Scientists have reconstructed biblical events based on the changes in the Earth’s magnetic field

(ORDO NEWS) — The Earth’s magnetic field is not constant. Reversals, when it suddenly changes direction, are an important tool in dating geological events.

Now, some researchers claim they can use even short-term changes in field strength to accurately date the destruction of cities, and then use those dates to test the biblical narratives.

2 Samuel is not one of the most widely read or well-known parts of the Bible, but the battles it describes are of considerable interest to historians.

After all, they are far more believable than the stories in the earlier books, even if the victories are attributed to divine intervention.

In the course of archaeological excavations, scientists were able to compare a number of places with cities (villages by modern standards), which are mentioned in the Bible as being destroyed by various hostile neighbors.

In a new study, Tel Aviv University doctoral student Yoav Vaknin and his co-authors show that the destruction of these cities fits the biblical narratives.

When magnetic substances become hot enough, they retain a local magnetic field as they cool. Today, this magnetic field is often provided by power lines or other artificial sources, but three millennia ago, the Earth’s magnetic field was almost the only game in town.

Thus, when armies loot burnt cities, the layer of ash that marks their “destruction zone” carries a record of the intensity as well as the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field at that time.

“Based on the similarity or difference in the intensity and direction of the magnetic field, we can either confirm or disprove the hypotheses that certain objects were burned during the same military campaign,” Vaknin explained.

The field changed unusually quickly in this region 3000-2600 years ago, sometimes rising to more than double its current intensity, making the process easier.

The Bible says that the Philistine city of Gath, just outside of Judea, was destroyed by Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus.

Archaeologists believe that the city of Tell es-Safi in what is now central Israel is the remnants of Gath and was burned around 830 BC.

The Bible also blames Hazael for the fall of three other cities, believed to be now known as Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit, and Horvat Tevet.

Vaknin and his co-authors cannot pin the blame on any one person, but they claim to have shown that the magnetic field was the same when Gath and the other cities burned, indicating that it probably happened on the same year.

On the other hand, the destruction of Tel Bet Shean (now northern Israel) is also attributed by some modern scholars to Hazael.

However, the data of Vaknin suggest that the decline of this city occurred 70-100 years after the death of Gath, when Hazael was already dead for sure.

The fall of Tel Bet Shean coincides with the campaign of Pharaoh Shoshenq to the lands east of the Mediterranean Sea.

The work also supports the theory that parts of the kingdom of Judah survived after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem.

Cities in the Negev, the southern Judean mountains, and the southern foothills of Judea have remained almost intact, and the results of the study now confirm this.

These cities fell decades later, and the authors attribute their destruction to the Edomites, not the Babylonians.

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