Bible Personages in Archaeology -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 14:1 (Winter 2001)
Article: Bible Personages in Archaeology
Author: Bryant G. Wood


Bible Personages in Archaeology

Tiglath-pileser III King of Assyria, Menahem King of Israel, Ahaz King of Judah, Peqah King of Israel and Rezin King of Aram

Bryant G. Wood

[In this continuing series, ABR director Bryant Wood profiles Biblical characters whose lives have been attested in archaeological finds. This article features five kings from four different nations during the eighth and seventh centuries BC.]

Biblical Accuracy

Tiglath-pileser III is the first of five Assyrian kings named in the Bible, the others being Shalmaneser V, Sargon II, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. They ruled between 745 and 669 BC. These five kings are named in the correct order in the Bible and accurate information is given about each one. Moreover, the accuracy of the recording and transmission process of the Old Testament is also attested by the proper spelling of their names in the Hebrew manuscripts which we possess today.

Sculptured relief of Tiglath-pileser III, empire-builder of Assyria. Discovered in the mid-1800s in the ruins of Tiglath-pileser’s palace at Nimrud, ancient Calah, Iraq, and now in the British Museum in London. This monarch is mentioned nine times in the Hebrew Bible. He collected tributes from both Israel and Judah, and devastated the kingdom of Israel in 732 BC.

Sculptured relief inscribed with Tiglath-pileser III’s annals for his 11th year (735 BC). The top register depicts the capture of Ashtaroth in northern Gilead in 732 BC, while in the lower register the king rides in triumph in his chariot. Between the two registers are seven lines of cuneiform text detailing events in the 11th year of Tiglath-pileser III’s rule. From the southwest palace at Nimrud, now on display in the British Museum, London.

A.R. Millard of the University of Liverpool in England has done a comparison of the spelling of the names of the Assyrian kings in the Old Testament and in contemporary Assyrian records. It must be remembered that the documents from which our Old Testament is translated date to the tenth century AD and therefore the portions dealing with the kings of Assyria have been copied and re-copied for a period of 1600-1700 years. The Assyrian records, on the other hand, are contemporary records dating to the time of the Assyrian kings. Millard (1976:14) concluded the following:

This examination has shown how closely the Hebrew writings of Assyrian royal names conform to their contemporary appearances in...

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