|Noah’s Flood (2900 BC)
|Tower of Babel (1687 BC)
|Abraham arrival to Canaan (1495 BC)
|Joseph’s 7 years of Famine (1388 BC)
|Exodus to Promised Land (1269 BC)
Normalization the long lifespans in one problem which we addressed earlier, but realigning them to historical details is a another problem.
Exodus to Promised Land~ 1268 BC
And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which [is] the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD (1Kgs 6:1).
The fourth year of Solomon’s reign is 1028 BC. This happens to be 480th year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt. Ramesses_II had his 13th son as the next pharaoh since his older brothers had all died, also showing a possible connection to Passover. He ruled Egypt from 1279–1213 BC. Reviewing 1st Kings 6:1, if 480 years is (bi-annual) i.e., dividing exactly by half, i.e, 240 years, it gives, 1268 BC, fitting the time frame of the reign of Ramesses II.
Gen 15:13-16 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Exod 12:40 And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years. (LXXE)
What are those 4 generations? (Abraham -> Isaac -> Jacob -> Levi -> Kohath -> Amram -> Moses). It’s from Levi to Moses, the children of Israel which gives only 141 years, not 400 years. The 400 years mentioned in Gen 15 by God is an approximation and the exact value is 430 as mentioned in Exod 12:40. However, from Isaac to Exodus, it is 215 years, exactly half of the four hundred and thirty years (~215 biannual years) timeline from Isaac (when the prophecy was given) till Exodus. Hence, the Exodus, without a doubt happened at 1268 BC which also indicates that Isaac was born at 1483 BC (215 years before).
Another evidence for Exodus in 1268 BC is due to Merneptah Stele in 1208 BC by Merneptah, the son of Ramesses II, the earliest reference to the name Israel.
Joseph’s 7 years of Famine ~ 1388 BC
Based on a straight forward calculation, the famine of Joseph began in 1388 BC.
Gen 47:11 And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.
The above verse mentions the land of Rameses. However the first pharaoh to have a name of Ramesses i.e, (Ramesses_I) was nearly a century later (1295–1294 BC). Hence, when the later scribes wrote about Joseph’s incident in Genesis, they were referring to the land that later belonged to Rameses.
Gen 47:13 Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.
Egyptian history does not record any severe famines around ~1380 BC. One of the possible reason could be that Egypt as a nation was not affected since Joseph saved it. But an interesting fact around early 13th century BC was the religious reform in Egypt by Pharaoh, Akhenaten (1353–1336 BC) who abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism to have monotheism of one god worship. His religion seems to be worship of “light” (as rays from the sun but prohibited idolatry or representing god in any image). This is astonishingly similar to the God of the Bible but in a very primitive knowledge as known to the patriarchs (as an invisible one true God).
Gen 41:38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
This is by no means equating the God of the Bible to some Egyptian “god” but it seems “Joseph” may have given a “Bible Study” to Pharaoh regarding the “one true God, El-Shaddai” after interpreting his dreams.
Gen 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
It is also interesting to see the meaning of Zaphnath-Paaneah, After the decipherment of hieroglyphics, it has been interpreted as “the god speaks [and] he lives”. Asenath and Poti-Pherah could have been following idols (since their names have other gods) before the Pharaoh established the monotheism. Even Pharaoh renamed himself from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten reflecting the new god of monotheism.
Gen 45:8 “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
This shows a period of time in the history of Egypt where someone able to even influenced Pharaoh to follow one true God, even to the point of establishing monotheism as a state religion. I believe this influence of monotheism to Pharaoh was none other than Joseph, Jacob and his sons who initially came to Egypt.
Hence, the famine might have been in 1388 BC, when Akhenaten was witnessing the years of plenty and famine, and eventually reformed the nation of Egypt when he became Pharaoh.
Abraham arrival to Canaan ~ 1495 BC
Gen 11:28 And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
Chaldaea was a Semitic-speaking nation that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BC, after which it and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia. However, Abraham was much earlier than this period. Hence, the reference for Ur of the Chaldeans may simply an indication of Ur being under the rule of Chaleans at the time when the above verse or Genesis was written.
Gen 14:1-7 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.
There are lots of names which we hope to match historically except the fact nothing matches with “known” history. The name Chedorlaomer is associated with familiar Elamite components, such as kudur, meaning “servant”, and Lagamar, who was a high goddess in the Elamite pantheon. The linguistic origins of the name Chedorlaomer may be traced to Persian or Assyrian names. Apart from linguistic connection, there is no trace of the kings who fought in valley of Siddim mentioned in “recorded” history. King of Shinar (Amraphel), and king of Elam (Chedorlaomer) is a strange combination who were passing through the Assyrian empire. Looking back into history for when Elamites, Shinar and Assyria were allies, gives some clue about the time period. Kassite kings established trade and diplomacy with Assyria. Puzur-Ashur III of Assyria (1503 BC to 1479 BC) and Burna-Buriash I signed a treaty agreeing the border between the two states in the mid-16th century BC, Egypt, Elam, and the Hittites, and the Kassite royal house intermarried with their royal families. Hence, this period around 1495 BC (as per the above timeline) is the most probable time for Abraham’s arrival to Canaan.
Tower of Babel ~ 1687 BC
Gen 11:4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
Who are these people trying to make a name for who? Themselves? It is like you declaring to be the king for yourself with no one listening.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s own words as recorded in the inscription on Borsippa, “The tower, the eternal house, which I founded and built. I have completed its magnificence with silver, gold, other metals, stone, enameled bricks, fir and pine. The first which is the house of the earth’s base, the most ancient monument of Babylon; I built and finished it. I have highly exalted its head with bricks covered with copper. We say for the other, that is, this edifice, the house of the seven lights of the earth the most ancient monument of Borsippa. A former king built it, (they reckon 42 ages) but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words. Since that time the earthquake and the thunder had dispersed the sun-dried clay. The bricks of the casing had been split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps”
This undoubtedly proves the existence of Tower of Babel. The reference to a ziqqurrat at Babylon (Etemenanki) in the Creation Epic (Enûma Eliš during Middle Assyrian period, from 1392 to 934 BC) is more solid evidence for it to be standing during 2nd millennium BC. Hence, the date for the tower of Babel to be around 1687 BC is more probable.
Noah’s flood and beyond ~ 2900 BC
A global flood story is not unique to Mesopotamia. Flood stories are common across a wide range of cultures, extending back into Bronze Age and Neolithic prehistory.
Undoubtedly, all flood stories have some similarity to Bible and must have a common origin of an actual event. Hence, we must trace the earliest documented flood story in history, rather than folklore.
- Eridu Genesis (Sumerian creation myth) ~ 1600 BC
- Epic of Atrahasis, written during the reign of king Ammi-saduqa of Babylonia ~ 1647 – 1626 BC
- Epic of Gilgameš, tablet XI, composed in c.1100 BC
- Fragment 4 of Berossus’ Babylonian History, 278 BC
The comparison is available here. Nearly all research scholars agree regarding a local flood in southern Babylonia around 28th century BC. At the end of the Uruk period there was an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak. Polychrome pottery from a destruction level below the flood deposit has been dated to the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC).
Based on our corrected genealogy (as above), the flood date seems to be 1773 BC (184 AM). However, the flood that happened 5 generations before the tower of Babel was in 2900 BC. This flood is not global in nature and there is no evidence for a global flood during this time. Also, the lifespans of 5 genealogies from tower of Babel to flood is stretched out.
Gen 10:22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.
Elam, Asshur (Assyria), Lud (Lydia i.e, Turkey), Aram and (Arphaxad) Urfa-Kasid (Edessa) are all city states, countries or regions. It is possible that these men may have built the cities but just as Matthew did in the genealogy of Jesus, several generations may have been simply skipped.
Adam and Eve ~ Unknown
The mentioned lifespan and years in the genealogies of Adam and Eve were in months as we saw in the previous post. Scholars have noted similarities between these descents, with most of the names in each being either identical or variants of those in the other, though their order differs, with the names of Enoch and Mahalalel/Mehujael switching places in the two pedigrees. It is “as if they were different versions of the same underlying tradition.” This has led to speculation that copies of the same original genealogical descent had drifted away from each other, only to be brought back together and put to different purposes when the Book of Genesis was compiled from these divergent Jahwist and Priestly sources.
These differences does not change any theology but it seems that the early scribes had added several information unknown to them from other ancient sources and /or a later redactor messed up things. For instance, when God revealed Himself to Israel, their view of the creation of the world on what they heard and knew based on earlier stories changes to the one God being the creator.
1 Chr 4:22 … (These records are from ancient times.)
Part of the reason could be the genealogies mentioned in the Bible are from ancient records that are copied. The scribes not only copied, they are modified based on their theological understanding. For example, the scribes modified the entire book of Genesis (Y source) replacing God with Yahweh after the knowledge of God’s name as YHWH.
We can only go back in time up to the time of Abraham and may be a bit further back till tower of Babel for genealogies. Beyond that, it is impossible to verify with known historical records since the scribes copied and edited much ancient records. What was originally there is something we may never know. Hence, when ancient copied and edited, the original source text is lost forever.