Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1661 Psalm 122: A Psalm of Ascent by Gordon Govier

Gordon Govier

Gordon Govier

Last week I had three opportunities to share some thoughts about Psalm 122 and the archaeology of Jerusalem. One of those events was recorded, so I’m sharing a condensed version of that presentation on this week’s program.

The Psalms of Ascent were a part of the pilgrimage experience of Jewish worshippers traveling to the Temple in Jerusalem for the three festivals: Unleavened Bread (Passover), Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and Feast of Booths (Sukkot) [Deuteronomy 16:16]. In my short presentation I talk about some of the history of Jerusalem, as well as some of the biblical archaeology discoveries that connect Jerusalem with the biblical story.


1660 Clyde Billington – The 4 Room House, Slavery, and Selah

A 4 room house excavated near the Iron Age gate at Gezer.

A 4 room house excavated near the Iron Age gate at Gezer.

The Israelite 4 Room House is characteristic of Israelite settlements in the early Iron Age. Archaeologist Avraham Faust has an idea that this iconic home design is connected to women’s purity restrictions which were common in many ancient cultures. This is one of the topics under discussion on this program.

We also discuss the discovery of a cuneiform document that describes slavery in the region of Samaria, and we discuss some new archaeology taking place in the capital city of the Edomites: Selah.

1659 Clyde Billington – Horses and Dogs in the Bible

Horse figurines discovered recently in two different sites in Israel

Horse figurines discovered recently at two different sites in Israel

The recent discoveries of two separate horse figurines in northern Israel, reported in our magazine ARTIFAX, and an article about “Dogs in the Biblical World” in Biblical Archaeology Review, gave us the opportunity to talk about these two biblical species.

Typically we think of camels and donkeys as biblical animals, but horses are mentioned from Genesis to Revelation, and dogs are also mentioned in the biblical and apocryphal books. In this program, my ARTIFAX co-editor Clyde Billington and I discuss what the Bible and the archaeology has to say about horses and dogs.

1658 Clyde Billington – Tomb of the Kings May Reopen

Tomb of the Kings

Tomb of the Kings

The Tomb of the Kings was once thought to be the tomb of the ancient kings David and Solomon. Scholars today are pretty sure that’s not the case but they still don’t know whose tomb it actually was. Top candidates are Queen Helena of Adiabene, a first century convert to Judaism, or King Herod Agrippa I.

The government of France owns the tomb and is currently in discussions with the government of Israel about reopening it after all access was curtailed in 2010. The tomb was not widely accessible in 2008 when our Book & The Spade tour visited it.

On this program we also discussed several more archaeology news items from the news digests of the latest issue of our magazine ARTIFAX: the possible opening of the ruins of the Nea Church in Jerusalem, a winepress mosaic in the city of Korazin, and a coin of Herod Agrippa.

1657 Clyde Billington – Natan-Melech, King’s Servant

Seal impression bearing the name of Nathan-Melech

Seal impression bearing the name of Nathan-Melech

One of the most exciting discoveries announced in biblical archaeology so far this year is highlighted on the cover of the latest issue of our quarterly magazine ARTIFAX, a seal impression bearing the name of a man who is referenced in II Kings 23:11: Nathan-Melech. The seal impression, or bulla, was found in the ruins of a burned out administrative building dating to the 5th-6th century BC at a site known as the Givati Car Park excavation. This is a 12-year (so far) excavation just outside the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, next to the entrance to the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem.

The biblical reference and the text of the bulla both describe Nathan Melech as “servant of the king.” It might not be the same guy, but odds would say it probably is. Along with this bulla, an actual stamp seal was also found in approximately the same place, with the inscription “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu.” Ikar is not known from the Bible.

Also on this program, we discuss the 50-year anniversary of the Madeba Plains Project. This is an ongoing excavation involved three major sites in Jordan, handled principly by archaeologists connected with colleges of the Seventh Day Adventist Chuch. The Madeba Plains Project is widely regarded as an exemplary archaeological operation.


387 Easter in the Holyland 1993 with Helga Abraham

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

A special program to mark the Easter holiday, produced in 1993 by the Israel Broadcasting Service. Helga Abraham highlights the many pilgrims who come to Jerusalem for Easter, and the events in Jerusalem churches that highlight the holiday.

1655-1656 Douglas Petrovich – Questioning Moses

Douglas Petrovich

Douglas Petrovich

The new documentary Patterns of Evidence – The Moses Controversy asks a very good question: why don’t mainstream Bible experts and archaeologists believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, since there is so much internal evidence in the Bible (including the words of Jesus himself) that give Moses the credit?

Or, in other words, if we can’t trust the Bible on this one particular issue, why should we trust it in any other way?

The documentary interviews a number of Bible experts and archaeologists on both sides of the question. The most intriguing perhaps is Douglas Petrovich, professor of Biblical History and Exegesis at The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas. Petrovich’s book, The World’s Oldest Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script, makes the claim that the innovation of alphabetic language took place in Egypt, amongst the Israelites, in the time of Joseph. And that Moses could easily have written the biblical documents attributed to him.