Evidence found proving the biblical story of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem


The biblical account of King Nebuchadnezzar’s troops storming Jerusalem details an epic disaster. Now, evidence has emerged to support the story.

By all accounts, the battle – 2,605 years ago – was a fierce event.

Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar wanted revenge. The King of Israel had betrayed him – for the second time. This time, he won’t hold back his anger.

2 Kings 25: 1-9 says, “The city was under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. The ninth day of [fourth] months there was a famine in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war [fled] night by the way to the door between the two walls … And he [Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard] the house of the LORD and the king’s house burned; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every house of a great man, burned it with fire.

It was in 586 BC. The troops of King Nebuchadnezzar plunder the city. King Solomon’s temple on Mount Zion has been stripped of its treasures and dismantled. Thousands have been taken into captivity.

Now archaeologists say they have – for the first time – evidence to support the Bible account.

Recent excavations have uncovered the remains of a large house from the Iron Age. And it tells a story of bloodshed and destruction.

“This is the kind of clutter you would expect to find in a ruined house following a raid or battle,” says Shimon Gibson, professor of history at the University of Carolina from the North to Charlotte. “Household items, lamps, pieces of pottery that had been knocked over and broken… and arrowheads and jewelry that could have been lost and buried in the destruction. “

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King Nebuchadnezzar II ruled much of the ancient Middle Eastern world around 604-562 BC.

He defeated Egyptian Pharaoh Necho in a struggle for control of what is now Syria. This paved the way for Babylon to become the superpower of the time and expand its territories.

But Nebuchadnezzar is best known for the biblical account of his conquest of Judah, the destruction of his Temple, and the deportation of its citizens to Babylon.

King Jehoiakim of Judah had paid tribute to Nebuchadnezzar for three years before returning to Egypt. But Babylon has acted harshly to quell the rebellion.

Jehoiakim was bound “in copper chains” and died after being dragged through the streets outside the city of Jerusalem. The Temple was looted and thousands of captives taken away.

Zedekiah was put on the throne of Judah as a vassal of Babylon. But, 11 years after the start of his reign, Zedekiah also sided with the Egyptians.

The resulting siege of Jerusalem, it is said, lasted two years. Eventually, his door was breached.

This time, Nebuchadnezzar’s troops destroyed the city – and the Temple – with fire. Zedekiah was caught trying to escape through secret underground passages. He was blinded before being shackled and taken with many of his people in exile.

The Babylonian conquest was complete.

It is an event that Jews have mourned ever since.


The new findings are presented as historically significant, especially because the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First Temple are a defining moment in Jewish history.

Archaeologists sifting through an excavation site on Mount Zion have found layers of ash, arrowheads, shards of Iron Age pottery, lamps – and even a gold and silver acorn. Everything points to an important event at the time of the Bible story.

Professor Gibson says researchers found a ruined house that was once part of a walled urban area that stretched southwest of the “City of David”.

The Mount Zion Archaeological Project believes that the location, style of pottery, lamps, and bronze and iron arrowheads definitely date the burning event from the Babylonian siege period.

“The combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction,” he says. “No one gives up gold jewelry, and no one has arrowheads in their garbage.”

One indication that the fire is linked to King Nebuchadnezzar’s assault is the style of arrow found among the ashes. Researchers say they are of a type known as the “Scythe”, also found in other sites dating back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC.

“They were quite common at this time and are known to be used by Babylonian warriors,” says Professor Gibson. “Together, this evidence points to the historic conquest of the city by Babylon, for the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE. “


Among the rubble and ashes was also an acorn, or perhaps an earring. It has a gold bell-shaped top component attached to a silver bunch of grapes.

“Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at sites of conflict, because it’s exactly the sort of thing attackers will loot and smash down later,” said Professor Gibson. “(It is) a unique find and it is a clear indication of the wealth of the townspeople at the time of the siege.”

Researchers believe that the finely crafted fragment may have been torn from a larger artifact, but that it hasn’t survived enough to definitively identify its original nature.

“He himself suffered trauma, was broken in some way or another,” Rafi Lewis, senior lecturer at Ashkelon University College, told Israel’s Haaretz press service. “The little bunch of silver grapes almost broke away from its golden box, as if the jewel had been violently torn from someone. You can almost feel the violence on the artifact itself.

This is the first time that such an artifact has been found since the time of the conquest of Babylon.

“No evidence of this kind of rich material culture has ever been found inside the walls of Jerusalem before,” Dr Lewis said. “The biblical books of the kings and of Daniel dwell on the riches of Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar brought back to Babylon, and describe the feasts using the vessels of gold and copper that came from the city. This little artifact that shows the potential of the real wealth of Jerusalem.


Only part of the large old house has been excavated due to the complexity of the archaeological site. But his discovery supports the argument that Jerusalem was truly a sprawling Iron Age city, not just a hilltop village.

“I like to think that we are digging inside one of the ‘big man’s houses’,” speculates Professor Gibson. “This place would have been ideally located, as it is close to the western top of the city with a beautiful view of Solomon’s temple and Mount Moriah to the northeast. We have high expectations to find much more of the Iron Age City in the coming working seasons. “

Earlier this year, excavations at a higher level highlighted the accuracy of the accounts of the siege of Jerusalem by the Christian crusaders in 1099 AD. The need to document the context of each stone is therefore essential.

“We are slowly descending the site, level by level, period by period, and at the end of this final digging season two meters of domestic structures from the later Byzantine and Roman periods have yet to be dug above the age level. iron below. Said Professor Gibson. “We plan to tackle this during the 2020 season.”

Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer. Continue the conversation @JamieSeidel

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