THE HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL ACCURACY OF THE BIBLE
by Wayne S. Walker
In previous articles of this series, various items of a historical and geographical nature were cited as evidence for the accuracy of the Bible–fulfilled prophecies, archaeological findings, and Biblical references to climate, plants, natural resources, topogrphical features, and various customs. It was pointed out that the Bible is not a book of geography or history. Yet, the Bible was written in a geographical and historical setting. If the Bible is truly what it claims to be, a divine revelation of God’s will to mankind, then we would expect it to be accurate in all historical and geographical references. Let us examine a couple more examples to illustrate the Bible’s accuracy.
When I was living in Dayton, OH, I would normally speak of going up to Toledo because it is north of Dayton and down to Cincinnati because it is south of Dayton. In our map-oriented society we think of north as "up" and "south" as down. However, no matter from which direction one is coming or in which direction one is heading, he is always said to be going up to Jerusalem or down from Jerusalem (Luke 10.30, 19.28; John 2.12-13, 11.54-55; Acts 9.26-30 & 32, 24.1). For example, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were said to go up to Jerusalem while travelling south from Galilee to Jerusalem (Luke 2.39-42). Philip was said to go down from Jerusalem while travelling north to Samaria (Acts 8.1-5).
Why is this so? It is because Jerusalem is located up in the mountains and is, in fact, one of the highest points in Palestine. Ferrell Jenkins noted one specific description. "Jericho is located at 825 feet below sea level. Jerusalem is about 2500 feet above sea level. Notice the record in Luke 19. Jesus visits Jericho (v. 1); was ‘near Jerusalem’ (v. 11); was ‘ascending to Jerusalem’ (v. 28); ‘approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet’ (v. 29); ‘near the descent of the Mount of Olives’ (v. 37); ‘And when He approached, He saw the city’ (v. 41); the ‘He entered the temple’ (v. 45). This is an accurate description of the topography of this 19 mile journey" (Introduction to Christian Evidences, p. 69).
Throughout the Bible references are made to a people known as the sons of Heth or Hittities, They were descendants of Ham through Canaan (Genesis 10.6-15). These Hittites were said to be among the people living in the land of Canaan prior to Israel’s reception of it (Genesis 15.12-21, 23.3ff, 25.9, 26.34, etc.). For many years, there were no historical records of such a group, especially in Palestine, and unbelieving critics ridiculed the Bible as inaccurate for mentioning such a fictitious tribe. The Hittites were supposed to be a figment of someone’s imagination. However, to quote Paul Harvey, now hear "the rest of the story."
"A German expedition working at Sinjirli (ancient Samal), in Syria (1889-91), discovered many Hittite sculptures….John Garstang subsequently excavated another Hittite site nearby (1908-11). Much of the material found during these excavations was clearly Hittite in origin and bore witness to the fact that a Hittite kingdom once had its center there. Carchemish on the Euphrates was excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence for the Britisn Museum (1911-14). Inscriptions in Hieroglyphic Hittite were discovered along with many seals, pieces of jewelry, and other small objects" (Charles F. Pfeiffer in Baker’s Bible Atlas, p. 269). It is now know that Hittite peoples were spread all throughout the Middle Eastern region.
Again, we must remember that the accuracy of the Bible by itself does not establish inspiration nor the fact that the Bible is a special, divine revelation of the mind of God. However, the remarkable accuracy of the Bible in the areas of history and geography is a strong, corroborating argument for the accuracy of the Bible in all other matters. It lends its weight to the claim of the scriptures to be inspired of God (2 Timothy 3.16-17). (—taken from With All Boldness; July, 1997; Vol. 7, No. 7; p. 22)