Fun with the Bible: Verifying Isaiah with Archaeology and How the World Could Be Without Judaism, Christianity and Islam

There is a verse in the book of Isaiah, chapter 22, verse 10, that reads, “You counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.” This is in the midst of a denunciation of Hezekiah, king of Judea in the latter half of the eighth century BCE by Isaiah.

For you see, in the eighth century BCE, the Assyrians were marching across the known world (Mesapotamia, or the Middle East, if you will) and conquering the hell out of everyone. In Judea, King Hezekiah decided to build (by reinforcing) a great and mighty wall around the city of Jerusalem to protect it from the Assyrians. In the northern kingdom of Isreal, by the way, the Assyrians conquered the Israelites and dispersed the tribes. Hence the ten lost tribes of Israel. In any case, Hezekiah was not going to let that happen to Judea and so he built this wall.

On a separate note, modern archaeologists digging in the old city of Jerusalem uncovered the wall that Hezekiah had build around the city and at one point in the wall, they actually found the foundations of a house jutting out. Before that discovery, religious folks and scholars were unsure about the particular meaning of this verse and what it referred to – or that it referred to something so real and tangible. However, after this discovery scholars knew that King Hezekiah had indeed built this wall and that a contemporary of his had chastized him for disregarding the homes of the common people in order to build the wall.

Now, personally, I think Hezekiah made the right decision, but the point I want to make is not that. Much of the Bible, as many of you know I believe, did not happen – at least not the way it is written. However, that does not preclude the fact that much of it is still true. In some cases, archaeology like this can perfectly verify the words of the Bible.

However, I’d like you to consider something else. The Assyrians had a policy of moving the conquered people away from their land and moving foreign people in. Moreover, they would force these conquered people to marry and assimilate with people elsewhere, thereby destroying all tribal identities and creating only people who saw themselves as subjects of the Assyrian empire. This is precisely what happened with the ten northern tribes from the kingdom of Israel and why they are now lost, and had Hezekiah not built this wall and chosen to do it as he did then the tribe of Judah would no longer be here because the Assyrians would have conquered them and done the same thing.

To whatever degree you think God has a hand in things, consider that without this man building this wall, there would have been no Judea and therefore no Jews. Thus, there would be NO Christianity and I’d be willing to bet, no Islam. Many people might cynically say, No religions, that’s a great thing, but let’s not be so naive as to imagine that nothing else – no other beliefs – would have risen in place of these systems that now dominate humanity. And no matter what, human nature would have overridden the peaceful inclinations that those religions had. Don’t forget, at their core Islam and Christianity are both religions of peace, for whatever violence has plagued their histories.

So, no wall from Hezekiah and the world as we know it would be a very different place. Consider that when you consider the impact of small things on the world at large.

What do you think about these verses?

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2 Responses

  1. I see your point, but i guess i a little bit too much to assume that christianity, if we can link that to Jesus coming here and all, will not be today.

    i guess is a nice chain of thougt but i guess you can point any maybes and assign them the power of changing history, lets say, if Mary had choose a wacky mule she may have fall and die and today we will not have christianity.
    So thank Jesus they can afford a lovely mule for travel, isn’t it?

  2. Though I can certainly understand what you’re doing when you equate a wacky mule, archaeology and anything else we could change in history to ‘make a case’ that’s not what I’m doing here.

    What I’ve done is noted a place in the Bible that has always been confusing to religious figures and scholar alike (unlike the mule which is a rhetorical device, has literary precedent, and makes perfect sense), and noted how once discovering its confirmation in real life through archaeology (something not replicated in the mule example either), we can confirm (with added knowledge, of course) not only the veracity of the biblical verse and why it exists but that the surrounding story did indeed happen (again, not something possible with the mule example).

    And finally, to my historical “what if” situation. Historians don’t like to answer these questions – at least not publicly where people misquote them and take them out of context and don’t get what’s being discussed entirely. However, I chose to address this one because of the interplay between history, both religious and secular, and the archaeology that confirms it and the implications that has. Based on the state of affairs in the ancient middle east at this point my, ‘if not for this action and wall, three of our major religions wouldn’t be here today,’ remains valid in comparison to this mule scenario and most others (which isn’t to say that other scenarios couldn’t have been picked with fascinating ramifications), but this one in particular is a potential turning point.

    So, again, I appreciate you thinking about what I said and challenging it with an example of your own but as I’ve clearly shown, they are two different scenarios and my original point, though historical what-iffing, remains valid.

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