One of the continuing controversies in scholarly circles is over the historical reliability of the Bible. Many archaeologists dismiss the Bible as being merely a product of human invention, with no reliability as a historical source, denying any idea of divine inspiration. Therefore it is exciting and encouraging to our faith as evangelical Christians when a significant discovery is made which confirms the truth of the Old Testament, as well as it being a powerful testimony to unbelievers that God’s Word can be trusted.
Recently, a cuneiform tablet, which has been sitting in store in the British Museum for nearly a hundred years, was discovered to have a direct link with the Book of Jeremiah. Only a small number of the historical artifacts held by the British Museum are on public display. They actually have around 130,000 cuneiform tablets from the Assyrian and Babylonian times, which were originally excavated in Iraq in the 19th century.
The tablet has been described as a tax return from 595 BC. It describes a huge gift of 0.75kg of gold for the Esagila (the temple to Marduk in Babylon) given by a Babylonian official called Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, who was the chief eunuch of Nebuchadnezzar. He is the same person who is named in the Book of Jeremiah as one of the officials who accompanied Nebuchadnezzar during the fall of Jerusalem in 586/7 BC (Jer 39:1-3), where he is called “Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer” (NIV). This is when King Zedekiah was blinded and taken captive to Babylon, and the city of Jerusalem destroyed, together with the temple. The tablet therefore serves as a testimony to one of the most significant and traumatic events in Israel’s history.
The discovery of this tablet has made a great impact in scholarly circles. Now that one small detail in Jeremiah has been shown to be accurate, the rest of the book needs to be taken far more seriously as an accurate historical document. This is also one of the few instances when archaeological evidence of an individual other than a king named in the Bible has been discovered.
You can read more details on this link, where there is also a photograph and an English translation: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/11/ntablet111.xml
The tablet has been very well preserved, and is now on public display, and will be included in the next Museum tour on 6th October 2007.