After using “new computerized image processing and document analysis techniques, including machine learning algorithms,” to digitally analyze ancient ceramic pottery shards called ostraca discovered in Israel, archaeologists have concluded that Judah was a very literate civilization before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took the Judahites into captivity in 586 BC. The ostraca date back to around 600 BC, some 20 years before Babylon wiped out Judah and the first temple.

Tel_Arad_DSC03799_(30) under creative commons licenseThe 16 shards that were analyzed were found decades ago in the ancient fortress city of Arad mentioned in Judges 1:16. The writings on the shards were from six different authors who had various ranks in Judah’s military, from the top commander to the lowest quartermaster. Included in the writings were military strategies sent from the king of Judah, troop movements, a register for foods consumed by the soldiers, and communications to nearby forts. Since Arad was in such a remote area in southern Judah and had regular communication with Jerusalem, in addition to the type of information discussed, the scholars at Tel Aviv University believe these are clear markers “the existence of an educational infrastructure [] may have helped to support the composition of significant literary texts in Judah before the destruction of the first Temple.”

In other words, Old Testament Bible texts were most likely written close to the time when the action recorded in them occurred. Furthermore, it points to the fact Judah was an advanced society, which confirms what Daniel said in Daniel 1:4 about why and how Nebuchadnezzar chose captives from Judah to serve in his royal court–“Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”

Once again, we see how extra-biblical texts confirm the accuracy of the historical information found in the Bible.

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