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Jerusalem Dateline: 11/23/2018 Does Archaeology Tell the Story of the Bible?

The stones cry out as archeological discoveries tell the story of the Bible from David and Goliath to a first-century synagogue where Jesus may have preached and Second Temple tile floors where he may have walked. Read Transcript


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- Hello, and welcome to thisedition of Jerusalem Dateline,

I'm Chris Mitchell.

This week we have a special program

about the remarkable andhistoric archeological finds

here in the land of Israel.

All the way from the shoresof the Sea of Galilee

to the Valley of Elahwhere David slew Goliath.

As you'll see in these stories,

these finds confirm the Bible,

and give us a glimpse into ancient Israel,

and also the time when Jesuswalked here on the Earth

2,000 years ago.

In fact we're coming toyou from the southern steps

of the Second Temple whereJesus would have walked

as he went up to the temple.

We begin our program with a discovery

that some Israeli archeologists say

is the greatest in the past 50 years.

It's called the Magdala Stone,

and it was found near theshores of the Sea of Galilee,

and in a 1st century synagogue,

where it's nearly certainJesus would have preached.

The village is called Magdala,the home of Mary Magdalene.

- She lived here, and she meet Jesus here,

and she continued with him.

Yes, is the place.

- [Chris] Israeli archeologist Afran Najar

oversees the excavation at Magdala.

He says the city lay hidden all this time

by just a small layer of dirt.

- Some place, almostyou touch the surface,

then you have the wall, waiting for us,

2,000 years to when we were coming.

- [Chris] The most importantdiscovery here in Magdala

has been a synagogue datingback to the time of Jesus.

According to archeologists,

it's the first synagogueuncovered in the Galilee.

- An expression that appears many times,

in several places of the gospel,

Jesus went around Galilee,preaching in their synagogues.

So this is the closest synagogueto Capernaum where he lived

So, most likely, he was here many times.

- [Chris] In it they discovereda 2,000-year-old treasure.

They call it the Magdala Stone,

and some archeologists say it'sthe most important discovery

in decades.

CBN News first reported on the stone

just after it was uncovered in 2009.

Father Kelly of the Catholicorder Legionaries of Christ,

showed us a replica whileoverlooking the Temple Mount.

- This particular Magdala Stone

is the most important discovery ever made

related to the Second Temple,

the temple at the time ofJesus, which Herod redid.

So that's quite the statement.

- [Chris] The menorah onthe stone is one-of-a-kind,

the first one discovered

before the destructionof the temple in 70 A.D.

The Legionaries of Christ own the land

and are building anentire center at Magdala

with an archeological park,hotel and spiritual center.

Father Solana dreamed up the project

and wants it to be a center for all.

- I'm pretty sure it's a gift,

for the world, for culture, for legions,

for Israel, of course.

- [Chris] Visitors seethe Bible come to life.

- The altar is in the shapeof a boat, a fisherman's boat.

You're reminded of Jesusstanding in the boat, preaching

to the people on the shore.

- For me, the whole gospel storyhas come alive for me here.

And it will never meanthe same ever again.

- [Chris] Father Solanasees the motto of the center

"Duke in Altum," Latinfor go into the deep,

as a message for today.

- Somehow Jesus tells, to all of us,

go into the deep, tryagain, you can, go, go.

So I think this a beautiful message

that the world needs in this moment.

Financial crisis, problemswith jobs, many situations,

and we need to try again.

God is on our side.

- South of the Sea of Galilee,

the Biblical prophetElijah healed the sick,

raised the dead, and performed miracles.

But what was life like duringthe time of the prophet?

CBN News took an exclusivelook at an archeological site

that sheds light on that era.

And as I found out, it couldcontain the house of Elijah.

This is Tel Rehov, in the Jordan Valley.

During 16 years of digging,archeologists uncovered

a 3,000-year-old well-planned city.

They also found a unique building

that might have been the house of Elijah.

- [Mazar] The house was fullwith objects of unique type.

Two altars, we foundthere, two pottery altars,

that were used for burning incense.

- [Chris] Lead archeologist Ami Mazar

also points out the differencein the structure of the house

- Normally houses have one entrance,

leading into a large space,with rooms all around.

This house was divided into two wings.

The two wings were connected to another

through the back room.

And each one of the wings hadan opening towards the street.

- [Chris] Outside theroom were incense altars

maybe used to make an offering to God

before entering to hearthe prophet's message.

- We found an ink inscription,written in red ink on pottery

but it's broken unfortunately.

But we reconstruct the name as Elijah.

- [Chris] Elijah was born aboutseven miles from Tel Rehov,

in Abel-Meholah, and wentthroughout the Kingdom of Israel

from Jericho to Samaria to Shunem.

- I cannot say for surethat this particular Elijah,

that we found, is the biblical Elijah.

It's very difficult tosay, but it's very tempting

because it's exactly theperiod when Elijah acted,

the second half of the 9th century B.C.

- [Chris] Elijah the prophetwas known for telling the widow

to borrow empty pots, fillthem with a tiny cruise of oil,

and sell them to pay her creditors,

raising the Sunahmmite son from the dead,

and instructing the Syrianarmy commander Naaman

to wash in the Jordan River seven times

to be healed of leprosy.

Archeologist Stephen Pfanncalls the evidence compelling.

- With only six other peopleby the name of Elijah known

in that time for a coupleof centuries on either side,

we can somehow believe thateither there was just the luck

that this holy man wasalso by the name of Elijah

or this was Elijah the prophet himself.

- [Chris] Another discoverypointing to Elijah

is the discovery of twodifferent inscriptions,

mentioning the family of Nimshi.

- Remember, it was Elijahthat was told to anoint Jehu,

the son of Nimshi, to be king.

He passed that on to Elijah,

who sent out one of his disciples

to finally do the anointing.

- [Chris] Many archeologists shy away

from drawing conclusions about the Bible,

but some see it as a way ofputting the pieces together.

- Archeology's like a huge puzzle.

We add information from one excavation,

a second excavation, a third excavation,

(speaking Hebrew)

Samaria, and together we bringit in into a large picture,

a large puzzle, trying to decipher

the material culture of the Israelites.

- [Chris] For Cary Summers,who heads Nazareth Village,

it's even more.

- It's like any otherarcheological site, in essence.

Every scoop of dirt provesthe Bible one scoop at a time.

And this site is absolutely magnificent.

- [Chris] The future ofthe site is uncertain,

because its mud bricks are deteriorating.

Experts hope, however, it can be preserved

to help future generationsunderstand the Bible.

About 100 years after the prophet Elijah,

King Hezekiah ruled the Kingdom of Judah.

Hebrew University announced the discovery

that affirms the Biblicalrecord, and life,

of one of the Bible'smost righteous kings.

It's small, only one centimeter wide,

but it's already made a big impact.

It's called a bullah, an ancient seal.

What makes this so significantis the name on the seal.

- We discovered the seal impression,

imprinted by King Hezekiah himself,

saying, very clearly in ancient Hebrew

(speaking Hebrew)

belongs to Hezekiah, sonof Ahaz, King of Judea.

- [Chris] Hebrew Universityarcheologist Eilat Mazar

discovered the seal duringone of her excavations.

For Mazar, it was thediscovery of a lifetime.

- Astonished.

This was, I think, thiswas most amazed find,

for me, personally, ever.

I was kind of...

(laughs)

amazed.

- [Chris] Mazar says thediscovery is unprecedented.

- We never found in archeologicalexcavations, scientific,

stratigraphy, such an itemthat is so close, private,

tangible, to any of theIsraelite or Judean King, ever.

I believe it's as close as wecan get to any biblical figure

not to mention such afigure as King Hezekiah.

- [Chris] The Bible describesHezekiah in II Kings 18:5.

It says, "He trusted inthe Lord God of Israel,

"so that after him was none like him

"among all the kings of Judah,nor who were before him."

Mazar says the bullah wasKing Hezekiah's personal seal

for an important document.

She says the find validates the Bible.

- And I'm amazed to see, repeatedly,

that archeological evidencegoes so beautifully

along with the biblical story.

It's just repeatedly showing us

that so much of the biblicalnarratives are accurate.

- [Chris] The find alsoconnects the Jewish people

to ancient Israel.

- We are talking about, what, 2,800 years,

just as the Bible says.

We're talking about theKingdom of Judah and Jerusalem,

the capital of Israel.

We're talking about thehistory of Jerusalem

in such a tangible, independent way.

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- [Chris] Up next, Herod's Palace,

the place which somearcheologists say Jesus

may have been judged.

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- Welcome back to the specialedition of Jerusalem Dateline.

Inside the Old City walls,discoveries in Herod's Palace

have attracted the attention

of both Jewish and Christian scholars.

More than 2,000 years of history

are recorded in one building,

where Pontius Pilate mayhave sentenced Jesus.

John Waage explains.

- [John] At the westernedge of the Old City,

the Tower of David stands above the walls.

16 years ago, archeologistsfound a building

while working on theTower of David Museum.

Records on its walls go backeven before the time of Jesus,

and the Roman governor whosentenced him to the cross,

Pontius Pilate.

For years, experts suggested that Pilate

handed down his death sentencefrom Antonia's Fortress,

on the other side of the city,

where the Roman soldiers were housed.

But recent evidence, uncovered here,

at the site of King Herod's Palace,

indicates that the luxury-loving Pilate

was more likely to havepronounced judgment here.

Archeologist Amit Re'em

helped discover the palace site in 1999.

He's familiar with thehistory on these walls,

from Herod's time until theBritish put a prison on it

in the 1940s.

- Until now, those impressive walls

are the only remains from Herod Palace.

We do not know what happenedto the superstructures,

to the palace itself.

Maybe it was destroyed in the big revolt.

Maybe it was destroyed by the Romans.

Maybe it was destroyed bythe Crusaders or the Ottoman.

- We don't know exactlywhere Jesus was tried,

where he had his interviewbefore Pontius Pilate.

But we know it's somewherein Herod's Palace.

- [John] David Pileggi ispastor of Christ Church,

just steps away from the site.

- We know that thepalace of Herod the Great

eventually became Romanproperty, after Herod's death,

and that every year PontiusPilate would come from Caeserea

to Jerusalem here, duringthe time of Passover,

to oversee the security ofthe city during the festival

that the Jews called the Feast of Freedom.

And it was at this time where,

if there was going tobe trouble in Jerusalem,

it would be during the Passover holiday.

- [John] Pillegi says that,in a way, the Tower of David

encompasses the entirelife story of Jesus.

- Scholars had beensaying for half a century

that the life of Jesusbegins at the Tower of David,

or what was then Herod's Palace,

that's when the magicome to visit King Herod,

and his life ends, basically,

when Pontius Pilatesentences him to death,

pretty much in the same location.

So there's some veryinteresting irony in this story.

- [John] Israeli archeologist Renee Sivan

is still struck by its power and opulence,

even though she helped begin the digging.

- Jerusalem is like an onion.

You peel it, peel it,peel it, and it never...

But then you cry a bit, but not too much.

That is what happens here.

- [John] Pileggi calls the Tower of David

the best museum in the city,

and says tourists would do wellto start their journey here.

- Now we have the extra bonusof having the very place

where Jesus was sent toexecution by Pontius Pilate,

and this will helpChristians better visualize

those monumentous events thathappened to Jesus the Messiah,

Jesus of Nazareth, in thelast week of his life.

- [John] Just a couple of milesaway, the Mount of Olives,

where scripture says he'll come again.

John Waage, CBN News, Jerusalem.

- Not far from Herod's Palace,

archeologists discovered a rare gold bell,

believed to be part of a priestly garment

during the time of Jesus.

CBN News correspondentJulie Stahl has that story.

(clinking)

- [Julie] That's the sound

of a 2,000-year-old tiny gold bell.

- And the man that was walkingwith that bell on his coat,

everyone would hear when coming.

It's a small noise, it's not a big noise,

just to give some respect to this man.

- [Julie] Archeologists uncovered the bell

while excavating anancient drainage channel.

It begins at the pool of Cylon

and continues underground toan area near the Western Wall

called Robinson's Arch.

That's where Jewish worshipers

would have entered the TempleMount in the time of Jesus.

- This bell we found underthe main street of Jerusalem

from the Second Temple.

- [Julie] The bell hasa tiny loop at the top.

It would've been attached tothe garment of a wealthy person

The Bible describes the robeof Aaron the high priest saying

"Upon its hem, you shallmake pomegranates of blue,

"purple, and scarlet, all around its hem,

"and bells of goldbetween them, all around."

Head archeologist Elie Shukransays there's no way to know

for sure if the bell camefrom a priestly garment.

- It could be anyone,

but I think with the highposition in Jerusalem

from the Second Temple period.

- [Julie] He believes the bellfell off the man's garment

and into the drainage channel.

- After 2,000 years, we are walking,

walking very hard in thetunnels of Jerusalem,

and after 2,000 years wefound that bell in the tunnel.

- [Julie] Archeologists hopeto open the channel tunnel

to the public later this summer.

Shukran says discoverieslike the little golden bell

shed light on the nature ofJerusalem in Second Temple times

Julie Stahl, CBN News, Jerusalem.

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- [Chris] Up next, KingDavid, man or myth?

When we come back.

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- Welcome back to Jerusalem Dateline.

As I mentioned earlier,

we're coming to younear the southern steps,

leading up to the Second Temple.

The Bible's King David, man or myth?

That's the question Israeliarcheologists are answering

with new archeological finds.

They believe they've uncovered the remains

of a palace of King David.

CBN's correspondent takesus near the Valley of Elah,

where David slew Goliath.

- [John] About 20 milesoutside of Jerusalem,

archeologists found the best example yet

of a fortified city in Judahfrom the time of King David.

Identified with biblical Shah Ireem,

the city overlooked the Valley of Elah,

where David killed Goliath.

- Before we excavated here,

there was many debate about King David,

if he's historical figure or not,

and if he indeed has akingdom and fortified cities.

- [John] Hebrew University archeologist

Professor Yossi Garfinkel says even though

David is famous in the Bible,

no evidence from his time as King

had been found in Hebron or Jerusalem.

- So people start asking,well, maybe it's all mythology,

maybe it's only stories,maybe he never existed,

or if he existed,

he was just a Bedouinsheik living in a tent,

but no real kingdom, noreal fortified cities.

- [John] That changed seven years ago,

when the excavations here began.

- After one or two or threeseasons, it turned out

that we had a big city here,which was heavily fortified.

Some of the stone hereare up to eight ton.

This is not a small village.

This is a real important stronghold.

- [John] Not everyoneshares this excitement.

Some archeologists caution that the site

may have belonged to other kingdoms.

Many believe there's no actualproof that King David existed

but Garfinkel is convinced.

They found a 1,000-square-meter palace

at the center of the site.

It had an excellent viewfrom the Mediterranean Sea

to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem.

Another building would'vebeen used to store taxes.

- How do you collect taxes in antiquity?

People really don't have salaries,

so you don't have income taxed like today,

but people were agriculturalists,

so everybody had to donatesome of their product.

Wheat, barley, legumes,and so on and so forth.

And this was stored in big storage house,

and in a central building.

- [John] There were no pigbones found at the site,

showing that people followed

the biblical commandmentagainst eating pork.

Garfinkel says all the discoveries add up.

- And it's different from the Philistines,

from the Canaanite, orfrom the Kingdom of Israel.

So our conclusion is that this city

is from the time of King David.

- [John] The dig at Kir BeitKayaffa will soon be finished,

as archeologists look for more answers

at another excavation site.

- This area's going to bedeveloped into a national park

to develop the place,to be a tourist area,

and people from Israel and abroad,

tourists can come and see the landscape,

can see the only place in the world

where you can see a cityfrom the time of David.

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- [John] John Waage, CBN News.

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- [Chris] Coming up,the Temple Mount floor,

where Jesus walked.

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- Welcome back.

During the show

we've been coming to youfrom the Davidson Center.

It's an archeological park onthe edge of the Temple Mount.

When you come to Jerusalem,it's an awesome place to visit.

Well, Israeli archeologistsare talking about a discovery

that could change the thinkingabout the Temple Mount

from the time of Jesus.

This major find came asarcheologists reconstructured

2,000-year-old tiles fromthe Second Jewish Temple,

built by King Herod.

- These are the very floorsupon which the high priests

and the priests and the pilgrims

who came to the Temple Mount walked,

and this is the floorupon which Jesus walked,

when he came to the Temple Mount.

- [Chris] This discovery resultedfrom a controversy in 1999

when tons of debris was illegally removed

from under the Temple Mount,

to build an underground mosque.

- We have the pieces of the flooring tiles

for the last 12 years of work,

from the soil of the Temple Mount.

We identified themalready, some 10 years ago,

and we understood that theybelonged to such floors.

- [Chris] Archeologistsconfirmed the authenticity

of these pieces, basedon the various sizes,

materials, and techniqueby which they were made.

- I never thought that I wouldbe able to find something

that is so much connectedto the Temple proper.

- [Chris] Project directorarcheologist Gaby Barkay

pointed out why this achievement

should be important for Christians.

- This is the very floor uponwhich the coins were rolling

when Jesus turned the tables

of the money changers upside down.

This is the very floor uponwhich those coins were rolling.

- We have several different stories

where Jesus is sitting withhis disciples, in the porticos,

and he's teaching them right there.

They're standing, they're sitting,

right here on these floors.

- [Chris] Researcher andmathematician Frankie Snyder

played a key role in puttingthe tile patterns together.

- This is the first Herodian pattern

I was actually able to reconstruct.

- [Chris] Snyder restoredthe ornate patterns

combining geometric principles,

with comparisons todesigns at Herod's palaces.

- You find that in the Herodian patterns,

the mathematics is impeccable.

The sizes, the shapes,

how they were putting thesethings together is just amazing.

- [Chris] So far, about 600colored stone floor tile pieces

have been discovered.

- It's sort of likeputting together a puzzle,

but without a box top.

You don't know what thepicture's gonna look like,

and you only have about 1% of the tiles.

We're not out to try to prove anything.

The temple was there.

But we can show you moreclearly exactly what was there.

- That's just one of themany archeological finds

revealing what the TempleMount, just behind me,

looked like 2,000 years ago.

Well thanks for joining us

for this special JerusalemDateline edition,

uncovering the archeological finds

here in the land of Israel.

Remember, you can follow us on Facebook,

Twitter, and Instagram.

I'm Chris Mitchell.

We'll see you next timeon Jerusalem Dateline.

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