The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, vol. 59

May 9, 1882

“The Authenticity of the Scriptures. (Concluded.)” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 59, 19, pp. 289, 290.

BY ELD. A. T. JONES

(Concluded.)

It is a historical fact that two hundred and eighty-two years before Christ, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek, at Alexandria in Egypt, and it there consisted of the same books that compose the Old Testament of to-day. “Whence it is evident that we still have them identical books which the most ancient Jews attested to be genuine.” ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.1

We shall not take up separately each book of the Old Testament, as that would extend this article further than would be proper, but only some of the leading ones, and as the writings of the whole Old Testament are so intimately connected, if we establish a portion of it, we confirm the validity of the whole. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.2

First we will notice the book of Daniel, and, as an introduction, offer a few lines from an editorial in the New York Independent: ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.3

“A few years ago the critics with one voice refused to see anything in it [the book of Daniel] more than an apocalyptic composition of the date of Antiochus Epiphanes. Eichorn, Bertholdt, Gesenius, De Wette, Lengerke, Ewald, and Hitzig, with the more moderate as well as the rationalistic critics, agreed in its late date, some being so precise as to fix it at 167 B.C. ‘There never was any Belshazzar,’ they exclaimed, and we could bring nothing to corroborate our written record. The replies made to them were feeble and unsatisfactory. But the monuments of the kings of Babylon began to be read a few years ago.” ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.4

The critics could assert with a great deal of assurance, that “there never was any Belshazzar,” because Berosus and Herodotus, the only authorities of any value on the subject, both gave a list of Babylonian kings, in neither of which was any Belshazzar named. Therefore, as the historians failed to mention him, “there never was any such” king. But the Babylonian inscriptions make all plain, and exactly confirm the Bible account. They declare that Nabu-Nahid (Nabonidius) with an army took the field against Cyrus, and left Belshazzar, his eldest son, in command of the city. Nabu-Nabid, being defeated by Cyrus, was compelled to take refuge in Borsippa, and Cyrus went on against Babylon and Belshazzar, and the city was taken, with Belshazzar, as recorded in Daniel 5. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.5

And this condition of affairs in Babylon is the only one that will agree with the record in Daniel; for Daniel was certainly made prime minister of the kingdom, the chain of gold being the insignia of that office. Yet for all his being prime minister, he is spoken of as the thirdruler in the kingdom. Daniel 5:7, 16, 20. How can this be? Thus: Nabu-Nabid, the first ruler, Belshazzar his son, the second ruler, and Daniel, prime minister, yet the third ruler. And in no other possible way can the records of Daniel be met; for his office was really the second in the kingdom. But how fully this illustrates the perfect accuracy of the Scriptures. Here is an important point in the history of Babylon, wholly passed over by the historians; yet Daniel records it exactly as it is, and after more than two thousand years the inscriptions of that king of Babylon declare that he is correct. This also fixes the date of the book of Daniel to the time that has been claimed for it, because there is no other tine in the world’s history when these points in Daniel could have been written. For shortly after, Babylon fell into decay, and these inscriptions were buried out of sight, and the historians made no mention of any of them; consequently they never could have been learned afterward; therefore they were learned in Babylon at the time when they transpired, and thus the claims of the book of Daniel are correctly placed, and absolutely fixed at the date 538 B.C. (For proofs as to Belshazzar, see Encyclopedia Britannica, ninth edition, article “Babylonia.”) The list of instruments mentioned in Daniel 3:5, 7, 15, is another proof, for this “very list is true to the time of Daniel, and would never have been thought of three centuries later.” In short, “every historical or social allusion in Daniel is borne out by the facts discovered.” ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.6

The book of Ezekiel gives another instance of the exactness of the Bible writers, and of being true to the times in which it was written. In chap. 23:14, 15, we read: “For when she saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea.” Of this also we may say that it “is true to the time of Ezekiel in the captivity in Babylon; and would never have been thought of later, nor in any other country. In Egypt, in Assyria, in Persia, and in Greece, their art was displayed in sculpture. From the gems upon which the carving was so minute as to suggest the employment of a magnifying-glass, to the colossal bulls that guarded the palace of Nineveh from the entrance of evil spirits, all, all was sculpture. But in Babylonia it was far different. “While the Assyrians had stone in abundance, the Babylonians were obliged to import it from a distance. Brick-clay, on the contrary, lay ready at hand. Where the Assyrians employed sculptured alabaster to ornament their buildings, the Babylonians contented themselves with enameled bricks, and painted plaster. Sculpturewas naturally developed by the one; just as painting was by the other; and ornamentation, which could be lavished on the exterior in Assyria, had to be confined to the interior in Babylon.” (Compare Ezekiel 8:8-10 with the text quoted above.) “The few bas-reliefs of Babylon that exist are small and inferior in execution; but brilliant coloring and a lavish use of the metals, made up for this want. The walls were covered with the most costly materials, and ‘images portrayed with vermilion’ excited the admiration of the stranger. The love of bright colors, in contrast with the sober hues of the Assyrian palaces, led also to the cultivation of gardens; and the hanging gardens of Babylon, raised upon tiers of arches, were one of the wonders of the world.” ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.7

At no time in the world’s history later than this, could such a thing as Ezekiel describes be said of the Babylonians. For only a little while afterward the kingdom of Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and Persians, who took possession of it, and these Babylonish peculiarities were lost to the world. But how plainly these words of Ezekiel bring before us the Babylon of his day, when Nebuchadnezzar reigned, whose utmost endeavors were put forth in the building and decoration of his capital city, when all the skill of his splendid artists was employed in blending the brilliant colors that ornamented the walls of his pleasant palaces, and Babylon sat as mistress of the world in that pitch of pride and grandeur, “the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency.” And by all this we know of a surety that the book of Ezekiel is correctly placed at B.C. 604-561. (Enc. Brit., art. Babylonia.) ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.8

Now we turn to the books of Kings and Isaiah. In Isaiah 36:1 and 2 Kings 18:13, we read: “Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.” This is placed in our Bibles at the date 713 B.C., which does not exactly correspond with the Assyrian inscriptions, but is only twelve years out of the way, being that much too early. The native monuments state that Sennacherib ascended the throne the 12th of Ab (part of Judy and August), 705 B.C., and place his invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. Again, in Isaiah 37:37, 38 and 2 Kings 19:36, 37, it is said: “So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went an returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezar his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.” The inscriptions declare that Sennacherib was “building a palace for himself at Nineveh on a grander scale than had ever been attempted before. His works were interrupted by his murder, in 681, by his two sons, who, however, soon found themselves confronted by the veteran army of Esarhaddon, their father’s youngest and favorite son, who, in January, 680, defeated them at Khanirabbat, and was proclaimed king.”—Enc. Brit., art. Babylonia. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 289.9

Here, then, is the confirmation of every point in these scriptures, and in this single instance the slight difference in the dates will bear nothing against the truthfulness of the narrative, nor against the general correctness of the time in which the books were written. Indeed, the Scripture narrative would seem to demand more time than is there given for these occurrences. The invasion, return, and murder of Sennacherib are all placed by the dates, within 710-9 B.C., which is hardly time enough, especially as it is said that he “returned and dwelt at Nineveh; and this short period would hardly justify the statement that he dwelt at Nineveh. But the native monuments remove all difficulty, by showing that he did actually dwell at Nineveh after his return, being employed in building a palace in honor of his god. In this, therefore, is proof that Isaiah and this part of Kings were written as far back as the former half of the seventh century B.C. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.1

The next point in the book of Second Kings is on the invasion of Samaria by Shalmaneser (chap. 18:9, 10): “Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. and at the end of three years they took it; even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.” The Bible chronology places this event “about 723 B.C.” And the tablet of Shalmaneser, from the ruins of Nineveh, assert that his reign was B.C. 727-722, and that the “chief event of his reign was the campaign against Samaria. The capture of that city, however, was reserved for his successor, Sargon, in 720.” This corresponds with the Scripture date exactly, as the attack was made about 723, and the siege continued three years, which gives the very date of the tablets of Shalmaneser. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.2

Besides extending this article to an immoderate length, it would be a too tedious task to give in full all the accounts confirming the Scripture record; therefore we shall mention the names, and give references to the passages of Scripture with which they correspond. The inscriptions declare that, in 710 B.C., Sargon, king of Assyria, overran Judea, and razed Ashdod to the ground (Isaiah 20:1); that a year after the Judean war by Sennacherib, Merodach-Baladan was in command at Babylon (Isaiah 39:1); 2 Kings 20:12); that in 740 B.C., Tiglathpileser, king of Assyria, overthrew the ancient kingdom of Damascus (2 Kings 16:9), and in his “inscriptions Ahaz of Judah appears among the names of those who acknowledged his sovereignty and paid tribute” (2 Kings 16:7-18; Enc. Brit., art. Ahaz); that in 730 B.C. he placed his vassal Hoshea on the throne of Samaria in the room of Pekah (2 Kings 15:30; 17:1); that Ben-hadad reigned in Damascus, while Ahab reigned in Israel, and that Hazael succeeded Ben-hadad (2 Kings 8:7-15). ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.3

No less accurate and circumstantial is the testimony of the “Moabite Stone,” discovered in August, 1808, and now familiar to many, which reads as follows:— ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.4

“I am Mesha, king of Moab [2 Kings 3:4]; the Dibonite, my father, reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father. Omri was king of Israel [1 Kings 16:16]; and be afflicted Moab many days, because Chemosh [1 Kings 11:7; Jeremiah 48:7, 13, 46] was angry with his land, and his son succeeded him [1 Kings 16:28]; and he also said, I will afflict Moab. In my days he spake thus: And I looked on him and on his house. [2 Kings 1:1; 4:4, 5.] And Israel kept constantly perishing. And Omri held possession of the land of Medeba, and there dwelt in it Omri and his son and his grandson, forty years. [1 Kings 16:23, 29; 2 Kings 3:1.] But Chemosh restored it in my days. And the king of Israel built for him Kiriathaim, and I fought against the city and took it [Jeremiah 48:1, 23], and brough back from thence the altar of Jehovah, and put it before Chemosh in Kerioth. [Jeremiah 48:24.] And Chemosh said to me, ‘Go and take Nebo from Israel.’ [Jeremiah 48:1; Isaiah 15:2.] And I went in the night, and fought against it form the overspreading of the dawn till noon, and took it, and I utterly destroyed it, and I slew all of it, seven thousand, for to Ashtor-Chemosh had I devoted them. And I took from thence the vessels of Jehovah, and I presented them before Chemosh. And the king of Israel built Jahaz, and dwelt in it while he was fighting against me, and Chemosh drove him from before me; and I took from Moab two hundred men all told, and I attacked Jahaz and took it. [Isaiah 15:4; Jeremiah 48:21], joining it to Dibon. [Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:18.] Chemosh said to me, ‘Go fight against Horonaim.’” (Isaiah 15; 5; Jeremiah 48:5, 34.) ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.5

Here, then, are the facts, strictly in accordance with the Scripture account of Omri, his son Ahab, and his grandson Jehoram; and of Mesha, king of Moab, and his father’s servitude, and his own rebellion. And the references to Isaiah and Jeremiah, which I have given, show that the very cities named by Mesha as taken by him and belonging to him, belonged to Moab in their days. Now it is utterly inconceivable how these statements of the Scripture could have been gathered from any other source than the actual events themselves. For there is absolutely no history of the Moabites, from which they could have been taken in later times. Therefore the perfect agreement between the occurrences as recorded in the Bible, and as recorded by Mesha, king of Moab, upon the enduring stone, proves, to a demonstration, that the records are contemporaneous. This, then, carries us back 929 years B.C., as the date of this portion of the Sacred Word. However, we are not obliged to stop at this date for want of proofs of any earlier, for the decipherment of the inscriptions on the Egyptian monuments and tombs fully corroborates the record in the Pentateuch concerning Joseph and the exodus; so much so, in fact, that it is now considered as a most valuable auxiliary to the full understanding of the Egyptian history, and “Brugsch and Lepsius and Chabas and Mariette treat the Pentateuch as of prime historical importance.” ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.6

We shall add no more. These evidences, wholly external, prove beyond any possibility of reasonable doubt, that the Scriptures are authentic records of the things of which they treat, and all the researches in archeology only serve to heap evidence upon evidence of their absolute truthfulness. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.7

Then hail! Book of books,—the Bible! Thou dost contain the most ancient history, the most sublime poetry, the grandest truths, the noblest examples, the best comfort of our imperfect condition, the most blessed gift in the knowledge of human kind! Let me bind thee as a crown unto me. Be thou ever “the lamp unto my feet, and the light unto my path” along all the way through the darkness of this world of sin. Hail! all hail! the precious Saviour whom thou revealest, the subject of thy sublimest poetry, the fountain of thy grandest truths, the sum of thy noblest examples, the object of our hope, the Author and finisher of our faith, the glorious King of kings! ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.8

Hail, Son of God, Saviour of men; let thy name ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.9

Be the copious matter of my song ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.10

Henceforth, and never let my heart thy praise ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.11

Forget, nor from thy Father’s praise disjoin. ARSH May 9, 1882, page 290.12