Abraham, Amorites and the historical accuracy of the Bible


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

This is a continuation of my previous discussion of inerrancy. I have just finished reading the excellent book ‘Babylon’ by Paul Kriwaczek, which I highly recommend to anyone wishing to study ANE history, which is very important to reading the Bible in it’s original context. In it he makes a very interesting claim regarding the Amorites and the Biblical patriarchs:

Would this count as evidence for a historical Abraham/Patriarchs?

According to William Hallo, professor of Assyriology at Yale:

‘growing linguistic evidence based chiefly on the recorded personal names of persons identified as Amorites… shows that the new group spoke a variety of Semitic ancestral to later Hebrew, Aramaic and Phoenician’. What is more, as depicted in the Bible, the details of the patriarchs tribal organisation, naming conventions, family structure, customs of inheritence and land tenure, genealogical schemes, and other vestiges of nomadic life ‘are too close to the more laconic evidence of the cuneiform records to be dismissed out of hand as late fabrications’.

It seems to me as though this would count as confirmation of the Biblical Patriarchal narrative.

What do you think?


(Phil) #2

It is only my opinion, but I feel there is a historical basis for the narrative, though probably heavily edited and re-written post-exile. I say that as the various names of the characters have meaning as to the role they played and their characteristics, and were not their actual birth names, unless you allow for an uncanny prophetic naming tendency in Genesis.


(George Brooks) #3

When someone can explain how these 14 references to Iron (involving ordinary objects) can be littered from Genesis to Numbers to Deuteronomy and Numbers - - without confirming that Exodus was an event fully entrenched in the Iron Age, maybe I’ll consider the value of the patriarchal details.

But then I wouldn’t have to, would I … :smiley:

Gen 4:22
And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

Num 31:22
Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,

Num 35:16
And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

Deu 3:11
For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.

Deu 4:20
But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

Deu 8:9
A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.

Deu 27:5
And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.

Deu 28:48
Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

Jos 6:19
But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

Jos 6:24
And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

Jos 8:31
As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Jos 17:16
And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.

Jos 17:18
But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.

Jos 22:8
And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.


#4

Well that puts the iron nail in the coffin of dating Genesis to only 6,000 years ago. :wink:


(James McKay) #5

Just had a look on Wikipedia to see what it has to say about the Iron Age:

A few extracts. First:

The duration of the Iron Age varies depending on the region under consideration. It is defined by archaeological convention, and the mere presence of cast or wrought iron is not sufficient to represent an Iron Age culture; rather, the term “Iron Age” implies that the production of carbon steel has been perfected to the point where mass production of tools and weapons superior to their bronze equivalents become possible.

Second:

The earliest-known iron artifacts are nine small beads dated to 3200 BC, which were found in burials at Gerzeh, Lower Egypt. They have been identified as meteoric iron shaped by careful hammering.[2] Meteoric iron, a characteristic iron–nickel alloy, was used by various ancient peoples thousands of years before the Iron Age. Such iron, being in its native metallic state, required no smelting of ores.

Third:

The earliest tentative evidence for iron-making is a small number of iron fragments with the appropriate amounts of carbon admixture found in the Proto-Hittite layers at Kaman-Kalehöyük and dated to 2200–2000 BC. Akanuma (2008) concludes that “The combination of carbon dating, archaeological context, and archaeometallurgical examination indicates that it is likely that the use of ironware made of steel had already begun in the third millennium BC in Central Anatolia”.[6] Souckova-Siegolová (2001) shows that iron implements were made in Central Anatolia in very limited quantities around 1800 BC and were in general use by elites, though not by commoners, during the New Hittite Empire (∼1400–1200 BC).

So, while iron tools were not widespread during early Bible times, they were not unknown. Seems that in the Ancient Near East, the Iron Age proper (i.e. mass production of carbon steel) got started round about 1,300 BC.

I don’t see any problem for Biblical chronology here.


(George Brooks) #6

While iron is more challenging to make, the impetus for wide-spread iron work came when the international trade routes for tin were compromised during the period we call the Age of the Sea People, and the general collapse of the Bronze Age.

So, for Exodus to have casual references to Iron is tantamount to saying Exodus occurred (or at least was written about) when the idea that iron production and the production of iron tools was taken for granted. So 1130 BCE becomes a convenient cut-off date because it was around that time that the Philistines became entrenched on the Levantine coast… and because (for coincidental reasons) iron works would have become increasingly ramped up after that time frame.

But we have this verses:

Gen 4:22
And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

And in Deuteronomy, we have some pretty dramatic evidences of iron being made - - even in Bronze Age Egypt!

Deu 3:11
For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.

Deu 4:20
But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

Deu 27:5
And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.

If the rule above was written in the Bronze Age, it would be practically “screaming” - - you have to build the temple with bronze tools. But this was not the intent of the injunction.

Deu 28:48
Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

Based on the relative rarity and precious nature of iron towards the end of the Bronze Age, having a yoke of iron around your neck might have been interpreted as having a string of diamonds around your neck!

Prior to the Exodus period, in the Patriarchal timeline, it would have been pretty unlikely for anyone to have been a routine artificer in iron. Similarly, it would have been difficult for Abraham to kibbitz with the Philistines before entering Egypt because they weren’t settled onto the coast yet.

In Numbers, they pass a law that if you kill someone with a tool made of iron, you will be executed.
This only makes sense if by the time of the rule, most tools were already iron. Otherwise the stunning loop-hole is to kill someone with a tool made of brass… Hey! no problem?

Num 35:16
And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

During the alleged invasions of the Joshua period, vessels of iron would have been most unlikely…
Jos 6:19
But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

Jos 6:24
And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

In this verse from Joshua (below), this would have been a fairly silly thing to proclaim during a time when bronze tools were the norm!

Jos 8:31
As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

In the verse below, the Canaanites would have been lucky to have had one chariot made of iron… so to have even had one for each Canaanite settlement would have been impossible.
Jos 17:16
And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.

Jos 17:18
But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.

@jammycakes, I think you might have been a little rushed to make your conclusion.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #7

This seems like a separate issue to the Patriarchal narrative thing. The Bible can be right in some areas and wrong in others,


(RiderOnTheClouds) #8

I find it to be very unlikely that any of the patriarchs had Hebrew or Aramaic names, as opposed to Amorite, Akkadian or Sumerian names. It’s very possible that Noah’s real name was Ziasudra in my opinion, or whaterver the equivalent of Noah was in Sumerian or Akkadian. What is your position on the historicity of Abraham? I don’t necessarily think this evidence points towards him specifically being real, only that the patriarchal narrative in mesopotamia appears to have some historical basis. Note too, that the story of Babel appears to have strong links to the Sumerian story of Enmerkar, which was not in circulation after the mid-2nd millenium. I think that this semi-legendary period is when genesis 1-11 was written.

Then again:

What is more, as depicted in the Bible, the details of the patriarchs tribal organisation, naming conventions, family structure, customs of inheritence and land tenure, genealogical schemes, and other vestiges of nomadic life ‘are too close to the more laconic evidence of the cuneiform records to be dismissed out of hand as late fabrications’.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #9

Now historical accuracy (unless it is 100% preserved, which it isn’t) doesn’t automatically mean it is inspired (which I think it is), only that atheists and others are wrong in claiming the Bible to be entirely ahistorical, and therefore unreliable.


(George Brooks) #10

I can agree with that, @Reggie_O_Donoghue

For example, Homer’s writings suggest that his assemblage of the stories was sometime in the 800’s BCE… while the stories themselves contain elements that seem genuinely a part of the Greek and Anatolian worlds circa 1200 BCE - the time of the Sea People!

I’m only concerned when people find something that seems historically accurate, and then begins the campaign to assert that everything else must be true as well!


(RiderOnTheClouds) #11

As I said, historical accuracy does not automatically mean divine inspiration.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #12

I don’t believe the Bible is one hundred percent perfectly preserved. Daniel’s chronology regarding the Kings of Babylon is completely off the mark.


(George Brooks) #13

@Christy, @Reggie_O_Donoghue’s comment above brings up a rather good point.

Wouldn’t YEC’s insist that the Book of Daniel’s chronology regarding the Kings of Babylon must be adhered to?

@Reggie_O_Donoghue, do you have a run down for how obvious (or not obvious?) the errors are?


(George Brooks) #14

@Reggie_O_Donoghue

In English, we read Noah. But in Hebrew, it is Noack, yes?

So, you think there was a man named Ziasudra? So… does this mean you think there was a man named Tubalcain as well?

Many months ago, I posted on the name No-aK… basically, “N.K.” And there is a single verse buried in the Old Testament that refers to the “waters of NK”. How strange, yes? That they would name the flood after Noah?

But not strange that they would name the waters after NK… or (e)NK(i) !

Isa 54:9
For this is as the Waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that
the Waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn
that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Transliteration
Noach (H5117)
Pronunciation
nō’·akh (Key)

Root Word (Etymology)
The same as נוּחַ (H5118)

The KJV translates Strong’s H5146 in the following manner: Noah (46x).

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Transliteration
nuwach (H5118)
Pronunciation
nü’·akh (Key)

Root Word (Etymology)
From נוּחַ (H5117)
Dictionary Aids

The KJV translates Strong’s H5118 in the following manner: rest (3x), resting place (1x).
resting place

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)
נוּחַ nûwach, noo’-akh; or נוֹחַ nôwach; from H5117; quiet:—rest(-ed, -ing place).


(RiderOnTheClouds) #15

If I remember correctly Belshazzar is wrongly said to be king, and the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Nabonidus, or the other Babylonian kings receive no mention.


(system) #16

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