Nabonidus Cylinder And How It Proves the Historicity of the Old Testament Events

This archaeological find has reminded Bible critics that history is a science, i. e. a cluster of knowledge, which is perfected as mankind develops and accumulates new data about the past.

Until the middle of the 19th century, critics of the Holy Scriptures were convinced that the Babylonian king Belshazzar (the one who saw the handwriting on the wall during a feast (Dan 5: 5)) never really existed and was merely an invention of Daniel the prophet. Not a single mention of Belshazzar had been found in either the Babylonian or Persian archives until 1854, when British Colonel John George Taylor discovered a clay cylinder inscribed in cuneiform, while excavating the ancient city of Ur. 

That became the first archaeological find speaking of king Bel-shar-usur (this is what Belshazzar’s name sounded like in the Babylonian language). Among other things, the cylinder contained a prayer of the Babylonian king Nabonidus, in which he asked for a long life for himself and his eldest son Belshazzar, the heir to the throne.

Later, archaeologists discovered other evidence proving the existence of King Belshazzar, but this particular cylinder was the first to be used by biblical archaeology as irrefutable evidence of the historicity of the events and people mentioned in the Holy Scriptures.

This is also important for Christians, because Christ often turned to stories and prophecies from the Old Testament in His sermons, holding up Abraham, Moses, David and other old testament figures as an example of righteousness.


Sergey Kovach. PhD in Theology, lecturer at the Kiev Theological Academy
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds



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