This section includes articles, internet resources, photographs, research documents, and much more. This rich resource provides the eager learner with  interesting background information to the Bible. 

This information focuses on  the life and times of  ancient biblical people groups, empires and cultures. Materials will include archaeological discoveries which enlightens us to the meaning of biblical passages, sociological studies which help us to understand what it was like living among  common folk, on an average day, in ancient times as well as information on commerce and economics among the ancients; royal and common.

Information about weather patterns and climate during those ancient days is also highlighted.

Who could forget about politics, religion, and war? The triumvirate of true changes both good and bad are also explored.


 Bibliological Background


Handwriting study finds clues on when biblical texts written

DANIEL ESTRIN,Associated Press 

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli mathematicians and archaeologists say they have found evidence to suggest that key biblical texts may have been composed earlier than what some scholars think.

Using handwriting analysis technology similar to that employed by intelligence agencies and banks to analyze signatures, a Tel Aviv University team determined that a famous hoard of ancient Hebrew inscriptions, dated to around 600 BC, were written by at least six different authors. Although the inscriptions are not from the Hebrew Bible, their discovery suggests there was widespread literacy in ancient Judah at the time that would support the composition of biblical works.

The findings, released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an American scientific journal, contribute to a longstanding debate about when biblical texts first began to be compiled: did it take place before or after the Babylonian siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC and the exile of its inhabitants to Babylon?

In recent years, many scholars have attributed the composition of a group of biblical texts, from the Book of Joshua to the second Book of Kings, to the period after the siege, according to Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, who participated in the study. That theory holds that the biblical texts were written as a result of the exile to Babylon, when the composers began to think about their past and put their history to parchment.

Finkelstein, however, said he has long believed those texts were written in the late 7th century BC in Jerusalem, before the siege. He said the study offers support for that theory.

"It's the first time we have something empirical in our hands," said Finkelstein.

The team — made up of doctoral students in applied mathematics, math professors, archaeologists and a physicist — examined 16 ink inscriptions on ceramic shards discovered at the site of an ancient military fortress in Arad in southern Israel. It used multispectral imaging to reconstruct Hebrew letters that had been partially erased over time, and then used a computer algorithm to analyze the writings to detect differences in handwriting strokes.

Doctoral student Arie Shaus, who helped develop the algorithm, said it was the first time such technology has been used to reconstruct and perform handwriting analysis on ancient Hebrew inscriptions.

The inscriptions themselves are not biblical texts. Instead, they detail troop movements and expenses for provisions, indicating that people throughout the military chain of command down to the fort's deputy quartermaster were able to write. The tone of the inscriptions, which suggest they were not written by professional scribes, combined with the fortress' remote location, indicate a wide spread of literacy at the time, according to the study.

A high level of literacy would support the idea that some biblical texts had already been authored by this time. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known collection of certain biblical texts, are believed to date several centuries later.

Shmuel Ahituv, an Israeli bible scholar who did not participate in the study, also believes literacy in ancient Judah was widespread before 586 BC and that the biblical texts in question were written before the siege of Jerusalem. He said he believes this is apparent through a literary analysis of the biblical texts alone.

"I don't need algorithms," Ahituv chuckled.



The Bible Is Really Old, Handwriting Analysis Reveals

Tia Ghose. 

Key parts of the Old Testament may have been compiled earlier than some scholars thought, suggests a new handwriting analysis of text on pottery shards.

The shards, found at a frontier fort dating to around 600 B.C., were written by at least six different people, suggesting that literacy was widespread in the ancient kingdom of Judah, said study co-author Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist and biblical scholar at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

"We're dealing with really low-level soldiers in a remote place who can write," Finkelstein told Live Science. "So there must have been some sort of educational system in Judah at that time."

The writing shows that the kingdom had the intellectual resources to write and compile large chunks of the Old Testament during this period, he added.

Biblical history

Religious scholars have long fiercely debated when the Bible was written. Up until around the middle ages, people believed the Bible was written almost in real-time (as events were occurring).

Text in the Bible mentions scribes and literate officials for the kingdom of Judah, which remained a state from roughly the 10th century B.C. to 586 B.C., when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar laid waste to Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and forced most of the Jewish elites into exile in Babylonia. So scholars assumed the text must have been written prior to the destruction of the temple.

But that line of reasoning assumed the biblical accounts were historically accurate. Another possibility is that those details about literate people were anachronisms inserted by later writers based on their own cultures, Finkelstein said. In recent years, one camp of scholars has pushed for a later date for the compilation of the Old Testament, with some even arguing the compilation occurred centuries later, when the Greeks or Persians ruled in what is now Israel, Finkelstein said.

He said he and his colleagues realized there might be a different way to address the question. Decades earlier, archaeologists had uncovered archaic Hebrew ink inscriptions on ostraca, or pottery shards, from a frontier fort called Arad, a remote garrison located far away from Judah's central city, Jerusalem. Finkelstein said he wondered whether these inscriptions, which were written over the span of a few months in 600 B.C., could reveal how many people could read and write at the time.

Widespread literacy

To answer that question, Arie Shaus, a mathematics and archaeology doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv University, along with Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin, an applied mathematics doctoral candidate at the university, and colleagues, relied on machine learning. They used computer programs to scan digital images of the text, systematically fill in missing lines of text and analyze each stroke. Finally, the computer algorithms compared the script on each of the 18 inscriptions to see whether they were written by the same hand. (The ancient Hebrew text was written in an Iron Age script that is no longer used.

All told, at least six different people wrote or read the script on the ostracas, including individuals ranging in rank from the commander of the fort, a man named Malkiyahu, all the way down to the deputy quartermaster, a soldier with a low rank, below the person running the fort's storage depots, the researchers reported today (April 11) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While none of these inscriptions were Shakespeare, most were written with proper spelling and syntax, the researchers found.

"This is really quite amazing," Finkelstein said, "that in a remote place like this, there was more than one person, several people, who could write."

What's more, other border forts have similar ostraca, suggesting that writing at that time was widespread, at least within the Judahite army, the researchers reported. Other archaeological evidence suggests that no more than 100,000 people lived in Judah at the time. Together, these lines of evidence suggest that a substantial fraction of the population (possibly several hundreds of people) could read and write, Finkelstein said.

Early biblical compilation

In order for so many low-ranking soldiers to be able to read and write, there must have been some kind of Judahite educational system, Finkelstein said.  

That, in turn, suggests there were enough literate people at that time to compile some portions of the Old Testament, such as the Book of Deuteronomy, parts of Genesis, and the books of Joshua to 2 Kings, Finkelstein said.

By contrast, after the destruction of the first temple, when Israel's educated people were either killed or exiled to Babylonia, there is not so much as a pottery shard, seal or stamp with a single piece of writing from the region for more than 200 years, Finkelstein said. This suggests it's much less likely these books were compiled after the temple's destruction, he said.

The findings are very important and dovetail with other lines of research, said Christopher Rollston, a Near East scholar at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. There is no doubt that the elites in Judahite society could read and write around 600 B.C., Rollston said

"In fact, I have argued in print that the literacy of elites (scribes, high governmental and religious officials) is already present by circa 800 [B.C.]" Rollston told Live Science in an email.

However, not everyone agrees with all of the paper's assumptions. While the notion that many could read and write in the Kingdom of Judah during the seventh century B.C. is widespread, "I do not share the authors' opinion that literacy among the elite declined after the seventh century [B.C.]," said Ernst Axel Knauf, a theology scholar at Bern University in Switzerland, who was not involved in the study.


Authors of the Bible: who wrote most?

 Read more about the authors of the Bible HERE


1,500-Year-Old Papyrus is First Document to Mention Last Supper

http://1,500-Year-Old Papyrus is First Document to Mention Last Supper

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

The primary thing everyone should know about the Bible is that, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16). But here are an additional 9 things that you should know about the best-selling book of all time:

1. The English word Bible is derived from the Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία (ta biblia - "the books"). While Christian use of the term can be traced to around A.D. 223, the late biblical scholar F.F. Bruce noted that Chrysostom in his Homilies on Matthew (between A.D. 386 and 388) appears to be the first writer to use the Greek phrase ta biblia to describe both the Old and New Testaments together.

2. The word "testament" (Hebrew berîth, Greek diatheke), means "covenant." The term "Old Testament" refers to the covenant which God entered into with Abraham and the people of Israel, and "New Testament" to the covenant God has entered into with believers through Christ.

3. The practice of dividing the Bible into chapters began with Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury in the early 13th century. Robert Estienne, a 16th-century printer and classical scholar in Paris, was the first to print the Bible divided into standard numbered verses.

4. The first complete Bible printed in the Western Hemisphere was not in English or other Europeans languages. The "Eliot Indian Bible," published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, between 1660 and 1663, was a translation in the Natick dialect of the Algonquin tribe of indigenous Americans. There were no English language Bibles printed in America until the late 1700's, mainly because they were more cheaply and easily imported from England up until the embargo of the Revolutionary War.

5. The first red-letter New Testament (i.e., words of Christ printed in red) was published in 1899, and the first red-letter Bible followed two years later. The idea of printing the words of Christ in red originated with Lous Klopsch, editor of Christian Herald magazine, who got the idea after reading Jesus' words, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:20).

6. The Bible is not only the best-selling book of all-time, it is consistently the best-selling book of the the year, every year. (Even in 1907, the New York Times noted that the "daily sales of the Bible, 40,000 copies, exceed the annual sales of most popular novels.") Currently, an estimated 25 million copies are sold or distributed in the U.S. every year, approximately one new Bible for every 12 Americans.

7. According to the Christian Booksellers Association, the most popular versions (ranked based on dollar sales) are: (1) New International Version, (2) King James Version, (3) New Living Translation, (4) New King James Version, (5) English Standard Version, (6) Common English Bible, (7) Holman Christian Standard Bible, (8) Reina Valera 1960, (9) New American Standard, and (10) New International Readers Version.

8. There are two general approaches to Bible translation, formal equivalence and functional equivalence. Formal equivalence seeks to reproduce the grammatical and syntactical form of the donor language as closely as possible in the receptor language, making only such changes as are necessary for intelligibility. Functional equivalence focuses on the meaning and attempts to accurately communicate the same meaning in the receptor language, even if doing so requires using different grammatical and syntactical forms. As Rodney J. Decker explains, all translations include both formal and functional equivalents and thus fall on a different part of the translation spectrum (e.g., KJV, and ESV are more formal while the New Living Translation is more functional).

9. All the books of the Old Testament except Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are quoted or referenced in the New Testament. Jesus quoted or made references from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, 1 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi.


Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter



Archaeological Background 

The Jerusalem Post, August 7, 2016

The fate of the 2,700-year-old tomb and synagogue of the prophet Nahum in Al-Qosh, near Mosul, remains undetermined, as “it has become a football between Iraq, Kurdistan, UNESCO, IS and the Chaldean Christians.” The Jewish representative of the Kurdish Regional Government’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has appealed to UNESCO for support for the tomb’s preservation, as “it could completely fall apart in a few months,” as well as being a certain target for IS, but UNESCO responded that “the KRG is not a state” and that Nahum’s Tomb did not have World Heritage status. Some three years ago, a group of New York donors raised half a million dollars to restore the tomb, but “the money reportedly got lost in the transfer to a Mosul bank account.” Unless “a credible national or international authorization guarantees safe access,” the tomb’s fate appears extremely uncertain.

 Pool of Siloam - John 9:1-11

According to the Gospel of John, it was at the Siloam Pool where Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:1–11).

In 2004, the stepped remains of the ancient Siloam Pool, long thought to be located elsewhere, were uncovered near the City of David. According to the Gospel of John, it was at this sacred Christian site that Jesus healed the blind man. Photo: Todd Bolen/ 

 Artist’s rendering of the Siloam Pool, the Biblical Christian site where Jesus healed the blind man. Image: Jason Clarke.


City of Biblical Abraham Brimmed 

With Trade and Riches

The bleak and tawny desert of southern Iraq is a strange place to find dark tropical wood. Even stranger, this sliver of ebony—no longer than a little finger—came from distant India 4,000 years ago.

Archaeologists recently found the small artifact deep in a trench among the ruins of what was the world’s first great cosmopolitan city, providing a rare glimpse into an era that marked the start of the global economy.

Mentioned in the Bible as the hometown of Abraham, Ur around 2000 B.C. was the center of a wealthy empire that drew traders from as far away as the Mediterranean Sea, 750 miles to the west, and the Indus civilization—called Meluhha by ancient Iraqis—some 1,500 miles to the east.

Read More HERE.


The ziggurat of Ur

 Sir Leonard Woolley uncovered this lyre in one of Ur’s royal graves. Dating to about 2600 B.C., this musical instrument features a bull with a beard of lapis lazuli—a stone brought from Afghanistan—that may represent the sun god.



 Hezekiah and the Bible - 2 Chronicles 29–32

1st ever royal seal found in situ in Jerusalem; Ophel.

HEZEKIAH IN THE BIBLE. The royal seal of Hezekiah, king of Judah, was discovered in the Ophel excavations under the direction of archaeologist Eilat Mazar. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Eilat Mazar; photo by Ouria Tadmor. 



Evidence of the Biblical Accuracy of the Account of the Exile.

Experts in cuneiform writing, one of the world's earliest scripts, say the collection of 110 cracker-sized clay tablets provides the earliest written evidence of the Biblical exile of the Judeans in what is now southern Iraq, offering new insight into a formative period of early Judaism. Read more here...


 Jeremiah, the Prophet of the Bible, Brought Back to Life

 The relationship between archaeology and the Bible is not always an easy one, but sometimes they come together in striking agreement as witnesses to history. 

Two small clay bullae (seal impressions) found in the course of Eilat Mazar’s City of David, Jerusalem, excavations are bringing Jeremiah, prophet of the last kings of Judah, back to life. Read more.

Geo-Physical Background 

  • Article suggesting that drought may have played a hugh role in the demise of Ancient Sumerian Culture including its language.

Drought May Have Killed Sumerian Language

  • Article relating to the earthquake mentioned in Matthew 27:51-53. 

Is Jesus’ Crucifixion Reflected in Soil Deposition?

A Geological Study May Indicate Earthquake Described by Matthew. Read article here. 

Botanical Background 

People Groups

The Philistines

The brutish, uncultured reputation of the Philistines might be upended by a discovery in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon..

 Religion and Tradition/s

 A. Christian Traditional Celebrations.


B. Jewish Traditional Celebrations.


Manners and Customs of the Ancient Middle East