Sunday, November 05, 2006

Biblical Beginnings in Canaan

The Mighty Bronze Age Empire

"In 1964, Dr. Paolo Matthiae, professor of Near East archaeology at the University of Rome began to excavate Tell Mardikh in north-western Syria [forty kilometers south of Aleppo]. It soon became clear that they were excavating the ruins of the ancient city of Ebla. In 1975, as the dig progressed down to Early Bronze Age levels, a remarkable find was made in the form of nearly 20,000 clay tablets which constituted the royal archives of the city. These tablets date back to the middle of the 3rd millenium BC, almost 4,500 years ago. They are written in Sumerian wedge-shaped cuneiform script which is the world's oldest known written language. Deciphering these tablets, Professor Pettinato, also of the University of Rome, found the language used to be what he called Old Canaanite' even though the script was cuneiform Sumerian. This very ancient language is closer in vocabulary and grammar to biblical Hebrew than any other Canaanite dialect', including Ugaritic; this therefore gives evidence as to the age of the Hebrew language."
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

"The documents "reveal the existence of a mighty Canaanite empire in Syria that also embraced Palestine around 2400 BC which no one had suspected before; its capital was at Tell Mardikh - an ancient, all-but-forgotten city called Ebla."
- Magnus Magnusson, BC - The Archaeology of the Bible Lands

"The city was a large one of 260,000 inhabitants; it traded widely over the known world at that time. A flourishing civilisation existed with many skilled craftsmen in metals, textiles, ceramics, and woodwork. It existed 1,000 years before David and Solomon and was destroyed by the Akkadians in around 1600 BC.
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

"Amongst the hundreds of place names in the commercial and diplomatic texts, of special interest to Biblical scholars are references to places and vassal cities in Palestine like Hazor, Gaza, Lachish, Megiddo, Akko, Sinai, and even Jerusalem itself (Urusalima).
"But perhaps the most intriguing names are those personal names which also appear in the Bible; names from the 'Patriarchal Age' like Ab-ra-mu (Abraham), E-sa-um (Esau), Ish-ma-ilu (Ishmael), even Is-ra-ilu (Israel), and from later periods, names like Da-'u'dum (David) and Sa-'u-lum (Saul). The most tantalizing adumbration is the name of Ebrum (Biblical Eber), third and greatest of the six kings of the Ebla dynasty between 2400 and 2250 BC. He seems to have been placed on the throne of Ebla by Sargon the Great of Akkad after a punitive expedition in which Ebla was subjugated. But after Sargon died (c.2310 BC), Ebrum turned the tables on Akkad and reduced its cities to vassalage in turn. It was not until 2250 that Sargon's grandson, Narum-Sin of Akkad, was able to throw off the yoke of Ebla by conquering the city and putting it to the torch."
"It may be pure coincidence that this powerful king of Ebla, King Ebrum, should have had the same name as Eber, from whom the Hebrews traced their descent....(coincidentally, Arab historians have traditionally dated Abraham to c.2300 BC)."
- Magnus Magnusson, BC - The Archaeology of the Bible Lands

"Tablet 1860 names the five cities of Genesis 14:2 in the same order, i.e. Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar. Up until the discovery of the Ebla tablets, the existence of these biblical cities was questioned; yet, here they are mentioned as trade partners of Ebla. This record predates the great catastrophy involving Lot when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
"Also included in the archive are very early Canaanite creation and flood stories which very closely resemble that of the Bible."
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

"...The rich coastal city of Ugarit [destroyed in 1200 BC]...traded widely throughout the Fertile Crescent and across the Mediterranean....Ugarit's accountants used a twenty-six letter cuneiform alphabet, an invention that would take writing out of the atmosphere of the ancient temples, away from the sacred obscurities of pictographs into a secular, demotic script which people of many different nations could easily adapt. This was a direct forerunner of modern Western alphabets as well as biblical Hebrew."
"Its literature was Canaanite and it is the traditions of that society that influenced the Old Testament. Even so, the scribes of Ugarit well knew of the city Jerusalem and its nearby holy Mount Zion; for the hill was known by that same name, which in Ugaritic Canaanite means 'the seat of a god'. Many Old Testament characters, too, have typically Canaanite names: Absalom and Solomon even hold in them the name of the Canaanite god of the evening star, Solom, just as does the name of Jerusalem itself. That numerous biblical terms for the articles of daily life, for clothes, perfumes and furniture were also Ugaritic, emphasizes the fact that this influence was not only linguistic but extended into the paraphernalia of daily life."
- John Romer, Testament

"According to the Biblical narrative, the migration into Canaan [of the Hebrew tribes] was led by Abraham, who came from the region of Haran that lies in the angle of the Euphrates northeast of Syria. There is good evidence that this was his ancestral home; archaeological findings have confirmed that customs presupposed in Genesis existed in this area. It is also recorded that Abraham moved to Haran from Ur in Chaldea, where he had settled; his move that may reflect the fact that in the nineteenth century B.C., Ur was destroyed by invading Elamites....Abraham's religion, so far as we can tell, centered on his belief in a god whom he called El-Shaddai, 'Divinity of the Mountains'. There is evidence that his tribe also venerated ancestral images."
- Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind

Although the Bible refers "Ur of the Chaldeas", the Chaldean kingdom did not exist until many centuries after Abraham, but was contemporaneous with the date when Genesis was set down in writing.

"One chapter of Genesis recounts that the god commanded Abraham to slay his son Isaac, then eight years old, but stayed Abraham's hand at the last moment and asked him to slaughter a ram instead. Religious interpretations explain the episode as a test of Abraham's faith. But some scholars see the story as evidence that human sacrifice as a religious practice was not beyond the patriarchs' acceptance. It is known that the Canaanites of the Second Millennium BC did follow the custom (although it apparently was waning), because excavations a shrine near the city of Gezer have yielded clay jars containing the charred bones of babies."
- The Israelites

Background on the Old Testament

As for the scholars whom have spent much time as to when the various books of the Old Testament were written, and who the writers were, its interesting to note the numerous theories that have burst forth and instead of trying to find verifiable evidence to prove credibility for those beliefs have instead sought after a following of credulous peers and subordinates.
Some have stated that it is hard to date the writings because of the long period of time that has transpired since the works were composed and compiled; and that they 'may' have undergone innumerable changes as the result of "editors" and/or "copyists" over the years. Yet some have no problems in stating that the works were someone's whimsical attempt to glorify the Israelites and was made up around the tenth century B.C.E. Many of these scholars have overlooked the history of the Scriptures and seem to ignore that their present form came into being only two thousand four hundred years ago; and that these works of history and prophesy are condensed from what were much larger works of the Israelites that were lost between the second and forth centuries C.E. From this period the changes in the scriptures are well recorded or known to us, however the original works from which they came hopefully are safe somewhere still, that we may find them and be able to settle the disputes and throw away the erroneous theories.

"At that time Jorobabel, having by his wisdom overcame his opponents, and obtained leave from Darius for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, returned with Ezra to his native land, and by him inspired oracles were effected; and the Passover of the deliverance celebrated, and marriage with aliens dissolved."
- Clement of Alexandra (150-215 C.E.) , Miscellanies

Later in his book he mentions that the historian Philadelphus, writing on the origins of the Greek translations of the Old Testament, stated that the Scriptures had perished during the captivity of the Jews while in Babylon. And that at the time of Artxerxes king of the Persians, that Ezra the Levite priest having become inspired in the exercise of prophesy then restored again the whole of the ancient Scriptures.

So Ezra compiled and catalogued the books of the Israelite writings from sources from Persia to Egypt; and through his research wrote the books containing his peoples histories and the writings of the prophets (much of the histories were contained in the body of the prophetic works), quoting as much as he was inspired; he included their genealogy and his commentary in the Scriptures. This is evidenced as one reads through the various books; of Genesis; Exodus; Numbers; Joshua; Judges; Samuel; Kings; Chronicles: and the prophets (especially Isaiah).
The list of books used to put together the scriptures are mentioned in many places. For convenience I will list them here:

The book of the beginnings;
The books of Eden;
The acts of the Patriarchs;
The acts of Moses;
The book of the laws given to Moses (Joshua 23:6);
The book of Numbers;
The book of Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14);
The book of Jashar, the upright (Joshua 10:13, II Samuel 1:18);
The acts of Joshua;
The oracles of Balaam (Numbers 23:24);
The books of the Judges of Israel (a separate one for each judge);
The words and deeds of Samuel the seer (I Chronicles 29:29);
The acts of David (I Chronicles 27:24), which the Psalms were found;
The words of the days of Nathan the seer (I Chronicles 29:29;
The words of the days of Gad the seer (I Chronicles 2:29);
The acts of Solomon (II Chronicles 9:29),
which contained the song of Solomon, the proverbs and ecclesiastics:
The prophesy of Ahi'zah (II Chronicles 9:29);
The visions of Iddo (II Chronicles 9:29);
The words of the days of Iddo (II Chronicles 13:22);
The words of the days of Shemai'ah (Samaria (II Chronicles 12:15);
The words of the days of Jehu the seer, son of Hana'ni (II Chronicles 20:34);
The words of the days of Isaiah the prophet, son of Amos (II Chronicles 26:20);
Commentary on the writings of the Kings (II chronicles 24:27);
The words of the days of the seers (II Kings 21:17);
The writings of the days of the kings of Judah (by Jehu);
The writings of the kings of Israel (by Jehu).

There are some other sources as well, but due to wars throughout the near and Middle East within the last two thousand years, many of these have been lost or destroyed to a point that when found does not make much sense....There were several non Hebrew historians that mention times for the best known of the kings and some others, but these works have rarely been found wholly intact. The early church fathers in Alexandra did however, in a lot of their writings included quotations from authors of quite a few works that were a part of the famed Library there in Egypt. What we know about the sources that Ezra used is that t

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