Research Articles: Patriarchal Era

Archaeological and historical articles dealing with the validity and reliability of the Patriarchal narratives found in Genesis, chapters 10-50.

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The Date of Camel Domestication in the Ancient Near East 2/17/2014 - by T M Kennedy

Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures have used radiocarbon dating in an attempt to pinpoint the time when domesticated camels arrived in the southern Levant, pushing the standard estimate from the 12th down to the 10th century BC. The findings, published recently in the journal Tel Aviv, are being used to argue that camels were first used in the mining operations near the end of the 10th century BC. They state that this is the first evidence of domesticated camels in ancient Israel. Such proclamations erroneously extrapolate the findings of the research far beyond what the actual data proves. In reality, there is abundant evidence that the Bible's mention of camels as early as the time of Abraham is contextually and historically accurate. In this article, TM Kennedy demonstrates the accuracy of the biblical texts in their historical setting as it pertains to camels.

A Theology Of The Fall In Genesis 3 And The Ancient Near East 10/31/2013 - by James Gee PhD

Genesis is a book of beginnings. It is the record of the beginning of all creation: the universe, the earth, mankind, and the people of Israel. It also contains a record of the beginning of sin and the circumstances of that beginning. This is normally referred to as “The Fall.” As time progressed and sin increased, man eventually digressed so far that he started believing in and worshipping other so-called gods. As a part of this apostasy the account of the beginning of man slowly evolved to fit with the lifestyle of sin, as well as with these new gods and beliefs. Other things crept in to sometimes completely distort the account. But, some similarities remain.

Book Review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology: Part II 7/12/2012 - by Rodger C. Young MA

Book review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology, by Andrew E. Steinmann. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. Hardback, 421 + xxxviii pages. Part II.

Book Review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology: Part I 7/9/2012 - by Rodger C. Young MA

Book review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology, by Andrew E. Steinmann. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. Hardback, 421 + xxxviii pages.

The Duration of the Israelite Sojourn In Egypt 1/5/2012 - by Paul J Ray Jr

There has been a division among scholars as to whether the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt was 215 (or 210) years long, or 430 years long. Although, along with Genesis 15:13-21, Exodus 12:40 is our primary source, evidences other than the variants of the ancient translations of the Scriptures are needed in order to reach a decision with respect to whether the long chronology or the short one for the Israelite sojourn in Egypt is to be preferred.

The Generations of Genesis 6/28/2011 - by Dale S Dewitt

The genealogical tables or other records in the book of Genesis which are either introduced or concluded with “These are the generations...” (or similar words) have provided material for many studies. Professor DeWitt, formerly of the Department of Bible in Grace Bible College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, took a look at them in 1976 in the light of recent Near Eastern discovery and scholarly assessment. Though this article is 35 years old, it is still useful for study on this subject today.

The Patriarch Job, Chalcolithic Ossuary Jars, and the Resurrection of the Body 3/23/2011 - by Gordon Franz MA

The Lord, in His permissive will, allowed Satan to afflict “a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and the man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1, all Scripture quotes from the New King James Bible).

The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship 10/11/2010 - by Curt Sewell

Many pastors, writers, and even seminary professors rely on the “JEDP Documentary Hypothesis” to explain how the book of Genesis was originally written. This concept says that for many centuries the stories were passed down orally, usually with embellishments or deletions, and were not committed to writing until much later than the events they describe. Naturally, this idea doesn’t tend to inspire confidence in the literal accuracy of the account. Thus it’s favored by theologians of a liberal bent. In contrast, the “Tablet Theory” suggests that portions of Genesis were originally written on clay tablets by men who personally experienced the events described. The tablets were later compiled by Moses. Since the original writers were said to be eye-witnesses, their accounts should be historically accurate. This article briefly describes the development and implications of these two theories.

The Documentary Hypothesis 9/24/2010 - by Duane Garrett

The time has long passed for scholars of every theological persuasion to recognize that the Graf-Wellhausen theory, as a starting point for continued research, is dead. The Documentary Hypothesis and the arguments that support it have been effectively demolished by scholars from many different theological perspectives and areas of expertise. Even so, the ghost of Wellhausen hovers over Old Testament studies and symposiums like a thick fog, adding nothing of substance but effectively obscuring vision. Although actually incompatible with form-critical and archaeology-based studies, the Documentary Hypothesis has managed to remain the mainstay of critical orthodoxy. One wonders if we will ever return to the day when discussions of Genesis will not be stilted by interminable references to P and J. There are indications that such a day is coming. Many scholars are exploring the inadequacies of the Documentary Hypothesis and looking toward new models for explaining the Pentateuch.

The Curious History of the “Editor” in Biblical Criticism 7/1/2010 - by Clyde E. Billington PhD

A review of The Edited Bible, by John Van Seters (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006. This recent book by John Van Seters should have a revolutionary impact on the critical study of the Bible, particularly on the study of the Pentateuch/ Hexateuch in the OT.

Shechem: Its Archaeological and Contextual Significance 6/25/2010 - by Col. (Ret.) David G. Hansen PhD

Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well in John 4 is an excellent example of the importance of context in developing a passage. The story takes place near the Old Testament city of Shechem. Shechem is mentioned 60 times in the Old Testament. The city had been abandoned by New Testament times, but Stephen reiterates its importance in his speech in Acts 7:16. A small village, Sychar, was near the ruins of Shechem in New Testament times and is mentioned in the John 4 account (Jn 4:5). Unfortunately, most Bible studies of events at or near Shechem, and commentaries on the Book of John, omit Shechem’s pivotal role in Bible history and how it fit into God’s salvation plan.

CSI Hammam: The Fifth Season of Investigating a Biblical City 4/14/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

The Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project is a joint scientific project between Trinity Southwest University’s College of Archaeology & Biblical History and the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. TeHEP is a multi-year study focusing on the relationship of this immense and strategically-located site within its ancient socio-cultural, economic and political context...

Joseph in Egypt: Part VI 4/9/2010 - by Charles Aling PhD

We do not know how many years Joseph served as Egypt’s Vizier (Prime Minister). It is very interesting that he evidently held two key titles, Vizier and Chief Steward of the King. This is relatively unusual in Egyptian history...

Joseph in Egypt: Part V 4/5/2010 - by Charles Aling PhD

The specific Egyptian titles granted to Joseph by Pharaoh have been discussed at great length by modern scholars. The key verse is Genesis 45:8, which mentions three titles held by Joseph. The Hebrew text of course does not give the Egyptian form of these three titles. Hence, years of scholarly debate have arisen over the exact Egyptian renditions of the Hebrew words or phrases...

Joseph in Egypt: Part IV 3/15/2010 - by Charles Aling PhD

In Genesis 41, Joseph meets the king of Egypt. As we saw in our last article, he had been prepared for this encounter by being cleaned up and shaved, in true Egyptian fashion. He was now ready to meet the most powerful and important man on earth...

Joseph in Egypt: Part III 3/4/2010 - by Charles Aling PhD

As all who are familiar with the Biblical account will remember, Joseph, while still in the household of Potiphar, was falsely accused of adultery with the wife of his master and thrown into prison. The normal punishment for adultery in ancient Egypt was death; the fact that Joseph did not suffer execution is interesting and perhaps indicates that Potiphar doubted the veracity of his wife, who had made the accusation. In any case, Joseph spent time in an Egyptian prison...

Joseph in Egypt: Part II 2/23/2010 - by Charles Aling PhD

Joseph began life in Egypt as a slave (Gn 39:1). As we saw in Part I of this study, these events in the life of Joseph should be dated to the great Middle Kingdom period of Egyptian history (2000–1782 BC)...

Correlating the Texts of Ancient Literature with the Old Testament 2/19/2010 - by David Livingston PhD

There is a presupposition which has hindered Old Testament research for over 150 years. It is that Israel’s religion, and thus the Bible, evolved, or is a revision (or improvement) of earlier religious systems to suit the purposes of the biblical writers. We are referring to the Wellhausen documentary hypothesis...

Joseph in Egypt: Part I 2/18/2010 - by Charles Aling PhD

No portion of the Old Testament has a richer Egyptian coloring than the story of Joseph. Egyptian names, titles, places, and customs all appear in Genesis 37–50. In the last one hundred years or so, historical and archaeological research has made the study of the Egyptian elements in the Joseph story more fruitful than ever before...

The Wealth and Power of the Biblical Patriarchs 10/14/2009 - by Stephen Caesar MA

The Biblical record suggests that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were exceedingly wealthy men. This is borne out by the fact that they owned both donkeys and camels. The rarity of domesticated camels in the Bronze Age Near East, combined with the economic advantages enjoyed by camel owners over non-owners, along with the exclusive ability of the rich to initiate camel domestication and eventually to profit from it, provide a significant connection to the Patriarchs as described in Genesis...

Cultural Change and the Confusion of Language in Ancient Sumer 9/21/2009 - by Charles Aling PhD

Mesopotamia, literally “the land between the rivers" was the home of many peoples familiar to us from general ancient history and the Old Testament, such as the Assyrians and Babylonians. Before these peoples a group known as the Sumerians, the creators of classic Mesopotamian culture, inhabited the southern part of the valley. How and when did civilization start in this region?

The Beni Hasan Asiatics and the Biblical Patriarchs 9/9/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

The modern village of Beni Hasan is one hundred sixty miles south of Cairo (and just north of Amarna on the map). Named after the local Bedouin tribe living for centuries, it sits adjacent to the ruins of Monet-Khufu, ancient capital of the sixteenth (Antelope) nome in Middle Egypt. Little of the city is left, except the rock-cut tombs in the cliffs high above the Nile’s eastern shore. Here Egyptologists found a now-famous tomb painting which offers important insights into the world of the Biblical Patriarchs...

The Bible According to Karnak 8/13/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

The Bible indicates that many important Biblical characters spent time in Egypt: Abraham (Gn 12:10–13:1, Jacob (Gn 46–50), Joseph (Gn 39–50), Moses (Ex 2–12), Joshua, (Nm 14:26–30), Jeremiah (Jer 43:6–8) and even baby Jesus (Mt 2:14–21). Trade routes led from Canaan directly to the Nile delta region, where Goshen was located. Called Lower Egypt because the Nile flows from the mountains in the south (Upper Egypt) to the Mediterranean Sea in the north, this is the part of Egypt where most Biblical characters lived and Biblical events took place...

The Joseph Narrative (Genesis 37, 39–50) 3/12/2009 - by Kenneth A Kitchen

Egyptian pharaohs brought many captives from Canaan into Egypt, to be employed in state and temple servitude, some passing into private hands as slaves; Canaanite merchants also visited Egypt...

Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai 3/2/2009 - by Randall W Younker

Most scholars believe camels were not domesticated until the end of the second millenium BC. Yet evidence continues to amass that camel domestication was widely known earlier. Randall Younker adds Late Bronze Age I petroglyphs (Greek = rock/carving) depicting domesticated camels from the Sinai to that evidence...

Patriarchal Wealth and Early Domestication of the Camel 2/19/2009 - by Stephen Caesar MA

The Genesis account of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob suggests all three were wealthy men. While scholars generally view references to camels in relation to these patriarchs as anachronistic, author Stephen Casear points out that is not the case. He adds that the mention of camels actually helps explain the source of the patriarchs’ wealth...

Tall el-Hammam 2008: A Personal Perspective 1/12/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

In January 2009, we will be back in the field for our fourth season of excavating at Tall el-Hammam, Jordan. Situated seven miles north of the Dead and nine miles east of the Jordan River, it is the largest site in the southern Jordan River Valley...

Israel in Egypt 9/24/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

The main route between Canaan and Egypt was along the northern coast of Sinai. A number of Biblical figures no doubt traveled this road. Known to the Egyptians as “the Way of Horus,” and in the Bible as “the road through the Philistine country” (Ex 13:17), it ended in the eastern delta in the Goshen region. This is the part of Egypt where most Biblical characters lived and Biblical events took place...

Egypt and the Bible 7/26/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

Throughout history, Egyptians lived almost exclusively in the Nile River Valley and its expanded delta. Only ten percent of Egypt’s surface, it has supported 99 percent of the nation’s population from earliest times...

Is there Archaeological Evidence for the Tower of Babel? 5/10/2008 - by John H. Walton

It is the southern Mesopotamian backdrop that provides the basis for studying the account in light of what is known of the culture and history of Mesopotamia. One of the immediate results of that perspective is firm conviction that the tower that figures predominantly in the narrative is to be identified as a ziggurat...

Sodom and Gomorrah: Is There Evidence for Their Destruction? 5/6/2008 - by Bryant G. Wood PhD

The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea. The modern names are Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sodom, and Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah. Both places were destroyed at the same time by an enormous conflagration...

The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah 4/16/2008 - by Bryant G. Wood PhD

When the archaeological, geographical and epigraphic evidence is reviewed in detail, it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found. What is more, this evidence demonstrates that the Bible provides an accurate eyewitness account of events that occurred southeast of the Dead Sea over 4,000 years ago...

The Jordan River Valley, the Jordan River and the Jungle of the Jordan 6/6/2007 - by Gary Byers MA

Spending a month excavating in the Jordan Valley at Tall el-Hammam last winter caused me to rethink some of what I thought I knew about the region. I decided a better understanding of the geology, geography and ecology of the area would help me better interpret our archaeological data...

Who Was Nimrod? 10/30/2006 - by David Livingston PhD

Besides the stories of the Creation and Flood in the Bible there ought to be similar stories on clay tablets found in the cultures near and around the true believers. These tablets may have a reaction, or twisted version, in their accounts of the Creation and Flood. In the post-Flood geneaological records of Genesis 10...

Relearning Old Lessons: Archaeologists Fail to Use Sound Reasoning 8/23/2006 - by Brian Janeway PhD (c)

This story is one that has been repeated time and again throughout more than a century of excavations in the Holy Land. It involves a tendency to make claims based upon incomplete evidence and fails to account for the principle that absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence...

The Genesis Philistines 5/31/2006 - by Bryant G. Wood PhD

The Philistines we encounter in the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Samuel are well known to us. However, skeptics have claimed that references to the Philistines in the book of Genesis are a fictional anachronism. According to the Bible, the Philistines originated in “Caphtor” identified as the island of Crete...

Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Nuzi Tablets 2/27/2006 - by Bryant G. Wood PhD

Nuzi was a Hurrian administrative center not far from the Hurrian capital at Kirkuk in northern Iraq. The Hurrians are equivalent to the Horites in the Old Testament, also called Hivites and Jebusites. Excavations were carried out at Nuzi by American teams from 1925 to 1933...

Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Mari Archive 2/6/2006 - by Bryant G. Wood PhD

The ancient city of Mari, located in northern Syria, was a thriving metropolis ca. 2800-1760 BC. From about 2000 BC until its demise in 1760 BC, Mari was the capital of the Amorites...

There Be Giants in the Earth 12/4/2005 - by Rick Lanser MDiv

"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown" (Gen. 6:4, KJV). With this verse in Genesis the Bible introduces to us the existence of giants...

Iraq and the Bible 9/15/2005 - by Bryant G. Wood PhD

Iraq is called the "Cradle of Civilization," as evidence has been found there for the earliest writing system, urban centers, literature, metallurgy, science, medicine and business, as reflected in the Bible (Gn 2:14; 4:21-22; 10:10-11; 11:1-5). Our modern culture has its roots in ancient Iraq...

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