2. Three Religions Judaism 1.F thru E
1. F. Inside your DNA
Rabbi Reuvan gives an fascinating 'proof' related to DNA. In 1983 Dr. Rubenstein started investigating the nature of DNA using computers. He found that the DNA for all animals was the same. Humans, sharks, and rats shared this basic structure. DNA consists of two coils intertwining held together by bridges across them. He asked the computer what would happen when these coils are separated and the answer was the animal would expire. The bridges across, made of sulfur, were necessary for the structure. He asked the computer for their pattern, and it turned out that every 10th coil had a bridge, than every 5th coil the same, then every 6th one, and finally every 5th one. This was repeated over and over.
In Hebrew the number 10 is Yod, the number 5 is Hei, the number 6 is Vav. You have written in this universal pattern Yod, Hei, Vav, Hei, the Hebrew name for God. God is written in our DNA.
Is this irrevocable proof? I can't say. But again, it tickles the brain.
1. G. Numerology and Bible Codes
This is a subject which I've never been drawn to but is worth mentioning. In the Torah every 50 letters a relevant name or place is spelled out relating to the content on the pages. For instance in Genesis 1:1-4, 50 letters apart 'Torah' is spelled out. In Exodus also 50 letters apart at 1:1-6 'Torah' is again spelled out. ' Adolph Eichmann, holocaust and ghetto' along with thirty related words in another chapter are also spelled out. It's as if these events were foreknown. It seems to work for events or questions that have already happened or that we have the answers to.
Again, how could this be done so many years ago? Also, it seems to show the Hebrew Bible stayed the same all these years. Subjects like this are not my focus and perhaps there is a simple explanation. In this age of computers they can be easily researched. To me, though, they really don't answer the tough questions. If you are interested a Mr. Michael Drosnin wrote 'The Bible Code' which goes into some depth.
1. H. Various evidence supporting an ancient Israel
PBS and Katelen Mars' 'Inside Judaism' quotes William Dever who claims that the Merneptah Stele was a victory stele proclaiming victory by the Egyptian Pharoah over neighboring cultures. Israel was mentioned as being defeated in the year 1208 BC. Flinders Petrie, who discovered the Stele in 1896, as was often done, ties in biblical texts, specifically the conquests achieved by Egypt, into his interpretations.
Joseph Davidovitz wonders if Petrie's interpretation is based on error or forgery. If error this is attributed to Petrie's trusting the validity of certain biblical texts. In line 27 (if I understand this accurately) a 't' becomes an 'I' alluding to a group exiled due to their sin, not to this group of people being destroyed. Another example of this is an outlined vulture being actually an owl, also signifying a less tragic end. The last section Davidovitz sees as forged.
The first interpretation is that Yanoan (ancient Palestine) became terminated. From this we get 'Yanoam tears are finished; existing is iisi-r-iar, the people. Or, simply stated they stopped crying. In iisi-r-iar the 'r' turning into an 'l' is what is referred to above. Accordingly, Israel might be grieving but still exists. (This is how I understand this issue.) Simply put, Davidovitz does not envision an end but rather endurance.
More evidence for the past existence of Israel is authored by Manfred Gorg, Peter van der Veen, and Christopher Theis, all scholars who discovered a broken statue pedestal in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, which contains a hieroglyphic name ring that mentions Israel. Of course some scholars are dubious of this claim due to small spelling changes. Still, there is strong evidence for its credibility. If valid it is the oldest found record referring to Israel, dating back to 1400 BC , which means Israel did exist.
It should be noted Israel was not a native people, an indigenous tribe. Rather it consisted of various groups that migrated to the area for certain reasons, some of which will be discussed.
1. I. Support for the existence of King David
The archaeologist Ms. Cook by chance discovered a broken stone containing a fragmented Aramaic inscription. Along with her colleague Biran the writing was deciphered to mean 'I killed the King of the House of David.' Hence, the Tel Dan Stele, a victory stele, from northern Israel in Tel Dan, written in 900 BC, becomes positive evidence for the existence of King David. The Biblical David and the Bible itself becomes further supported.
Of course with all these finds there are detractors, and they are not without merit. No evidence seems totally conclusive. There's an art to it and that leads to what seems true, but is not written in stone.
1. J. Size of King David's monarchy
The scholar William Dever claims the name David is the most repeated name in the bible. It is a testament to David's greatness. Further scriptures state his kingdom stretches from Egypt to Mesopotamia. David was to have a kingdom followed by Solomon, who builds a temple where God was to reign forever. Dever adds some scholars do state the kingdom of David and his monarchy never existed.
William Dever refers to scripture that alludes to David's greatness. His name is the most repeated name of all in the bible. It was said he and his descendants would rule forever in a new covenant. His kingdom stretches from Egypt to Mesopotamia according to scripture. There was to be the kingdom of David and then Solomon, where the latter builds a temple in Jerusalem where God will reign forever. Dever does point out some scholars say there was no kingdom or any David and no monarchy. It was a later biblical construct.
The archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar claimed the last statement had become commonplace, but as a Jew wanted to believe the bible was authentic, but had no preconceived conclusion as a scientist Given the Christian and Islamic past victories in Jerusalem, she was dubious that artifacts would be found. Dr. Mazar had a suspicion David's temple was built in the northern part of Jerusalem on the summit of the mountains. Her instincts turned to be true when 100 ft of well preserved wall was found in the area. It was as if the 3000 years inbetween had never happened.
Size and wealth were indicated by this large slab of wall, supposedly part of the David's kingdom. More so, it could validate David's existence plus the immensity of his kingdom. On a spiritual note it would confirm what the recorded words of God said, no small thing. How to place the time of this wall to the time of David and Solomon, roughly 1010 to 930 BC remained the challenge.
William Albright coordinated found pottery in with layers of earth stratum whose style and construction paralleled certain biblical periods. Historic knowledge and ceramic knowledge formed the based of biblical archaeology. Still, it was at best an educated approximation, not a solid piece of evidence. Within the confines of this method the dates of the wall of David coincided with his reign. This is how it seemed for a short while.
Placing pieces of the puzzle together, and full of surprises, archaeology is like a good detective novel. Radio carbon dating finds a substance such as an olive seed near near or on a certain piece of pottery and measures the time it took for the radioactive carbon 14 to decay to carbon 12. The rate of decay is consistent over time and the amount of carbon 14 to carbon 12 can determine the date of the pottery.
Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute has done this testing thousands of times throughout Israel. Her analysis for the dates for the wall were 75 years later than previously thought, pushing the dates of the temple forward to the time of such rulers as Ahab and Jezebel, worshipers of Baal. If this was not the House of David, the proclamations in the Bible were mythical as opposed to real and David was perhaps a minor lord in a minor town.
However, further tests from other groups came to the rescue. While not 100% accurate, their tests for the seeds concluded they came from the period of David, restoring his reputation as ruler of a kingdom. Carbon dating has a margin of error of 30 to 35 years in either direction, making it very probable that Bible and archaeology concur. The implications are many, the foremost one being that there is historical truth in the Bible, perhaps not completely, but to some extent.
More evidence was found to support David's grandiose rulership. Solomon went on a building spree employing forced labor and built large structures using six chamber gates. Remnants of such structures were found in Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, all places mentioned in the Bible. All seemed to point to the prosperity and size of the kingdom. Moreover all these structures hint at a single governing authority. Later, in Egypt it is recorded King Shishak of Egypt fought Jerusalem whose king was King Rehoboam. Egyptian history has synchronicity with accounts from the Bible. David's campaign dates back to 925 BC in Egyptian history. The Bible says Solomon died five years earlier. Suffice it to say the convergence of the Bible with Egyptian historical accounts supports a large state system in Jerusalem around the time of David.
Scholarly writing taking place in areas distant from the central temple is more evidence of an extended kingdom. Scribes of high caliber at various locations is indicative of a large nation state. Other evidence exists, too much to present here, all pointing to a large governing body.
1. K. Older survived manuscripts of the Scriptures.
What tangible support do we have that the Torah remains intact word for word from the time Moses spoke it around 1300 BC? Before we examine this I just have to insert an interesting biddy Before the time of Moses it is said the people observed the oral (passed down oral traditions) Torah and did as best they could with their own powers here on earth. Then when God gave the written Torah through Moses it was said that the people suddenly had infinite power because the Torah was given by an infinite being to whom they were linked to. This is one way to look at the significance of the holiday Shavuot. The theme here is that some things happen symbolically and spiritually without being spelled out. In this section we will examine what is spelled out.
How far back does writing Hebrew go? Was there even a written alphabet in ancient times? Dr. Ron Tappy discovered a stone on a wall at Tel Zayit, in the Beth Guvnor Valley of ancient Judah. On one side of this stone were inscribed 22 letters adapted from a Phoenician type of alphabet. Some believed the alphabet warded off evil. The time it was written is possibly as early as the 10th century, making writing a text, a bible, possible at that time. Some feel the writing could be Phoenician but as in many of these finds the results are not fully resolved.
An even earlier controversial find dates back 3,800 to about 1800 BC which is amazing if true. Think about it, that predates Moses. Douglass Petrovich claims Israelites in Egypt adapted 22 Egyptian hieroglyphs and converted them into an alphabet. Opposing points of view debate the use of biblical dates as recorded in Exodus claiming they are unreliable. Plus, they claim the alphabet could be from any number of local languages.
His discovery began in 2012 on a stone dated from 1842 BC. The Egyptian slab identified Joseph and his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, figures in the Hebrew Bible. Manasseh was said to do the writing as indicated by self references of a mining expedition with his sons. The significance is that it is the worlds oldest letter according to Petrovich. As best I understand it, many Egyptian symbols and Hebrew symbols were pictorial and Hebrew letters were interspersed. A certain letter 'B' illustrated a house which stood for the Hebrew consonant 'bayit.' Petrovich translated all the letters correctly. If this all proves somewhat true, previous understandings and assumptions would be challenged. He even claims to have found a reference to Moses. I'm assuming this was from another site he researched.
My own opinion is that old simple drawings of houses and animals will eventually lead to simple symbolic lines that eventually can be used for letters in many of the earliest attempts to form an alphabet. This will hold true for many cultures and those that contain written material will have some similarities. However, there will also be distinct differences relating to each individual culture. Distinctions can be made and should be by discerning eyes but there will always be some doubt and controversy. Petrovich's findings could turn things around but for now I'll continue to outline what archaeologists have found and deduced from their other findings.
The Nash Papyrus consists of four fragments acquired in Egypt by a W. L. Nash in 1898 and later described by Stanley A. Cook in 1903. Originally he dated it at the 2nd century AD but later appraisals pushed it back to 150—200 BC. Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered, it was the oldest Hebrew manuscript discovered. It consists of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew and the Shema Yisrael prayer.
Parts of the text from Exodus and Deuteronomy are used. It was tradition according to the Talmud to read the Ten Commandments before saying the Shema. The text is twenty four lines long with a few letters missing on the extremities.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were located in eleven caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, 13 miles east of Jerusalem and below sea level. The discoveries were made between 1947 and 1956. About 15,000 fragments were found from over 500 manuscripts, including 39 books from the Hebrew bible. Roughly 850 separate scrolls were identified into two categories, biblical and non-biblical. The book of Esther is the only book not to have a fragment uncovered. The Isaiah Scroll is 1000 years older than any other previously found copy. In total they are the oldest group of Torah manuscripts ever found, the earliest from 300 years before the Babylonian exile. Never before found King David and Joshua psalms are included.
Mostly written in Hebrew, the scrolls reveal a large range of information about the Holy Land from about 410 BC to 318 BC. Some scholars believe a Hebrew religious sect called the Essenes lived in the area at around the first century AD and perhaps hid them from the Romans during the Jewish revolt from 66 to 70 AD. The ancient ruins of Qumran are closely located and perhaps connected.
Much deterioration has occurred among the fragments.
The sect see,ms to have been strict followers of the Torah and removed from the rabbinic form of Judaism. William Dever again in 'Inside Judaism' reiterates that some scholars view the Jewish history as a people mythologizing the past and enlarging it to validate themselves.
According to BBC the oldest complete Torah scroll in the world was found in Bologna University
by Mr. Dr. Mauro Perani in May, 2013. He has been trying to find Hebrew manuscripts in Italy for over two decades. Many scrolls deteriorated or were destroyed by the Romans. Originally the scholar Leonello Modona attributed the scroll to the 17th century but later carbon testing of the lambskin scroll dates it back 800 years to around 1,200 AD. It is 118 feet long and 25 inches wide and in very good condition.
A 13 year old boy assistant in 1979-80 stumbled across two silver amulets at the site known as Ketef Hinnom in the Hinnom Valley opposite Mt. Zion outside of the walls of Jerusalem. Gabriel Barkay overlooked the project and years later countered critics by using high-resolution images to reaffirm the date for the two inch long amulets was approximately 700 BC, the oldest record of biblical text. Previously he took part in the decision to unroll the scrolls, a risky move considering their fragility.
When unrolled it was found that the priestly benediction of Numbers 6:24-26 was inscribed, the oldest portion of scripture ever found. The blessing with fill ins reads “The Lord Bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.” This matches the prayer in the Masoretic Text and Dead Sea Scrolls. It is so impressive that there is continuity through the centuries and some verification for the consistency of the Hebrew Bible.
1. L. Summary
What we have is evidence that the Hebrew alphabet can be dated back to the 10th century BC on a stone on a Tel Zayit wall, indicating Hebrew was written at least that far back. We also have more controversial evidence where an inscription specialist Mr. Petrovich claims to have found a slab in Egypt containing Hebrew letters dating back 3,800 years.
Later, through Moses the Torah was given to the Jewish people around 1,335 BC and Ketef Hinnom is the earliest evidence we have for it's text dating 600 years later. We then have the Dead Sea Scrolls dating around 418 BC although some manuscripts date to 900 BC. I am not fully clear on the standing and credibility of these Dead Sea Scrolls fragments compared with the Ketef Hinnom amulets.
The Nash Papyrus consisting of the Ten Commandments and the Shema occurs around 200-150 BC. Up until this point all the finds are fragmented. As recently as 2013 the oldest complete Torah was found in an Italian library dating back to 1,200 AD. Among the sites and digs there has been much looting and subsequent selling artifacts to antique dealers so who knows what is circulating that still hasn't been acknowledged.
The basic question is did Moses really write the Torah? The second question is, regardless of who wrote it and of its credibility, has the Torah remained basically unchanged? The third question would be does this evidence confirm the existence of an historic Jewish community? To all three the artifacts listed are confirming but not conclusive.