In the 19th century it was popular among many critics to discount the reliability of the biblical narratives. Serious doubt was raised as to whether men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David ever lived. Archaeology has done much to discredit this type of thinking. Even most liberals have been forced to admit the reliability of the biblical accounts.
The Bible mentions the people who lived in the Promised Land before Israel entered. They were the "Canaanite, Hittite, Hivite, Perizzite, Girgashite, Amorite, and the Jebusite" (Joshua 3:10). For a long time many doubted the references to the Hittites. But that is no longer the case. In Cappa-docia, in eastern Turkey, recent excavations have turned up the ruins of an ancient and extensive Hittite empire.
There is a story in 2 Kings 9 about a king of Israel named Jehu. He was the one who killed Jezebel and wiped out all of the family of Ahab. Archaeology has turned up not only his name, but also his picture. On the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, Jehu is pictured as bowing before this great Assyrian king. The king calls Jehu by name and even names the tribute brought to him by Jehu.
In 2 Kings 1:1 it is said that Moab rebelled against Israel. The king of Moab, Mesha, is mentioned in 3:4. The Moabite Stone was discovered in 1868. This stone tells of Moab's rebellion against Israel. The name of Mesha also appears on it. Here is another interesting confirmation of a biblical story.
In 2 Kings 20:20 mention is made of the waterway that Hezekiah constructed in Jerusalem in order to have an ample water supply for the city in case of siege. This waterway is the Siloam Tunnel. In the 19th century it came to the attention of scholars, who deciphered the Siloam Inscription. It told of the construction of the tunnel, how the workmen began at each end of the tunnel and met at the middle. It is one of the oldest examples of Hebrew writing and confirms the information about constructing the waterway.
In 2 Kings 19 the story is told about the invasion of Sennacherib. This Assyrian king threatened to take Jerusalem in 701 B.C. Isaiah was sent to tell the king that he did not need to fear Sennacherib’s men. One of Sennacherib's monuments, the Taylor Prism, tells of this invasion. Sennacherib boasted that he shut up Hezekiah "like a caged bird." He did not tell of losing 185,000 men, but that is not the type of thing one would want on his monuments.
One of the most dramatic illustrations of how archaeology has confirmed the Bible is in the story of Sargon. This Assyrian monarch is mentioned in the Bible only in Isaiah 20:1. For a long time it was thought that Isaiah had made a mistake by calling Sargon a king of Assyria. In 1843 Paul Emile Botta made an astounding discovery at Khorsabad, near Nineveh. He uncovered the temple, palace and numerous records of Sargon. There is no longer any serious doubt concerning the accuracy of Isaiah 20:1.
Archaeology has been of great help in answering many questions regarding Bible history. A study of archaeology creates a healthy respect for the reliability of the biblical story. Names of people and places, customs, explanations of obscure words-all of these have been provided by archaeology.