A recent article in Biblical Archaeology Review provides archaeological evidence that con­firms the existence of fifty people who are named in the Bible.[1] Supporting documentation detailing the Bible references and inscriptions for each of the people listed in the article has also been posted on the internet by Biblical Archaeology Society Staff.[2]

The names of the fifty appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most cases during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified. The list is limited to fifty people from the Old Testament but, based on archaeological evidence available today, many other names could be added from both the Old and New Testaments.

The Assyrians and others were careful record keep­ers, particularly of their conquests and achievements. As a result, there is a rich source of historical data to be mined in the thousands of inscriptions and artefacts that have been recovered since the early nineteenth century. Indeed, much of the primary source material housed in the British Museum and other national repositories still remains to be translated and studied. Here is just a selection from the list of fifty people named in the Bible and verified by external evidence.

Egyptian Pharaohs

Pharaoh Shishak appears in 1 Kings 11:40 and 14:25, and among his inscriptions at the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes, there is a record of his military cam­paign in Israel in 924 BC. Pharaoh Tirhakah is noted in 2 Kings 19:9, etc. and appears in many Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions as well as Assyrian inscrip­tions. Pharaoh Necho, who is well known for his battle with King Josiah (2 Chron 35:20), is also mentioned in inscriptions of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal. Pharaoh Hophra (Jer 44:30) is found in Egyptian in­scriptions as well as Babylonian inscriptions that record his defeat by Nebuchadnezzar in 572 BC.

Moab and Syria

Turning attention to some of Israel’s close neighbours, Mesha, king of Moab, (2 Kgs 3:4–27) is named on the Moabite Stone, or Stele of Mesha, as also is Omri, king of Israel. Ben-hadad, king of Syria, (2 Kgs 6:24, etc.) is named in the Melqart Stele, and Hazael (1 Kgs 19:15; 2 Kgs 8:8, etc.) and Rezin (2 Kgs 15:37, etc.) both appear in various Assyrian inscriptions.

Kings of Israel

Omri features in Assyrian inscriptions. The Assyrians also refer to later rulers of the northern kingdom, such as Jehu, as kings of “the house of Omri”. Ahab is mentioned in the Kurkh Monolith where the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser, calls him “Ahab the Israelite”. Jehu is named in Shalmaneser III’s annals as well as being named and depicted on the Black Obelisk. Joash or, Jehoash, (2 Kgs 13:9, etc.) is mentioned in an Assyrian inscription as paying tribute, while Jeroboam II (2 Kgs 13:13, etc.) appears on a seal discovered at Megiddo. Three of the last kings of Israel, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea, are all named in contemporary Assyrian inscriptions.

Kings of Judah

David’s name appears on the victory stele discovered at Tel Dan known as the “house of David” inscription and it is suggested a similar phrase occurs in other sources. The name Uzziah has been found on the inscribed stone seals of two of his royal servants. Ahaz is referred to in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser as “Jehoahaz”, the fuller form of his name. Hezekiah is found in numer­ous Assyrian sources such as the Rassam Cylinder of Sennacherib, the Oriental Institute Prism, the Taylor Prism and the Bull Inscription from the palace at Nineveh. Manasseh is named in the inscriptions of Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal.

Assyrian Kings Tiglath-pileser III (or Pul, 2 Kgs 15:19), Shalmaneser V (2 Kgs 17:2, etc.), Sennacherib (2 Kgs 18:13, etc.), Adrammelech, son and assassin of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37) and Esarhaddon (2 Kgs 19:37) are all named in Assyrian inscriptions.

Babylon Kings

Merodach-baladan II (2 Kgs 20:12) is named in the inscriptions of Sennacherib and the Neo-Babylonian Chronicles. Nebuchadnezzar II (2 Kgs 24:1, etc.) is referred to in many cuneiform tablets, including his own inscriptions, and Belshazzar, son and co-regent of Nabonidus (Dan 5:1) appears in Babylonian adminis­trative documents.

Persian Kings

Cyrus (2 Chron 36:22, etc.) is named in various inscrip­tions, including the Cyrus Cylinder.   This extensive archaeological evidence confirming the existence of many kings named in the Bible in complementary circumstances is a remarkable proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures. It assures us that the Bible is true, wholly inspired and infallible, though under attack in these last perilous days.

It is not surprising that many of the references to these Bible characters are found in Assyrian and later inscrip­tions as this was the period of contact between Israel and the emerging world empires or kingdoms of men. These kingdoms competed for world dominion and sought to extend their control over the Middle East. External political conditions meant that the small but strategically located kingdoms of Israel and Judah often found themselves at the centre of the conflict between the great powers of their day.

Thus it is today that the restored nation of Israel finds itself in a hostile environment in the Middle East, while Russia, the United States and lesser powers struggle for control over the resources of the region. The Bible, however, holds out the sure hope that Christ will soon return, Israel will be at peace and all nations blessed at last (Isa 2:1–4).

[1] Lawrence Mykytiuk, “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible” in, Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2014.

[2] 50 People in the Bible Confirmed Archaeologically [Online: Posted by Biblical Archaeology Society Staff, March 3, 2014] URL: https://blu172.mail.live.com/default.aspx?id=64855 #n=419058585&fid=1&mid=4bd468f1-a2e5-11e3-a254- 002264c1d61c&fv=1