Skip to comments.Tiny Tablet Provides Proof For Old Testament
Posted on 07/10/2007 5:48:08 PM PDT by blam
Tiny tablet provides proof for Old Testament
By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
Last Updated: 7:33pm BST 10/07/2007
The sound of unbridled joy seldom breaks the quiet of the British Museum's great Arched Room, which holds its collection of 130,000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets, dating back 5,000 years.
But Michael Jursa, a visiting professor from Vienna, let out such a cry last Thursday. He had made what has been called the most important find in Biblical archaeology for 100 years, a discovery that supports the view that the historical books of the Old Testament are based on fact.
Searching for Babylonian financial accounts among the tablets, Prof Jursa suddenly came across a name he half remembered - Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, described there in a hand 2,500 years old, as "the chief eunuch" of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon.
Prof Jursa, an Assyriologist, checked the Old Testament and there in chapter 39 of the Book of Jeremiah, he found, spelled differently, the same name - Nebo-Sarsekim.
Nebo-Sarsekim, according to Jeremiah, was Nebuchadnezzar II's "chief officer" and was with him at the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC, when the Babylonians overran the city.
The small tablet, the size of "a packet of 10 cigarettes" according to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, is a bill of receipt acknowledging Nabu-sharrussu-ukin's payment of 0.75 kg of gold to a temple in Babylon.
The tablet is dated to the 10th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, 595BC, 12 years before the siege of Jerusalem.
Evidence from non-Biblical sources of people named in the Bible is not unknown, but Nabu-sharrussu-ukin would have been a relatively insignificant figure.
"This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find," Dr Finkel said yesterday. "If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power."
Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing and was commonly used in the Middle East between 3,200 BC and the second century AD. It was created by pressing a wedge-shaped instrument, usually a cut reed, into moist clay.
The full translation of the tablet reads: (Regarding) 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
I never doubted, so can't say I'm surprised. Thanks for the post of this.
I don’t see what all the fuss is about. No thinking person has ever asserted that the Bible is devoid of factual history. The question is how much of it is factual, given that its various books have been transmitted by a combination of oral tradition and hand-copied text, with most books undergoing plenty of rounds of both.
Insignificant and non-controversial details like the one mentioned here are the least likely to be changed to accommodate the political or religious agenda of the re-teller or re-copier. Many such details were no doubt dropped or mistakenly changed along the way, but it’s hardly surprising that some made it through the process unchanged.
Have you read any Palestinian-authored history texts lately?
Interesting...now that the experts believe Jeremiah is fact based, can we postulate that Genesis 1:1 is true?
Remember the story of Lot's wife ~ it's an ancient tale also told in pictoglyphs in Northern Finland and nearby Russia.
It may be 7500 years old ~ which is 3 times as old as this item.
The Bible doesn't really explain why Lot's wife turned to (rock) salt, but the petroglyphs explain it clearly as a consequence of her failing to find husbands for her daughters.
Eventually we are going to be able to pin down the sources for the stories Moses thought suitible for inclusion in the Bible he put together.
"This is how Jerusalem was taken: 1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. 2 And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. 3 Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon. 4 When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king's garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed toward the Arabah."
Some of the 'more mudance' parts of the scriptures read just like this. Many wonder why such things would be present. One obvious reason: to lend historic context to people, places, events, and time. And as this researcher has found: it holds together with outside sources.
Yes, a notable find indeed.
Although “scientific biblical criticism” could be traced back earlier, it really took off in Germany about 1870. There was a political push behind it: Bismark funded positions in German universities as one aspect of his campaign of persecution against the Catholic Church, which he thought necessary to turn Germany into a modern state.
On no particular scientific evidence, most of the Bible was declared to be fictional, or to have been pieced together from various unreliable sources.
Since then, however, archaeological discoveries have consistently confirmed the truth of the biblical narrative. This discovery is fascinating precisely because it confirms the existence of a minor figure, thus confirming that the author of Jeremiah knew what he was talking about, and was not some scribe working hundreds of years after the fact and inventing details on his whim.
Some parts of the Bible, of course, are stories, and so indicate themselves to be. But things like the Exodus from Egypt or the Babylonian exile and Persian restoration are historical facts, constantly being confirmed by small pieces of archaeological evidence.
He was a Republican Congressman? (sarcasm, mostly)
Sure, as soon as you provide the cuneform tablet written a few years before the creation that substantiates it...
Thanks so much blam, for posting this interesting tid-bit!
To you two gals....ping!
You know, the "realists," the "scientific community," the "elite intelligensia", running our colleges, universities and many teaching in religious seminaries, etc.
They are way, way too smart for God.
Um, wouldn't that be 8 years before the seige of Jerusalem???
And the "chief officer" being the same as the "chief eunuch"?? No, thanks, I don't want the benefit package on that key-man employment contract...
And even if it were 100% the very same person, how does that verify any other part of the Old Testament?
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