Hidden Treasures

Scattered across the area of the Middle East, known as the Fertile Crescent, are hundreds of earth mounds, which for centuries have been considered regular hills. A little over a hundred years ago, it was discovered that these mounds were long-lost cities of the past.  Many had never been identified in secular history.

Over the years, these cities have been destroyed, and a new town has been built over the old ruins because of the water source. This pattern of rebuilding has been repeated many times. Wind-blown sand has long ago covered and preserved these cities. Today, when God’s word is being challenged on every corner, it is incredible that God would reveal these hidden treasures to us. Excavations of these sites have uncovered knowledge that confirms, supplements, and illustrates Biblical history in remarkable ways.

Digging in the Tigris-Euphrates valley has uncovered the ruins of some of Earth’s oldest known cities, and we have been surprised and amazed at their advanced culture. This land of old Babylon has long been known as the cradle of civilization. Huge libraries have been located containing hundreds of thousands of clay tablets inscribed with ancient markings. These markings consist of a lost ancient Babylonian writing system called cuneiform. Experts are now involved in the long and complex process of deciphering the tablets.

In 1835, Sir Henry Rawlinson, a British army officer, was about two hundred miles northeast of the site of the old city of Babylon when he discovered a towering rock face rising about seventeen hundred feet out of the old Mesopotamian plain (presently Iraq).  The face of the rock had been cut to form a large, smooth surface on which huge markings were inscribed. A closer observation revealed that the stone contained the record of the conquest of Darius, King of Persia and conqueror of Babylon. This is the same king who freed the Hebrew captives and allowed them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the Temple.

The history of the conquest was recorded in three languages: Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian.  The careful analysis enabled the comparison of the previously undecipherable cuneiform marks to be the key to translating the messages coded on hundreds of thousands of stone tablets dug out of the old buried libraries.  From these early records, we have learned much about the lives of the people who lived at this early age of civilization.

The stone tablets contained stories similar to the Genesis accounts of creation, the Garden of Eden, man’s fall, and the flood.  Some of the events were different, but the significant changes related to the pagan elements of the Babylonian accounts. The Babylonian stories are grossly polytheistic, while the Genesis account is monotheistic. It seems that both accounts may have come from a common source. Some scholars have suggested that the Babylonians knew their origin stories but introduced pagan elements.

This observation is consistent with the Apostle Paul’s words as recorded in Romans chapter one: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:21-23, NASB1995).  

Early man had not forgotten the origin story, but he had forgotten his Creator.  He rebelled against God, the Creator, and made gods of His creation.

Many critics have argued that the Bible is full of errors and cannot be trusted due to discrepancies introduced by years of copying and translating. Some even go so far as to teach that many of the books of prophecy were written after the fact and are actually historical reports.

Scripture quotations marked NASB1995 are taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1971,1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation, LA Habra, California. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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