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News – Discovery confirms OT accuracy

August 2007

Discovery confirms OT accuracy

A researcher at the British Museum has uncovered a direct link between the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and a 2500-year-old Assyrian cuneiform tablet. The discovery has been called the most important find in biblical archaeology for 100 years.

Michael Jursa, a visiting professor from Vienna, was searching for financial accounts among 130,000 tablets held by the museum when he came across the name Nabu-sharrussu-ukin. In script written 2500 years ago, Nabu-sharrussu-ukin is described as ‘the chief eunuch’ of Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon.

Though spelt differently, Professor Jursa recognised the name from chapter 39 of the Book of Jeremiah. Nebo-Sarsekim, according to Jeremiah, was Nebuchadnezzar II’s ‘chief officer’ and was with him at the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC, when the Babylonians overran the city.

Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, told the Daily Telegraph that the clay tablet is a bill of receipt acknowledging Nabu-sharrussu-ukin’s payment of 0.75 kg of gold to a temple in Babylon. The tablet is dated to the tenth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, 595 BC, eight years before the siege of Jerusalem.

Evidence from non-biblical sources of people named in the Bible is not unknown, but because Nabu-sharrussu-ukin would have been a relatively insignificant figure the discovery provides excellent support for the accuracy of the whole Jeremiah narrative.

Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing and was commonly used in the Middle East between 3200 BC and the second century AD. It was created by pressing a wedge-shaped instrument into moist clay.

The full translation of the tablet reads: ‘(Regarding) 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon’.
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