Extrabiblical evidence of 83 people in the Bible
Did you know that ancient history and archaeology have confirmed the existence of 83 people mentioned in the Bible? In articles in the Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk presented documentary evidence of this (see References).
These include Israelite kings and Mesopotamian monarchs as well as lesser-known figures. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.
This list excludes persons in two categories. The first category includes those about whom we know so little (from the Biblical record) that we cannot identify them with anyone named in an inscription. The second category includes identifications that do not come to us from archaeology (such as the writings in the first century AD of Flavius Josephus, see Appendix).
|Name||Date (BC)||Bible reference||Confirmation|
|1||Shishak (= Sheshonq I), pharaoh||945–924||1 Kings 11:40, etc.||Inscription on temple wall|
|2||So (= Osorkon IV), pharaoh||730–715||2 Kings 17:4||Engravings on walls and stela|
|3||Tirhakah (= Taharqa), pharaoh||690–664||2 Kings 19:9, etc.||Many Egyptian inscriptions|
|4||Necho II (= Neco II), pharaoh||610–595||2 Chronicles 35:20, etc.||Assyrian inscriptions|
|5||Hophra (= Apries), pharaoh||589–570||Jeremiah 44:30||Egyptian and Babylonian inscriptions|
|6||Mesha, king||early to mid-ninth century||2 Kings 3:4–27||Mesha Inscription|
|7||Hadadezer, king||early ninth century to 844/842||1 Kings 11:23, etc.||Assyrian inscriptions|
|8||Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer, king||844/842||2 Kings 6:24, etc.||Melqart stele|
|9||Hazael, king||844/842–c. 800||1 Kings 19:15, etc.||Zakkur stele|
|10||Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, king||early eighth century||2 Kings 13:3, etc.||Zakkur stele|
|11||Rezin, king||mid-eighth century to 732||2 Kings 15:37, etc.||Tiglath-pileser Ⅲ stele|
|Northern Kingdom of Israel|
|12||Omri, king||884–873||1 Kings 16:16, etc.||Assyrian and Misha inscriptions|
|13||Ahab, king||873–852||1 Kings 16:28, etc.||Kurkh Monolith inscription|
|14||Jehu, king||842/841–815/814||1 Kings 19:16, etc.||Many Assyrian inscriptions|
|15||Joash (= Jehoash), king||805–790||2 Kings 13:9, etc.||A Stella of Adad-Nirari Ⅲ|
|16||Jeroboam II, king||790–750/749||2 Kings 13:13, etc.||Seal of his servant Shema|
|17||Menahem, king||749–738||2 Kings 15:14, etc.||Calah annals of Tiglath-pileser Ⅲ|
|18||Pekah, king||750(?)–732/731||2 Kings 15:25, etc.||Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser Ⅲ|
|19||Hoshea, king||732/731–722||2 Kings 15:30, etc.||Tiglath-pileser’s Summary Inscription 4|
|20||Sanballat “I”, governor of Samaria under Persian rule||c. mid-fifth century||Nehemiah 2:10, etc.||Elephantine letter|
|Southern Kingdom of Judah|
|21||David, king||c. 1010–970||1 Samuel 16:13, etc.||House of David and Mesha inscriptions|
|22||Uzziah (= Azariah), king||788/787–736/735||2 Kings 14:21, etc.||Seals of two of his servants|
|23||Ahaz (= Jehoahaz), king||742/741–726||2 Kings 15:38, etc.||Tiglath-pileser’s Summary Inscription 4|
|24||Hezekiah, king||726–697/696||2 Kings 16:20, etc.||Rassam Cylinder of Sennacherib|
|25||Manasseh, king||697/696–642/641||2 Kings 20:21, etc.||Inscription of Syrian kings|
|26||Hilkiah, high priest during Josiah’s reign||within 640/639–609||2 Kings 22:4, etc.||clay Judahite bullae|
|27||Shaphan, scribe during Josiah’s reign||within 640/639–609||2 Kings 22:3, etc.||City of David bulla|
|28||Azariah, high priest during Josiah’s reign||within 640/639–609||1 Chronicles 5:39, etc.||City of David bulla|
|29||Gemariah, official during Jehoiakim’s reign||within 609–598||Jeremiah 36:10, etc.||City of David bulla|
|30||Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah), king||598–597||2 Kings 24:6, etc.||Four Babylonian tablets|
|31||Shelemiah, father of Jehucal the royal official||late seventh century||Jeremiah 37:3, 38:1||Clay bulla|
|32||Jehucal (= Jucal), official during Zedekiah’s reign||within 597–586||Jeremiah 37:3, 38:1||Clay bulla|
|33||Pashhur, father of Gedaliah the royal official||late seventh century||Jeremiah 38:1||Clay bulla|
|34||Gedaliah, official during Zedekiah’s reign||within 597–586||Jeremiah 38:1||Clay bulla|
|35||Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul), king||744–727||2 Kings 15:19, etc.||Aramaic monumental inscription|
|36||Shalmaneser V, king||726–722||2 Kings 17:3, etc.||Neo-Babylonian Chronicle|
|37||Sargon II, king||721–705||Isaiah 20:1||Assyrian Text|
|38||Sennacherib, king||704–681||2 Kings 18:13, etc.||Many inscriptions including his own|
|39||Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu), son and assassin of Sennacherib||early seventh century||2 Kings 19:37, etc.||Assyrian letter|
|40||Esarhaddon, king||680–669||2 Kings 19:37, etc.||Many cuneiform inscriptions|
|41||Merodach-baladan II, king||721–710 and 703||2 Kings 20:12, etc.||Inscriptions Neo-Babylonian Chronicles|
|42||Nebuchadnezzar II, king||604–562||2 Kings 24:1, etc.||The Neo-Babylonian Chronicle Series|
|43||Nebo-sarsekim, official of Nebuchadnezzar II||early sixth century||Jeremiah 39:3||Babylonian clay tablet BM 114789|
|44||Nergal-sharezer, officer of Nebuchadnezzar II||early sixth century||Jeremiah 39:3||Babylonian cuneiform inscription|
|45||Nebuzaradan, a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II||early sixth century||2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc.||Nebuchadnezzar Ⅱ’s Prism|
|46||Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk = Amel Marduk), king||561–560||2 Kings 25:27, etc.||Various inscriptions|
|47||Belshazzar, son and co-regent of Nabonidus||c. 543?–540||Daniel 5:1, etc.||Babylonian document; Verse Account|
|48||Cyrus II (= Cyrus the Great), king||559–530||2 Chronicles 36:22, etc.||Various inscriptions including his own|
|49||Darius I (= Darius the Great), king||520-486||Ezra 4:5, etc.||Various inscriptions including his own|
|50||Tattenai, provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates||late sixth to early fifth century||Ezra 5:3, etc.||Darius Tablet|
|51||Xerxes I (= Ahasuerus), king||486–465||Esther 1:1, etc.||Various inscriptions including his own|
|52||Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king||465-425/424||Ezra 4:7, etc.||Various inscriptions including his own|
|53||Darius II Nothus, king||425/424-405/404||Nehemiah 12:22||Various inscriptions including his own|
These include Roman Emperors, members of the Herodian family, and Roman governors. These political figures are mentioned in extra-biblical writings and some of their names appear in inscriptions (normally on hard objects, such as potsherds) and on coins.
|Name||Who was he or she?||When did they rule?||Where in the New Testament?||Evidence in historical writings||Evidence in inscriptions|
|2||Tiberius||Roman Emperor||14–37 C.E.||Luke 3:1||Numerous||Numerous|
|3||Claudius||Roman Emperor||41–54 C.E.||Acts 11:28; 18:2||Numerous||Numerous|
|4||Nero||Roman Emperor||54–68 C.E.||Acts 25–26; 28:19||Numerous||Numerous|
|Rome’s King of the Jews over all of Palestine.||37–4 B.C.E.||Matthew 2:1; Luke 1:5||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|6||Herod Archelaus||Oldest son of Herod the Great. Ethnarch of Judea, Samaria and Idumea.||4 B.C.E.–
|Matthew 2:22||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|7||Herod Antipas||Son of Herod the Great; second husband of Herodias. Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (Transjordan). He ordered the execution of John the Baptist.||4 B.C.E.–
|Luke 3:1; 13:31–32; 23:7–12; Mark 6:14; 6:16–28; 8:15||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|8||Herod Philip||Son of Herod the Great but not a ruler; Herodias’s uncle and first husband; father of their daughter Salome.||Matthew 14:3–4; Mark 6:17–18; Luke 3:19||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||(No coins because he was not a ruler)|
|9||Herodias||Granddaughter of Herod the Great; niece and wife of Herod Philip, mother of his daughter Salome; then Herod Antipas’s wife. She brought about the order to execute John the Baptist.||Mathew 14:2–11; Mark 6:17–28; Luke 3:19–20||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||(No coins because she was not a ruler)|
|10||Salome||Herodias’s daughter. Her dance led to the execution of John the Baptist. Grandniece and later wife of Philip the Tetrarch.||Matthew 14:3–12; Mark 6:17–29||Josephus, Antiquities||Coins of her second husband, Aristobulus, king of Chalcis|
|11||Philip the Tetrarch||Son of Herod the Great. Tetrarch of Trachonitis, Iturea and other northern portions of Palestine. Eventually husband of his grandniece Salome.||4 B.C.E.–
|Luke 3:1||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|12||Herod Agrippa I||Grandson of Herod the Great; brother of Herodias. King of Trachonitis, Batanea, gradually all of Palestine. Executed James the son of Zebedee and imprisoned Peter.||37–44 C.E.||Acts 12:1–6, 18–23||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|13||Herod Agrippa II||Son of Herod Agrippa I. Initially Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis, then also over parts of Galilee and Perea, Chalcis and northern territories. Festus appointed him to hear Paul’s defense.||50–
c. 93 C.E.
|Acts 25:13–26:32||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|14||Berenice/Bernice||Sister and companion of Herod Agrippa II, rumored lovers. Attended Paul’s trial before Festus.||Acts 25:13, 23; 26:30||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Inscription of King Herod Agrippa II in Beirut|
|15||Drusilla||Sister of Herodias and Herod Agrippa I; Jewish wife of Roman governor Felix.||Acts 24:24||Josephus, Antiquities||(No coins; not
|Roman Legate and Governors|
|16||Publius Sulpicius Quirinius
( = Cyrenius)
|Roman imperial legate brought in to govern Syria-Cilicia after Herod Archelaus’s rule led to rebellion.||6–9 C.E. and possibly earlier||Luke 2:2||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||The Lapis Venetus inscription discovered in Beirut|
|17||Pontius Pilate||Roman prefect of Judea who conducted Jesus’ trial and ordered his crucifixion.||26–36 C.E.||Matthew 27:11–26; Mark 15:1–15; Luke 3:1; 23:1–24; John 18:28–19:22||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars; Tacitus, Annals; Philo, De Legatione ad Gaium||Pilate Stone discovered at Caesarea Maritima; coins|
|18||Lucius Junius Gallio||Roman proconsul of Achaia who convened and dismissed the trial of Paul in Corinth.||c. 51–55 C.E.||Acts 18:12–17||Seneca, Letters; Tacitus, Annals||Stone inscription discovered in Delphi, Greece|
|19||Marcus Antonius Felix||Roman procurator of Judea who held initial hearings in the trial of the apostle Paul.||52–
c. 59 C.E.
|Acts 23; 24||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Coins|
|20||Porcius Festus||Roman procurator of Judea who conducted a hearing in the trial of Paul, during which Paul appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome.||59–62 C.E.||Acts 24:27–25:27; 26:24–32||Josephus, Antiquities||Coins|
|Independent Political Figures|
|21||Aretas IV||Arabian king of Nabatea. Father of Herod Antipas’s first wife, before Herodias.||9 B.C.E.–
|2 Corinthians 11:32||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||Inscriptions at Petra, etc.; coins|
|22||The unnamed Egyptian leader||His Jerusalem-area insurrection was suppressed by Roman procurator Felix.||Acts 21:38||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||(No coins because he was not a ruler)|
|23||Judas of Galilee||Led a rebellion against the census of Roman imperial legate Quirinius.||Acts 5:37||Josephus, Antiquities and Wars||(No coins because he was not a ruler)|
|Name||Name||Who Was He?||When Did He Flourish?||Where in the New Testament?||Evidence in Historical Writings|
|1||Jesus||Jewish preacher, healer, and teacher, called Christ; crucified by order of Pilate; then said to have risen||c. 27–30 C.E.||All NT books except Third John, but most often in the four Gospels||Tacitus, Annals;
Lucian of Samosata, Passing of Peregrinus;
Celsus, On the True Doctrine (via Origen, Against Celsus);
Pliny the Younger, Epistulae
|2||Gamaliel the Elder||Renowned Pharisee who rescued the apostles from the Sanhedrin||c. 20–c. 50 C.E.||Acts 5:34-39; 22:3||Mishnah: Orlah; Rosh ha-Shanah; Yebamoth; Sotah; Gittin; Josephus, Life|
|3||John the Baptist||Righteous Jewish preacher of repentance; beheaded by Herod Antipas||c. 26–29/30 C.E.||Matthew 3:1-15; 11:2-18; Mark 1:1-9; 6:14-29; Luke 1:5-23; 7:18-33; John 1:6-8, 19-37; 3:23-34; Acts 1:5; 13:24-25; etc.||Josephus, Antiquities|
|4||James, brother of Jesus||aka James the Just (not the son of Zebedee); brother of Jesus; a leader of the Jerusalem church; martyr||c. 30–62 C.E.||Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12||Josephus, Antiquities|
|5||Annas||Son of Seth; High priest and founder of a dynasty of high priests; first to interrogate Jesus||High priest 6–15 C.E.||Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 19-24; Acts 4:6||Josephus, Antiquities|
|6||Caiaphas||High priest during Jesus’s trial||High priest 18–36/37 C.E.||Matthew 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13-28; Acts 4:6||Josephus, Antiquities|
|7||Ananias||Son of Nebedaios; High priest during Paul’s trial||High priest 53–59 C.E.||Acts 23:2; Acts 24:1||Josephus, Antiquities and War|
Ancient history and archaeology have confirmed the existence of 83 people mentioned in the Bible. 53 of these are from the Old Testament and 30 from the New Testament. This means we have independent sources of evidence of the existence of these people that lived over 2,000 years ago. That’s amazing! It’s consistent with the Bible being historically accurate. And it supports the claim that the places mentioned in the Bible are real, the events were real and the people actually existed.
1. Mykytiuk, L. (2014). Archaeology confirms 50 real people in the Bible, Biblical Archaeology Review, 40(2), 42-45, 48-50.
2. Mykytiuk, L. (2017). Archaeology confirms 3 more Bible people, Biblical Archaeology Review, 43(3), 48-52.
3. Mykytiuk, L. (2017). New Testament political figures confirmed, Biblical Archaeology Review, 43(5), 50-59, 65.
4. Mykytiuk, L. (2021). New Testament Religious Figures Confirmed, Biblical Archaeology Review, 47(2), 38–47.
5. Bible History Daily, 30 people in the New Testament confirmed, May 2021.
Appendix: Josephus Flavius on the Old Testament
Josephus was a Jewish historian who lived AD 37-100. He was born in Jerusalem and died in Rome. Formerly a Jewish commander, he defected to the Roman side during the first Jewish-Roman war in around AD 67, and his history was written in Rome. He recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the first century AD. The principal value of Josephus’s work lies in his discussion of Jewish history from 100 BC through AD 100.
“Antiquities of the Jews” recounts the history of the world (from creation to AD66) from a Jewish perspective for a Roman audience. He says that he drew from and “interpreted out of the Hebrew Scriptures”. He retold the Old Testament with the addition of traditional stories. Josephus was not an eyewitness to most events in his works. His history is only as good as his sources. The early history in The Antiquities of the Jews is far removed from his own personal experience. We can only be sure of the details that coincide with Scripture, but the others are no more trustworthy than the traditions he relied upon.
Historians now generally agree that Josephus’s Antiquities were a propagandistic history. His paraphrasing of the narratives of the Old Testament was a creative adaptation aimed at presenting Jewish history as relevant, comprehensible and attractive to the Romans. Josephus was biased in favor of Judaism and he deliberately rewrote Old Testament narratives to provide a more flattering picture of Jewish heritage. While Josephus’s writings may not always be completely reliable his works can nonetheless be trusted to recreate a dramatic image of the Jewish people and the critical events in their history.
Posted, July 2021
Also see: Extrabiblical evidence of Jesus
More extrabiblical evidence of Jesus
Ancient history confirms biblical characters
Archaeology confirms biblical characters
Extrabiblical evidence of six Jews in the New Testament