The main sources for identifying people from the Hebrew Bible are Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions as well as seals and bullae (seal impressions) from the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. These date from the 9th century through the late 5th century BCE.
Apries (Hophra), pharaoh of Egypt: Mentioned in Jeremiah 44:30. Identified in numerous contemporary inscriptions including those of the capitals of the columns of his palace.Herodotus speaks of him in Histories II, 161-171.
Artaxerxes I of Persia is widely identified with Artaxerxes in the book of Nehemiah. He is also found in the writings of contemporary historian Thucydides. Scholars are divided over whether the king in Ezra's time was the same, or Artaxerxes II.
Hezekiah, king of Judah enacted religious reforms, countering the idol-worshipping of his predecessors (2 Kings 18:1-6). An account is preserved by Sennacherib of how he besieged 'Hezekiah, the Jew', who 'did not submit to my yoke', in his capital city of Jerusalem. A bulla was also found bearing Hezekia's name and title. Several bullae of his servants have also been found with inscriptions in the form "Of Amaryahu, son of Hananyahu, servant of Hezekiah".
Hoshea, king of Israel, was put into power by Tilgath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, as recorded in his 'Annals', found in Calah.
Jehoiachin, King of Judah, was taken captive to Babylon after Nebuchadrezzar first captured Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:15). Texts from Nebuchadrezzar's Southern Palace record the rations given to "Jehoiachin king of the Judeans" (Ya'ukin sar Yaudaya).
Omri, king of Israel (1 Kings 16:23) is mentioned, together with his unnamed son or successor, on the Mesha Stele.
Pekah, became king of Israel after assassinating Pekahiah, his predecessor. (2 Kings 15:25). He is mentioned in the annals of Tiglath-Pileser III.
Rezin, king of Aram was a tributary of Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria. According to the bible, he was later put to death by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:7-9).
Sanballat, governor of Samaria, was the leading figure of the opposition which Nehemiah encountered during the rebuilding of the walls around the temple in Jerusalem. Sanballat is mentioned in the Elephantine Papyri.
Sargon II, king of Assyria besieged and conquered the city of Samaria and took many thousands captive, as recorded in the bible and in an inscription in his royal palace. His name, however does not appear in the biblical account of this siege, but in Isaiah 20:1, in reference to his siege of Ashdod.
Shalmaneser V, king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:3) is mentioned on several royal palace weights found at Nimrud. Another inscription was found that is thought to be his, but the name of the author is only partly preserved.
Taharqa, pharaoh of Egypt and king of Kush (Isaiah 37:9), is mentioned in the books of Kings and Isaiah as 'Tirhaka, the king of Cush'. Several contemporary sources mention him and fragments of three statues bearing his name were excavated at Nineveh.
Tattenai, governor of 'Beyond the River' (Hebrew: עֲבַר-נַהֲרָה, Ezra 5:6) during the reign of Darius I, is known from contemporary Babylonian documents.
Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria exiled inhabitants of cities he captured in Israel (2 Kings 15:29). Numerous writings are ascribed to him and he is mentioned, among others, in an inscription by Barrakab, king of Sam'al and also in the Assyrian king list.
Xerxes I (Ahasuerus), king of Persia, is named in the books of Ezra and Esther. Xerxes is known in archaeology through a number of tablets and monuments, notably the 'Gate of All Nations' in Persepolis.
The central figure of the New Testament is Jesus of Nazareth. Despite ongoing debate concerning the authorship of many of its books, there is a consensus among modern scholars that at least some were written by a contemporary of Jesus, namely the so-called 'undisputed' epistles of Paul. However, outside of the 27 books and letters collected into the New Testament, no contemporary references to Jesus are known, unless a very early dating is assumed of some uncanonical gospel such as the Gospel of Thomas. Nevertheless, some authentic first century and many second century writings exist in which Jesus is mentioned,[note 1] leading scholars to conclude that the historicity of Jesus is well established by historical documents. First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also mentions John the Baptist and his execution by Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:1-12), although Josephus was not a contemporary of John.
Annas, was a Jewish high priest (Luke 2:3), appointed by Quirinius as recorded by Josephus. Although he was officially removed from office by procurator Gratus, he continued to hold considerable influence, and was involved in the trial of Jesus (John 18:24). Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas (John 18:13).
Augustus Caesar, emperor of Rome (Luke 2:1), reigned between 27 BCE and 14 CE, during which time Jesus was born. He left behind a wealth of buildings, coins and monuments, including a funerary inscription in which he described his life and accomplishments.
Caiaphas, or 'Joseph, who was called Caiaphas', was reigning high priest during the ministry and death of Jesus. Based on Josephus' Antiquities, it is estimated that he held the office between 18 and 36 CE. He is mentioned in Matthew, Luke and John and presided over the trial of Jesus (Matthew 25:57-65, John 18:24). In 1990 Israeli archeologists discovered near Jerusalem what is believed to be the family tomb of Caiaphas. One of the ossuaries bears the inscription 'Yosef Bar Kayafa' and contained the bones of a 60 year old man.
Herod the Great, king of Judea (Matthew 2:1), Galilea and Samaria is mentioned extensively in the writings of Josephus and others. Among his numerous building projects was the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem and his name is found on contemporary Jewish coins.
Herod Archelaus, etnarch of Judea, Samaria and Edom, was the son of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:22). He is known from the writings of Flavius Josephus and from contemporary coins.
Herod Antipas, was tetrarch (Matthew 14:1) of Galilee and Perea, as recorded in Josephus' Antiquities and Wars of the Jews.
Herodias was the wife of Herod Antipas (Mark 6:17). According to the synoptic gospels, she was formerly married to Herod Antipas's brother Philip, apparently Philip the Tetrarch. However, Josephus writes that her first husband was Herod II. Many scholars view this as a contradiction, but some have suggested that Herod II was also called Philip.
Philip the Tetrarch was a son of Herod the Great and ruled over Iturea and Trachonitis (Luke 3:1). Josephus writes that he shared the kingdom of his father with his brothers Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus. His name and title appear on coinage from the period.
Pontius Pilate, procurator and prefect of Judea, ordered Jesus' execution (John 19:15-16). A stone inscription was found that mentions his name and title: "[Po]ntius Pilatus, [Praef]ectus Iuda[ea]e" (Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judaea), see Pilate Stone.
Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:2). The Gospel of Luke connects the birth of Jesus with a census conducted during his governorship, which is, based on Josephus' works, dated to 6/7 CE. That Quirinius conducted a census while governing Syria is also confirmed by a tomb inscription of one Quintus Aemilius Secundus, who had served under him. However the Gospel of Matthew places Jesus' birth about a decade earlier (c. 4 BCE), during the rule of Herod the Great. Bible scholars have traditionally sought to reconcile these accounts; while most current scholars regard this as an error by the author of the Gospel of Luke.
Tiberius Caesar, emperor of Rome (Luke 3:1), is named in many inscriptions and on Roman coins. Among other accounts, some of his deeds are described by contemporary historian Velleius (died c. 31 CE).
Salome was a daughter of Herodias (Matthew 14:6). Although she is not named in the Gospels, but referred to as 'the daughter of Herodias', she is commonly identified with Salome, Herodias' daughter, mentioned in Josephus' Antiquities.
Aretas IV Philopatris was king of the Nabateans from c. 9 BCE - 40 CE. According to Paul, Aretas' governor in Damascus tried to arrest him (2 Corinthians 11:32). Besides being mentioned by Josephus, his name is found in several contemporary inscriptions and on numerous coins.
Berenice, daughter of Herod Agrippa I is mentioned together with her brother Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25:23), with whom she was accused of having an incestuous relation, according to Josephus. She appears to have had almost equal power to her brother and is indeed called 'Queen Berenice' in Tacitus' Histories.
Claudius Caesar was emperor of Rome (Acts 11:28) from 41 - 54 CE. Like other Roman emperors, his name is found on numerous coins and monuments, such as the Porta Maggiore in Rome.
Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa I, was married to Antonius Felix (Acts 24:24), as is also recorded by Josephus.
Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great, was king (Acts 12:1) of Judaea, Galilee, and other regions in Palestine. Although his name is given as 'Herod' by Luke, and as 'Agrippa' by Josephus, the accounts both writers give about his death are so similar that they are commonly accepted to refer to the same person. Hence many modern scholars call him 'Herod Agrippa (I)'.
Herod Agrippa II, was king of Judaea (Acts 25:23), and ruled alongside his sister Berenice. Josephus writes about him in his Antiquities, and his name is found inscribed on contemporary Jewish coins.
These are Biblical figures for which tentative but likely identifications have been found in contemporary sources based on matching names and credentials. The possibility of coincidental matching of names cannot be ruled out however.
Azariah son of Hilkiah and grandfather of Ezra: Mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:13,14; 9:11 and Ezra 7:1. A bulla reading Azariah son of Hilkiah is likely to be his, according to Tsvi Schneider.
Baalis king of Ammon is mentioned in Jeremiah 40:14. In 1984 an Ammonite seal, dated to c. 600 BCE, was excavated in Tell El-`Umeiri, Jordan that reads "belonging to Milkomor, the servant of Baalisha". Identification of 'Baalisha' with the biblical Baalis is likely, but it is not currently known if there was only one Ammonite king of that name.
Darius II of Persia, is mentioned by the contemporary historian Xenophon of Athens, in the Elephantine Papyri, and other sources. 'Darius the Persian', mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22, is probably Darius II, although some scholars identify him with Darius I or Darius III.
Gedaliah son of Ahikam, governor of Judah. A seal impression with the name 'Gedaliah who is over the house' is commonly identified with Gedaliah, son of Ahikam.
Gemariah, son of Shaphan the scribe. A bulla was found with the text "To Gemaryahu ben Shaphan". This may have been the same person as "Gemariah son of Shaphan the scribe" mentioned in Jeremiah 36:10,12.
Geshem (Gusham) the Arab, mentioned in Nehemia 6:1,6 is likely the same person as Gusham, king of Kedar, found in two inscriptions in Dedan and Tell el-Mashkutah (near the Suez Canal)
Jehucal son of Shelemiah, an opponent of Jeremiah. Archaeologists excavated a bulla with his name, but some scholars question the dating of the seal to the time of Jeremiah. According to Robert Deutsch the bulla is from the late 8th to early 7th century BCE, before the time of Jeremiah.
Jeroboam (II), king of Israel. A seal belonging to 'Shema, servant of Jeroboam', probably refers to king Jeroboam II, although some scholars think it was Jeroboam I.
Jezebel, wife of king Ahab of Israel. A seal was found that may bear her name, but the dating and identification with the biblical Jezebel is a subject of debate among scholars.
Josiah, king of Judah. Three seals were found that may have belonged to his son Eliashib.
Jotham, king of Judah. An 8th-century BCE signet ring with his name was found, but it is not certain if it belonged to the biblical Jotham.
Nergal-sharezer, king of Babylon is probably identical to an official of Nebuchadnezzar II mentioned in Jeremiah 39:2. A record of his war with Syria was found on a tablet from the 'Neo-Babylonian Chronicle texts'.
Seraiah son of Neriah. He was the brother of Baruch. Nahman Avigad identified him as the owner of a seal with the name " to Seriahu/Neriyahu".
The so-called Shebna Lintel
Shebna (or Shebaniah), royal steward of Hezekiah: only the last two letters of a name (hw) survive on the so-called Shebna lintel, but the title of his position ("over the house" of the king) and the date indicated by the script style, have inclined many scholars to identify the person it refers to with Shebna.
Sheshonq I, Pharaoh of Egypt, is normally identified with king Shishaq in the Hebrew Bible. The account of Shishaq's invasion in the 5th year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-28) is thought to correspond to an inscription found at Karnak of Shoshenq's campaign into Palestine. However, a minority of scholars reject this identification.
Uzziah, king of Judah. The writings of Tiglath-Pileser III may refer to him, but this identification is disputed. There is also an inscription that refers to his bones, but it dates from the 1st century CE.
Zedekiah, son of Hananiah (Jeremiah 36:12). A seal was found of "Zedekiah son of Hanani", identification is likely, but uncertain.
'The Egyptian', who was according to Acts 21:38 the instigator of a rebellion, also appears to be mentioned by Josephus, although this identification is uncertain.
Sergius Paulus was proconsul of Cyprus (Acts 13:4-7), when Paul visited the island around 46-48 CE. Although several individuals with this name have been identified, no certain identification can be made. One Quintus Sergius Paulus, who was proconsul of Cyprus probably during the reign of Claudius (41-54 CE) is however compatible with the time and context of Luke's account.
Lysanias, was tetrarch of Abila around 28 CE, according to Luke (3:1). Because Josephus only mentions a Lysanias of Abila who was executed in 36 BCE, some scholars have considered this an error by Luke. However, one inscription from Abila, which is tentatively dated 14-29 CE, appears to record the existence of a later tetrarch called Lysanias.
Theudas. The sole reference to Theudas presents a problem of chronology. In Acts of the Apostles, Gamaliel, a member of the sanhedrin, defends the apostles by referring to Theudas (Acts 5:36-8). The difficulty is that the rising of Theudas is here given as before that of Judas of Galilee, which is itself dated to the time of the taxation (c. 6-7 AD). Josephus, on the other hand, says that Theudas was 45 or 46, which is after Gamaliel is speaking, and long after Judas the Galilean.
^Petrie, W. M. Flinders & Walker, J. H., The palace of Apries (Memphis II) , published by School of Archaeology in Egypt, University College, 1909)
^Wolfram Grajetzki, Stephen Quirke, Narushige Shiode, Digital Egypt for Universities , University College London, 2000
^Rogerson, John William; Davies, Philip R.; The Old Testament world, Continuum International, 2005, p. 89 
^ abDunn, James D. G. & Rogerson, John William, Eerdmans commentary on the Bible, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003, Artaxerxes: p. 321 ; Pauline epistles: p. 1274 
^Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Thomas Hobbes, Book 1, Chapter 137 
^Lewis, D. M.; Boardman, John; The Cambridge ancient history Volume IV, Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 149 
^ abcdeCoogan, M.D., Brettler, M.Z. & Newsom. C.A., The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Oxford University Press, 2007, Ashurbanipal: p. 676 , Jesus: p. 240 , Taharqa: p. 565 Tattenai: p. 678 , Xerxes: p. 678 
^ abcdefghijklmnPritchard, James B. ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, third edition with supplement 1969: Ashurbanipal: pp. 294-298, 300 etc.; Benhadad and Tiglath-Pileser III: p. 655; Darius, Johanan and Sanballat: p. 492; Essarhaddon and Necho: p. 297; Hezekiah: p. 288; Hoshea and Pekah: p. 284; Josiah: p. 569; Manasseh: pp. 291, 294; Menahem: p. 283; Nebuzaradan: p. 307
^Goodspeed, George, A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, New York NY, C. Scribners Sons, 1902
^Peck, Harry Thurston, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities , New York, Harper and Brothers, 1898
^Nabonidus Cylinder  translation by Paul-Alain Beaulieu, author of The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon 556-539 B.C. (1989)
^Birch, Samuel & Sayce, A.H., Records of the past : being English translations of the Ancient monuments of Egypt and western Asia , published under the sanction of the Society of Biblical Archaeology (1873), p. 13
^The Ishtar Gate, translation from The Ishtar Gate, The Processional Way, The New Year Festival of Babylon. by Joachim Marzahn, Mainz am Rhein, Germany: Philipp von Zaubern, 1995
^Boardman, John, The Cambridge ancient history, Vol. III Part 2, p. 408 
^Lipschitz, Oded, The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem: Judah Under Babylonian Rule, Eisenbrauns, 2005, p. 80
^Greenspoon, Leonard (November 2007). "Recording of Gold Delivery by the Chief Eunuch of Nebuchadnezzar II". BAR33 (6): 18.|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
^Grabbe, Lester L., Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? (New York: T&T Clark, 2007): 134
^VanderKam, James C., An introduction to early Judaism, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001, p. 7 
^The Annals of Sargon, Excerpted from "Great Inscription in the Palace of Khorsabad," Julius Oppert, tr., in Records of the Past, vol. 9 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1877), pp. 3-20
^Reade, Julian, Sources for Sennacherib: The Prisms  in Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Oct., 1975), pp. 189-196
^Lipiński, Edward et al., Immigration and emigration within the ancient Near East , Peeters Publishers & Department of Oriental Studies, Leuven 1995, pp. 36-41, 48
^Luckenbill, D. D. The First Inscription of Shalmaneser V , The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Apr., 1925), pp. 162-164
^Thomason, Allison Karmel From Sennacherib's Bronzes to Taharqa's Feet: Conceptions of the Material World at Nineveh , Iraq, Vol. 66, Nineveh. Papers of the 49th Rencontre Assriologique Internationale, Part One (2004), pp. 151-162
^Lewis, D. M.; Boardman, John; The Cambridge ancient history Volume VI, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 268 
^Fensham, Frank Charles, The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Eerdmans, 1982, p. 69 
^Briant, Pierre, From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, Eisenbrauns, 2006, p. 554 
^Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, Paul: a critical life, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 4 
^Cate, Robert L., One untimely born: the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul Mercer University Press, 2006, p. 48 
^Levine, Amy-Jill ed., Allison, Dale C. Jr. ed., Crossan, John Dominic ed., The Historical Jesus in Context, Princeton University Press, 2008,  "Most scholars agree that Jesus was baptized by John, (...) engaged in healings and exorcisms, taught in parables, (...) and was crucified by Roman soldiers during the governorship of Pontius Pilate (26-36 CE)"
^Stanton, Graham, The Gospels and Jesus Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2002, p. 145. He writes: "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically."
^Bockmuehl, Markus N. A., The Cambridge companion to Jesus, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 124  "The fact that Jesus existed, that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate (...) seems to be part of the bedrock of historical tradition. If nothing else, the non-Christian evidence can provide us with certainty on that score"
^ abcdefghijklmnopqrsFlavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, translated by William Whitson, Ananias: Book XX, Chapter 5, Section 2; Felix, Berenice, Drusilla, Agrippa II: B. XX, Ch. 7; Festus: Book XX, Ch. 8, § 9; Annas: Book XVIII, Ch. 2, § 1; Caiaphas: Book XVIII, Ch. 2 § 2 & Ch. 4 § 3; Philip: B. XVII, Ch. 11 § 4; Archelaus: i.e. B. XVII, Ch. 13, § 1; Antipas: B. XVII, Ch. 8, § 1; Herodias,Salome: Book XVIII Ch. 5 § 4; Herod Agrippa I: B. XVIII Ch. 6 § 1; Quirinius, John the Baptist: B. XVIII Ch. 5 § 2, Judas of Galilee: B. XVIII Ch. 1 § 1; Aretas: B. XVIII Ch. 5 § 1
^Levick, Barbara, The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook , 2nd ed. Routledge 2000, p. 75
^Raymond Brown, Christ in the Gospels of the Liturgical Year, (Liturgical Press, 2008), page 114. See, for example, James Douglas Grant Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) p344. Similarly, Erich S. Gruen, 'The expansion of the empire under Augustus', in The Cambridge ancient history Volume 10, p157, Geza Vermes, The Nativity, Penguin 2006, p.96, W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders, 'Jesus from the Jewish point of view', in The Cambridge History of Judaism ed William Horbury, vol 3: the Early Roman Period, 1984, Anthony Harvey, A Companion to the New Testament (Cambridge University Press 2004), p221, Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Doubleday, 1991, v. 1, p. 213, Brown, Raymond E.The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. London: G. Chapman, 1977, p. 554, A. N. Sherwin-White, pp. 166, 167, Millar, Fergus (1990). "Reflections on the trials of Jesus". A Tribute to Geza Vermes: Essays on Jewish and Christian Literature and History (JSOT Suppl. 100) [eds. P.R. Davies and R.T. White]. Sheffield: JSOT Press. pp. 355–81. repr. in Millar, Fergus (2006). "The Greek World, the Jews, and the East". Rome, the Greek World and the East (University of North Carolina Press) 3: 139–163.