Tag Archives: Bible

The Curse Tablet

It was found three-and-a-half years ago, in a pile of rubble left from an archaeological dig abandoned thirty years prior. It is a roughly square piece of metal about one inch on a side. And it is one of the most profound, and paradigm-busting, archaeological discoveries in history.

To understand why, we need to go back about 3,400 years, to 1400 B.C. It’s the time of the conquest, when the Israelites are conquering the Promised Land. They were released from bondage in Egypt forty years prior (one common date for the Exodus is 1446 B.C.), when God rained down plagues until Pharaoh let God’s chosen people go, and Moses led them out (see my blog post on Moses and the plagues here).

It’s forty years later. Moses has died and Joshua leads the Israelites. But, before he died, Moses told them that when they entered the Promised Land they were to build altars. They were to proclaim blessings from Mount Gerazim and curses from Mount Ebal. The Bible even gives specific names of those who were “to stand on Mount Ebal for the curse” (Deut 27:11).

Joshua did this. When he entered the Promised Land, Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal. It’s recorded in Joshua 8:30-35:

At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.

Now fast forward to 1979. Archaeologist Adam Zertal begins a survey. His team digs for ten years, and finds an altar on Mount Ebal. Actually, they find two altars, a rectangular structure 9 by 7 meters and beneath it an earlier, round structure that measured two meters in diameter. In 1985 Zertal publishes a controversial article suggesting that he had found Joshua’s altar on Mount Ebal. Of course, that claim is vigorously disputed by scholars who dispute the Biblical narrative, and who do not believe Moses and Joshua were real people.

With that background, we forward to 2019. Associates for Biblical Research (ABR), a small but powerful group dedicated to the truth of the Bible, sends a team back to Mount Ebal, back to the site abandoned thirty years earlier. The team is led by Scott Stripling and Abigail Leavitt. They use a wet-sifting technique – washing excavated material – to see if there are small items that were inadvertently overlooked. In December 2019 a volunteer named Frankie Snyder is wet-sifting material and sees on her tray a small, flat piece of material about one-inch square. She picks it up and realizes it is heavy, much too heavy to be pottery or stone. She rinses the object more and sees that it has two layers and had been folded in half very precisely. She knows she is holding a lead tablet. And she wonders, is she holding in her hand a curse tablet from the ‘mountain of curses’?

That’s not an easy question. The tablet is too fragile to be opened, so it is sent to a laboratory in the Czech Republic for study by specialists with x-ray equipment. They produce multiple two-dimensional images which they build into a three-dimensional map, and then use computer software to digitally flatten the letters.

Last December Stripling and a team of scholars release findings. There are letters, in ancient writing, etched on the inside. It is a curse formula. They find the words arur (cursed), atah (you), and tamut (you shall die), and the divine names El and Yahu.

The curse tablet precisely confirms the Bible. The tablet contained in two places the letters ‘YHW’ – the divine name given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, perhaps best translated as “I am Existence” (Exodus 3:14).

The curse tablet proves that the Israelites knew how to write in 1400 B.C. Many scholars have disputed this, they argued that even if Moses was a real person he couldn’t write and therefore did not write the first five books of the Bible. The curse tablet shatters this false paradigm. God’s chosen people knew how to write from the beginning, and Moses used notes from centuries earlier to write the book of Genesis.

My thanks to Scott Stripling for reviewing this post for accuracy. My congratulations to ABR for their great work and continuing dedication. You can learn more about the curse tablet in the Spring 2023 Edition of their magazine, Bible and Spade. It is a fantastic magazine and you can subscribe and learn more about ABR here.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

The Holy Land

In April I spent eight days in Israel.

There were eight of us, four couples, including two Episcopal priests and their wives. We started in Jaffa, the ancient seaport south of Tel Aviv, where Jonah left for Nineveh (the Jonah who was swallowed by the great fish). We went up the coast to Caesarea, the seaport built by Herod the Great. We were awed, and this was only our first taste of Herod’s cities and palaces. He built a massive harbor, had a palace with an oceanfront swimming pool, and had a hippodrome, an oval track for chariot races, next to it, with stands for the well-off. In later years for half-time entertainment they slaughtered Christians in the center.

We went northeast to Mount Carmel, to where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal. The contest is described in Chapter 18 of 1 Kings. King Ahab, the seventh king of the northern kingdom of Israel (reigned 874 to 853 BC) had taken Jezebel for a wife, and she brought with her prophets of her god Baal. God’s prophets were being killed and had to flee for their lives. Then Elijah shows up (this is my abbreviated version, you really should read Chapter 18) and challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a duel. They build two altars on Mount Carmel (the Carmelite nuns have a convent today at the spot), cut up two bulls and place them on wood. Elijah invites the Baal prophets to go first, to see if they can call down fire. The 450 prophets of Baal limp around their altar all morning, cutting themselves until blood gushes out. “Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (Verse 27). Then Elijah says my turn. He tells servants to fill four jars with water and pour it on the offering and the wood. They do this three times, until the ground is soaked with water all around the altar. Then Elijah calls down fire, and God responds, with intense fire that consumes the offering and evaporates the water. Elijah tells the people to seize the prophets of Baal. “And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.” (Verse 40).

Israel is not a big country; it’s about the size of New Jersey. From Mount Carmel we could see much of it. To the southeast was the hill of Megiddo, surrounded by a vast plain. Napoleon once remarked that all the armies of the world could fit on that plain. Not really, but it is big. Meggido is corrupted into the Greek word Armageddon, and is, according to the book of Revelation, where the final battle will occur between good and evil. (Revelation 16:16).

We then went to Nazareth. There is an amazing church built on top of the house where Jesus grew up, with a glass floor in part so you can see where Jesus walked as a boy. Of course, there are always those who disagree, but this house has been preserved and marked from the beginning and most think it really is the boyhood home of Jesus.

We spent two nights near the town of Migdal on the Sea of Galilee (which is a lake, and not that huge a lake, it’s about 64 square miles and is the lowest freshwater lake on earth at more than 600 feet below sea level). Migdal is where Mary Magdalene came from, and the place we stayed had right next to it – we could look in during meals – an ancient synagogue where Jesus taught. We went to Capernaum – sometimes referred to as the city of Jesus – and there is preserved an ancient house where Jesus reportedly stayed with Peter and his mother.

From there to Jerusalem for four nights. So much to see. You weren’t sure exactly where some of the events happened – the crucifixion, the upper room, the steps of the cross, and more — but you knew you were at least close, within a few steps if not at the exact spot. Being a nerdy guy who likes rocks, I was amazed by the 300-ton stones remaining from the base of Herod’s Second Temple (destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD).

I was also surprised by the differences in elevation. The Jordan river (more like a muddy stream by my standards) flows out of the Sea of Galilee and down to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth at about 1400 feet below sea level. The old city in Jerusalem is about 2500 feet above sea level. Pilgrims walking to Jerusalem for the Holy feasts were mostly walking uphill into a slightly cooler climate.

Perhaps the most moving spot for me was the garden of Gethsemane, on a hill, called the Mount of Olives, looking west to the old city. It is directly across from where Herod’s massive Second Temple was. The garden of Gethsemane was where Jesus prayed the night before the crucifixion, when the disciples fell asleep. Our guide asked us to imagine it being dark and Jesus watching the torches as Judas and Roman soldiers came to get him. He knew exactly what was going to happen; he could have walked away and hid. But he stayed to pay the price for my sins and for your sins, and the sins of the whole world.

Thanks for reading.


Moses and the Plagues

While traveling recently I read something amazing. It is generally unknown, yet is the most astonishing, unexpected evidence for the truth of the Bible I have ever found.
I remember watching the movie The Ten Commandments. Charlton Heston plays Moses against Egypt’s Pharaoh, played by Yul Brynner. It was the most successful film of 1956, and ranks eighth in history when box office receipts are adjusted for inflation.

Parts of the movie are about the plagues God brings upon Egypt. The Hebrews were welcome guests when Joseph was governor of all of Egypt. But over the centuries fortunes changed, and the Hebrews were enslaved and badly treated. (Details in the book of Genesis.) God sends Moses, who asks God why me as “I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Of course in the movie Moses is an ultra handsome articulate Charlton Heston kind of guy. Anyhow, God sends a not-thrilled-to-be-there Moses to talk to Pharaoh. Imagine sending a Ukrainian farmer to talk to Putin.

Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrews go, so God slams Egypt with ten plagues. For details read Chapters 7 through 12 of the book of Exodus. The plagues are also noted in Psalms 78 and 105 and in the book of Numbers. The plagues are horrific. God begins by turning the water in the Nile river to blood, and not just in the Nile, but in all rivers, canals, ponds, pools of water, and water vessels in all of Egypt (except presumably for the water of the Hebrews). This is followed by frogs, gnats, flies, the death of livestock, boils, hail, and locusts. But Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go. For the ninth plague God stops the Sun from shining for three days, except where the Hebrews lived. For the tenth and final plague, God kills the firstborn male child of every family in Egypt, except for the Hebrew families, who are “passed over” by marking their doorways with the blood of lambs. Finally Pharaoh gives up, and after 430 years in Egypt the Hebrews leave, a total of 600,000 men and women and children. They take their livestock, and, as a final penalty, they ask and the Egyptians actually give them their silver and gold jewelry and fine clothing. The taking of silver and gold and clothing is mentioned at least twice in the Bible.

Pretty inventive right? Like come on, who makes this stuff up? Well what would you think if I told you there is an ancient Egyptian papyrus that tells the same story? It is written as a lament about the problems of Egypt. It’s kind of “how could our sun god let this happen?”

The papyrus is called by some “The Admonitions of Ipuwer.” Ipuwer uses “we” many times in the poem, which suggests he was an eyewitness. The style of a poetic lament was common in the ancient world of this period.

Ipuwer writes “the river is blood” and “throughout the land, blood is everywhere.” Wow! Note both the Bible and Ipuwer do not state the Nile was like blood. Both state the Nile was blood. I’m not an expert on ancient literature or history but surely two documents from the same period stating the Nile was blood is amazing.

Ipuwer does not mention locusts and other insects by name, but he describes conditions that match the effects of these plagues. Ipuwer says even the birds are unable to find fruits or herbs. He says officials are hungry and homeless.

The ninth plague – darkness for three days – is a direct rebuke to Ra, the Egyptian sun god. Ipuwer laments: “Day does not dawn on it.” “There is no pilot on duty. Where is he today? Is he perhaps asleep?” Double wow! For someone who loves astronomy this is a gut check. One can wax poetically about the majesty of God, but to think he actually did stop the sun from shining is pretty amazing.

Ipuwer states that silver, gold, and precious stones are now being worn by female servants. Triple wow! Why would he write this if not true? How often in history does this happen?

The Admonitions of Ipuwer is unexpected and powerful evidence that the Biblical plagues were real events. I never expected such confirmation. The Exodus is now believed by many to have occurred in 1446 BC, when Amenhotep II was Pharaoh.

If you have time, I recommend reading my primary source for all this, an article in the Winter 2022 issue of the magazine Bible and Spade. If you want to learn about the overwhelming new archeological evidence for the truth of the Bible you must subscribe. It’s cheap ($50 a year gets you the magazine and supports their ministries) and they have gradually transformed the magazine from a dusty academic format into a beautiful, color photo, user friendly marvel. Click here for a video from another organization on the amazing Ipuwer papyrus.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will share this new evidence with friends and family. Together we can change the atheist paradigm of a meaningless world.

Doug Ell

Abraham the Astronomer

I am a fan of the website Watch Jerusalem. I copy below one of their articles. It is a fantastic story that combines astronomy, mathematics, history, and the Bible. Click here for the original article if you are interested.

History records a man who lived 10 generations after a great flood who used celestial science to prove the existence of God. He was a skilled scientist, astronomer and mathematician. His astronomical discoveries shook the foundations of Babylonian religion. He heavily influenced Egyptian and Mesopotamian scientific thought. He led armies that altered the course of world history. And all this took place before he became the forefather of the Arab, Turk and Israelite peoples!

This man’s name was Abraham. Yes, the astounding evidence of both biblical and secular history proves that the patriarch Abraham was not only real; he exerted tremendous influence on the entire ancient world!

This influence is recounted in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, the Babylonian historian Berossus, the Roman historian Eusebius and others. These records reveal that Abraham used mathematics and astronomy to discredit the pagan priesthood of his time and to prove the existence of the one true God.

Chief Scientist of the Chaldeans

Abraham was born in the city of Ur, in the land of the Chaldees, sometime in the early second millennium B.C.E. This city was then near the outskirts of the rapidly expanding Old Babylonian Empire. The pagan Babylonian priesthood publicly taught the masses to believe that the sun, moon, stars and planets were gods. These priests used their knowledge of astronomy to predict the movements of the heavenly bodies, deceiving the masses into thinking they could communicate with the gods of the Babylonian pantheon (Israel Smith Clare, The Standard History of the World, Vol. 1).

This was the political climate into which Abraham was born.

Now consider the record of third-century B.C.E. Babylonian historian Berossus: “In the 10th generation after the Flood, there was among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skillful in the celestial science” (emphasis added throughout). While Berossus doesn’t give this great scientist a name, first-century Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Berossus was writing about Abraham.

There is even an ancient hymn cited by Clement of Alexandria (second century C.E.) about “a certain unique man, an offshoot from far back of the race of the Chaldeans.” This man was “knowledgeable about the path of the star and how the movement of the sphere goes around the Earth, both in circular fashion, but each on its own axis.” The poem related that this chief scientist of the Chaldeans was the only man of his era to see Zeus, “the ruler of mortal men.”

Of course, ancient Greek poets tended to call the chief god of any religion by the name Zeus. The fact that this poem speaks of a Chaldean scientist who had a special relationship with “the mighty God” isn’t coincidence!

Fourth-century C.E. Roman historian Eusebius cited an earlier source by a man named Eupolemus (second century B.C.E.), titled Concerning the Jews of Assyria. Quoting this source, Eusebius says Abraham “surpassed all men in nobility and wisdom, who was also the inventor of astronomy and the Chaldaic art, and pleased God well by his zeal towards religion.”

Josephus further records that as a young man, Abraham “determined to renew and to change the opinion all men happened then to have concerning God; for he was the first that ventured to publish this notion, that there was but one God, the Creator of the universe” (Antiquities of the Jews, 1.7.1).

Abraham was teaching the people of Chaldea about the one true Creator!

Babylonian Mystery Religion

The Babylonian priesthood established after the Flood by Nimrod and Semiramis was teaching the masses to believe that the sun, moon, stars and planets were manifestations of the gods. They deceived people into thinking priests could communicate with these gods. In addition to being a scientist, however, Abraham was a great teacher. He taught the people physics and mathematics, and showed them that celestial bodies moved according to preordained laws.

Josephus paraphrases Abraham’s words: “If these bodies had power of their own, they would certainly take care of their own regular motions; but since they do not preserve such regularity, they make it plain, that in so far as they cooperate to our advantage, they do it not of their own abilities, but as they are subservient to Him that commands them, to whom alone we ought justly to offer our honor and thanksgiving” (ibid).

Abraham taught the Chaldeans what the priests secretly knew: The movements of the stars and other heavenly bodies are one of the greatest proofs of God’s existence. The presence of law demands the presence of a lawgiver!

Abraham taught that the stars and planets were only physical objects created by the one true God. What many historians are unwilling to admit is that Abraham possessed advanced astronomical knowledge that would not be rediscovered for thousands of years. Josephus further records that Abraham wasn’t the first astronomer in his family. The study of astronomy originated with Seth, the third son of Adam. He wrote that “God gave [those who lived before the Flood] such long life that they might perfect those things which they had invented in astronomy” (Antiquities, 1.3.9).

Other records, such as Jean Lemaire de Belges’s Illustrations of Gaul and Peculiarities of Troy (1513), indicate that Noah had knowledge of maritime astronomy involving navigating by the stars, and that he established a college in ancient Armenia to teach religion and astronomy. This noble and elderly patriarch likely brought knowledge of mathematics, astronomy and other sciences from one side of the Flood to the other, passing it down from generation to generation to Abraham!

Father of the Faithful

When the pagan Babylonian priests gained power and influence, they lost patience with Abraham and his teachings about the one true God. Josephus records that the Chaldeans and other peoples of Mesopotamia “raised a tumult” against Abraham, forcing him to flee the country. Unlike the priests of this Babylonian mystery religion, Abraham refused to teach lies to receive the praise of men. These pagan religious leaders would have killed Abraham for publishing the truth and likely did kill his older brother Haran. The Bible records only that “Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees” (Genesis 11:28). Josephus adds that a monument was erected in Haran’s honor, and that “Terah [hated] Chaldea, on account of his mourning for Haran” (Antiquities, 1.6.5).

While Terah himself fell into idol worship, Abraham never lost faith in the existence of the great Creator of the universe.

To recount all the various histories of the things Abraham suffered during this period would fill many pages. Through his trials and tribulations, however, Abraham stayed faithful to his belief in God. And when Abraham was 75 years old, God Himself actually appeared to him and spoke to him to make a covenant that would change the course of history!

I hope you will agree this historical background on Abraham is wondrous. What resonates with me is that, around 4,000 years ago, Abraham used science and mathematics to show others the existence of God. That is what I have tried to do in my books.

May the Lord bless you and hold you in the palm of his hand.

Doug Ell

Is Genesis History?

Last month I gave a talk in Florida on the book of Genesis. The subject was whether key events in Genesis, including Adam and Eve and a global flood, actually took place. The 53 minute video is below if you are interested.

As you may know, my views are contrary to what you read in the newspaper. If you are not open to a different interpretation of the scientific evidence, you should not watch this video.

Is Genesis History?

If you follow my posts, you probably know I love the new scientific evidence for the literal truth of the Book of Genesis – a real Adam and Eve, a real Noah, and a real Flood.

In January, I gave two 45-minute talks on “Is Genesis History?” You can view them here: http://trinityvero.org/is-genesis-history.

I discussed scientific flaws in the “old-earth” paradigm, and did my best to summarize the overwhelming new DNA, geological, and astronomical evidence. I also explained why I believe this issue is important to Christians.

I hope you enjoy the videos. I would appreciate feedback – what you like, what you don’t like or follow, what I could do better. I hope to speak on this subject in other places, and would appreciate suggestions on forums.

Modern science reveals God and the truth of the Bible. I urge you to share the good news. Together, we can bring hope and defeat the Atheist paradigm of a meaningless universe.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

How Do You Get An Ice Age?

Here’s a fact that may surprise you: secular scientists have no good explanation for the ice age. They have theories, but none work. “It’s a killer,” says one scientist. “It’s maddening,” adds another.

The most common theory, the one you’ll probably find if you look it up, is the astronomical (or Milankovitch) theory. It is that a very slow and very slight change in the Earth’s orbit dramatically changed the climate on Earth. In the 1970s scientists measured chemical variations in layers of deep arctic ice, assigned dates to those layers, and claimed the dates matched astronomical cycles. Under this theory there were about 50 ice ages in the last 2.5 million years, with the most recent peaking around 20,000 years ago.

Jake Herbert, a scientist with the Institute for Creation Research, has written several articles in Acts and Facts that destroy this theory. (I lean on his articles heavily in this post, and if you haven’t yet subscribed to that wonderful (and free!) magazine, I encourage you to do so at icr.org.) Herbert notes that the dates scientists now ascribe to those chemical variations no longer match the astronomical cycles. In other words, the calendar foundation of the astronomical theory has been ripped out from under it.

Herbert notes a second problem – even if the cycles still matched, why did the climate change so severely? Noted astronomer Fred Hoyle mocked the astronomical theory:

If I were to assert that a glacial condition could be induced in a room liberally supplied during winter with charged night storage heaters simply by taking an ice cube into the room, the proposition would be no more unlikely than the Milankovitch theory.

The heavens operate like a precise clock. Computers today can model the distance of the Earth from the Sun going back thousands or (using secular deep-time assumptions) even millions of years. They find no significant deviation.

I think most scientists are willing to overlook the mismatch in the cycles, and the failure of computers to simulate an ice age, because they have no better hypothesis. But here’s a fact that kills all astronomical theories. None of them can explain ice miles thick.

The glaciers were two miles or higher in many places, including much of North America. The seas worldwide dropped almost 400 feet. No theory based solely on decreasing sunlight can explain this. If the Earth simply got colder, evaporation would slow, and snowfall would subside. You don’t get ice two miles high. So how do you get an ice age?

The answer is in the Bible. The Bible tells us there was a great Flood, the Flood of Noah, thousands of years ago (I like the estimate of 3300 BC for the Flood). Genesis 7:11 tells us “the fountains of the great deep burst forth.” I think this refers to both volcanoes and underground oceans. The whole Earth was flooded, and tsunamis wiped out all land life not in the Ark. Continents crashed into each other like freight trains, and the collisions built the mountains we see today. Particles from smoldering volcanoes blocked sunlight for perhaps three to five hundred years, and hot lava heated the oceans worldwide to a warm bath. You had reduced sunlight and warm water for hundreds of years. Think of a giant El Niño. Hundreds of years of reduced sunlight and warm oceans are the only explanation for ice two miles high.

The Flood was a real event. In my post Memories of the Flood, I describe the flood memories of cultures worldwide, from the jungles of Indonesia to Hawaii to the deep Amazon. How did ancient Hawaiians get the name of Noah right and know that he and his three sons built an ark? You think the Hebrews sent them a letter?

In his most recent article in the November issue of Acts and Facts, Herbert notes that the Biblical model solves another major mystery – the existence and then disappearance of millions of wooly mammoths in Siberia. He points out the strong evidence that large numbers of mammoths lived in Siberia during the Ice Age, and notes that winters in Siberia today are far too cold (Minus 40 Fahrenheit is common) for these animals. Herbert states that the only logical theory is that Siberia’s climate was more temperate during the Ice Age, which is what we would expect from warm oceans without Arctic ice. Herbert notes that the coastal lowlands of Siberia were never covered by ice, even though secular ice age models predict they would have been. Finally, Herbert points out that the Biblical model tells us why the mammoths went extinct. When the arctic ocean finally did freeze over, and the moderating influence of warm sea air was no more, the climate changed quickly. The Biblical model predicts that colder high-latitude temperatures, combined with a dryer climate at the end of the Ice Age, would have resulted in enormous dust storms, which buried the mammoths alive. Herbert notes that many mammoth carcasses are found in frozen hills of wind-blown silt.

How do you get an Ice Age? If you look to the word of God, to the Bible, you will find the answer.

Thanks for reading. Please spread the good news of modern science. Together we can change the world.

Doug Ell

Caesar Proclaimed the Resurrection

My last post was prompted by an article from the Associates for Biblical Research. While poking around their website, I learned an astonishing fact.

In the late 1800’s, a French collector acquired an ancient stone from Nazareth. The stone, now in the Louvre in Paris, is a marble tablet about 24 inches by 15 inches. It contains an edict by Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) ordering the death penalty for stealing bodies from Jewish tombs. Bodies?. Grave robbers steal valuables, not bodies. Why would stealing bodies from Jewish tombs, a pathetically trivial subject for the Empire, merit an imperial decree?

Below I quote the Book of Matthew. This comes immediately after the death of Jesus on the cross:

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The scene is set. Jesus is dead. Powerful Jewish leaders, the chief Priests and Pharisees, post their top guards and make the “tomb as secure as [they] know how.”

Now back to Matthew.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

This is the key event of the Christian faith. Jesus is risen. Matthew tells us the cover-up began immediately.

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

That’s the cover-up. Tell everyone a totally disorganized group of backwoods, uneducated disciples came in while the elite guards were sleeping, and not only were able to unseal a large stone but, even more amazing, were able to do it without waking the guards. Not a believable cover-up story, but that is the best they could come up with. The empty tomb was on public display; they couldn’t deny that.

As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Government propaganda lies are not new. Almost two thousand years ago, the Emperor of Rome, then the most powerful person in the world, tried to prop up this absurd story that uneducated peasants snuck by an elite guard and opened a sealed tomb while the guards were sleeping! Emperor Claudius probably issued the edict when he took control in 41 AD, at the request of his childhood friend, Jewish King Herod Agrippa I. That’s just eight years after the Resurrection. The authorities wanted to control the situation. Tensions between the Romans and the Jews were high, partly because just before his death Caligula (whose assassination brought Claudius to power) had ordered that his statute be placed in the Temple in Jerusalem. Also, the news of Jesus’s Resurrection had spread, Jesus had appeared to hundreds of people (500 at one time, according to St. Paul), and the Romans and Jewish leaders were trying to control what they perceived as a serious political threat. No doubt as news of the Resurrection spread travelers came to Nazareth to learn more about Jesus.

The cover-up continues to this day. Notoriously anti-God Wikipedia writes. “As the original location of the stone is unknown, no clear argument can be made for the stone to be a Roman response to the empty tomb story.” Seriously? They can’t figure out the argument? What else could the Roman edict be about? And exactly what difference does it make what spot in or near Nazareth the stone originally occupied? Nazareth was an absolute no place in the Roman Empire, a small backward town on the wrong side of the tracks. To find an edict from a Roman Emperor anywhere in the vicinity, with a message so clearly aimed at denying the Resurrection, is astonishing.

The Resurrection is the most documented event in the ancient world. It changed the world more than any other event. As Billy Graham said: “There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived.” Without the Resurrection, there is no reason why all (but one) of his disciples chose to suffer a brutal death rather than deny Jesus. No one dies for a lie. There is no other explanation for the growth of the Christian church.

Even Caesar proclaimed the Resurrection! He affirmed the most important event in history. He just didn’t mean to do it.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

The Old Testament and the Chronology Back to Adam

I recently learned there are different versions of the Old Testament. One is the Masoretic Text, or MT. The MT was put into its present form in the 10th century by Talmudic scholars. Another version is the Septaugint, which means 70 in Latin, also known as the LXX. The LXX was created much earlier, perhaps around 250 BC by Hebrew scholars at the request of King Ptolemy II of Egypt. It is the first translation of the Bible, and is written in Greek.

Opinions differ on which is more reliable. The Orthodox Church leans toward the LXX. The New Testament contains quotes from the LXX. However, some believe the LXX omits parts of the books of Job and Jeremiah. The Old Testament in today’s Christian Bible is a translation of the MT.

The two versions have different chronologies going back to Adam. For the most part, the list of patriarchs is the same. For the most part, the life spans of the patriarchs are the same. The key difference is in “begetting” ages, the time elapsed from one generation to another. For example, in the LXX Seth is born when Adam is 230, and Adam lives another 700 years after Seth’s birth, for a total of 930 years. In the MT Seth is born when Adam is 130, and Adam lives another 800 years after Seth’s birth, again for a total of 930 years. If it were just Adam, you might think this a simple mistake. However, this exact 100-year difference in the space between generations appears for 12 patriarchs (six before the Flood, six after), and, in the case of Nahor, Abraham’s grandfather, there is a difference of 50 years. This is no accident. Someone or some group deliberately either added 1250 years to the time going back to Adam, or shortened that time by 1250 years.

Scholars have debated which chronology is accurate for two thousand years. Most ancient Christian scholars argued for the originality of the LXX’s primeval chronology, and that consensus lasted over 14 centuries until the Reformation.

The Winter 2018 issue of Bible and Spade, the magazine of Associates for Biblical Research, contains an excellent article on this conundrum by Henry B. Smith Jr. He concludes “the MT’s primeval chronology was deliberately reduced in the second century AD by 1250 years.”

Why? Smith provides a motive. Around 150 BC, an unknown author deceptively claiming to be Moses penned the Book of Jubilees. In Hebrew tradition a jubilee is a period of 49 years. Jubilees rewrites Biblical history into periods of 49 years. In Jubilees, Joshua enters and conquers Canaan on the 50th Jubilee since creation, or exactly 2450 years after creation. To make this work, the author had to do some serious cutting, and slashed 1250 years off the begetting ages.

Jubilees claimed to be a new revelation, originally written ages before on “heavenly tablets” that pre-dated the Torah. Jubilees was extremely popular, and considered authoritative in some early traditions. Smith suggests Jubilees induced Hebrew scholars to adopt lower begetting ages.

Jubilees proposed lower begetting ages than found in the LXX, and the MT authors ultimately adopted many of them. For the first five patriarchs, from Adam to Mahalalel, the MT slices exactly 100 years off the begetting age, as was done in Jubilees. However, for three of the next four patriarchs –Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech – the begetting ages were not reduced. Why not? Smith suggests that the authors of the MT realized that these additional reductions would result in patriarchs (other than Noah and his sons) living beyond the Flood.

One of Smith’s most compelling arguments is that the longer chronology in the LXX is affirmed by at least four independent ancient works. One of these is Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus, who was a very careful historian. Smith writes: “All reliable external witnesses before AD 100 outside rabbinic influence unanimously testify to the longer chronology.”

This is deep subject, and I can offer only a glimpse of the issues and arguments. I have brutally oversimplified. There are many issues in the chronology back to Adam. However, the 1250-year difference in the begetting ages between the MT and the LXX is the most important. Some try to discredit the LXX, because in some later copies Methuselah lives beyond the Flood, but that has been shown to be a copying error from early versions.

Associates for Biblical Research uses archeology to confirm the biblical record. Smith’s article is important because under the MT chronology there isn’t enough time. If the Flood occurred around 2500 BC, as some might place it based on the MT, many of the dates established by archeological findings and historical records don’t work well. Smith dates the Flood at 3298 BC, and Creation at 5554 BC. These dates leave adequate time for repopulation after the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the spread of humanity.

I must note I find this post disturbing. I am suggesting the Bible in your house is not completely accurate. I don’t like that, and it doesn’t feel right. I am not telling you what to believe. My goal is to give you facts you may not be aware of, and let you decide.

This post doesn’t contradict in any way the enormous evidence of modern science that the universe and life were designed. This post doesn’t contradict in any way the overwhelming scientific evidence the Earth is young. In past posts I have touched on some of that, such as dinosaur “soft tissue,” Flood memories in societies around the world, and strong DNA evidence. With the LXX chronology, we get times that agree with the archeological and historical evidence.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

The Institute for Creation Research

Thursday I was privileged to spend a few fantastic hours at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). I visited with staff and scientists at their Dallas campus, and previewed the Discovery Center. When finished, hopefully next year, it will feature a state-of-the-art planetarium, animatronic dinosaurs (imagine a flying pterosaur swooping down!), fossils, a model of Noah’s Ark, geological evidence of the Flood, and so much more.

I met many of their distinguished scientists, dedicated and humble people who spurned more lucrative positions to confirm God’s word. Their powerful intellect was matched only by their passion. We shared the wonder of some of my favorite subjects, like the DNA evidence of recent creation and a real Adam and Eve, the mind-blowing technology of life, multiple discoveries disproving the Big Bang theory (spiral galaxies, absence of anti-matter, blue stars, double stars, comets, and heavy elements, to name just a few), and the evidence for a single ice age.

If want to know the literal truth of Genesis, read their publications, and, when it is finished, get yourself to Dallas and the Discovery Center. ICR offers a fire hose of evidence. An easy way to start is by signing up for their free monthly magazine, Acts and Facts, which is available here.

One of their favorite subjects, one we came back to again and again, is dinosaurs. They noted the term “dinosaur” is relatively new; before that they were called dragons. I saw an enormous fossil head of a 35-foot-long sea monster that was instantly buried during the Flood. I saw fossils with authentic, preserved dinosaur proteins, tested by a secular lab to be just thousands of years old. The worldwide discoveries of dinosaur “soft tissue,” original blood in some cases, shatter the secular myth of an old Earth.

ICR needs funds to complete their Discovery Center. I invite you to join the cause and be part of this exciting project. You can donate here.

Let us thank God for the Institute for Creation Research. They are a beacon of hope in our confused world.

Thanks for reading.