Evidence of the Accuracy of Jeremiah

So often, Christians are told that various events of the Old Testament never happened. Yet, as time passes, so many of the events are confirmed by archaeology that many Christians are satisfied to wait out the naysayers since further study regularly seems to come up with evidence confirming the accuracy of the scriptures.

On July 10 came another bit of external evidence confirming the accuracy of at least some of the Old Testament writings. According to British Museum Makes Important Breakthough in Bibilical Archaeology, a cuneiform inscription on a small Babylonian clay tablet has confirmed the existence of a minor character described in the Book of Jeremiah as an officer serving King Nebuchadnezzar.

The clay document is dated to the 10th year of Nebuchadnezzar II (595 BC) and names the official, Nebo-Sarsekim. According to chapter 39 of the Book of Jeremiah, he was present at the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC with Nebuchadnezzar himself.

In 601 BC King Nebuchadnezzar marched to the Egyptian frontier where the Babylonian and Egyptian armies clashed with both sides suffering heavy losses. Over the next few years the struggle between the Babylonians and Egyptians continued and in the course of these campaigns Jerusalem was captured (597 BC).

To find a cuneiform reference to someone connected with these remarkable times is rare but evidence from non-Biblical sources for the existence of any individual named in the Bible - other than kings - is incredibly rare.

* * *

Nebo-Sarsekim is described in the book of Jeremiah as 'chief eunuch' (as the title is now translated, rather than 'chief officer'). Dr Jursa’s translation of the Babylonian tablet proves that his name was really pronounced as Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, and gives the same title, 'chief eunuch', in cuneiform script, thereby confirming the accuracy of the Biblical account.

"Reading Babylonian tablets is often laborious, but also very satisfying: there is so much new information yet to be discovered," said Dr Jursa, who is Associate Professor at the University of Vienna.

"But finding something like this tablet, where we see a person mentioned in the Bible making an everyday payment to the temple in Babylon and quoting the exact date is quite extraordinary."

I do want to be careful, however. At least one blogger has raised good questions regarding the identification of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin with the Biblical 'chief eunuch'. His concerns, in my opinion, seem legitimate. Hence, I wouldn't parade this as absolutely proven that the identification is accurate, but I would (and am) suggest(ing) that the identification is probably accurate.

Comments

John said…
The identification is nonetheless quite probable. See my post on the tablet for details, and Chris Heard's new post.

John Hobbins
www.ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com

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