old testament of the bible
Events covered in the Old Testament (first half) of the Bible go back to at least 4000 BC.  Archaeological evidence reveals that civilization began
in Mesopotamia (the Middle East around Iran and Iraq).  

2300 BC  NOAH and his family were the lone survivors of the world-wide flood.  Noah lived around 2300 BC and was ten generations from
Adam.  Noah could have easily taken with him into the ark the account of the creation of the world and of his ancestors.  Mesopotamia had
phonetic writing by 2800 BC.  According to the genealogy in Genesis 5, Noah was born only 126 years after the death of Adam.
Notice the reference to the great flood.

This inscription was dated by the
scribe who recorded it.  In years we use
today, it was inscribed in the early
2100s BC.        

It is also known as the “Weld-Blundell
Prism,” featuring a well-preserved
version of the Sumerian King List.''

It is housed at the Ashmoleon Museum
in Oxford, England.
2000 BC        ABRAHAM was nine generations from Noah and lived around 2000 BC.  He certainly had copies of his earliest ancestors.  Two
cities were apparently named after Abraham’s brothers (Genesis 11:26, 32 and 24:10), so the family was quite influential.  Abraham was fairly
wealthy himself.  In fact, he had his own army and fought against kings (see Genesis 14 in the Bible).  Therefore, we can safely say that
Abraham was both powerful and educated and made sure his family was.  

Fifty miles north of Ur where Abraham grew up, archaeologists found in Legash more inscriptions than any other city in early Mesopotamia.  
About 100 miles north of Ur was Accad where a library of 30,000 tablets were unearthed.  Near there was Nippur where 50,000 tablets were
discovered, and among them a library of 20,000 writings.  All were dated around the time of Abraham and before.  Of course, writings have been
discovered in Ur also, as it was a very cultured city.  All of this testifies to the fact that writing did exist in Abraham’s time.  Important stories,
beliefs and genealogies were carved in stone.  Abraham’s ancestry and stories must have been carved similarly.  He would have had the money
to hire a scribe and the education to read it.  Noah's son, Shem, lived for 75 years after Abraham moved and settled in Canaan (Palestine).
This clay tablet is from the reign of UR-
Nammu, 21st century BC.  

It is an "Urnammu Hymn", one of a
group of texts that are composed in
the voice of king Ur Nammu.  It also
includes the king’s ancestry.

The text recorded in this tablet is
known as TCL (Textes Cuneiformes du
Louvre) 15 12, and is in the Louvre in
Paris France ~ Louvre, AO (Antiquités
orientales) 5378.
1800 BC        JOSEPH lived around 1800 BC.  He was a great grandson of Abraham and 22 generations from Adam.  He became the
equivalent of Prime Minister of Egypt (Genesis 41:39-41).  Before this, he was in charge of the household of the captain of Pharaoh’s guard
(Genesis 39:1,5f).  He had to know how to write and use mathematics to keep account of income from the fields and expenditures.  When
Joseph’s father came to Egypt to live, he surely brought the records of his ancestors with him.  It was important to prove one’s ancestry.  

According to the Egyptian Scribe Department of Andrews University, “All high-ranking people had scribal careers in officialdom, military or
priesthood; kings too were literate…Such people had surpassed the level of achievement at which writing was the main occupation [being a
scribe]” (  

Even before the time of Abraham, Papyrus had been invented in Egypt.  Papyrus was made from a plant grown in abundance in Egypt.  From
it comes the English word for paper.  The oldest written papyrus known to be in existence is, according to Kenyon (The Paleography of Greek
Papyri, Oxford, 1899), an account-sheet belonging to the reign of the Egyptian king Assa around 2600 B.C.  The alphabet is believed by
archaeologists to have begun in ancient Egypt.  By 2500 BC, Egyptians had developed a set of some 22 hieroglyphs to represent the
individual consonants of their language.  

Whether Abraham’s family record was on stone or papyrus, perhaps Joseph transferred it to papyrus where he could easily add the extensive
account he gave of his own life.  The earliest history between Adam and Noah takes up 11 of the 50 chapters of Genesis.  The accounts of
Abraham through Joseph takes up 39 of the 50 chapters of Genesis, nearly 80% of Genesis.  
This is part of an Egyptian scroll called the Kahun
Papyrus which dates back to the time of Joseph.  

The entire collection covers mathematical,
medical, business and veterinary papers as well
as hymns to the pharaoh.  

It was found at El-Lahun by Sir Flinders Petrie in
1889.  They are kept at the University College in
London, England.
1400 BC        Moses lived in Egypt around 1400 BC.  He was raised as a step-grandson of Pharaoh himself ( Exodus 2:1-11).  Elsewhere,
the Bible (Acts 7:20-22) says “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action”.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East explains, “By the second millennium BC…Mesopotamia and Egypt had established a
code of ethics for the professional scribe.”  Colophons contained the names of the scribe and the owner of the tablet, the date, the source of
the original from which the tablet was copied, the number of lines, and so forth.  Very often the scribe added:  “According to its original, it was
written and checked.”  This line and word counting can be seen at the end of all manuscripts, whether stone, papyrus or leather, from then on.  
After Moses led the children (descendants) of Israel (AKA Jacob, grandson of Abraham) out of Egypt, he spent forty days on Mount Sinai
receiving the over 600 laws in what became known as the Law of Moses.  It is found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy of the
Bible.  It was also on the mountain that he received the Ten Commandments engraved on stone (Exodus 34:27-28).  

What happened to those 600 Laws of Moses?  In Deuteronomy 1:9-18, Moses said he appointed officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and
tens to help him judge the people.  The Hebrew word for “officer” is often translated here and elsewhere in the Bible as “one who writes or
records” or “an official who assisted the judge in secretarial work”.    These officials knew how to write and even make their own copies of the
Law of Moses.

During the forty years that Moses led the Israelites, he recorded legal matters in Exodus 24:4, 7 and 34:27f, and in Deuteronomy 31:24-26.  
He recorded a song (see Deuteronomy 31:22), and the movements of the Israelites from place to place during all those years (see Numbers
33:2).  Sometimes the Bible says he wrote in a book.  The word translated “book” comes from the Hebrew “sepher” also sometimes translated
register, letter, scroll.  Apparently the Law of Moses was written on both papyri and stone.

Near the end of Moses’ life he commanded, “Obey all the commands that I give you today. You will soon go across the Jordan River into the
land that the Lord your God is giving you. On that day, you must put up large stones. Cover those stones with plaster.  Then write on those
stones all these commands and teachings. You must do this when you go across the Jordan River. Then you may go into the land that the
Lord your God is giving you—a land filled with many good things.  The Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised to give you this land. After
you go across the Jordan River, you must do the things I command you today. You must set up the stones on Mount Ebal. You must cover
these stones with plaster”.

                                                                       Was it possible to fit over 600 laws onto stones?  The Code of Hammurabi consisted
of                                                                             nearly 300 laws.  It also included a long prologue and epilogue.  Read the entire code at
All of the nearly 300 laws fit onto this 7-foot stele which also includes
images at the top.  So about five feet of it holds the Code of

Since Moses and Joshua both ordered that the Law of Moses be
carved onto several stones, we can see they would have fit.

(This stele is on display in the Louvre in Paris, France.)
1300 BC        Joshua lived around 1300 BC.   He was Moses’ successor in leading the Israelites into their new land of Israel.  After Moses’
death,  Joshua made copies of the Law of Moses to give the elders of the people.  In Joshua 8:32-35 is this:   

In that place Joshua wrote the Law of Moses on stones. He did this for all the people of Israel to see.  The elders (leaders), officers, judges,
and all the people of Israel were standing around the Holy Box. They were standing in front of the Levite priests who carried the Holy Box for
the Lord’s Agreement. The people of Israel and the other people with them were all standing there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount
Ebal and the other half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim. The Lord’s servant Moses had told the people to do this. Moses told
them to do this for this blessing. Then Joshua read all the words from the law. Joshua read the blessings and the curses. He read everything
the way it was written in the Book of the Law. All the people of Israel were gathered together there. All the women and children and all the
foreigners that lived with the people of Israel were there. And  Joshua read every command that Moses had given.
Joshua added to the Old Testament, as explained in Joshua 24:26.

Although the Israelites were ruled by supreme judges for a long time, Moses had known
that eventually they would want a king.  So it was stipulated from the very beginning in
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 that the king would have his own copy of the Law of Moses.  
The original was always kept and guarded by the priests and Levites.

“And when the king begins to rule, he must write a copy of the law for himself in a book.
He must make that copy from the books that the priests and Levites keep. The king
must keep that book with him. He must read from that book all his life. Why? Because
the king must learn to respect the Lord his God. And the king must learn to completely
obey everything the law commands. Then the king will not think that he is better than
any of his own people. And he will not turn away from the law, but he will follow it
exactly.  Then that king and his descendants will rule the kingdom of Israel a long time.

Note that the Law of Moses was guarded and copied through each generation.  The
scribes had their code of ethics as testified by other major writings of the time, where
they counted the words and lines to make sure they remained true to the original.
  Between the time the Israelites settled in their new “Promised Land” and the time the prophets wrote in the Old Testament, the books of
Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles were written and added.   There was no reason to change any of this history.  Ultimately, the history
showed us one thing:  Even with laws of God written down, people could not be perfect.  This was necessary to get the world ready for Jesus
coming to be a final sacrifice for mankind’s sins and set us free.

1000 BC        King David lived and wrote the Psalms around 1000 BC.  Many times he referred to having the Word of God, the Law of God,
the Decrees of God, the Precepts of God.  Here are some of the chapters that do so:  1, 19, 37, 48, 78, 89, 94, 105, 119, etc.  In fact, he
dedicated all 176 verses of chapter 119 to this theme.  It begins like this:  
People living pure lives are happy. Those people follow the Lord’s teachings. People who
obey the Lord’s Agreement are happy. They obey the Lord with all their heart. Those people
don’t do bad things. They obey the Lord. Lord, you gave us your commands. And you told us
to obey those commands completely. If I always obey your laws, Lord, then I will never be
ashamed when I study your commands. Then I could truly honor you as I study your fairness
and goodness. Lord, I will obey your commands.

How did he know what God’s commands were?  They had been written down.  Who originated
them?  Moses.  David acknowledged Moses as the writer of the law.

Psalm 77:15, 20 -
With your power you saved your people.  You saved the descendants of
Jacob and Joseph.  You used Moses and Aaron to lead  your people like sheep.
Psalm 99:6 - Moses and Aaron were some of his priests.  And Samuel was one of the men
who called on his name.
Psalm 103:7 -
God taught his laws to Moses. God let Israel see the powerful things he can do!
Psalm 105:9, 10, 17, 23, 26 - God made an Agreement with Abraham.  God made a promise
to Isaac…. Then he made it a law for Jacob… But God sent a man named Joseph to go
ahead of them…Then Israel came to Egypt.  Jacob lived in Ham’s country… God used Moses
and  Aaron to do many miracles.
(Chapters 105 and 106 summarize Genesis and Exodus.)
700 BC        ISAIAH wrote the first of many prophecies around 700 BC.  The prophetic books were written at the same time as various events
in the history books of the Old Testament.  There are 17 prophetic books in all, covering a span of about 700 BC to 400 BC.

590 BC        Eventually, the Israelites were taken as captives to other countries in exile.   Among those taken to Babylon was a priest named
Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:2-3).  He likely took copies of the scriptures with him.  This occurred around 590 BC.  He also wrote the words of God in the
book named after him.

Babylon was later taken over by Media and Persia.  Daniel, what we would call Prime Minister of Babylon and then Persia, had access to the
scriptures.  Daniel 9:1-2 says,
These things happened during the first year that Darius was king. Darius was the son
of a man named Ahasuerus.  Darius belonged to the Median people. He became king
over Babylon.  

During the first year that Darius was king, I, Daniel, was reading some books
{scriptures}. In the books, I saw that the Lord told Jeremiah how many years would
pass before Jerusalem would be built again. The Lord said 70 years would pass.
520 BC        Around 520 BC, the Israelites were finally allowed to return to their homeland by King Darius.  Prophet EZRA led them and wrote
about it.  After getting settled, some priests rebuilt the alter of sacrifice on the grounds of the now demolished temple in accordance with what is
written in the Law of Moses (Ezra3:2-5).

Those people built the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer sacrifices on it. They built it just like it says in the Law of Moses. Moses was
God’s special servant…They built the altar on its old foundation and offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord. They offered those sacrifices in
the morning and in the evening. Then they celebrated the Festival of Shelters just like the Law {of Moses} said. They offered the  right number
of burnt offerings for each day of the festival. After that, they began offering the continual burnt offerings each day, the offerings for the New
Moon, and for all the other festivals and holidays that were commanded by the Lord.

Ezra also played a major role in the events in Nehemiah (see below).  Ezra and Nehemiah were the last books written in what we call the Old

450 BC        Around 450 BC, the Israelites still had copies of the scriptures.  After rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, they rebuilt the city
walls.  That completed, there was a public reading of the entire Law of Moses which still existed.  Read Nehemiah chapters 8 and 9:
Ezra read in a loud voice from the Book of the Law from early morning until noon…He read to
all the men and women, and to everyone old enough to listen and understand. All the people
listened carefully and
paid attention to the Book of the Law. Ezra stood on a high wooden
stage. It had been built just for this special time….

So Ezra
opened the book. All the people could see Ezra because he was standing above
them on the high stage. And as Ezra opened the
Book of the Law, all the people stood up.  

These men from the family group of Levi t
aught the people about the Law as they were all
standing there….Those Levites
read the Book of the Law of God. They made it easy to
understand, and explained what it meant. They did this so the people could understand what
was being read. The leaders of all the families went to meet with Ezra, the priests, and the
Levites. They all gathered around Ezra the teacher to
study the words of the Law.  

Ezra read to them from the Book of the Law every day of the festival. Ezra read the Law to
them from the first day of the festival to the last day. The people of Israel celebrated the
festival for seven days. Then on the eighth day the people met together for a special meeting,
like the Law says….
Then on the 24th day of that same month, the people of Israel gathered together for a day of fasting…. They stood there for about three
hours, and the people
read the Book of the Law of the Lord their God. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and bowed down
to worship the Lord their God.

Later, when the protective wall around Jerusalem was finally completed, they had a dedication ceremony.  Nehemiah 13:1a reports,  On that
day, the
Book of Moses was read out loud so all the people could hear.

Yes, after 1000 years, the Jews still had the Law of Moses and were keeping it in the same way that people did in the days of Moses.  BUT

We have already proven the accuracy of the New Testament (
LINK).  Many references were made to events in Genesis and the books which
give both further history and the Law of Moses (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).  These five books are sometimes called the
Penteteuch, “pente” representing the number five.  Total number of times these five books are quoted in the New Testament:  At least 101!  
Another nearly 200 times the rest of the Old Testament was quoted in the New Testament.

What was quoted in the first century AD is the same that we have had handed down to us going back to the beginning of Genesis around 4000
BC or earlier.  This is no accident!  This was the Power of Almighty God!

How do we know that what the prophets wrote and events surrounding their writing during all this time was what God actually said?  Once
again, we can go to the New Testament which has been proven to be correct.  Some 300 times, the history and prophecies of the Old
Testament were quoted in the New Testament.  These quotes are the same as that handed down to us from the Hebrew of the Old Testament.

There are archaeological evidences which prove the accuracy of the history in the Old and New Testament.  (LINK)
There are prophecies of entire nations fulfilled which prove the accuracy of the prophets.  (
The life of Jesus was prophesied in details hundreds of years before his birth.  (

285 BC        By this time, more people could understand Greek than Hebrew.  Alexander the Great was responsible for much of this
transition as he gradually conquered most of the then-known-world.  At this time in Alexandria, Egypt, 70 Hebrew scholars from Jerusalem
gathered in Alexandria and translated the Old Testament books into Greek.  The translation was called the Septuagint, standing for the 70
who did the translating.  It was in much use by the first-century AD.

Today we still have parts of the Septuagint written out, dating back to 200 BC, less than fifty years after the original Septuagint was created.  

150 BC        The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered near Qumran in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.  They were
inscribed between 150 and 100 BC.  Over 825 full manuscripts, and 40,000 inscribed fragments were stored inside these caves in clay jars.  
The jars and dry climate in the caves kept them preserved all those centuries.  

They were apparently the library of the Essenes who lived at Qumran between 200 BC and 68 AD.  When the Roman army marched against
them during the first Jewish revolt, they apparently hid the scrolls in the caves.  The Essene community was destroyed, but the scrolls survived
up to today.

The impressive scroll BELOW is a collection of psalms and hymns, comprising parts of forty-one biblical Psalms of
David (chiefly chapters 101-150)

It was found in 1956 in Cave 11.   Its surface is the thickest of any of the scrolls--it may be of calfskin rather than
sheepskin, which was the more common writing material at Qumran. The script is on the grain side of the skin.

In possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
BELOW is a portion of Leviticus chapters 22-27 in the Old Testament.  . Leviticus is one of the major books listing in
detail many of the Laws of Moses.  

It was found in 1956 in Cave 11.  It expounds laws of sacrifice, atonement, and holiness.It is a total of 39-1/2 inches
(100.2 cm) long.

The Leviticus Scroll was written in an ancient Hebrew script often referred to as paleo-Hebrew.  The text was penned
on the grain side of a sheep skin.
This is a section of the Book of Isaiah the
prophet, who prophesied both the future
captivity of the Israelites, and a far future
eternal king.

Both this and the Leviticus scroll above are in
possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
 The Dead Sea Scrolls include every book in the Old Testament in whole or in part except the book of Esther.

They were discovered in 1947, long after translations of the Old Testament had been made in numerous world languages.  How accurate
were these translations?  When the writings of the prophet Isaiah as we have it today was compared with the Qumran scroll, it was 95%
identical word for word.  

The word “Soferim” is Hebrew for a Hebrew treatise dealing with rules relating to writing and reading the Law of Moses (Torah) and
subsequently used as a code of ethics for copying other parts of the Old Testament.  The Rabbinic code included rules for copying for
scribes.  Originally, all copies were based on those written down by Moses himself and stored in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple in
Jerusalem.  After the destruction of the Temple, it is believed that Ezra, by inspiration, recreated them a thousand years later in their original
form.  Scribes were required to count each letter and word and line.  Their copies of the originals had to duplicate exactly word for word and
line for line
Rabbi David Lichtman explains this about
the accuracy of scribal copying practices
and sites ancient references.  

The Rambam writes (Hil. Sefewr Torah 7:
11) that if one letyter is added to or
missing from a Torah [copy], it is
invalidated and is not conferred the
sanctity of a Torah scroll….

Special mechanisms were established by
the Sages to ensure its accurate
transmission through the generations
(see, for example, Megilah 18b; YD
#274). From the wording of the ambam, it
appears that this is true even if the wanton letter does not affect the meaning of the word. This is also the ruling of the Tikunei ha'Zohar (#25),
Ramban end of Introduction to the Torah, Magen Avraham and Vilna Gaon OC 143:4, Sha'agat Aryeh (#36), Chatam Sofer (OC #52), in
contrast to Minchat Chinuch's ruling (#613) that a missing or additional letter does not invalidate a Torah scroll unless it affects either a word's
pronunciation or its literal or exegetical meaning.) Originally, the Torah was so well preserved that every letter was counted (Kiddushin 30a),
which is why the early scribes were given the title "Soferim" ("Counters/Scribes")…. its margin of error appears to be less than .00004, and to
involve only insignificant letters at that.
The long room on the left of this building
located at Qumran is called the Scriptorium.  

The remains of benches used by the scribes
were found here.  Also, some ink wells were
found here.  They are both now in museums.  
See below.
Dr. Emmanuel Tov, renoun author of many books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, both the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew, and world-wide leader
in his field, wrote this:  

In the case of the scribes copying biblical texts, precision is a conditio sine qua non according to rabbinic sources.  This precision is reflected in
the dictum in b. Qidd. 30a:  “The ancients were called soferim because they counted (saferu) every letter in the Torah.”  The meticulous care in
the transmission of MT is also reflected in the words of R. Ishmael:  “My son, be careful because your work is the work of heaven; should you
omit even one letter or add even one letter, the whole world would be destroyed” (b.Sotz. 20a)….

Scribes imitated the column layout of his Vorlage [original] in such a way that the words in the copy would occur in exactly the same position as
in the original.  
In order to accomplish this, scribes had to use writing surfaces the same size as the originals.
Elsewhere in his book, Tov explains regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, It stands to reason that literary texts were copied from written Voirlagen
[originals].  There is no reason to assume that scribes who knew their biblical texts well wrote them from memory.  Indeed, according to the
prescriptions in rabbinic literature, scribes were forbidden to copy scripture without a text in front of them, even if they knew the whole Bible by
heart, in order to secure precision in copying.

This is from his 325-page book, Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts Found in the Judean Desert.

All the evidences explained above work together to show that there were means to write and maintain original records, even
several thousands of years ago.   Further proofs are seen in existing papyri and quotations of other proven papyri.

Manuscripts in the Dead Sea Scrolls are dated within two centuries of the last Hebrew original.  Moreover, fragments of the
Septuagint are dated within fifty years of the original.  The Old Testament today is essentially the same as the original.