The University of Chicago was founded (and funded) by John D. Rockefeller, the oil baron. He spent millions digging up artifacts all over the Middle East, and floated much of it back to Chicago. The Oriental Institute collection contains over 300,000 items.
In the first sections, look for artifacts from Ur – Abraham lived in Ur from 2166 BC to 2091 BC (Genesis 11:31).
The Amarna Letters fragment is part of a collection of documents that refer to a mysterious Habiru people that arrived in Canaan around the time of the Israelites.
Near the Ishtar Gate of Babylon that Daniel entered with his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, you will also find a brick with an inscription by Nebuchadnezzar.
Sargon’s palace is at the end of the hall, and is the king mentioned in Isaiah 20:1. His son Sennacherib is on your right.
The replica of the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser features the only known carving of an Israelite king, Jehu.
Inside a glass case is the most significant artifact, the Sennacherib Prism.
Isaiah 36:1-2 tells us “Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.” Within the prism, Sennacherib records his battles against Hezekiah, and how he captured many of his cities, and trapped him in Jerusalem “as a bird in his cage.” Until, as recorded in Isaiah 37:36, “Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”
Further on you will see the Baal idol (as contested by Elijah in 1 Kings 18:21), the broken Horned Altar (similar to that removed by Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:22), and the Palace Ivories (as referred to in 1 Kings 10:18).
In the corner is one of the Royal Meggido markers, validating the record of 1 Kings 9:15.
Also be sure to see the Dead Sea Scroll fragment, and read the story of the Mesha Stele that includes the other side’s view of 2 Kings 3:4.
In the Egyptian Gallery, imagine that this is what Abraham saw in 2090 BC, the Israelites in captivity saw from 1876 to 1446 BC, and that Joseph may have looked like the mummy (Genesis 50:26).
Join us for a virtual trip to Chicago to see Billy Sunday’s Grave, the Oriental Institute, and Pacific Garden Mission!
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