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I examined the archaeological evidence in my article in Bible and Spade and found that this evidence did not line up with the Biblical record (Franz 2000:107-111).  One Saudi archaeologist was very helpful in explaining what the archaeological sites actually were. I stated in my article that Biblical scholarship ought to wait for an archaeological publication of the material. I am pleased to announce that an archaeological report of the surveys and excavations in the al-Bad’ area, with a special chapter on Jebel al-Lawz, is “in press” and will be out “shortly”. My Saudi friend promised me the first copy off the press!

My original article elicited an interesting exchange of letters with the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz. One proponent considered the evidence I put forth as the “Muslim position / interpretation” (Letter from Cornuke, May 30, 2001). Another proponent “discounted the Saudi archaeologists’ objectivity” because they were Moslems (Letter from Durham, Sept. 7, 2001, p. 20, see also pp. 1-5). These proponents want to take the archaeological evidence out of the realm of science and scientific investigation and placing it in the realm of religion. One went so far as to suggest that if the Saudis found anything that might relate to the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites they would follow the example of the Talibans in Afghanistan and destroy the evidence! (Letter from Durham, Sept. 7, 2001, p. 2). I was shocked and appalled that he would even suggest such a thing. Saudi Arabia is a member of ICOMOS, the International Council of Monuments and Sites. This is an “international non-governmental organization of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of [the] world’s historic monuments and sites.”  Afghanistan is not a member. If the Saudis found anything of interest, they would do what they have done to over 300 other sites in Saudi Arabia. They would fence them in to protect them, not destroy them! A Saudi archaeologist recently took an Australian archaeologist to the rock art site of Jubbah in northern Saudi Arabia where they had fenced in the site with 5 km of fence. The Australian was surprised to see this fence and commented that no other country has gone to such great length to fence in an area!

While I agree with the stated view of the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz that the Bible should interpret the archaeological finds, my conclusion is that in some instances, it is obvious they have not followed their own principles. For example, the so-called “altar of the golden calf” is made up of huge boulders. The Bible clearly states that Aaron built the altar (Ex. 32:5). Yet the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz reconstruct an elaborate scenario whereby the Israelites lifted these heavy boulders into place because they had done heavy manual labor in Egypt. This scenario goes contrary to the Scriptures; Aaron built the altar, not the Israelites. These boulders contain petroglyphs of bovine which the proponents claim is the Egyptian deities Hathor or Apis. Jeff Harrison reports in the video of the proponents that he saw other kinds of animals as well (). If that is the case, then an explanation for why they are there must be given. An ibex can be clearly seen in a picture in one of their books (Williams 1990: plate 14). Yet more telling is the fact that Moses destroyed the golden calf because it was an idol. If this was the altar, why didn’t he remove the petroglyphs as well, after all, they represent graven images! A Saudi archaeologist who did his doctoral dissertation on the petroglyphs in Saudi Arabia informed me that the bovine dated to the Neolithic period, considerably earlier than the Exodus and Wilderness Wanderings. The archaeological evidence goes contrary to the Biblical records and must be rejected.

One claim I have heard from people who have heard the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz is that this “altar” with the bovine petroglyphs is the only one in the area. I was informed by the Saudi archaeologist who did the survey of the area that there were about 300 rock art sites in the northwest Saudi Arabia and about 50 rock art sites with bovine in the al-Bad’ / Jebel al-Lawz area. If they were drawn by Israelites, then Hebrew graffiti artists drew them as they roamed the desert drawing what the Lord had forbidden them to make!

Earlier AFP reported, citing eyewitnesses, that at least two airstrikes targeted the defense ministry building in the rebel-controlled areas of the Yemeni capital. Coalition aircraft still flew over Sana’a following the strikes, the witnesses added.

Escalation in fighting and Saudi-led coalition blockade restrictions contribute to increasing misery in war-torn country 


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