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List of Biblical figures identified in extra-Biblical sources

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This is a list of people who are mentioned in the Bible that have been identified in extra-biblical records or artifacts.

Biblical figures identified in contemporary sources

These are Biblical figures unambiguously identified in contemporary sources.

Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

  • Ahaz (Jehoahaz), king of Judah: Mentioned extensively in Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah as well as in Hosea 1:1 and Micah 1:1. Identified in the contemporary Summary Inscription of Tiglath-Pileser III which records that he received tribute from Jehoahaz the Judahite, as mentioned in 2 Kings 16:7-8 and 2 Chronicles 28:21 [BAS]. Also identified in a contemporary clay bulla, reading of Ahaz [son of] Jotham king of Judah [BBA]. Another bulla reading of Ushna servant of Ahaz is likely a reference to King Ahaz as well [BBA]. (A third bulla mentioning Ahaz as the father of Hezekiah is being investigated as a possible forgery.)
  • Apries (Hophra), pharaoh of Egypt: Mentioned in Jeremiah 44:30. Identified in numerous contemporary inscriptions including those of the capitals of the columns of his palace. (See The palace of Apries.) Herodotus speaks of him in Histories II, 161-171. [DEU]
  • Ashurbanipal (Asenappar/Sardanapalus), king of Assyria: Mentioned in Ezra 4:10. Identified in numerous contemporary inscriptions including one listing Manasseh king of Judah amongst the kings who had brought him gifts and aided his conquest of Egypt [ANET]. His inscriptions tell of his conquest of Elam and Babylon which accords with Ezra 4:9-10 where people that he exiled from these regions are mentioned [HBA]. Diodorus Siculus (book II, 21) preserved a fanciful account of him by Ctesias. (See Sardanapalus in [HCA].)

New Testament

Gospels

Acts of the Apostles

Biblical figures tentatively identified in contemporary sources

These are Biblical figures for which tentative but likely identifications have been found in contemporary sources based on matching names and credentials. The possibility of coincidental matching of names cannot be ruled out however.

Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

  • Azariah, grandfather of Ezra: Mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:13,14; 9:11 and Ezra 7:1. A bulla reading Azariah son of Hilkiah is likely to be his [BBA].
  • Baruch, scribe of the prophet Jeremiah: Mentioned in Jeremiah 32:12-16, 36:4-32, 43:3-6, 45:1-2 and in Baruch 1.1-3, the latter book being named after him. A clay bulla found in 1975 reading of Berechiah son of Neriah the scribe is likely his [BBA][TTA]. The name translated Berachiah consists of the Hebrew letters of the name Baruch with the Tetragrammaton appended [TTA]. (Other bullae with similar text that appeared in the 1990s are being investigated as possible forgeries.)
  • Hilkiah, high priest in the Temple in Jerusalem: Mentioned throughout 2 Kings 22:8-23:24 and 2 Chronicles 34:9-35:8 as well as in 1 Chronicles 6:13; 9:11 and Ezra 7:1. The clay bulla naming a Hilkiah as the father of an Azariah, as well as another bulla reading Hanan son of Hilkiah the priest are likely to be references to him. [BBA].
  • Meshullam, father of Azaliah the scribe: Mentioned in 2 Kings 22:3. The contemporary bulla naming Meshullam as the father of an Azaliah is likely to be a reference to him [BBA].
Silwan-inscr

The so-called Shebna Lintel

  • Shebna (or Shebaniah), royal steward of Hezekiah: only the last two letters of a name (hw) survive on the so-called Shebna lintel, but the title of his position ("over the house" of the king) and the date indicated by the script style, have inclined many scholars to identify the person it refers to with Shebna.

See also

References

  1. [BBA] John Argubright, Bible Believer's Archaeology, Xulon Press, 2003
  2. [BAS] Stephen L. Caiger, Bible and Spade, Oxford University Press, 1936
  3. [HBA] George Goodspeed, A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, New York NY, C. Scribners Sons, 1902
  4. [DEU] Wolfram Grajetzki, Stephen Quirke, Narushige Shiode, Digital Egypt for Universities, University College London, 2000
  5. [COS] William W. Hallo, ed., The Context of Scripture, Brill Academic Publishers, 1997-2002
  6. [ANET] James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, 1955, supplement 1969
  7. [TTA] Keith N. Schoville, Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries of the Twentieth Century Relating to the Biblical World, Stone Campbell Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2001
  8. [HCA] Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York, Harper and Brothers, 1898
  9. Mykytiuk, Lawrence J. (2004). Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. Academia Biblica series, no. 12. Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature. ISBN 1-58983-062-8. A technical, specialized dissertation, revised and updated for publication. Devises a system for evaluating potential identifications of Biblical persons in inscriptions written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Moabite, Canaanite, Phoenician, and Ammonite. (Does not cover inscriptions in Assyrian and Babyonian Akkadian.) Makes eleven identification criteria explicit. Classifies IDs and non-IDs into six grades of strength or weakness. Performs full-length evaluation of potential IDs in eleven Hebrew inscriptions plus the Mesha stele and the Tel Dan stele. Appendixes list preliminary evaluations of more than seventy-five persons in more than ninety inscriptions, resulting in identifications of sixteen Biblical persons considered "certain" for the period of the Hebrew monarchies and the Babylonian exile only.


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