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The Bible and Archaeology

Is there any archaeological evidence of kings mentioned in the Bible?

Yes. There are many artifacts associated with the reign of the infamous King Ahab. I Kings 22:39 (NRSV) reads, “Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built, and the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel?” Archaeologists believe they found the ivory house in Samaria, the capital city during Ahab’s reign. On the site of the house—or palace—archaeologists found several small ivory carvings. The carvings represent figures considered by the Israelites to be idols. This setting dovetails with the biblical record of Ahab’s idolatry and descriptions of his palace.

For decades, archaeologists searched for proof outside the Bible that King David existed. If he existed, archaeologists wanted to know if he was as major a ruler in real life as he was described in the Bible. The mention of the House of David in the Tel Dan Stele confirmed the existence of a ruler named David in that region. In 2012, a team of archaeologists announced that a site they had been excavating for the past several years was one of David’s fortified palaces. Located in Khirbet Qeiyafa, an ancient town about twenty miles from Jerusalem, the site dates from the tenth century B.C.E.—the time of King David. If this was one of David’s palaces, then the size and grandeur of the remains suggest that David was indeed a major figure. Among the ruins, the archaeologists have found thousands of animal bones (but no pig bones) and items suggestive of religion (none of which is an animal or human figurine). The presence of some clues and the absence of others suggest that this was the location of a distinctly Hebrew group.


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