Two items appear below:

1 Names in the Old Testament – Skeptics Challenged!
2 Bible Cities [A Letter to the Editor]


(Investigator 50, 1996 September)

How would a logician respond if, from a list of those places named in the Old Testament and independently confirmed, someone predicts that eventually every location named in the Bible will be validated?

About 311 Old Testament places and locations now have archaeological or other confirmation. About 228 more named locations have been tentatively identified. A list is supplied [below] with the tentatives identified by a question mark.

The total number of countries, tribal areas, cities, villages, mountains, mountain ranges, plains, valleys, wildernesses, seas, rivers, cisterns and wells named in the Old Testament comes to 897.

In addition about 2,889 people are named in the Old Testament. About 50 have definite or tentative historical support. These estimates for the numbers of people are revisions of estimates published in Investigator No. 47.

The total number of proper nouns is not however 897 + 2,889 = 3,786.  If you try to count the names in a concordance you will get a lower number.

The reasons for the discrepancy are:

1 Some names are used of many different individuals. The Old Testament mentions about 30 different men named Zechariah, 27 named Azariah, 26 named Shemaiah, 21 named Meshullam, 20 named Maasaiah, 19 named Shimei , etc.

2 Some individuals have two different names.

3 Some names of villages apply to three or four different villages.

4 Some names apply to both a person and a village.

5 A few names are symbolic and do not apply to a real person or place.

6 A few names in some Bibles are mistranslations or otherwise wrong due to reliance on different manuscripts.

7 Some names have slightly different spellings in some Bibles.

8 Sometimes it is uncertain whether a name is used of two persons or just one, or two locations or just one.

9 A naive count of proper nouns in a concordance or Bible dictionary might also include names of months, festivals, stars, gods, tribes and peoples.

[Continued after the following table]


Below: 539 of the 897 places/locations named in the Old Testament. 
Question marks indicate tentative identification.
Repetitions of names refer to different places having the same name.
Names in brackets are alternative names for the same town or location.
The division between the definitely and tentatively identified is imprecise and assignment to one category or the other sometimes a guess.

Abana River Assyia Cabbon? Endor
Abarim Mountains? Ataroth Cabul En-eglaim?
Abdon (Ebron)? Avith Calah En-gannim?
Abel-Keramim? Avvim Calneb (Calno)? Engedi
Abronah? Azekah Canaan En-haddab
Acco Azmaveth (Beth-azmaveth) Caphtor (Crete) En-hazor?
Achor Azmon? Carchemish En-rimmon (Ain; Rimmon)
Achshaph Aznoth-tabor Carmel En-rogel Spring
Chaldea En-shemesh
Achzib (Cozeba)? Baalah Chebar River? En-tappuah Spring?
Adam Baalah (Kirath-jearim) Chephirah Ephraim
Adami Baal-hazor Chesalon Ephraim?
Addar Baal-hermon Chesulloth Erech
Adoraim Baalmeon (Beth-meon) Chinnereth Eshtamoa (Eshtemoh)
Adullam Baal-perazim? Chisloth-tabor Eshtaol
Adummim Babylon Chitlish Etam?
Ahava Bashan Cuth (Cuthah) Etam?
Ai? Beeroth?
Etam, Rock of?
Aijalon Beeroth-bene-jaakan (Bene-jaakan) Dabbasheth? Ether
Akrabbim Beersheba Daberath (Rabbith) Ethiopia
Almon (Alemeth) Ben-barak Damascus Eth-kazin?
Amanah Benjamin Dan Euphrates River
Beracah Dan Ezem?
Ananiah Berothai (Cun)? Debir (Keriath-sepher) Ezion-geber?
Anathoth Besor Valley Debir?
Anen Beten Dibon Gad
Anim Beth-anath Dilean Galilee
Aphek Beth-anoth Dimnab (Rimmon) (Rimmono) Gallilee, Sea of  (Chinnereth) (Cinneroth)
Aphek Beth-eden? Dophkah? Gallim?
Aphek Bethel Dor Gath-hepher
Aphekah Beth-emek Dothan Gath-rimmon?
Arab Beth-ezel? Duma Gaza?
Arabah Beth-gamul Dura? Geba?
Arabah Beth-haccherem?
Arabia Beth-haran? Ebal Mount Gederah
Arad Beth-hoglah? Ebenezer? Gederoth?
Aram Beth-horon Ecbatana Gedor
Ararat Beth-horon Eder Gedor?
Arbel? Beth-jeshimoth? Edom G-harashim?
Argob? Bethlehem (Ephrathah) Edrei Geliloth?
Arnon Valley Beth-maacah (Abel-beth-maacah) Edrei Gerar?
Aroer Beth-nimrah (Nimrah)? Eglaim? Gerar Valley
Aroer Beth-peor? Eglon Gerizim Mount
Aroer? Beth-shan Egypt Geshur
Arpad Beth-shemesh (Irshemesh) (Heres) Egypt, River of Gezer
Arubboth Beth-shemesh Egypt,Valley of Gibbethon
Arumah Beth-shemesh Ekron? Gibeah?
Arvad Bethuel (Bethul) (Chesil)? Elah Valley? Gibeon
Ashan Beth-zur Elath (Eloth)? Gihon Spring
Ashdod Betonim Elealeh? Gilboa Mount
Ashkelon Bezek Elim? Gilead
Ashkenaz Bezer Elkosh? Gilgal (Gibeath-haaraloth)?   
Ashnah Bikath-aven? Eltekeh? Gilgal?
Ashtaroth Bozrah Eltekon? Gimzo

Golan Ibleam Kamon? Madmenah?
Gozan? Ijon? Kanah Madon
Habor? India Kanah Valley Magog?
Hadarimmon Iphtah? Karkaa (Karka)? Makaz?
Hadid? Irpeel? Kartan (Kiriathaim) Makkedah?
Hadrach? Israel Kedemoth? Mamre?
Halhul Issachar Kedesh Manahath?
Kedesh (Kishion)? Manasseh
Ham Jabbok Valley Keilah Maon
Hamath Jabesh-gilead? Kenath (Nobah) Marah?
Hammath (Hammon) (Hammoth-dor) Jabneel Kerioth? Mareal?
Hammon Jahneel Kerioth-hezron (Hazor) Mareshah
Hannathon? Jagur? Kibroth-hattaavah? Mattanah?
Hapharaim? Janim? Kidron Valley Mearah?
Haran Janoah Kinah? Medeba
Harod, Well of Janoah? Kir? Media
Harosheth? Japhia Kir of Moab (Kir-haraseth) (Kir-heres) Megiddo
Hauran? Jattir? Kirathaim (Kirjathaim) Mejarkon?
Hazar-enan? Jebus Kiriath-baal (Kirjath-baal) Memphis (Noph)
Hazar-shual? Jehoshaphat Plain Kishon Valley Mephaath?
Hazar-susah? Jehud? Kittim (Cyprus) Merom, Waters of
Hazazon-tamar? Jekabzeel? Koa? Meroz?
Hazeroth? Jericho
Hazor Jerusalem Lachish Michmas
Hazor? Jeshanah? Lahmam Michmethath
Hebron Jeshimon? Laish Middin? 
Helam? Jeshua? Laishah Midian (Cushan)?
Helbon (Kiriath-arba) Jezreel Lakum (Lakkum)? Migdael?
Heleph? Jogbehah Lasha? Migdal-gad?
Helkath (Hukok)? Jokdeam? Lebanon Migron?
Hepher? Jokmeam? Lebonah? Minnith?
Hermon Mount (Senir) (Sinon) (Sion) Jokneam Lehi? Misgab Mountains
Heshbon Joppa Libnah? Misrephoth-maim?
Hethlon? Jordan River Libya Mizpah?
Hiddekel River (Tigris) Jotbah? Lod Mizpah?
Hinnom Valley Jotbathah? Luhith? Mizpah?
Hobah? Judah Luz? Moab
Holon? Judah Wilderness
Hor Mount? Juttah Maacah? Moresheth-gath
Horesh? Kabzeel? Maarath? Moriah?
Horonaim? Kadesh (En-mishpat)? Machpelah? Mozab
Hukkok? Kain Madmannah

Naarah? Palestine Red Sea Shalisha
Nahaliel? Parab Rehob? Shamir?
Naphtali Paran Wilderness Rehoboth, Well of? Shaphir?
Neah? Pathros? Reuben Sharon Plain
Neballat Pekod? Rezeph? Skaruhen (Shilhim) (Shaaraim)?
Nebo Penuel (Peniel) Riblah Shaveh-kiriathaim?
Nebo? Peor Rimmon Sheba
Nebo Mount Perazim Mount (Baal-perazim) Rimmon Shechem
Negeb Persia Rimmon-perez? Shephelah
Neiel Petho Rogelim? Shihor-libnath River?
Nephtoah Spring Pharphar River Rumah? Shikeron?
Netophah Philistia
Shiloah Canal
Nezib Pibeseth Salca (Salcha) (Salecah)? Shiloh
Nibshan? Pi-hariroth? Salt Shimron-meron
Nile River Pirathon? Salt Valley Shion?
Nimrin, Waters of? Pisgah? Samaria Shittim?
Nineveh Punon? Samaria Shunern
No (No-ammon)
Sansannah Shushan
Nob? Raamah? Sarid Sibmah (Sebam)?

Rabbah Seba? Sidon
On (Beth-shemesh) Rakkath Secacah? Simeon
Ono Rakkon? Seir Mountains Sin
Ophel Ramah Seir.Mount Sin Wilderness?
Ophir? Ramah? Sela (Joktheel) Sinai Mount (Horeb)?
Ophni? Ramah? Senaah? Sirah Cistern?
Ophra? Ramoth? Shaalbim Socho
Ophra Ramoth-gilead? Shaalim Socho

Socho? Tekoa Vedan? Zenan?
Sorek Valley Tema?
Succoth Teman? Yiron? Zered Valley
Syene Thebez?
Syria Timnah? Zaanan? Ziglag?

Timnah Zalmon Mount? Zin Wilderness?
Taanach Timnath-serah (Timnath-heres)? Zalmonah? Zion
Taanach-shiloh Tiphsah? Zanoah Zior
Tabbath? Tirzah Zanoah Ziph
Tabor Mount Tob? Zaphon? Ziphron?
Tadmor Topheth? Zarephath? Ziz
Tahapanes Tubal? Zaretan (Zaredah)? Zoan
Tamar Tyre Zareth-shahar? Zoar
Zeboim? Zorah
Tappuach? Ur Zebulun
Tarshish? Uzzen-sheerah? Zedad?


My counts of 897 places and 2,889 people named in the Old Testament should not be taken as 100% accurate due to the above listed complications. These numbers are simply my latest counts – although care was taken.

The places marked tentative in the list are tentative because:

1. In some cases there are two or three archaeological sites in close proximity and it is uncertain which is the one named in the Bible.

2. In some cases only one site is known but archaeologists disagree whether it is the one named in the Old Testament.

All the definites and most of the tentatives are actual places and locations we can go to and see. Bible names repeated by other writers such as Josephus, but without physical remains, are mostly excluded from my list.

For example the Moabite Stone, written by King Mesha of Moab, was discovered in 1868. The Stone includes the names of about 20 places also named in the Old Testament. Of these 20, three are not on my list. Simply being recorded by King Mesha, without physical remains, did not qualify them for my list.

The list of 539 names was put together from Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, and archaeological books and journals. A recent copy of Archaeological Diggings, for example, described a visit to Endor – where King Saul of Israel consulted a “witch”.  Endor is included in the list.

With over 300 Old Testament locations now validated, and over 200 more with tentative identification, skeptics face the possibility that more and more will be confirmed.  We’re dealing with an ongoing and long-term trend. Skeptics should wonder whether the score will eventually be 100%! I would reason inductively and actually predict an eventual 100% score!

Dr Chris Mortensen, lecturer in logic at the University of Adelaide, said,

"Induction is so sensitive to background information that we'd need to be very careful. We'd need to know what's been done so far and what are the trends. Without knowing a great deal more about it your prediction is a big inductive leap."
Regarding Old Testament people and predicting almost 2,900 confirmations from about fifty successes Dr Mortensen said,
"It strikes me as unlikely that all 2,900 will be confirmed. In my opinion most of the persons would be identified early and then successes would peter out.  We'd want to know more about each particular case. I'd be very skeptical."
In ancient times there were no atlases and even maps were rudimentary and inaccurate.

For dozens of different writers across ten centuries to name hundreds of places correctly in relation to each other without maps and atlases is remarkable. How many skeptics, although having used maps since childhood, could do that with hundreds of modern towns (without actually using maps for this experiment)?


Letter to the Editor

(Investigator 61, 1998)


In Investigator No. 50 I claimed the Old Testament gives the names of 897 geographical locations – mainly towns and villages. I listed 311 which have archaeological confirmation and 228 tentatively identified and argued:

…skeptics face the possibility that more and more will be confirmed. … I would reason inductively and actually predict an eventual 100% score! (p. 20)
Recently two more came to my attention.

Abel-meholah was the hometown of Elisha the prophet:

Abel-meholah has now been identified with much confidence with Tell Abu Sus on the bank of the Jordan, 15 km, south of Beth-shean.
(The Land of the Bible 1979 Y Aharoni  p. 313)
From being excluded Abel-meholah should now be in the tentative list.

The magazine Archaeology (1998 January/February) says:

 Ekron Identity Confirmed. (pp. 30-31)
Ekron was one of the five cities of the Philistines the guys who came to blows with Samson. (See Samson: Myth or Fact, Investigator 55)

Ekron should now switch from my tentative list to the “confirmed” list.

Anonymous SA

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