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Back to:  N.T. Historically Reliable

The Old Testament:
Absolutely Reliable Historically


Taken From:
The Bible:  God's Word Absolutely

The first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis through Deuteronomy, also called the Five Books of Moses, are known as the Pentateuch, deriving from the Greek word pentateuchos meaning "five-volumed [books]."32/957 The collection of these five books was first called the Pentateuch by Origen in the third century A.D. in his commentary on the Gospel of John.291/495 Jewish tradition has called these five books the Torah, deriving from the Hebrew word hr;/T (Tora),292 meaning "instruction"; also the Book of the Law, the Law of Moses or simply the Law.

Jesus said concerning the Torah, recorded in the Gospel of John 5:46-47, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" In this statement Jesus clearly states that Moses and Moses alone is the Author of the Torah. Not only does Jesus affirm Moses’ authorship but makes it plain that if we do not take what Moses wrote in these five books as absolute truth that we will not accept what He taught or His claims about Himself as absolute truth either.

Unfortunately in our day this is exactly what has come about. In the Church as well as outside the Church, Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch is no longer accepted and the majority of the sayings of Jesus even in the New Testament are no longer accepted as His sayings. This has also led to a denial of Jesus’ deity as well. Deny the literal historical account of Genesis and you no longer accept the literal historical account of Jesus in the New Testament. Deny this and we lose any possibility of salvation. This is because Salvation comes through believing what Jesus said about Himself: that He died on the cross for our sins (1 Cor 15:3-4) and that the Father gave us absolute proof that He accepts His death for our sins through bringing Jesus back from the dead (Romans 1:2, 4:25, 10:9-10). Deny these truths and we have no means of salvation. Therefore our faith in the Bible as the Word of God is critical if we are to be saved.

How did this all come about and what is this centered in? It started with Darwin’s theory of Evolution which was then followed on this premise with the teaching of a man by the name of Julius Welhausen in 1895 known as the Documentary Hypothesis. By the use of literary criticism, this hypothesis sets forth the idea that the Torah is not written by Moses, as the Bible claims, nor did the events or miracles in the Torah happen as they are stated, but rather they are a made up record of the evolutionary development of the Jewish faith recorded hundreds of years after the death of Moses. One of the main reasons why Welhausen and his associates came to this conclusion was because throughout the book of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch several different names for God are used. There are reasons for Moses’ different use of these names in the Old Testament which we will explain later. Understand, however, that Welhausen and his associates did not set forth this hypothesis based on any outside evidence of earlier manuscripts or through findings in archaeology, which in fact do support the Old Testament as it stands, but as a result of a previous belief in evolution and unbelief in God, miracles and His supernatural intervention in the affairs and lives of men. Because of there previous disposition toward the Bible they therefore had to come up with naturalistic explanations for the supernatural accounts given to us in the Torah and the Old Testament. As a result the Documentary Hypothesis was born.

In the hundred years that have passed since the putting forth of this hypothesis, not one fact of history or discovery through the science of Archaeology has ever given any support to this hypothesis. Despite this fact, it is still taught as fact in all of our higher educational institutions as well as in most of our Christian higher educational institutions today. The Documentary Hypothesis is taught as fact because it gives governments, sciences, higher institutions of learning and the individual a false reason for stripping away and rejecting the restricting moral laws of God recorded in the Bible.

The Documentary Hypothesis teaches the following: first, that Moses could not have written the Torah because there was no written language in his time and social morals were not highly developed enough to reflect what was recorded in the Torah. Therefore, the Torah had to have been written up to a 1,000 years after Moses’ death by primarily four editors known by the initials J, E, P, and D. As has already been explained, their supposed strongest evidence for this is the different divine names used and because of the seeming literary variations in the text. J stands for an author who used primarily the name Yehovah for God. E stands for an Author who used primarily Elohim for the name God. D stands for Deuteronomy supposedly written around 621 BC instead of 1450 BC during the life of Moses. Finally P stands for Priestly.

According to the Documentary Hypo-thesis, J, or Yehovah, was the first writer who supposedly put together Hebrew teachings on legends, myths, poems and well known stories. He supposedly lived about the time of David or Solomon, years after Moses died. He is called the Yahwest author because of his use of the name Yehovah for God. I say supposedly because again there are no historical documents in existence which give any support or confirmation to this interpretation of how the Torah came about.

E, or Elohim, a second author supposedly gathered all the traditions into one history. Without any external evidence archaeologically or otherwise to back it up, it is postulated that he wrote this material about 750 BC (Moses wrote it in 1450 BC), possibly during when the Northern Kingdom, Israel, was threatened by enemies. They give some credit to Moses because they use the name Elohim before the time of Moses because they did believe that the name Yehovah was first revealed to Moses. Because this is true they gave special emphasis to Moses. One might ask how they know this since according to them Moses couldn’t write. After Jerusalem was destroyed, another unknown editor combined J and E’s works around 700 BC

P, Priestly writings were supposedly put together by a group of priests who worked out a code of holiness for the people as to how they were to worship and the laws they were to keep. They included in this work practices of worship, sacrifices, laws and genealogies. Again, supposedly, this collection of writings was done during Israel’s exile to Babylon and eventually worked into the JE documents around 400 BC Welhausen believed that they over emphasized the intervention of God and made some actions almost magical. This is because Welhausen and his associates did not believe in the supernatural and is why they had to come up with this hypothesis which was to explain away the supernatural and give a natural evolutionary development of the Jewish religion. Again there are no historical documents or archaeological facts in existence to support this postulation.

Finally, the D, or Deuteromic document, which supposedly had as its purpose reform in religious practices. Supposedly J, E and P were not yet united into a single work when D was composed around the dark days of Manasseh or during the brighter years of Josiah. Again, this assumption was made without any historical or archaeological evidence to back it up. The supposed purpose of this work was a spiritual rallying point around which the disorganized forces of the national religion could bring unity among themselves. It reaffirmed the fundamental principles which Moses had long ago insisted on which was loyalty to Yehovah and the removal and rejection of all false gods. It was an effort to realize in practice the ideals of the prophets, especially of Hosea and Isaiah, to transform demoralized Judah by Manasseh into the "holy nation" pictured in Isaiah’s vision, and to renew and awaken in Israel devotion to Yehovah and love for man which Hosea had taught was man’s first priorities.35/29-32

What are these assumptions and this hypothesis based on? Nothing. There where no JEPD documents in existence that Welhausen and his associates based this on and in the hundred years that have passed no archaeologist has ever found one document to support the Documentary Hypothesis. As we will reveal in this Chapter, there are however many historical documents and archaeological discoveries that give complete support to the Torah having been written in the second millennium BC and through Moses’ authorship. There are also many historical documents and archeological facts which support the Old and New Testament’s historical accounts as they stand as well, which is the discussion of this and the following Chapters.

*Who Is God?

Who is God according to the Judeo-Christian Bible? Moses, who wrote the Torah, gives us several names for God which describe different aspects of His character. Some of them are the following:

1. Elohim, !yhila>, meaning: the general universal term God, which means He who is to be worshiped and adored.251

2. El, lae, a shortened form of Elohim.293

3. El-Shaddai, yD;v'-la,, meaning: God Almighty or God is Sufficient.294

4. Yehovah, h/;hy], the name God has given to Himself that will never change throughout eternity meaning: I Am that I Am.250

The name of God , Elohim, is used through out the first Chapter of the Book of Genesis. Moses wrote, "In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth." This is the universal name for God found in other ancient cultures whenever talking about God in a universal sense. The shortened form is simply El, which occurs some 200 times in the Old Testament and comes from a root that means "Strength," "might," or "power."295 Moses uses Elohim exclusively in the first Chapter of Genesis because what He has to say about the creation of the earth, man and the universe relates to all men in general, thus he uses the general name for God recognized by all men.

In Genesis 2:2 Moses writes: "This is the birth of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Yehovah Elohim made the earth and the heavens" (Genesis 2:4). Now Moses reveals to us which Elohim he is referring to, not the elohims of the Egyptians or the other surrounding nations, but Yehovah Elohim. He reveals this to us now to emphasize and reveal the character of Yehovah involved in creating man of which he goes into great detail in this Chapter and of which I expound on in detail in Chapter 6 of Section 1 of this Textbook.

The book of Exodus in the Bible is the story of God delivering the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt. When God called Moses to go to Pharaoh and ask him to release the Israelites out of slavery, Moses asked God what His name was so he could tell the Israelites who the God was that sent him for their deliverance. God says to Moses in response,

"Then Moses said to Elohim, Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The Elohim of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them? And Elohim said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘Yehovah has sent me to you.’" (Exodus 3:13-14)

The name of God, Yehovah, is the personal name of the Hebrew God describing his person and character. It is a form of the Hebrew verb to be and means I Am that I Am and describes His eternal self sustaining existence. While man previously knew God by the name Yehovah, God tells Moses in Exodus 6:3 that He had not revealed Himself to man by this name until He delivered the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt.

"Elohim spoke further to Moses and said to him, ‘I am Yehovah; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as El-Shaddai, but by My name, Yehovah, I did not make Myself known to them.’" (Exodus 6:2-3)

God did not mean here that He had not made His name, Yehovah, known before, but that he had not made known his character and power by that name manifested through His deliverance of the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt. Before they only knew Him in character by the name El-Shaddai, a compound word meaning "God Almighty". They knew him in character as God-Almighty. Now, because of the Exodus they know Him in Character as the all sufficient God: Yehovah, "I am that I am," who can be whatever they are needing.

Throughout the Old Testament, the names of the Prophets also describe aspects of God’s character. The following are examples of this: Isaiah, Why:[]v'y], meaning: "The salvation of Yehovah."296 Jeremiah, hy:m]r]yI, meaning: "whom Yehovah appoints."297 Jeremiah wrote,

"Now the word of Yehovah came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’" (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Another example of a person in the Bible which describes the character of Yehovah is Joshua, ['vu/hy, who took over the leadership of Moses when he died and led the Israelites into the promised land. His name means: "Yehovah is Salvation."298 Finally their is Jesus’ name. When Joseph found Mary, his wife to be, pregnant, he planned to put her away secretly because he had not had sexual relations with her, so he knew the child was not his. As he was contemplating this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him the following:

"And as he was thinking on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord was seen by him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name JESUS, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’" (Matthew 1:20-21)

What is the significance of the name Jesus? The name Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua, ['Wvwhoy,286 translated Yesoo, jIhsou',286 in the Greek and Jesus in English. It means "Yehovah is Savior". The angel is telling us that Jesus is to be named Jesus because He will save us from our sins. God speaking through Isaiah in Isaiah 43:10-13 tells us about Himself,

"‘You are my witnesses,’ declares Yehovah, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, In order that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was NO EL formed 220 and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am Yehovah; and there is NO SAVIOR besides Me. . . . So you are My witnesses,’ declares Yehovah, ‘And I am El. Even from eternity I am He.’"

Yehovah God tells us several things about Himself in this passage:

  1. Before Him there was no God formed.
  2. Two, there will be no God formed after Him.
  3. Three, that there is no Savior besides Him.
  4. Four, that His existence is from eternity past.

This passage forever dispels the myth that a created man can become God as is taught by some religions. Yehovah God tells us through Isaiah that He is the Only God, that there was no God formed before Him and that there will be no God formed after Him. Yehovah God tells us that He is the only God that exists, that He is the only God who has ever existed and that He is the only God who will ever exist.

Yehovah tells us something else about Himself. He states, "...there is no Savior besides Me." Yehovah God tells us that He also is the only Savior that exists.

The Angel of the Lord tells Joseph to name the child Jesus because he will Save man from his sins. Matthew and the angel of the Lord tell us that Jesus is Yehovah God who will save us from our sins. Jesus is God and Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Yehovah God of the Old Testament who became man, to save us from our sins. Yehovah God tells us that He is from eternity and Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is the Father of eternity,

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty-El, Father-of-Eternity, Prince-of-Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Why so many different names of Jesus? Because each of these names describes a different aspect of His attributes and character.

Jesus is Yehovah God because only Yehovah God is Savior and Jesus is our Savior. Yehovah God of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ of the New Testament are one and the same person. Jesus is Yehovah God our creator and Savior. That is the meaning and significance of the name Jesus, it tells us about Jesus’ character and who He is. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 5:46-47 when he said, "For if you believed Moses you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me." Who was Moses writing about? Yehovah Elohim. Jesus tells us in this passage that Moses was writing about Him. This is what the Apostle John wrote in the beginning of the Gospel of John:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. . . . All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1, 3, 14)

John tells us that Jesus is the one through whom all things that exist were created. Jesus is our creator. Jeremiah the prophet records about Yehovah, "Ah Lord Yehovah! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You." Yehovah God later states in Response, "... Yehovah who made the earth, Yehovah who formed it to establish it, Yehovah is His name." (Jer 32:17, 33:2). Isaiah the prophet records Yehovah God as saying, "But now, thus says Yehovah, your Creator. . . . I am Yehovah your Elohim, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isaiah 43:1, 3). Jeremiah and Isaiah tell us that Yehovah God is the Creator and the Savior and since Yehovah God tells us that He alone is God and Savior, for Jesus to claim to be the Creator and Savior of man is for Jesus to claim to be Yehovah God, the Creator and Savior, in the flesh.

*What the Historical Documents &
   Archaeological Discoveries Show us

We see now that the fact that the Bible has many names for God is because each of these different names describe another aspect of His character. One should note that each of these names are not different names, but compound words composed of one or the other of God’s primary titles: Yah, short for Yehovah or El, short for Elohim, with an adjective attached describing something about His attributes and character. In my book titled, The Literal Historical Reliability of Genesis,34 I go into much greater detail about the many names of God in the Bible and their significance. Also in my book, Understanding Your Salvation in Jesus,304 I go into great detail about the Old and New Testament’s claim of Jesus as being the God: Yehovah Elohim.

Do historical documents and archaeological discoveries support this? Yes they do! One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the second half of the twentieth century is the ancient civilization of Ebla.179/735 The significance of this find is that this civilization existed more than 1,000 years before Moses’ time and thus can be used to test the historical accuracy of the first five books of the Bible, especially Genesis.

Ebla was first discovered by Dr. Paolo Matthiae of the University of Rome in 1968. In 1975 while digging up the ruins of a palace he came across the greatest third millennium archive ever unearthed, up to 17,000 cuneiform tablets.179/731 These 4,300 year old tablets found in north western Syria show that Ebla rivaled Egypt and Mesopotamia as a major power of the ancient world.

By ancient standards Ebla was a megalopolis with a population of more than 260,000 people. Ebla had a democratic form of government. Though Ebla had walls around the city up to 150 feet tall, the palace had no walls around it. A king became king not because of lineage but by election. The king was responsible for the welfare of widows, the orphaned and the poor. If a king became derelict, a king could be ousted by a group of elders.179/741, 744 It was destroyed in 2250 BC by Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargan the Great.34/68

What did they discover in this find? They found that the tablets list more than 5,000 place names and picture Ebla as an economic giant that traded with Byblos, Mari, Assur, Kish, Khamazi, and other ancient cities. Ebla’s tablets record commercial records, treaties, chronicles and the history of a Semitic empire with Ebla as its center that once dominated much of the Middle East.179/731, 734-735 Howard La Fay, in a December 1978 National Geographic magazine, explains why these tablets survived in such good condition over 4,300 years of time.

"I looked down into the palace archive. The sockets of the wooden shelves that had held the incredible collection of clay tablets still pierced the plastered walls; the shelves themselves had burned, and collapsed around 2250 BC Ironically, the flames of destruction had baked the clay, preserving the texts for posterity." 179/731, 734-740

*Sodom and Gomorrah’s Existence Confirmed

Biblical cities mentioned in these tablets as related to The Book of Genesis are Sodom and Gomorrah and the five cities of the plains mentioned in Genesis Chapter 14 spelled exactly the same way as they are in Genesis. Previous to this find these cities and Sodom and Gomorrah were thought to be mythical only. 179/25-25

*Noah’s Existence Confirmed

A second aspect of the Ebla Tablets which show the literal-historical reliability of Genesis are names mentioned such as Abraham, Esau, and Saul. Present as well is a name never found in ancient literature, except in the Old Testament: David. Further, the name of a king Ebrium, who reigned about 2200 BC, bears resemblance to Eber of The Book of Genesis, who was the great-great-grandson of Noah and the great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of Abraham, the Biblical progenitor of the Hebrews.179/736

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