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Many of the people mentioned in the Bible are confirmed in sources outside the Bible. In the case of royalty, many times a likeness of the individual has been recovered. Over 50 persons named in the Old Testament are known outside the Bible, and we have likenesses of 12 of them. Some 27 people named in the New Testament are known from other records, with six likenesses surviving (four of them Roman emperors).
Based on current knowledge of Biblical and Egyptian chronology, the best candidate for the pharaoh of the Exodus is Tuthmosis III, who ruled 1504-1450 B.C. We have many records from his reign, as well as this statuary (see photo) of the pharaoh himself.
Likenesses have also been found of these Biblical figures:
- Shishak, the Egyptian king who plundered the Temple during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-26).
- Jehu, king of Israel, who took power in a bloody coup; the only surviving likeness of a king of Israel or Judah (2 Kings 9:1-10:36).
- Hazael, king of Aram, enemy of Israel (1 Kings 19:15, 17; 2 Kings 8:7-15, 28-29; 9:14-15; 10:32-33; 12:17-18; 13:3, 22, 24,25; Amos 1:4).
- Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, who invaded Israel (2 Kings 18:19, 29; 16:7, 10; 1 Chronicles 5:6, 26; 2 Chronicles 28:20).
- Sargon II, king of Assyria, who defeated Ashdod and completed the siege of Samaria and took Israelites into captivity (Isaiah 20:1).
- Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who attacked Judah but was unable to capture Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-19:37).
- Tirhakah, king of Egypt, who opposed Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:9).
- Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who succeeded his father Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37).
- Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon, whose messengers Hezekiah showed the royal treasury, much to the indignation of Isaiah (2 Kings 20:12-19).
- Xerxes I, king of Persia, who made Esther his queen (Esther; Ezra 4:6).
- Darius I, king of Persia, who allowed the returning exiles to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:24-6:15; Haggai 1:1, 15). Also see: Have archaeologists found the tomb of Darius? [answer]
- Augustus, Roman emperor, 27 B.C.-A.D. 14, when Jesus was born (Luke 2:1).
- Tiberius, Roman emperor, A.D. 14-37, during Jesus' adulthood and crucifixion (Matthew 22:17, 21; Mark 12:14-17; Luke 3:1; 20:22-25; 23:2; John 19:12,15).
- Claudius, Roman emperor, A.D. 41-54, who ordered the Jews to leave Rome (Acts 11:28; 17:7; 18:2).
- Herod Agrippa I, ruler of Judea, A.D. 37-44, who persecuted the early church (Acts 12:1-23; 23:35).
- Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans, 9 B.C.-A.D. 40, whose governor in Damascus attempted to arrest Paul (2 Corinthians 11:32).
- Nero (referred to as Caesar in the New Testament), Roman emperor, A.D. 54-68, who Paul appealed to (Acts 25:11,12,21; 26:32; 28:19; Philippians 4:22).
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Author: Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research
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