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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Is there archaeological proof for the Torah?

Daf Yomi Yevamos 82

Recently, a piece of rock was found in Jerusalem with an inscription that clearly demonstrates that King David and his dynasty were historical figures that were well-known in the region.   Many people are ecstatic at the find.  We now no longer need to rely solely on the Bible; we have independent proof verifying the longstanding relationship of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.  Slowly but surely, we are finding more and more evidence that traces our claim, each taking us further back in history, so that should be no shadow of a doubt as to the Jewish people’s roots in Israel.

How important is this find to the Jewish people?

The Torah declares, “And Hashem your G-d will bring you into the land that your forefathers inherited and you shall inherit it.”

The Seder Olam Beraisa teaches: They shall have a first and second inheritance but they will need no third inheritance.
Rashi explains: The first inheritance took place in the days of Joshua and the second in the days of Ezra, for when they were exiled by the Babylonians, the sanctity of the land was annulled.   The third era, however, will not require us to re-inherit the land, for the original inheritance remains in force.  This verse teaches us that the sanctity of the land was not annulled by Titus’s exile of the Jews.

While every archeological discovery in Israel is interesting, we need no proof of our history in the land dating back to King David.  The fact that the historical record clearly shows that we were in Israel until the Romans exiled us is sufficient.  When that happened, says the Seder Olam, nothing changed.  Our claim to Israel is based on our habitation of Israel during that era.  The Torah promises us that Titus could never annul our relationship – it has been the same ever since Ezra returned to Israel. 

After all, other religions and peoples who claim a stake in the land didn’t exist thousands of years ago!   All we need to demonstrate is that we were verifiably in Israel two thousand years ago and our claim is rock solid (excuse the pun)!  And there is ample independent historical proof for that fact, such as the works of Josephus and an abundant archeological record.

Finding a piece of stone that shows that King David was real, is unnecessary for our claim to the land.  It might demonstrate the veracity of the Bible.  But we all know it’s not going to create any new believers.  The Torah is not a storybook.  Our Tanach was designed to instill faith in Torah and mitzvos.  Mere knowledge of King David’s historical existence is not going to send anyone running to shul.  So while the find is interesting, it is of no practical import.

If you’re waiting for a Heavenly sign to believe in Torah, Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) and Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), open your eyes!   Look at the miracles He has wrought during our own lifetime!  After thousands of years of exile, we once again have sovereignty in the Land of Israel.  Where are the Romans today?  Where are the Babylonians today?  We are fortunate to bear witness to open miracles that our forebears only dreamed of!  May you always merit love and devotion for the Land of Israel and the ability to see the wonders of the Almighty manifest in our days!