Roger D. Isaacs
New Interpretations of the Hebrew Bible

The Top 5 Bible Discoveries of 2022

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s that time once again when we reflect on some of the most remarkable discoveries in the fields of biblical archaeology and scholarship that happened over the past year. As COVID-19 restrictions continued to be relaxed, the surge of finds carried on as scholars and archaeologists got to work at both excavations and in the library to uncover information that further revealed the world of the Bible and its peoples.

Here are our top 5 Bible discoveries of 2022:

1. A 3,300-year-old burial cave from the reign of Rameses II was found on an Israeli beach

Hajor, CC BY-SA 1.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

During building work at Palmachim National Park, south of Tel Aviv in Israel, a trove from the era of Rameses II (circa 1279–1213 BCE) was revealed. Rameses II is believed by some to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The group of archaeologists found a vast array of items, including intact pottery and bronze spearheads, dating to the Late Bronze Age (circa 1550–1200 BCE). The finding is significant in that it will help scholars understand burial customs in Israel during this early period, which might correspond to a time around the Exodus, if the Rameses II dating is accepted.

2. Linear Elamite has been deciphered

Frank, Carl (1881-1945), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Linear Elamite was one of the scripts used in Elam (located in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran) during the Bronze Age and provides us with an account of the Elamite language. Even though the Elamites were considered Semites by the writers of the Bible (Genesis 10:22), the language is in fact not Semitic and is most probably a language isolate. Now, an international team claims to have deciphered the language, with implications for reading future lost texts that might reveal more about the Elamites, their culture, and relations with surrounding peoples.

3. Archaeologists reconstructed biblical wars using Earth’s magnetic field

Space Travel Blog / Rute Marta Jansone, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Ruins are ubiquitous in Israel. But who destroyed what when is less clear. A new geomagnetic technique determined by the Earth’s own magnetic field is letting scientists identify remains of conflicts described in the Bible. It turns out many battles mentioned in the biblical text were historical events, providing a better understanding of the wars surrounding the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

4. Rare ivory fragments have been found in Jerusalem

Example of similar ivories from Megiddo. Deror Avi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

A cache of ivory pieces has academics rethinking Jerusalem’s position among ancient capitals. These First Temple (circa 1000–586 BCE) ivories are the earliest found in Jerusalem and are seldom uncovered at other sites. Around 1,500 ivories were dug up from the City of David’s Givati Parking Lot. This finding might be proof of the biblical account of the fame of Jerusalem during the Iron Age (circa 1200–539 BCE).

5. The oldest known Palaeo-Hebrew text has been discovered

zstadler, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

A small curse inscription on a doubled-over lead tablet might be the oldest Hebrew text ever discovered and may reference the name of God. The engraving in Hebrew is composed of 40 characters and is older than any recognised Hebrew from ancient Israel. A peer-reviewed article will be published early in 2023 by the team.

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About the Author
Roger D. Isaacs is an independent researcher specializing in Hebrew Bible studies and the author of two books, "Talking With God" and "The Golden Ark". Isaacs' primary research site was the archives of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, where he is a member of the Advisory Council. He also conducted research at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, as well as digs, museums, and libraries in many countries, including Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and England.
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