Do New DNA Discoveries Really Disprove the Bible?

The latest discoveries actually confirm the Bible. Why didn't news outlets tell the truth?

A British archeologist digs up a skeleton dating back to Canaanite era, eighth millennium BC, at an excavation site in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon.

By Michael Brown Published on July 31, 2017

There was a spate of headlines last week claiming that new scientific discoveries disproved the historical narrative of the Bible. Headlines included, “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites” and “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out.” Actually, the reverse is true: The discoveries confirm just what the Scriptures state.

DNA Test Reveals the Canaanites Weren’t Wiped Out

These headlines didn’t come from obscure, Bible-bashing websites. Instead, they came from Cosmos Magazine,, New Scientist (claiming that the discovery helped unravel the “true fate” of the Canaanites), and others. As stated in the New York Times: 

There is a story in the Hebrew Bible that tells of God’s call for the annihilation of the Canaanites, a people who lived in what are now Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories thousands of years ago.

“You shall not leave alive anything that breathes,” God said in the passage. “But you shall utterly destroy them.”

But a genetic analysis published on Thursday has found that the ancient population survived that divine call for their extinction, and their descendants live in modern Lebanon.

The problem, again, is the word “But.” There is no contradiction between this genetic discovery and the Old Testament accounts. A more accurate statement would have been, “But the Hebrew Bible tells us explicitly that Israel failed to complete this mission of extermination, and a genetic analysis published on Thursday lends confirmation to this account, finding that the ancient population survived that divine call for their extinction, and their descendants live in modern Lebanon.”

As for the study itself,

Dr. Tyler-Smith and an international team of geneticists and archaeologists recovered ancient DNA from bones belonging to five Canaanites retrieved from an excavation site in Sidon, Lebanon, that were 3,650 to 3,750 years old. The team then compared the ancient DNA with the genomes of 99 living people from Lebanon that the group had sequenced. It found that the modern Lebanese people shared about 93 percent of their ancestry with the Bronze Age Sidon samples.

What did the team conclude? According to Iosif Lazaridis, a Harvard geneticist who was not involved in the study, “it turns out that people who lived in Lebanon almost 4,000 years ago were quite similar to people who lived there today, to the modern Lebanese.”

The Old Testament Book of Joshua Confirms This

But why should this surprise us? Or why should this discovery, assuming it’s accurate, be taken to contradict the Bible?

You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to figure this out. You don’t even need to read the Hebrew language. Any English Bible will do. The story is forthright and clear.

After the death of Moses, it was up to Joshua to lead the people into the promised land, the land of Canaan, driving out the peoples that lived there. These included “the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Exod. 3:8). According to a number of biblical passages, these peoples were notoriously wicked (see, e.g., Deut. 9:4-5). Still, God told Abraham that he would have to wait 400 years before his descendants could possess their land. At that time, their guilt and wickedness would be complete (see Gen. 15:13-21).

Lebanon remained a distinct kingdom, never conquered by Israel. All this is recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Book of Joshua recounts Israel’s conquest of Canaan, with city after city falling before them. But was it a complete victory? Was it total annihilation of the enemy? Not even close.

As Joshua itself states, “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.’” (Josh. 13:1). So, towards the end of Joshua’s life, Israel had not completed its mission.

The verses that follow contain a detailed list of all the regions that were not yet taken, including, “all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath, all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians” (Jos. 13:5-6, my emphasis). So, the inhabitants of Lebanon were not driven out, as these DNA discoveries seem to confirm.

So Does the Book of Judges

The next book of the Bible, called Judges, continues the story after Joshua’s death. There, an angel of the Lord rebukes the people for failing to drive these nations out. The angel even says, speaking for God, “I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you” (Judg. 2:3). In fact, the last 17 verses of Judges 1 detail all the peoples that Israel failed to drive out. Verse 31 specifically mentions “the inhabitants of Sidon,” which was one of the major cities of Lebanon.

And look at what the very next chapter states: 

Now these are the nations that the LORD left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before. These are the nations: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And their daughters they took to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they served their gods (Judg. 3:1-6, my emphasis).

In the centuries that followed, Lebanon remained a distinct kingdom. It was sometimes at war and sometimes had good relations with Israel, but it was never conquered by Israel. All this is recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.

So, the headlines should have read, “DNA Confirms the Bible.” Why, then, didn’t these news outlets tell us the truth? Your guess is probably similar to mine.

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  • And it doesn’t take an ethics expert to understand why, either. 😉

  • Dean Bruckner

    They lie because they are liars, and that is because they are sons and daughters of the Father of Lies himself.

    • Mensa Member

      Who are “they”?

      • aliswell

        Anti-Christs. Meaning those who deny the Christ and despise His followers. The media is filled with “them.”

    • Stephen M. Zumbo

      In the broad sense you are correct, however painting everyone with that verse that leaves out and doesn’t explain the reporters that do get things right, and who do care about the truth. Jesus was condemning Satan himself, who is committed to lying and can do nothing else unless it suits him, the Jewish leaders, who were eyewitnesses of what he was, and said, and did, who rejected him personally even after they knew his claims, when they should have been searching the scriptures to see if what he claimed was true.

      Paul himself was a religious leader in the Jewish culture and God used his abilities after redeeming him and changing his mind. Paul commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see if these things were true. That implies that at least at some level they either didn’t understand everything was saying or they questioned what he was saying and wanted to be sure Paul was right. Maybe some of those people weren’t yet fully convinced or certainly not walking in all the knowledge that Paul had at that point.

      God is the source of all truth, not just religious truth or even biblical truth. God is also Sovereign over scientific truth and historical truth and moral truth. He can certainly use all kinds of truth to move people from Darkness into light.

  • Mensa Member

    Why? (f you have a persecution complex:) the liberal media hates Christians!

    Why for real? Science reporting is notoriously bad. Reporting on religion isn’t much better. When a story combines the two, it probably will have errors.

    • Craig Roberts

      Bad reporting? But that would make sense only if there were no conspiracy. If UFOs were somehow involved that would make it even more interesting. The same old boring human errors that happen everyday all over the place don’t make for compelling reading.

      That said: Which makes a more modern media narrative?

      A) Science Proves Bible Wrong!

      or B) Science Confirms What Everybody Else Always Assumed.

  • I am very skeptical of the “DNA studies”. Sounds more like the radio metric dating studies, which has major assumptions that is never revealed in any news outlets.

    • m-nj

      You mean like the zombie fact that we humans share 97-98% DNA similarity to chimpanzees to support the idea of common descent? As a PhD biologist who has read more about this written by other christian scientists, this is like saying one LEGO set to make a spaceship is 97-98% similar to a LEGO set to make a boat… the building blocks are the same, but they way they are put together is totally different …

      the same with the human-chimp comparison… we share the same DNA building blocks (and perhaps even ratios of the different blocks), but the sequencing of the blocks, which sequences are expressed or not expressed, when sequences are expressed, and even the higher dimensional structure of the sequences is very, very different.

  • Nunyadambizness

    The media fails to tell the truth?? What?? Why, that’s simply outrageous!!

    This is not a surprise to me, nor is it to anyone who’s paying attention. There is essentially NOTHING that is broadcast or printed by the mainstream media that I believe without further investigation. If they say it contradicts the Bible I reject it offhand and fully expect the opposite to be true. Besides, I’d be willing to bet that less than 1% of the “journalists” in the mainstream media have any clue as to what the Bible ACTUALLY says.

    • john appleseed

      I ‘liked’ your comment.
      For your sake, I hope you’ll consider switching to a non-profane username.

    • Stephen M. Zumbo

      True. The point hmm was making in his last paragraph is that the quality and honesty of Journalism has not always been as bad as it is now, Even In Our Lifetime, to say nothing about earlier times. Yes it has been bad for example the slanderous articles on both sides during the 1800 presidential election or the horribly racist cartoons and statements about Abraham Lincoln during his campaign and presidency. However, people in earlier Generations in America had at least something of a Biblical consensus and a basic biblical literacy which the majority of American citizens no longer have, as you alluded to.

      Some people still do, and it’s certainly still available for those reporters and commentators who wish to educate themselves. I’ve even directly questioned or challenged some reporters and commentators on their conclusions and their sources of their facts when I felt them to be grossly in error or reflecting a Personal Agenda not in sync with actual facts.

      I’m glad you don’t trust reporters without doing your own research I need to do better myself. I guess we all should more than we do.

      I just wish the people that get paid to do it to research and present news would do a better job. When they don’t, it’s seems that they either don’t care enough to get it right, or are being deliberately misleading.

  • Hmmm…

    Science always confirms the Bible, honest science that is. Archeology the same. The DNA testing of the bones in the dig of the ancient city of Jericho revealed venereal disease in most of the adults, children and even animals. God had told the Israelites to destroy every creature, man, woman, child and beast in the especially wicked city. It is easy to see that even a wandering infected animal mating with stock of neighbors would spread the disease. ABC did a TV movie some years ago entitled “Joshua” about the destruction of Jericho. It wickedly depicted the inhabitants of Jericho as all these lovely, innocent people that Israel had to come in and essentially murder. Even when they are informed, secular society of this day lies against the truth.

    The injunction to circumcise male Hebrew babies at eight days old rang some bells as medical science in this past century discovered that a baby’s blood begins to clot significantly at eight days. There is example after example of the Bible being ahead of science, not behind or in contradiction. The Bible is an inspired book, and God is right.

  • Kevin Quillen

    if the Israelis obeyed, would the middle east still be a mess? Probably not.


    so Mike: here’s the question: the sampling size of 99 – who were they? from where? wide geographic area? single family? the study (I cursorily read it so far) does not mention. admixtures with Israelites?

  • Jason Baker

    Funny thing about the Bible, one has to read it to know what it says.

  • Faith of Our Fathers

    As Human Beings we know but little yet . Scientists come on TV and talk about what happened Millions and Billions of years ago . They talk about The Big Bang and that there was nothing before. Now I could say I am an expert and that Billions of years before the Big Bang that we were doing ( or Humans were doing ) exactly what we’re doing just now . Then the Whole Expanding Universe started to contract in and that’s what caused the 2nd or 3rd or whatever Big Bang .At the end of the day most things from Thousands and Millions of years ago are just Theory’s.

Walking in God’s Wisdom: Psalm 5:8
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