[…], Isaac Newton, said: “No sciences are better attested than the religion of the Bible.”9
The Bible and Health
12. How did a physician contrast common superstitions regarding health with statements in the Bible?
12 Throughout the centuries there has been great ignorance on matters of health. A physician even observed: “Many superstitions are still believed by large numbers of people such as, that a buckeye in the pocket will prevent rheumatism; that handling toads will cause warts; that wearing red flannel around the neck will cure a sore throat,” and others. Yet he explained: “No such statements are found in the Bible. This in itself is remarkable.”10
13. What hazardous medical treatment was prescribed by ancient Egyptians?
13 It is also remarkable when one compares hazardous medical treatments used in the past with what the Bible says. For example, the Papyrus Ebers, a medical document of the ancient Egyptians, prescribed the use of excrement to treat various conditions. It directed that human excrement mixed with fresh milk be applied as a poultice to lesions that remain after scabs fall off. And a remedy for drawing out splinters reads: “Worms’ blood, cook and crush in oil; mole, kill, cook, and drain in oil; ass’s dung, mix in fresh milk. Apply to the opening.”11 Such treatment, it is now known, can result in serious infections.
14. What does the Bible say about waste disposal, and how has this been a protection?
14 What does the Bible say about excrement? It directed: “When you squat outside, you must also dig a hole with [a digging instrument] and turn and cover your excrement.” (Deuteronomy 23:13) So, far from prescribing excrement in medical treatment, the Bible directed the safe disposal of sewage. Up until the present century the danger of leaving excrement exposed to flies was generally not known. This resulted in the spread of serious fly-borne diseases and the death of many people. Yet the simple remedy was on record in the Bible all the time, and it was followed by the Israelites over 3,000 years ago.
15. If Bible advice regarding touching dead persons had been followed, what medical practice resulting in many deaths would have been avoided?
15 During the last century medical personnel would go directly from handling the dead in the dissecting room to conducting examinations in the maternity ward, and they would not even wash their hands. Infection was thus transferred from the dead, and many others died. Even when the value of hand washing was demonstrated, many in the medical community resisted such hygienic measures. Doubtless unknown to them, they were rejecting the wisdom in the Bible, since Jehovah’s law to the Israelites decreed that anyone touching a dead person became unclean and must wash himself and his garments.—Numbers 19:11-22.
16. How was wisdom beyond human knowledge shown in directing that circumcision be performed on the eighth day?
16 As a sign of a covenant with Abraham, Jehovah God said: “Every male of yours eight days old must be circumcised.” Later this requirement was repeated to the nation of Israel. (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:2, 3) No explanation was given why the eighth day was specified, but now we understand. Medical research has discovered that the blood-clotting element vitamin K rises to an adequate level only by then. Another essential clotting element, prothrombin, seems to be higher on the eighth day than at any other time during a child’s life. Based on this evidence, Dr. S. I. McMillen concluded: “The perfect day to perform a circumcision is the eighth day.”12 Was this mere coincidence? Not at all. It was knowledge passed on by a God who knew.
17. What is another discovery of science that confirms the Bible?
17 Another discovery of modern science is the degree to which mental attitude and emotions affect health. An encyclopedia explains: “Since 1940 it has become more and more apparent that the physiologic function of organs and the organs systems are closely allied to the state of mind of the individual and that even tissue changes may occur in an organ so affected.”13However, this close connection between mental attitude and physical health was long ago referred to in the Bible. For instance, it says: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”—Proverbs 14:30; 17:22.
18. How does the Bible direct people away from damaging emotions and emphasize showing love?
18 The Bible, therefore, directs people away from damaging emotions and attitudes. “Let us walk decently,” it admonishes, “not in strife and jealousy.” It also counsels: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness. But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate.” (Romans 13:13; Ephesians 4:31, 32) Especially does the Bible recommend love. “Besides all these things,” it says, “clothe yourselves with love.” As the greatest proponent of love, Jesus told his disciples: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you.” In his Sermon on the Mount he even said: “Continue to love your enemies.” (Colossians 3:12-15; John 13:34;Matthew 5:44) Many may scoff at this, calling it weakness, but they pay a price. Science has learned that lack of love is a major factor in many mental ills and other problems.
19. What has modern science discovered regarding love?
19 The British medical journal Lancet once noted: “By far the most significant discovery of mental science is the power of love to protect and to restore the mind.”14 Similarly, a noted stress specialist, Dr. Hans Selye, said: “It is not the hated person or the frustrating boss who will get ulcers, hypertensions, and heart disease. It is the one who hates or the one who permits himself to be frustrated. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is one of the sagest bits of medical advice ever given.”15
20. How did a doctor compare Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount with psychiatric advice?
20 Indeed, the Bible’s wisdom is far ahead of modern discoveries. As Dr. James T. Fisher once wrote: “If you were to take the sum total of all the authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene—if you were to combine them, and refine them, and cleave out the excess verbiage—if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount.”16
The Bible and History
21. About a hundred years ago, how did critics view the historical value of the Bible?
21 After Darwin’s publication of his theory of evolution, the Bible’s historical record came under widespread attack. Archaeologist Leonard Woolley explained: “There arose towards the close of the nineteenth century an extreme school of critics which was ready to deny the historical foundation of practically everything related in the earlier books of the Old Testament.”17 In fact, some critics even claimed that writing did not come into common usage until the time of Solomon or afterward; and, therefore, the early Bible narratives could not be relied upon since they were not put into writing until centuries after the events occurred. One of the exponents of this theory said in 1892: “The time, of which the pre-Mosaic narratives treat, is a sufficient proof of their legendary character. It was a time prior to all knowledge of writing.”18
22. What has been learned about the ability of early peoples to write?
22 In recent times, however, a great deal of archaeological evidence has accumulated to show that writing was common long before the time of Moses. “We must again emphasize,” archaeologist William Foxwell Albright explained, “that alphabetic Hebrew writing was employed in Canaan and neighboring districts from the Patriarchal Age on, and that the rapidity with which forms of letters changed is clear evidence of common use.”19 And another leading historian and excavator observed: “That the question should ever have been raised whether Moses could have known how to write, appears to us now absurd.”20
23. What was discovered regarding King Sargon, resulting in what revision of views?
23 Time and again the Bible’s historical record has been substantiated by the uncovering of new information. The Assyrian king Sargon, for example, was for a long time known only from the Bible account at Isaiah 20:1. In fact, during the early part of the last century this Bible reference to him was discounted by critics as of no historical value. Then archaeological excavations produced the ruins of Sargon’s magnificent palace at Khorsabad, including many inscriptions regarding his rule. As a result, Sargon is now one of the best known of the Assyrian kings. Israeli historian Moshe Pearlman wrote: “Suddenly, sceptics who had doubted the authenticity even of the historical parts of the Old Testament began to revise their views.”21
24. How closely does an Assyrian account of Sargon compare with the Bible account regarding the conquest of Samaria?
24 One of Sargon’s inscriptions tells of an episode that previously had been known only from the Bible. It reads: “I besieged and conquered Samaria, led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it.”22 The Bible account of this at 2 Kings 17:6 reads: “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and then led Israel into exile.” Regarding the striking similarity of these two accounts, Pearlman observed: “Here, then, were two reports in the annals of the conqueror and the vanquished, one almost a mirror of the other.”23
25. Why should we not expect that Biblical and secular records would agree in every respect?
25 Should we expect, then, that Biblical and secular records would agree in every detail? No, as Pearlman notes: “This kind of identical ‘war reporting’ from both sides was unusual in the Middle East of ancient times (and on occasion in modern times too). It occurred only when the countries in conflict were Israel and one of its neighbours, and only when Israel was defeated. When Israel won, no record of failure appeared in the chronicles of the enemy.”24 (Italics added.) It is not surprising, therefore, that Assyrian accounts of the military campaign into Israel by Sargon’s son, Sennacherib, have a major omission. And what is that?
26. How does the account by Sennacherib compare with that found in the Bible regarding his military expedition into Israel?
26 Wall reliefs from King Sennacherib’s palace have been discovered that depict scenes of his expedition into Israel. Written descriptions of it were also found. One, a clay prism, reads: “As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities . . . Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. . . . I reduced his country, but I still increased the tribute and the katrû-presents (due) to me (as his) overlord.”25 So, Sennacherib’s version coincides with the Bible where Assyrian victories are concerned. But, as expected, he omits mentioning his failure to conquer Jerusalem and the fact that he was forced to return home because 185,000 of his soldiers had been killed in one night.—2 Kings 18:13–19:36; Isaiah 36:1–37:37.
27. How does the Bible’s account of Sennacherib’s assassination compare with what ancient secular accounts say about it?
27 Consider Sennacherib’s assassination and what a recent discovery reveals. The Bible says that two of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, put Sennacherib to death. (2 Kings 19:36, 37) Yet both the account attributed to Babylonian King Nabonidus and that of the Babylonian priest Berossus of the third century B.C.E. mention only one son as involved in the slaying. Which was correct? Commenting on the more recent discovery of a fragmentary prism of Esar-haddon, Sennacherib’s son who succeeded him as king, historian Philip Biberfeld wrote: “Only the Biblical account proved to be correct. It was confirmed in all the minor details by the inscription of Esar-haddon and proved to be more accurate regarding this event of Babylonian-Assyrian history than the Babylonian sources themselves. This is a fact of utmost importance for the evaluation of even contemporary sources not in accord with Biblical tradition.”26
28. How has the Bible been vindicated in what it says about Belshazzar?
28 At one time all known ancient sources also differed with the Bible regarding Belshazzar. The Bible presents Belshazzar as the king of Babylon when it fell. (Daniel 5:1-31) However, secular writings did not even mention Belshazzar, saying that Nabonidus was king at the time. So critics claimed that Belshazzar never existed. More recently, however, ancient writings were found that identified Belshazzar as a son of Nabonidus and coruler with his father in Babylon. For this reason, evidently, the Bible says Belshazzar offered to make Daniel “the third ruler in the kingdom,” since Belshazzar himself was the second. (Daniel 5:16, 29) Thus the Yale University professor, R. P. Dougherty, when comparing the Bible book of Daniel with other ancient writings, said: “The Scriptural account may be interpreted as excelling because it employs the name Belshazzar, because it attributes royal power to Belshazzar, and because it recognizes that a dual rulership existed in the kingdom.”27
29. What confirmation has been discovered regarding what the Bible says about Pontius Pilate?
29 Another example of a discovery that confirms the historicalness of a person mentioned in the Bible is given by Michael J. Howard, who worked with the Caesarea expedition in Israel in 1979. “For 1,900 years,” he wrote, “Pilate existed only on the pages of the Gospels and in the vague recollections of Roman and Jewish historians. Next to nothing was known about his life. Some said he never even existed. But in 1961, an Italian archaeological expedition was working in the ruins of the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea. A workman overturned a stone that had been used for one of the stairways. On the reverse side was the following, partially-obscured inscription in Latin: ‘Caesariensibus Tiberium Pontius Pilatus Praefectus Iudaeae.’ (To the people of Caesarea Tiberium Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea.) It was a fatal blow to the doubts about Pilate’s existence. . . . For the first time there was contemporary epigraphic evidence of the life of the man who ordered the crucifixion of Christ.”28—John 19:13-16;Acts 4:27.
30. What has been discovered regarding the use of camels that substantiates the Bible record?
30 Modern discoveries even substantiate minor details of ancient Bible accounts. For instance, contradicting the Bible, Werner Keller wrote in 1964 that camels were not domesticated at an early date, and, therefore, the scene where “we meet Rebecca for the first time in her native city of Nahor must make do with a change of stage props. The ‘camels’ belonging to her future father-in-law, Abraham, which she watered at the well were—donkeys.”29 (Genesis 24:10) However, in 1978 Israeli military leader and archaeologist Moshe Dayan pointed to evidence that camels “served as a means of transport” in those early times, and hence that the Bible account is accurate. “An eighteenth-century BC relief found at Byblos in Phoenicia depicts a kneeling camel,” Dayan explained. “And camel riders appear on cylinder seals recently discovered in Mesopotamia belonging to the patriarchal period.”30
31. What further evidence is there that the Bible is historically accurate?
31 Evidence that the Bible is historically accurate has mounted irresistibly. While it is true that secular records of Egypt’s Red Sea debacle and other such defeats have not been found, this is not surprising since it was not the practice of rulers to record their defeats. Yet, discovered on the temple walls of Karnak in Egypt is the record of Pharaoh Shishak’s successful invasion of Judah during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. The Bible tells about this at 1 Kings 14:25, 26. In addition, Moabite King Mesha’s version of his revolt against Israel has been discovered, being recorded on what is called the Moabite Stone. The account can also be read in the Bible at 2 Kings 3:4-27.
32. What can visitors to museums today see that verifies Bible accounts?
32 Visitors to many museums can see wall reliefs, inscriptions and statues that verify Bible accounts. Kings of Judah and Israel such as Hezekiah, Manasseh, Omri, Ahab, Pekah, Menahem and Hoshea appear on cuneiform records of Assyrian rulers. King Jehu or one of his emissaries is depicted on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser as paying tribute. The decor of the Persian palace of Shushan, as the Biblical characters Mordecai and Esther knew it, has been re-created for observation today. Statues of the early Roman Caesars, Augustus, Tiberius and Claudius, who appear in Bible accounts, can also be viewed by museum visitors. (Luke 2:1; 3:1; Acts 11:28; 18:2) A silver denarius coin, in fact, has been found that bears the image of Tiberius Caesar—a coin Jesus asked for when discussing the matter of taxes.—Matthew 22:19-21.
33. How does the land of Israel and its features provide evidence that the Bible is accurate?
33 A modern-day visitor to Israel familiar with the Bible cannot help but be impressed with the fact that the Bible describes the land and its features with great accuracy. Dr. Ze’ev Shremer, leader of a geological expedition in the Sinai Peninsula, once said: “We have our own maps and geodetic survey plans, of course, but where the Bible and the maps are at odds, we opt for The Book.”31 To give an example of how one can personally experience the history presented in the Bible: In Jerusalem today a person can walk through a 1,749-foot-long tunnel that was cut through solid rock over 2,700 years ago. It was cut to protect the city’s water supply by carrying water from the hidden spring of Gihon outside the city walls to the Pool of Siloam within the city. The Bible explains how Hezekiah had this water tunnel constructed to provide water for the city in anticipation of Sennacherib’s coming siege.—2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30.
34. What have some respected scholars said about the Bible’s accuracy?
34 These are but a few examples that illustrate why it is unwise to underestimate the Bible’s accuracy. There are many, many more. So doubts about the Bible’s reliability are usually based, not on what it says or upon sound evidence, but instead upon misinformation or ignorance. The former director of the British Museum, Frederic Kenyon, wrote: “Archæology has not yet said its last word; but the results already achieved confirm what faith would suggest, that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase of knowledge.”32 And the well-known archaeologist Nelson Glueck said: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.”33
Honesty and Harmony
35, 36. (a) What personal shortcomings did various Bible writers acknowledge? (b) Why does the honesty of these writers add weight to their claim that the Bible is from God?
35 Something else that identifies the Bible as coming from God is the honesty of its writers. It is contrary to imperfect human nature to admit mistakes or failures, especially in writing. Most ancient writers reported only their successes and virtues. Yet Moses wrote how he had “acted undutifully,” and so was disqualified from leading Israel into the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 32:50-52; Numbers 20:1-13) Jonah told of his own waywardness. (Jonah 1:1-3; 4:1) Paul acknowledges his former wrongdoings. (Acts 22:19, 20; Titus 3:3) And Matthew, an apostle of Christ, reported that the apostles at times showed little faith, sought prominence and even abandoned Jesus at his arrest.—Matthew 17:18-20; 18:1-6; 20:20-28;26:56.
36 If Bible writers were going to falsify anything, would it not be unfavorable information about themselves? They would not likely reveal their own shortcomings and then make false claims about other things, would they? So, then, the honesty of the Bible writers adds weight to their claim that God guided them as they wrote.—2 Timothy 3:16.
37. Why is the internal harmony of the Bible such strong evidence that it is inspired by God?
37 The internal harmony around a central theme also testifies to the Bible’s Divine Authorship. It is easy to state that the Bible’s 66 books were written over a period of 16 centuries by some 40 different writers. But think how remarkable that fact is! Say that the writing of a book began during the time of the Roman Empire, that the writing continued through the period of the monarchies and to modern-day republics, and that the writers were people as different as soldiers, kings, priests, fishermen, and even a herdsman as well as a medical doctor. Would you expect every part of that book to follow the same precise theme? Yet the Bible was written over a similar period of time, under various political regimes, and by men of all those categories. And it is harmonious throughout. Its basic message has the same thrust from beginning to end. Does this not lend weight to the Bible’s claim that these “men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit”?—2 Peter 1:20, 21.
38. What does it take for a person to trust the Bible?
38 Can you trust the Bible? If you really examine what it says, and do not simply accept what certain ones claim that it says, you will find reason to trust it. Yet, even stronger evidence exists that the Bible was indeed inspired by God, which is the subject of the next chapter.
[Blurb on page 202]
“The astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same”
[Blurb on page 204]
The Bible is remarkably free from superstitious expressions
[Blurb on page 206]
The close connection between mental attitude and physical health was long ago referred to in the Bible
[Blurb on page 215]
It is contrary to human nature to admit mistakes or failures, especially in writing
[Blurb on page 215]
The Bible is harmonious throughout
[Diagram on page 201]
This water cycle, generally unknown in ancient times, is described in the Bible
[Picture on page 200]
This is how some ancients believed that the earth was supported
[Picture on page 203]
Frozen-solid mammoth uncovered in Siberia. After thousands of years, vegetation was still in its mouth and stomach, and its flesh was edible when thawed out
[Picture on page 205]
In the past century, doctors did not always wash after touching the dead, causing other deaths
[Picture on page 207]
The Bible’s emphasis on love harmonizes with sound medical advice
[Picture on page 209]
A limestone relief of King Sargon, who had long been known only from the Bible account
[Pictures on page 210]
A wall relief from King Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh, showing him receiving booty from the Judean city of Lachish
This clay prism of King Sennacherib describes his military expedition into Israel
[Pictures on page 211]
Victory monument of Esar-haddon, son of Sennacherib, amplifies 2 Kings 19:37: “And Esar-haddon his son began to reign in place of him”
This inscription, found in Caesarea, verifies that Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea
[Pictures on page 212]
This wall relief verifies the record found in the Bible of Shishak’s victory over Judah
The Moabite Stone records the revolt of Moab’s King Mesha against Israel, described in the Bible
[Pictures on page 213]
King Jehu, or an emissary, paying tribute to King Shalmaneser III
Marble bust of Augustus, the Caesar when Jesus Christ was born
A silver denarius with Tiberius Caesar’s inscription, like the one Christ asked for
[Picture on page 214]
Interior of tunnel that King Hezekiah had hewed out to provide water for Jerusalem during Assyrian siege
Can You Trust the Bible?
1. Free Inquiry, “The Bible as a Political Weapon,” by Gerald Larue, Summer 1983, p. 39.
2. Scientific Monthly, “Geology and Health,” by Harry V. Warren, June 1954, p. 396.
3. Cook’s Commentary, edited by F. C. Cook, 1878, Vol. IV, p. 96.
4. Encyclopedia Americana, 1977, Vol. 9, p. 553.
5. The World Book Encyclopedia, 1984, Vol. 20, p. 136.
6. God and the Astronomers, by Robert Jastrow, 1978, pp. 11, 14.
7. Ibid., p. 16.
8. The Saturday Evening Post, “Riddle of the Frozen Giants,” by Ivan T. Sanderson, January 16, 1960, pp. 82, 83.
9. The New Dictionary of Thoughts, 1954, originally compiled by Tryon Edwards. Revised by C. N. Catrevas and Jonathan Edwards, p. 534.
10. The Physician Examines the Bible, by C. Raimer Smith, 1950, p. 354.
11. The Papyrus Ebers, by C. P. Bryan, 1931, pp. 73, 91, 92.
12. None of These Diseases, by S. I. McMillen, 1963, p. 23.
13. Encyclopedia Americana, 1956, Vol. 18, p. 582b.
14. The Lancet, “Mental Health and Spiritual Values,” by Geoffrey Vickers, March 12, 1955, p. 524.
15. Today’s Health, “How to Avoid Harmful Stress,” by J. D. Ratcliff, July 1970, p. 43.
16. A Few Buttons Missing, by James T. Fisher and Lowell S. Hawley, 1951, p. 273.
17. Abraham, Recent Discoveries and Hebrew Origins, by Leonard Woolley, 1935, p. 22.
18. The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, “Exodus,” edited by J. H. Hertz, 1951, p. 106.
19. From the Stone Age to Christianity, by William Foxwell Albright, 1940, pp. 192, 193.
20. The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 106.
21. Digging Up the Bible, by Moshe Pearlman, 1980, p. 85.
22. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, 1969, pp. 284, 285.
23. Digging Up the Bible, p. 85.
25. Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 288.
26. Universal Jewish History, by Philip Biberfeld, 1948, Vol. I, p. 27.
27. Nabonidus and Belshazzar, by Raymond Philip Dougherty, 1929, p. 200.
28. The Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, March 24, 1980, “Unearthing Pontius Pilate,” by Michael J. Howard, pp. B1, B2.
29. The Bible as History, by Werner Keller, 1964 edition, p. 161.
30. Living With the Bible, by Moshe Dayan, 1978, p. 39.
31. The Sun, San Bernardino, California, October 19, 1967, p. B-12.
32. The Bible and Archæology, by Frederic Kenyon, 1940, p. 279.
33. Rivers of the Desert, by Nelson Glueck, 1959, p. 31.