Camel stories in the Old Testament were made up and long after the purported events

I suppose there are some who still believe that the stories of the Old Testament are not just fables and are an historical account.  As fables they are almost as well known as the stories of the brother’s Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. But they are not at all a bad bunch of stories – though I always thought that a father offering up his son as a sacrifice was a sign of an evil man and not of any kind of faith to be admired. And even as a child I felt that neither the cowardly Abraham nor his tyrannical God came out of that story very well. And the grown-up son (Isaac) who allowed himself to be bound up to satisfy a demented father only comes out as an idiot.

In any event I cannot remember that I ever thought the stories were factual accounts or were anything other than fiction (which itself makes me wonder at what age we come to separate fact from fiction). To “prove” that fiction about the long dead past is not factual is, of course, trying to prove a negative. Researchers have now shown that at the purported time of the Age of the Patriarchs (supposedly 2000 – 1500 BCE), camels did not exist in the purported habitat of the purported Patriarchs (Abraham, Joseph and Jacob). I find it interesting that camels  were actually moved up from Arabia to the Levant apparently to help with a change of copper mining technology. But it is of little relevance to proving or disproving the fictions embodied in the fables of the Old Testament.

Finding Israel’s First Camels

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob. But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE). In addition to challenging the Bible’s historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes.

Now Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University‘sDepartment of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the moment when domesticated camels arrived in the southern Levant, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE.  …. 

Archaeologists have established that camels were probably domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula for use as pack animals sometime towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. In the southern Levant, where Israel is located, the oldest known domesticated camel bones are from the Aravah Valley, which runs along the Israeli-Jordanian border from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and was an ancient center of copper production. At a 2009 dig, Dr. Ben-Yosef dated an Aravah Valley copper smelting camp where the domesticated camel bones were found to the 11th to 9th century BCE. In 2013, he led another dig in the area.

To determine exactly when domesticated camels appeared in the southern Levant, Dr. Sapir-Hen and Dr. Ben-Yosef used radiocarbon dating and other techniques to analyze the findings of these digs as well as several others done in the valley. In all the digs, they found that camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the Kingdom of David, according to the Bible. The few camel bones found in earlier archaeological layers probably belonged to wild camels, which archaeologists think were in the southern Levant from the Neolithic period or even earlier. Notably, all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them.

The appearance of domesticated camels in the Aravah Valley appears to coincide with dramatic changes in the local copper mining operation. Many of the mines and smelting sites were shut down; those that remained active began using more centralized labor and sophisticated technology, according to the archaeological evidence. The researchers say the ancient Egyptians may have imposed these changes — and brought in domesticated camels — after conquering the area in a military campaign mentioned in both biblical and Egyptian sources.

……. The arrival of domesticated camels promoted trade between Israel and exotic locations unreachable before, according to the researchers; the camels can travel over much longer distances than the donkeys and mules that preceded them. By the seventh century BCE, trade routes like the Incense Road stretched all the way from Africa through Israel to India. Camels opened Israel up to the world beyond the vast deserts, researchers say, profoundly altering its economic and social history.

About these ads

Tags: , , , ,

3 Responses to “Camel stories in the Old Testament were made up and long after the purported events”

  1. lehautegryphon Says:

    In response to your incorrect comments about Genesis 22 and calling the Bible a fable, let me clear the record. You are totally ignorant of what Genesis 22 is about, in part because like so many people who do not like the inconvenient truth, you read it in complete obliviousness to the topic. Genesis 22, is the passage about which you so flippantly remark:

    “But they are not at all a bad bunch of stories – though I always thought that a father offering up his son as a sacrifice was a sign of an evil man and not of any kind of faith to be admired. And even as a child I felt that neither the cowardly Abraham nor his tyrannical God came out of that story very well. And the grown-up son (Isaac) who allowed himself to be bound up to satisfy a demented father only comes out as an idiot.”

    In your sanctimonious dismissal of this story, you seem incapable of understanding this story is the first polemic IN THE ENTIRE WORLD against child sacrifice in specific and human sacrifice in general. There is literally no habitable continent where we do not have evidence of child sacrifice in the patriarchal epoch the Genesis narrative was first spoken. In fact up until at least 500 BCE we see children being sacrificed around the world, Why? To appease gods and bring rain in the midst of drought. In other words the children that would not survive were ceremonially put to death in an appeasement ritual. The same premise Hamas and Hezbollah used to recruit child bombers in the 90s: promises for the family to take care of the rest of the kids for life if they got one to sacrifice as a bomb. The God of the Bible says you don’t kill your kids. Though in reality in many cultures girls are thrown out in a sacrifice to governmental and economic cruelty.

    But you know the one tribe, the one culture, where child and human sacrifice were forbidden by their deity? The Abramic religions stemming from Genesis 22. Your clear hatred of religion leads you to a false conclusion about where and how God spoke to people and about what. In that story Abraham doesn’t question God because it was not unusual for “gods” to ask for child sacrifices. So off he goes in the story to kill his son. But in reality the point of that story, which you so blithely miss, is that ALL child sacrifice is wrong, all human sacrifice is wrong.

    So stick to what you know and stop ripping about the Bible and those who believe it.

  2. Camels and Fundamentalism | theoutwardquest Says:

    […] disproves the historicity of the Bible or that it proves that the Bible is made up.  See here and here, for instance.  (The original story seems to have been in Hebrew in a Tel Aviv journal. There is […]

  3. dave Says:

    Whatever you may believe, or disbelieve, about the Bible these “findings” are dishonest. First, just because earlier camel bones haven’t been discovered doesn’t mean they don’t, or never did, exist. Second, the article blithely states that the occasional, earlier camel bones that were discovered are “they believe” from wild camels. O.K., convenient, wouldn’t you agree? And third, if you read the Bible accounts in question they never assert that domesticated camel use was common during those periods. It is amazing to me how people are so eager to discount the Bible. Why do you care so much?

Comments are closed.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 531 other followers

%d bloggers like this: