Archaeology And Ezra

It is written:

“Ezra had always given his time and attention to studying and obeying the law of the LORD. He also loved to teach its rules and commandments to others in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10 ERV)

Critics of the Bible often claim that Books such as Ezra were forgeries written long after the events described therein. It is often said that the Book of Ezra has no corroborating witnesses through the archaeological record.

However, that simply is not the case!

““The validity of letters sent directly to a Persian king as recorded in Ezra has been a source of heated academic debate. Not until similar letters were unearthed in a Jewish community near Elephantine, Egypt, was any credibility given to Ezra’s testimony. Acclaimed ancient Near Eastern historian, A. T. Olmstead wrote: The past few years have witnessed a dawning realization on the part of other Orientalists that the period has too long been neglected. Discovery of the archives from a Jewish mercenary colony near the first Egyptian cataract was truly sensational. Here were the closest parallels in language and style to the Aramaic of Ezra. Prescripts from Persian kings were cited in Ezra; Old Testament critics had declared them unauthentic, but now there was ample proof that the critics themselves were in the wrong. 96 Ezra’s book grained further credibility when excavations unearthed a reference to the regional governor Tatnai (Ezra 5: 3). The document calls him “Ta-at-tan-ni,” the pahat or governor, subordinate to the satrap. 97 One archaeological discovery also confirms the name Gašmu, a local governor who opposed Nehemiah’s efforts in Jerusalem (Neh 2: 19). The artifact was a silver bowl from a temple at Tell al-Meskhûta in Lower Egypt. “The inscription written in the standard Aramaic of the Persian Period reads: ‘Cain, son of Gašmu, king of Qedar….“Another discovery, a Lycian cult charter, in 1973 added credibility to Ezra’s testimony by providing striking parallels with Cyrus’s decree for Temple restoration (see Illustration 8.2). Discovered in Xanthus, on the Lycian coast in southwest Turkey, the text was written in three languages: Greek, Lycian, and Aramaic. The most obvious parallels between Cyrus’s decree and the Lycian are the facts that: It is a document issued in response to a local request, but one that would have received ratification from the Persian court; as in Ezra, amounts of sacrifices, names of priests, and the responsibility of the cult’s upkeep are specified; the gods which are invoked to curse those who disregard the decree are local deities. Alan Millard concludes: Most obvious is the similarity of wording between Greek and Lycian requests and the satrap’s Aramaic answer. Such resemblances in the Ezra passages, thought to show a forger’s hand, are signs of normal practice. This practice explains how the Persian king or officer appears to know in detail about the cult in question; his information stems from its adherents. . . The further objection that the Persians would have paid no attention to such details falls away. 99 The last 150 years of excavations have provided incredible archaeological support for Scripture. Assyrian inscriptions have corroborated the testimonies of Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah, Nehemiah, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. As histories, the later testimonies of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel have also gained credence from many recent archaeological discoveries.” (Model Onstott, YHWH Exists (Volume One), 614-617 (Kindle Edition); Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Emmanuel Publishing)

Again, archaeology confirms the Bible narrative; and Ezra stands out to us as a great example in following the true God.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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