Could archeology and modern medicine help validate the Bible?

"The observation of a unique medical condition and the discovery of a related archaeological object could help explain one of the most bizarre accounts in the Bible."

first temple 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
first temple 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Archeology and modern medical techniques may be able to shed some light on one of the Bible's most intriguing stories: the madness of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, according to research reported by the Daily Express on Sunday.
The Bible is celebrated by billions of people around the world as a spiritual document, but some researchers believe it could also be used as a tool for gaining insights into our history. One of those researchers is Prof. Tom Meyer, an expert in Middle Eastern languages from the Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, who believes that archaeology, combined with the medical knowledge we possess today, can help validate many stories in the Bible.
"The observation of a unique medical condition and the discovery of a related archaeological object could help explain one of the most bizarre accounts in the Bible, the cruel and unusual divine punishment of the famous sixth century BCE king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar," Meyer said.
Nebuchadnezzar II ruled the Babylonian empire between 605 BCE and 562 BCE. He is considered to have been the longest-reigning and perhaps most powerful ruler of the ancient Babylonian empire, being described as the "destroyer of nations" in the Book of Jeremiah.
The Book of Kings depicts Nebuchadnezzar as the king responsible for two sieges of Jerusalem, one in 597 BCE and another one 10 years later in 587 BCE, which brought about the destruction of Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, marking the conquest of Judah.
Meyer explains that, "after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and at the zenith of Nebuchadnezzar’s power, when his heart was lifted up with pride, the God of Israel took away his royal authority for seven years by driving him from human society."
The Book of Daniel depicts Nebuchadnezzar's period of madness as a punishment from God, after Daniel interprets one of the king's dreams as a prophecy by God that world powers will soon rise and fall, and that Nebuchadnezzar will be the first to suffer such a fate. According the text, this did happen, as the king “was driven from men and did eat grass as oxen” (Daniel 4:33).
WHILE MANY scholars view the Book of Daniel as mostly fictional for different reasons, Meyer and his colleagues believe otherwise.
"The most famous and powerful king in the world was condemned to spend seven years in the fields with the wild animals and to eat grass like a cow until he learned that the God of Israel has power over human kingdoms and that he can give them to anyone he chooses," the professor said.
In modern medical terms, according to this interpretation, the king suffered from a mental condition known as boanthropy, which would explain his bizarre behavior as depicted in the Book of Daniel.
Boanthropy is a personality disorder that causes a person to believe they are a cow or an ox. Nebuchadnezzar II is considered to be the most famous figure to have suffered from this condition.
"In 1946, Dr. Raymond Harrison of England recorded his experiences of observing a modern-day case of boanthropy... Dr. Harrison observed that the patient’s only physical abnormality was the lengthening of his hair and a thickened condition of the nails, the same anomalies that beset Nebuchadnezzar," according to Meyer, who adding that, "like the famous king, the observed patient spent the entire day roaming the asylum grounds from dusk till dawn eating handfuls of grass and drinking out of puddles like an animal."
Another explanation for Nebuchadnezzar’s bizarre behavior could be that he was afflicted by porphyria, a name given to a group of disorders that result from the buildup of porphyrins in the body, organic compounds that are essential for the proper function of hemoglobin but may negatively affect the nervous system when present in high levels.
As for the archaeological object linked to this narrative, Meyer mentions that "Assyriologist A.K. Grayson published a sixth century BCE cuneiform tablet found in Babylon and now on display at the British Museum – object number 34113 – that states Nebuchadnezzar’s life appeared of no value and that he continually gave contradictory orders, could not recognize his own family members or contribute in any of his building projects.
"This period of madness likely took place during the seven years he was driven from human society," the professor said.
"Through the data uncovered by medical and archaeological research, we are able to measure the Bible’s historical accuracy," Meyer concluded.
"In every instance where the Bible’s claims can be tested, even in such bizarre accounts as the humbling of the famous Nebuchadnezzar, the Bible proves to be accurate and reliable."