September 10, 2008
Many Christians (and others) likely wonder how many of the kings of ancient Israel and Judah are also mentioned and in secular historical accounts. Do we know (from secular accounts) that these kings really lived? The answer is Yes. The September/October, 2008 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review has a brief article noting that 16(!) of the biblical kings of Israel and Judah have also been mentioned by name in ancient secular sources. The brief article is actually found on p. 76 under the heading “Strata Answers,” but the question introducing the article is found on p. 18.
The BAR article states that there is a “large and ever-growing body of extrabiblical evidence that confirms the existence of well over a dozen kings of ancient Israel and Judah,” and it adds that this secular evidence also provides “general corroboration for the sequence of kings outlined for both Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Kings.” The Assyrian cuneiform records offer the most secular confirmation about Israel and Judah’s kings. The article notes that seven kings of Israel (Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Joash, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea) and three kings of Judah (Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh) are mentioned by name in the ancient Assyrian records. BAR also adds that ancient Babylonian records record a text reference to King Jehoiachin of Judah involving commercial oil shipments. The article further notes the ancient Mesha Stone of Moab mentions the “house of David” (confirming David originated an entire dynasty of kings) while an ancient Tel Dan stela mentions King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah. Earlier blogs have also noted that seals of some of the royal officials (named in the Bible) who served other ancient Israelite and Jewish kings (Jeroboam and Uzziah) have also been found in various digs, strongly confirming that the kings which they served were, indeed, real persons who ruled over real kingdoms. The fact that 25-30 centuries after these kings lived, there is still evidence of their reigns is really remarkable. Given that the Holy Land region and Jerusalem have been conquered (and destroyed) many times by many empires and invaders, the original body of physical evidence had to once be quite large. With each of the many successive destructions that occurred, more physical evidence of the biblical period would have been destroyed each time.
It must really bother the biblical “minimalists” (those who believe the Bible’s accounts are not literally true) each time more evidence is found affirming that biblical personalities were real people! This information should serve to strengthen the faith of all who believe in the literal truths of the Bible. As the most recent item at this Ten Tribes blog also noted, King Hezekiah’s tunnel was long mentioned in the Bible as a historical fact millennia before modern man finally located the tunnel and realized that the biblical account about the tunnel was literally true! You will not see this information affirming the Bible’s narratives in any secular (“evolution-based”) school curriculum, but the evidence should be made known to all.