Laurent de la Hyre - Abraham Sacrificing IsaacTABLE OF CONTENTS

History of Abraham
Location of UR
Ziggurat at UR
Abrahams Name
Field of Abram in Hebron
Tablets of Ebla
Nuzi Tablets
 
History of Joseph
The Beni Hasan Tomb
Famine in Egypt
Stone Tablet – Land Deed
Stone Granaries
Imhotep & References to Joseph
 
References

[TIMELINE: The Time of Abraham circa 2200 b.c. – 1900 b.c.]

 

HISTORY OF ABRAHAM

Abraham - JourneyAbraham lived 10 generations after Noah. It was to Abraham that God appeared and made a threefold covenant promise, (Gen 12.1-3):

  1. God promised to give him a land (that eventually became Israel)
  2. That Abraham would become a great nation (meaning he would have many descendants)
  3. That all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (through Israel came all the promises of God to the rest of the world, i.e. the Messiah our savior).

Abraham became the father of the entire Israeli nation, as well as every Arab nation. At this time in history, practically all of Noah’s descendants, (or the entire world population), had completely given themselves over to polytheism and worshiped multiple gods and goddesses (Joshua 24.2). Abraham, the father of the entire Jewish nation, was himself raised in a house that worshiped many different gods. The chief deities found among the people in this area was the sun and the moon god.

 

LOCATION OF ANCIENT UR

Location of Ancient UR - AbrahamUr was the land in which Abraham lived, the place that God called him out of, so that he would go into the land of Canaan.

Today, evidence still exists that points to Abraham and his family. Towns that have retained their names, still bearing the names of many of Abraham’s family members whom remained in that region. All these towns remain within a 20 mile radius of each other:

URFA – or (UR)FA – Ancient Ur
HARRAN – name of Abraham’s brother, 19 miles from UR
SURUC – preserves the name Serug, Abraham’s great grandfather
Til-Turahi– literally means the ruins of Terah, Abraham’s Father, is located between Harran and Urfa.
 

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ZIGGURAT OF UR

Ziggurat of UR - by Hardnfast 2006The location of Ur, of the Chaldees, was always famous because of the Bible, but no one was sure where it was until discovered around 1850 a.d. A Ziggurat was being excavated by archaeologists when an inscription was found that said, “This was at Ur.”

Ur is about 220 miles North West of present day Baghdad, and is on the Euphrates River near Nasiriyah, in present day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq.

From 1922 through 1934 archaeologist Leonard Woolley spent time excavating this archaeological find to a great degree.

Rendering of the Great Ziggurat of URThis structure dates back to circa 2100 b.c. but had completely eroded by the 6th century B.C. King Nabonidus of Babylon had restored it at that time.

There are some discrepancies over the beginning of Abrahams journey, whether Ur was in the southern region of ancient Baghdad near the Persian gulf or here at Urfa, but either way the evidence seems to point towards Abraham and his family settling and ending up here at Urfa.

 

ABRAHAM’S NAME

Abraham’s name appears in various places throughout Babylonia as a personal name at the very period of the patriarchs, though the critics believed he was a fictitious character who was ‘re-dated back’ by the later Israelites.

The field of Abram in Hebron is mentioned in 918 B.C., by the Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt (now also believed to be Ramesses II).

He had just finished warring in Palestine and inscribed on the walls of his temple at Karnak the name of the great patriarch, proving that even at this early date Abraham was known not in Arabia, as Muslims contend, but in Palestine, the land the Bible places him.

Ebla Tablet - ArchaeologyEbla Tablets

Written records from over 4,000 years ago was discovered byDr. Paolo Matthiae, Director of the Italian Archeological Mission in Syria:

The Ebla tablets verified and they mention the name “Abraham” and “Ur of Chaldees” as well as other familiar cities and places from the Bible.

 

NUZI TABLETS

Customary Practices – Sisters as Wives

Semitic Museum - Nuzi TabletsThe Nuzi was a Hurrian administrative center in the Hurrian capital at Kirkuk in northern Iraq. The Hurrians are known in the Old Testament as the Hivites and Jebusites.

Excavations were carried out at Nuzi by American teams from 1925 to 1933, finding more than 5,000 family and administrative archives ranging from 1450-1350 BC. They deal with many different social, economic, religious and legal institutions.

The tablets prescribe similar traditions found in Genesis such as:

  • Adoption for childless couples -Gn 15:2
  • Children by proxy          -Gn 16, 21:1
  • Inheritance rights          -Gn 25:29,
  • Marriage arrangements   -Gn 28
  • Levirate marriage          -Gn 38; Dt 25:5.
  • Deathbed blessing         -Gn 27; 48
  • Household gods            -Gn 31:14 30.

Nuzi tablets describe in the “tablets of sistership, use agreements which a man adopted a woman as a sister. In the Hurrians society, a wife would have both greater protection and a superior position when she also had the legal status of a sister.

Two different documents were used, one for the marriage of the couple and the other as sistership to her husband. In Genesis we see Abraham (Gen 12:10 20:1) and Isaac (Gen 26:7) say to their wives that they were their sisters. Using this archaeological find we know that the culture of this time used this ‘legal right’ to give their wives a higher social status.

 


HISTORY OF JOSEPH

Abraham had a son, his name was Isaac,
Isaac had a son, his name was Jacob,
Jacob had many sons, one of whom was named Joseph:

Joseph was Jacobs favored son (Gen 37.3). His brothers where jealous of their fathers favor towards him, so they tricked him and sold him into slavery. This turn of events eventually lead Joseph to be the favored servant of pharaoh, king of Egypt.

One day Joseph interpreted a dream that Pharaoh had that God gave to him (Genesis 41.1).

The vision, or dream, was interpreted by Joseph to mean that God was going to send upon Egypt 7 years of plentiful harvests then they would suffer from 7 years of famine (Gen 41.5-7).

Joseph creatively thought up a way to prevent the land of Egypt from suffering from the 7 years of famine. He told Pharaoh about his plan to storing a large portion of grain harvested each season into large granaries (Gen 41.46-48).

 

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BENI HASAN TOMB

From the Abrahamic period, the Beni Hasan tomb was found in the lower part of northern Egypt. It depicts Asiatics (or people of Semitic origin) coming to Egypt during a famine.

Archaeologists and historians recognize, typically, that only significant or important pictographs are portrayed inside of tombs. Therefore, the fact that this is depicted in one of the tombs indicated that it was a significant event during this time period. This event corresponding with the Biblical account of the plight of the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as seen in Genesis 41.

Beni Hasan Tomb

FAMINE IN EGYPT

God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.  – Gen 41:25-36

 

STONE TABLET – LAND DEED

Egyptian Land DeedA copy of a land deed stone document was found on one of the islets at the tip of the Nile River that was used as a land grant to the priests.

It describes the 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. It describes the event was foretold in a dream of the Pharaoh of that time period and interpreted by one of his servants.  Even though archaeologists date this tablet to roughly 400 b.c. (1200 years after Joseph), it still indicates that the priests used this tablet during this time (circa 400 b.c.) as a  legal deed and proof to keep their land from and earlier time of Egypt’s history.

This stone may have been a copy from an earlier document that had been worn or eroded from time, but still verifies the biblical record as far back as 400 b.c. as an independent source apart from any Hebrew text.

The Bible says the Joseph bought all the land for Pharaoh except the land of the priests (Gen 47.26).

 

STORAGE GRANARIES

Step Pyramid DiagramForeign countries came to Egypt to buy grain as the famine had spread throughout the whole land.

Storage Pits at Sycarah

Today, the pyramids at Sycarah have baffled skilled professionals. Egyptian archaeologists are at a loss to explain the structures that they find here, as it would seem they could only serve the possibility of a few purposes.

They cannot be tombs, because they where not sealed, and are open and accessible form the top.

Diagrams of Egyptian Grain ShootsJust as Joseph suggested, these structures seem to resemble large granaries and could have been used as such during a famine like the one described in the bible.

In fact, the evidence would suggest that these structures are best explained to have been, at one time, used as granaries due to the way they are designed.

  • An intricate system from the large structured opening, to the different chutes that cross and channel down between each of the pits resembles the functionality of cross refill systems used in granaries.
  • Small kernels of grain are still found in these pits to this day.
  • There are hieroglyphs that depict the people filling these pits with some sort of grains from their harvests.

Sycarah Storage Pits Heiroglyphs - Storage Pits

 

IMHOTEP & REFERENCE TO JOSEPH

Statue - IMHOTEPStories of a great man found throughout ancient writings referenced at the time of Pharaoh DJoser, was though only to be a legend of ancient times until the 1900’s when a statue dedicated by the Pharaoh to the man named Imhotep was found.

Excavations carried out at Step Pyramid at Sakkara revealed an engravement found at the base of Pharaoh Djosers statue with the name of Imhotep, and a description of what his title was. The translation revealed that Imhotep was “Chief, first after the king,” this title is a first appearance in all of Egyptian history, a title that is also mentioned and is given to Joseph in the bible.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.  – Gen 41:39-40

Discrepancy on Dates

Pharoah Djosers - EngravingThe reign of Imhotep is dated by some to be circa 2650-2600 b.c, and the biblical historians place Joseph circa 2000 b.c. Therefore there is roughly a 500 – 600 year discrepancy between the historic dates.

However, there is good reason to believe the secular history regarding Imhotep maybe misdated due to the amount of archaeological evidence corresponding to other finds, which seems to point and correlate to the historic account of the Joseph of the Bible:

  • 11 storage pits are directly outside of Djosers tomb corresponding to the storage granaries
  • In Egypt, additional Historical finding places a 7 year bounty & 7 year famine during the reign of Djoser

As well as the biblical history of Joseph and the secular history of Imhotep correlate very well, both where:

  1. Second in command of Pharaoh
  2. Lived to be 110 years
  3. Great architects
  4. Stored up 7 years of grain
  5. Saw 7 years of famine
  6. Interpreted dreams
  7. Built pyramids & palaces
  8. Attributed to medicinal practices
  9. Married into the priesthood
  10. Had knowledge of astronomy
  11. Was an educated man
  12. Was made into a historic legend
  13. Was one of twelve siblings

Criticism to the Imhotep & Joseph Correlation

Critics acclaim multiple fallacies to the correlation between Imotep and Joseph.

Primarily the discrepancy over the question if Joseph was Imotep comes down to chronological timeline issues when referenced the timeline many Egyptologists use known as the ‘Conventional Egyptian Chronology’ developed by Ian Shaw, although evidence still remains in the descriptions and names of both historic figures (Joseph & Imhotep) that they would seem to coincide with one another.

To develop historic timelines, the CEC where created using the following information:

  1. Lists of king’s lineages, which we find on the Palermo stone, the Turin canon and the Manetho.
  2. Cross referencing other archaeological evidence from surrounding countries
  3. Use of mathematics to correlate astronomical signs described in Egyptian hieroglyphs.

A Plausible solution to the entire criticism of the chronological dates may be found in the ‘New Chronology’ developed by English Egyptologist David Rohl. His work has allowed historians to piece together additional references to biblical character as it solves many of the gap discrepancies found in the conventional dating.

Considering new evidence moves up the secular history of Egypt up a few hundred years, considering some bible historians give a tolerance of chronology up to +/- 100 – 200 years, we could easily have a match for both accounts of the timelines.

Until then, we need to consider both sides of the evidence as Imhotep could have been a different person, even though the probability narrows with the evidence.

 

REFERENCES

http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/bib-qur/bibarch.htm
http://www.formerthings.com/ebla_tablets.htm
http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/02/great-discoveries-in-biblical-archaeology-the-nuzi-tablets.aspx
Pictures & Data – Wyatt Archaeological Research present Discovery Series DVD, Ron Wyatt. Wyatt Archaeological 1992-2007 Museum www.Wyattmuseum.com