According to the article, this stone seal to the right has underneath it the Hebrew name “Temech” which is a name that is also found in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah chapter 7:55, which is a chapter containing a great number of names of other exiles returning from Babylon. This does not merely corroborate the existence of the name but also offers some specification. In Nehemiah, Temech’s children are listed as being temple servants. The stone seal”was discovered just dozens of meters away from the Opel area, where the servants of the Temple, or “Nethinim,” lived in the time of Nehemiah, Mazar said.”
This is just one more example out of dozens if not hundreds of such corroborations but it you perused the atheistic sites that are out there you’d find that they confidently and smugly assert that there is no truthfulness to the Christian Scriptures at all. Where you do find consistencies such as the correct identification of a place name they’ll display their intellectual superiority by pointing out that just because Mark Twain talks about a river such as the Mississippi river in Tom Sawyer doesn’t mean Tom Sawyer is a ‘true story.’ Of course, Twain never offered it as much. They don’t allow their logic to work in all directions. They are also quick to point out apparent inconsistencies, such as the alleged problem of there not being a census while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:2).
Does consistency matter to them or not? The answer is clear: No, when consistency would support the Bible’s claims. Yes, when inconsistency would undermine the Bible’s claims.
This particular discovery is one that I find very interesting to reflect on. Liberal scholarship has attempted to call into question every single discovery that is produced. There are various theories, many of the mutually contradictory, but all agreed on the assertion that the texts cannot be trusted, period. For example, there is a prevalent attitude that would place virtually the entire OT as being written (or constructed) after the exile. This is a convenient measure that allows various kinds of escape, like for example Isaiah’s putative prophecy that Israel would be exiled in the first place and that they would be allowed to return under Cyrus of Persia. Since we know that there isn’t a God, that prophecy can’t be real, and yet these two things are true (Israel was exiled and then allowed to return by Cyrus) really did happen, Isaiah must have been written after the events.
A corroboration of Nehemiah has all sorts of interesting ramifications. There have even been people who have disputed that Solomon’s Temple (the first Temple) even existed (example). At some point I would think that the rational person, when confronted with a consistent pattern of corroboration, would be willing to accept that the documents really are trustworthy. Unless one has their mind up to dispute anything that contains a miracle (I don’t think Nehemiah does) or is old (how can something that is old be true? Inconceivable!) allowing such corroborations to have weight leads one to the point where they have to pay attention.
For example, though Nehemiah does not contain prophecy or miracle that I am aware of, it does discuss King Artaxerxes and gives some dates and times. I don’t know of any atheists that dispute that Artaxerxes existed (this is because his existence, though less attested than Jesus’s existence, poses no threat to their world view) and the date and time referenced (chapter 2) have direct implications to Daniel’s prophecy as recorded in Daniel 9:25. If we have good reason to trust the dates and times of Nehemiah because book can be shown to be reliable to the best of our knowledge, that will allow us to calculate out Daniel’s prophecy.
Daniel 9:25 reads: Know and understand this: from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” Etc, etc.
It’s well worth reading the whole section and doing the math. But I don’t recommend doing this if you are an atheist. Following the logic above, it will mean that since prophecy is not possible, and Jesus seems to be a perfect fit for the time frame, Daniel could not have been written until after Jesus lived and died. This of course would be a big problem for them, as no scholar, reputable or not, believes Daniel was written that late.
I invite everyone else to do the math though. 🙂