariots.”
The walls of Karnak give us a clear and illuminating description of these ancient weapons of battle. Each chariot was drawn by two horses, armored and shod with spikes. Three warriors rode in each chariot. One of these handled the reins, while the other two plied arrow, javelin, sword, and dart, working untold havoc in the closely packed ranks of ancient infantry. (See Plate 20.)
Monuments of Petra, showing extent of the ruins in one direction
Looking the opposite way from Plate 22
It is also noted that Assur-Nasir-pal has given a detailed account of the treasures that he derived from the defeated Hittites. Among them he lists with great delight “swift chariots with horses therefor.” Whenever this monarch won a victory over the Hittites, he refers again and again to their chariots. One such reference is seen in this statement: “The chariots and warlike engines of the general of Charchemis I laid up in my magazines.”
We have already noted that Solomon was engaged in trade with the people called Hittites, taking chariots and horses in exchange for his merchandise.
Ramses the Second states that the Hittite chiefs were distinguished among the nations “for their swift chariots and horses and their engines of war.”
It would seem indeed that the writer of II Kings was better acquainted with the times of which he wrote than was the later critic who disdains the authority of the ancient scribe!
Shalmaneser made five references to the Hittites, in every one of which he refers to their chariots. In the monument of Shalmaneser, which is now found in the British 218 Museum, the inscription represents the Hittites at Charchemish with various of their allies fighting against Shalmaneser. He concludes this record by saying, “With them I fought; their corpses like chaff through the country I scattered. Multitudes of chariots and horses trained to the yoke I seized.”
Sargon also tells of his overthrow of the Hittite kingdom, and mentions the chariots that were so formidable an aid to their military campaigns.
It may be noted in passing that Dr. Cheyne, like the eminent Dr. Sayce, was later converted to faith in the integrity of the Word of God. This might be called one of the later victories of the Hittite empire. Its people have risen from the dead to fight for the faith and for the Book which alike were delivered unto the saints by the Spirit of God. Some of the later writings of Dr. Cheyne constitute a frank repudiation of his earlier position. His lectures and sermons, after his discovery of the integrity of the Bible, still linger in the memory of those who were privileged to hear them.
The summary of the matter presents a complete victory for the orthodox school. First, as to the extent of their empire, the Egyptian and Israelite inscriptions give three hundred geographical names in connection with the domain and rule of the Hittites. These cover almost every section of the ancient civilized 219 world. These same inscriptions also present a long list of the allies and the dependencies which paid tribute to the Hittite kings. Lists of the satraps who reigned as vassals to the Hittites have also been recovered.
Secondly, the Hittite inscriptions themselves have now yielded their secrets to the earnest student. The earliest note of Hittite writings comes from a traveler, who in 1812 discovered some incised stones and engraved mounds which were covered with unknown hieroglyphics. These finds were made at Hamath, a small city in Syria. In the light of the archeological interest of our generation it seems incredible that these inscriptions were then ignored completely for threescore years. Then Dr. William Wright, a Protestant missionary in Damascus, was enabled, by the authority he wielded through his friendship with high government officials, to procure these stones and to remove them. Some of these relics had been built into the houses of Hamath and were part of the walls of occupied domiciles. One at least was so heavy that it took eight hours for four oxen to move it one mile. The romance and adventure of his indomitable pursuit of these stones is covered in Dr. Wright’s own memoirs and writings.
At this time, Dr. A. H. Sayce, one of the greatest archeologists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, began the tedious task 220 of deciphering these hieroglyphics. With no aid, such as the Egyptologists received from the Rosetta Stone, Dr. Sayce started out on a cold trail. His ultimate victory constitutes one of the greatest triumphs of pure reason in the long record of human endeavor. To show something of the difficulty that Dr. Sayce faced, we have portrayed on page 194 one of these Hittite inscriptions written in the hieroglyphics of their time. We have also shown in plate 21 the key that was worked out by Dr. Sayce. Dr. William Wright, working independently, arrived at practically the same conclusions.
When these records were publicized as Hittite inscriptions a storm of protest came from the critics of the Scripture, who utterly rejected the findings of both Sayce and Wright. They attempted to minimize any historical value that might be derived from the translation of these inscriptions. Having built their case against the integrity of the Bible so strongly upon the error presumed to be found in the Hittite references, they could not give up their demonstration without a struggle.
At this time there came to light a reference to a silver disk that had previously been offered to the British Museum. This consisted of a convex silver plate. It had every resemblance to the ordinary boss which is found on the top of the handle of a dagger 221 when such instruments are decorated. This boss, or plate, had in its center a picture of a warrior standing upright. He was dressed in the typical garb of a Hittite soldier. Around this warrior were two rows of hieroglyphics, one on either side. These hieroglyphics were enclosed in a circle. Outside the circle was an inscription in the cuneiform script. When this boss was offered to the British Museum, they kept it a while for study and rejected it on the grounds that it was probably spurious. Fortunately, however, they had made an electrotype copy of this article.
When the conclusions of Sayce and Wright were rejected by the critics, Dr. Sayce heard of this exhibit. Thinking that it might be a way to the Hittite inscriptions, he prosecuted his search for the original. It had disappeared, but he fortunately recovered the copy that was in the British Museum. This copy then became paramount evidence. At a glance, Dr. Sayce identified the hieroglyphics as being Hittite in origin. Using the key that he had worked out for the translation of the hieroglyphics, he translated the boss to be the possession of one Tarkondemos. Having read this in the Hittite hieroglyphics, he then translated the cuneiform text and found the two to be identical.
This vindication of the accuracy of this earlier work won the confidence of the scholarly world in the Hittite inscriptions. This 222 was the deciding voice. The Hittites became historical to the modern scholar from the records of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. They become real to us from their own inscriptions.
Nowhere in all the records of human research and endeavour is it possible to find a greater and more complete assembling of the vindication of the integrity of the Word of God. Even though the hand of the Almighty must shake the very foundations of ancient history, He has sworn that His Word shall be maintained. Thus He has called from the limbo of forgotten races an entire nation in an archeological resurrection, that they, though dead, may tell their tale of the credibility of the Word of God.
From the staggering mass of archeological material and evidence which is at the disposal of the twentieth century scholar, it is very difficult to choose the most perfect illustrations of our theme. If the case of the Hittites offers a complete refutation of the critical theories concerning the origin and veracity of the Old Testament, the resurrection of Edom is no less dramatic and valuable.
The word “Edom,” together with its various derivates such as “Edomite,” occurs more than fourscore times in the text of the Old Testament. As the history of this region and its various inhabitants unfolds in the Old Testament story, there is a complete, remarkable and stirring record of this land and its people that covers many centuries of time. The word Edom first occurs in the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis, thirtieth verse:
“And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.”
In this first instance the word appears in connection with the eldest son of Isaac, whose 226 name was changed from Esau to Edom because of the strange incident of the sale of his birthright. The pottage that his younger brother, Jacob, had cooked was made from a lentil which gave a red hue that was characteristic of any food in which this particular lentil was used. So, because Esau exchanged his priceless rights of inheritance for a pot of red mush, his name was thereafter called Edom.
In the thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis, verses one, eight, and nineteen, this same definite statement is carried out:
“Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.”
“Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.”
“These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes.”
Here we read that the dwelling place of Esau and his people was in mount Seir, and that Esau is Edom. Hence the name of Edom was also applied to the people who descended from Esau, as well as to the country wherein they dwelt.
This region of the ancient world was also known as mount Seir. It was so named because of the progenitor of the Horites who originally dwelt in that section. We are told that this people derived their name from Hori, who was the son of Seir. This ancient 227 people habitually dwelt in caves. Therefore, by transition, their name came to mean cave dwellers, as it was descriptive of their type of habitation.
If one should journey from Jerusalem to the center of Edom today, the most convenient route would lie through the modern city of Amman, which is at the present writing the seat of government of Iraq. On the outskirts of this city, and all through this region, the limestone caves are today occupied by families of people. They, with their folks, their horses and cattle, and all of their possessions, dwell in these ancestral caves in contentment as their fathers have always done before them. These caves are furnished as our modern homes are equipped, with rugs, tapestries, and all the treasures that go to make a human habitation into a home!
To summarize the Old Testament record of Edom and Edomites, we must begin by noting that although Esau sold his birthright, his brother Jacob actually stole the blessing. We are all familiar with this fascinating drama of the deception wrought by Jacob at his mother’s insistence, when he impersonated his brother to deceive his dying father. This account constitutes one of the implacably honest records characteristic of the Bible. No other book known to man is so frank in the delineation of the weaknesses of its leading characters, as God can deal honestly 228 with sin and failure, since He knows how to overrule such, and effect a cure! When Esau learned that the blessing of his father had been stolen by his younger brother, he took a solemn oath that as soon as the days of mourning for his father were ended, he would slay Jacob, the deceiver. His vengeance was frustrated, however, as Isaac and Rebekah sent Jacob to Padan-aram. Here Jacob met a shrewd bargainer more ruthless than himself; and dwelt in Padan-aram for twenty years, during which he prospered enormously.
On his way home from his long sojourn, the account tells how he met Esau. Two chapters of Genesis, namely, the thirty-second and the thirty-third, are occupied with this dramatic and human document. Still burdened by the guilt of his dishonest conduct in the matter of the blessing, and perhaps feeling also that he had been less than honorable in buying the birthright, Jacob prepared an enticing bribe to soften the wrath of Esau. Word had been brought to him that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred retainers, and Jacob believed that the hour of reckoning had come. The score of years, however, had softened the wrath of Esau, and he greeted his younger brother with love and affection. Refusing to accept any bribe or present at his hand, he made him welcome to his possession. The 229 record distinctly states that at that time Esau was dwelling in Seir.
It is evident that he must have prospered there, as the genealogical tables in the thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis list his progeny. All of his grandsons appear in the record as dukes. Verses one, eight and nine of this chapter identify the Edomites as descendants of Esau. They further identify the land of their dwelling with the ancient site of Seir. To clarify this point, we here reproduce these three verses:
“Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.”
“Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.”
“And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir.”
Verse twenty begins the list of the previous inhabitants of Seir, who are called the Horites. These people are listed in Genesis 14:6 as among the races that were smitten by Chedorlaomer in the days of Abraham in the notable Battle of the Kings. It seems evident, then, that Esau was powerful enough to overcome the Horites and to impose his dominion upon them. The two companies intermarried and became the Edomites of the later record.
The next important point in their development is introduced in the twentieth chapter of Numbers. As the children of Israel were 230 making their notable journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan, Moses sent a courteous request to the king of Edom asking permission to make a peaceful passage across that land. The salutation of Moses was brotherly and affectionate. He reminded the king of Edom that Israel and the Edomites were brethren. He asserted his peaceful purpose, and gave a pledge not to harm the fields or the crops with the passage of his flocks.
The king of Edom summarily refused this courteous request in the most graceless manner. He threatened the company of Israel and forbade them to pass over his domain. The answer of Moses was a renewal of the request for peaceful passage. This time, Moses stated that they would stay to the high and rocky way where no harm could come to the land from their herds. He even covenanted to pay for such water as the flocks might drink. The result was a renewal of the threat to oppose the passage with the edge of the sword. Consequently the people of Israel were forced to make a circuit of Edom, and they passed around its border by way of mount Hor.
From this time on, there was implacable enmity between the two great branches of these Semitic people. The subsequent history is a constant record of battle and hatred on both sides.
Saul fought against them in the days of his 231 might, and records with delight his various successes against them.
When David occupied the throne warfare was renewed. So great a nuisance did the Edomites prove to the people of Israel in David’s day, that this great warrior king finally directed a complete campaign against them. In the notable battle that was fought in the salt valley, he slew eighteen thousand of the Edomite army and pressed on to capture their cities. In their conquered strongholds, he placed capable garrisons. Under Joab these garrisons patrolled the land for more than six months. At this time Benhadad, to whom we shall again refer, escaped to Egypt to become a later source of distress to Israel.
In all of their history, the Edomites were consistently allied against Israel. They never missed a chance to vex their kinsmen. No matter who the enemy of Israel might be, the Edomites hastened to form an alliance with that foe and gladly accepted the occasion to battle against Israel. This bad blood that existed between these races, who should have been allied by the ties of consanguinity, resulted in the prophecies that foretold the final overthrow of Edom and the destruction of the people. Such a prophecy is written in Jeremiah 49, verses seventeen and twenty:
“Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall 232 hiss at all the plagues thereof.”
“Therefore hear the counsel of the Lord, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.”
When Nebuchadnezzar finally took the people of Israel away into their great captivity, the Edomites rejoiced without restraint. Their happiness was utterly unbounded and they celebrated with every means at their disposal. They overran the southern regions of Judah and took much of that land for themselves during the days of the captivity.
Jeremiah, in the Book of Lamentations, reproves their unnatural jubilation and warns Edom that the same fate that overtook Israel will come upon them.
So also the prophet Ezekiel speaks from his refuge and warns Edom. In the twenty-fifth chapter of Ezekiel, we read in verses twelve to fourteen, this following warning:
“Thus saith the Lord God; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them;
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will 233 make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword.
“And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord God.”
Joel adds his voice in a characteristic reference such as we find in the third chapter and nineteenth verse of his prophecy:
“Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.”
So also Amos, in chapter one and verse eleven utters this fateful sentence:
“Thus saith the Lord: For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.”
Thus the prophet is moved of God to list the continued transgressions of Edom, and the consequent and subsequent judgment.
So literally were these words of the prophets fulfilled that Edom was not only overthrown and its people vanquished, but for a great deal more than a thousand years the very name of their city and people dropped out of the memory of men. Here is one 234 more case where a great people catastrophically disappeared from the stage of history, leaving no secular record of the part that they had played in the drama of human life.
Needless to say, this was the critics’ great occasion! With a vociferous unanimity they argued and wrote that there had been no city called Edom, and no people called Edomites. Since the word “Edom” literally means “red,” the critics erected a fanciful demonstration purporting to show that the Edomites would be any people with a red complexion. According to their fanciful theory, any race or group of people whose skin or hair was red would be poetically called Edomites.
When the defenders of the text pointed to the denunciations in the prophets, the critics laughed them out of the picture. These utterances were listed as pure, poetic fancy and figurative diatribes. The critics pointed out that all such outbursts were found in the prophecies! As a stated principle of higher criticism, all prophecies are repudiated. They are held to be purely fanciful, and any fulfillment is entirely coincidental. This attitude is the proper one for criticism to assume. The supernatural fulfillment of prophecy is one of the strongest evidences of the Divine origin of the Scriptures. Such demonstrations cannot be reconciled with the critical basis of humanism. Therefore, it is only logical 235 that it be ignored or denied in a critical approach to the text.
The enemies of orthodoxy had one strong argument that in the early day seemed to be unanswerable. Their constant cry was “Where is Edom?” Admittedly, this was a question that the orthodox believer could not answer. The city had disappeared, the people were forgotten, and no relic nor remnant of this race remained. It was not until the nineteenth century of the Christian era that the resurrection of Edom began.
The first and earliest archeological reference to Edom which was discovered, was a statement from the record of Ramses the Third, who proudly boasted that in his great campaign he smote the people of Seir. The next discovery came when the record of Tiglath-pileser was read. In his story he told of the campaign against Rezin, king of Syria. He recounted that among other vassals who yielded to his yoke, he received homage from Quaus-Malaka of Edom. This Rezin, with whom we shall later deal in Tiglath-pileser’s voluminous records, is the king of Syria who is warned in the seventh chapter of Isaiah as allied with Israel against Judah.
Following this, we have the monument of Esar-haddon. He also tells how among his Assyrian conquests he overthrew the Edomites and forced their king to render homage 236 and allegiance to his power. Again, the records of Nebuchadnezzar tell us that in his final battle with Judah, the Edomites were among his allied forces.
Gradually, as this people began to rise from the silence and obscurity of forgotten antiquity, something of their customs and beliefs began to be recovered. At least three of their deities are known today. These are Hadad, Quaus and Kozé. About 300 B. C., Edom fell into the hands of a people who were called the Nabataeans. Their inscription claims that they captured Edom, exterminated its then numerous population and occupied its capital, which was Petra.
Here, then, is the final vindication of the text of Scripture. This city, Petra, is variously mentioned in the Old Testament text as the center of Edomite dominion. It is sometimes called “Sela” in the historical and prophetical references, and twice is referred to by the name of “Rock.” Obadiah calls the city “the rock,” the Greek form of which would be “he Petra.” It is thus evident that it was known peculiarly for its structure. This fact appeared to be of no significance until archeology had brought it to the prominence of our present comprehension. The issue of the National Geographic Magazine for May, 1907, made Petra so well known to the English speaking world that there remains little to be said of an historical nature 237 to establish the actuality and certainty of this great discovery.
With the collapse of the Roman empire, Petra disappeared from the knowledge of mankind and became shrouded in mystery and darkness. It began to emerge into the light again when a young Swiss traveler first visited its site in 1812. The record of his discovery was not published, however, until ten years later.
The next notice of the site of Petra was taken when two British naval officers visited the splendid remains in 1818, and published their observations seven years later. After this it became the custom for adventurous travelers to take a brief look at the stupendous beauty of this forgotten city and make some passing mention. The real exploration of Petra, however, began some thirty years ago when certain German scholars made a scientific investigation of the site. The results of their labors were printed only in German, and filled a surprising number of lengthy volumes. A large literature on Petra is now in the possession of the English speaking world, but surprisingly little of a definite nature is known about its earlier inhabitants.
The monuments of Petra, which we here illustrate in plates numbered Plate 22 and Plate 23, were not built by the later inhabitants, who were called Nabataeans. These monumental structures were carved out of the living rock. 238 Some of them were temples, and others were tombs. To illustrate the extent of these works, we may note that the great open-air theatre at Petra would comfortably seat a crowd of three thousand spectators.
Just a word of explanation is necessary before we proceed to the application of this discovery. Petra, the capital of Edom and the principal city of the Edomites, is found in the most rugged region of that part of the earth. The land is thrown up into abrupt ranges, which are deeply incised with canyons and gorges until they form one of the wildest and most entrancing geographical spectacles to be seen in the Eastern world. In some regions the underlying structure is limestone. The walls of the canyon, however, are largely porphyry and sandstone. The sandstone is brilliantly colored with hues which run from brown through red, to a definite purple. Some of the strata, grotesquely twisted and torn and laid bare by erosion, are among the loveliest and most entrancing geological studies in that region.
In approaching the site of Petra, it is necessary to journey up a narrow canyon called in the Arabic, a siq. This approach is so narrow that almost all of the way it is scarcely possible for two horsemen to ride abreast. This might have been an important factor in deciding the site of the city in antiquity. A dozen men could have successfully 239 defended the approaches to Petra against an entire army of invaders.
Plate 24 will give some conception of the ruggedness of the country and the difficulty of approach. In place of a truck, such as would have been used in flat country, we have the familiar donkey carrying the camera and supplies. This resting place is in one of the wider sections of the canyon. Plate 25 is the first glimpse of one of the amazing monuments of Petra. This great structure bears the Arabic name of El Khazne. A full view of this temple is given in plate 26.
Petra was not built after the fashion in which cities are constructed today. Every structure was hewn out of the living sandstone. The city has been called “The Rose Red City, half as old as time,” and this description is perfect. When the sunlight strikes the ruins of Petra, it is as red as blood. Edom, indeed, and Edomites, might well be applied by the ancients to the color and beauty of this old site, as well as to its inhabitants! In plate 27 we have illustrated this manner of carving a dwelling from the living stone in the great structure which the Arabians call El Deir. (See Plate 28.) Observing this photograph, you will note that the rock wall has been hewn away into the shape of columns, pillars, and decorated facade in the similitude of a building 240 that has been put together by the orthodox style of masonry. Such, however, is not the case. Plate 29 shows some of the detail of one of these notable monuments. It will be observed that the workers began from the top and carved their way down. In the upper left corner of the picture a series of holes will be seen. These were chiseled for the foothold of the workers who started the process.
Their manner of labor was unique. The architect laid out the size, shape, and site of the building, and the workmen began to cut away the stone about the top of their designated area until they had a recessed trough some ten feet deep into the face of the cliff, on the top and both sides. Then, beginning with the top of the structure, they carved that slab in the similitude of a building. As they worked their way down, they shaped the pillars, carved these brilliant decorations and recessed the cliff on both sides to make their monuments stand forth. Plate 28 shows the result of this type of labor, looking from the bottom upward. Reaching the bottom of their carved columns, these artisans would then chisel away between and behind the posts that they had formed of the face of the cliff until they had a great square entry way. The face of this entry way would be further beautified by carving the semblance of a doorway. A short tunnel would then be run back into the cliff to serve as a hall, and rooms hollowed out on the inside into a series of apartments or caves. “Cave-dwellers,” indeed, is the proper name for these people!
The rough approach to Petra (Photo by Matson)
Approaching Petra by way of the main siq the first sight of the ruins
The extent of their operations may be dimly understood from plates numbered plate 22 and plate 23. Some of these tombs that are here depicted, were never finished. A few of them have suffered from the ravages of time, but the general state of preservation of these priceless monuments of Petra is fascinating. In plate 30 we have depicted the approach to the garden tomb. By the side of this tomb there is the ascent to the “high place” for the sacrifices of their idolatrous religion. In plate 31 we have shown the altar and the “high place.”
These high places of antiquity should be the subject for a volume in themselves. They are mentioned one hundred two times in the Old Testament. Being the altars of heathen sacrifices, they were the subject of constant denunciation on the part of the Lord God and were a source of trouble and distress to Israel during all her periods of apostasy. The groves to which the prophets refer and which the godly kings cut down, were the places where Ashtoreth was worshipped. Very few systems of degenerate religion in antiquity were more lecherous and vile than the cult of this unclean goddess. The high places, 242 however, were the altars where sacrifice was made to the gods of the heathen nations. As these sacrifices were very often human, and as it was not uncommon for the ancients to dedicate their children to the fierce and abominable worship of their false religion, the people of Israel were sternly forbidden to have any contact with such idolatrous practices. So when godly kings occupied the throne, they destroyed the “high places.” In a time of apostasy the high places were builded and dedicated again. Some of the most stirring denunciations of the prophetic sections of the Old Testament are in the words that God directs against the high places of Israel and in the announcing of His final and complete victory over them.
This high place shown in plate 31 is characteristic, then, of the ancient custom. It shows that the Hittites had forsaken whatever knowledge they may have derived from their earlier Hebrew origin and were wholly dedicated to the practices of idolatry. Incidentally, the worship of God is still practiced by Israel, but the “high places” of Edom and all other heathen centers are merely curiosities today!
As far as artistry and ability are concerned, antiquity knew no greater or more capable people. The monument that they have left to mark their mysterious disappearance 243 is a lasting testimony to their culture and power.
But more than that, it is a living, resurrected testimony to the truth and credibility of the Word of God!
There is no scene of desolation and ruin that amazes the spirit of man as much as the desolation of Edom. Forsaken of human occupants, the wonderful Rose Red City is today a curiosity to be viewed by the hardy adventurer who would study the antiquities of the Eastern world.
Just what hands constructed these noble temples and tombs it is not at this time possible to say. The Nabataeans were incapable of producing this kind of work, nor would they have invested the time. The bodies of the departed were spread upon the field as fertilizer or buried in the most indescribably filthy pits of their day and time. The Semitic peoples who preceded them, however, have left this record in stone as a testimony to their reverence for the dead. What the future will yield in the hoped-for excavations of Petra, no one is able to say. If, however, a spade is never sunk into soil and no more appears to the gaze of man than is seen by the casual traveler today, we have sufficient to call forth a doxology from the hearts of those who love and reverence the Word of God. We cannot refrain from commenting again and again upon the marvelous 244 manner in which the Author of this Great Book has cared for His own case.
The consternation and defeat of the critics have been complete in this instance. What a quaint conceit it is in our generation to note that God is so firm in His promised defense of His Book, that He will move to crush the enemies of the Word even if it is necessary to smite their fallacious fancy with a carved mountain of stone!
In the logical presentation of this subject, we now come to that period of history in which the pharaohs, who are named by name in the Scriptures and are thus identified beyond question, make their contribution to the evidence which sustains the record of the Bible.
Laying aside controversial discussions as to the identity of the various pharaohs who preceded, we note that the first of Egypt’s many monarchs to appear under his personal name in the Word of God is Shishak the 1st. His name appears on the monuments of Egypt as Shashanq the 1st, but his own records identify him as the “Shishak” of I Kings 14, and II Chronicles 12. The outstanding accomplishments of his entire reign seem to have been the invasion of Palestine and the capture of Jerusalem. In the account which this monarch left in the priceless writings at Karnak, the most noteworthy is the story told on the second pylon of the main temple, where the conqueror has given a list of all the towns and villages which he overthrew in Palestine. To this he added a record of 248 the gold and silver ornaments that he carried away from Jerusalem. He specifically noted the bucklers and shields of Solomon and also the golden quivers which Solomon’s father had captured from the king of Zobah.
Once again we listen to some collateral gossip from far antiquity to see the background of this strange invasion of Jerusalem. Weaving together records of forgotten campaigns, homely events of family affairs, the conduct of pragmatic generations, the history preserved in the books of the Old Testament, together with the voices of monuments and ruins, we gradually achieve a basis of understanding. The Pharaoh Siamen, whose capital was at Zoan, appears to have been an ally of Edom. In the days when secular historical records begin to coincide with the record of the text, Edom was ruled by a regent. King Hadad was a lad of tender years, and though he nominally was vested with the crown, his able and powerful mother ruled in his name. The queen regent, incidentally, was an aunt of Solomon. Holding that thought in temporary abeyance, we will continue to investigate this quaint family alliance. David and Jonathan made a successful assault upon Edom, which resulted in the capture of the city. Such rights and powers as a conquering monarch has always abrogated to himself, then devolved upon David in respect to Edom. When it became apparent that the city would fall, the queen regent took her young son and fled to Egypt for safety. In view of the fact that Edom and Egypt were at that time allies, the royal party was well received and, with the prodigal hospitality of that day, became guests at the court for the balance of their lives.
“El Kahzne” (The Temple of the Urn)
Showing the manner in which these buildings are carved from the living stone
In the course of the passing years, Siamen was gathered to his fathers, and Psabekhanu the 2nd reigned in his stead. The wise mother of Hadad, knowing that alliances do not always outlast the persons who made them and, desiring to protect Hadad’s interests in the country that they had lost by force of arms, entered into a typical and common intrigue. She brought about the marriage of her son, Hadad, with a sister of Psabekhanu. Thus, Hadad became the brother-in-law of the reigning monarch of Egypt and, presumably, strengthened the ties that bound the Egyptian power to the interests of his small country.
In the meantime, Solomon, who had succeeded his father, moved to protect his inherited claim on Edom. This he did by marrying the daughter of Psabekhanu. It is presumed that the relationship of a son-in-law might be a stronger claim for alliance than that of a brother-in-law. Some short while later the second daughter of Psabekhanu married the Prince Shishak. Thus Solomon and the heir-apparent of the throne 250 of Egypt, Shishak, became brothers-in-law. By marriage, however, the queen of Edom was their aunt. At a glance the student can see that affairs were a bit messy, to say the very least. Hadad maintained his rights to Edom and conducted at the Egyptian court an intrigue for his restoration. The desires of Pharaoh were divided between his natural wish to keep the peace and his interest in the importunities of his brother-in-law, as weighed against the desires of his son-in-law. Through this tangled scheme of alliances it came about that Solomon’s son would have some legal rights of succession in Egypt. But Shishak’s son would have the same claim to succession in Palestine. Solomon, being much older than Shishak, died first. The story which now follows is recorded in the Word of God, and on the pillars of antiquity, for, shortly after the death of Solomon, Shishak invaded Judah.
The “why” of the matter is easily understood. The first reason was loot. The brief account that is given in I Kings 14:25-28 is here appended to introduce our consideration of this event:
“And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
“And King Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house.
“And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.”
In that record it is noted that among the treasures of the house of the Lord which Shishak carried away, were the shields of gold which Solomon had made. For a description of these shields and some conception of their value, we turn to the tenth chapter of I Kings, verses fourteen to seventeen:
“Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
“Besides that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.
“And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.
“And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.”
The wealth of Solomon has never been adequately computed. It is stated that from the tomb of Tutanhkamen, in the most famous excavation of our generation, treasure 252 to the value of $14,000,000 was recovered. The splendor and wealth of that pharaoh were insignificant compared to that of Solomon, the Magnificent. We see, for instance, in this fourteenth verse that Solomon’s income in gold bullion alone was almost the exact equivalent of $20,000,000 in our day and time. We must understand, however, that there was a vast difference between the values of the money standards of that time and of our own. The ratio would be about 15 to 1. For instance, a silver shekel would buy a cow; a half-shekel would buy an ass. If we evaluate their currency by purchasing power, it would take fifteen of our dollars to equal one of theirs. So the sum of gold, which is the equivalent of $20,000,000 by our former gold standard measurement, gives a conception of the annual income of Solomon, only if it is transmuted to our present ratio of purchasing power. This figure does not include all the tariff and income from taxes, the profit on his merchandising and the tribute in gifts of vassal nations. He was in the fortunate circumstance of paying income tax to himself so that his income remained undiminished! The gold of Solomon was hoarded for a unique and peculiar purpose.
When David desired to build a house for the worship of God, his offer was rejected on the ground that he was a man of blood. However, the Lord said that his son should 253 build the house of prayer, and David began the hoarding of gold for the erection and beautification of that temple. The estimates of the amount of gold that went into that temple go as high as two and one-half billions of dollars. It is not too much to say that no building ever erected by the hands of man could excel the beauty, the artistic perfection, the splendor, and the intrinsic value of the temple that Solomon built.
In the Scriptural citation in I Kings, we have just read of the two hundred targets or bucklers of beaten gold. Also, there are catalogued the three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went into the construction of each shield. At the present rate of gold values, that would mean that each of these shields was worth $1680.00. There was considerably over a half million dollars of pure gold hammered into those shields. This glittering and entrancing treasure intrigued the greed of every conqueror of antiquity, but no man was able to take it from the House of God while His protection and care were upon it. It is not to be wondered that Shishak considered the capture of that treasure as the highest achievement of his reign.
The second reason for Shishak’s invasion, however, was mainly political. After the death of Solomon, the kingdom was divided. Rehoboam, possessing the Southern kingdom, 254 was a weakling who was, moreover, under the influence of vicious, untrustworthy counselors. Perhaps his tendency towards idolatry may be traced to his mother who was an Ammonite and whose influence, undoubtedly, turned him away from monotheism. At any rate, Bel, Ashtoreth, Moloch and Baal were worshipped throughout the land on every high hill and under many green trees. The most unclean practices were indulged in by the people until the judgment of God necessarily descended upon them. Shishak’s chief concern was not over the idolatry of the people, however, but over the effect of their dereliction upon the development of the kingdom. In order to protect his possible rights of succession in Palestine, he moved to make Rehoboam a vassal, and brought him under the yoke of bondage, making him a governor for Egypt.
A more comprehensive account of this invasion is given in the twelfth chapter of II Chronicles. A great many people have raised the question as to why we have the duplication of the record in the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Scripture. It has been argued that the same stories told again in Chronicles are a senseless and useless repetition of the record already written in Kings. This specific instance is perhaps as fine an answer to that objection as can be found. It might be said that the Books of 255 Kings recount the deeds of men and the Books of Chronicles deal largely with their motives. The Books of the Kings record history as enacted by man, while the records of Chronicles give God’s side of the story and tell the “why” of things that would otherwise be mysterious.
For instance, the twelfth chapter of II Chronicles begins, “And it came to pass when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.” Here is a bleak, unvarnished record of apostasy. The price of a man in his own position and standing has led him to debauch a nation spiritually and morally. Therefore, the second verse follows as a natural consequence: “And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord.” Here is an illuminating comment upon the motives and principles that underlie this record. It is a foreshadowing of the first chapter of Romans. When men give up God and deny Him a place in their culture and practices, it is inevitable that God will give them up to the consequences of their vile conduct. In this case it was Shishak who brought judgment upon Jerusalem. His twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand cavalrymen were supported by so many infantry that the number was 256 never totaled. They are called “innumerable,” which is a simple way of saying that the number was too vast to take time counting them.
We are then told that when Shishak had captured all the outlying cities of Judah and was on his way to Jerusalem, the prophet Shemaiah frankly told King Rehoboam that his trouble had come upon him because of his apostasy. In blunt words he delivered this graphic warning: “Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.” When this message was so courageously delivered, the princes of Israel and the godless counselors of the apostate king together prostrated themselves before the Lord and acknowledged that His judgment was just and His decision was righteous. The record continues with the fact that when the Lord saw that they had repented, He promised to save the humbled court and the threatened city. But with the promise of deliverance from destruction there came also the grim edict that in order that they might learn the difference between serving God and being under the bondage of a heathen culture, they should be subject to Shishak and serve him.
Thus in Chronicles we do have the account repeated that was given to us in the record of the Kings, but with additional details that illumine and clarify the record. Shishak swept the land bare of precious metals and took away the treasures of the temple as well. Not only did he leave the king and the court destitute of their priceless ornaments, but he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
Note how top of building seems to erupt from the hill
Compare size of men in the doorway of “El Deir”
We now enter into a consideration of one of the most tragic and humiliating spectacles in all antiquity. When the penitent and restored king saw the effects of his apostasy, he called the people back to the practice of their earlier faith and himself came daily to the house of the Lord for the exercise of prayer. But as the humbled monarch knelt in prayer, he could not keep his eyes off the vacant walls. Where the five hundred golden objects had once hung, testifying to the wealth of that house and the greatness of his father, there was nothing but the bare wall. It must be remembered that those golden ornaments had not belonged to him. They had been hung in their places to praise and glorify God by his greater ancestor. Therefore, when an enemy came and stole them away, it was a constant and mute reproach to him because of his own failure to live up to the standards and greatness of a preceding generation.
The troubled king gave orders that the targets and shields should be replaced with copies of what had been lost. There was, however, neither gold nor silver in the land, 258 for Shishak had made a clean sweep of all that was valuable. Thus, having lost the reality of their treasure, the best they could do was to make a cheap similitude in brass.
Needless to say, brass is a pitiful substitute for the precious metal which we call gold. If it is kept in a shining condition, at first glance brass may have some resemblance to the nobler metal, but it quickly tarnishes and its glitter fades. For this reason, the targets and shields of brass were stored in the house of the guard. At the hour when the king came to the temple to pray, the guard polished these ridiculous substitutes and hung them in their places so that the king might delude himself by the glitter and shine, and thus have some balm for his troubled spirit. There is, of course, an element of humour in this tragic record!
The moral lessons are almost innumerable and would provide a minister with sermon material for days on end. We are faced with a somewhat similar situation in Christendom today. Upon the walls of the House of Faith, our believing fathers hung the golden shields that constitute the doctrines of Christianity. The brilliant glory of those foundational treasures was never threatened as long as the church was true to God. But we in our generation, alas, have allowed an enemy to come in and rob us of many of those golden shields.
We cannot over-emphasize the fact that it is always an enemy who seeks thus to despoil the House of our Faith. Though he may come in the guise of a friend, or even of a relative, as in the case of Shishak, the man who robs us of our golden shields is an enemy at heart and in purpose.
May we illustrate this suggestion by saying, for instance, that our fathers believed in the golden fact of the deity of Jesus Christ. They held as a basic fact of Christianity that in the person of our Saviour, Almighty God was incarnated to be the Redeemer of mankind. Satan, in the person of many of his charming and well-mannered cohorts, has stolen that shield from many a temple of prayer. Men speak now of the “divinity” of Jesus instead of the “deity.” Having established this premise, they then continue with the statement that we are all divine and have this same spark of divinity within our spirits, to a greater or lesser extent. When the golden shield of the deity of Christ disappeared from the walls of many churches that had once been Christian, the worshippers made a beautiful substitute with the brazen replica of Unitarianism. The tarnished brass of that un-Christian doctrine is a miserable substitute indeed for the blessed assurance that is resident in the fact of the deity of the Saviour.
Our fathers believed also in the virgin 260 birth of the Son of God. They accepted literally the record that Almighty God himself had given of the incarnation of His Son. Our fathers believed that the body of Jesus was formed in the womb of a virgin woman because of the direct visitation of the Holy Ghost. Thus, the birth of Jesus Christ was a biological miracle, and He owed even His earth origin to His heavenly Father alone! This foundational fact of the Christian revelation has disappeared from the walls and the worship of many a once-Christian gathering. In the place of that golden fact there is the ghastly and brazen substitute of an illegitimate child, who was probably the fruit of a woman’s sin! And then men wonder that the old-time power and greatness of the Christian faith seem lacking in much of our land today!
In like manner, the golden shield of redemption through the shed blood of Calvary has been exchanged for the brazen substitute of a “Perfect Example.” The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ has been bartered for a misty idea of some sort of a spiritual resurrection that has no bearing upon the facts of the record that God has given to man. Shield by shield, and buckler by buckler, the things that were given to us for our defense, gleaming with the intrinsic value of a supernatural revelation, have been stolen away by the enemy. The humanistic substitutes that 261 have replaced them have left us at the mercy of the enemy who would destroy our souls.
But great as are the moral lessons involved in this record, its apologetical value is incalculably greater. It has been the custom in our day to question the historical accuracy of much of the record of the Scripture. So it is with considerable interest that we turn back to ancient Egypt to see what can be learned from the external sources of pure archeology concerning these sections of the Old Testament.
The visitor to the British Museum may come away well acquainted with this man Shishak. In the fourth Egyptian Room, in Table Case “O”, there is a pair of gold bracelets, the exhibits being numbered 134 and 135. These beautiful ornaments are overlaid with lapis lazuli, and a blue substance which is similar to faience. The inside of each is inscribed with a text written in hieroglyphics stating that the bracelets were “Made for the Princess,” the daughter of the chief of all the bowmen, Nemareth, whose mother was the daughter of the Prince of the land of Reshnes. This Nemareth was the descendant in the fifth generation of Buiu-auau, a Libyan prince who was the father of Shishak the First.
In this same case, exhibit number 217 is a heavy gold ring set with a scarab carved from soapstone, which is inscribed with a 262 clearly cut cartouche containing both the prenomen and nomen of Shishak the First.
Looking further in this case, exhibit number 392 is a silver ring inscribed with the titles of an official who held many important positions under two monarchs. He was president of the granaries, also a prophet of the fourth order, served as a scribe and at one time was libationer in the reigns of Psammetichus and Shishak.
The most important of all the records of Shishak, of course, is the voluminous account that he caused to be engraved at the Temple of Karnak. A detail is added in Shishak’s record that is not contained in the Scriptures. According to the conqueror, to strengthen the ties of vassalage, he gave Jeroboam one of his daughters in marriage. This complete record of Shishak’s we photographed, studied carefully, and found eminently satisfactory, with the single exception that the king of Judah is not named by name in Shishak’s account of this conquest. But he does tell of the capture of Judah, the rape of Jerusalem, and gives a categorical list of cities and villages overthrown. He specifically mentions the bucklers and shields of gold that he took from the temple.
In a word, this science of archeology, upon the authority of men long dead, but who have since been raised to testify, stamps an emphatic 263 O. K. upon this section of the Sacred Record.
The next king who parades these pages under the designation of his proper name is the Pharaoh Zera, who has also been identified with Osarkon. Shishak’s first-born son, named both Usarkon and Osarkon the First, succeeded his father to the throne as the last of the Tanite kings of the twenty-first dynasty. This son, in turn, was called Shishak and became the high priest of Amon. Osarkon the First was succeeded by Takeloth the First, who, in turn, was followed by Osarkon the Second. Since both of these Osarkons figure in the Scriptural account, we briefly cover their record as it occurs in antiquity.
Being emperor of Ethiopia, as well as of Egypt, the first Osarkon, or Zera, had a vast horde of Ethiopian allies who fought with him in his important conquests. This entire line was of Libyan extraction. A portion of Africa that is now temporarily possessed by the crown of Italy seems to have given rise to this family of conquering rulers. Undoubtedly the designation “Ethiopian” was suggested by this African ancestry.
The Scriptural account of this man’s ill-starred military expedition is given in the fourteenth chapter of II Chronicles. When King Abijah died, his son Asa succeeded to the throne. The ascension of Asa was followed by ten years of such peace and prosperity as was almost unprecedented in those troublous times. The reason given is that Asa was a godly man and found favour in the sight of the Lord. He shattered the images erected to unclean idols, cut down the groves where Ashtoreth was worshipped, demolished the altars and the high places, and purged the land of its apostasy. He compelled the people of Judah to return to the true faith and to obey the Lord and His commandments. He strengthened the fortified centers and in a masterly fashion built up his reserves.
The ten years of prosperity and industry found the land of Judah in an enviable condition that left it well worth robbing! Since the opportunity to steal and loot was the only incentive required by the grim pragmatists of antiquity, Zera, or Osarkon, gathered together an army of a million foot soldiers, reinforced with three hundred chariots, and journeyed toward Palestine to loot the land. The vicinity of Mareshah was chosen as the site of the battle and Asa came out with his pitiful little company to defend his possessions. The drama of this record begins in the eleventh verse of the fourteenth chapter of II Chronicles in the great prayer of Asa:
Enroute to the “High Place”
The Altar of Sacrifice
“And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.”
The high-hearted courage and simple faith of Asa is sufficient introduction to the very natural result, which follows in simple words:
“So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.”
We then read a condensed account of the pursuit that Asa and his people indulged in, chasing the horde of Egyptians all the way across their own border. They were in such confusion that they could not recover and make a stand, so that not even a rear-guard action was fought. The children of Israel recaptured all of the cities that Rehoboam had lost, and with a typical Hebraism the account concludes with the statement that “they carried away exceeding much spoil.” Although they never recovered the golden shields, it is to be hoped they got their equivalent in the value of this recounted spoil.
It was the universal custom of conquerors to record their victories and say nothing of 266 their defeats. Therefore, it is a bit startling to find this record of II Chronicles borne out by the account the Egyptian monarch has left of his own campaigns. This simple paragraph is illuminating:
“Seventeen campaigns I waged. In sixteen of them I was victorious. In the seventeenth campaign I was defeated. Not by man, Heaven fought against me.”
So even in the record of a defeat this man can brag that his strength and greatness were so phenomenal that only the Lord could overthrow him. Once again, a dead man tells a tale. He also, in the illuminating account that he has left, rises from the dead to write “o. k.” across the pages of Holy Writ, attesting its historical fidelity and the accuracy of its records.
The next definite contact between Israel and Egypt is found in the graphic and terse statement of II Kings 17:4,
“And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.”
From this point on, the records of Egypt and Palestine are so enmeshed and tangled with the records of Babylon and Assyria that we cannot separate them in their presentation. This king So is identified as the Egyptian monarch Shabaka, who is also known by the names Sebichos, Sabakon, Sabacoa, and Seve. He seems to have been a man of implacable cruelty, if we may judge from the Greek record of his manner of succession. He was preceded on the throne by Bakenrenef, who was one of the wise and kindly lawgivers of Egypt. This noble ruler was one of the first of all the Egyptian kings to come in direct contact with the classical Greeks. The Dorian invasion had now come 270 to an end and the Greeks were free to trade and colonize in the Mediterranean, and in the vigour of their advance they had pressed on to the mouth of the Nile. They had established a close connection with Sais, and by 700 B. C. had entrenched themselves strongly in the culture of that section of Egypt.
The Pharaoh of our present interest, So, invaded that section of Egypt and captured Bakenrenef in a swift and short campaign. The Greek records relate that after treating his defeated enemy with brutality, So then burned him alive. He then established himself as king and ruled not only all of Egypt but Ethiopia as well. He was thus a contemporary of Shalmaneser, Sargon, and Sennacherib, all of whom have a direct bearing upon the records of the Old Testament. One of the interesting discoveries made at the royal library at Nineveh was a seal bearing the name of Shabaka, or So. The visitor to the British Museum, upon entering the Assyrian Room, may pause before Table Case “E” and see this fascinating exhibit of the actualities of these events.
In about the year 700 B. C., according to the record of Holy Writ, when Shalmaneser had dealt kindly with Hoshea, who had accepted his yoke and agreed to pay tribute, the faithless king of Judah entered into conspiracy with Sebakah. Since the common name, So, is the one that is used in the Scripture, 271 we shall refer to this pharaoh by that name from this point on. The tribute that Hoshea should have paid to the king of Assyria he diverted, and paid it into the hand of So for the help that was promised him in throwing off the yoke of Assyria. There is abundant reason to believe, from all the collateral records, that this conspiracy was promoted by So and Hoshea.
This action on the part of the Hebrew king was entirely unwarranted and consisted of a breach of faith on his part. Indeed, the prophet Hosea utters a stern and unmistakable reproof against this action in the strong words of the first verse of his twelfth chapter:
“Ephraim feedeth on wind and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.”
As a result of this conspiracy, Hoshea was captured by the king of Assyria and carried away into an imprisonment. The plan did not work out as the faithless allies had intended. Shalmaneser invaded Palestine to punish this rebellion. This wise and able general divided his forces, so that a major portion of his military strength lay between Egypt and Palestine at a part of the border 272 that was easily defended. When So found that the cost of reaching Hoshea with aid was to be a major battle which would endanger his entire dominion, he simply defaulted and left Hoshea to bear alone the brunt of the battle. The prophecy of Hosea was thus literally fulfilled. With the faithlessness that Hoshea had manifested toward Shalmaneser, he had been rewarded by the defection of So from his covenant.
It is interesting to note that So seemed to have been a little ashamed of his conduct, for he offers a rather flimsy excuse for his failure to stand by his contract. His statement is that Hoshea had paid only half of the price agreed upon and for that reason he came not to his aid.
In this invasion of Shalmaneser’s, many of the Hebrew people were taken captive. Hoshea, after being for some time incarcerated in disgrace and punishment, was forgiven by Shalmaneser and restored to his throne and dominion. Shalmaneser seems to have reasoned that having once failed and having tasted of punishment, Hoshea was now to be trusted. Thus, the first conspiracy ended with the common people of Samaria paying the price. Two years later the faithless and foolish Hoshea again listened to the siren song of rebellion as it was sung by the deceitful So and again rebelled against his over-lord and benefactor. Shalmaneser, 273 in great wrath, again moved against Samaria, which resisted in a bitter struggle that lasted three years.
Although the following details are not all mentioned in the text of II Kings, seventeenth chapter, they are emphasized by the change of person in the record. In this bitter conflict of three years, no help came from Egypt. The seventh verse of the text says that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord, their God. They had gone again into idolatry and had put themselves back under the yoke of Egypt, from which God had repeatedly redeemed them. The miserable and faithless So turned out to be a bruised reed indeed! But while this campaign was being fought, Shalmaneser disappeared. A revolution took place in the homeland and the common oriental disease which may be described as six inches of steel between the ribs, quietly removed Shalmaneser from the scene. A usurper named Sargon, who writes his own genealogy and calls himself “the son of Nobody,” succeeded to the throne.
Thus in the seventeenth chapter of II Kings we have many royal persons, and in order to keep the records straight, we set them forth this way:
Hoshea was the king of Samaria; and he reigned over Israel nine years.
Shalmaneser the Fifth was the king of Assyria, 274 who is mentioned in the third verse by name.
The fourth verse continues a record of Shalmaneser, in carrying away Hoshea and punishing him.
So is the pharaoh with whom we have been dealing.
The king of Assyria who is not named in the sixth verse, is Sargon, who succeeded to the throne after the probable murder of Shalmaneser.
This Sargon is the second man of that name to have reigned in Assyria. The time of his reign may be given as from 722-705 B. C. The first Sargon reigned sometime in the twentieth century, B. C.
Sargon the Second thus reigned for almost eighteen years. He was a war-loving monarch, and that eighteen year reign was one continuous, unbroken series of foreign campaigns. Combining his forces with the small host of the Philistines, he joined battle with the Egyptians at Raphia. Going directly to this campaign, after the termination of his campaign against Samaria, he administered a crushing defeat to the forces of So and had no further difficulty with this pharaoh during the balance of his reign.
In the British Museum, Table Case “B,” which occupies a section of the second Northern gallery of the Assyrian Room, contains 275 some magnificent baked clay cylinders which are the original annals of Sargon. These priceless records came from the ruins of a tremendous building excavated by M. Botta at the ancient site of Khorsabad, which was later proved to have been the palace of Sargon. Most of the sculptured objects from this discovery are in the Museum at Paris. These written records, however, which are of infinitely more value to the student, are fortunately on deposit in the British Museum.
In the Assyrian Saloon of the British Museum the interested student will also behold an inscription bearing the identification number 12, whereupon are recorded the names and titles of Sargon the Second, together with a brief and epitomized account of his conquests in various sections along the coast lands of the Mediterranean, including his famous victory in Judah.
A more complete record is found in the Assyrian Room. In Table Case “E,” exhibits 11 and 12, are two nine-sided prisms containing a graphic account of the expeditions of Sargon. All of his campaigns in Palestine are covered and include his conquest of Israel, which he calls “Omri land.” (These exhibits are identified by the Museum numbers 22,505 and 108,775.)
A further record of Sargon’s bearing upon the text of the Old Testament will be found in the Assyrian Room in wall case No. 9. Exhibits 276 1-11 are fragments of an eight-sided cylinder containing part of the records of Sargon, particularly recording the campaign against Ashdod, which is also preserved for us by Isaiah in the twentieth chapter, verse one. The people of Ashdod had made a league with Judah and this outburst of Isaiah’s was a stern reproof against this procedure. The prophet objected chiefly because the league depended upon the strength of Egypt. To the end of his life, Isaiah never gave up his justified distrust of that country. This, in a brief summary, presents the records of Shalmaneser and Sargon as they authenticate the Biblical account of the conduct of the wretched So. Sargon recounts that Azuri, who was king of Ashdod, had refused to pay the tribute that was due to the Assyrians. Consequently he was deposed by Sargon, who elevated his brother Akhimiti to the place of dominion. Whereupon the people of Ashdod rebelled and raised Yamini to the throne. They then entered into a conspiracy with Philistea, Edom, Moab, Egypt, and Judah. Sargon recounts their defeat and the bringing back under the sway of his yoke the cities and peoples who joined the conspiracy.
A graphic and significant story is contained in the brief and short words of Sargon’s own record—“Samaria, I looked at. I captured. 27,280 families who remained therein I carried 277 away.” The tragic end of Hoshea and all of his noble counselors and advisers is thus summed up in a brief and terrible sentence.
Sargon the Second was followed in turn by Sennacherib, of whom a great deal is known from his monuments. Their testimony coincides with the story of the Southern Kingdom during the reign of Hezekiah. Three years after the ascension of Hoshea to the throne of Israel, Hezekiah began to reign over Judah at Jerusalem. He had a long and interesting reign, occupying the throne for twenty-five years. In the course of his reign, Sargon the Second died, and Sennacherib inherited the throne.
Encouraged by the success of his predecessor Sargon in foreign campaigns, Sennacherib invaded Judah to round out his empire. Hezekiah accepted his yoke without offering resistance, and paid him a vast tribute.
We are now in the eighteenth chapter of II Kings which repeats part of the events of the tragedy in Israel as they were observed by the scribe in Judah. The invasions of Shalmaneser and Sargon are recapitulated and the carrying away of the people of Samaria by Sargon is again authenticated. But the scribe is more interested in recording the events that make so stirring a chapter in the closing days of the kingdom of Judah. 278 In verses thirteen to seventeen, the story of this first invasion and the surrender of Sennacherib, is told in these words:
“Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.
“And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
“And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house.
“At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.”
Between the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of the eighteenth chapter of II Kings, ten silent years roll by. They are voiceless as far as our text is concerned, but they are vocal when we listen to the monuments.
It may have been about 705 B. C. when Hezekiah accepted the yoke of Sennacherib. In the meantime Sennacherib had strengthened his alliances and was prepared to essay a conflict with Egypt. The nephew of So, who is called Tirhakah in the Bible, murdered the successor of So, which was his son, Shabataka. 279 Having gained an empire by this ruthless spilling of the blood of the rightful heir, Tirhakah began an ill-fated reign. He rashly matched strength with Sennacherib, who was more than willing to add Egypt to the nations who bore his yoke. The armies of Assyria and Egypt joined battle at the border at the site of Libnah and a mighty conflict resulted. Realizing the strategic importance of an enemy who would threaten the rear of the Assyrian host, Tirhakah made overtures to Hezekiah and invited him to join in a rebellion to throw off the yoke of Assyria. Hezekiah being willing to save the enormous tribute that beggared his country annually, listened to the voice of Isaiah who advised him to join the rebellion. So Hezekiah pronounced defiance against Sennacherib and all of the Assyrian hordes and announced the independence of Judah. The battle of Libnah was then fought, and Tirhakah was disgracefully defeated. The pitiful remnant of his army fled and left Sennacherib the unchallenged conqueror of his day.
The position of Hezekiah can well be imagined. The strength and might of Egypt had been brushed aside by the armed power of Assyria, and tiny Judah was put in the position of defying the greatest military power of that era. While Sennacherib was busy in a mopping-up campaign at Libnah, he sent 280 three trusted generals to lay siege to Jerusalem and to demand the surrender of Hezekiah. The blasphemous oration of one of these generals, Rab-shakeh, is given voluminously in the eighteenth chapter of II Kings. There was a good deal of truth in some of Rab-shakeh’s arguments. He described Pharaoh as “a bruised reed upon which if a man leaned, it would pierce his hand and wound him to the death.” He rightly said that no other countries had been delivered from Sennacherib by the power of their gods. His error was in assuming that therefore the God of Israel would also be defeated by the power of Sennacherib. He gave the king some short while to think over the policy of surrender, and sat down to invest the city. Hezekiah, in his bitter dilemma, sought out Isaiah, whose advice he had followed with such disastrous results.
The thirty-seventh chapter of Isaiah contains the answer that Isaiah made, and the exact words of his prophecy are also found in the nineteenth chapter of II Kings, verses six and seven. To comfort Hezekiah, Isaiah said to the king’s messenger: “Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I 281 will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”
It is well to keep this prophecy of Isaiah’s in mind until we see how perfectly it was fulfilled in complete detail. In the thirty-fifth verse of II Kings, the nineteenth chapter, the “blast” occurred. The statement is made that the angel of the Lord went out and slew 185,000 of the flower of the Assyrian army.
The next verse says in graphic words, “So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed.”
The literal translation in English of that graphic word would be, “So Sennacherib king of Assyria ‘beat it’.” We cannot blame him for the haste of his departure. Arising after a night of slumber to find 185,000 of his best warriors mysteriously slain, terror must have smitten his heart. At that exact moment word reached him of a rebellion in his own land. This was the “rumour” of which Isaiah had prophesied. He returned to put down this rebellion and never again invaded Judah.
Twenty years later he was murdered. Between verses thirty-six and thirty-seven of the nineteenth chapter of II Kings, a full score of years passed by. After his murder, his son, Esar-haddon, came to the throne and continued the story of conquest and intrigue.
In the meantime, the defeated Tirhakah 282 was unquestionably chagrined to learn that little Judah had been delivered from the power that had defeated him. To apologize for his own failure to support Judah, Tirhakah claimed credit for the defeat of the Assyrian horde by claiming that his god, Amon, had caused the camp of the Assyrians to be invaded by millions of field mice. He claimed that these tiny rodents in one night ate up all the bowstrings of the army and thus they were unable to fight. His interpretation of the event is a bit sketchy, to say the least!
In the Assyrian Room at the British Museum, a very important exhibit will be seen in Table Case “E”. This is a six-sided clay prism containing an unabridged record of Sennacherib’s own account of these stirring events. Here he has given us his story of the invasion of Palestine and the siege of Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah. So important is this record that we produce here, in its entirety, the fifth oblique (or plane) of this great prism:
“In my third campaign I went to the land of the Hittites. I marched against the City of Ekron and put to death the priests and chief men who had committed the sin of rebellion and I hung up their bodies on stakes all around the City ... but as for Hezekiah of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke 46 of his strong cities, together with innumerable fortresses and small towns that depended 283 upon them by overthrowing the walls and open attack, by battle, engines and battering rams I besieged I captured; I brought out of the midst of them and counted as a spoil 200,000 persons great and small, male and female, besides mules, camels, sheep, asses and oxen without number:
“Hezekiah himself I shut up like a bird in a cage in Jerusalem his strong city. I built a line of forts against him and kept back himself from going forth out of the great gate of his city. I cut off his cities which I had spoiled out of the midst of his land and I gave them to Metinti, king of Ashdod, and Padi King of Ekron and Til-Baal, King of Gaza and made his country small. In addition to their former yearly tribute and gifts I added other tribute and homage due to my majesty, and I laid it upon them. The fear of the greatness of my majesty overwhelmed him, even Hezekiah, and he sent after me to Nineveh my royal city, the Arabs and his bodyguards, whom he had brought for the defense of his royal city Jerusalem, and had furnished with pay along with thirty talents.... Eight hundred talents of pure silver, carbuncles and other precious stones, a couch of ivory, thrones of ivory, and elephants hide and elephant tusks, rare woods of all kinds a vast treasure, as well as Unachs from his palace, and dancing men and dancing women. And he sent his Ambassador to offer homage.”
This fascinating document is one of the greatest treasures that archeology has produced for the careful student of Christian apologetics. It is notable not only for what it tells but also for much that is left unsaid. 284 In the grim, brutal days of these ancient conquerors, a defeated enemy could expect little mercy at the hands of the victorious. The kings of Assyria ruled by fear and by the implacable, swift certainty of punishment for rebellion. Sennacherib here refers to a common practice of his day, that of impaling rebellious enemies as a lesson to other vassals. In this particular document he recounts how they hung the bodies of the rebel leaders on stakes around their captured cities.
The technique of this execution was simple. A heavy post was driven into the ground until it was about as high as a tall man’s shoulder. The top of the post was sharpened to as fine a point as the tools of that day would permit. In some cases, the rebel was picked up by a pair of burly executioners who swung him through the air and jammed him down with great force upon the pointed stake. There they whirled him as a sort of a human pinwheel until life quickly fled his shattered form. This was a comparatively merciful way of impaling. In other cases the victim was set upon the sharpened stick until gravity bore down his suffering body to the point where death relieved him after hours, and even days of misery and torment.
But while Sennacherib recounted the successful punishment of the rebels of the many cities who had joined in this uprising, it is 285 to be carefully noted that he changed the tone of the record in the case of Hezekiah. He could not say that he impaled him or otherwise punished him for the rebellion! All he could say was, “As for Hezekiah himself, I shut him up like a bird in Jerusalem, his capital city.” Sennacherib can tell of the fenced cities and small villages in the outskirts of Judah which he despoiled from the hand of Hezekiah, but he never laid hand on the person of the king himself, nor did he enter the sacred city. The “blast” of Isaiah’s prophecy can alone account for the failure of Sennacherib to crucify Hezekiah along with his other rebellious enemies.
Also it is to be noted that by a violation of chronological accuracy, Sennacherib “saves face,” after the ancient custom of the Eastern lands. A conqueror of his standing and authority cannot admit that he was defeated before the walls of Jerusalem. Therefore, at the end of this record he gives a list of the treasure that Hezekiah had paid before in his original subjection! This listing of tribute is falsely made to appear as though it were after the siege of Jerusalem. By the simple expedient of introducing at the end of a defeat the record of a previous payment, Sennacherib seeks to delude posterity and wipe out the memory of his one outstanding defeat. This great prism of this Assyrian conqueror is unquestionably one of the strongest bricks 286 in the wall of defense that archeology is erecting around the Sacred Word of God.
There are many other records left by Sennacherib that are also of tremendous importance. The British Museum has a magnificent section which is devoted very largely to those Babylonian and Assyrian chronicles, many of which coincide with this period of history. The murder of Sennacherib that was prophesied by Isaiah and recorded in the nineteenth chapter of II Kings, is accredited and substantiated by archeological sources.
We learn from the records of Babylon that the years between the debacle at Jerusalem and the death of Sennacherib were occupied with wars much nearer home. We read in those chronicles that the Elamites of Suziana, together with certain allied peoples, again rose in rebellion. It took a number of campaigns, which ultimately ravished the whole of Suziana, to put down this uprising. In fact, the campaigns of subjection were not entirely successful until Babylon was destroyed in 689 B. C. In the interim, when not busy subduing his Elamite subjects, Sennacherib campaigned in Cilicia, where he overcame the armed force of the Greeks, penetrating as far as Tarsus in his victorious marches. The Babylonian records conclude by saying that he was assassinated by his sons in the year which by our reckoning would be known as B. C. 681.
In the Babylonian Room of the British Museum, Table Case “E” contains an exhibit which bears the Museum number 92,502. This consists of a clay tablet which is an extensive chronicle written in the Babylonian characters. It delineates a list of the principal events which occurred in both Babylon and Assyria over an extensive period of time.
The history begins with the third year of the reign of Nabu-Nasir, who ascended his throne in Babylon in 744. The record continues to the first year of Shamash-shum-ukim, with whom we shall deal in a future reference. In the third column of this chronicle, lines thirty-four and thirty-five state that Sennacherib was killed by his son on the twentieth day of the month Tebet in the twenty-third year of his reign. This murder is rather graphically described in terse, but satisfactory terms in the record of the nineteenth chapter of II Kings.
There is no more definite and positive example of the coincidence of archeological discovery with the text of the Scripture than is provided by the records of Sennacherib. Though dead for more than two and one-half millenniums, he indeed has a tale to tell! We can condense his record into one graphic, simple sentence which we can sign with the name of this great king, “The historicity of the Sacred Page is unquestionable in the light of archeology!”
The next pharaoh of antiquity who challenges our interest with his confirmation of the Scripture, is variously known by the name of Necho, which is his prenomen as used in the Scripture text, and by the Egyptian forms of Nekau and Uohemibra. He was, perhaps, the greatest of the later conquerors who sought to extend the power of Egypt, and he was certainly the last of that remarkable group. He expended a good deal of the revenues of the crown in rebuilding the canal of Seti the First, which had formed a waterway between the Nile and the Red Sea. It is difficult at times to place absolute credence upon the numerical estimates of the ancient chronicles of Egypt, but it is highly probable that Necho employed more than a hundred thousand men in this work. Herodotus gives great honour to Necho, telling us that he sent out certain ships of Phoenicia which circumnavigated Africa. He maintained a mercenary army of Greeks, and had one fleet in the Mediterranean, and the other in the Red Sea. His record in the Scripture is tangled inextricably with that of Assyria and Babylonia, and for that reason we must sketch-in the background of this coincidence and appearance.
Shalmaneser the Fifth began the phenomenal rise to ascendency of the great power of Assyria. Babylon was the chief adversary and the strongest foe that Assyria faced in 289 the development of her world empire, which ultimately climaxed in Sennacherib. Finding it impossible to preserve the loyalty of the Babylonians, who were a proud and haughty people, Sennacherib finally destroyed Babylon and carried away its people into captivity. When Sennacherib died, according to the record of the nineteenth chapter of II Kings, his son, Esar-haddon came to the throne. Esar-haddon, more of a statesman than a conqueror, rebuilt Babylon. He united Assyria and Babylon into one great domain, naming the combined kingdom Babylonia. For the sake of administration and as a gesture of amity, he made Babylon his capital. Thus the rebuilt city became the seat of government and the center of the culture of Babylonia.
The name Esar-haddon means “victorious,” or “conqueror.” One of the greatest of all the mighty kings of Assyria, he was a worthy successor of Sargon, Shalmaneser, and Sennacherib. His name occurs but three times in Holy Writ. The first occurrence is II Kings 19:37, where it speaks of his ascent to the throne. The next occurrence is in Isaiah 37:28 where this record of II Kings 19:37 is confirmed by the hand of the prophet, who was an active participant in those stirring events. Later, Ezra refers to him in the second verse of his fourth chapter. In this latter reference, the remnant who returned 290 from the Babylonian captivity name him as the cause of their captivity and acknowledged that he gave them the freedom to worship their own God in their own way.
In the reign of Menasseh, Esar-haddon died and was succeeded by two sons. The elder of these was the famous Assur-bani-pal, who was made over-lord of the entire kingdom, with the section that was once called Assyria as his particular domain. His younger brother, Shamis-shum-ukim was given dominion over Babylon, where he reigned as vassal to his wealthy brother. The British Museum is replete with the records and materials from the reign of Assur-bani-pal and from the brief and tragic rule of Shamis-shum-ukim as well.
The fine hand of Egyptian intrigue enters into the record at this point, again tangling up the Assyrian records in a triangular bout between Judah, Egypt, and Babylonia. The Pharaoh Necho, alarmed by the growing power of Babylonia, gathered together a mighty host and invaded the territory of the great Assyrian king. As a preliminary to this invasion, the Pharaoh Necho persuaded Shamis-shum-ukim to rebel against his older brother and to declare his independence. Into this conspiracy Necho succeeded in drawing Syria and Judah. The blow was struck at the dominion of Assur-bani-pal while he was battling certain tribes near his Eastern border. 291 When the couriers brought him word of the revolt of his brother, and of the coalition formed against him at the instigation of Necho, Assur-bani-pal made a swift and remarkable march, returning to his threatened territory. Necho hastily assembled his army, and the major battles were fought on the terrain of Syria. Syria was quickly reduced, Babylon pacified, and Assur-bani-pal emerged completely victorious.
Necho, not having had time to prepare his defenses, was overthrown, defeated, and forced to bow in subjection to Assur-bani-pal. From the record of the victorious king, we offer the following paragraph as a condensed but detailed account of these tremendous events:
“After removing the corpses of the rebels from the midst of Babylon, Cuthra, and Sippara, and piling them in heaps, in accordance with the prophecies I cleaned the mercy seats of their temples. I purified their chief places of prayer I appeased their angry gods and goddesses with supplications and penitential psalms. Their daily sacrifices which they had discontinued, I restored and established as they had been of old. As for the rest of them who had flown at the stroke of slaughter, I had mercy on them. I proclaimed an amnesty upon them. I brought them to live in Babylon. The men of the nations whom Sam ... had led away and united in one conspiracy, I trod down to the uttermost parts of their borders. By the command of Assur, 292 Beltis, and the great gods my helpers, the yoke of Assur which they had shaken off I laid upon them. I appointed over them governors and satraps, the work of my own hands.”
From this account it will be seen that Assur-bani-pal slew his rebellious brother and destroyed the principal leaders of the revolt, with the exception of those who had pleaded for mercy. As a result of this defeat at Charchemish, Necho was dethroned and led in chains to Babylon. This Chaldean conqueror had a policy that was unique for his day. It was his consistent practice to deal mercifully with the repentant. When the Pharaoh Necho professed sorrow for his conduct, Assur-bani-pal, following his established custom, restored him to Sais where he was to rule Egypt as a province of Babylonia.
At this time, Josiah of Judah also accepted the yoke of Assyria and became a vassal of Assur-bani-pal. From what we learn of the character of King Josiah, we would expect that he would be faithful to his pledges and promises and, indeed, this very faithfulness was the cause of his death. The Pharaoh Necho, smarting under his defeat and wounded deeply in his pride, quietly gathered together a tremendous army and rebelled against Assur-bani-pal the second time.
In this second conflict, Charchemish was the chosen battle ground. Although many 293 strategic battles had been waged back and forth about this important center, this is generally referred to as the First Battle of Charchemish. This reference is undoubtedly predicated upon the fact that the ultimate struggle between Assyria and Egypt, which gave the latter power a world dominion, centered about this field.
In order to reach the battle ground, the Pharaoh Necho marched his horde across the terrain of Palestine. The story of what followed is familiar to every student of the Old Testament. In the thirty-fifth chapter of II Chronicles, beginning with the twentieth verse and ending with the twenty-seventh, this incidental tragedy is told. Josiah, who had taken the pledge of fidelity to Assur-bani-pal, gathered together his small army and sought to prevent this passage of the Egyptian army across his domain. It is recorded that Pharaoh sent his heralds to Josiah offering to leave the land of Palestine unmolested on condition that they gave him no opposition in his plans for battle. The pharaoh went so far as to claim that he was on the business of God. Although King Josiah had disguised himself in the common dress of a humble man-at-arms, he seems to have been recognized. The sharpshooters among the archers picked him as their target and he fell sorely wounded. He died after being taken to Jerusalem, and all of the people 294 of Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.
Jeremiah the prophet deeply loved the godly king because of his fidelity to the law, and the fourth chapter of the Book of Lamentations contains part of the dirge of Jeremiah concerning the death of the king.
In the meantime, hindered by the abortive attempt of the faithful Josiah to delay his passage, Necho swept on to the banks of the Euphrates where a notable battle was fought. The assault of Necho found the Assyrian monarch unprepared. The force that he had gathered at Charchemish was inadequate to defend his borders, and Assur-bani-pal was defeated. In the meantime, Jehoahaz had succeeded his father Josiah and was reigning at Jerusalem. The sway of the young king was short and ended tragically after ninety days. On his way home from his victory at Charchemish, the Pharaoh Necho deposed Jehoahaz because of his father’s conduct and put Eliakim on the throne. Thus the younger brother of Jehoahaz became king over Judah in his place.
The Pharaoh changed the name of Eliakim to Jehoiakim and once more Judah became a vassal to the might and power of Egypt. The unfortunate Jehoahaz, laden with chains, was carried away to Sais. There he dragged out a miserable existence until death brought him a happy release from captivity and degradation. The Pharaoh Necho imposed upon 295 Palestine a fine for their opposition which would be about the equivalent in our modern currency of $200,000. In considering the difference in purchasing power, however, that would be about $3,000,000 in our money.
These incidents are either expressly stated or are referred to in many portions of Holy Writ. We first find them in the twenty-third chapter of II Kings.
The twenty-sixth chapter of Jeremiah, verses twenty-one to twenty-three, contains a bleak record of the hardship and oppression that resulted when men of God were slain for speaking God’s Word concerning the events of this grim and dismal affair.
In the nineteenth chapter of Ezekiel, the third and fourth verses of this record, the prophet sings a lamentation over the “lion’s whelp” and sorrows that “he shall be bound in chains in the land of Egypt.” Then from the fifth verse on, the prophet caustically berates the land because that another of the lion’s whelps, suddenly raised to maturity, devoured the men who had raised him and laid waste their land and cities.
Our present interest, however, is to be found in the records that deal with these events in the sources of archeology. It would be inconceivable that the mighty Necho should fail to boast of his power and victory when he had won so notable an ascendancy over all of his enemies. In the voluminous 296 records of the Pharaoh Necho, the vainglorious boasting of this long-dead monarch comes to us today as a welcome, added voice to the rapidly swelling chorus that testifies to the historical accuracy of the Old Testament.
Leaving the record of Necho, however, for the present moment (as he enters the story again in the reign of the succeeding Babylonian monarch), we turn to the sources of Babylonian and Assyrian antiquity for the authentication of these affairs by the mighty Assur-bani-pal. Now, indeed, it becomes difficult to choose the most effective and pointed evidences, as we are embarrassed with so vast a wealth of material. It would take many days indeed for a careful student to exhaust the possibilities in that collection of the material of Assur-bani-pal that is found in the British Museum alone. In this notable and incomparable deposit of priceless fact and information, there is no more striking section than that which is derived from the works and records of this stormy ruler.
In about the year 666 B. C. this conqueror finished the third of his campaigns against Egypt, and with the sack of the City of Thebes, again established the dominion of Assyria over Egypt. The mighty king then turned his military attentions to the northern regions of his empire and thrust his borders out to an unprecedented extent. At the same 297 time, with a part of his forces he waged a long war with the Elamites on his southeastern border and subjected that country to the yoke of Assyria. Putting down the Elamite uprising with a stern and bloody hand, he left a lesson in implacable cruelty that the Elamites never forgot.
In the Nineveh Gallery of the Assyrian section of the British Museum may be seen great sculptured slabs from the walls of Assur-bani-pal’s palace, which are numbered 45 to 50. At our last visit they were to be seen on the Eastern side of the gallery. These relics completely illustrate his conquest of Elam. Exhibits 45 to 47 further show the crushing of the Elamite forces, and the action is so dramatically depicted that the careful student may sense the excitement which seems to prevail. A voluminous text accompanies the pictured action so that there is no possibility of mistaking the meaning of the illustrations.
At this time Shamis-shum-ukim joined in the great revolt to which we have referred in a foregoing paragraph of this chapter. There are two accounts in the archeological records as to the end of Shamis-shum-ukim. Although a twin brother of Assur-bani-pal, he was some hours the younger, and thus was nominally subject to him under Assyrian law. One account says that he was taken prisoner 298 and that Assur-bani-pal had him burned at the stake. The other account says that Shamis-shum-ukim, seeing he was about to be defeated, locked himself in a small section of the palace, which he set afire and burned himself rather than surrender. There was at this time a revolt in the Egyptian section of the empire which resulted in some long conflicts, which are also given in these records. It was also at this period that Assur-bani-pal left the record above cited, of the pacification of Babylon and the submission of Josiah.
The British Museum has a very large collection of letters from the library of Assur-bani-pal at Nineveh, many of which are of high significance in the study of these historical episodes. These letters cover a broad scope as they include the reports, requisitions, and communications of dignitaries. Some of these came from the crown prince, others from local governors and still more from various military captains. They deal in specific detail with military operations, uprisings, rebellions, and their suppression. They tell of the dispatch of troops to the provinces, with lists of expenses and expenditures. Such intimate details of Assyrian science as the reports of astronomers for regulating the calendar of the year are found there, and illuminating comments upon the political trend of the days. There are many 299 references to these episodes, as would naturally be expected.
One of the great monuments to be found in the Babylonian Room of the British Museum, and numbered 90,864, is a stone stele with a rounded top, that is a treasure indeed. The upright full-length figure of Assur-bani-pal is shown in his capacity of high priest. This stele contains a lengthy chronicle recording the names, honors, and genealogy of the monarch and tells of his godly conduct and fidelity to his religion. There is a note of sadness and an index to the character of this great Assyrian in the line where Assur-bani-pal declares that he himself had appointed his twin brother Shamis-shum-ukim “to the sovereignty over Babylon so that the strong may not oppress the weak.”
Passing over a great many of these sources, we come now to the Assyrian Room where, in Table Case “E,” we find two ten-sided prisms of Assur-bani-pal which bear the Museum numbers 91,026, and 91,086. These lengthy records are inscribed with the outstanding incidents in the earlier years of his busy life. Beginning with an epitomized statement concerning his birth and education, as all good biographies should begin, he took occasion to recognize the great prosperity of Assyria that immediately followed his elevation to the throne. Then quickly the warrior 300 king launched into some graphic descriptions of his principal military expeditions. Here he tells of the two expeditions against Tirhakah in Egypt, to which we have referred above. Among the allies who accompanied him to fight under his banner, who were already subject to him, he mentions levies from Cypress, Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. After citing the events and victories of five campaigns, the record then introduces the sad tragedy of Shamis-shum-ukim, a portion of which we have cited in a preceding paragraph. In all, there are nine campaigns covered in these prisms, and the student of historical accuracy may find great substantiation for his confidence in the truth and fidelity of the Word of God from these fascinating records.
In the same case is an eight-sided clay prism of Assur-bani-pal, numbered 93,008. This also contains a shorter reference to these same events. To convey an adequate and detailed account of the materials available from the time of Assur-bani-pal and his unfortunate brother would require a large volume by itself. We have come to that point, however, where Assur-bani-pal’s record concludes as it touches the Scripture. So we satisfy ourselves temporarily with this brief introduction of an epitomized section of those evidences.
Three years after the battle of Charchemish, 301 where Assur-bani-pal was temporarily defeated, a new and forceful conqueror appeared in the person of Nebuchadnezzar the Second. Assur-bani-pal was succeeded by Nabopolassar, who will be ignored in this record because of the fact that he is not named by name in the text of the Bible. Nabopolassar, however, had a gifted son who succeeded him as Nebuchadnezzar the Second, and who began his training for the crown by assuming command of the army as the chief general under his father and with his parent’s consent.
The first great campaign that Nebuchadnezzar fought, brought Egypt back under the dominion of Babylon. To see the background of this event, it must be noted that after the death of Assur-bani-pal, the Medes invaded Nineveh and captured that stronghold. Whereupon Nabopolassar reasserted the independence of Babylon and conducted a number of brilliant campaigns to secure the ascendency of his kingdom and to establish his supremacy over the entire ancient world.
When Nineveh fell, the Pharaoh Necho, with whom we are now dealing, entered the story again. Necho invaded Syria and Palestine and successfully campaigned up to the banks of the Euphrates. At Charchemish he met the host of Nebuchadnezzar for what is known as the Second Battle of Charchemish. Necho entered this conflict with considerable 302 confidence, due to his previous victory on this same field. This time, however, a different experience awaited him. Nebuchadnezzar crushed the Egyptians with an overwhelming defeat and drove them back to their own border. As a result of this battle, all Palestine, with the exception of Judah, acknowledged the authority of Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian general took Jehoiakim captive and slew the Pharaoh Necho.
All of these events are recorded by the Pharaoh Necho, by Assur-bani-pal, and by certain humbler captains and leaders. The Pharaoh’s record is complete up to the time of the second battle. But as Necho did not survive this campaign, there is a dramatic break in his record. However, what is wanting from the Egyptian sources, is happily supplied from those of Babylon.
It is not to be expected that the young conqueror would remain silent concerning his early victories. His father, Nabopolassar, also recounts with some satisfaction the military ability of his son. Through all of his reign, however, Nebuchadnezzar was more of a builder and architect than conqueror, although he frequently took the field in notable military action. Most of the relics from his reign have to do with the building of great temples and edifices. There are, however, a number of fragmentary chronicles such as that which, in the Babylonian 303 Room of the British Museum in Table Case “E,” bears the number of 33,041. This recounts a later expedition undertaken by Nebuchadnezzar in the thirty-seventh year of his reign. This was to put down an uprising in Egypt.
There are innumerable tablets and records in the British Museum that attest the order and genius of the government in the forty-two years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. We will refer to this later when we come to the closing period of his great career. We have introduced the historicity of Nebuchadnezzar now, and the coincidence of his account which climaxes the reign of Necho, to establish at one more point the historical accuracy of the Old Testament text.
The last Pharaoh who comes into the account of the Sacred Book is positively identified as Hophra. He is called Apris by the Greeks, and is frequently found in the hieroglyphics under the name of Psammetichus, the Second. His name, Hophra, occurs in the Scripture only once, which is the forty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah and the thirtieth verse. Here the three great characters of this last drama are found conjoined in these simple words:
“Thus saith the Lord; Behold I will give Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king 304 of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.”
Hophra was a rash, inexperienced, over-confident ruler who wasted what small strength and wealth his kingdom possessed in useless warfare against mighty powers which were manifestly beyond his ability to cope with. The background of his contact with the Sacred Record begins with his conspiracy that enmeshed Zedekiah. This entire rebellion was a faithless and degraded example of lack of honour and responsibility to a plighted and pledged word. This is primarily so because after the defeat of Necho and his subsequent death, Nebuchadnezzar raised Hophra, the son of Necho, to the throne of Egypt where he governed as a satrap. He was to reign for Babylon, and had taken the oath of fidelity to his over-lord and master.
To make matters worse the conduct of Zedekiah added insult to injury! When Nebuchadnezzar dethroned Jehoiakim and carried him bound in chains to his subsequent death in Babylon, he was followed on the throne by Jehoiakin who reigned for a very brief period. Then Nebuchadnezzar raised Zedekiah to a position of power and on his twenty-first birthday elevated him to the governorship of Jerusalem. For the better part of eleven years, he reigned more or less successfully. He seems to have been a graceless scoundrel 305 and utterly without honour. Completely violating their treaties and their oaths of fidelity, Pharaoh and Zedekiah joined in a conspiracy and rebelled against the power of Nebuchadnezzar. It is a matter of wonder to the modern student that these kings of Judah never learned their lesson.
The Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem to put down this revolt, and Hophra marched to its aid. Because the company of Chaldeans was small, as Nebuchadnezzar had not anticipated a strong resistance, the wise captains of this advance-guard did not join battle with Hophra, but retired in good order rather than fight a hopeless conflict when they were so strongly outnumbered.
The city of Jerusalem went wild with delight and rejoicing over its deliverance. The gloomy Jeremiah warned the leaders in vain that the Chaldeans would return, and in overwhelming force. Refusing to listen to the prophecies of Jeremiah, the people treated him harshly and cast him out. While the city was rejoicing at this early victory, Jeremiah himself gave a manifestation of confidence in the ultimate fulfillment of his own prophecies, when he fled from the city and delivered himself voluntarily into the hands of the Chaldeans. In the meantime, Hophra, overcome with pride at his easy victory, boasted with blasphemy that not even could 306 God defeat him! The sycophantic Zedekiah acquiesced in this boasting and blasphemy and showered the foolish Hophra with unlimited compliments.
With Jeremiah gone and all of Judah turning to the ways of idolatry, God did not lack champions. Messengers and prophets were sent rapidly to Zedekiah and to the princes of the kingdom, but they mocked the messengers of God and despised His words. They misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people beyond remedy. Therefore, says the thirty-sixth chapter of II Chronicles,
“He brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; he gave them all into his hand.”
The strongest voice that was raised for God in this dark hour was that of Ezekiel. At this time, the prophet was in Babylon and from there he spoke the words that are found in the first sixteen verses of his twenty-ninth chapter. This is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive and remarkable prophecies concerning any nation that the student of this fascinating subject may deal with. For the sake of refreshing the mind of the reader, we publish here this prophecy in full:
“In the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt: Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
“But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.
“And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beast of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.
“And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.
“When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand. Therefore thus said the Lord God; Behold I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.
“And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the Lord: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.
“Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from 308 the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.
“No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
“And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.
“Yet thus saith the Lord God; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered;
“And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom.
“It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.
“And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord God.”
Analyzing this prophecy, we note the personal element that is introduced when God arrayed himself against Hophra and all of the land of Egypt. This people who, as we have seen, worshipped the Nile and counted it a deified object, had also acquiesced in the claims of Hophra who went so far as to state that he was the one who had made the river and caused it to continue to flow. Adopting 309 this figure, the prophet speaking for God, says that Hophra shall be caught like the fish and cast into the fields by the side of the banks.
The sixth verse states that all the population of Egypt is to be taught a bitter lesson. They shall know forever that God is Lord, in the punishment they shall reap for their defections against Israel.
Verse eight contains the information that this punishment is to take the form of an invasion that shall leave the land desolate and waste. This punishment was to come upon the land and the people because of their idolatry and their sins against Israel.
From verses ten to twelve, a bleak picture is drawn of utter desolation which shall prevail in their land for forty years. The prophecy then turns upon the pivot of the thirteenth verse to a time of a partial restoration. This restoration, however, is limited in the Divine Word to the effect that Egypt shall be the basest of the kingdoms of the earth. It shall never be permitted to exalt itself again in the council of the nations. It is to be eternally diminished and debased.
The consequent history of Egypt has been a complete vindication and fulfillment of this prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and carried away the last remnant of that graceless people into captivity in Babylon. All those who had joined in the defection of 310 Zedekiah, great and small, old and young, they slew with the sword. Then the angry Nebuchadnezzar swept on into Egypt and devastated that land, until, it is recorded, “not a living thing, man or beast,” was left in that once populous country.
For forty years it lay, wasted and idle. Then the counselors of Nebuchadnezzar advised that the land be colonized in order that it might produce revenue for the crown. The first attempt failed because of the climate and the unique conditions of agriculture in a country that required constant irrigation and whose crops depended upon the sole source of moisture the river Nile. Therefore, the counselors gathered together such remnant of the Egyptians as remained from the captivity and sent them back to repopulate the land.
Every student of history will recall that Egypt has been the basest of kingdoms from that hour to this. It has been dominated in turn by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, the French, and the British.
One notable effort was made in historic time to raise Egypt to its former grandeur and power. The reader will recall the great campaign of Napoleon by which he thought to revive this Mistress of Antiquity and make Egypt an adjunct of his own imperial greatness. If Napoleon had read and believed the 311 twenty-ninth chapter of Ezekiel, he could have spared himself this useless and expensive campaign. We all recall that when victory seemed to be in sight, Napoleon’s power and greatness shattered itself upon an immovable rock. This was composed of the small remnant of indomitable British who refused to recognize the fact of their defeat when it stared them in the face. And that courageous and noble refusal to give up, when they were quite evidently hopelessly overthrown, was again vindicated in the final result. The army of Napoleon was broken, discomfited, decimated, and defeated. Finally, it was deserted by its discouraged leader, who probably never knew why he had failed. He was not fighting against the allies only, nor was he defeated entirely by British valour. Napoleon was fighting against the Word of God and the will of Him whose hand is able to raise to power and to cast down again. From that hour to this, and even in our present moment of historic time, Egypt remains the basest of the kingdoms of the earth.
To come back to the miserable Hophra, his final end came when he was assassinated by his own general, whose name is given by the Greeks as Amasis and who appears on the monuments under the name of Iahmose. Amasis occupied the throne until the final conquest by Nebuchadnezzar.
We note again the coincidence of ancient records with the accounts that portray these events in the books of II Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Voluminous sections of the Word of God are extended a strong and friendly hand of historical authentication by the secular records which have survived from that time.
In the British Museum will be found tablets, stelae, portraits, and sculptured remnants from Egypt which have been derived from those unsettled times. In the Egyptian collection of the British Museum, the exhibit numbered 1358 contains a portrait of Hophra. There are also a number of scarabs in Table Case “B” in the Fourth Egyptian Room, and a fragmentary sistrum in the Fifth Egyptian Room, all of which bear the name of Hophra and authenticate his record.
Thus we have seen in a brief but accurate recapitulation of generations and centuries of history that dead men do tell tales! We have Hophra’s record together with the annalistic tablet of Amasis to aid us in our understanding of these stirring days. Added to that, the record of Nebuchadnezzar brings additional confirmation of the thesis that is maintained in this brief work.
The evidence of archeology as it bears upon the text of God’s Word is final and complete wherever men have delved into the records of those days.
It may not be exactly what was in the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ when He uttered the words, but we can certainly apply to the generation in which we live, His striking statement:
“If men should hold their tongues, the very stones would cry out!”
And if living men will not speak the truth concerning the finality of the Bible—dead men must!
Nowhere in all this long and profitable study has archeology more perfectly and thoroughly vindicated the accuracy of the Scripture than in those portions of the disputed record that are found in the Book of Daniel.
A great deal remains to be discovered at Nineveh and Babylon, and it is highly probable that the excavations to the present hour have but scraped the surface of the marvelous treasure that remains to be uncovered. It is a happy circumstance, however, that in our present incomplete but numerous sources, a great deal of information has been brought to light in vindication of the prophet Daniel.
In the heyday of its brief popularity, the school of higher criticism pounced with great glee on the alleged inaccuracies and historical errors in the Book of Daniel. The general argument against the integrity of this writing may be summed up in a simple resumé. In the Book of Daniel, there are supposed to be a number of outstanding philological anachronisms. The school of higher criticism, in its weird procedure, made great capital of 318 the presumed cultural development of the people with whom the record dealt.
Daniel is pictured in the Bible as having lived and written in the last days of the Babylonian dynasties. He was carried away from his native land as a lad when the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar was poured out on Jerusalem in the days of Zedekiah. He lived throughout the reign of each of the last Babylonian kings, and was alive when Cyrus signed the decree that enabled the remnant to return to Jerusalem. No leader of Hebrew life and thought lived in a more stirring span of history than did Daniel.
The bright minds of the higher critics, which were never limited in their flights of fancy by historical fact, concluded that the Greek language could not have reached the courts of Babylon until after the conquest of Alexander. In examining the Hebrew text of this book, the self-styled scholars claimed to have found eleven Greek words in Daniel’s manuscript. The occurrence of these words was sufficient evidence that the Book of Daniel was not written in the days of the Babylonian dynasty, but must have originated after the exile and in the days of Alexander. This was the first great argument directed against the credibility and authenticity of this prophecy.
The second alleged fallacy in the Book of Daniel is to be found in the predication of 319 the entire book. The sweep and movement of Daniel’s account begins with the adventure of certain young lads of the royal seed who were carried away as hostages to Babylon. Daniel’s own records state that by orders of Nebuchadnezzar these young Hebrew boys were put in the schools of learning where they might be instructed in the wisdom of Babylon, and taught patriotism, and affection for the conquering power of Chaldea. To this basis of the entire narrative criticism objected vociferously and strenuously. The argument advanced by this now discredited school was that the brutal conquerors of that day did not treat their hostages with such kindness and courtesy, and so the entire record was declared to be incompatible with the known facts of history.
The third and more serious objection of the critics was directed against the appearance in Daniel’s manuscript of certain stories which were alleged to consist of pure myths. Among these is the story of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. The demands of intelligence were supposed to find this utterly unreasonable and the doubters declared that such a miracle could not have occurred.
Another weakness in the structure of the narrative was presumed to be found in the preservation of Daniel in the den of lions. In fact, this whole record was relegated to the realm of improbability, as this method 320 of execution was never practiced by the Babylonians. These objections constituted the case in the dogmatic assertions of the advocates of higher criticism.
The strange experience of Nebuchadnezzar for the year of his madness, when he supposed himself a beast of the field and lived without the benefits of his civilization, added strength to this objection against the historicity of a book that incorporates in its structure such palpable fables.
The final and most crushing argument, however, was the discovery of certain alleged historical inaccuracies that permeate the text of Daniel.
When Nebuchadnezzar died, the kingdom seems to have fallen into a condition that was little short of anarchy. Nebuchadnezzar the Second reigned from 604 B. C. to 561 B. C. Upon his death, he was succeeded by Evil-merodach who reigned for two years. This unhappy monarch passed off the scene by violence, and his murderer, Neriglissar, succeeded him to the throne.
After a short reign he, in turn, was removed by Labshi-marduk who reigned but the portion of a year. He also met a sudden and unfortunate end and the succession was in a condition of anarchy.
Being backed by the army, Nabonidus, who according to most accounts was the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, saved the throne and 321 established himself in power. Having the complete confidence and trust of the military, he established his dominion and reigned from 555 B. C. to 538.
But in the year 538, Cyrus the Great captured Babylon and overran the entire kingdom. Cyrus reigned until 529 and was followed by Cambyses. In 521, Cambyses was succeeded by Darius who, in turn, gave place to Xerxes.
Thus we have a complete and fairly accurate record of those stirring days that followed Nebuchadnezzar. But in all profane history there was no record of a king by the name of Belshazzar. Yet a surprising portion of the Book of Daniel is given over to the events and incidents in the life and reign of this “mythical” king. According to the critics, such historical inaccuracy was sufficient to condemn the manuscript. Upon these and lesser grounds, therefore, criticism tore Daniel out of the Old Testament and denied him any place in the records of credible historians.
Had the hopeful enemies of faith waited but a few short years, they might have saved themselves all this work and trouble. So thoroughly has the voice of archeology accredited the accuracy of Daniel’s writings, that those who foolishly surrendered their faith in the historicity of this Book, have been forced to replace the disputed record, 322 and Daniel has been vindicated as has no other questioned writer of antiquity.
To bring a brief and simple refutation of this critical argument concerning alleged discrepancies, we shall go back to the primary argument.
The reign of Nebuchadnezzar was characterized by a recrudescence of architecture and busy years of building. The great king spent his enormous revenues in the construction of public buildings, and the land blossomed under his influence and sway. It was inevitable that the delvings at the site of Babylon should have brought to light some of the palaces and works of this great kingdom. It was the custom among the Babylonian builders to mark their public buildings, even as we do in our present culture. Upon the cornerstone of our city hall or court house, we engrave the name and purpose of the building, with the date of its erection. Over the doorways of our libraries and public buildings we chisel deeply into the building stones the name of the building and a brief dedication. It seemed to be almost providential that one of the first great marble palaces discovered in the ruins of Babylon was designated by the builders themselves as “The Place of Learning.” There captive princes were taught the learning of Chaldea.
This one discovery reopened the whole case of the credibility of Daniel. His historicity 323 was questioned primarily upon the grounds that such schools did not exist, and captives were not so treated. The foundational vindication of Daniel that emerged from the dust of countless centuries, caused a re-examination of the entire structure that criticism had reared against his integrity. The result was a complete vindication of Daniel and his record.
The argument of philology also turned against its producers and showed that their case against Daniel was baseless. It has been shown that eight of the eleven alleged Greek words in Daniel’s manuscript are Sumerian and not Hellenistic. At one time the Sumerian language was the universal language of ancient diplomacy. As French was the language of international correspondence until recent times, when it has been largely displaced by English, so most of the courts of antiquity conducted much of their business in the Sumerian tongue. This custom, however, was discontinued by the time of the Persian conquest. If there is any value in the argument of philology for the dating of a manuscript, the evidence is conclusive that Daniel could not have written after the time of Nebuchadnezzar, for the Sumerian language was no longer in use from that time on.
The three bona fide Greek words that do occur in Daniel’s writings are an evidence 324 for his accuracy and historical fidelity, rather than a source of criticism, as has been implied. These three words are the names of musical instruments that were Greek in origin. The language of music was and is universal and it did not take generations for such words to penetrate to the courts of other nations. As an instance, the reader may remember that the seven-stringed harp was invented by the Greek poet Terpander. Assur-bani-pal died twenty-five years after the invention of this harp. He shows it, however, upon his monuments, and the statement is made that one was buried with the king. The Babylonian records depict this harp under its Greek name. Thus we see that instead of taking centuries for a Greek word to reach Babylon, this word had become a household word in a few short years. So the argument of philology turns out to be a boomerang which returns to smite the critic who hurled it.
The tales that are told by dead men who have no purpose in deceiving the living, not only enhance our understanding of this disputed text, but bring to us irrefutable evidence of its scrupulous accuracy. The case for Daniel’s vindication is even more graphically presented when we come to the realm of these sections of alleged folklore and fable.
It is of course necessary that the careful scholar walk warily so as not to over-emphasize 325 the facts at his disposal. There is a tendency among those who have a justified confidence in the Book of God to allow their natural elation over the illuminating vindication wrought for the Scripture by archeology to result in an unfortunate over-emphasis. Here is where we face an illustration of such a tendency.
In one of the earlier excavations at Babylon a peculiar building was uncovered which at first sight appeared to be a firing kiln in which bricks or pottery might be baked. It was rounded in the typical shape common to the ancient beehive, which is preserved even among some of our kilns of the present generation. When the inscription was deciphered that designated the purpose of the building, however, it was startling to read, “This is the place of burning where men who blasphemed the gods of Chaldea died by fire.” The tremendous significance of this discovery becomes at once apparent. The tendency would be to explain with delight, “We have discovered the fiery furnace where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego walked with the Son of God.” Such an application of this fact, however, would not quite be warranted. This may or may not have been the Scriptural site of that great miracle. We can say, however, that the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace can no longer be consigned to the columns of mythology and dismissed 326 as simple folklore. This discovery has showed us without doubt that there was such a furnace as Daniel depicts. It was customary to punish blasphemy in this fashion, and the Chaldean monuments and annals are replete with instances of men being burned alive, who had angered the king or rebelled against his sovereignty.
So, then, the implacable, unrelenting voice of archeology penetrates the innermost retreats of higher criticism to destroy, in this instance, their familiar and favorite argument of folklore and mythology.
No less dramatic and interesting was the accidental experience of the famed excavator Dieulafoy, who fell into what at first sight would have been called an ancient well. Being rescued by his companions from his uncomfortable, but in nowise dangerous, situation, they proceeded with their work to the point of identification. The well turned out to be a pit which was used as an open cage for wild animals, and upon the curb was found the inscription, “The place of execution where men who angered the king died torn by wild animals.”
Once again we must tread cautiously, for we cannot say with dogmatic finality, “This is the place of Daniel’s experience.” We can say, however, with positive assurance that there was such a pit of execution, and the only unusual feature in Daniel’s experience 327 was that he came out alive under the defense and protection of the God whom he served.
In the excavation of the palace at Shushan, an ancient record was uncovered giving a list of four hundred eighty-four men of high degree who thus died in a den of lions. The name of Daniel was not found among them. This might be accepted as collateral evidence that Daniel escaped alive from that place of execution.
Even the strange experience of Nebuchadnezzar, who dreamed that he would be turned into a wild beast and roam the fields like an ox, has also been accredited. It will be remembered that the mighty monarch dreamed of a tree that stood in the center of the earth and grew to an unprecedented height. Its towering branches swept the heavens and from all the ends of the earth its foliage was visible. Fruit hung upon this tree that satisfied the needs of men, and the very beasts of the field shadowed themselves under its spreading branches. Even the fowls of the air dwelt safely therein, and all living things drew strength and protection from this mighty growth.
The dream continued to the point where a Holy One came down from heaven and ordered the destruction of the tree. The trunk, the branches, the leaves, and the fruit were all to be swept away, but the stump and roots were to be undisturbed. The heart 328 was to be changed from a man’s heart, and the heart of an animal was to be given it until seven times should pass over that stump. This drastic action was explained by the Holy One as being intended to teach the high and lordly king that only the Most High rules in the kingdom of man, and that He gives dominion to whomsoever He will. He has the right and authority to make the basest of men to sit in the places of highest power and to humble the most lordly.
Upon coming to Daniel with his troubled spirit, the king sought an interpretation of the dream. Daniel recounts that for the passing of an hour he was so astonished and troubled in heart he could not find the strength to speak. The king, whose kindly affection for Daniel is one of the wonders of that day, besought him to speak frankly and not to allow his affection and regard for Nebuchadnezzar to hinder him from telling the complete truth to the troubled king. Daniel’s interpretation was given in simple but graphic words: The tree which grew and reached the heavens, whose leaves, branches, and fruits sheltered and nurtured all flesh, was a symbol of the mighty Nebuchadnezzar. (It is true that in the day of Nebuchadnezzar he builded a world empire, as far as the cultured races of mankind extended.) But because of the high pride which was natural to the human heart over such great accomplishments, 329 the Most High God had decreed that the king should be humbled. He should forsake the councils and fellowship of men and sleep in the open fields, wet with the dew of heaven; imagining himself to be one with the beasts of the earth, Nebuchadnezzar was to learn humility.
Daniel then pleaded with the king that by repentance and restitution he should forsake his sins and dedicate himself to the pursuit of righteousness. Thus by showing mercy, he might receive grace and his iniquities be blotted out.
Twelve months later the prophetic dream was fulfilled. As the king strolled on the roof of his great palace, he surveyed the might of Babylon and boasted in his heart saying, “This great Babylon have I not myself built it; have I not erected this kingdom and this house by the might of my own power and for the honour of my majesty.” While this exalted boast was still echoing upon the king’s lips, there fell a voice from heaven which said that the hour of the fulfillment of the prophecy had come.
Madness fell upon Nebuchadnezzar, and he fled from the presence of men. Sleeping in the open fields and dwelling with the beasts of the earth, his hair grew as long as an eagle’s feathers and his nails became like the claws of a bird. During those seven years of the madness of Nebuchadnezzar, his faithful 330 counselors administered his kingdom, apparently in the earnest hope that the reason of the king would be restored. Their confidence was justified, for at the end of seven years the king recounts that he lifted up his eyes to heaven and understanding returned to him. Thereupon he blessed the Most High God and swore that he would bless and honour Him that liveth forever. He confessed that the dominion of God is an everlasting dominion and His kingdom is eternal. His psalm of praise exalted Almighty God above the reach of men.
When his reason had thus been restored, the king again occupied the throne of Babylon and profited by this experience. The glory and honour of his kingdom he henceforth attributed unto the majesty and kindness of God. The king testified personally that the words of God are true and His judgments righteous. He turned to monotheism, and became the greatest convert, perhaps, that Daniel had made in all of his ministry.
This brief account of those amazing seven years is given by Daniel in the fourth chapter of his great prophecy. The literal words of the king are preserved for us in that historical record. This is perhaps the most outstanding instance of critical repudiation of the text that we have in the Old Testament. The whole record was uncompromisingly declared 331 to be a fabrication of a vivid imagination.
It fell to the lot of the great Sir Henry Rawlinson to find the original document wherein Nebuchadnezzar tells this episode exactly as Daniel had given it.
The most dramatic and astonishing vindication of the integrity of the text that the Book of Daniel has sustained, providentially occurred in that field of criticism which was supposed to be the strongest evidence that criticism possessed. This was in the realm of the historical accuracy of the Book of Daniel. The basis of the critical contention was right to a certain extent. Profane history possessed no record of a king in Babylon by the name of Belshazzar. When the period of anarchy in Babylon ended by means of the military coup that placed Nabonidus upon the throne, it took a short while to quiet the realm and reëstablish the authority of the crown. Nabonidus then gave himself to a period of construction and rehabilitation. In the course of his work on the fortifications of his capital city, Nabonidus was strengthening the walls at certain neglected points. Delving deeply, to buttress the foundations, he came upon the ruins of an ancient palace which had been built centuries before by Narum-sin.
The discovery so delighted king Nabonidus that he became a confirmed archeologist. He reconstructed this palace of Narum-sin and 332 turned it into a museum of antiquity. The delight of discovery drove the energetic Nabonidus into expeditions far and wide. The administration of the kingdom became of secondary importance to him. He had a son whose name appears in the ancient records as “Belt-sar-utzar,” which is given in the record of Daniel as Bel-shazzar. Upon the thirtieth birthday of his son, Nabonidus made him regent, and the throne of Babylon was thenceforth occupied jointly by Nabonidus and Bel-shazzar. Because the more common form is familiar to our readers, we will from this point on designate him by the Biblical name of Belshazzar.
The decrees and laws were signed, of course, by the seal of Nabonidus, the senior monarch, but the practical administration was left in the hands of the regent. This will explain why Belshazzar, wishing to honour Daniel for the interpretation of the writing upon the wall, with which we shall deal later, offered to make him the third ruler of the kingdom. This, of course, is eminently unorthodox! It was always the custom in antiquity, if records can be trusted, to honour a man by giving him the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage and making him ruler over half the kingdom. Belshazzar could not go so far as this. Nabonidus, his father, was the number one ruler as long as he lived. Belshazzar, the regent, was the second ruler 333 of the realm. Therefore, if Daniel became prime minister and had an office second in authority to Belshazzar, he would be the third ruler in the kingdom.
How amazing indeed is the historical accuracy of this ancient Book! These writers were faultless in their efforts to keep the Scripture in line with the historical facts. In this case they have been inspired even in their choice of numerical descriptions in the honours conferred upon their heroic characters.
So now we peer into ancient Babylon through the telescope of archeology and we see a quaint situation. Nabonidus, the kind and able monarch, fascinated with the study of antiquities, has left the active control of the kingdom to his son and heir, Belshazzar. The prince regent, however, was not able to stand prosperity. He seems to have degenerated into a drunken profligate who spent all of his time in the dubious pleasures of sin. The administration of the kingdom fell on evil days during the brief span of time that Belshazzar was in authority. As nearly as we can build an accurate and credible chronology from the now available records of Babylon, Belshazzar became regent in 541 B. C., and in the year 538 B. C. the Babylonian dynasty disappeared.
In those three years great and marvelous events were being shaped in the womb of 334 time. Cyrus, thereafter called the Great, had previously begun his phenomenal rise to power. Apparently he had been born a minor prince in an obscure tribe of the Medes, but was endowed with genius and brilliancy from his early youth. The picture that is now painted of Cyrus, as we see him in the treasured records, depicts this fascinating personality engaged first of all in welding the scattered families of the Medes into a close, binding organization that made them a power. So rapid was his climb to dominion, there is no other explanation to account for the phenomenon than that of Isaiah, who in his forty-fifth chapter, states that the Lord God Almighty Himself had raised Cyrus to the position of world dominion. This prophecy we shall refer to later; but our present purpose is to show the conjunction of Cyrus with Belshazzar.
We come to a period of time when the records are fragmentary, but it is evident now that Cyrus the Mede became naturalized as a Persian that he might occupy that throne and combine it with his own kingdom. When the youthful Cyrus had combined Media and Persia into one great dominion, a new world empire was born, although it was not immediately apparent. After a number of successful forays and campaigns that enlarged his possessions and strengthened his position until he felt himself to be well nigh invincible, 335 the ambitious Cyrus turned his eyes toward Babylon. He realized that if he possessed Babylon, he would indeed be the master of the earth.
Cyrus is reported to have sent an ambassador to Nabonidus saying, “Come thou under my yoke and I will be thy protection and defense.” The modern system of ‘muscling in’ is supposed to be a development of the racketeers of our generation. These modern pragmatists, however, are merely amateur performers at an old game, at which the ancients were masters. This invitation of Cyrus, of course, could be interpreted only one way. In the vernacular of the modern day, it was a case of surrender, “or else.” When the Persian ambassador arrived at the court of Babylon, Nabonidus was absent on one of his many expeditions. Belshazzar, as usual, was in the midst of a drunken orgy and was more concerned with the hilarity of the hour than with the future safety of the kingdom. With that ill-guided and perverse humour which is characteristic of the insanity of drunkenness, the Regent conceived a brilliant jest. He caused the ambassador to be hewed into pieces and packed into a basket which was returned to Cyrus with a note saying, “This we will do to you and your army if you invade our empire.”
When this insult was delivered to Cyrus, the outraged king was so wild with indignation 336 that he could not contain himself long enough to assemble his army. He ordered Darius the chief of his bodyguard, who was one of his Median counselors and companions, to assemble an advance force and lay siege to the city. While Darius invested the city, Cyrus was to follow with the balance of his cohort. Thus the scene was set for the most singular episode of those stirring days.
It occurred on the birthday of Belshazzar, which marked the beginning of the third year of his regency. The ignoble king had gathered to himself all the lords and ladies of his court, the thousand dissolute companions who were the fellows-in-drunkenness of this king. Belshazzar again conceived a drunken jest, which struck him as highly humourous. In the midst of their debauch, he ordered that the sacred vessels, which his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, should be brought to the table to be used as flagons for their drinking bout. This was done, and as this godless and idolatrous crew drank from the holy implements dedicated to the God of Israel, they toasted the idols of Babylon and sang their praise.
Even while they were thus engaged, according to the fifth chapter of Daniel, a hand appeared which wrote on the wall and pronounced the doom of the kingdom. Almost at this exact hour, Darius, the counselor, 337 friend and commander of the vanguard of Cyrus’ army, appeared before the walls of Babylon!
To the surprise of the great Median general, the gates of the city were open. This is according to his own record. It being the birthday of Belshazzar, the entire city was celebrating in a fashion made popular and characteristic by the debauched ruler. Wine had been provided for the guards that they also might share in the happy celebration of the king’s natal day. The drunken soldiers had failed to close the city gates with the coming of nightfall, and by the time Darius appeared before the city, they were in a stupor of drunkenness. The able Mede, skilled in all the arts of ancient warfare, moved swiftly, well knowing the value of a surprise attack. His company, although few in number when compared to the complete might of the armed forces of Cyrus, was sufficient to hold the city, if it could be gained.
Daring men fell upon the drunken guards and slew them. Leaving a small company to guard the gate and keep it open, Darius’ troops swept through the city to the very palace of Belshazzar. Slaying all whom they met upon the way, they fell upon the royal company with a shock of complete surprise. Scarcely had the voice of Daniel finished interpreting the words that the hand of God had written upon the wall, when the sword 338 of Darius fulfilled the prophecy by slaying Belshazzar. Darius caused the head of Belshazzar to be sent to Cyrus with a grim and brief note, saying “The kingdom is thine. Do thou enter.” When Cyrus, therefore, came with his mighty company, the city already had been captured by Darius and Cyrus had only to make a triumphal entry.
In the meantime, Nabonidus heard that his kingdom was invaded, so he gathered a force and marched to the relief of Babylon. When he arrived, however, he found that the city was already in the possession of Cyrus. Acting with characteristic wisdom, he laid down his arms, surrendered to Cyrus and cast himself upon the mercy of the great king. He was well received, and lived as an honoured guest in the court of Cyrus until he died a natural death several years later.
Cyrus ruled Babylon through Darius, his counselor and friend, whose courage and strategy were rewarded when the king made him satrap of Babylon. Herein is found a reconciliation of the apparent contradiction between the two statements made by Darius and Cyrus concerning the fate of the king of Babylon. Although the critics never bothered to notice such, archeology has its difficulties as well as has Scripture.
Darius tersely recounts, “In the night that I captured Babylon, I slew the king.”
The annalistic tablet of Cyrus, however, 339 contains this note, “In the day that I entered Babylon, I made the king my captive.”
The contradiction is more fancied than real. The two generals are speaking about two different kings! Darius killed King Belshazzar; Cyrus made King Nabonidus his captive and friend.
Because of the insult that Belshazzar had offered to his majesty, Cyrus caused the Regent’s name to be stricken from all the available records and thus Belshazzar’s name passed out of history and faded from the memory of men. For twenty-five hundred years the only record of the name of Belshazzar that was preserved for posterity was found in the writings of Daniel. This very historic accuracy of Daniel was the source of a great deal of the critical rejection of his notable writing!
The first discovery in archeology that shed light upon these events was the prayer cylinder of Nabonidus. Upon the ascension of Belshazzar to the regency of the kingdom, Nabonidus caused to be engraved in all the temples of Bel a prayer for the protection, praise, and prosperity of his son, Belt-sar-utsar. In the excavations at Mukkayyar, one of the great buildings uncovered was the temple of the moon god. In each of the four corners of the building, Nabonidus, who had rebuilt the temple, had caused a clay cylinder to be buried containing the record of the work. On this cylinder, which dedicated the 340 rebuilding of an ancient temple which was originally constructed about seventeen centuries before the day of Nabonidus, the kindly king engraved the prayer for his son and heir, to which we have previously referred.
The name of the moon god was Sin, and he was one of the chief deities of the land of Babylon. The wording on the cylinder that particularly interests the student of historical accuracy is found in these words: “Oh, Sin, thou lord of the gods, thou king of the gods of heaven and of earth, and of the gods of the gods, who dwellest in heaven, when thou enterest with joy into this temple, may the good fortune of the temples E-sagil, E-zida and E-gish-shirgal, the temples of thine exalted godhead be established at thy word. And set thou the fear of thine exalted godhead in the hearts of my people, that they sin not against thine exalted godhead, and let them stand fast like the heavens. And as for me, Nabonidus, the king of Babylon, protect thou me from sinning against thine exalted godhead and grant thou me graciously a long life and in the heart of Belshazzar, my first born son, the offspring of my loins, set the fear of thine exalted godhead so he may commit no sin and that he may be satisfied with the fullness of life.”
In the British Museum, Table Case “G” in the magnificent Babylonian Room contains 341 these cylinders, which are numbered 91,125 to 91,128; the cylinders of Nabonidus are many. Some of them recount his building operations, while others give the record of his discoveries of some of the great monuments of antiquity in the search for which he spent so much of his time and treasure. Perhaps no single event in the long records of archeology so startled and delighted the careful students whose interest was in the authority of the Word of God, as did this discovery of the name of Belshazzar. In one magnificent demonstration archeology thus accredited the history included in the prophecies of Daniel, and shattered the conclusions of criticism beyond the possibility of recovery.
Also in this same section and case of the British Museum, there is a portion of a baked clay cylinder inscribed by Cyrus. This bears the Museum number of 90,920 and is a priceless record. We are tempted to believe in the providential preservation of this fragment, since the balance of the tablet has been destroyed and is missing. In this particular record, Cyrus describes his conquest of Babylon, following a recital of some of the chief preliminary events in the early part of his reign. He ascribes his good success to the god Marduk. He tells how he had forced all nations to accept his standard until finally, under divine command, Marduk 342 caused him to go to Babylon. Because of the significance of this statement and its bearing upon our foregoing paragraphs, we reproduce this much of the words of Cyrus, “Marduk the great lord, the protector of his people beheld his good deeds and his righteous heart with joy. He commanded him to go to Babylon and he caused him to set out on the road to the city and like a friend and ally, he marched by his side; and his troops with our weapons girt about them, marched with him in countless numbers like the waters of a flood. Without battle and without fighting, Marduk made him enter into his city of Babylon; he spared Babylon tribulation and Nabonidus the king who feared him not, he delivered into his hands.”
The Babylonian sources of the British Museum also contain an amazing number of highly important documents which cover every year of the reign of Cyrus in Babylon, namely, B. C. 538 to 529. These records are concerned with commercial transactions, legal business and documents that deal with the personal and public life of the people. Such homely affairs as a deed recording a loan of three thousand bundles of onions from one man to another is legally dated by the year of the ascendency of Cyrus. The apprenticeship of slaves to various masters in the arts and sciences, the worship of the people, the blossoming of prosperity under the firm but 343 kind rule of Cyrus, all make up a wonderful picture of those days and times. Therein are included apparently unconscious references to the historic events that are of such tremendous interest to those who today read the Word of God in the light of this historical illumination.
There are, of course, also many private and public letters preserved from this period which are found in Table Case “H” of the Babylonian Room, where they are available to the student who cares to delve into the minute evidences of those days and times.
We shall have to condense a great deal of this material, however, into the one simple statement that the Book of Daniel is historically accredited by these voluminous records! Thus there is only one possible basis whereupon criticism of Daniel may be continued today. In all kindness, but in absolute assurance, we must say that the rejection of the historicity of Daniel by our generation can be predicated only upon complete ignorance of an amazing body of historical knowledge that is available to the student. Either that, or there is a sad desire in the heart of the critic to frustrate the purpose of the Word of God even at the expense of the surrender of personal integrity. The original construction of the case against Daniel did appear formidable at first. It has turned out, however, to be a tissue of 344 falsehood, and Daniel has emerged from the den of liars unharmed and under the continuing protection of God, even as he came forth in safety from the den of lions.
With the coming of Cyrus, the Assyrian and Babylonian dynasties ended and Persian history began. Much of this period of the Persian sway was contemporaneous with the times of the Maccabees, and is of tremendous importance and interest to the student of the history of Israel. But since that same period parallels the four hundred silent years, during which the voice of God was not heard through the prophets, and sacred revelation is awaiting the appearance of Jesus Christ, there is very little of archeological value from those years that can be useful to the establishment of our present thesis.
The exception to this would be seen in the case of the return of the people to rebuild Jerusalem, and to establish a Jewish culture, so that Jesus could be born in the land of Israel, and minister to the people of Israel, as the prophecies had foretold. The events of this return are told in the prophecies of Ezra and Nehemiah, which are abundantly substantiated by secular evidence, and have thus not been questioned or disputed by criticism to any major extent. Cyrus has left an account of this return, and the great king seemed to be vastly elated over the opportunity 345 thus to show kindness to the people of Israel.
According to the record that is generally received, Cyrus the Great signed the decree authorizing the return of the children of Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple of God, primarily because of one of those fascinating anticipations of coming events which is the peculiar field of prophecy.
It is recorded that the scribe Zerubbabel entered the presence of Cyrus and with the grandiloquent salutation of that day bowed himself and said, “Oh king live forever! Be it known unto my lord the king that our God hath named him by name in the prophecy of His sacred writings generations before the king was born.” When Cyrus expressed a desire to inquire into this wonder, there was brought into his presence the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and to him was read the forty-fifth chapter. The opening verses of this chapter contained this statement:
“Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.
“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which 346 call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”
This is a significant prophecy indeed! Isaiah wrote these words about the year 712 B. C. Cyrus took over the dominion of Babylon 538 B. C. So in this ancient prophecy the conqueror is named by name some century and a half before he was born. His conquest of all nations was clearly delineated and the explanation was given that God had pre-named him for the sake of the thing that he should later do for Israel. Astounded and deeply moved by this evidence of divine favour, Cyrus wrote a notable decree which is preserved for us in these exact words:
“Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of Heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem, and whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the free-will offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
With this authority, the remnant returned 347 to start that magnificent epic of the history of Israel that climaxed with the coming of the Redeemer of whom also Isaiah had written.
There is a sense of frustration that is inevitable to any writer who attempts to cover so vast a subject as this present work in the limits of one small volume. The difficulty has not been in finding evidence to support the thesis that “dead men tell tales” which vindicate the historical infallibility of the Bible. We have been embarrassed by too much evidence! So we have sought to present only the most striking cases, such as can be confirmed by any reader, without the background of years of archeological education. Unlimited tons of material have been passed over with scarcely a mention, due to the limitation of time and space.
The author has hoped to achieve one purpose in this volume, namely, the arousing of a definite interest in the average reader which will cause that person to study the sacred page with understanding and appreciation of its force and authority. “These Scriptures,” said the Apostle Paul, “are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” It is imperative in the light of this purpose, that they be able to sustain their claim to divine origin as well. With the prayer that God will bless His Word to the salvation of the many in these closing days, we have thus offered you 348 the testimony of men long dead, whose words nevertheless live on in the records of tablets and tombs. And with those evidences, we have also an increased assurance in the infallible character of the Bible, and are historically justified in receiving it “as it is in truth, the Word of God.”
|Baikie, James||The Amarna Age|
|Baikie, James||Lands and People of the Bible|
|Baikie, James||A History of Egypt (Two Volumes)|
|Bennett, Charles W.||Christian Archeology|
|Blackman, A. M.||Luxor and Its Temple|
|Boscawen, W. St. Chad||The Bible and the Monuments|
|Boulton, W. H.||Egypt|
|Budge, E. A. Wallis||From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt|
|Budge, E. A. Wallis||Books on Egypt and Chaldaea|
|Budge, E. A. Wallis||The Literature of the Egyptian|
|Chiera||They Wrote on Clay|
|Clay, Albert T.||A Hebrew Deluge Story in Cuneiform|
|Clay, Albert T.||Amurru, the Home of the Northern Semites|
|Cobern, Camden M.||The New Archeological Discoveries|
|Deissman, Dr. Adolf||Light from the Ancient East|
|Delitzsch, Friedrich||Babel and Bible|
|Gadd, C. J.||A Sumerian Reading Book|
|Gadd, C. J.||History and Monuments of Ur|
|Gardiner, Alan H.||Egyptian Grammar|
|Garstang, J.||Burial Customs of the Ancient Egyptians|
|Garstang, J.||The Land of the Hittites|
|Goodspeed, George Stephen||A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians|
|Grenfell, B. P.||Tebtunis Papyri|
|A. S. Hunt|
|J. G. Smyly|
|Grenfell, B. P.||Greek Papyri|
|Habershon, Ada R.||The Bible and the British Museum|
|Hilprecht, Herman V.||Recent Research in Bible Lands|
|Hilprecht, Herman V.||Explorations in Bible Lands During the 19th Century|
|Hogarth, D. G.||Authority and Archeology, Sacred and Profane|
|Huffman, Prof. J. A.||Voices from Rocks and Dust Heaps of Bible Lands|
|Kennedy, Sir Alexander B. W.||Petra, Its History and Monuments|
|Kenyon, Frederic G.||Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts|
|King, L. W.||Assyrian Language (Vol. 5)|
|Koldewey, Robert||The Excavations at Babylon|
|Kyle, Melvin Grove||The Deciding Voice of the Monuments in Biblical Criticism|
|Kyle, Melvin Grove||Excavating Kirjathsepher’s Ten Cities|
|Laurie, Rev. Thomas||Assyrian Echoes of the Word|
|Layard, Austen Henry||Layard’s Discoveries at Nineveh|
|Lynch, W. F.||Expedition to the Dead Sea and The Jordan|
|Marston, Sir Charles||The Bible is True|
|Marston, Sir Charles||New Bible Evidence|
|Martin, Percy F.||Egypt—Old and New|
|Maspero, Gaston||New Light on Ancient Egypt|
|Maspero, Gaston||Egypt—Ancient Sites and Modern Scenes|
|Milligan, George||Greek Papyri|
|Miller, H. S.||General Biblical Introduction|
|Moulton, James Hope||From Egyptian Rubbish Heaps|
|Murray, Margaret A.||Egyptian Temples|
|Nelson, Byron C.||The Deluge Story in Stone|
|Orr, James||The Bible of the Old Testament|
|Orr, James||The Bible Under Trial|
|Petrie, Flinders||Measures and Weights|
|Petrie, Flinders||Royal Tombs|
|Petrie, Flinders||Researches in Sinai|
|Pilter, W. T.||The Pentateuch. A Historical Record.|
|Politeyan, J.||Discoveries from the Nile to the Tiber|
|Ramsay, Sir William||St. Paul, the Traveller and the Roman Citizen|
|Luke the Historian|
|The Trustworthiness of the New Testament in the Light of Recent Discovery|
|Rawlinson, Canon||Egypt and Babylonia|
|St. Clair, George||Creation Records|
|Smith, George||The Chaldean Account of Genesis|
|Smith, G. Elliott and Warren R. Dawson||Egyptian Mummies|
|Tischendorf, Dr. C.||Codex Sinaiticus|
|Todd, J. A.||The Banks of the Nile|
|Weigall, Arthur||The Life and Times of Akhnaton|
|Weigall, Arthur E. P.||A Guide to the Antiquities of Upper Egypt|
|Wiseman, P. J.||New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis|
|Woolley, Sir Leonard||Abraham. (Recent Discoveries and Hebrew Origins)|
|Woolley, Sir Leonard||Ur of the Chaldees|
|Woolley, Sir Leonard||The Sumerians|
|Worrell, William H.||A Study of Races in the Ancient Near East|
|Wright, G. F.||Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History|
|Wright, William||The Empire of the Hittites|
Publications of the British Museum:
A Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities
The Babylonian Story of the Deluge and the Epic of Gilgamesh
The Babylonian Legends of the Creation and the Fight Between Bel and the Dragon
The Book of the Dead
The Mount Sinai Manuscript of the Bible
The New Gospel Fragments
The Rosetta Stone
The Bearing of Archeological and Historical Research Upon the New Testament. By the Rev. Parke P. Flournoy.
The Witness of Archeology to the Bible. By A. M. Hodgkin.
Biblical History in the Light of Archeological Discovery Since A. D. 1900. By the Rev. D. E. Hart-Davies.
The Value of the Spade. By the Rev. M. G. Kyle.
The Syriac Forms of New Testament Proper Names. By F. C. Burkitt.