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Always Keep Your Receipts

on July 14, 2007
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The Telegraph: “Tiny tablet provides proof for Old Testament

Although Answers in Genesis is known (for good reason!) for our focus on a literal Genesis, we see “Genesis apologetics” not as a standalone project, but as an important defense of the standpoint that all of the Bible is God’s Word, and, thus, that the message of salvation presented in it is true. And so, while there is a long period of time between “Confusion” (the Tower of Babel) and “Christ” that our ministry focuses on less directly, our goal is to promote the truth of the entire Bible.

We are therefore as excited as other Christians by the news of “what has been called the most important find in Biblical archaeology for 100 years, a discovery that supports the view that the historical books of the Old Testament are based on fact.”

Critics will be swift to point out that proving one person in the Bible as authentic (something that has been done many times before) is not the same as proving the Bible is inerrant.

Assyriologist Michael Jursa, a visiting professor at the British Museum, came upon a name on one of the museum’s 130,000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets that struck him as familiar. After checking, he confirmed that the name belonged to a Babylonian official, Nebo-Sarsekim, who is also mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3. The Bible describes Nebo-Sarsekim as a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar, infamous besieger of Jerusalem in 587 BC.

The tablet, which is dated to 595 BC, is “a bill of receipt acknowledging [Nebo-Sarsekim’s] payment of 0.75 kg [1.65 lbs] of gold to a temple in Babylon.” While the find may seem trivial to some, it is yet another important find to remind believers and unbelievers alike of the accuracy of the Bible, as Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, describes (in not so many words):

This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find[.] [...] If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power.

Of course, critics will be swift to point out that proving one person in the Bible as authentic (something that has been done many times before) is not the same as proving the Bible is inerrant; indeed, we agree that piling up evidence, while a strong support of the Bible, is putting the cart before the horse (remember that the perfect Word of God is always to be trusted first over man’s fallible ideas, although the Holy Spirit can use such evidence to change hearts). Trusting in the Bible allows us to see such finds as important support, but not independent confirmation, of the Bible’s authenticity.

Based on this discovery, we wonder if evidence of Noah’s great feat will come not in the form of the Ark’s remains on a mountain in Asia, but rather in the form of a receipt for a few hundred tons of gopher wood signed by the Ark-builder himself!


Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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