NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE BIBLE
by Wayne S. Walker
"He cuts out channels in the rocks, and His eye sees every precious thing" (Job 28.10). When God created the earth, He placed within it various kinds of natural resources, such as rocks and minerals, to be used for the good of mankind. Certain kinds of resources are more common to particular areas of the world than others. The Bible makes reference to several of these. If the Bible speaks inaccurately, we can reasonably conclude that it is the work of mere men. However, if it speaks completely accurately, its claim to be inspired is bolstered.
Genesis 14 reports the battle of the four kings of Mesopotamia against the kings of the five cities of the plain, including Sodom and Gomorrah, which took place in the Valley of Siddim near what became the Salt (or Dead) Sea (vs. 1-3). Verse 10 says, "Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits…" (KJV has the word "slime"). Josephus (Wars, IV, 8:4) reported that as early as the time of Abraham, asphalt seepages were known in this area and said that it was used for caulking ships and in a great many medicines (cf. Genesis 6.14, 11.3; Exodus 2.3).
Moses, preparing the people to enter Canaan, called it, "A land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper" (Deuteronomy 8.9). This would include the whole territory originally intended for Israel and over which David and Solomon eventually ruled, not just the land in which they actually settled. Ferrell Jenkins ("Solomon’s Copper Mines," Truth Magazine, Jan. 29, 1970) reported that copper has been found in the Negev (the "South" of Palestine) and is currently being minded at Timna in the Eilat District of the nation of Israel. Further evidence of copper smeling to the time of Solomon has been found in the Negev (1 Kings 7:45-46).
The Philistines, who lived along the coastal region of Canaan, had iron instruments (Joshua 17:16-18). The Israelites, who lived in the hill country, did not (1 Samuel 13.19-20). Iron ore does not exist in the Negev and Galilee. However, Henry H. Halley (Bible Handbook, p. 170) reported that excavations have revealed many iron relics of 1100 B.C. in Philistia but none in the hill country of Palestine until 1000 B.C. Apparently, it was only when the power of the Philistines was broken by Saul and David that the iron-smelting formula became public property and the metal came to be widely used in Israel (2 Samuel 12.29-31).
Bronze (KJV brass) is an alloy of copper and tin. Hiram made vessels for the house of the Lord "of burnished bronze" and had them "cast in clay molds, between Succoth and Zaretan" (1 Kings 7:45-46). Succoth and Zaretan are on the east of the Jordan River. According to Everyday Life in Bible Times (p. 36), James B. Pritchard, of the University of Pennsylvania, excavated Tell es-Saidiyeh, thought to be Biblical Zaretan, in 1963, and bronze vessels were found there.
Again, these facts do not prove the Bible inspired. However, they do lend weight to its credibility. It is not a book of complete myths or fairy tales, but accurately describes where natural resources are found. If it always speaks the truth in such a mundane matter as natural resources, then we may more reasonably conclude that it speaks the truth when it claims to be the word of God. "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law" (Psalm 119.18). (—taken from With All Boldness; March, 1996; Vol 6, No. 3; p. 18; and January, 1997; Vol. 7, No. 1; p. 10)