The Bible’s Buried Secrets

God is dead… or so it must have seemed to the ancestors of the Jews
in 586 B.C. Jerusalem and the temple
to their god are in flames The nation of Israel founded
by King David is wiped out WILLIAM DEVER:
It would have seemed
to have been the end, but it was rather the beginning NARRATOR:
For out of the crucible
of destruction emerges a sacred book:
the Bible… and an idea that will change
the world: the belief in one God ¶ ¶ THOMAS CAHILL:
This is a new idea It was an idea that nobody had
ever had before LEE LEVINE:
Monotheism is well-ensconced, so something major happened
which is very hard to trace NARRATOR:
Now a provocative new story from discoveries deep within
the Earth and the Bible EILAT MAZAR:
We wanted to examine
the possibility that the remains of King David’s
palace are here DEVER:
We can actually see vivid
evidence here of a destruction AMNON BEN-TOR:
Question number one: Who did it? NARRATOR:
An archaeological detective
story puzzles together clues to the mystery of who wrote
the Bible, when and why And it was very clear it was some kind
of a tiny scroll I immediately saw very clear,
very distinct letters This is the ancestor
of the Hebrew script NARRATOR:
And from out of the Earth emerge thousands of idols
that suggest God had a wife We just found this exceptional
clay figurine showing a fertility goddess NARRATOR:
Powerful evidence sheds new
light on how one people, alone among ancient cultures, finally turn their back
on idol worship to find their one God This makes the god
of ancient Israel the universal god of the world
that resonates with people, at least in Jewish, Christian,
and Muslim tradition to this very day. (thunder crashes) NARRATOR:
Now science and scripture
converge to create a powerful new story
of an ancient people, God and the Bible Up next on NOVA
“The Bible’s Buried Secrets” Captioning sponsored
is provided by the following:
Near the banks of the Nile
in southern Egypt in 1896, British archaeologist Flinders
Petrie leads an excavation in Thebes,
the ancient city of the dead Here, he unearths one of the
most important discoveries in biblical archaeology (worker yelling) From beneath the sand appears the corner of a royal monument,
carved in stone Dedicated in honor
of Pharaoh Merneptah, son of Ramesses the Great, it became known
as the Merneptah Stele Today it is in the Cairo Museum DONALD REDFORD:
This stele is what the Egyptians would have
called a “triumph stele,” a victory stele commemorating
victory over foreign peoples NARRATOR:
Most of the hieroglyphic
inscription celebrates Merneptah’s triumph over Libya,
his enemy to the West But almost as an afterthought,
he mentions his conquest of people to the East
in just two lines REDFORD:
The text reads, “Ashkelon has been
brought captive “Gezer has been taken captive “Yanoam in the North Jordan
Valley has been seized Israel has been shorn,
its seed no longer exists” NARRATOR:
History proves the pharaoh’s
confident boast to be wrong Rather than marking
their annihilation, Merneptah’s Stele announces
the entrance onto the world stage
of a people named Israel REDFORD:
This is priceless evidence for the presence of an ethnical
group called Israel in the central highlands
of southern Canaan NARRATOR:
The well-established Egyptian
chronology gives the date as 1208 B.C. Merneptah’s Stele
is powerful evidence that a people called the
Israelites are living in Canaan, in what today includes Israel
and Palestine over 3,000 years ago The ancient Israelites are best
known through familiar stories that chronicle their history Abraham and Isaac… (thunder crashes) Moses and
the Ten Commandments… David and Goliath It is the ancient Israelites
who write the Bible (reading aloud) Through writing
the Hebrew Bible, the beliefs of the ancient
Israelites survive to become Judaism,
one of the world’s oldest continuously practiced
religions And it is the Jews who give
the world an astounding legacy: the belief in one God ¶ ¶ This belief will become
the foundation of two other great monotheistic
religions: Christianity… and Islam Often called the Old Testament, to distinguish it from
the New Testament, which described the events
of early Christianity, today the Hebrew Bible
and a belief in one God are woven into the very fabric
of world culture But in ancient times, all people
from the Egyptians to the Greeks
to the Babylonians, worshipped many gods,
usually in the form of idols How did the Israelites, alone
among ancient peoples, discover the concept of one god? (man chanting) How did they come up
with an idea that so profoundly changed
the world? Now archaeologists and biblical
scholars are arriving at a new synthesis
that promises to reveal not only fresh
historical insights, but a deeper meaning of what the authors of the Bible
wanted to convey They start by digging
into the earth… and the Bible DEVER:
You cannot afford to ignore
biblical text, especially if you can isolate
a kind of kernel of truth behind these stories, and then you have
the archaeological data Now, what happens when text
and artifact seem to point in the same direction? Then I think we are on a very
sound ground historically NARRATOR:
Scholars search
for intersections between science and scripture The earliest is
the victory stele of the Egyptian pharaoh
Merneptah from 1208 B.C. Both the stele and the Bible
place a people called the Israelites in the
hill country of Canaan, which includes modern-day Israel
and Palestine It is here, between two
of history’s greatest empires, that Israel’s story will unfold PETER MACHINIST:
The way to understand Israel’s
relationship to the superpowers Egypt and
Mesopotamia on either side is to understand its own sense
of its fragility as a people The primary way in which the
Bible looks at the origins of Israel is as a people coming
to settle in the land of Israel It’s not indigenous It’s not a native state NARRATOR:
The Hebrew Bible is full of
stories of Israel’s origins The first is Abraham, who leaves Mesopotamia
with his family and journeys to the
Promised Land, Canaan READER:
“The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Go forth from your native land,
and from your father’s house, ‘to the land
that I will show you ‘I will make of you
a great nation ‘And I will bless you I will make your name great” “Genesis 12:1 and 2” NARRATOR:
According to the Bible, this promise establishes
the covenant, a sacred contract
between God and Abraham To mark the covenant, Abraham
and all males are circumcised His descendants
will be God’s chosen people They will be fruitful, multiply,
and inhabit all the land between Egypt and Mesopotamia In return,
Abraham and his people, who will become the Israelites,
must worship a single God This is a new idea NARRATOR:
It is hard to appreciate today how radical an idea
this must have been in a world dominated
by polytheism– the worship of many gods
and idols The Abraham narrative is part of the first book of the Bible,
Genesis, along with Noah and the Flood,
and Adam and Eve Though they convey
a powerful message, to date, there is no archaeology
or text outside of the Bible
to corroborate them DAVID ILAN:
The farther back you go
in the biblical text, the more difficult it is to find
historical material in it The patriarchs go back
to Genesis Genesis is, for the most part, a compilation of myths, creation
stories, things like that And to find a historical core
there is very difficult NARRATOR:
This absence of historical
evidence leads scholars to take a different approach to
reading the biblical narrative They look beyond our modern
notion of fact or fiction to ask why the Bible was written
in the first place DEVER:
There is no word for “history”
in the Hebrew Bible The biblical writers
were telling stories They were good historians,
and they could tell it the way it was
when they wanted to, but their objective was always
something far beyond that NARRATOR:
So what was their objective? To find out,
scholars must uncover who wrote the Bible and when READER:
“And the Lord said to Moses,
‘Write down these words, ‘for, in accordance
with these words, I make a covenant with you
and with Israel” “Exodus 34:27” NARRATOR:
The traditional belief is that Moses wrote the first
five books of the Bible– Genesis: The story of creation Exodus: Deliverance from slavery
to the Promised Land Leviticus, Numbers,
and Deuteronomy: Laws of morality and observance Still read to this day,
together they form the Torah, often called
the Five Books of Moses MICHAEL COOGAN:
The view that Moses
had personally written down the first five books
of the Bible was virtually unchallenged
until the 17th century There were a few questions
raised about this For example, the very end
of the last book of the Torah, the Book of Deuteronomy, describes the death
and burial of Moses And so some rabbi said, “Well, Moses couldn’t have
written those words himself because he was dead
and was being buried” NARRATOR:
And, digging deeper
into the text, there are even
more discrepancies COOGAN:
For example, how many
of each species of animal is Noah supposed
to bring into the ark? One text says two– a pair
of every kind of animal Another text says seven pair
of the clean animals, and only two
of the unclean animals NARRATOR:
In one chapter, the Bible says the flood lasts
for 40 days and 40 nights But, in the next,
it says 150 days To see if the floodwaters
have subsided, Noah sends out a dove But, in the previous sentence,
he sends a raven There are two complete versions
of the flood story interwoven on the same page Many similar discrepancies
throughout its pages suggest that the Bible
has more than one writer In fact, within the first
five books of the Bible, scholars have
identified the hand of at least four different
groups of scribes writing over several hundred years This theory is called
the Documentary Hypothesis COOGAN:
One way of thinking about it is,
as a kind of anthology that was made over the course
of many centuries by different people
adding to it, subtracting from it,
and so forth NARRATOR:
But when did the process
of writing the Bible begin? Tel Zayit is a small site on the southwestern border
of ancient Israel that dates back
to biblical times Since 1999, Ron Tappy
has been excavating here It was the last day of what
had been a typical dig season TAPPY:
As I was taking
aerial photographs from the cherry picker, a volunteer notified
his square supervisor that he thought he had seen
some interesting marks– scratches, possibly letters–
incised in a stone Which? Right here?
Letters would be a rare find. So, when he kneeled
to look at the marks, Tappy got the surprise
of a lifetime TAPPY:
As I bent down over the stone, I immediately saw very clear,
very distinct letters NARRATOR:
Tappy excavated the rock and brought it back to his lab
at the nearby kibbutz It was only then
that he realized he had more than a simple inscription TAPPY:
“Aleph, bet, gimmel, dalet…” I realized that this inscription
represented an abecedary That is to say, not a text
narrative, but the letters of the Semitic alphabet written out
in their correct order “Nun” and then “pe” and “‘ayin”
are difficult to read, but they’re out here NARRATOR:
This ancient script
is an early form of the Hebrew alphabet McCARTER:
What was found was not a random scratching
of two or three letters It was…
it was the full alphabet Everything about it says that this is the ancestor
of the Hebrew script NARRATOR:
The Tel Zayit abecedary is the earliest Hebrew alphabet
ever discovered It dates to about 1000 B.C., making it possible
that writing the Hebrew Bible could have already started
by this time To discover the most ancient
text in the Bible, scholars examine
the Hebrew spelling, grammar and vocabulary McCARTER:
The Hebrew Bible is a collection
of literature written over about
a thousand years And, as with any other language, Hebrew naturally changed
quite a bit over those thousand years The same would be true
of English I’m speaking English
of the 21st century And, if I were living
in Elizabethan times, the words I choose,
the syntax I use, would be quite different NARRATOR:
Scholars examine the Bible
in its original Hebrew in search
of the most archaic language, and, therefore,
the oldest passages They find it in Exodus,
the second book of the Bible (hoofbeats thudding,
horse neighing) READER:
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
He cast into the sea His picked officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.” “Exodus 15:4” NARRATOR:
This passage,
known as the “Song of the Sea,” is the climactic scene
of Exodus, the story of the Israelites’
enslavement in Egypt, and how Moses leads them
to freedom In all of the Bible, no single event is mentioned
more times than the Exodus With the development
of ancient Hebrew script, the “Song of the Sea” could
have been written by 1000 B.C., the time of Tappy’s alphabet But it was probably recited
as a poem long before the beginning
of Hebrew writing LAWRENCE STAGER:
It’s very likely that
it was a kind of story told in poetic form that you
might tell around the campfire Just as our poems are easier
to remember, generally, than prose accounts,
so we generally think that the poetry is orally
passed on from one to another long before they commit things
to writing NARRATOR:
Because the poetry in Exodus
is so ancient, is it possible the story
has some historical core? Here, in the eastern Nile Delta
of Egypt, in a surreal landscape of fallen
monuments and tumbled masonry, archaeologists have uncovered
a lost city Inscribed on monuments
throughout the site is the name of Ramesses II, one of the most powerful
Egyptian rulers It is Ramesses
who is traditionally known as the Pharaoh of the Exodus Ancient Egyptian texts
call the city Pi-Ramesse, or House of Ramesses,
a name that resonates with the biblical story
of Exodus COOGAN:
The only specific item mentioned
in the Exodus story that we can probably connect
with nonbiblical material is the cities that the Hebrews
were ordered to build, and they are named
Pithom and Ramesses NARRATOR:
Scholars agree that
the biblical city Ramesses is the ancient Egyptian city
Pi-Ramesse (wind whistling softly) Its ruins are here
in present-day Tanis MANFRED BIETAK:
Most of the Egyptologists identified Piramesse,
the Ramesses town, with Tanis, because here
you have an abundance of Ramesside monuments NARRATOR:
This convergence between
archaeology and the Bible provides a time frame
for the Exodus It could not have happened before Ramesses became king
around 1275 B.C. And it could not have happened
after 1208 B.C., when the stele
of Pharaoh Merneptah, Ramesses II’s so specifically locates
the Israelites in Canaan (crowd clamoring) The Bible says the Israelites
leave Egypt in a mass migration, 600,000 men and their families, and then wander in the desert
for 40 years But even assuming
the Bible is exaggerating, in a hundred years of searching, archaeologists have not yet
found evidence of migration that can be linked
to the Exodus DEVER:
No excavated site
gives us any information about the route of the wandering
through the wilderness An Exodus is simply
not attested anywhere NARRATOR:
Any historical
or archaeological confirmation of the Exodus remains elusive Yet scholars have discovered
that all four groups of biblical writers contributed to some part
of the Exodus story Perhaps it is
for the same reason its message remains powerful
to this day… …its inspiring theme
of freedom CAROL MEYERS:
Freedom is a compelling notion, and that is one of the ways
that we can understand the story of the Exodus, from being controlled by others
to controlling oneself, the idea of a change
from domination to autonomy These are very powerful ideas that resonate
in the human spirit And the Exodus gives narrative
reality to those ideas (distant chatter) NARRATOR:
Following the Exodus, the Bible says God
finally delivers the Israelites to the Promised Land– Canaan Archaeology and sources
outside the Bible reveal that Canaan consisted
of well-fortified city-states, each with its own king, who in turn served
Egypt and its pharaoh The Canaanites, a thriving Near Eastern culture
for thousands of years, worshipped many gods
in the form of idols The Bible describes
how a new leader, Joshua, takes the Israelites into Canaan in a blitzkrieg
military campaign (crowd clamoring) READER:
“So the people shouted,
and the trumpets were blown “As soon as the people heard
the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout,
and the wall fell down flat” “Joshua 6:20” NARRATOR:
But what does archaeology say? In the 1930s, British archaeologist
John Garstang excavated at Jericho, the first Canaanite city
in Joshua’s campaign Garstang uncovered
dramatic evidence of destruction and declared
he had found the very walls that Joshua
had brought tumbling down (helicopter blades whirring) And at what the Bible describes as the greatest
of all Canaanite cities, Hazor, there is more evidence
of destruction. (speaking Hebrew) Today, Hazor is being excavated by one of the leading
Israeli archaeologists, Amnon Ben-Tor, and his protégé and codirector,
Sharon Zuckerman I’m walking through a passage
between two of the rooms of the Canaanite palace
of the kings of Hazor Signs of the destruction you can still see
almost everywhere You can see
the dark stones here, and most importantly,
you can see how they cracked
into a million pieces It takes tremendous heat to cause such damage The fire here was,
how should I say, the mother of all fires NARRATOR:
Among the ashes, Ben-Tor discovered
a desecrated statue, most likely the king
or patron god of Hazor Its head and hands are cut off, apparently
by the city’s conquerors This marked the end
of Canaanite Hazor BEN-TOR:
Question number one: Who did it? Who was around? Who is a possible candidate? So, number one, the Egyptians They don’t mention
having done anything at Hazor In any of the inscriptions
of the time, we don’t see Hazor Another Canaanite city-state
could have done it? Maybe, but who was
strong enough to do it? Who are we left with? The Israelites The only ones about whom there
is a tradition that they did it So, let’s say they
should be considered guilty of destruction of Hazor
until proven innocent NARRATOR:
And there’s another
Canaanite city-state that Joshua
and his army of Israelites are credited with laying waste (men talking indistinctly) It’s called Ai,
and has been discovered in what is now the Palestinian
territory of the West Bank Here, archaeologist
Hani Nur el-Din and his team are finding evidence of a rich Canaanite culture (speaking indistinctly) EL-DIN:
The village first appears and developed a city, and then there was
a kind of fortification surrounding this settlement (wind whistling) NARRATOR:
These heaps of stones were once a magnificent palace
and temples, which were
eventually destroyed But when the archaeologists
date the destruction, they discover it occurred
about 2200 B.C. They date the destruction
ofericho to 1500 B.C… and Hazor’s to about 1250 B.C. Clearly, these city-states were
not destroyed at the same time They range over
nearly a thousand years In fact, of the 31 sites the Bible says
that Joshua conquered, few showed any signs of war DEVER:
There was no evidence of armed
conflict in most of these sites At the same time
it was discovered that most of the large
Canaanite towns that were supposed to have been
destroyed by these Israelites were either not destroyed at all
or destroyed by others NARRATOR:
A single, sweeping
military invasion led by Joshua cannot account for how the
Israelites arrived in Canaan But the destruction of Hazor
does coincide with the time that the Merneptah Stele locates
the Israelites in Canaan So who destroyed Hazor? Amnon Ben-Tor still believes
it was the Israelites who destroyed the city (speaking Hebrew) But his codirector,
Sharon Zuckerman, has a different idea ZUCKERMAN:
The final destruction itself consisted of the mutilation of statues of kings and gods It did not consist
of signs of war or of any kind of fighting We don’t see weapons
in the street like we see in other sites that
were destroyed by foreigners (both speaking Hebrew) NARRATOR:
So if there was no invasion,
what happened? Bobby, just, uh, be careful
about the stones there, okay? NARRATOR:
Excavations reveal that Hazor had a lower city of commoners,
serfs and slaves, and an upper city
with a king and wealthy elites Zuckerman finds within
the grand palaces of elite Hazor areas of disrepair… and abandonment– to archaeologists,
signs of a culture in decline… and rebellion from within. ZUCKERMAN:
I would not rule out
the possibility of an internal revolt of Canaanites living at Hazor and, uh… revolting against the elites
that, uh, ruled the city NARRATOR:
In fact, the entire
Canaanite city-state system, including Hazor and Jericho,
breaks down Archaeology and ancient texts
clearly show that it is the result of a long
period of decline and upheaval that sweeps
through Mesopotamia, the Aegean region and the Egyptian empire
around 1200 B.C. MACHINIST:
And when the dust,
as it were, settles, when we can begin to see
what takes the place of these… of this great-state system, we find a number of new peoples
suddenly coming into focus in a kind of void
that is created with the dissolution
of the great-state system NARRATOR:
Can archaeologists
find the Israelites among these new people? In the 1970s, archaeologists
started wide-ranging surveys throughout the central
hill country of Canaan, today primarily the Palestinian
Territory of the West Bank ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN:
I was teaching at that time We used to take students and go
twice a week to the highlands And every day we used to cover between two and three
square kilometers And this accumulates very slowly into the coverage
of the entire area NARRATOR:
Israel Finkelstein
and teams of archaeologists walked out grids
over large areas, collecting every fragment
of ancient pottery lying on the surface NARRATOR:
Over seven years, he covered
nearly 400 square miles, sorting pottery
and marking the locations of where it was found on a map FINKELSTEIN:
In the beginning,
the spots were there on the map and they meant nothing to me But later, slowly, slowly, I started seeing sort of
phenomena and processes NARRATOR:
By dating the pottery,
Finkelstein discovered that before 1200 B.C., there were approximately
25 settlements He estimated the total
population of those settlements to be 3,000 to 5,000
inhabitants But just 200 years later, there’s a very sharp increase
in settlements and people FINKELSTEIN:
Then you get this boom of
population growing and growing, then we are speaking
about 250 sites And the population
grows also ten times from a few thousand
to 45,000 or so Now, this is very dramatic and cannot be explained
as natural growth This rate is impossible
in ancient times NARRATOR:
If not natural growth, perhaps these are the waves of
dispersed people settling down following the collapse
of the great state systems Then, more evidence of a new
culture is discovered, a new type of simple dwelling
never seen before And it’s in the exact location where both the Merneptah Stele
and the Bible place the Israelites AMNON BEN-TOR:
The sites in which
this type of house appears throughout the country,
this is where Israelites lived. They are sometimes even called
the Israelite house or Israelite type house The people who lived in those
villages seemed to be arranged more or less in a kind of
an egalitarian society, because there are no major
architectural installations If you look at the finds,
the finds are relatively poor Pottery is more or less
mundane– I don’t want to offend
the early settlers or the early Israelites–
very little art NARRATOR:
Curiously, the mundane pottery found at these new
Israelite villages is very similar
to the everyday pottery found at the older
Canaanite cities like Hazor In fact, the Israelite house is practically the only thing
that is different This broad similarity is leading archaeologists
to a startling new conclusion about the origins
of the ancient Israelites The notion is that most
of the early Israelites were originally Canaanites,
displaced Canaanites The Israelites were always
in the land of Israel They were natives, but they were
different kinds of groups They were basically
the have-nots So what we are dealing with
is a movement of peoples, but not an invasion of armed
hordes from outside, but rather a social
and economic revolution NARRATOR:
Ancient texts describe
how the Egyptian rulers and their Canaanite vassal kings burden the lower classes
of Canaan with taxes and even slavery A radical new theory
based on archaeology suggests what happens next As that oppressive
social system declines, families and tribes of serfs,
slaves, and common Canaanites seize the opportunity In search of
a better way of life, they abandon the old city-states
and head for the hills Free from the oppression
of their past, they eventually emerge in
a new place as a new people– the Israelites FINKELSTEIN:
In the text, you have the story of the Israelites
coming from outside, and then besieging
the Canaanite cities, destroying them
and then becoming a nation in the land of Canaan Whereas archaeology tells us
something which is the opposite According to archaeology,
the rise of early Israel is an outcome of the collapse
of Canaanite society, not the reason
for that collapse NARRATOR:
Archaeology reveals
that the Israelites were themselves
originally Canaanites So why does the Bible
consistently cast the Israelites as outsiders in Canaan? Abraham’s wanderings
from Mesopotamia… (thunderclap) …Moses leading slaves
out of Egypt and into the Promised Land… and Joshua conquering Canaan
from outside The answer may lie
in their desire to forge a distinctly
new identity MACHINIST:
Identity is created,
as psychologists tell us, by talking about what you are
not, by talking about another In order to figure out who I am, I have to figure out
who I am not NARRATOR:
Conspicuously absent
from Israelite villages are the grand palaces
and the extravagant pottery associated with the kings
and rich elites of Canaan AVRAHAM FAUST:
The Israelites did not like
the Canaanite system and they defined themselves
in contrast to that system By not using decorated pottery,
by not using imported pottery, they developed
an ideology of simplicity, which marked the difference
between them and the Egyptian
Canaanite system. NARRATOR:
If the Israelites wanted
to distinguish themselves from their Canaanite past, what better way than to create
a story about destroying them? But the stories of Abraham,
Exodus, and the Conquest serve another purpose They celebrate the power
of what the Bible says is the foremost distinction
between the Israelites and all other people–
their God In later Judaism, the name of God
is considered so sacred, it is never to be spoken COOGAN:
We don’t know exactly
what it means, we don’t know how
it was pronounced, but it seems to have been
the personal name of the God of Israel So his title, in a sense,
was God, and his name was these
four letters, which in English would be YHWH, which we think
were probably pronounced something like Yahweh NARRATOR:
But Yahweh only appears
in the Hebrew Bible His name is nowhere to be found
in Canaanite texts or stories So where do the Israelites
find their God? The search for the origins
of Yahweh leads scholars back
to ancient Egypt Here in the royal city
of Karnak, for over a thousand years, Pharaohs celebrated their power
with statues, obelisks, and carved murals
on temple walls REDFORD:
Here on the north wall
of Karnak, we have scenes depicting
the victories in battle of Seti I, the father
of Ramesses the Great Seti here commemorates
one of his greatest victories over the Shasu NARRATOR:
The Shasu were a people who lived in the deserts
of southern Canaan, now Jordan and
northern Saudi Arabia, around the same time
as the Israelites emerged Egyptian texts say one of
the places where the Shasu lived is called “YHW,” probably pronounced “Yahu,” likely the name
of their patron god That name Yahu is strangely
similar to Yahweh, the name of the Israelite god In the Bible, the place
where the Shasu lived is referred to as Midian It is here, before the Exodus,
the Bible tells us Moses first encounters Yahweh
in the form of a burning bush READER:
“Come no closer “Remove the sandals
from your feet, for the place on which you are
standing is holy ground” “Exodus 3:5 and 15” COOGAN:
So we have in Egyptian sources, something that appears to be
a name like Yahweh in the vicinity of Midian Here is Moses in Midian,
and there a deity appears to him and reveals his name
to Moses as Yahweh NARRATOR:
These tantalizing connections are leading biblical scholars
to reexamine the Exodus story While there is no evidence
to support a mass migration, some now believe that a small
group did escape from Egypt; however, they were
not Israelites, but rather Canaanite slaves On their journey back to Canaan,
they pass through Midian, where they are inspired
by stories of the Shasu’s god, Yahu FAUST:
There was probably a group of
people who fled from Egypt and had some divine experience It was probably small, a small
group demographically, but it was important
at least in ideology NARRATOR:
They find their way to the
centrahill country, where they encounter the tribes who had fled the Canaanite
city-states Their story
of deliverance resonates in this emerging
egalitarian society The liberated slaves
attribute their freedom to the god they met in Midian, who they now call Yahweh MEYERS:
They spread the word
to the highlanders, who themselves perhaps
had escaped from the tyranny of
the Canaanite city-states They spread the idea of a god who
represented freedom, freedom for people to keep
the fruits of their own labor This was a message
that was so powerful that it brought people together and gave them a new kind
of identity NARRATOR:
The identity of Israelites They are a combination of
disenfranchised Canaanites, runaway slaves from Egypt,
and even nomads settling down The Bible calls them
a mixed multitude According to the Hebrew Bible, early Israel is a motley crew,
and we know that’s the case now But these people are bound
together by a new vision and I think the revolutionary
spirit is probably there
from the beginning NARRATOR:
The chosen people may actually
be people who chose to be free Their story of escape,
first told by word of mouth and poetry,
helps forge a collective identity
among the tribes. Later, when written down,
it will become a central theme of the Bible– Exodus
and divine deliverance Deliverance by a god
who comes from Midian, exactly where the Bible says, adopted by the Israelites from slavery to freedom So is this the birth
of monotheism? COOGAN:
The common understanding
of what differentiated the ancient Israelites
from their neighbors was that
their neighbors worshipped many different gods
and goddesses, and the Israelites worshipped
only the one true God But that is not the case NARRATOR:
This bull figurine,
likely representing El, the chief god
of the Canaanite deities, is one of thousands of idols
discovered in Israelite sites COOGAN:
The Israelites frequently
worshipped other gods Now, maybe they weren’t
supposed to, but they did So at least on
a practical level, many, if not most, Israelites
were not monotheists NARRATOR:
The Bible’s ideal of
the Israelite worship of one god will have to wait About two centuries pass
after the Merneptah Stele places the Israelites in Canaan Families grow into tribes Their population increases Then about 1000 B.C., one of the
Bible’s larger-than-life figures emerges to unite
the 12 tribes of Israel against a powerful new enemy READER:
“David put his hand
into the bag; “he took out a stone
and slung it “It struck the Philistine
in the forehead; “the stone sank
into his forehead “and he fell down on the ground First Samuel 17:49” NARRATOR:
The Bible celebrates David
as a shepherd boy who vanquishes
the giant Goliath, a lover who lusts after
forbidden fruits, and a poet who composes lyric
psalms still recited today Of all the names
in the Hebrew Bible, none appears more than David Scriptures say,
David creates a kidom that stretches from Egypt
to Mesopotamia He makes Jerusalem
his royal capital And in a new covenant,
Yahweh promises that he and his descendants
will rule forever David’s son Solomon
builds the temple where Yahweh, now
the national God of Israel, will dwell for eternity The Kingdom of David
and Solomon– one nation, united under one
god– according to the Bible DEVER:
Now, some skeptics today
have argued there was no such thing
as a United Monarchy It’s a later biblical construct and particularly a construct
of modern scholarship In short, there was no David As one of the biblical
revisionists have said, David is no more historical
than King Arthur NARRATOR:
But then, in 1993,
an amazing discovery literally shed new light
on what the Bible calls ancient Israel’s greatest king Gila Cook was finishing up some
survey work with an assistant at Tel Dan, a biblical site in
the far north of Israel today The excavation was headed by the eminent Israeli
archaeologist Avraham Biran It was near the end of the day, and Cook was getting
her last measurements when she hears a yell
from below. MAN (yelling):
Gila! And it was Biran in his booming
voice yelling, “Gila, let’s go” And so I waved to him… Hold on. …and continued working Okay. NARRATOR:
After being summoned by Biran a second time, Cook had her assistant
load her up And she started down the hill COOK:
So I get there and I just drop
my bag and drop the board and I set my stuff down NARRATOR:
But something catches her eye A stone, with what appeared
to be random scratches, but was actually
an ancient inscription This time she yelled for Biran And he looks at it
and he looks at me and he says, “Oh, my God!” NARRATOR:
Cook had found a fragment
of a victory stele, written in Aramaic, an ancient
language very similar to Hebrew Dedicated by the
king of Damascus, or one of his generals, it celebrates the conquest
of Israel, boasting, “I slew mighty kings “who harnessed thousands
of chariots “and thousands of horsemen I killed the king
of the House of David” Those words,
“the House of David,” make this a critical discovery They are strong evidence
that David really lived Unlike Genesis, the stories
of Israel’s kings move the biblical narrative
out of the realm of legend and into the light of history DEVER:
The later we come in time, the firmer ground we stand on We have better sources,
we have more written sources We have more contemporary
eyewitness sources NARRATOR:
When the biblical chronology
of Israel’s kings can be cross-referenced with
historical inscriptions, like the Tel Dan Stele, they can provide scholars
with fairly reliable dates King David is the earliest
biblical figure confirmed by archaeology
to be historical And most scholars agree
he lived around 1000 B.C., the 10th century Could any of the Bible have been
written during David’s reign? The earliest Hebrew alphabet
discovered by Ron Tappy carved on a stone at Tel Zayit
provides an enticing clue Across this wall here TAPPY:
The stone was incised
with this alphabet, the stone was then used
to build a wall, and the structure itself
suffered massive destruction by fire sometime near the end
of the 10th century B.C.E. NARRATOR:
The find is even more
significant because Tel Zayit was
a biblical backwater, on the fringes
of David’s kingdom McCARTER:
Surely if there was a scribe
that could write this alphabet that far away, way out
in the boondocks at the extreme western boundary
of the kingdom, surely if there is a scribe
that could do that out there, there were scribes, much more
sophisticated scribes back in the capital NARRATOR:
Could these scribes have been
in the court of King David and his son Solomon? Could they have been the
earliest biblical writers? In the 18th century,
German scholars uncovered a clue to who wrote the Bible, hidden in two different
names for God COOGAN:
According to one account, Abraham knew God
by his intimate, personal name, conventionally pronounced
Passages with the name Yahweh, which in German is spelled
with a J, scholars refer to as J COOGAN:
But according to other accounts,
Abraham knew God simply by the most common Hebrew
word for God, which is Elohim NARRATOR:
So the two different writers
became known as E for “Elohim”
and J for “Yahweh” Most likely based on poetry
and songs passed down for generations,
they both write a version of Israel’s distant past– the stories of Abraham
in the Promised Land, Moses and the Exodus (thunder) COOGAN:
The earliest of these sources is the one that is known as J,
which many scholars dated to the 10th century B.C.,
the time of David and Solomon NARRATOR:
And because the backdrop for J’s
version of events is the area around Jerusalem,
it’s likely he lived there, perhaps in the royal courts
of David and Solomon (monks singing) For over a hundred years, archaeologists have searched
Jerusalem for evidence of the Kingdom of David (monks singing) But excavating here
is contentious because Jerusalem is sacred to today’s three monotheistic
religions JOAN BRANHAM:
For Christians, Jesus comes
in his final week to worship
at the Jerusalem temple He’s crucified, he’s buried, he’s resurrected in the city
of Jerusalem (monks singing) For Islam, it is the site where
Mohammed comes in a sacred night journey, and today the Dome of the Rock
marks that spot In Judaism, the stories of
the Hebrew Bible, of Solomon, of David, of the temples
of Jerusalem, all of these take place,
of course, in Jerusalem So, Jerusalem is a symbol
of sacred space today, important for all three
traditions NARRATOR:
Despite the difficulties, Israeli archaeologist
Eilat Mazar went digging in the most ancient part
of Jerusalem, today called the City of David MAZAR:
We started excavations here because we wanted to check and to examine the possibility
that the remains of King David’s palace are here NARRATOR:
But because this area has been
fought over, destroyed and rebuilt over thousands
of years, it was a long shot that any
biblical remains would survive But then… MAZAR:
Large walls started to appear, three-meter wide,
five-meter wide And then we saw that
it goes all directions It goes from east,
30 meters to the west, and we don’t see the end
of it yet NARRATOR:
Such huge walls can only be part
of a massive building And Mazar believes her
excavations to date represent only 20%
of its total size MAZAR:
Such a huge structure shows
centralization and capability of construction It can be only royal structure Pottery dating is based
on two ideas: pottery styles evolve uniformly
over time, and the further down you dig,
the further back in time you go If “pottery style A” comes from
the lowest stratum, then it is earlier
than “pottery style B” that comes from the stratum
above it By analyzing pottery from
well-stratified sites, excavators are able to create what they call
a “relative chronology” But this chronology is
“floating” in time without any fixed dates To anchor this chronology,
William Foxwell Albright, considered the father
of biblical archaeology, used events mentioned
in both the Bible and Egyptian and Mesopotamian
texts to assign dates to pottery styles Albright’s chronology, slightly
modified, is what Mazar uses to date her massive building, and what most archaeologists use
today MAZAR:
What we found is a typical
tenth-century pottery, meaning bowls with hand burnish
you can see from inside, together with an import;
a beautiful black-on-red juglet What is so important is that this is a tenth-century
typical juglet NARRATOR:
So has Mazar discovered
the Palace of David? She adds up the evidence–
the building is huge, it is located
in a prominent place in the oldest part of Jerusalem, and the pottery, according
to Albright’s chronology, dates to the 10th century B.C.,
the time of David Mazar believes she has indeed
found the Palace of David But that evidence and indeed
the kingdom itself rest on the dates associated
with fragments of pottery And some critics argue the
system for dating that pottery relies too heavily on the Bible Archaeologists in the past
did not rely too heavily on the Bible They relied only on the Bible We have a problem in dating How do you date in archaeology? You need an anchor from outside NARRATOR:
Today, there is a more
scientific method to anchor pottery to firm dates,
radiocarbon dating It is a specialty
of Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute BOARETTO:
The first step is, of course,
in the field, which relates this sample
mateal like olive pits or seeds or charcoal
to the archaeological context NARRATOR:
If an olive seed is found
at the same layer as a piece of pottery, the
carbon in the seed can be used to date the pottery When the seed dies, its
radioactive carbon 14 decays into stable carbon 12 at a
consistent rate over time By measuring the ratio
of carbon 14 to carbon 12, Boaretto can determine the age
of the olive seed, which in turn can be used
to date the pottery (hissing) Boaretto has meticulously
collected and analyzed hundreds of samples from over
20 sites throughout Israel Her carbon samples date the
pottery that Albright and most archaeologists
associate with the time of David and Solomon
to around 75 years later For events so long ago, this may
seem like a trivial difference But if Boaretto is right, Mazar’s Palace of David and Tappy’s ancient Hebrew
alphabet have to be redated This places them in the time
of the lesser-known kings Omri, Ahab
and his despised wife Jezebel, all worshippers
of the Canaanite god Baal With no writing
or monumental building, suddenly the Kingdom of David
and Solomon is far less glorious than the Bible describes FINKELSTEIN:
So David and Solomon did not
rule over a big territory It was a small chiefdom,
if you wish, with just a few settlements,
very poor, the population was limited,
there was no manpower for big conquest,
and so on and so forth NARRATOR:
This would make David a petty
warlord ruling over a chiefdom, and his royal capital,
Jerusalem, nothing more than a cow town FINKELSTEIN:
These are the results
of the radiocarbon dating He or she who decides
to ignore these results, I treat them as if arguing
that the world is flat, that the Earth is flat,
and I cannot argue anymore NARRATOR:
But it’s not so simple Other teams collected
radiocarbon samples following the same meticulous
methodology According to their results, Mazar’s Palace and Tappy’s
alphabet can date to the 10th century,
the time of David and Solomon How can this discrepancy
be explained? The problem is that these
radiocarbon dates have a margin of error
of plus or minus 30 years, about the difference
between the two sides Pottery and radiocarbon dating
alone cannot determine if the Kingdom of David
and Solomon was as large and prosperous as described
in the Bible Fortunately, the Bible offers
clues of other places to dig for evidence of this kingdom The Bible credits David
with conquering the Kingdom, but it is Solomon, his son,
who is the great builder READER:
“This was the purpose
of the forced labor “which Solomon imposed “It was to build
the House of YHWH and the wall of Jerusalem,
Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer” “First Kings 9:15” NARRATOR:
Here in Hazor, Amnon Ben-Tor,
director of excavations, believes this may be evidence
of Solomon’s building campaign Archaeologists call it
a six-chambered gate– a massive entryway fortified
with towers and guard rooms Ben-Tor’s predecessor,
Yigal Yadin, first uncovered this structure BEN-TOR:
It turned out to be a
six-chambered gate, and Yadin immediately remembered that a very, very similar gate
was excavated at Gezer And then the Chicago University excavated this gate
here at Megiddo NARRATOR:
Stunned by the similarity
of these three gates, Yadin recalled the passage
in the Bible BEN-TOR:
Here we have a wonderful
connection of the biblical passage
as it shows up in archaeology NARRATOR:
Three monumental gates,
all based on the same plan, would seem to be powerful
evidence not only of prosperity, but also of a central authority Throughout its history,
the Israelites had been divided into tribes, then into kingdoms,
north and south The locations of these
strikingly similar gates in both regions suggest
a single governing authority throughout the land But how can we be sure this is the kingdom of David
and Solomon? The answer once again
lies in Egypt REDFORD:
The head-smiting scene
which you see on this wall commemorates a military campaign conducted by Pharaoh Shishak
or Sheshonk, the founder of Dynasty 22
in Egypt NARRATOR:
The Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak
invades Israel, an event the Bible reports and specifically dates to five
years after Solomon’s death, during the reign
of his son, Rehoboam READER:
“In thfifth year
of King Rehoboam, “King Shishak of Egypt marched
against Jerusalem “and carried off the treasures
of the House of Yahweh “and the treasures
of the royal palace He carried off everything” “First Kings 14:25 and 26” REDFORD:
The importance of this
in fixing one of the earliest dates,
specific dates in which Egyptian history
coincides with biblical history is really startling
and has to be taken note of NARRATOR:
This stunning convergence between the Bible
and Egyptian history gives a firm date
for the death of Solomon Shishak’s campaign, according
to the well-established Egyptian chronology,
dates to 925 B.C. And the Bible says Solomon
dies five years earlier, which means 930 B.C. This is further evidence
that David and Solomon lived in the 10th century But there’s even more hidden
in these walls These ovals, with their
depictions of bound captives and city walls,
represent places Pharaoh Shishak conquered
in Israel One of those places is Gezer, where archaeologists find
the hallmark of Solomon’s building program,
a six-chambered gate Bill Dever directed the
excavations in the late 1960’s DEVER:
We can actually see vivid
evidence here of a destruction Down below, we have the original
stones pretty much in situ But if you look in here, you see
the stones are badly cracked You can even see where
they’re burned from the heat of a huge fire
that has been built here And then up in here, you see
the fire has been so intense that the soft limestone
has melted into lime, and it flows down like lava This is vivid evidence
of a destruction, and we would connect that with this well-known raid
of Pharaoh Shishak NARRATOR:
And if the gate was destroyed
by Shishak in 925 B.C., then it must have been built
during the lifetime of Solomon, who died just
five years earlier DEVER:
Surely this kind of monumental
architecture is evidence of state formation, and if it’s in the 10th century,
then Solomon NARRATOR:
Although a minority
of archaeologists continue to disagree, this
convergence of the Bible, Egyptian chronology,
and Solomon’s gates is powerful evidence that
a great kingdom existed at the time of David and
Solomon, spanning all of Israel, north and south, with
its capital in Jerusalem But Jerusalem is more
than a political center… It is the center of worship SHAYE COHEN:
The magic of Jerusalem is
the magic of the temple One temple for the one god The result is that Jerusalem
and the temple emerge as powerful symbols not
just of the oneness of God, but also of the oneness
of the Jewish people NARRATOR:
The worship
of the ancient Israelites bears little resemblance
to Judaism today It centered around the temple,
built by David’s son Solomon, and seen as Yahweh’s
earthly dwelling To understand how the ancient
Israelites worshipped their god, scholars must discover
what the Temple looked like and how it functioned But although archaeologists know
where its remains should be, it is impossible to dig there It lies under the third
holiest site in Islam, which includes
the Dome of the Rock Not a stone of Solomon’s Temple
has ever been excavated, but the Bible offers a
remarkably detailed description READER:
“The house which King Solomon
built for Yahweh “was 60 cubits long,
20 cubits wide “and 30 cubits high “In the inner sanctuary,
he made two cherubim– “each ten cubits high He overlaid the cherubim
with gold” “First Kings 6:2, 23, and 28” NARRATOR:
The Bible’s description
suggests a floor plan for Solomon’s Temple, and it is strikingly similar
to those of temples built by neighboring peoples
who worship many gods The closest in appearance is a temple hundreds of miles
to the north of Jerusalem at Ain Dara in modern-day Syria They have similar dimensions
and the same basic floor plan Guarding both temples
are sphinxes or cherubim, as t Bible calls them Unique to the temple at Ain Dara are the enormous footprints
of the god who lived here They mark his progress
as he strode to his throne in the innermost sanctuary STAGER:
If we take the details that we
find of Solomon’s Temple in the Book of Kings and compare
it with the Ain Dara temple, we can piece together a fairly good picture, I think, of what this temple might
have looked like in the age of Solomon NARRATOR:
Now it is possible to
reconstruct with some confidence how Solomon’s Temple
may have looked and how the ancient Israelites
worshipped their god BRANHAM:
Out front was an enormous altar Beyond that was a porch area that led into the inside
of the temple There was a room,
the holy place, and then beyond that,
the most sacred room– the holy of holies, where, tradition says,
the Ark of the Covenant held the tablets of the law And this room was
considered to be the most sacred site on Earth, because it is the room where
God’s presence could be found NARRATOR:
And the ancient Israelites
believed their god demanded a very
specific form of worship Evidence of this survis today
on Mount Gerizim in Palestine The Samaritans,
who live here, claim direct descent from
the ancient tribes of Israel According to their tradition, for over 2,500 years,
they have been practicing the ancient Israelite
form of worship– animal sacrifice (goat bleating) (chanting) BRANHAM:
The primary function
is to make a connection between our mundane world
and the divine world (men chanting) And the means
for the ancient Israelites is embodied in blood Blood is the most sacred
substance on the altar And blood is the substance
that embodies life So it is the most precious
substance in the human world NARRATOR:
But while the priests were
offering sacrifice to Yahweh in the Temple, many Israelites
were not as loyal At Tel Rehov, archaeologists
are digging at an Israelite house
that illuminates the religious practices
of its ancient inhabitants AMIHAI MAZAR:
We just found this beautiful, exceptional
clay figurine showing a goddess,
a fertility goddess, that was worshipped here
in Israel Here, in this case,
she is shown holding a baby NARRATOR:
Who is this fertility goddess, and what is a pagan idol
doing in an Israelite home? Dramatic evidence as to
her possible identity first surfaced in 1968 Bill Dever was carrying out
salvage excavations in tombs in southern Israel when a local brought
him an inscription that had been robbed
from one of them When I got home
and brushed it off, I thought I was going
to have a heart attack Executed in clear
8th century script, it’s a tomb inscription And it gives the name
of the deceased and it says,
“Blessed may X be by Yahweh” That’s good Biblical Hebrew But it says “by Yahweh
and his Asherah,” and Asherah is the name of the old Canaanite
mother goddess NARRATOR:
More inscriptions associating
Yahweh and Asherah have been discovered… and thousands of figurines
unearthed throughout Israel Many scholars believe this
is the face of Asherah Dever concludes God had a wife Even hundreds of years
after the Israelites rise from their
Canaanite pagan roots, monotheism has still not
completely taken hold This is awkward for some people, the notion that
Israelite religion was not exclusively
monotheistic, but we know now that it wasn’t NARRATOR:
The Bible admits
the Israelites continue to worship Asherah and other
Canaanite gods, such as Baal (thunderclap) In fact, the prophets– holy men speaking
in the name of God– consistently rail against
breaking the covenant made with Moses
to worship only Yahweh READER:
“The more I called them,
the more they went from me; “they kept sacrificing
to the Baals and offering incense to idols
Hosea 11:2.” The Israelites had made
a contract with God If they kept it,
God would reward them If they broke it,
he would punish them He would punish them by using foreign powers
as his instruments NARRATOR:
Events seem to fulfill
the prophet’s dire predictions Soon after Solomon’s death,
the ten northern tribes rebel and form the Northern
Kingdom of Israel Then a powerful new enemy storms
out of Mesopotamia to create the largest empire the Near East had ever
known– the Assyrians MACHINIST:
The Assyrians were the
overpowering military force, and Israel and Judah,
the two states that the Bible talks about as the states making up
the people Israel, fell under the sway
of the Assyrian juggernaut NARRATOR:
Numerous Assyrian texts
and reliefs vividly document their domination
of Israel and Judah (swords clanging,
men clamoring) In 722 B.C., the Assyrian army
crushes the Northern Kingdom Those who escape death
or exile to Assyria flood south into Jerusalem, where the descendants of David
and Solomon continue to reign One of them, Josiah,
according to the Bible, finally heeds
what the prophets prescribe COOGAN:
We’re told in the Book of Kings
that King Josiah in the late 7th century B.C.
was told that a scroll had been discovered
in the temple archives The scroll was brought to him and as the scroll
was being read, Josiah began to weep,
because he realized that it was a sacred text
containing divine commands which the people
had been breaking NARRATOR:
Scholars believe
that the lost scroll is part of the fifth book
of the Torah, Deuteronomy, a detailed code
of laws and observance It inspires another
group of scribes in the 7th century B.C., whom
scholars call the D writers According to the Documentary
Hypothesis, after J and E, D is the third
group of scribes who write part
of the Hebrew Bible D retells the Exodus story and reaffirms
the covenant Moses made between God
and the Israelite people COOGAN:
You should love
the Lord your God because he has loved you He has loved you more
than any other nation So, the divine love
for Israel requires a corresponding loyalty to God,
an exclusive loyalty to God, and Deuteronomy, more
than other parts of the Bible, is insistent that only the God
of Israel is to be worshipped NARRATOR:
To enforce the covenant, Josiah orders
that idols and altars to all other deities
be destroyed. The book of Deuteronomy contains the clearest
prohibition of the worship of other gods–
the Ten Commandments (thunder) READER:
“I am Yahweh your God” “You shall have no other
gods before me.” “You shall not make
for yourself an idol” “You shall not bow down to them or worship them” “Deuteronomy 5:6 through 9” NARRATOR:
The Ten Commandments appears
in two books of the Bible, in Deuteronomy and in Exodus It is not only a contract
th Yahweh, it is also a code
of conduct between people CAHILL:
The revelation
of the Ten Commandments is an ethical revelation, and that’s where the idea
of justice comes in, and we will not lie about him We will abide
by the Commandments The Commandments, as God himself repeatedly
says through the later prophets, are already written
on the hearts of human beings (thunder) NARRATOR:
By associating
the belief in one god with moral behavior, the Ten Commandments establishes
a code of morality and justice for all– the ideal
of Western civilization Despite Josiah’s reforms,
the ancient Israelites continue to worship other gods Their acceptance of one god
and the triumph of monotheism begins with a series of events vividly attested
through archaeology, ancient texts and the Bible It starts with the destruction
of Yahweh’s earthly dwelling, the Jerusalem Temple In 586 B.C., after
defeating the Assyrians, a new Mesopotamian Empire
invades Israel The Babylonians
ransack the temple and systematically
burn the sacred city Before his eyes,
the Babylonian victors slay the sons of Zedekiah,
the last Davidic king, then blind him The covenant–
the promise made by Yahweh to his chosen people
and to David, that his dynasty would rule eternally
in Jerusalem– is broken After 400 years,
Israel is wiped out ERIC MEYERS:
The destruction of Jerusalem created one
of the most significant NARRATOR:
The Babylonians round up
the Israelite priests, prophets and scribes and drag them
in chains to Babylon Babylonian records confirm
the presence of Israelites, including the king, in exile DEVER:
In every age of disbelief, one is inclined
to think God is dead, and surely those who survived
the fall of Jerusalem must have thought so After all, how could God
allow his temple, his house, the sign,
visible sign of his presence among his
people, to be destroyed? NARRATOR:
Without temple, king or land, how can the
Israelites survive? Their journey begins
with the ancient scrolls, which some scholars speculate were rescued from the flames
of the destruction Among the exiles
from Jerusalem to Babylon were priests from the temple, and they seem
to have brought with them their sacred documents,
their sacred traditions NARRATOR:
According to the widely
accepted Documentary Hypothesis, it is here in Babylon,
far from their homes in Israel, that priests and scribes
will produce much of the Hebrew Bible
as it is known today. Scholars refer to these writers
as “P” or the Priestly Source COOGAN:
It was P who took all
of these earlier traditions, the J source, the E source, the D source
and other sources as well, and combined them
into what we know as the Torah, the first five books
of the Bible NARRATOR:
But more than just compiling,
P edits and writes a version of Israel’s distant past,
including the Abraham story, that provides a way for the
Israelites to remain a people and maintain
their covenant with God READER:
“You shall circumcise
the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of a
covenant between me and you” Genesis 17:11. When Genesis 17 attributes a covenantal value
to circumcision, it is not really
talking about Abraham It is really talking about the
exiles of the 6th century B.C.E. who, far from their native home,
were desperately trying to find a way
to reaffirm their difference Therefore, they began
to look at circumcision as not simply another practice, but rather as the marker
of the covenant, and they attributed
this view back to Abraham NARRATOR:
To the exiles, the Babylonians
are the new Canaanites, the idol-worshipping,
uncircumcised peoples from whom they
must remain apart (baby crying) But the Abraham story,
with its harrowing tale of a father’s willingness
to sacrifice his own son, is also about
the power of faith It is no coincidence
that the exiled P scribes place Abraham’s origins in Ur, just down the river
from Babylon Perhaps with the same faith
as Abraham had, so, too, will the Exiles be
returned to the Promised Land COOGAN:
One of the pervasive themes
in the Torah is the theme
of exile and return Abraham goes down to Egypt
and comes out of Egypt that theme must have resonated
very powerfully God, who had acted
on their behalf in the past, would presumably do so again NARRATOR:
But the Israelites
still have a problem How, in a foreign land, without
the temple and sacrifice, can they redeem themselves
in the eyes of Yahweh? (singing in Hebrew) COOGAN:
To assure
that divine protection, the P tradition emphasizes observances
such as the Sabbath observance You don’t need to be in the land
of Israel to keep the Sabbath ERIC MEYERS:
And we have allusions in the biblical writings
and the prophets to the fact that the Exiles
also learned to pray in groups, in what was to become
the forerunner of the synagogue (all reciting Hebrew prayer) COHEN:
It is during this period
through the Exile that the Exiles realized that even far away
from their homeland, without a temple,
without the priesthood, without kings, they are still able
to worship God, be loyal to God and to follow
God’s commandments ALL:
Amen This is the foundation
of Judaism NARRATOR:
The experience of the Exile transforms
ancient Israelite cult into a modern religion By compiling
the stories of their past, originally written
by the scribes J, E and D, the Exodus,
from slavery to freedom, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Abraham’s Journey
to the Promised Land, P creates what we know today as the first five books
of the Bible (birds chirping) Though this theory
is widely accepted, physical evidence
of any biblical text from the Exile or earlier
is hard to come by (stone clatters) The most celebrated surviving biblical texts
are the Dead Sea Scrolls First discovered
by accident in 1947, the scrolls represent nearly all
39 books of the Hebrew Bible, at least in fragments They survived
because they were deposited in the perfect environment
for preservation– the hot, dry desert Archaeologists suspect
there were at least hundreds more scrolls
throughout Israel, but because they were written
on papyrus or animal skins, they have long since decomposed JODI MAGNESS:
Even though the earliest
of the Dead Sea Scrolls date to the third
and second centuries B.C., that doesn’t mean that they’re
the first copies or examples of this work
that were ever written It means that they already stand
in a line of tradition that had been established by the time
the scrolls were written NARRATOR:
Still, the earliest
of the Dead Sea Scrolls dates to at least 300 years
after the Babylonian Exile In the absence of proof
of earlier text, some scholars claim the entire
Bible is pious fiction… and even doubt whether Israel
and the Israelites ever existed DEVER:
For many of the revisionists,
these extreme skeptics, there was no ancient Israel Israel is
an intellectual construct In other words, these people
were not rethinking their past, they were inventing their past They had no past So the Bible is a myth,
a foundation myth, told to legitimate a people
who had no legitimacy NARRATOR:
The legitimacy
of the Israelite past hinges on finding
a piece of evidence to prove the ancient origins
of the Bible What would be
the discovery of a lifetime starts outside the walls
of Jerusalem in an old cemetery GABRIEL BARKAY:
We came here and excavated seven of these burial caves The burial caves date back
to the 7th century B.C., somewhere around
the time of King Josiah But the caves were found looted, so we didn’t anticipate
too much NARRATOR:
Gabriel Barkay instructed
a 13-year-old volunteer to clean up a tomb
for photographs BARKAY:
Instead of that, he was bored, he was alone,
and he had a hammer, and he began
banging on the floor (distorted, echoing thud) NARRATOR:
But the floor turned out
to be a fallen ceiling… and beneath it
were some artifacts that had escaped the looters Among the hundreds
of grave goods, one artifact stood out BARKAY:
It looked like a cigarette butt It was cylindrical,
about an inch in size, about half an inch in diameter, and it was very clear
it is made of silver It was some kind
of a tiny scroll NARRATOR:
A second, slightly smaller
scroll was also found, and both were taken to the labs
at the Israel Museum But unraveling the scrolls to see if they contain
a readable inscription could risk
destroying them completely Andy Vaughn was one of
the epigraphers on the project Archaeology is basically
a destructive science In order to learn anything, you have to destroy
what’s there Gabriel Barkay and his team
had to make a decision Does one unroll these amulets,
or does one preserve them? They decided that
it was worth the risk, and hindsight would tell us that they could not
have been more correct NARRATOR:
Through painstaking
conservation, technicians devised
a special method for unrolling the scrolls
and revealing their contents BARKAY:
I went over there, and… I was amazed to see
the whole thing full of, uh… very delicately scratched, very shallow, uh, characters The first word
that I could decipher already on the spot was yod-het-waw-het, which is the four-letter
unpronounceable name of God NARRATOR:
Further investigation
revealed more text and a surprisingly
familiar prayer still said in synagogues
and churches to this day READER:
“May the Lord bless you
and keep you; “may the Lord make his face
to shine upon you, “and be gracious to you; “may the Lord lift up
his countenance upon you, and give you peace” Numbers 6:24 through 26 VAUGHN:
There is no doubt at all
that these two amulets contain the Priestly Benediction
found in Numbers 6 These inscriptions
are thus very important because they are
the earliest references we have to the written
biblical narratives The archaeological context
was very clear, because it was found
together with pottery dating back
to the 7th century B.C. Also the paleography,
the shape of letters, As modern scholars suspect,
the Torah, the first five books
of the Bible, takes its final form
during the Babylonian Exile But dwarfed
by the mighty temples and giant statues
of Babylonian gods… (whip cracks, man yells) …the Israelites
must also confront the fundamental question– why did their god, Yahweh,
forsake them? COOGAN:
In the ancient world, if your country was destroyed
by another country, it meant that their gods were
more powerful than your god And the natural thing to do was to worship
the more powerful god But the survivors continued to worship Yahweh and struggled to understand
how this could have happened They resort first to a standard form
of explanation, which is found elsewhere
in the ancient Near East We must have done
something wrong to incur the wrath of our god It’s out of this
that comes the reflection that polytheism
was our downfall; there is, after all,
only one god NARRATOR:
The Israelites abandon
the folly of polytheism Monotheism triumphs, and the archaeological
evidence proves it Before the destruction
of the First Temple, wherever we dig in whatever part
of the Judean country, we find sanctuaries,
and more often we find hundreds and thousands
of figurines even in Jerusalem itself NARRATOR:
But after the destruction,
there are none We are speaking
about thousand in before and nothing,
completely nothing at all after LEVINE:
Monotheism is well ensconced, firmly ensconced, so something major happened, which is very hard to trace But that was
a searing experience, that time in the Exile NARRATOR:
Through the experience
of the Exile and writing the Bible, the concept of God,
as it is known today, is born McCARTER:
In a way, P created something
that was much greater, because it was greater than
any individual land or kingdom It was a kind of
a universal religion based on a creator god– not just a god
of a single nation, but the god of the world,
the god of the universe CAROL MEYERS:
This moves Yahweh into the realm of being
a universal deity who has the power to affect what happens
in the whole universe This makes
the god of ancient Israel the universal god of the world
that resonates with people, at least in Jewish,
Christian and Muslim tradition, to this veryay NARRATOR:
In 539 B.C., the Babylonian Empire
is toppled by the Persians As written in the Bible, Yahweh, in his new role
as the one invisible God, orchestrates a new Exodus (reading in Hebrew) Among one group
of returning exiles is the prophet Ezra Back in Jerusalem,
he gives a public reading of the newly written Torah
to reestablish the covenant READER:
“All the people
gathered together “They told the scribe Ezra “to bring the book
of the law of Moses, “which the Lord
had given to Israel “He read from it
from early morning until midday, “and the ears of all the people were attentive
to the book of the law” Nehemiah 8:1 through 3 ERIC MEYERS:
To me, it’s one
of the most moving moments in the whole Bible Ezra returns with
the Bible in his hands, so we have the feeling that the process
begun in the Exile NARRATOR:
The scrolls that chronicle the Israelites’ relationship
with their god is now the Hebrew Bible… the Old Testament… a sacred text
for over three billion people Through its writing, an ancient cult
becomes a modern religion (chanting in Hebrew) And the Israelite deity Yahweh transforms into the God of the three great
monotheistic religions Through its teachings, the Bible established
a code of morality and justice, aspirations that resonate
through the ages More than fact or fiction, at the intersection
of science and scriptures is a story that began
over 3,000 years ago and continues to this day On NOVA’s “Bible’s Buried
Secrets” Web site, share your thoughts
on the program, ask questions of biblical
scholars, explore a timeline of
archaeology and more Find it at

100 thoughts on “The Bible’s Buried Secrets




    Sabbath-breaking Punished:

    "32 Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day.
    33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation;
    34 and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him.
    35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”
    36 So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
    37 The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying,
    38 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.
    39 “It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot,
    40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.
    41 “I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.”

    The Sign of the Sabbath:

    "12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
    13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
    14 ‘Therefore you are to observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
    15 ‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.
    16 ‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’
    17 “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor and was refreshed.”
    18 When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God."




  • Just be baptized and receive the holy ghost by proof of speaking in other tongues. The second part is important for complete salvation. Born if the water and of the Spirit.

  • None is true. Again….Genesis is attacked… Is what Satan wants…..for the best to attack the Bible… Watching is OK….to see how Satan uses these fools to his advantage.

  • The ancestors of the Hebrews do not occupy Israel. The Ashkenazis do. Imposters with no blood relation to anywhere in the middle east.

  • God did exist prior to Abraham. Melchizedek was the high priest and king of the most high God in Shalom….later named Jerusalem

  • First thing that y'all need to do is put the true color of the people because truth is coming out black people was here first and we are Yahuah chosen people and the 400 years is almost up so get ready for what's coming in the sky. ♚

  • The falisy in this video is not the question " how did the Israelites come up with the one God?" It is the statement "One God came up with the Israelites".

  • What terrible lies they tell.

    They might Try looking up and seeing the moon n the sun, the seed bearing plants, the water and sky. All creation bears His Holiness! And the time they were on the arc and the time that it actually rained are the different amount of days. Not that there are different days it rained. They twist the scripture and history to their own distraction! I can't stand that Harvard turned into an evolutionist school when they used to be believers. What horrible lies. YHWH made everything. He is the beginning and the end! What a bunch of pharaohs. Wouldn't want to be them when they stand in judgment. I pray they teshubah before it's too late. Go look at the real Mt Sinai outside of Egypt like the Bible says! It is exactly what the Bible says and it's all there but man wants to cover up and so they put military around it!! There is so much proof that there is no denying it except the hard hearted will try to. But they will all see Him and they will be ashamed and scared when He comes. They don't even ask Him to reveal Himself to them because they don't want Him. It's sad.

  • U know what's hilarious? Ppl who don't believe anything u can see, touch or prove but believe in a religious god. Those are the old brainwashed Pentecostal ppl who are annoying as fuck!

  • There is a god and it has nothing to do with religion or Jesus christ. U are all deceived and worshipping demonic/negative forces. Why don't u go ahead and study the bible even harder. Don't u ppl ever get a weird feeling from worshipping Jesus Christ and the way ppl live and act that do that? There is 1 god/creator. The rest who messed with creation are the ones who ingest gold/fast/mana… You'll all see. We are not slaves were free!

  • There is some speculation and conjecture. Funny, the only reason they accept that the Israelites came out of Egypt is because they found a name on a map that they correspond to the name YHWH. If that YHW was not there, then surely they would have wrongly assumed they were never in Egypt. Be careful of assuming how much ‘evidence’ can really reveal. Truth is more complex.

  • All are claims (some says such and such, other says such and such) but the results ( fruits) and the kind of human ( evil,bad, good, better etc) is the ultimate proofs/indicator if such is effective and maker of good.

  • The Bible was completed thousands of years ago. Somebody is trying to rewrite it now without having any physical experience

  • the secret is they added fake words to the Bible when they translated it to english. Supreme Being's name is actually Theos (Greek) Brahman (Indian) or Eloah (Hebrew). Those have been around longer than the english version. Theos, Brahman and Eloah

  • Total waste of time and total lack of science. The bible cannot be backed up by physical evidence due to that fact that all the stories in it are metaphors and completely fictional.

    Have faith in something other than God, the oldest con.

  • God's word is life. Only the unbelievers tried to find out if this is truth or not. 1co 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

  • God is a con. Anyone who thinks there is such a thing is a fool. The bible and the koran and many other so called god inspired texts are the work of men with an agenda. To think otherwise is to be a fool. I have read the texts, bible and koran, as they are the big players.

    In my very learned opinion, anyone who thinks these texts are history or the word of some cosmic being of any sort are deluded at best.

  • The belief in 1 supreme Being was well established in the Sanskrit Vedas which were cognized several millennia before the Bible was written down. In fact, the Indo-Europeans (Persia, India and regions in between) were well aware of 1 Supreme Being delegating responsibilities to many.

  • WHAT IF … The A/C (anti-christ, or anti-messiah) was THE TOP ONE PERSON YOU NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD or COULD BE — WHO WOULD THAT BE???

  • I have watched a lot of these programs on TV called " secrets of the Bible" and every one of them ends up with absolutely no proof.

  • This got to be the biggest load of bullshit I've ever heard smh they are miss leading the people. White Romans talking about a heritage they know nothing about the original Isrealites are black not about color that's a fact. The bible was changed from its original text when Europe got a hold of it and the Roman Catholic church took books out in order to make it more acceptable and people wouldn't challenge the church this some bull do your own research and the truth is there don't feed into this bull of lies (p.s they only thing they was right about was the name of God)

  • Glory resides in the heart and mind not in the size of a building…that was true hen and is very true today. Jut look at a mega church and you'll see my point, Joel Osteen has a huge church and has little true glory…

  • A precious doc no doubt, thank you so much for uploading it here. I also suggest reading Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman´s book itself: "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Sacred Texts" Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition by Israel Finkelstein (Author),‎ Neil Asher Silberman

  • But still it is not true.. the question here is is there a true God that they are saying? its clear that if they God is powerful why these people doesn't have a strong defense by the conquerors of those times?! meaning they created their own story that many of these generations enhirit the false teaching of their so called God!

  • Im a Roman Catholic from the Philippines but i dont believe in my religion.. there are so many unanswered questions about the authenticity of the God.. !!


  • What a story!! So Christianity, Muslim and Jewish is the result of four brilliant ancient Israelites novelists? wow…and they did it for survival and to preserve their identity. Amazing!! Of course, from what I see for you it is better to go round like this by Digging, Egypt, imagination,…because going this all ups and downs are the best way to get more in to the dark than just believing in the word of God. It is better to go more in the darkness by following your way than getting in to light through the easiest way which is believing God's word.

  • The end of the Bible says a curse on anyone who distort Gods word. This video has distorted it and makes weird assumptions. Not good. Always stick to the original text.

  • It’s entirely possible that Sumerian evidence came from first hand knowledge of yes Noah and his ark. Also that offspring from him actually created Mesopotamia. No human now possesses first hand knowledge of the specific order of ancient history. However Enoch was preflood text survived possibly or even could have been written on the ark during the long stay on it. None of you can be certain but you are free to believe. God did continually keep contact. His word is free all over the world. Listen. Watch. Slow down enough to see your blessings.

  • The fact that YouTube would even automatically select this video and play it on my feed means that something is broken. Disliked.

  • God predicts it, he believe that we are the ingredients of what did he maked from the past years. We sometimes disappointed of what happenings of the world we have faced but he had a reason of creating all the troubles in this world.

  • There sure are a lot of non-believers here to view a video about the Holy Bible that they don't believe in. Why is it that they feel so compelled to try to convince Christians that God doesn't exist? An atheist clearly doesn't understand my faith to think that I would abandon God for a world view. If a Christian turns from God, then they clearly weren't a Christian in the first place other than by self proclamation and not by their works.

    Maybe the atheists are here because God led them here to experience the love of God. After all, He has revealed Himself to every living thing on earth but some choose to suppress Him because they don't want to be held accountable for their sin.

    Because they are of world, they love to rebel against God. They are consumed by their sin and argue with hate, calling names and laughing at believers but the Bible warned that Christians would be persecuted as He was. Some will be saved and have the gift of eternal life with God and some will be cast into hell but those who are sent to hell are there because they chose to be there. God gives everyone that choice.

    As Jesus said in Matthew 13:9 – "He who has ears, let him hear."

  • You cannot get an honest opinion from a biased atheist group as national geographic. For them to aprove that the Bible is true they have to accept the truth that the evolution is a lie, but we know better that that won't happen ever because they will lose all the dirty money the get by spreading all the lies about evolution.

  • When proofs surface like yours, faith is rectified. I am grateful that I am one of the biblical believers. Thank you.

  • I fail to see how heresay from people who obviously have an axe to grind with the bible are secrets. If anything proof the Isrealites can be shown to be in the land of canan when the bible records them being there shows the bible is historically acurate, but of course they fail to mention that. All these speakers are arrogant and put too much faith in there own wisdom. The wisdom that comes from The Lord is what makes us truely wise.

  • Monotheism isn't a strange thing. When you focus on nations outside Africa is when monotheism becomes such a special thing.

  • Joke ! If Jesus has ever existed then he was not a god but just a human being who fought for the people and their better life. That's it. Fuck with the Bible.

  • God of Crown Court what is real.God of judiciary is Dead Rules of Law Yard of Yar meaning friends of friends of corruption and it all erupted I got volcano vocabulary face the truth the image of God and the messenger of God can you distinguish between a male God and Allah gives birth to All Creatures and space and time come through the sun like Akhenaten said ittah if I can item has a face so does a god have a face and a messenger of the God has a face why are you afraid of showing the true face of the messenger what do you fear the truth will set you free indeed injeel in jilted love of the Red Queen

  • Your answer lies where the wall Great Wall of China ends and begins where it ends it is actually the beginning and the Beginning is the end coming through the desert like Akhenaten said

  • Just like the Serbian desert concubine found with a head injury Adidas shoes they call and also a rams Head just like Muhammad in wearing a rams Head like in this video it specifies credit Stealer the Thieves Rameses what it is reality will set you free is all real Love just spell Israel is real truth do you know what is Ra & Re Legion to the sun

  • Yahad is ji Ahad Ra meaning Remember Ra Astha same as Al lA WA ASTHA & Al lA BA ASTHA. The meaning Ba saying & Telling Quite of Quran. The meaning of Yah Way is same as Ra flowing following the sunshine Ray's & Way's of Ra is Ra

  • Ba Say Ra meaning Say Saa Ra. Breath of Ra is Sun Ra. Sunra meaning Communion communications of RADIATING listening Sunra

  • Sunra the same as Surah & Surat Gold Yellow Quran lots of them was melted Dawn by Rebellion of Solomon & David as in Darude the Druids of Iran Kurdistan non Believers in God or any kind of rule of law kindness does not exist in their heart

  • Be aware of this propaganda the Lord God and his word is true he is alpha Omega beginning and the end take from from the Bible he shall take from tree of life,that's why he gave us the holy spirit to guide us all in to the truth

  • Even though I'm christian I'll admit that Abrahamic religions are interesting just like religion it likes stories in a story,history,life lessons,life its self with many subjects. These religions are pretty influential tbh.

  • So if the eyewitness, documented version is not backed up due to a lack of bits of broken pottery etc, then we run with what seems like a good idea to an archaeologist digging in the dirt

  • This video is telling all kinds of lies about the Bible and it's writers and there are many things found that prove the Bible to be factual such as Noah's ark found the ark of the covenant found Sodom and Gomorrah found etc it's all part of their grand plan to get God out of people's lives may God have mercy on them

  • 1:33:20 they talk about the Hebrew writers known as "P"
    With mention of other letters of the alphabet, is this what today's "Q"
    Stands for in #QAnon ?

  • Christian Muslim Jews.its the western nations UK canada USA believing muslims and believing Jews we are that royal blood line of king david.jesus said the true jew is not circumcised in the flesh but in our hearts.trusting in Yeshuwa hhe also said the jew in jeruselem is not a real jew but a fake jew.this is why we have a queen.

  • Did you know we found an ancient copper mine in northern ontsri canada and pots ect all are ancient Hebrew and predates any Indian artifacts? And the DNA tests showed they were caucasians?

  • Dont trust the people talking on here, they are asserting so many ridiculous things. I cant comprehend their lack of wisdom. Hale to the King of Bethlehem our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..

  • I came back to the Messiah after years of Conspiracy research drove me to depression, and with thoughts like "How has the world got so bad?". I am working my way through the bible a verse at a time. King James Version is the complete one, others have passages missing.

  • The "Bible": tribal junk literature forced upon us for thousands of years by child-genital-mutilating racist-supremacists satan-worshipers who are so stupid that the believe the stupid junk they wrote.

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