New Archaeological Discoveries In Israel And The Importance of Truth – With Omer Eshel: Are archeologists looking for truth or trying to create their own truth? Has archeology EVER disproved the Bible? Have you heard about the new discoveries in Israel and what they may have to do with the Biblical story of Gideon? Tune in to hear this insightful interview with expert Omer Eshel!
Air Date: 10/20/2021
Guest: Omer Eshel
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
You find your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us on WallBuilders Live, you can find out more about the program at our website wallbuilderslive.com. WallBuilderslive.com, you can get archives of the program, learn more about the host, you can also get connected to a lot of the materials that we have at over wallbuilders.com. So check out our websites today.
WallBuilders comes from the scripture in Nehemiah, arise and rebuild the walls that we may no longer be able to approach. And clearly, in America, the foundations are crumbling frankly. Let’s be blunt about it. And so we can rebuild those foundations. We can pick up those pieces and rebuild because the foundational truths have not changed. And that’s what we do here at WallBuilders. We bring back those foundational truths.
We’re here with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, and president of WallBuilders, and I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator, and America’s Constitution coach.
And David and Tim, of course, if you’re going to rebuild the wall, if you’re going to rebuild the foundations, you’ve got to have truth and you got to have a love of truth: something that we’ve talked about a lot lately is missing in this culture and society. David, you give a whole talk on this where it’s more opinion that matters rather than actual truth. We’ve got to find that love of truth and we got to seek it, especially in history, if we want to know what works and what doesn’t work in a culture, in a society.
Well, when you look at truth in history, in the case of what we do here at WallBuilders, we use the primary source documents. You go back to the really old stuff, you go back to Washington, what he actually wrote and said, not what a professor said, you go back to what Pilgrims actually did, what they wrote and said, not what the professor said about them, so you go back to primary sources.
Now we’ve got a friend in Israel who is in the truth as well, his name is Omer Eshel. He is an archaeologist as well as the former diplomat as well as a guy who is Special Forces IDF. I mean, he’s in a lot of stuff, but he’s in the truth as well. Except for them a primary source document you’re talking like 4,000 years old, rather than 400 years old…
Depending on the story, right? Jesus, that’s only 2000 years old.
Yeah, that’s a young story.
Let’s go back to like Abraham where it’s 3,500-4,000 whatever years old, that’s a little different.
And so they have a lot of truth they’re doing over there. I think Omer told us they have 36,000 historical sites to be excavated. They’ve excavated maybe 6,000 so far. And he said, what’s really interesting is when you start the excavation, you really do have a conflict of philosophy between the archaeologist and it’s like some are looking for truth and some want to create their own truth and, and hold their own narrative. And he said it’s a difference between what’s called Hebrew U, Hebrew University there in Israel, or Tel Aviv U which is Tel Aviv University.
Tel Aviv is the very, very, very secular side of Israel. Hebrew University is the very religious side of Israel, very Bible-based. And so if you’re at Tel Aviv U, you assume that everything in the scriptures are wrong. And you keep finding all this archaeology that says, well, alright, that part of the Scriptures is right, but everything else is wrong.
the Bible and Archaeology
Well, yeah, specifically as we’re looking at these dig sites, they think, well, just because the Bible said it was going to be here doesn’t mean it’s going to be here. And they believe the Bible is wrong until they find evidence to substantiate and enough evidence that they can no longer deny the fact that this is actually what the Bible said. And then they only agree, as you mentioned, with that specific portion of the Bible. So their starting place is that the Bible is not trustworthy.
We’re trusting archaeology. But when the archaeology lines up exactly what the Bible said, and the Bible says that thousands of years before they did this dig, then they kind of give the head nod to okay, well, maybe that portion of the Bible is right. But we don’t trust the rest of it. That’s their starting place is the Bible is wrong.
As opposed to maybe like Hebrew U, where they’re starting place is the Bible is a trustworthy document, and we can reference this for a lot of even the excavation purposes. If the Bible said that so many miles or whatever the distance might be in the Bible terms, that so far of a distance there was this location or the city, and they go that far of a distance and find that location or that city or the base of the hill, there was this camp.
Or whatever the case was, and they start digging in the base of the hill, and they find exactly was there, they’re looking at the Bible thinking, well, the Bible said it was going to be there so we have a full expectation that it’s going to be there because of what the Bible said. so, just different perspectives of the interpretation of Scripture.
One says we don’t believe it, we’re just going to see what archaeology says, and the archaeology at this point, they have not found a single thing archaeologically that has contradicted what the Bible said. And Omer point out, they find things that are outside the scope of the Bible, because the Bible doesn’t mention every single thing that’s happened the history of everywhere in the world, including in the land of Israel. But the Bible is very clear on very specific locations or cities or individuals.
And that is where they’ve never found something that contradicted where the Bible said the location of something was going to be or the time that somebody lived, who the king was. Everything they have found that has anything dealing and detailing with the Bible has only confirmed what the Bible said.
Nothing Has Disproved the Bible
Which is really funny because you’d think of 6,000 excavations and nothing has disproved the Bible. It’s like okay, Tel Aviv U says you guys got it right 6,000 times, but you might get wrong in the 6,001 time. And Hebrew U says we got to right 6,000 times, we’re getting right the rest of time because the Bible is a trustworthy book. And I was thinking even of one example Omer was telling us, and he’s done so many excavations.
Matter of fact, he was the guy who ran the National Park at Qumran. And Qumran is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Qumran, those dead sea scrolls, they ended up validating the scriptures, the accuracy of scriptures 2000 years previous that you have these really, really, really old scrolls and you look at today’s translation, and yes, it’s exactly what it was thousands of years ago, so it hasn’t changed.
He’s done that. He’s really into a lot of the Crusades period in Israel, where that the Muslims came in to conquer the Christians and the Jews. And then the Christians would fight back to take land back from the Muslims and back and forth. So I think there’s 217 archeological sites related to the crusades in Israel, and he’s excavated 216 of them. The only one he hasn’t excavated is one that during the war for Israeli independence, the Syrians came in and planted mines all over that area and so nobody goes into that area, nobody wants to excavate it because it gets so many mines in it.
But Omer was telling us about an incident where he was in the middle of an excavation, and they unearth the house and said generally they don’t really unearth the private dwellings or the private residences, they’re looking more for the public places, and the governmental places and things where you’ll find artifacts and old parchments or documents or scrolls, or whatever. So that’s not in the houses, you find lamps and you find bows and arrows and whatever, that’s fine.
But he said they were excavating one house and they found a skeleton there. He discovered the skeleton. And this big lentil which is the top of the door pieces, in a doorway, that would be the thing over the top, the doorway that holds roof up above it, that there was a woman there, her skeleton, and this massive stone lentil had come crashing down on top of her.
Confirming Biblical Texts
And so all the archaeologists gather around and they’re just very carefully digging the skeleton out and looking at it and clearly this is crushed, and they’re saying I wonder what happened, I wonder what… And they knew the timeframe of the city.
And Omer says, well, it’s really simple what happens. This is the earthquake that happened under king Uzziah. And they looked at him and said what earthquake? They said, well, here you have in Amos, in Amos, it talks about this earthquake that happened 750 years BC. Well, that’s when this town was. Yeah, and that’s the earthquake. And by the way, Zachariah also talks about in Zachariah 14, and it’s also recorded in the Chronicle to king Uzziah.
So all the Bible talks about this, and they got into it, and it really was that earthquake. And that was again, proving evidence that the Bible was right in Chronicles and Zacharias and Amos, when it talks about that earthquake, it actually happened. So, it really is fun to get with Omer, he’s on the top of all the new discoveries that they’re finding with archaeology, and how many of them actually validate the Bible.
Well, one of the fun things too that is as we look at American history, and we try to do a very good job at being honest and fair in the representation of American history. And a lot of times we’re presenting the things we say America’s forgotten history and heroes; we’re presenting things that a lot of people don’t cover. And so we don’t cover every single person that’s ever lived in American history, but we really try to cover some major figures and tell some of their story and help set the tone for them and things that have been forgotten about them.
But we mostly care about let’s be honest with this person, this person was, by and large, an honorable person, let’s say this person was really an honorable person, this was a great person on many levels. And if it’s someone like a Woodrow Wilson, we can be like that was a really terrible person on most every level, we can be honest about it. And one of the things we so appreciate about Omer is how he will just be honest about the archaeology.
New Archaeological Discoveries in Israel
And it’s something that he’s not necessarily trying to prove a point or agenda. He just says, let’s just look and let’s pursue the facts and then determine based on the facts what is true. And so especially a we say, right, for every American, and we encourage that you at some point go visit some of these incredible sites over on the East Coast, whether it’ll be things like at some point goes to the Capitol building, and it might be the midterm elections next year.
Before they’re open, you can go see the Capitol building. But go see the Capitol building. Go see the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial. Go see Independence Hall, some of these really fun landmarks were so much freedom, significant things were birthed in America.
Well, just like we would encourage every American to go visit some of these incredible landmarks in America, we’d encourage every Christian, if you have the opportunity, the means available to you, at some point, you need to go to Israel and see the birthplace of faith. And one of our favorite guys to get with when we are over there is Omer because he’s one of the not just most knowledgeable, but maybe one of the most honest guides you will find over there.
And so when we saw this question related to some new archaeological discoveries in Israel, we said well, we just need to talk to Omer and find out what additional details there might be. Now, this was discovered many weeks ago, maybe months ago at this point, nonetheless worth talking about some of these continued discoveries and does it really affirm biblical, scriptural truth, he’s definitely going to be the guy to answer that.
Alright, folks, stay with us, Omer Eshel, our special guest today. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
A Moment from AMERICAN HISTORY
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. The Reverend James Caldwell was a famous minister during the American war for independence. His sermons taught liberty and God’s opposition to tyranny. The British hated him and tried to kill them. So for his own protection, he would actually take loaded pistols with him into the pulpit and lay them beside his Bible as he preached.
In the 1780 Battle of Springfield, the Americans ran out of wadding for their guns, which was like having no ammunition. Pastor Caldwell ran inside a nearby church and returned with an armload of Watts hymnals, the pages of which would provide the much needed wadding. He took this great Bible-based hymnal, raised it in the air, and shouted to the troops, “Now put watts into them, boys.” This pastor’s ingenuity saved the day for the Americans.
For more information on pastor James Caldwell and other colonial patriots, go to wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Always good to have Omer Eshel with us. And if you’ve been with David and Tim to Israel, you know him, you’ve met him, you’ve enjoyed spending time with him. If you haven’t been, be sure and be watching for a future trip and take a chance to go. Omer, thank you for coming on today, buddy.
Shalom, thank you so much for having me.
Such a great interesting story that we saw about some Israeli archaeologists finding an inscription from the book of Judges, the 3,100 years old. Have you heard much about this? Can you verify it?
A Unique Place
Absolutely, actually, the Scripture were found in a very, very unique place. In Arabic, the place is called Khirbet al-Ra’I, but we know this place in the Bible is the city of Ziklag or the story of David. So, we know these sites very, very, very well.
Interesting. Okay. And were they finding other things there? So is this a site where they’ve been discovering a lot already or was this a pretty good surprise?
Well, the main that was found which is the YRBA’L of Jerubbaal, it’s actually very interesting because we know Jerubbaal from there, from the Bible, the book of Judges, as Jerubbaal, who fought against the Midianites, but that’s going to be in the north part of Israel, where this Jerubbaal, the name was found in a pagan city, a Canaanite city by the name Ziklag before it was conquered by the Philistines, and was given to today, about 100 years after the dating of Gideon.
So many archaeologists say we don’t know if this inscription belongs to Gideon or to another man by the name Jerubbaal. And this is something I want the audience to understand. At the beginning, the name of Gideon was Jerubbaal. However, that’s such a pagan name. Jerubbaal is named after the god, Baal. But when Gideon understood his role and his mission from the one true God, from our God, he changed his name to Gideon. So what I’m trying to explain here is that the fact that we find a pagan name in the pagan city which is dated to the time of Jerubbaal can definitely be someone who is not Gideon, but is another person with a name Jerubbaal.
Okay. And just to make sure I understand. So his given name was Jerubbaal when he was born, he changed it to Gideon once he understood his mission from God?
There may be saying about Gideon, and Gideon is one of the judges that will give you a full summary of the entire book of Judges and I’ll explain. The cycle of the book of Judges is that you know, Israel was okay, then they do bad things, then the worship of God, then God sent in a foreign nation to oppress them, then the crowd got to get a judge, and then there’s a peace and quiet for 40 years. At that period of time where the Bible says that the people of Israel did wrong in the eyes of God, the name Jerubbaal, that’s exactly what he’s wrong in the eye of God.
Why? Gideon was born to a Jewish family, but because he was born at a time before the salvation before God anointed him to save the Israelites, he was given a pagan name which is honoring the false god of Baal. So in a way he just by the name that the Bible is 100% correct. Just look at the name.
Interesting. Okay. And that name being on that jug, what does that mean, or that artifact? Does that mean that it would have belong to, if it was Gideon or if it was another Jerubbaal, that means it belong to them?
Well, I think it’s a very interesting and it’s a very good question. Let’s say this. I’ll tell you what I think. But again, this is just my opinion. We all agree that I was not born yet in the time with the judges. I’m old, but I’m not that old. I think that the name Jerubbaal was a pagan name that was very, very well common among the Canaanites nation.
Backing Up the Stories
Now, I got to use the fact that we know that this place was found in the city of Ziklag, there was a Canaanite town that was conquered by the Philistines. So we know there were Canaanite inhabitants. Now, this goes exactly the same time of Gideon, you know, 3100 years ago, that’s the time of our Gideon, the Gideon from the Bible.
So my point is that I don’t think that this jug was belonging to Gideon, because of the distance. Gideon ministered in Jezreel Valley, which is about 160 miles away from Ziklag. That’s a long distance. But it does show the relation between the Jews and the non-Jewish nations, the Canaanite because it uses the same name. And I want to add another thing here.
There’s another site called Kayasa, Kayasa, that’s going to be on our next interview if you want, that is the place of the city of [inaudible 16:39], which is mentioned in 1 Samuel 17, and this is about a little bit after the story of Ziklag. And over there, there was another inscription by the name ‘Ishbaal’, ‘Ishbaal, again, it’s a Jewish name with the emperor name of the end of the name, Baal. So that shows us again that’s before King David became the king, and basically took out all the false worshipping. So in that place, [inaudible 17:11] is very close to Ziklag. So it shows us, I would call it, the political arena of the time of the judges.
These types of findings, does it help to back up the stories in the Bible? In other words, does this give us further evidence that the manuscripts were accurate and that they were true? Or is that too much of a leap with something like this?
Let’s start by saying that we all know that the Bible is true. That’s a part of [inaudible 17:43] that everybody understand and we know that. How fun it is to find the things that back it up. At the end of the day, we all know the Bible is true. I’m going to use what you just said in order to show… We find holes in thousands of artifacts and inscriptions and archaeological findings that kept the story of the Bible that very…
Affirming Biblical Details
All the time?
All the time. Every single moment, people asked me when was the last discovery that was made? I was like, hold on, hold on right now.
Oh, wow! Wow!
So the sin is that when we see a name, we see a personal name by the name Jerubbaal, and we know Jerubbaal from the Bible. Now is this the same Jerubbaal? We do not know. But we do know that the name existed. I can tell you that there was not even one archaeological finding in England holding the name King Arthur, because Arthur is a myth, never existed. Well, here you find evidence again and again and again.
And I want to touch a very important aspect. There’re very few written artifacts from the time of the book of Judges. And that is why back then there was no nation, there was no one sovereign kingdom that will dictate what to do, which of course, not that King David will do, we find a lot of written evidence. Before that, each tribe had their own dialect, if you remember the Bible, Shibboleth, and Sibboleth, so it wasn’t one nation. There was a lot of tribes. But the artifacts that we do find from the book of Judges bring the Bible to life by affirming that the stories of the Bible are 100% correct.
That’s awesome. I cannot even imagine walking in your shoes and being around that all the time. And like you said, almost every day another discovery and just walking through that history every day. What a blessed, blessed thing to be able to do. And thank you for sharing it with our listeners.
Thanks for sharing it with all the people that David and Tim bring over and get spend time with you. Just cool. It’s just cool. Omer, I appreciate you, brother. Thank you for your time today.
Thank you. Thank you so much. And hope to see you all in Israel very soon where we’re going to explore together new theological site, and again, new artifacts that proves the Bible is correct.
Love it. love it. I can’t wait to come and meet you in person. Folks, stay with us, we’re going to be right back with David and Tim Barton.
THE AMERICAN STORY
Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have here at WallBuilders called The American Story. For years, people have been asking us to do a history book, and we’ve finally done it. We start with Christopher Columbus and go roughly through Abraham Lincoln. And one of the things that so often we hear today are about the imperfections of America, or how so many people in America that used to be celebrated or honored really aren’t good or honorable people.
One of the things we acknowledge quickly in the book is that the entire world is full of people who are sinful and need a savior because the Bible even tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And yet what we see through history, and certainly is evident in America is how a perfect God uses imperfect people and does great things through them. The story of America is not the story of perfect people. But you see time and time again how God got involved in the process and use these imperfect people to do great things that impacted the entire world from America. To find out more, go to wallbuilders.com and check out The American Story.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. And thanks to Omer Eshel for being with us as well. Back with David and Tim. And guys, of course, you guys normally get to go about once a year over there and actually take people with you. That’s on hold for now with all the COVID insanity, but hopefully, at some point in the near future we’ll have another trip, and Kara and I are so looking forward to going with you all on the next one.
Well, we are very much anticipating the time we get to go back. Certainly, we are hopeful that some of their restrictions change. And obviously, it’s a very fluid situation right now with a lot of Europe and people still trying to figure stuff out. And man, God help them figure this out and embrace freedom sooner than others.
But I so appreciate, Omer, and as he pointed out, right, just because you find something that has a name similar to or actually the exact same as Gideon was before which also interesting, the thought that when he decides to follow God, he’s going to change his name. And that’s when he becomes Gideon.
So, again, one of the reasons we love Omer is he’s one of the most knowledgeable guys about biblical things, biblical history, and not just Old Testament. He’s a guy who knows the New Testament very, very well as well. But interesting that as you’re looking back at this, he says, hey, right when you see this, and it’s the same name, and people go, oh, my gosh, this was Gideon, and he’s like, you know, that problem is pretty common name back then and walks you through the history because it was Baal, and so right at that time, and here’s what this looks like.
And so even though this is something that maybe doesn’t affirm the specific accuracy or at least not even affirming accuracy, maybe this isn’t something that we can say, okay, so this was actually something from Gideon, it still is something to indicate that the fact his name was there does again give credence to the Bible where for the Tel Aviv U versus the Hebrew U, the Tel Aviv U might say there was no such person is Gideon, he never existed.
And there was never a name like this, and you find that name, and they’re like, oh, okay, so maybe there’s a name like this. It doesn’t specifically remove all of maybe the Tel Aviv U’s doubt. But just like from the Hebrew U perspective, when you read, they say, no, we know the Bible is true, we know that these people actually lived in existed and this was real stuff. And then you find things that affirm even those names were real names from back then, it does continue to line up.
But dad, just like we talked about before, I really appreciate that where there might be a lot of people promoting tourism, or I guess at this point even people wanting to defend the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible and at times, they want to overstate their case and overstate their position, one of the things I do appreciate about Omer is he’s someone who is much more interested in being truthful than maybe overstating his position, which is kind of unique in the era we live in right now.
The other thing I like about him and I special liked about his tours, and by the way, we had done several tours with some national notable names who invited us to go and be part of their tour, and they were good tours and good tour guides. But Omer is so different. We’ve had so many tours with him. We just stick with him now. Because like you said to me don’t overstating things, he’s also not dramatic, and so he doesn’t have to go see all the sites where our 83 tour buses are lined up to see that site.
New Archaeological Discoveries In Israel And The Importance of Truth – With Omer Eshel
I mean, we end up seeing Bible sites, we’re the only tour bus there. And we’re standing there and say, now see what the Bible says right here in this passage in this chapter. That’s what he’s talking about right here and we’re standing exactly. And I mean to be there where David fought Goliath and you know when he pointed that out, everybody wanted to go to the brook and pick up the stone just in case is one of the five smooth stones David had. You know, right there at the brook where David fought Goliath, and you can see all this in your mind’s eye. And that’s just not the site where most people go. And it’s really fun to go where he goes.
Well, and in fairness, right, so he will point out that, hey, the stream has probably changed place like 25 times over the years as you get heavy rains, and it can override the bank. And so like even there, he’s on it. He’s like, guys, I’m these are rocks from the same ground base, but like the stream probably was not here thousands of years ago.
Nonetheless, these hills are the location where you’d had the Israelites on one side, Philistines in the other. And so even there, he doesn’t leads you to draw conclusions where some tour guides might go and say this is the very stream. And I mean, kind of yes, but kind of no. And again, it’s just we live in this culture and world where so often we see sides vying and fighting for their sides who win.
And for so many people, they’re more interested in their side winning than what’s actually true, and therefore they will say things to overstate their case, or they’ll say things to criticize sometimes the other person’s case at the expense of what the truth is.
And we are at an era where we have to guard and defend truth arguably more than probably anything else in the sense of like more than our team winning. We have to guard and defend truth more than just our team winning. And that again, is one of the reasons we love Omer and his biblical understanding and even the way he’s going to tell us the honest story of even some of these archaeological artifacts they find over in Israel.
Well, there’s a lot more truth at wallbuilderslive.com, check it out today, folks. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.