I heard a joke one time about an old lady who boarded a plane clinging to her oversized Bible. She sat down next to a young business man. When he saw her Bible, he snickered cynically under his breath. During the flight, he turned to her and asked, “Do you really believe that book?” She responded, “Of course I do, it is the Bible, written by God!” He could not help himself, “So, you actually believe that story about some guy surviving inside a whale for three days?” She replied, “You mean Jonah. Of course I do. It is in the Bible.” He pressed further, “So tell me, how exactly can a man survive inside a whale’s stomach for such a long time without suffocating?” She paused to consider the question. “Well, I don’t know. But, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah himself.” He then quipped, “Well, what if you find that he is not there.” Without hesitation she replied, “Then you can ask him.”
Aside from the fact that there are modern examples of humans surviving long periods of time after being accidentally swallowed by whales, this story subtly illustrates a deeper truth regarding the Bible. And, that truth is that if there ever was a book deserving the least amount of disrespect on matters of history, it would be the Bible. It still stands today as the most affirmed book of historical antiquity known to man. At some point, naked cynicism turns to blinding disgust, as displayed by the business man in the above joke.
An actual and modern display of this was recently observed regarding discussions over the archaeological finding of King David’s palace. On July 18, 2013, it was announced that archaeologists in Jerusalem had unearthed the elusive structure. It was identified after over a year of excavations at the site believed to be the fortified city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, which is also believed to be the site where the boy David vanquished Goliath. According to Professors Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor of Hebrew University, “This is indisputable proof of the existence of a central authority in Judah during the time of King David.” Garfinkel and Ganor identified one structure as David's palace and the other as an enormous royal storeroom. Also according to Garfinkel and Ganor, “The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of about 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city…The wall enclosing the palace is about 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah. Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found -- evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt.” In addition, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) told The Times of Israel that they are confident the site can be attributed to the time of King David’s reign.
But, as always this was professionally opposed by several outspoken cynics. They questioned the existence of David’s Kingdom and even the existence of a King David. And, their chief criticism is what they referred to as an overreliance “on the Bible itself as evidence.” Since the first criticisms are easily dismissed, let’s focus on the last of the criticisms. Did the archaeologists and the IAA rely too heavily on the Bible? Is the Bible worthy of reliance? And, is the Bible relevant to archaeology surrounding King David? Can the Bible be referred to as evidence? Is the Bible all we have to rely upon on this subject? Do other sources confirm the Bible and this archaeological find?
First of all, as we discussed in many earlier posts, the Bible still stands today as the most vetted and affirmed work of historical antiquity known to man. It is more supported by archaeology than any other work of history. It is the gold standard in such measures. If the Bible can’t be relied upon, then no other book can be. Further, it goes without saying that if the most reliable book of historical antiquity speaks at length about King David and the details of his life, then it is also relevant to the subject of this archaeological find. In fact, if the Bible is not reliable regarding King David's palace, then again, what book is? Therefore, since the Bible is the most reliable book of antiquity and specifically addresses the life and times of King David, then, of course, it stands as a piece of evidence on the matter. On what reasonable argument can anyone conclude that it is not? On what reasonable basis can anyone dismiss the Bible from the discussion regarding King David? Lastly, while the Bible is the best source of reliable evidentiary information on King David, it is not the only source. King David is also a central figure in Judaism, Islam and other faiths, and is also documented in their books of antiquity. And, yes, all of the many other sources are entirely consistent with the Biblical account of King David’s palace. This is precisely why the IAA, which is not a Christian organization, affirmed the find, and authoritatively so.
The critics in this case actually presented no evidence at all supporting their cynicism. All they did is make general claims that the conclusions are not true. However, when archaeology proves the cynic wrong, and he or she persists on arguing without evidence, then it is the cynic's argument that is most worthy of being met with cynicism. It is intellectual dishonesty to dismiss archaeological evidence just because you don’t like it. It is also intellectual dishonesty to begin to claim that the Bible is not reliable historically when it stands as the most reliable book of history that we know of.
As archaeology continues its march through the sands of time, be encouraged in your faith in God’s word. The archaeological evidence stands behind you. And, so does God.