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Commentary on recent archaeological discoveries, current issues bearing on the historical reliability of Scripture and other relevant news concerning the Bible.


One of the most serious problems facing the Church in the 21st century is the problem of Biblical illiteracy. Simply put, most professing Christians do not possess a sound and coherent understanding of the Bible...

This article will examine four aspects of the question regarding whether or not Mt. Sinai is located in Saudi Arabia. First, the credibility of the claims will be questioned. Second, the false assumptions by the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz will be disputed. Third, the Biblical evidence will be discussed. Fourth, the archaeological evidence will be examined...

This article was originally published in the Fall 2000 issue of Bible and Spade.

Two treasure hunters stood on the top of Jebel al-Lawz thinking it was the real Mt. Sinai, the “Mountain of God”. One was struck with fear because he thought he was trespassing on the “holiest place on earth”. As he gulped down Gatorade and munched on M & M’s, a sense of guilt overcame him because he had forged a letter from the king of Saudi Arabia in order to obtain a visa into the Kingdom (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 10, 11, 74, 77, 79; Blum 1998: 206). Should he have felt guilty for this deceit? Yes, what he did was illegal, and offended the honor of the Saudi Arabian people. Should he have been afraid because he was on the holy mountain of God (Ex. 19:12)? No, because he was standing on the wrong mountain. MT. SINAI IS NOT IN SAUDI ARABIA!

This article will examine four aspects of the question regarding whether or not Mt. Sinai is located in Saudi Arabia. First, the credibility of the claims will be questioned. Second, the false assumptions by the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz will be disputed. Third, the Biblical evidence will be discussed. Fourth, the archaeological evidence will be examined.

Mount Sinai was the destination of Moses and the Children of Israel after the Lord miraculously delivered them from the bondage of Egypt (Ex. 18:5). It was from this mountain that the Lord also gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the people of Israel (Ex. 19:1-3, 11,18; 20:1-17). Here, too, the prophet Elijah found himself after his escape from wicked Queen Jezebel (I Kings 19).

Pilgrims, scholars and tourists have visited the traditional site, Jebel Musa (Arabic for the Mountain of Moses) for more than 1,600 years. In the early 4th century AD Eusebius of Caesarea placed Mt. Sinai in the southern Sinai Peninsula. When Egeria made a pilgrimage to the East between AD 381 and 384, she visited Jebel Musa as Mt. Sinai (Wilkinson 1981: 1, 18, 91-100). This impressive mountain located in the southern Sinai Peninsula is situated behind the Byzantine monastery of St. Catherine’s built by Emperor Justinian in the middle of the sixth century AD (Tsafrir 1978:219).

It may come as a surprise to most people, but scholars have identified 13 different sites as the “real” Mount Sinai (Har-el 1983:2). I would agree with the proponents of the Jebel al-Lawz hypothesis that Jebel Musa, the traditional Mt. Sinai, or any other site in the southern Sinai Peninsula, could not be the real Mt. Sinai. Professor Har-el in his book, The Sinai Journeys, has argued very convincingly, against the southern Sinai theory (1983: 175-233).

Recently, six American treasure hunters have added a 14th mountain to the already long list of candidates for the real Mt. Sinai: Jebel al-Lawz.

Who's Who Among the Treasure Hunters

The idea of Mt. Sinai being in Midian (Saudi Arabia) is not new. Charles Beke suggested Mount Baggir, to the NE of the Gulf of Akaba, as the true location of Mt. Sinai in his book Sinai in Arabia and of Midian in 1878. Alois Musil (1926: 263,264, 269, 296-298) and H. Philby (1957: 222-224) identify Mt. Sinai / Horeb with Jebel al-Manifa, near Wadi al-Hrob, 20 kilometers north of ‘Ajnuna (1926: 269, 297). A French scholar, Jean Koenig (1971), has added the volcanic peak of Hala’l bedr to the list.

The late Ron Wyatt, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) turned treasure hunter, added a fourth Midian site, Jebel al-Lawz, to the list. He also claimed to have discovered Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Red Sea crossing and some of pharaoh’s chariots, the Ark of the Covenant with the blood of Jesus on the mercy seat, and other spectacular archaeological discoveries. This list is enough to make any archaeologist green with envy!1 However, one of Wyatt’s partners in his Saudi Arabian venture called it a “treasure hunt” (Fasold 1993b:4).

In 1978, Wyatt claimed to have discovered the Red Sea crossing at Newaba in the Gulf of Akaba (the eastern branch of the Red Sea) and some of “pharaoh’s chariot wheels.”2 This led Wyatt to conclude that Mt. Sinai must be in Saudi Arabia. His candidate for Mt. Sinai was Jebel al-Lawz because it was the highest peak in the entire NW Saudi Arabian region (Noorbergen 1982: 157-174). In 1984, Ron Wyatt and his two sons illegally crossed the border of Jordan into Saudi Arabia to visit the site. They explored and photographed the area around Jebel al-Lawz. As they tried to get back across the border they were captured, their film confiscated, and were jailed for 78 days as Israeli spies. They were eventually released.

In April 1985, Wyatt returned to Saudi Arabia legally under the patronage of a certain Mr. Samran al-Motairy. This time he had a contract with Samran to split the take on any “commercial minerals” found by them on their treasure hunt (Fasold 1993b: 4-6; Blum 1998: 47). To help locate the gold, Wyatt convinced David Fasold, with his “molecular frequency generator” (MFG), into joining their expedition to search for the “gold of Exodus” (Blum 1998: 49-51). Fasold claims this device can detect various types of metal under the ground.

When one of Samran’s workers discovered “a bracelet that glittered for all the world like the purest of gold” (Blum 1998: 58), they were arrested and charged with “robbing Saudi Arabia of its wealth from antiquity” which they claimed was a capital offense (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 218). When they were finally released, all their film and notes were confiscated, and they were made to promise they would never return to Saudi Arabia and never publish or talk about their findings (Blum 1998: 59; Williams 1990: 25).

Upon his return, Fasold told Jim Irwin, the Apollo 15 astronaut who walked on the moon. Irwin in turn put Fasold in touch with two other potential treasure hunters — Larry Williams, a commodity trader and part time treasure hunter, and Robert Cornuke, a former police officer and SWAT team member (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 218). Fasold told them about the location of Mt. Sinai and the gold from Egypt. Part of his material is reproduced in Williams’ book (1990: 25, 209-211) as well as his own newsletters (1993a; 1993b). Before they began this venture, they consulted an unnamed university professor in California, who wishes his identity to remain a “deep dark secret” (Blum 1998: 108). He seemed to agree with this idea and encouraged them in their pursuit.

Williams and Cornuke journeyed to Saudi Arabia twice in the summer of 1988 as self-proclaimed “Adventurers of History” in search of Mt. Sinai and the “gold of Exodus.” They returned to tell the tale (Williams 1990:10,23). Larry Williams wrote a book about their adventures entitled The Mountain of Moses, The Discovery of Mount Sinai (1990). It was later reprinted under the title The Mount Sinai Myth (1990). For a further review of Cornuke's claims, see: How Accurate Are Bob Cornuke's Claims? (off site link).

Another author, Howard Blum also wrote a popular book entitled The Gold of Exodus: The Discovery of the True Mount Sinai (1998a) based on the adventures of these two treasure hunters. The book has some inconsistencies. For example, Ronald Hendel (1999: 54) points out that before Williams and Cornuke went to Saudi Arabia in the summer of 1988, they had a meeting with an unnamed Biblical scholar from southern California. During the course of the conversation the unnamed scholar mentioned an interview of Dr. Frank Moore Cross in the August 1992 edition of Bible Review (Blum 1998:120-122). Talk about getting an advance copy of a publication! How did this professor get a copy of a 1992 issue of Bible Review in 1988?! The book is excerpted in an article in the February 1998 issue of Vanity Fair (Bloom 1998b).

A video entitled; “The Search for the Real Mt. Sinai” (1998) is being distributed based on these books. According to the advertisement for the video, Hershel Shanks, the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, endorsed this video by saying; “Jabal al Lawz is the most likely site for Mount Sinai.”

A weak review of Blum’s book and the video was given by Ronald Hendel in the July / August 1999 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (pages 54, 56) in which he never adequately deals with the arguments set forth by Williams and Blum. A spirited response appeared in the November / December 1999 issue of the same magazine by Tom Beard, the producer of the video (pages 66, 67). Hershel Shanks also added a clarification of his endorsement. He said, “The quote attributed to me is accurate but incomplete. I went on to say that all identifications of Mt. Sinai are highly speculative. A good case has been made that it is somewhere in northwest Saudi Arabia, and Jebel al-Lawz is the highest point in this area” (page 67).

In the spring of 2000, Bob Cornuke came out with his book that recounts their adventures in Saudi Arabia. The book is entitled In Search of the Mountain of God with the subtitle “The discovery of the real Mt. Sinai” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000). It is basically a retelling of his and Williams’ adventures found in the other books, but it also has a section at the end of the book about their search for pharaoh’s chariots in the Gulf of Akaba. He has a tendency to embellish, just like Blum. For example, he claims the signs on the fence surrounding Jebel al-Lawz said, “No Trespassing Allowed. Violators Will Be Put to Death” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 1). Yet if one looks at the photograph in Blum’s book, the sign actually says,

Archaeological area warning: It is unlawful to trespass. Violators are subject to penalties stipulated in the antiquities regulations passed by royal decree no. M 26, U 23.6.1392 (1998: plate 4, top).

Williams (1990: 157) just mentions the fines, but not the death penalty.

The thesis of these books and video is that the real Mount Sinai is located at Jebel el-Lawz in Saudi Arabia, and the gold that the Israelites took from the Egyptians is in “them thar hills!” Are their views correct? The simple answer is no. There are a number of significant problems with this view. Mount Sinai is in the Sinai Peninsula right where the Bible places it.

Problems With This View

The biggest problem with the identification of Mt. Sinai at Jebel el-Lawz is that it does not meet the Biblical criteria for the site. These claims are based on three false assumptions and a misunderstanding of the archaeological remains that they observed. It is beyond the scope of this article to deal with the Red Sea crossing and the chronology of the Exodus from Egypt to Mt. Sinai. I will tackle these issues in a future issue of Bible and Spade.

False Assumption #1: The Sinai Peninsula was considered the Land of Egypt

The first false assumption is that the Sinai Peninsula was within the territorial borders of the Land of Egypt. Over and over in his book, Williams (1990: 15-17, 22, 26) calls the Sinai Peninsula the “Egyptian Peninsula”. If one looks at a modern Rand McNally Road map, the Sinai Peninsula is part of modern-day Egypt. However, 3,500 years ago, that was not the case.

The Bible says that once the Israelites left Succoth they were “out of Egypt” (Ex. 13: 18-20). The Land of Goshen was the eastern limits of the Land of Egypt. Apparently the fortresses on the Eastern Frontier Canal was the border between Egypt and the Sinai (Hoffmeier 1997: 164-175). Sir Flinders Petrie, the Father of Palestinian Archaeology, states that the copper and turquoise mines in Sinai were “in the desert outside the territorial border of Egypt, which passed to the east of the delta” (emphasis mine, cited in Williams 1990: 56). Ironically Williams missed the implication of this statement.

One gets the impression reading Williams, Blum and Cornuke that the Egyptians had year-round mining activities and a standing army all over Sinai (Williams 1990: 58). It is true there were turquoise mines at Serabit el-Khadem in southern Sinai (Beit-Arieh 1993:4:1335-1338). However, as Petrie (1906: viii, 169) points out, mining was seasonal, from January to April, so the Israelites would have found Sinai “quite empty” when they left Egypt. He concluded,

The argument that the Israelites would not have travelled down to the region of the Egyptian mines has no force whatever. The Egyptians never occupied that mining district with a garrison, but only sent expeditions; at the most these were in alternate years, and in the time of Merenptah only once in many years (Petrie 1906: 206).

It is also true that there were Egyptian soldiers garrisoned in fortresses in Sinai. However, those fortresses were limited to northern Sinai. Alan Gardiner, a leading Egyptologist, did an important study from the Egyptian sources of the “Ways of Horus” across the northern Sinai (1920: 99-116). An extensive survey and some excavations were conducted between 1972 and 1982 along this road in northern Sinai. The excavator concluded,

The survey results enable us for the first time to delineate the course of the "Ways of Horus" in accurate detail, and to reconstruct the history of settlement and the degree of Egyptian activity on the land bridge between the Delta and southern Canaan (Oren 1987: 76).

One can understand why

God did not lead them [the Children of Israel] by the way of the land of the Philistines [another name for the "Ways of Horus"], although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war [with the Egyptian garrisons], and return to Egypt (Ex. 13: 17; NKJV; the parenthetical statements are the author’s).

This verse also places the Sinai Peninsula outside the Land of Egypt. If the Children of Israel saw war with the Egyptian garrisons on the Ways of Horus in the Sinai Peninsula, they would return to Egypt. The Sinai was outside the Land of Egypt.

Another archaeologist who excavated extensively in Sinai observed,

ancient Egyptian hegemony never extended into south central Sinai. ... The Egyptians did reach the western strip of southern Sinai, where they worked the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadem and similar mines at nearby Wadi Maghara. But despite the fact that south central Sinai contains copper deposits that were highly prized in ancient times, there is no evidence to indicate that the Egyptians were active in the exploitation of these copper deposits (Beit-Arieh 1988: 36).

Williams (1990: 57,58) and others wonder how the Israelites could wander in the Sinai Peninsula for 40 years without running into the Egyptians. As noted above, there were some parts of Sinai that did not have any Egyptians. It should also be kept in mind what happened at the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s elite force of 600 chariots and all his other chariots (Ex. 14:7, 9, 23-30; Josephus says that there was an additional 50,000 horsemen and 200,000 infantry, Antiquities 2:324, LCL 4: 307) were destroyed when the Red Sea collapsed on them (Ex. 14:23-30; 15:4,5).

As a result, Israel “feared and believed” the LORD (Ex. 14: 31). The Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Canaanites3 were afraid and trembled (Ex. 15:14-16; Josh. 2: 10). If there were any military units left in Sinai, either from an expedition to the turquoise mines in Southern Sinai or guarding the “Ways of Horus” in Northern Sinai, what Egyptian military commander in his right mind would want to confront Israel?! They understood Moses’ statement that the LORD was a “Man of War” and He was an awesome and powerful God (Ex. 15: 3,6,7; cf. 14:25 NKJV).

Cornuke raises the problem of the lack of archaeological evidence for Israel in Sinai. After citing Beit-Arieh’s 1984 article in Biblical Archaeology Review, he says,

Fifteen years of exhaustive, painstaking investigation by veteran archaeologists found nothing to suggest as many as two-and-a-half million Jewish pilgrims once flooded the Egyptian landscape. No trace of a mighty host littering the wilderness with their smoking campfires, stores of food, cook pots, and acres of pottery, ceremonial implements and utensils, weapons, jewels, trinkets, and religious objects. No evidence of huge herds, flocks, or the daily waste and abandoned junk of a wandering multitude. Nothing (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 168).

In another article, Dr. Beit-Arieh (1988: 37) reiterates the problem:

Nowhere have we found any material remains of human occupation at the time (Late Bronze Age — 1550-1200 BC) when the Exodus is supposed to have occurred.

He continues with a plausible solution to the problem, although I do not think he believes it:

Perhaps it will be argued, by those who subscribe to the traditional account in the Bible, that the Israelite material culture was only of the flimsiest kind and left no trace. Presumably the Israelite dwellings and artifacts consisted only of perishable materials (Beit-Arieh 1988: 37).

The above results are understandable under “normal” conditions. Perhaps Cornuke did not consider that when the Israelites left Egypt, they had their kneading bowls (probably made of wood); the clothes on their back and any other clothes the Egyptians gave them. They also asked for, and received, gold and silver (Ex. 3: 21,22; 11: 2,3; 12: 34,35). Josephus adds that they received vessels of brass, which were used for their manna, metals, woven fabrics, decorations for armor, beasts of burden, and military implements (Antiquities of the Jews 3: 57; LCL 4: 347). The armor they picked up after the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea (Antiquities of the Jews 3: 59; LCL 4: 347). They dwelt in tents made from goat hair, not buildings. They also had the promise of God that their clothes and sandals would not wear out (Deut. 8: 4; 29: 5,6). Most of the articles were perishable and those metal objects were closely guarded because of their value. Most likely the Israelites left their pottery in Egypt because they knew it would break so they used the brass given to them by the Egyptians. They would have had no personal religious articles because that would be idolatry. Due to the above factors, it is understandable that one would not expect to find archaeological remains. In summary, Egypt exploited the natural resources of Sinai and controlled certain roads in the northern part of the peninsula, but it was not within the borders of the Land of Egypt.

False Assumption #2: Mt. Sinai is in the Land of Midian

The second false assumption is that Mt. Sinai is located in the Land of Midian, which is identified as part of the Saudi Arabian peninsula (Williams 1990:68-74).

I would agree with the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz that Midian is in the area of northwestern Saudi Arabia today. I think most scholars would attest to that (Parr 1989: 39-66; 1996: 213-218). However, the Biblical text does not place Mt. Sinai in the Land of Midian.

In an interview with Hershel Shanks, Prof. Frank Moore Cross, retired professor of Hebrew at Harvard University opines that the mountain of God was located in the Land of Midian. When asked if he had a guess what mountain might be Mt. Sinai, he responded,

I really don’t. There are several enormous mountains in what is now northwestern Saudi Arabia. Jebel el-Lawz is the highest of the mountain in Midian — 8,465 feet — higher than any mountain in the Sinai Peninsula; but biblical Mt. Sinai need not be the highest mountain. There is some reason to search for it in southern Edom, which was Midianite terrain before the expansion of the Edomites south (Shanks 1992:32).

He later put the “Midian Hypothesis” in print, but did not endorse any mountains for the location of Mt. Sinai (Cross 1998: 60-68). Yet the question is still remains, Is Mt. Sinai in Midian?

The assumption that Mt. Sinai is in Midian is based on Ex. 3:1. As Cross (1998: 61) says, “This text presumes that the mountain is in Midian territory”. It would be assumed that because Moses kept Jethro’s flock of sheep and Jethro was a Midianite. When it says “he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God,” the mountain of God must be in Midian. Williams (1990: 58) also states that Moses tended Jethro’s flock at Mt. Sinai for 40 years. First of all, it should be pointed out that the Bible, in this verse, does not state that Moses tended the flock at Mt. Sinai for 40 years, nor does it explicitly state Mt. Horeb is in Midian. Second, I think a more plausible explanation of the geography can be given. (For a moment, permit me to assume that Mt. Sinai is outside the Land of Midian. Below I will demonstrate this from Scripture).

It is important to note the chronology and context of Ex. 3:1. In Ex. 2:23 the king of Egypt, who wanted to kill Moses 40 years earlier, died (Ex. 2:15; 4:19; cf. Acts 7:23, 30). Moses, while tending the flock in Midian for most of the 40 years, heard of his death. A plausible scenario of how he heard about the death was from some frankincense caravan that was returning from Egypt to “South Arabia” (MacDonald 1995: 1357). The Children of Israel were groaning because of their bondage in Egypt and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 2:23-25). Moses, who had a concern for his family (Ex. 4:18) and a heart for the children of Israel, wanted to learn more about what was going on. He took Jethro’s flock to Mt. Sinai (we will assume Mt. Sinai is located at Jebel Sin Bishar in western central Sinai. This region had good pastureland and was well-watered (Har-el 1983: 425]).

It is not unusual for Bedouin shepherds to go long distances to find pasture for their flocks. I have met Bedouin shepherds who come from the Beersheva region with their flocks north of Jerusalem, a distance of over 70 miles. What better cover could Moses want than being an old shepherd tending his sheep? Moses left Egypt as a 40-year-old Egyptian administrator, most likely clean-shaven and bald.4 Now he was returning as an 80-year-old man, probably with a beard and white hair! (At least that’s what Charlton Heston looked like in “The Ten Commandments”)! Nobody would recognize him after 40 years of being away (contra Williams 1990: 59). The Angel of the LORD, however, knew who he was and appeared to him in a burning bush (Ex. 3:2 4:17). Moses returned to Jethro (in Midian) and asked his permission to return to Egypt after being away for 40 years (Ex. 4:18). Jethro granted him permission and Moses set out toward Egypt. The Lord instructed Aaron to meet his brother at the mountain of God (Ex. 4:27). The impression from the text is that Moses was almost back to Egypt when he met Aaron and not Aaron travelling all the way to Midian to meet Moses.

If one looks at the Bible carefully, it will be observed that Mt. Sinai is outside the Land of Midian. Two verses demonstrate this placement. The first is found in Exodus 18. In the context, Moses and the Children of Israel are camped at “the Mountain of God” (Mt. Sinai). Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, brings his family to visit with Moses. During the course of their stay, Jethro gives Moses some invaluable advice about governing the people. In verse 27, it states,

Then Moses let his father-in-law depart [from Mt. Sinai], and he went his way to his own land [Midian] (NKJV, parenthetical statements added by the author).

Jethro departs from Mt. Sinai to return to his own land of Midian.

The second verse that places Mt. Sinai outside the Land of Midian is found in Numbers 10. In the context, the Children of Israel are getting ready to depart from Mt. Sinai and Moses invites his brother-in-law, Hobab, to join them in going to the Promised Land (10:29). Hobab responds,

I will not go, but I will depart [from Mt. Sinai] to my own land [Midian] and to my kinsmen (10:30).

Williams (1990: 73) misses the point of this passage. He says Hobab is telling Moses “that he has no desire to leave his homeland of Midian”. Williams is assuming that Mt. Sinai is in Midian. If that were the case, Hobab would have said, “I will not depart, but stay in my own land and with my kinsmen.” However, the text is saying Hobab wants to return to his own land, the place of his birth (Midian), which can only be done by departing from Mt. Sinai, because it is outside his homeland. [My thanks to Prof. Faiman for pointing these two verses out to me. Har-el also makes this point (1983: 250)].

False Assumption #3: Galatians 4:25 says Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia

The third false assumption is that the Apostle Paul says in Gal. 4:25 that Mt. Sinai was in Saudi Arabia. Cornuke plainly states this when he says,

The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, informs us that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. Not Egypt! (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 171).

The Bible says nothing of the sort. Granted, the Holy Spirit could have predicted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia long before it came on the world scene. After all, He predicted Cyrus by name 210 years before he became king of Persia (Isa. 44:28; 45:1; Antiquities of the Jews 11: 5; LCL 6: 315). Yet all the Bible says is that Mount Sinai is in Arabia.

Moses never uses the word “Arab” or “Arabia” at the time he wrote the Pentateuch. The words appear later in the Bible (I Kings 10:15; II Chron. 9:14; 17:11; 21:16; 22:1; 26:7; Neh. 2:19; 4:7; 6:1; Isa. 13:20; 21:13; Jer. 3:2; 25:24; Ezek. 27:21). So the Apostle Paul does not have a Mosaic use of the word “Arabia” in mind when he uses the word in Gal. 4:25 because “Arabia” did not exist in Moses’ day.

The Galatians 4:25 reference might indeed support the view that Mount Sinai was in Saudi Arabia if the Apostle Paul was looking at a 1990 Rand McNally Atlas. However, it would not be true if he was looking at a First Century AD Roman road map. Although no actual maps of Roman Arabia exist from this period, we do possess the accounts of the contemporary travelers such as Strabo, a Greek from Pontus (64 BC to ca. AD 25). He describes the borders of Arabia as having its eastern border at the Persian Gulf and its western border at the East Side of the Nile River. This means that Strabo understood the entire Arabian Peninsula and the Sinai Peninsula to be included in First Century Arabia (Geography 16:4:2; 17:1:21,24-26,30,31; LCL VII: 309; VIII: 71-79, 85-87).

The word “Arab” first appears in an extra-Biblical inscription from a monolith found at Kurkh from the time of Shalmaneser III (853 BC). Throughout the Assyrian period, various Assyrian kings describe the activities of the Arabs, or desert nomads.

The first time the word “Arabia” is used as a term for a designated geographical area is in the mid-fifth century BC by the famous Greek historian and traveler, Herodotus (born ca. 484 BC). He traveled to Egypt and wrote about his trip in his book, The Persian Wars. In his monumental work on ancient Arabs, Dr. Israel Eph’al of Tel Aviv University, points out that

Herodotus ... calls the entire region east of the Nile and the Pelusian Branch, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, "Arabia", and its population "Arabs" (2: 8, 15, 19, 30, 75, 124, 158) (Eph’al 1982: 193).

“Now in Arabia, not far from Egypt, there is a gulf of the sea entering in from the sea called Red [the Gulf of Suez], of which the length and narrowness is such as I shalI show.” Herodotus, The Persian Wars 2:11; LCL I: 285,287.

Moreover, in the mid-third century BC, 72 Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (known as the Septuagint) and followed the contemporary use of the word “Arabia” when they referred to Goshen as “Goshen of Arabia” (Gen. 45:10; 46:34). While Goshen is clearly part of Egypt (Gen. 37:6, 27; Ex. 9:26), the translator imposed the third century BC geographical reality on their translation.

On Egeria’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she visited Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) and also the Land of Goshen (Wilkinson 1981:91-103). In Goshen, she stayed at Clysma, a “city of Arabia” (Wilkinson 1981:100). She wrote, “It gets its name from the region, which is called "the land of Arabia, the land of Goshen," a region which, while it is part of Egypt, is a great deal better than any of the rest” (1981:100,101). Egeria followed the Septuagint reading of Gen. 46:34 in her description of Goshen being in the Land of Arabia.

Therefore, when the Apostle Paul says that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia, he is using the First century AD understanding of the word. He would be perfectly correct in placing Mt. Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula because the Sinai Peninsula was part of Arabia in his day.

In conjunction with Galatians 4:25, three other verses have been used to demonstrate that Mt. Sinai was outside the Sinai Peninsula: Deuteronomy 33:2; Judges 5:4; and Habakkuk 3:3. It is stated that Seir, Mt. Paran and Teman are located in present day Jordan or even Saudi Arabia (Heiser 1998; Cross 1998).

Most scholars put the territory of Edom in the Transjordanian mountains to the east of the Aravah and northeast of the Gulf of Akaba. A careful examination of the Scriptures places it also on the west side of the Aravah (Num. 34: 3; Josh. 15:1). The area, called today the Central Negev Highlands, from the Wilderness of Zin and Kadesh Barnea, south to Eilat was also Edomite territory (Crew 1981: 121-151; Rasmussen 1989: 91; Meshel 2000: 104). If this were the case, the locations of Seir, Mt. Paran and Teman could be moved back into the Central Negev Highlands and northeast Sinai. A case can be made for Mt. Paran being in the area of Kadesh Barnea, known today as Ein Qudeirat (Num. 13: 26). Mt. Seir could be identified with the Jebel-es-Se’ira, 45 km to the west of Eilat and west of the Kadesh Barnea Eilat road (Har-el 1983: 338). Teman would be located in the area of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud where the inscriptions with the name “Yahweh of Teman” were found (Meshel 1993). If these identifications are accepted, then these passages (Deut. 33:2; Judges 5:4; Habakkuk 3:3) refer to the Lord leading the Children of Israel by the pillar of fire through the northeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula for 40 years.

Eleven Days to Kadesh Barnea

Another major problem for the Jebel el-Lawz site is the statement by Moses that Mt. Horeb (another name for Mt. Sinai) is “eleven days journey from Kadesh Barnea” (Deut. 1:2). It would be impossible to march more than 2 million Israelites through the difficult terrain from Jebel el-Lawz to Kadesh Barnea in the allotted time. However, Wyatt, Williams, Blum and Cornuke all ignore this problem.

Biblical Kadesh Barnea has been located at Ein Qedis (the spring of Qedis), where the Arabic name preserves the Biblical name Kadesh, in NE Sinai. Others have placed it 10 km. to the northwest at the tel near Ein Qudeirat that has an Iron Age fortress on it. Ein Qudeirat is the richest spring in all of Sinai producing a flow of water at about 40 cubic meters per hour! (Dothan 1965: 134). In a popular article on his excavations at Kadesh Barnea, Rudolph Cohen (1981: 21) asks, “Has the site been correctly identified? If so, why have we found no remains from the Exodus period?” I believe the area is correctly identified and as suggested before, would not expect to find remains of the Israelites.

Others that place Mt. Sinai in Midian recognize the “eleven days” problem and place Kadesh Barnea near Petra. The problem with this identification is that the southern border of Israel goes from the Salt Sea (Dead Sea) to the Sea (Mediterranean Sea) via the Wilderness of Zin and Kadesh Barnea (Num. 34: 1-5; Josh. 15: 1-4). If Kadesh Barnea were in the area of Petra, then most of ancient Edom’s territory would be in Biblical Israel! Geographically that does not make any sense.

Misunderstanding the Archaeological Evidence

Those who hold to the Jebel al-Lawz site as Mt. Sinai are quick to point out the “archaeological evidence”. Their reasoning is, “Look what was found, everything fits, it must be the site”! Let’s look at the evidence and see if it really “fits”.

Survey of the Area

Our treasure hunters write as if they were the first westerners to explore Jebel al-Lawz and the surrounding area to do “research” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 2; Williams 1990: 101). Such is not the case.

In the early 1950’s, Harry St. John Philby visited the region of Midian and surveyed sites in the area. His book, The Land of Midian, was published in 1957, and

gives a detailed and reliable account of the topography of the country. ... Philby’s descriptions of such ancient sites as he knew of and visited (such as Mugha’ir Shu’ayb, Rawwafah, and Qurayyah) are also, so far as they go, accurate and useful, but unfortunately his photographs are poor, and he did not publish any plans or any of the surface sherds and other antiquities which he diligently collected during his journeying (Parr, et. al. 1968-1969: 194).

Philby (1957: 209,215) viewed Jebel al-Lawz from a distance and observed a “patch of snow” at the summit, but did not visit the mountain.

Parr continues:

Prior to Philby’s explorations, the region had received a certain amount of attention from travellers and orientalists during the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries. The early history of this activity has been recounted by Hogarth in The Penetration of Arabia (1904), and includes such names as Burckhart (1812), Ruppell (1826), Moresby and Wellsted (1831), Wallin (1848), Burton (1877), Doughty (1877/8), Huber (1878 and 1883) and Euting (1883). The construction of the Hejaz Railway between 1904 and 1908 made the area more accessible, and the opportunity to investigate was taken by such scholars as Jaussen and Savignac (1907-10), Moritz (1910), and Musil (1910) (Parr et. al. 1968-1969: 196).

Williams laments that he tried to get information on Jebel al-Lawz and the caves at al-Bad’ from people in Saudi Arabia. He claims that the government had not produced anything on these archaeological remains (1990: 183). As will be shown below, that is not the case either.

Mt. Sinai Covered with Smoke

Williams and Conuke have pictures of the summit of Jebel al-Lawz “scorched black”. Cornuke attributes this to the smoke that covered the mountain when the Lord came down on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19: 16-20). He claims that the

blackened rock had become a holy handprint for the ages. God placed his signature in heavenly flames in a fashion so electrifying, so stupefying, that man’s proud logic and science would be hard-pressed to explain it (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 77).

Williams (1990: 78) is a bit more cautious concerning this evidence.

Science may provide the answer. Cornuke (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 75) and Williams (1990: 167) brought back rocks for “future laboratory analysis”. They arranged for geologists to look at their rock samples (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 116). Researchers are interested in seeing the lab analyses, but they have been unavailable for the last 13 years. Judgment on this evidence should be withheld until the rocks have been scientifically analyzed and properly published.

The Altar of the Golden Calf

The golden calf incident is recorded in Exodus 32 (see also Deut. 9:21). When Moses did not return from his trip to Mt. Sinai, the people requested Aaron make gods for them. He obliged them by taking their earrings and fashioning them into a molded calf. When he presented the calf he said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt” (32:4). How soon he and the Children of Israel forgot the statement of the LORD that He brought them out of Egypt (Ex. 29:45,46)! The Bible says Aaron built an altar before the calf (Ex. 32:5).

Wyatt and Fasold found a huge pile of granite rocks in a plain about a quarter of a mile from the base of the mountain. On it, there were petroglyphs of bovine (bulls, cows and oxen) (Fasold 1993b: 8). Wyatt and Fasold claims that a Saudi archaeologist from Riyadh University said these were Egyptian-style cows and bulls, and that they had never been found anywhere else in Saudi Arabia (Williams 1990: 210, 211).5 However, in a later article, Fasold (1993b: 12) does not mention the archaeologist’s claim, but attributes the identification of the bovine as Hathor and Apis to Wyatt (Fasold 1993b: 8).

At Fasold’s trial, the archaeologist that represented the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allegedly said,

These drawings are the Hathor and Apis bull from Egypt — I have never seen them in this country before (Williams 1990: 106).

No Saudi archaeologist would say such nonsense. They would be well aware of the surveys that had been done in the area and the unpublished petroglyphs. They know that bovine petroglyphs were found in the Midian area as well as other parts of the country (Livingstone et. al. 1985: 132-134; Plates 126, 127, 133; Nayeem 1990: 91, 92, 95). In all the archaeological literature that I read on rock art in Saudi Arabia, not once have I ever seen the word “Egyptian” connected with the bovine petroglyphs.

Cornuke wondered why bovine petroglyphs were found in this area. He reasoned:

This isn’t cattle country. It is sheep country and had been for as long as men had walked these plains. Saudi Arabia has never been known for cattle unless, of course, they were driven here by the fleeing Israelites (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 66).

Williams makes similar statements as well (1990: 106).

What are we to make of this “evidence”? First, the Bible clearly states that Aaron, not the Children of Israel, made the altar before the golden calf (Ex. 32:5). I find it hard to believe that he could pick up these giant boulders and put them in place to make an altar! Cornuke believed that this “huge mound of stacked granite” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 64) was built by “workers skilled in the art of building cities and moving mountains” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 65). This view is contrary to the Scriptures. Aaron built the altar, not the Israelites.

Second, one Saudi archaeologist who did his doctoral thesis on Saudi Arabian rock art dates the “patched bovine” to the Neolithic period (Khan 1991: 115; plate 1). The Neolithic period is considerably earlier than the Late Bronze Age and the date of the Exodus from Egypt. Thus, it has nothing to do with the livestock the Israelites brought out of Egypt (Ex. 12: 38; 17:3; Num. 20:19; 32:1; Deut. 3:19).

Third, during the Neolithic period there was much more rainfall in Saudi Arabia than at the present (Ingraham 1981: 62). Thus there would be ample grazing places for cattle then. One does not have to make the assumption the Israelites drove the livestock to Saudi Arabia.

Fourth, let’s assume for a minute that this was the site of the golden calf (However, I do not believe it is). Moses destroyed the golden calf because it was an idol. He would also have erased the petroglyphs of the bovine because they were graven images. Petroglyphs would be totally contrary to the Law that Moses had just received from the Lord on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20:4).6 To answer Cornuke’s question, “Had we really stumbled upon the altar of the golden calf?” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000:67). The simple answer is no.

Cave of Moses

Some two kilometers south of the town of al-Bad’ are caves called by the local people the caves of Moses and Jethro. Philby (1957: 214) records the local tradition at Bir al Saidni “as the very (well) from which Moses rolled away the stone to draw water for the flocks of Jethro’s daughters” (cf. Ex. 2:15-19). Cornuke (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 89-104; plate 13) and Williams (1990: 177-183; pictures 17-19) tell of their adventures in the al-Bad’ area.

It should surprise no one that there are traditions that Moses and Jethro lived in the area, after all, this is in the Land of Midian (Ex. 2:15; Acts 7:29). The traditions stem from the fact that there were early Jewish traditions of them in the area (Kerkeslager 1998: 156-158), a Jewish community at the town of Makna to the southwest of al-Bad’ on the coast in the 9th century AD (cf. Acts 2: 11; Musil 1926: 114, 115) and the Moslem tradition that Moses was one of their prophets (Bosworth 1984). However, the interpretations that Williams and Cornuke put on these caves do not stand up to the facts. First, it is claimed that Moses and his family lived in these caves (Blum 1998a: plate 2; Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 103). Second, Cornuke relates that the local tradition states that Jethro and Zipporah were buried in these caves based on some inscriptions found in them (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 99). Williams (1990: 192) reluctantly came to the conclusion that these were burial caves. Unfortunately they give no serious consideration to the dating of these burial caves. The closest they come is to Williams’ (1990: picture 19) claims that they have “Egyptian fronts”. What are the facts?

The region around al-Bad’ as well as these caves have been explored, surveyed, photographed and published long before Williams and Cornuke ever visited the area (Musil 1926: 108-116; Philby 1957: 233, 257-262; Parr et. al. 1971: 30-35; plate 12-17). The caves are called “Magha’ir Shu’ayb“ (the Caves of Jethro) and are in reality, Nabatean tombs dating to the 1st century AD. They are not Midianite tombs dating to the Late Bronze Age. The so-called “Egyptian front” is similar to what tourists see on the Nabatean tombs of Petra when they visit that site. As for the inscriptions, Musil (1926: 112) found five tombs with them but no mention of Moses, Jethro or Zipporah. Later, a British team of archaeologists resurveyed the tombs and found four inscriptions and published them, again saying nothing about Moses, Jethro or Zipporah (Parr, et. al. 1971: 32, 59). The caves are much later than the time of Moses and have nothing to do with the Exodus narratives.

The Altar of Moses and the 12 Pillars

The Bible says that Moses got up early one morning and built an altar at the base of the Mt. Sinai and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Ex. 24: 4).

At the base of Jebel al-Lawz is an enigmatic stone structure. It is comprised pf three parallel V-shaped stone walls (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: plate 11 top, 12 top). The Vs are at a 45 degree angle and measures 120 feet in length (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 86). This complex has been identified as an “angular stone altar” (ibid), trenches where they held the animals for sacrifice (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: plate 12 top), or a temple (Williams 1990: 208, 211; Fasold 1993a: 10).

Dr. Majeed Kahn, a Saudi archaeologist who worked on the survey of the area, has informed me that these are the remains of the living quarters for the miners of a marble quarry in the area. The pottery collected at the site dates to the Nabatean period second century BC-first century AD). “White crude marble” pillars were prepared there and exported to Petra for the buildings in that city. These pillars are not to be identified as the 12 pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel as Williams (1990: 212) claims.

Williams (1990: 97) states that the

local Bedouins tell us the stones had been removed to Haql for a temple or monument erected by Solomon or Sulliman.

Fasold reported that some of the stones were removed in the 1930’s to build a mosque in Haql (1993a:10). Elsewhere he says,

There was mention that the temple was put there by Sulliman, I think the name could have been Solomon (Williams 1990: 211).

In a later publication, Fasold reported that their Bedouin guide, Ibrahim, claimed Suleyman erected the temple. He then goes on to say,

It wasn’t long before Ron [Wyatt] had the story elaborated into the temple being built by Solomon and Suleyman tearing it down to build the mosque, without a shred of evidence... (Fasold 1993a: 10).

The only way the dating of this structure will be resolved is by an archaeological excavation.

To add some confusion to the finds in the area, Wyatt and Fasold found large circular structures some 18 feet in diameter in the immediate area (Williams 1990: 208-210; picture 3; Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 124). Williams (1990: picture 3) says they are the 12 pillars representing the tribes of Israel, but Cornuke discounts that and says they are either ceremonial platforms or large cisterns (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 124). From the photographs and drawings, they look to me like the cairns, large stone circles probably connected with burials that are typical to the northwest Saudi Arabian area. The date and function of the cairns are unknown (Ingraham et. al. 1981: 69-71). Similar structures have been found elsewhere in the Levant. Mordechai Haiman, the excavator and surveyor of the cairn fields in the western Negev Highland in Israel, states that those cairns generally dated to the Early Bronze age “were not burial sites, but were probably used in a death ritual” (1992: 25). I would also place the so-called “boundary stones” (Ex. 19:12) in the same category (Williams 1990: 63; Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 85,86; plate 10 bottom; Blum 1998: plate 6 bottom).

Dr. Khan informs me that a book on the rock art and archaeology of the al-Bad’ area is in preparation by the Saudi Department of Archaeology. It will have a chapter on the archaeology of the Jebel al-Lawz area. We eagerly await this publication for a more definitive explanation of the archaeological remains.

The Split Rock at Horeb

Deuteronomy 9:21 says there is a “brook that descended from the mountain” into which Moses threw the gold dust from the golden calf. Cornuke and Williams found a large ravine that snakes down the mountain. Cornuke observed,

The ancient watershed — a chalky, blister-dry remnant of a bygone wellspring — was filled with large, water-polished boulders, clear evidence of a fast-rushing torrent. In a land that receives half an inch of rain per decade, it was proof that a stream of some magnitude had once caressed these rocks (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 82).

They also show a picture of a rock that is split 20 inches apart and suggest this is the rock the Moses struck (Ex. 17:2-6; Ps. 78: 15, 16, 20; 105:41; Cornuke 2000: plates 8 and 9).

Is this evidence of the split rock at Horeb? First, one should be cautious about making dogmatic statements based on photographs until a team of geologists is able to examine the rock closely. Second, Cornuke implies that the smooth rock was a result of the “river” flowing from the split rock because the area only gets a half-inch of rain per decade. While the area is classified as an arid desert, it does get 100 mm (4 inches) or less rain per year that comes in the form of tropical monsoons (Ingraham et. al. 1981: 62). In Philby’s (1957: 205-228) account of his travels to the Midian Valley, he mentioned heavy rains and floods. Those people familiar with desert geology know that flash floods can provide the mechanism to polish the rocks (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: plate 8, bottom).

Fasold’s gold

One of the reasons the treasure hunters went to the mountain was to look for the gold and silver that the Children of Israel took from the Egyptians as they departed Egypt (Ex. 3:22; 11:2; 12:35,36). Fasold claims that his “molecular frequency generator” (MFG) produced readings that indicated the whole area was “loaded with buried gold — the gold of the Exodus” (Blum 1998: 59). He also claims that his MFG device picked up gold readings in the area of the “golden calf altar” (Williams 1990: 107,108; Fasold 1993b: 8). Is this possible? Gold in this area should not surprise any geologist or archaeologist. The Land of Midian was noted for its gold mines! In 1982 (before the treasure hunters showed up), a survey was done in the Jebel al-Lawz area and two gold deposits were discovered. One at J. Maqda Ar Rahyat (site 200-1004), northwest of Jebel el-Lawz and another in the Wadi Maswat (site 200-1003), on the southwest slopes of the mountain (Kisnawi, et al. 1983: 82, plate 79). The surveyors indicate that one of the places gold is found is in alluvial deposits found in pits in the wadi (dry river bed). The miner just sifts the gravel or sand to find the gold (1983: 77). Fasold had set up his MFG device about 50 feet from the edge of the wadi (Blum 1998a: 53). Samran’s workers were digging in the wadi when they allegedly discovered the “gold bracelet” (1998a: 58). One “braclet” is insufficient evidence to claim that the gold of the Exodus is located at Jebel al-Lawz.

Why is the area fenced in?

The question has been raised, “If the area is not an important historical site, then why is it fenced in? What are they trying to prevent people from seeing?

In most countries, it is standard practice to fence in archaeological sites. There are at least four reasons why archaeologists fence in any given site. (1) To protect the sites from animals. In the case of Jebel al-Lawz they might be concerned about sheep and goats knocking down the walls of the “v-shaped altar”. (2) To prevent military maneuvers from running over an archaeological site. (3) To protect the archaeological site from trespassers and vandals. (4) To prevent illegal excavations by treasure hunters. It seems reasonable to assume that the Saudi Department of Antiquities fenced in the sites after the first set of treasure hunters visited it because they were concerned others might follow. As it turned out, they were right.

The Saudis are also members of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). This is an “international non-governmental organization of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of [the] world’s historic monuments and sites.”7

To answer the questions raised above, the Saudis were protecting the sites and have nothing to hide. In fact, they should be commended for fencing in the sites to protect the world’s historic sites and cultural heritage.

The Conclusion of the Matter

Contrary to their claims and the dust jacket endorsements that calls their evidence “overwhelming” and “scholarly” the case for Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia has not been made. The identification of Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia is not new. Other scholars and explorers have identified different mountains in Midian as Mt. Sinai and such identifications have long ago received proper scholarly assessment. For example, Dr. Menashe Har-el, one of Israel’s leading geographers and an expert on the Sinai Peninsula, and for many years professor of Historical and Biblical Geography at Tel Aviv University, researched these questions several decades ago in his doctoral dissertation at New York University. He reworked his dissertation and published it under the title The Sinai Journeys, The Route of the Exodus. In this book, Har-el (1983: 242-275) spends a whole chapter refuting the idea that Mt. Sinai is in Midian (Saudi Arabia).8

Professor Har-el also sets forth a very plausible alternative for the identification of Mt. Sinai. He proposed Mt. Sinai should be located at Jebel Sin Bishar in western central Sinai. This proposal is followed in the Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible (Rasmussen 1989: 88-90). In the next article, Professor David Faiman (1986, 1989, 1994) of Ben Gurion University of the Negev will discuss Har-el’s proposal.

Simply stated, Mt. Sinai should be located in the Sinai Peninsula right where the Bible places it, not in Saudi Arabia.

Recommended Resource for Further Study

image529Biblical archaeologists have gathered archaeologist data with painstaking effort and scholarship. Their work validates the accuracy of the Bible. Yet mostly within a single decade, Ron Wyatt sought out and claimed the most amazing Biblical sites and relics. The sensational discoveries claimed by Wyatt number nearly 100 and include such things as the Ark of the Covenant, anchor stones from Noah's Ark, a book of the law written by Moses, and the original Ten Commandments in stone. Also Christ's literal living blood, fences from Noah's farm, the Golden Censer, Goliath's sword, the graves of Korah and friends, the Table of Showbread, and the wheels of Pharaoh's chariots (Standish, pages 7-10). These are only the beginning. It is unfortunate for those who love the Bible that all of these incredible claims are almost certainly fraudulent. A great criticism leveled at Mr. Wyatt has been that his "evidence" has generally been in the form of either photographs or nonconclusive specimens, which may or may not have come from the source he claims. His "findings" have not been given independent confirmation by other researchers with specialized training in the fields of archaeology and related sciences, which Mr. Wyatt (a nurse anesthetist by profession) did not have (he died in 1999). This lack of specific education by itself would not invalidate his findings if they could be supported by others, but they cannot. In this book, the Standish brothers examine the Wyatt claims in-depth, going beyond his videotaped claims. These findings can serve as a benchmark upon which Ron Wyatt's "discoveries" can be more carefully evaluated. In 58 easily-read chapters the Standishs meticulously, painstakingly examine in detail all of Wyatt's claims.


The archaeologists in his own denomination, the Seventh Day Adventist, do not support his views. One can contact Dr. David Merling at the Institute of Archaeology, Horn Archaeological Museum, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104-0990 for a prepared packet with articles refuting some of his ideas. Two other SDA researchers have evaluated Wyatt's ideas and found them wanting (Standish and Standish 1999). Another balanced review of Ron Wyatt's claims can be found on Bill Crouse's,"Christian Information Ministries" website

Some have questioned the validity of this claim (Fasold 1993a:6,7; Anonymous 1999: 13).

Midian is left out of this list because Moses was related to Jethro by marriage.

Egyptian tomb paintings depict administrative officials with shaved heads.

This information was also found on Wyatt's web site.

My thanks to Jeffrey J. Harrison for pointing this out. See his web site:

Their web site is

For other arguments against the "Midian Hypothesis" see "Problems with Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia" by Brad Sparks at

Incontrovertible proof to refute Christianity?

The Ark of the Covenant is in the news again. This time it comes from a world-renowned, truly distinguished, widely published scholar who is speaking from his field of expertise. Tudor Parfitt is professor of Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London...

Nebo who? You mean you don't remember Nebo-Sarsekim? No wonder, because if you consult your concordance, you will find that he is referred to but once in the Old Testament...

One day a friend sent me an invitation to a church meeting and asked me if I knew anything about the subject. On the flyer was a picture of a human skeleton with crooked teeth and a rock embedded in his forehead. The title above the skull read: 'They've Found Goliath's Skull!' Needless to say, that caught my attention...

On Monday morning, February 26, 2007, I heard this opening statement by Matt Lauer on the NBC Today show: "Is this the tomb of Jesus? A shocking new claim that an ancient burial place may have housed the bones of Christ and a son. This morning a Today exclusive that could rock Christianity to its core." When I saw the interview with James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici I said to myself, "This isn’t new. It is a rehashing of the 1996 'Easter special' by the BBC!"

The segment on the Today show was an infomercial promoting the new book by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino, entitled The Jesus Family Tomb (hereafter footnoted as J&P 2007), and the documentary that would be aired later on the Discovery Channel called "The Lost Tomb of Jesus." The book is well written, very dramatic, and reads like a page-turning detective novel.

I said in the title of this article, the "rediscovery" of the so-called tomb of Jesus' family because in 1996, the BBC ran an Easter special called "Heart of the Matter: The Body In Question" on the resurrection of Jesus. In this documentary they claimed that the ossuaries of Joseph, Mary and Jesus were found in 1980 and were sitting in the basement of the Department of Antiquities in Jerusalem. The London Sunday Times ran an article on March 31, 1996, entitled, "The Tomb that Dare Not Speak Its Name." Jacobovici acknowledges this BBC broadcast in their book (J&P 2007:23, 24), and hints at his knowledge of the title of the newspaper article (J&P 2007: 194). Now he claims to have more information that was not available in 1996 to prove his case, and has a different interpretation of some of the ossuaries.

In the Forward to the book, James Cameron describes the research as being done with "systematic rigor" (J&P 2007: viii), and called it "brilliant scholarly research" with conclusions that were "virtually irrefutable," "compelling," and "extremely convincing" (2007: xi, xii, xiv). Is this the case, or is Cameron overstating his case?

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Simcha Jacobovici in Jerusalem during the summer of 2005 while he was filming a segment of "The Naked Archaeologist" at the Pool of Siloam. (He wasn’t naked, nor is he an archaeologist. By his own admission, he is an investigative journalist / filmmaker.) One cannot help but like the guy. He has a charming personality and is a very colorful character with plenty of chutzpah! These comments are meant as a compliment.

The underlying premise of the book and documentary is that the family tomb of Jesus was discovered in Jerusalem and contained ten ossuaries (bone boxes) with bones of various members of Jesus' family, including Jesus himself and his son Judah. The other members of the family were Jesus' brother Jose; his mother Mary; Jesus’ wife Mariamene, who was actually Mary Magdalene; and another relative named Matthew. The book also claims that one ossuary went missing after the excavation and later surfaced on the antiquities market with the inscription, "James the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus," so at least two of Jesus' brothers would have been buried in this family tomb.

The implication of the book and documentary is that Jesus was not resurrected from the dead as predicted by Jesus himself, and proclaimed by His disciples and the early church. They also make very subtle statements that plant seeds of doubts in the minds of the readers about the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The stakes are high in this discussion because the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus is a foundational truth to Biblical Christianity. If Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, this would rock Christianity to its very foundation. On the other hand, if the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, then His claim to be God manifest in human flesh would be true, and people should trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior and then follow Him as they seek to live by His principles and teachings.

The Discovery of the Ossuaries

In June of 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunified after the Six Day War. Since then there has been extensive building activity in the suburbs surrounding Jerusalem. On occasion, building contractors would come across ancient burials of the First and Second Temple periods and other archaeological remains. The contractors had a decision to make: Do the burials and other archaeological remains get reported to the Department of Antiquities, or do they get blown up or plowed under? Unfortunately, many were not reported and were destroyed.

In March of 1980, a bulldozer exposed part of a Second Temple burial cave on Dov Gruner Street in the neighborhood of East Talpiyot, south of the Old City of Jerusalem. Fortunately, this one was reported to the Department of Antiquities and a salvage excavation took place. A double-chambered loculi and arcosolia tomb was excavated by Yosef Gath (permit number 938), with the help of Amos Kloner and Eliot Braun. Shimon Gibson drew the architectural plans of the burial cave. This excavation was conducted from March 28 to April 14, 1980. The reason for the lengthy excavation was that there was over a meter of terra rosa soil in the tomb. This burial cave contained ten ossuaries, six of which had inscriptions bearing the names of individuals on them, and pottery from the Herodian period.

An initial report of this important discovery was first published in Hebrew by Yosef Gath in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s (IAA) periodical, Hadashot Arkheologiyot (1981: 24-25), so it was not readily available to the English-speaking world. The ossuaries were not published in English until a catalogue of ossuaries in the collection of the State of Israel was released in 1994 (Rahmani 1994a: 222-224). In this catalogue, the nine ossuaries are numbered 701 to 709; the 10th ossuary, a plain broken one, was not published (1994a: 222b). The burial cave was finally published in English by Amos Kloner, one of the excavators of the cave, in the IAA publication ‘Atiqot 29 (1996) 15-22. Kloner also documented the tomb in his archaeological survey of the southern sector of Jerusalem (2000: 84*, 136; designated [106] 76.2-8/3). In a reworking and updating of his 1980 doctoral dissertation from Hebrew University, Kloner again published the Talpiyot tomb in a book entitled The Necropolis of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, this time in Hebrew (Kloner and Boaz 2003: 207, 208).

Ossuaries and Secondary Burials

During the Second Temple period, Jewish burials included stone objects called ossuaries. These limestone boxes contained the bones of a deceased person after the rite of secondary burial was completed, about a year after the death of the individual (Rahmani 1994b: 191-205). In the newspaper articles and blogs concerning the Talpiyot tomb, sometimes the ossuaries are called coffins, chests, caskets, etc. This article will refer to them by their technical name, ossuaries.

It would be helpful if the Jewish burial practices were described in order to put this discussion into proper perspective. When a Jewish person died during the 1st century AD, they were usually buried in a rock-hewn tomb or a trench in the ground before sundown, or at least within 24 hours of death. The only exception was the Sabbath: in this case, burial took place after sundown.

The dead body would be left to decompose. The family would have a seven-day period of mourning called shiva. The initial mourning period was followed by a less intense period of mourning for thirty days called shloshim. However, the entire mourning period was not over until the body had decomposed, usually about a year later. The Jerusalem Talmud states: “When the flesh had wasted away, the bones were collected and placed in chests (ossuaries). On that day (the son) mourned, but the following day he was glad, because his forebears rested from judgment (Moed Qatan 1:5). In Tractate Semahot (“Mourning”) it states: “Rabbi Eleazer bar Zadok said: ‘Thus spoke father at the time of his death: “My son, bury me at first in a fosse. In the course of time, collect my bones and put them in an ossuary; but do not gather them with your own hands”’” (12:9; Zlotnick 1966:82). This practice of gathering the bones and placing them in ossuaries was called ossilegium (Rahmani 1994b: 53-55).

The Ossuaries of the East Talpiyot Tomb

Ten ossuaries were found in the Talpiyot tomb, six of which had inscriptions. Let us examine the six inscriptions. The first ossuary was given the registration number IAA 80-500 by the Department of Antiquities. Rahmani listed it as 701 in his catalogue of ossuaries in the State of Israel collection (1994a: 222b, 223a). This ossuary was decorated and had an inscription in Greek with the name “Mariamene, who is (also called) Mara” on it (Rahmani 1994a: 222b). Kloner points out: “The name Mariamene [is] a variant of the name...(Miriam, Maryam) and...(Marya). [This name] is inscribed on more than twenty ossuaries in the Israel State Collections” (Rahmani 1994: 14, 115-116). These names “are the most common feminine names of the Second Temple period” (Hachlili 1984: 189). Ilan states that Mariam is used 80 times (2002: 242-248). Mara, a contraction of Martha, is used as a second name. This name too “is common in the Jewish feminine onomasticon” (1996: 17). Mara is recorded eight times in the onomasticon of names (Ilan 2002: 422, 423, 450).

The second ossuary, IAA 80.501 (Rahmani’s 702; 1994a: 223a), was also decorated and had the name “Yehuda, son of Yeshua” on it. In English, it would read “Judah the son of Jesus.” Kloner again points out: “The name Yehuda (Judas) is the third most popular name in the Jewish onomasticon of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In a study of 1,986 names of the Hellenistic and Roman period, conducted by T. Ilan, 128 persons were found to bear this name (Ilan 1987:238)” (1996: 18a). She later enlarged her list to 180 names (Ilan 2002: 112-125, 449). Kloner goes on to discuss the name Yeshua, or Jesus. He states that this name is “a derivative of Yehoshua (Joshua)...Yehoshua/Yeshua is the sixth most common name used during the Hellenistic and Roman periods in Eretz Israel, borne by 71 of the individuals studied by Ilan” (1996: 18a). Ilan later came up with a total of 104 names (2002: 126-133, 449).

The third ossuary, IAA 80.502 (Rahmani’s 703; 1994a: 223a), was a plain ossuary with the name “Matya” inscribed on the outside of the ossuary. On the inside of the ossuary, the name “Mat(y)a” is scratched. Both names are shortened forms of the name Matityahu, or Matthew (Kloner 1996: 18). In Ilan’s list of Jewish names, 46 males were identified with this name (1987: 238).

The next ossuary, IAA 80-504 (Rahmani’s 704; 1994a: 223), a plain limestone box with an Aramaic inscription, was the one that caused a sensation. Dr. Rahmani described it in these terms: “The first name, preceded by a large cross-mark, is difficult to read, as the incisions are clumsily carved and badly scratched. There seems to be a vertical stroke representing a yod, followed by a shin; the vav merges with the right stroke of the ‘ayin. The reading ‘Yeshua’ is corroborated by the inscription on No. 702 referring to Yeshua, the father of Yehuda” (1994a: 223). Kloner comments: “The first name following the X mark is difficult to read. In contrast to other ossuaries in this tomb, the incisions are here superficial and cursorily carved. Each of the four letters suggesting “Yeshua” is unclear, but the reading is corroborated by the inscription on Ossuary 2, above (Rahmani 1994: 223)” (1996: 18b). Both Rahmani and Kloner agree that the reading of this inscription is very difficult. In fact, both place a question mark after the translation of Yeshua. Others have suggested that the name be read Hanun. Interestingly, there was another ossuary in the State of Israel collection that has a clear inscription saying “Jesus the son of Joseph” (Rahmani 1994a: 77; no. 9). This ossuary, however, was unprovenanced (Sukenik 1931: 19).

The fifth ossuary, IAA 80-504 (Rahmani’s 705; 1994a: 223b), is another plain ossuary with the name “Yose” on it. Kloner observes: “Yose is a contraction of Yehosef (Joseph), the second most common name in the Second Temple period (Ilan 1987: 238; see Hachlili 1984: 188-190). [Simon / Simeon is the most popular name]. Ilan has recorded 232 individuals with this name (2002: 150-168, 449). Some 35% of all known Jewish males of the Hellenistic and Roman periods in Eretz Israel bore “Hasmonean” names: Matthew (Ossuary 3, above), John, Simon, Judas (Ossuaries 2 and 4, above), Eleazar, and Jonathan. Joseph was the sixth brother in the family (2 Maccabbees 8:22), and the similar popularity of this name may be explained by this fact (Ilan 1987: 2 40-241)” (1996:19).

The last inscribed ossuary, IAA 80-505 (Rahmani’s 706; 1994a:223b, 224a), was a plain limestone one and bore the name “Marya”.

The next three ossuaries that were published were uninscribed. Each had rosettes on them, and one of them had mason's marks (IAA 80-506, Rahamni’s 707; 1994a: 224a, Plate 101; Kloner 1996: 20; IAA 80-507, Rahmani’s 708; 1994a: 224a, Plate 101; Kloner 1996: 20; IAA 80-508, Rahmani’s 709; 1994a: 224a, Plate 101; Kloner 1996: 21). The tenth ossuary, IAA 80-509, is just labeled “plain” (Kloner 1996: 21). Rahmani states that it was a “plain, broken specimen” but does not list it in his catalogue (1994a: 222b).

Dr. Rahmani cautiously draws the conclusion that the ossuary of Yose (No. 705) “with that of Marya on No. 706, both from the same tomb, may indicate that these are the ossuaries of the parents of Yeshua (No. 704) and the grandparents of Yehuda (No. 702)” (1994a: 223). Is Dr. Rahmani justified in trying to assume Marya (Mary) was the wife of Yose (Joseph)? Simcha follows Tabor’s suggestion that the Yose ossuary held the bones of Jose, the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3; J&P 2007: 65, 77). On their website Cameron and Jacobovici initially claimed: “An incredible archaeological discovery in Israel changes history and shocks the world. Tombs with the names the Virgin Mary, Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene and Judah, their son, are found and an investigation begins.” Are these claims justified?

Are These the Ossuaries of the Lord Jesus and His Family?

The simple answer to the question is NO! None of the ossuaries say “the Virgin Mary,” “Jesus of Nazareth,” “Mary Magdalene,” or “Judah, their son.” The filmmakers are reading more into the names than appear on the ossuaries. In all fairness to them, the website was later modified. Jose is identified as the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3; J&P 2007: 65, 204). Matya is identified as either the gospel writer (2007: 62), or a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus (2007: 78). The fact that these names appear together is purely coincidental. The names of Joseph, Mary and Yeshua (Jesus) were common names of Jewish people living during the Second Temple Period.

I am always leery of people saying, “I am not biased in my thinking, I have an open mind and will follow the truth wherever it leads.” Everybody, without exception, has biases and presuppositions in their thinking. The perspective of the book and documentary is that Jesus' bones were reburied in an ossuary in the Talpiyot tomb and he was not bodily resurrected from the dead. They do, however, allow for a “spiritual ascension” (whatever that means) (2007: 71, 137). My perspective (bias, if you will), on the other hand, is that the Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in human flesh and that He died on Calvary’s cross to pay for sin, and three days later His body was resurrected from the tomb just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Now that all the cards are on the table, let’s begin the critique.

Charles Pellegrino suggests that the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He quotes from the account in Matthew's gospel (27:61-66) and says that the “writer of Matthew was not familiar with the mechanics of secondary burial” (2007: 72). Quite the contrary, as Byron McCane has pointed out, Jesus was very familiar with secondary burials when He rebuked His disciple with the statement, “Let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:21, 22; McCane 1990: 31-43).

Pellegrino also suggests a scenario whereby the disciples hid in the tomb during the Sabbath and then removed the body after sunset, but before the soldiers were posted at the tomb (2007: 73). This does not account for the fact that the disciples were scared for their lives. When the soldiers came at Gethsemane, they fled (Matt. 26:56; Mark 14:50). After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples at evening. John records that “the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews” (20:19). Yet the demeanor of the disciples changed dramatically after the giving of the Holy Spirit on Shavuot (the Day of Pentecost) in Acts 2. They boldly proclaimed the message of the bodily resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ. If they had stolen the body of Jesus, why would they preach a lie? And more than that, why would they die for a lie?

Pellegrino also wrote to Father Mervyn Fernando in Sri Lanka and asked him a hypothetical question. “What if archaeologists actually found, say bones and DNA of Jesus? Would a discovery such as this necessarily contradict what Christians believe about the Resurrection story?” (J&P 2007: 73). Father Fernando responded by calling Pellegrino’s attention to First Corinthians 15:35 and following, and saying, in part, “That is, the risen body of Christ (as understood by the apostle Paul) is a spiritual one, not the material / physical one he had in this life. That physical body would have perished, and if any part of it (bones) are recovered/identified, it would in no way affect the reality of His resurrection” (2007: 74). The reference to the spiritual body is found in verses 44 and 46. The verse say believers in the Lord Jesus will get a spiritual body, one that will be raised in incorruption, glory and power (15:42-44).

What does Jesus Himself say about that 'spiritual' body? After His bodily resurrection, He appeared to His disciples out of thin air. This spooked them and they thought they had seen a spirit (Luke 24:36, 37). Jesus tries to reassure them by saying, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (24:38, 39). He then went on to eat fish and honeycomb! (24:41-43). When Peter and John looked into the tomb, it was empty, except for the grave cloths and handkerchief that was neatly folded on the bench of the tomb (Luke 24:12; John 20:3-8). Note specifically Jesus said He had flesh and bones. There was no decaying of the flesh, nor would there be bones left in the tomb to be collected a year later and placed in an ossuary.

According to early tradition, Joseph was buried in Nazareth (Bagatti 1969: 12; Kopp 1963: 64-66), possibly the “tomb of the saints” on the property of the Sisters of Nazareth (Livio 1990: 28). The fact that Jesus and his family were “poor” does not necessarily mean they could not have been buried in a rock-hewn tomb. Joseph was a carpenter (Mark 6:3). Some have suggested that the word “carpenter” also included the craft of stone masonry. If that is the case, Joseph could have carved out the family tomb at no cost to himself. Early tradition also places Mary’s burial in Nazareth (Kopp 1963: 65, 66). However, there is a 5th century AD tradition that places her tomb in the Kidron Valley near Gethsemane (Strome 1972: 86-90). There are some who doubt the historical accuracy of this tradition (Taylor 1993: 205, 206). A much later tradition places the burial of Mary in Ephesus in present day Turkey (Meinardus 1979: 113-117). The house where she allegedly resided was located on the mountain south of the city of Ephesus. The location of this house was supposedly revealed to Sister Catherine Emmerich in a vision (1774-1824). The name of this nun might ring a bell in some peoples mind because she was the source for some of the unbiblical scenes and events depicted in Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.”

In Dr. Rahmani’s catalogue of ossuaries, he observed that: “In Jerusalem’s tombs, the deceased’s place of origin was noted when someone from outside Jerusalem and its environs was interred in a local tomb. Thus, Bet She’an-Scythopolis is mentioned in a bilingual inscription (No. 139), Berenike (No. 404) and Ptolemais (No. 99), both probably cities in Cyrenaica, each occur once” (1994: 17). This last ossuary (No. 99) was originally published by Prof. Nahman Avigad which was in a collection of ossuaries that were discovered in a tomb in the Kidron Valley on November 10, 1941 and excavated by Prof. E. L. Sukenik. There were eleven plain ossuaries that did not have any decorations on them, but all had inscriptions with the names of the individuals that were reburied in the ossuary. Two of the ossuaries had place names of where the individual was from. Avigad concluded that the “family must have come from one of the large Jewish communities of the Diaspora–Egypt or Cyrenaica...Cyrenaica is more likely to have been the country of origin of this family. Its members belonged apparently to the community of Cyrenian Jews which is known to have existed in Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple. In the New Testament mention is made of their synagogue (Acts 6:9)” (1962: 12). In the Dominus Flavit necropolis another Cyrenian named Pilon was buried with a Greek inscription on his ossuary (Bagatti and Milik 1981: 81, 91; Fig. 23, no. 3).

Since Jesus and His family were from Nazareth in Lower Galilee and not Jerusalem in Judea, one would expect a place of origin after the name of the deceased. For example, Jesus of Nazareth, Jose of Nazareth, Matthew of Capernaum, Mary of Nazareth, Mariamene of Magdala, and Judah son of Yeshua from Nazareth. No place of origin is given on any of the ossuaries, which indicates that were all Jerusalemites from Judea.

Is Dr. Rahmani justified in saying Mary and Joseph were husband and wife? Sometimes inscriptions on the ossuaries tell the relationship between people, i.e. son of, daughter of, husband of, or wife of, etc. In the case of Marya, there is no relationship indicator, so we do not know if she was the mother, wife, sister, aunt or daughter of Joseph, Yeshua, Yehuda, one of the three skulls on the floor, or someone in the uninscribed ossuaries.

The ossuary containing the bones of “Yeshua” (704) could not be that of Jesus of Nazareth for two reasons. First, the New Testament is very clear, Jesus bodily rose from the dead. Since His flesh did not see corruption (Ps. 16:8-11; Acts 2:25-32), there could be no need for an ossuary. Second, ossuary No. 702 contained the bones of “Yehuda, the son of Yeshua.” Apparently the Yeshua of ossuary No. 704 had a son named Yehuda. Again the Gospels are clear: Jesus never married and never had children (see J&P 2007: 105). Also, both Rahmani and Kloner have questions marks after the reading of the name Yeshua on the “Yeshua, son of Joseph” ossuary. Others have suggested the name actually read Hanun.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, one of the excavators, Amos Kloner, states: “It makes a great story for a TV film. But it's completely impossible. It's nonsense. There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle class family from the 1st century CE.“

Did the Mariamene Ossuary Contain the Bones of Mary Magdalene?

Simcha tries to argue, based on a conversation with Dr. Bovon of Harvard Divinity School, that Mary Magdalene was the Mariamne, the sister of Philip, in the 4th century Apocryapha book, the Acts of Philip (J&P 2007: 95-103). This Mariamne was the one whose bones were buried in the Talpiyot ossuary.

Dr. Richard Bauckham, a New Testament scholar, stated in a blog on the Internet: “There is no reason at all to connect the woman in this ossuary with Mary Magdalene, and in fact the name usage is decisively against such a connection.”

There is also a chronological problem concerning the “bones.” According to the scenario in the book, Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and they had a son Judah. That son was the “Beloved Disciple” at the Last Supper and the young boy who ran away naked from Gethsemane (Mark 14:51), who was about 10-13 years old (J&P 2007: 207-209). Assuming this is true for a minute, and assuming Jesus was crucified in AD 30, let’s crunch the numbers. Judah would have been born between AD 17 and AD 20. That would place the wedding of Jesus and Mary Magdalene between AD 16 and AD 19. Assuming Mary Magdalene was between 16 and 18 years of age when she got married, she would have been born between 1 BC and AD 4. Herein is the problem. According to the Acts of Philip (which the filmmakers believe is historically reliable), the event surrounding the martyrdom of Philip, the brother of Miriamne, takes place in the 8th year of Emperor Trajan (Roberts and Donaldson 1994: 8: 497). This would place the martyrdom about AD 104. Eusebius confirms the burial of Philip at Heirapolis and hints at a date around AD 100 (Ecclesiastical History 3. 31. 1-4; LCL 1: 269-271). If Mary Magdalene is the Miriamne in this account, she would be between 100 and 106 years of age when she proceeded to the Jordan [River] (Roberts and Donaldson 1994: 8: 503b).

Simcha assumes she died and was buried in Israel (J&P 2007: 102). If the Miriamene of the Acts of Philip is Mary Magdalene, more than likely she would have gone back to Galilee and her home town of Magdala, only a few miles from the Jordan River, not Jerusalem. There is also another chronological problem. Ossuaries ceased to be in use in Jerusalem after AD 70 (J&P 2007: 26; Rahmani 1994a: 21-25).

Simcha contends that the Romans would have executed all the heirs of anybody trying to establish a throne apart of the emperor in Rome (J&P 2007: 105, 106). In the case of Jesus, they would kill his wife and any children they might have. This scenario should raise some serious questions for Simcha’s contention. If Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus, why was she not executed on the spot? After all, she was at the cross when He died (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25). If one believes that Miriamne of the Acts of Philip is Mary Magdalene, she would have lived for at least 75 more years, through the reign of a host of Roman emperors. Why did they not find her and have her executed? Simcha states that the Romans “were very good at hunting down sons, daughters and wives” (2007:106).

The bones of Mary Magdalene are not in the ossuary of Mariamene who is also called Mara. They belong to someone else.

Is “Judah, the son of Jesus” the “Beloved Son,” the “Beloved Disciple” and the young lad in Mark 14:51?

Simcha begins this chapter by correctly observing that: “In none of the Gospels, be they canonical or apocryphal, is Mary Magdalene – Miriamne – described as being married to Jesus. Nor is a child of Jesus ever mentioned” (J&P 2007: 105). He should have stopped at this point and gone on to the next chapter. Jesus was never married and never had a child with Mary Magdalene or any other woman. Yet Simcha insists, based on the ossuaries, that Jesus was married and had a child, so any reference to these “facts” must be in “code.”

According to Simcha, in order to hide the identity of “Judah, the son of Jesus” from the Romans, the disciples spoke in code. He speculates that Judah was really called the younger brother of Jesus named Judas (Mark 6:3). He goes on to speculate that this Judas was nicknamed “the twin” based on the Greek word “Didymos” and the Hebrew word “Te-om” (translated Thomas). This Judas was also the author of the Gospel of Thomas (2007: 106-108). In his “gospel” the Parable of the Vineyard Owner is given (Saying 65).

The parable of the vineyard owner (Mark 12:1-12) is misapplied in the book. They give a novel twist to this parable by saying it “could be referring to the fate that would have awaited any surviving son sent into the world by Jesus” (2007: 108). They acknowledge just before this statement, “Perhaps, as many have interpreted, the parable is describing his own death” (2007: 108).

Rather than “perhaps,” it would be better to say, this parable is talking about the death of the Lord Jesus. Mark records the reaction of those on the Temple Mount. “And they [the chief priests, the scribes and the elders (11:27)] sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away” (12:12). Some of the religious leaders were trying to eliminate the Lord Jesus, and not some imagined son.

In the parable, Mark records a statement about the son of the vineyard owner. “Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son’” (12:6). It is important to note that the son is called “his beloved.” (The Gospel of Thomas leaves out the word “beloved”). The word “beloved” is used only three times in the Gospel of Mark. A careful reader of the Greek text of this gospel would remember the two previous occasions where the word is used. The first time the word is used is at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The voice from heaven [the Father] says, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (1:11). The second time is at the Transfiguration of Jesus where the same voice from heaven says, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (9:7). The context of the first two usage is clear in Mark’s gospel, so the beloved son in the parable is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, not Judah.

Simcha states that the Gospel of John “harbors a deep secret.” He contends that the “beloved disciple” who leaned on Jesus’ chest was His own son Judah. His proof is a statement: “Unless your eating habits are very different from mine, at my dinner table only my kids cuddle with me and lean against my chest” (2007: 207). A personal analogy is not proof that Judah was the beloved disciple. One should put the event in the Gospel of John in its proper context. It was at a Passover Seder when the “beloved disciple” leans back on Jesus' chest while they are reclining during the meal. [Some translations use the word “sit”, but the Greek word is “recline”]. The disciple whom Jesus loved is none other than the Apostle John, the youngest of the disciples. He does not mention his own name when he wrote the gospel because he finally learned the lesson of humility that Jesus had been teaching.

The Apostle John does not draw attention to himself in the gospel he wrote, just like Dr. Luke does not mention his own name in the book of Acts. That is the same reason John Mark does not mention his own name when he describes the “young man” who runs away naked from Gethsemane (Mark 14:51, 52; J&P 2007: 207, 208). On the other hand, he might have been embarrassed to mention his name!

The speculation that “Judah, the son of Jesus” is the “Beloved Son,” the “beloved disciple”, or the young man in Mark 14 has no factual basis whatsoever.

Does the DNA Evidence Prove the Case?

The DNA evidence is presented as one of the smoking guns. The chapter on the DNA begins with the statement: “If these two ossuaries truly belong to Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene, DNA tests would reveal that the two people buried within were not related. All scriptural records – whether canonical or apocryphal – were clear on one genealogical point: Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene, if their DNA could be read, would be two individuals who had no family ties. But what are the alternatives? People in the same tomb were related by either blood or marriage” (J&P 2007: 167, 168, 207). I would agree with this statement, and as the mitochondrial DNA tests showed, the two were not related by blood (J&P 2007: 172, 207). But does that mean Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married to each other?

Mariamene in the ossuary could have been married to Yose, Matya, or Yehuda in the other ossuaries, one of the three skeletons that were discovered on the floor, if they were males, or someone in the uninscribed ossuaries. Or, for that matter, her husband might not have been buried in the tomb. Perhaps he died in a far-off land while he was on a business trip. Since there was no ketubah (marriage contract) found in the ossuary of Mariamene, or the name of her husband on the ossuary (Rahmani 1994a: 15a), the DNA tests prove nothing.

In an interview, Simcha was asked why he did not have the remains in the other ossuaries tested. His response was, “We’re not scientists. At the end of the day we can’t wait till every ossuary is tested for DNA. We took the story that far. At some point you have to say, ‘I’ve done my job as a journalist’” (Goodstein 2007: 10).

I think it is fair to say they did not take the story far enough. They got the results they wanted so they could say Jesus and Mary were not related by blood, so this proved, in their minds at least, that they were married. For their scenario, no further testing was needed. Perhaps with further DNA testing it would have been shown that “Judah, the son of Jesus” was not related to “Mariamene”, or that “Jesus, son of Joseph” was not related to “Maria.” The “James the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” was not related to “Jesus, son of Joseph” or “Jose.” These results would have been devastating for their scenario, so why test any further? Leave well enough alone. This “smoking gun” fired a blank.

The Statistical Analysis

The second “smoking gun” of The Jesus Family Tomb is the statistical analysis. As we have already seen, the DNA gun was a blank with smokeless powder. As we shall see, the statistical analysis will fire a blank as well.

When doing statistical analysis, one must ask: “What are the assumptions being made?” The results are only as good as the information that is put into the computation.

The Cameron/Jacobovici/Pellegrino/Tabor team started with the assumption that Jesus was not bodily resurrected from the dead. They also assume that a poor Galilean family from Nazareth would buy a tomb in Jerusalem. One of the excavators described the burial cave this way: “It’s a good-sized tomb, carved with great care under the direction of someone not lacking funds” (J&P 2007: 9). Jesus recounted His economic status by saying: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). The also assume, based on their DNA “analysis,” that Jesus was married to Mariamene (a.k. Mary Magdalene). I do not believe they proved any of their assumptions, so their statistics are meaningless.

James Tabor gave an interesting, but flawed, analogy on his website. He said: “Imagine a football stadium filled with 50,000 people – men, women, and children. This is an average estimate of the population of ancient Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. If we ask all the males named Jesus to stand, based on the frequency of that name, we would expect 2,796 to rise. If we then ask all those with a father named Joseph to remain standing there would only be 351 left. If we further reduce this group by asking only those with a mother named Mary to remain standing we would get down to only 173. If we then ask only those of this group with a brother named Joseph only 23 are left. And finally, only of these the ones with a brother named James, there’s less than a 3/4 chance that even 1 person remains standing. Prof. Andre Feuerverger, of the University of Toronto, a highly regarded senior scholar in the field did the formal statistics for the Discovery project. His figure of probability came out to 1/600.”

There is one major problem with this analogy. Jesus would not have even been in the stadium! This analogy denies the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Did the “James Ossuary” Come from the Talpiyot Tomb?

Simcha likes to add a bit of conspiracy theory to the plot of his book. He suggested that the so-called “James Ossuary” originally came from the Talpiyot Tomb (S&P 2007: 92, 184-188, 209, 210). At the conclusion of some fancy tests in a crime lab in New York, Pellegrino concluded that when the James Ossuary was “compared to other patina samples from ossuaries found in the Jerusalem environment, the Talpiot tomb ossuaries exhibited a patina fingerprint or profile that matched the James ossuary and no other” (J&P 2007: 188). Simcha speculates that the 10th ossuary was misplaced or stolen after it left the site in Talpiyot and before it arrived at the Rockefeller Museum. If the 10th ossuary is in fact the “James Ossuary,” this would add immense credence to the idea that this is the Jesus family tomb.

Dr. Joe Zias, the chief anthropologist for the IAA in 1980, has stated in emails that he was the one who catalogued all ten of the ossuaries as they came to the Rockefeller Museum. Since it was a “plain” non-descript ossuary, it was placed in the courtyard of the museum.

Again, in the Jerusalem Post interview, Amos Kloner was asked about the alleged missing tenth ossuary. Kloner responded, “Nothing has disappeared. The 10th ossuary was on my list. The measurements were not the same (as the James Ossuary). It was plain (without an inscription). We had no room under our roofs for all the ossuaries, so unmarked ones were sometimes kept in the courtyard (of the Rockefeller Museum).”

It can be easily demonstrated that the “James Ossuary” and the tenth ossuary from Talpiyot are not one and the same ossuary. Ossuary 10 (IAA 80.509) was published by Kloner as “plain” with the dimension of 60 cm long; 26 cm wide; and 30 cm high (1996: 21). When the “James Ossuary” was first published, the dimensions were give as 50.5 cm long as the base and 56 cm long at the top; 25 cm wide; and 30.5 cm high (Lemaire 2002: 27, 28). When Simcha published his book, he gave the dimensions of the “James Ossuary” as 56.5 cm long; 26 cm wide; and 30.2 cm high (S&P 2007: 210). Simcha notes the 3.5 cm discrepancy on the length and dismisses the idea that the length changed when the ossuary broke en route to Toronto in 2002. He suggested, however, that in the initial measurement at the Rockefeller Museum, the numbers were rounded off and concludes that “the missing ossuary and the James ossuary may be one and the same after all” (2007: 91, 210).

Note how Simcha changes the numbers. The discrepancy in length is not 3.5 cm as stated by Simcha, but 4 cm if we take the original measurements by Dr. Lemaire. There is a 1 cm discrepancy on the width if we take Lemaire’s numbers. Instead of a 0.5 cm difference on the height, Simcha reduces it to 0.2 cm. Where Simcha got his numbers, we are not told, but it is obvious he is aware of the problem and is trying to marginalize the discrepancies.

It can be safely concluded, as Kloner has pointed out, that the 10th ossuary was never missing and is not the same as the so-called “James Ossuary.”

This ossuary still presents a problem for Simcha. According to Oded Golan, the owner of the ossuary, he purchased the ossuary in the mid-1970’s, several years before the Talpiyot tomb was excavated in 1980. These dates are important, because in 1978 a law was passed that allowed the state of Israel to confiscate any antiquities that they deemed important. That would include the James Ossuary.

Simcha can’t have his cake and eat it too. Either the James Ossuary was purchased in the mid-1970’s as Golan claims and he should be exonerated at his trial (if he did not forge the inscription), or it’s from the East Talpiyot tomb excavated in 1980 and Golan lied, thus giving him a one way ticket to jail.

Is There a Masonic Connection to this Tomb?

Jacobovici and Cameron try to add a Masonic connection to this tomb, perhaps trying to cash in on the popularity of the Da Vinci Code (J&P 2007: 123-134). The chapter entitled “Whence Came the Nazarenes” is pure speculation and has no cited documentation, so the reader cannot judge the validity of the claims.

The Three Skulls

There were three skulls found on the floor of the burial cave and mentioned several times in the early part of the book as being important. A discerning reader would most likely keep in the back of his/her mind thinking that they would play an important role later in the book (J&P 2007: 10, 11, 14). Sure enough, Simcha speculates that some of the Crusaders, or Knights Templars around the 12th century, entered the tomb and placed the three skulls in an “odd and clearly ceremonial configuration” (J&P 2007: 109, 123, 131). Gibson also had that impression, suggesting they formed a triangle pointing to the Temple Mount (2007: 15). Simcha asks if it is possible that these are the skulls of Templar leaders that were honored by being buried in the tomb of Jesus (2007: 132).

The three skulls are clearly marked on Shimon’s drawing (J&P 2007: Plate 1, facing page 110). However, only one skull appears in Kloner’s publications (1996: 15; 2003: 208). A much more plausible explanation is that these three skulls were on the shelf of the two arcosolias and rolled off during seismic activity in the area. Two of the skulls are just below the arcosolias and the other might have rolled across the floor.

There were more than three skulls associated with the tomb. Simcha tells the story of children in the neighborhood playing soccer with skulls (plural). How many there actually were, we are not told (2007: 4). They were from the antechamber of the tomb, outside the tomb proper. One of the neighbors collected two bags of bones from this area (2007: 11-13).

Simcha speculates that the Knights might have taken a skull and femur bones from one of the ossuaries, and this became one of the Templar symbols, the skull and crossbones (2007: 133, 134).

In Christian art, a skull and crossbones are usually depicted underneath the cross where the Lord Jesus was crucified. Some might suggest this is the meaning of the “place of a skull” (Matt. 27:33). The theological meaning that has been given for the skull and crossbones is that Adam was buried underneath the place of crucifixion. This was to illustrate the theological truth set forth in I Cor. 15:21 and 22: “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Also the truth in Romans 5:12-21: “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned...For as by one man’s disobedience [Adam] many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous...even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (5:12, 19, 21).

The Chevron and Circle Symbols

One of the striking features of the façade of the tomb is the chevron over the entrance and a circle underneath it (J&P 2007: 7, 8, 11, 12; for a good color picture, see the cover of Kloner and Zissu 2003). Simcha speculates that the “façade is related to the promise of Jesus – as a Jewish Messiah – to build a Third Temple at the ‘end of times,’ then even the ‘Templar’ name may be related to the Talpiot tomb” (J&P 2007: 134, see also 2007: 130).

This is pure speculation on Simcha’s part. The First and Second Temples had a flat roof and not a gabled one. The architectural description of the Temple described in the Temple Scoll is of a flat roof as well. The same is also true of the “Ezekiel Temple” (Ezek. 40-48). One would assume that the Third Temple would have a flat roof as well.

At least one chevron appears on an Iron Age tomb that was exposed just south of Jaffa Gate. Shimon Gibson was one of the excavators and this author was on his team. (Broshi and Gibson 1994: 147-150, picture on page 149. The tomb on the right has a chevron above the entrance.)

James Tabor was examining an ossuary found in the Kidron Valley that had three inscriptions on it. One read “Alexander/(son of) Simon”, another read “Simon Ale/Alexander/(son) of Simon,” and also “of Alexander/Alexander QRNYT” ossuary (Avigad 1962: 9-11). Tabor claims that with the lighting just right, he saw “a chevron forming a circular gouge [modern or ancient?] to produce an inverted ‘V’ enclosing a dark circle” (J&P 2007: 129). In his report, Avigad says nothing about this. It would be surprising if something like this was missed by the keen observant eyes of Avigad.

I suspect that the chevron was an unfinished molding of a façade of a tomb that depicted a gabled roof with pediment and a circle, possibly a wreath, similar to the “Tomb of the Grapes” (Avigad 1950-51: 99, 100). Avigad also mentions that there are similar entrances in the southern necropolis of Jerusalem (1950-51: 100; footnote 7). The chevron could also represent a nefesh (Rahmani 1968: 220-225, Plate 23; 1994a: 28, 29; 1994b: 198-203). Wreaths are also known on ossuaries (Rahmani 1972: 113-116).

The skulls on the floor of the tomb and the façade with an inverted chevron and circle underneath it are Second Temple phenomena. The connection with the Knight Templars is pure speculation and not based on facts. Thus there are no Masonic connections with this tomb.

Other Factual Errors

There are factual mistakes that would have been caught if the book had been peer-reviewed and also fact-checked by the publisher prior to publication. For example, Beth Shemesh was not the ancient home of Samson (J&P 2007: 31), it was Zorah (Judges 13:2; 16:31). It is not a legend that the Judeo-Christians fled to Pella (J&P 2007: 36), but an event based in historical reality (Pritz 1988: 122-127). Pritz’s book is even quoted in the bibliography (J&P 2007: 214). John the Baptizer was not beheaded by Herod the Great (J&P 2007: 63), but rather, by his son Herod Antipas (Hoehner 1980: 110-171). The Aegean Islands do not spread “westward in long chains to the volcanic remnants of Thera” from Mt. Athos (J&P 2007: 95). Thera (Santorini) is to the south of Mt. Athos, and the only chain of islands are the Sporades and beyond them is the island of Evia and then the mainland of Greece.

The Best Explanation

In the spring of 1979, while I was a graduate student at the Institute for Holy Land Studies studying archaeology and the history of ancient Israel in Jerusalem, I attended a fascinating series of lectures at the Albright Institute in Jerusalem on ancient Jewish burial practices by Dr. Levi Rahmani. His last lecture was on ossuaries and the Jewish practice of secondary burials during the Second Temple Period. This lecture was later published in Biblical Archaeologist (Rahmani 1982). During the question and answer period, Father Pierre Benoit, the director of the Ecole Biblique, the French School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, asked Dr. Rahmani a loaded question. “Would Jesus’ bones have been placed in an ossuary?” His response was a classic. “Yes, they would have been, but something unexplainable happened!”

The best explanation for the unexplainable was given by the angel who rolled away the stone from the entrance to the empty tomb. He said, “...He is not here, for He is risen as He said” (Matt. 28:6)!

The events that transpired during the previous few days were all predicted by the Hebrew prophets hundreds of years before they happened. In fact, there were over thirty prophecies that were fulfilled during the last day of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus.

King David was also a prophet (Acts 2:30). Nearly a thousand years before the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, David gave a vivid prophetic description of the event (Psalm 22), beginning with the cry from the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (22:1; cf. Matt. 27:46). David gave the reason God forsook His Son: because the Lord is holy (22:3). God could not look upon sin, even when all the sins of all humanity were being placed on His sinless Son. David also predicted the mockery and reproach by the crowd as Jesus was being crucified (22:6-8, 12-13; cf. Matt. 27:39-44). He foretold of the bones being out of joint and His hands and feet being pierced (22:14-17; cf. John 20:20), and even the casting of lots for his garments by the Roman soldiers (22:18; cf. Matt. 27:35; John 19:24). David also predicted that not one bone in His body would be broken (Ps. 34:20, cf. Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; see also John 19:36). This fulfilled the picture of the Lord Jesus being the unblemished Passover Lamb that was slain for sinners (I Cor. 5:7). The prophet Zechariah foresaw that the people of Jerusalem would look upon the LORD Messiah whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10; cf. John 19:37; Rev. 1:7).

Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isa. 53:9). Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a wealthy man, approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus so he could bury it before sundown, according to Jewish Law (Matt. 27:57; Mark 15:43). Pilate granted this request, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah of being buried in a rich man’s tomb.

David also predicted the resurrection of the Holy One, the Messiah (Ps. 16:8-11). The Apostle Peter gave a divine commentary on this passage, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-33). Peter had seen the Risen Lord Jesus on a number of occasions after He had been buried (Luke 24:34; Mark 16:14; John 20:26-31; John 21:1-3; Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8; I Cor. 15:5). In his sermon, Peter quoted Psalm 16 and said it was the Messiah of whom David was predicting, and not himself. The proof of that statement was that one could still go down to the City of David and see the tomb of David. If a person could get inside the tomb, they would still see the bones of David. He saw corruption, but the Lord Jesus did not, because He was resurrected from the dead.

The prophet Isaiah foretold the reason the Messiah would die. He stated: “Surely He (the Messiah) has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:4-6). On the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus, the Spotless Lamb of God, died as a perfect sacrifice, to pay for all our sins so that a holy God could be just and declare those who have put their trust in Him and Him alone, justified. When a person trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are justified (declared righteous) by a Holy God (Rom. 3:21-5:2).

The Importance of the Resurrection

The importance of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is clearly stated in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul writes that Jesus is “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). He states elsewhere that the bodily resurrection is a crucial part of the gospel, the good news of salvation when one puts their trust in the Lord Jesus. “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preach to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve” (I Cor. 15:1-5).

God loved sinful humankind so much, even though they were in rebellion to Him and his Word, that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, who voluntarily died on the Cross of Calvary, to pay for all the sins of all humanity (John 3:16; 10:7-18; Rom. 3:23; 5:8; I John 2:2). The death of the Lord Jesus satisfied the holiness and justice of God, so that salvation could be offered to sinners as a free gift, simply by putting ones faith (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior (John 6:47; Rom. 4:1-8). Salvation is by faith alone, in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and no merits or works of our own can gain us entry into Heaven and God’s righteousness (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:4-9).

Have you trusted the One who died for your sins and bodily rose from the dead, and offers you the free gift of eternal life, a home in heaven, the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God?

There were people in the church at Corinth in the 1st century AD that questioned the bodily resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:12). The apostle Paul recounts the many eye-witnessed that had seen the Lord Jesus alive, after His crucifixion, including himself (I Cor. 15:5-8). Paul connects the importance of the bodily resurrection of the dead with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He sates: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (I Cor. 15:13-19). Is the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus important? You bet it is!

The Conclusion of the Matter

I do not know who the Jerusalemite Jesus was that was buried in the Talpiyot tomb, but I do know where the Lord Jesus Christ is right now. After He was bodily resurrected from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea on the third day, He physically ascended into heaven and He is seated at the right hand of the Father waiting to return to earth to establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem.

Christianity has not been “rocked to the core” by the “shocking” claims in this book and documentary. There is no need to change history. The Lord Jesus Christ was bodily resurrected from the dead. No archaeologist will ever find an ossuary with the bones of the Lord Jesus from Nazareth because He never “saw corruption” (Ps. 16:10), and thus never needed an ossuary.

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About the Author

Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who has engaged in extensive archaeological and geographical research in the Lands of the Bible. He has worked on a number of archaeological excavations in Israel, including: Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem, Ramat Rachel, Khirbet Nisya, Lachish, Jezreel and Hazor.

A moving video on archaeology related to the Passion Week, by Joel Kramer of Sourceflix (Off site link).

Passion Week Archaeology from on Vimeo.

The recent reputed discovery of Noah's Ark by the BASE Institute has gotten a great deal of airtime as well as publicity on the Internet. There are, however, some excellent reviews that critique the claim that Noah's Ark landed in Iran...


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