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Apparent Contradiction of Words and Numbers

Four Witnesses to a 430-year Sojourn in Egypt

Abraham’s Witness to a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Jacob’s Life Requires a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms

Abbreviated/Condensed Genealogies

Shem’s List: The Ultimate Example of Condensing

Shem’s Genealogy—Which Bible?

Evidence from the Lifespan of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Message of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Times of Job for Missing Generations

Biblical Earth Movements After the Flood

Peleg, Joktan and the Table of Nations

Historical Errors Obscuring the Condensing of Shem’s Line

Interpretative Errors Supporting Ussher View

The Missing World between the Flood and Peleg

Recent Scholarship Improves Biblical Understanding

Summary of Biblical Findings

Secular Evidence—Those Many Documents Unavailable to Ussher


Secular Evidence—Those Many Documents Unavailable to Ussher

Chapter Nineteen

Writing is considered the cornerstone of an advanced civilization and Sumerian cuneiform, generally regarded as the world’s oldest written language, developed exactly where Scripture says the descendants of the Ark survivors migrated—Southern Mesopotamia.  In the last century several million Ancient Near East (ANE) written records have been discovered by archaeologists.  None of course were available to Ussher.  While these are not Scripture, their overwhelming number and consistent testimony provide a solid context for Scripture’s early post-Flood history and that context strongly supports the contention of HB. 

This chapter will focus on the most impressive find, the discovery of the Ebla tablets, while surveying all too briefly some of the many other recently discovered and/or deciphered documents and several radical alternatives to the biblical timeline.  They are not included to prove that the Flood occurred before Ussher’s 2348 BC Flood date.  Scripture does that as the preceding chapters have shown.  The discovery of these documents is included to show how well-established secular history agrees with what Scripture itself reveals and how without them Scripture might seem to contain many tall tales. 

 “I remember it well,” wrote archaeologist Alan Millard.[1]  Millard was referring to possibly the most astonishing archaeological discovery ever to confirm the biblical findings of this book and shout down 2348 BC.  In early October 1975 the Syrian Director of Antiquities visited Millard’s dig site with astonishing news: Italian archaeologists digging at Tell Mardikh (Ebla), farther north, had found 16,000 cuneiform tablets written between 2400 and 2250 BC!  The tablets provided many important insights into the historical, cultural, economic and political life in northern Mesopotamia around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC (2600-2250 BC).  They included a broad range of state-oriented literature—from records of state revenue and diplomatic exchanges with foreign rulers to school texts, dictionaries, hymns and popular legends. 

Today a more precise inventory of the Eblaite palace tablets reports that as many as 1,800 complete clay tablets, 4,700 fragments and many thousands of minor chips were found.  Most were produced in the forty or so years before 2250 BC when Ebla was invaded and the palace burned, preserving the tablets.  While the Ebla documents are outstanding because of their early date, they are but the tip of the iceberg. 

Cuneiform script was invented in Southern Mesopotamia’s Sumer about 3000 BC and continued to be used until near the time of Christ.  As other civilizations arose in the region, each adopted this script to its own language.  An estimated one-half to two million cuneiform texts have been discovered just in this area.  The British Museum alone contains approximately 130,000 texts and fragments.  Subject matter covers most of the matters of life, all the way from beer recipes to law codes to mythology to mathematics.  Together they document beyond question that civilizations flourished centuries before Ussher’s Flood date. 

Millard wrote that archaeologists in Syria might dream of finding a few dozen tablets, or even a couple of hundred.  At the famous site of Ugarit, a few thousand cuneiform tablets had been dug up over many seasons.  Only at Mari, far down the Euphrates, had an Ebla-sized hoard been discovered—between 20,000 and 30,000; they were found in a palace dating to about 1800 B.C.  Putting the Ebla discovery in perspective he said that if finding a few dozen cuneiform tablets was an archaeologist’s dream, finding 16,000 might well be an archaeologist’s nightmare!  The studying and publishing of a collection of texts of that size would be a gargantuan task.  “The texts from Mari, discovered since 1933 are still not fully published.”[2]

Preservation of the Ebla tablets

The Ebla site is located about 35 miles SW of the modern city of Aleppo Syria and is called Tell Mardikh after the nearby village of Mardikh.  Ebla was a major trade center and had long been known to archaeologists from ancient writings found in other greater Mesopotamian cities.  In 1968 it was positively identified when archaeologists at the site recovered a statue dedicated to the goddess Ishtar.  It bore the name of Ibbit-Lim, identifying him as king of Ebla.  More levels were uncovered in the following years.  The unprecedented palace find was made in the summer of 1975, just 49 years ago. 

Time is the enemy of ancient written records.  Usually, they eventually succumb to the elements.  But an accident of history preserved the Ebla tablets.  When invaders burned the palace, the heat preserved the tablets by baking them hard.  Most were found in what the archaeologists call the Central Archive Room, a 12’ by 17’ room beside the king’s Audience Hall.  Immediately south along the same wall a passage led to the Administrative Quarter where the king usually fulfilled his administrative duties.  Alfredo Archi writes that similar layouts were found in the royal palaces of Mari and Ugarit.  He concludes that the Central Archive Room was of major importance to the successful governing of the kingdom.[3]   

A standard archive tablet measured 9x12 inches.  These larger tablets were arranged on shelves and classified by subject like a modern library.  They had fallen onto the floor where they laid for  four millennia before being found.  Some even had a title on the edge.  Other rooms contained daily records which were periodically summarized on the standardized tablets placed in the Central Archive.  Archi describes two other very important rooms in the complex:

The most southern two rooms of the Administrative Quarter (L. 2982, L. 2984) were reachable only from the Throne-room through a sole narrow entrance, and were protected by thick walls. They might have been the rooms of the treasurer…where the precious metals were stored.  One tablet found there, TM.82.G.266, is an account of large numbers of fields, cattle, and sheep, and large amounts of silver and gold, whose more detailed data could have been obtained from documents of the Central Archive.”[4]  

The tablets themselves found in these eight to ten locations all close to the Audience Room, the Throne Room and the Administrative Quarter were palace records.  They contained not only government and economic documents but also literary texts such as myths, epic narratives, hymns, rituals, gazetteers and even school-related materials.  Since they included dictionaries, copybooks and students scratch pads, some have concluded that Ebla was a major educational center for the training of scribes.[5] 

Development of Writing/Deciphering the Ebla Tablets

Though cuneiform had been deciphered a century before, linguists experienced much frustration as they attempted to read the Ebla tablets.  An explanation of the development of writing and especially cuneiform explains why.  Sumerians in Southern Mesopotamia began developing cuneiform writing late in the fourth millennium BC.  Because of the constant interchange of Mesopotamian merchants and traders with Egypt, the Egyptians soon began developing their own writing system called hieroglyphics.  Writing systems in other parts of the world developed much later. 

The Sumerian tablets were made of dampened clay.  The scribe used a stylus to make wedge-shaped marks on them.  “Cuneiform” actually means “wedge-shaped.”  Because of the complicated combinations of the thousand or so signs, only a few people beyond scribes were able to read the tablets.  The Egyptians wrote their hieroglyphics mostly on a paper-like substance called papyrus which eventually turns brittle under very dry conditions and moldy under humid conditions. 

The two writing systems took different directions.  Both began as picture writing.  Over time cuneiform symbols evolved to words and finally to sounds while hieroglyphs remained recognizable pictures throughout its 3500-year history.  Also, over time the 1000 cuneiform pictures were standardized and reduced in number across the region as they came to represent sounds but the symbols still numbered in the hundreds.  As each major Near East civilization near the Mesopotamian population bowl developed, it adapted the cuneiform script to express its own language—Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Eblaite, Persian, Ugaritic, Elamite, Babylonian and Hurrian.  In effect cuneiform was the alphabet of the region. 

For a modern scholar to read even a single Mesopotamian tablet he first must learn cuneiform with all its different forms through two and a half millennia of change which is a herculean task in itself.  Then he must learn the specific language he is working with.  Eventually the much shorter Phoenician alphabet began replacing cuneiform symbols and by 100 BC all languages written with cuneiform script had abandoned it. 

Two languages appeared on the Ebla tablets: Sumerian, which the linguists knew and an unknown language which turned out to be the language spoken in the Kingdom of Ebla.  But with Ebla’s use of cuneiform the problem got even worse.  While the Sumerian scribes were developing a writing system that employed a growing mixture of logograms (a symbol that represents a whole word) and phonetic signs, the Eblaite scribes were way ahead.  By the time Ebla fell about 2250 B.C., its scribes had reduced the number of signs to an entirely phonetic system.  So the tablets contained a mix of Sumerian, older Eblaite and a newer Eblaite using only phonetic signs. 

The development of signs representing sounds was a momentous advance in the history of writing.  This newest form of Eblaite was both the earliest example of transcription (rendering sounds in a system invented for another language) and a major simplifying step towards "reader friendliness" that would enable a wider spread of literacy in palace, temple and merchant contexts.[6]  

Now it is obvious why the archaeologists had such difficulty accurately translating the Ebla tablets.  About 80% of the tablets were written using the usual Sumerian combination of logograms and phonetic signs in both the known language of Sumer and the unknown language of Ebla.  But the other 20% exhibited the innovative, purely phonetic representation of cuneiform in this unknown Semitic language.  Further, symbols representing this new system must have begun slipping into some of the 80% which used the older forms, further tripping up the linguists.  Unaware of all this, early translation efforts resulted is some of the most sensational claims and blatant errors of all times in the history of archaeology. 

The name of the Hebrew god and all kinds of biblical place names were found in the Ebla tablets—Jerusalem, Gaza, even Sodom and Gomorrah.  Over many years bilingual Sumerian/Eblaite vocabulary lists were found among the tablets, allowing the better translation of Eblaite.  Eventually the fine nuances of Eblaite were mastered, the mistakes corrected and now more accurate information from the tablets is available.  Those remarkable claims such as finding the name of the Hebrew god and biblical place names were translation errors and have been withdrawn. 

Subject matter and date of the Ebla documents

In the beginning writing was used primarily for unsophisticated record keeping.  Transactions, inventories, and government regulations needed to be recorded.  Early libraries began as warehouses for government and religious records.  As the library’s function expanded, a growing number of scribes was needed.  Often they were housed in or near the library.  Collections expanded beyond recordkeeping to include information related to math, science, agriculture, and theology.[7]  Ebla was no different.  Besides business records, royal letters and diplomatic documents, were accounts of Ebla’s rich history dating back to 3000 BC in the Upper Levant.  It had trade agreements with numerous other city-states through the centuries.  Similar records at Mari and Ur spoke of relations with Ebla.  At one point Ebla controlled the trade route all the way from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.  At other times it controlled trade from the Mediterranean to a point partway down the Euphrates and at still other times was subject to other kingdoms. 

Fast forward to the final 40 or so years of the Ebla tablets: the process of record keeping had become extremely efficient.  As previously stated, records of daily transactions were kept in specialized areas.  Then according to various schedules, they would be summarized on a standardized tablet which was permanently stored in the Archive Room and the temporary tablet was trashed.  One tablet might contain all the transactions of a certain nature for a year.  Some business records contained many columns.  About 5000 place names were found in the tablets.  Some were noted cities in Greater Mesopotamia, but most were towns, villages, hamlets or large estates that helped identify the parties to the transaction. 

The archive tablets were dated in various ways, sometimes by the king’s name and year of ascension; at other times by his chief minister and year.  The tablets we speak of bear the names of just five succeeding kings or their officials which allowed the archaeologists to date them to the years between 2400 and 2250 BC.  The names of some of these five kings have been found on king lists for Ebla in other cities of Mesopotamia. 

Through much of Ebla’s history, its chief rival was Mari, the kingdom on the Euphrates midway between Ebla and the Gulf.  The first Ebla king during the archive period was king Igrish-Halam.  Payment of tribute to Mari and the extensive invasion of Eblate cities by the Mariot king Iblul-ll marked his reign as they drained Ebla’s resources.  Under the next king, Irkab-Damu, Ebla’s army succeeded in driving Mari back.  This was around 2340 BC.  From this point Ebla began to prosper.  By the time of the destruction Ebla had developed the highly efficient record system explained above and was beginning to use the newly invented all-phonetic system as well.  This growing prosperity and government efficiency are mostly reflected in Central Archive tablets dating to 2300 BC or later.   

  Documents obviously do not reflect events that occurred after they were written but may reflect not only the times in which they were written but earlier times as well.  Ebla’s tablets include a massive number of business records of the kingdom, giving a powerful picture of its recent economic activity.  But the tablets were something of a library as well.  Alfonso Archi’s huge 854-page tome covers the detail found in them.  He writes “While Mesopotamian royal inscriptions limit themselves to simply mentioning the principal warlike undertakings of the kings, without providing any chronological framework, thanks to the administrative documents from Ebla we now know of each of the successive military expeditions carried out year after year over a period of forty years (2290-2250 BC).   These expeditions were all concluded within a year by an exchange of messengers, oaths of peace, and other agreements often broken after a few years.”[8]

Ebla with its allies had soundly defeated its great rival down the Euphrates some 75 years before.  Now as 2250 BC approached tablets reveal growing desperate measures to stave off the obviously increasing danger from Mari.  Mari was regaining its battlefield power in the face of Eblaite forces.  Among the Eblaite allies royal weddings cemented relations with neighboring states.  Generous treaties bought friendship with other kingdoms.  But Mari was doing the same and all of Ebla’s efforts were to no avail.  Sometime around 2250 disaster struck.  The capital was invaded and conquered.  The palace was burned.  Who did it?  No records have yet been found to identify the victor but all assume it was Mari and/or her allies. 

Testimony to Mesopotamian civilization long before 2348 BC

Now for a look at the larger picture.  A fragment here, an inscription there, a few artifacts, radiometric dating.  They hardly make a case for 2348 BC being too late.  Even the 20,000-30,000 documents and fragments at Mari dating around 1800 BC can be explained by those using the Ussher chronology approach. 

But the dates Ebla establishes are formidable.  Archaeologists have determined that while Ebla was attacked and destroyed at various times, it was generally occupied between 3000 BC and 1500 BC.   Yet in just 150 years of that 1500-year period (2400 B.C.-2250 B.C.), the cuneiform records reveal that an astonishing civilization developed under five successive kings, complete with division of labor, education and highly specialized jobs.  Women held positions in government and made decisions.  By the time of its fall an estimated 12,000 civil workers served the palace, nearly 1000 of which were involved in record keeping.  The capital city and its suburbs contained a quarter of a million people.  The king was the equivalent of a modern CEO of a multinational corporation.   

Ebla’s non-economic tablets contained a host of additional subjects.  But, most crucial are its records of past rulers, military battles and relations with other kingdoms.  To some extent they reflect Ebla’s history from its founding around 3000 BC until 2250 BC.  On the other hand, since Mari’s tablets date to 1800 BC, those tablets reflect the history of that kingdom from about 2600 B.C. to it’s fall, confirming the overlapping Mari time with Ebla. 

To restate, most of the Ebla palace tablets were written over just a 40-year period of Ebla’s 1500-year history, from about 2290-2250 BC.  Yet they only exist because of the rarest of events, baked hard by a fire.  How many were written during the rest of Ebla’s 1500-year history that perished through the ages?  What about the cuneiform documents written in other Mesopotamian cities?  Sumer had 18 principal cities in Southern Mesopotamia around 2000 BC.  Some of those cities have yet to even be identified while only small quantities of tablets have been found at the others.   On the other hand, travelers to Ur in the 18th and 19th centuries said the ground was so strewn with tablets that it was hard to avoid stepping on them.  Then there were the other dozen or so major cities of the Greater Near East.  They also were able to write yet in most of them archaeologists have found few tablets. 

Would it be too much to say that hundreds of millions of tablets were written in that area during the nearly three millennia in which cuneiform script was used?  Greater Mesopotamia contained a dozen major nations or city-states and numerous lesser people groups that authenticated each other in dozens of ways.  The same picture was found across the region.  First one dominated, then another.  They traded with each other.  They fought with each other.  They recorded treaties, histories of the area, lists of kings, names of buildings, even solar and lunar eclipses.  They told stories about the Creator.  In a myriad of ways they authenticated each other.  How many are needed to establish beyond question that civilization was well established going back to 3000 BC? 

What are the 2348 BC people going to do?  Denying Ebla’s library is impossible.  It was enormous.  Its words testify to highly organized civilizations at a time when the loudest voices in the creation science movement say Noah’s Flood occurred.  People like Josephus, the church fathers and Ussher were unaware of the Archive’s existence.  It had disappeared from human knowledge from about 2250 BC until 1975 AD.  Now it has been found and fascinates us with its history.  By comparison most of the 900 Dead Sea Scrolls consist of collections of verses or part of a chapter of the Bible.  Only one, the Isaiah Scroll, contains a complete book of the Bible—the full text of all 66 chapters of that book. 

Some will claim this is all made up, that these are just the words of those with academic credentials and that the Word of God is greater than any academic credential.  Such a claim is a half-truth.  For certain the Word of God is greater than any academic credential.  But the Word of God itself testifies to much time passing after the Flood before Abraham was born in Sumerian Ur.  As to the genealogy of Shem, it is better understood as a record of 50-60 generations than ten.  This places the Flood 1300-1600 years earlier than those who defend the Ussher date.  Nevertheless, recognizing a major new idea in Scripture can take years or even lifetimes.  Some will not accept this truth until they get to heaven. 

Putting the Discovery of Written Records in Perspective

One of the early criticisms of the Bible was that Moses (1526 B.C-1406 B.C.) could not have written the Pentateuch since writing was not yet invented.  Now we learn that people wrote 1500 years before Moses.  But those thousand or so cuneiform symbols limited reading and writing to a select few.  Even at the time when most of the Ebla tablets were written between 2290 and 2250 BC, people in the Kingdom of Ebla still had to learn some 600 symbols to read and write.  One hundred years later Abraham grew up in Ur where boys learned to read and write and even do modern high school math, all using the cuneiform system of writing.  Amazingly, cuneiform continued to be used until just several hundred years before Christ.   In contrast, the Phoenician Alphabet appeared around 1000 BC and contained 22 consonants but no vowels.  It was spread by Phoenician merchants and adopted with modifications by Greeks and Hebrews, among many other peoples in that region. 

Besides these written records, other evidences speak of extensive human activity in the region where the Flood survivors began to reestablish the world’s population.  Some, like radio isotope dating, are misdirected, building on the premise that the world is billions of years old, so its conclusion supports its premise and that is a logical fallacy called circular reasoning.  Even such approaches as pottery dating and the use of materials for tools such as stone, bronze and iron can be misleading.  But written documents have the greatest credibility and to some extent can be weighed objectively. 

Where did the Church Fathers and Bishop Ussher go wrong?  They failed to recognize the hidden beauty of Hebrew genealogies and instead treated those genealogies as secular societies used them.  They overlooked the gradual decline of longevity after the Flood and the 1300-1600 years of history that passed between Eber and Peleg. 

The Ebla tablets plus tens of thousands found at other locations reveal exactly what the Bible records of life recovering after the world-wide Flood.  As descendants of the eight Ark survivors migrated from the mountains of Ararat to the plains of Southern Mesopotamia over the next 200 years, they defied God’s instructions to repopulate the entire earth and founded the first advanced civilization at Babel.  While they may not have develop a written language, they did build a city and a tower reaching to heaven.  God saw what they were doing and stated “Nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).  In judgment God confused their language which caused this advanced civilization to reproduce itself in dozens of locations across Greater Mesopotamia and Arabia. 

Explorers took this advanced civilization to other favorable locations to establish similar civilizations in the river valleys of Egypt, India and China.  Those who encountered the Ice Age in the upper latitudes adopted primitive Stone Age hunting-gathering lifestyles to survive.  This is the picture Scripture paints and it is confirmed by the findings of archaeology.  Archaeologists puzzle over why civilization developed that specific way.  The Bible has the answer—the eight Ark survivors reestablished mankind after the Great Flood in a world of new land forms and climate. 

Funerary Avenues in Arabia

Breaking headlines reported a large population in Saudi Arabia at the time of Job.  On 1/12/2022, multiple news stories on the Internet reported the discovery of vast numbers of tombs in Saudi Arabia dating between 2600 and 2000 BC.  The tombs line major routes to the north of Medina Arabia connecting long-established centers.  These networks are called funerary avenues.  They stretch “for hundreds of kilometers and possibly thousands.”  While they were well known to local residents, archaeologists only recently took serious interest in them.  Over the last year they have counted around 18,000 tombs but expect to spend years pursuing this new field of research and find many more. 

Walls up to six feet high surround each tomb.  In aerial photographs they are obvious and at times tightly packed together.  The tombs are either round or pendant in shape, and are still standing to their original height.  “The level of preservation is unbelievable,” said one archaeologist.  It is initially thought that the occupants farmed the land nearby and their tombs were placed on the highway so their descendants would remember them.  A similar custom was linked to Greece and Rome in later history.  Since similar tombs are found in Yemen, the avenues may stretch that far. 

(Aside-Why did relatives stop building them around 2000 BC?  HB would answer: “The Ice Age had come to an end so the rain it delivered stopped, the vegetation dried up, the population moved away and the land has been barren, uninhabitable desert ever since.”) 

This 4,500-year-old Arabian network of highways lined with well-preserved tombs joins Ebla’s thousands of written documents dated between 2400 and 2250 BC to verify that civilization was going full tilt when some teach the Flood occurred.  Therefore, the idea found in HB that Moses followed the common Hebrew practice of omitting generations when he recorded Shem’s list can hardly be dismissed. 

Claims of Alternate Ancient Near East chronologies 

David Rohl maintains that the chronology of pharaohs is wrong, that the Middle Kingdom dates are 300 years too early.  He says dynasties in Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt coexisted but scholars have treated their years linearly so when the duplications are removed Egypt’s chronology agrees with his dating of the Exodus.  A leading creation scientist cites Rohl’s work to justify accepting Shem’s genealogy as complete so just who is David Rohl and what do real scholars think of his work?

Rohl says he became enamored with Egypt at the age of 11 when his family was treated to a Nile River boat ride on King Farouk’s stern wheeler.  In adulthood he formed a rock band and recorded several albums.  He worked as a sound technician but on the side, he read about ancient Egyptian and Near East history.  He had a fertile imagination and began writing fiction with the Near East as background.  In his forties he earned a bachelor degree in Egyptian studies.  He continues to promote his ideas about Egyptian chronology.

What does the scholarly world think of his chronology?  No Egyptologist has endorsed his idea.  Kenneth Kitchen, renowned Egyptologist has a single word for 300 too many years in the Egyptian chronology, “nonsense.”  As to Rohl’s beliefs, he is an agnostic.  He believes the Bible is a record of ancient history just like many other histories but he does not believe it is the inspired Word of God.  Why would any creationist place greater faith in this man than in true inerrancy biblical scholars?  There can be but one answer—Rohl confirms their misinterpretation of Hebrew genealogies.

Truth be told, secular scholars have produced a range of Near Middle East early chronologies—short, shorter, long, longer, median, etc.  Their median chronology seems to work pretty well with the biblical chronology once Hebrew genealogical practice is factored in.  The shortened chronologies of Rohl and others actually conflict with the Scriptural timeline. 

Claim that the Bible Borrowed from Cuneiform Tablets

An entire pole (or world) away is a line of secular thinking summarized by free-lance writer Joshua Mark that myths found in ancient cuneiform tablets were borrowed and embellished by Jewish scribes and became stories in the Bible.  The following quotes are taken from an article by him published in Ancient History Encyclopedia: [9]  “When the ancient cuneiform tablets of Mesopotamia were discovered and deciphered in the late 19th century CE, they would literally transform human understanding of history.” 

How did they transform mankind’s understanding of history?  Mark explains, “Prior to their discovery the Bible was considered the oldest and most authoritative book in the world.  The brilliant scholar and translator George Smith (1840-1876 CE) changed the understanding of history with his translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh in 1872 CE.  This translation allowed other cuneiform tablets to be interpreted which overturned the traditional understanding of the biblical version of history and made room for scholarly, objective explanations of history to move forward.” 

How did The Epic of Gilgamesh and other cuneiform tablets replace the Bible’s version of history?  Mark continues: “Many biblical texts were thought to be original until cuneiform was deciphered.  The Fall of Man and the Great Flood were understood as literal events in human history dictated by God to the author (or authors) of Genesis but were now recognized as Mesopotamian myths in The Myth of Etana and the Atrahasis which Hebrew scribes had embellished.  The Garden of Eden could now be understood as a myth derived from The Enuma Elish and other Mesopotamian works.  The Book of Job, far from being an actual historical account of an individual’s unjust suffering, could now be recognized as a literary piece belonging to a Mesopotamian tradition following the discovery of the earlier Ludlul-Bel-Nimegi text which relates a similar story.” 

Wait a minute!  Mark is saying that the stories found in the Torah written or edited by Moses during Israel’s 40 years of wilderness wandering and taught by Christians as authentic revelations from God is a false explanation of their origin.  Rather, he says, they were Mesopotamian myths that preceded Moses who borrowed and embellished them.  But couldn’t it be the other way around?  Couldn’t those biblical events have just as well happened first and over the millennia as they were told and retold, they were distorted into the recorded Mesopotamian myths? 

The dates of those tablets and the actual events are millennia apart.  The tablets translated by George Smith dated to the early 2nd millennium BC.  The Flood occurred two millennia before the date of those tablets and the stories of Adam and Eve and the Fall occurred four millennia before Mesopotamians recorded them.  If the Babylonian myths reflected true events that happened millennia before, wouldn’t they be greatly distorted as they were told and retold for those thousands of years?

Even more important, the quality of the Babylonian stories is childish in comparison with these stories recorded in the Bible.  These scholars who are making room for objective explanations of history don’t spend much time with the details of those Babylonian myths.  Gilgamesh’s record of the Ark, for instance, describes it as a cube, 100 x 100 x 100.  How long would its passengers last as this cube tumbled in the waters of the Great Flood?  But, of course, it is just a myth so it is not surprising that its details are ridiculous.  Why don’t these critics examine the details of the biblical story of the Flood?  They would quickly learn that the dimensions of the Bible’s Ark are as up to date as those of today’s ocean-going freighters.  The two-page story about the undeserved suffering of a Babylonian man has the quality of a grade schooler’s composition when compared with the forty-two chapters of the Book of Job and its host of brilliant ideas. 

Mark has it backwards.  As the stories of early human history beginning with Adam were told and retold, they would have become more and more distorted until they landed in the writings of ancient Mesopotamia millennia later as myths and legends.  Mark’s explanation is the idea of scientific evolution applied to the field of ancient literature—things working their way to perfection rather than drifting downhill.  Anyone working in the legal field of court testimony knows the difficulty of a witness keeping his facts straight.  Repeating second hand information becomes even less reliable and third hand information is frequently dismissed as uncertain.  Gilgamesh’s exploits placed side by side with Holy Scripture are as different as night and day, as great as the difference between children playing soccer on a vacant lot and a contest between leading professional soccer teams. 

The on-line Ancient History Encyclopedia carrying Mark’s piece was founded in 2009 with the mission of improving history education worldwide.  Its vision is to create open-minded and tolerant societies.  It endeavors to help teachers, students and schools by providing reliable resources for free.  It is now the largest and most popular history encyclopedia on the internet, recommended by the likes of Oxford, Michigan State and the University of Minnesota.  How alarming that the world’s largest and most popular history encyclopedia on the internet is publishing such disinformation.  But one thing the article does do is highlight just how superior the record of Scripture is over the clouded minds of those captive to the enemy.

This book, The Hidden Beauty of Hebrew Genealogies, is not about what the many learned disciplines say, although they say much.  Nor does it put a spin on what the Bible reveals.  Rather it carefully examines in great detail the very Word of God on the subject.  An enormous amount of material has been examined.  Consistently and without exception, Scripture supports the premise of this book.  At the same time support against it has evaporated into thin air.  In the end it is the case against it that is missing.  Thus, for eighteen chapters this book has focused primarily on just one source—Scripture.  Most will confess to shock in finding that as many as 50 generations and maybe even more were omitted from Shem’s genealogy, but the examination of Scripture leads to such a conclusion. 

Why wasn’t this book written long before by any of the tens of thousands of capable Bible scholars?  Why wasn’t it written even as early as the Church Fathers?  This book is filled with the answers—the deficiency of Exodus 12:40, historical errors, ignorance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ebla Tablets, lack of creation models for the Flood and ignorance of the Ice Age.  The Church Fathers had none of these resources to assist them.  Neither did Ussher, Newton or the KJV translators.  Rather, these resources are all recent.  As they came to light, they led to corrections of misinterpretations of Scripture.  In effect God has used an army of folks in various disciplines in recent times to provide the raw material for this book.  Our hat is off to them.  So the current picture allows for this book and the many others that will surely follow. 


75 Alan R. Millard, “Ebla and the Bible,” Biblical Archaeology Review, (08:02 April 1992): 18.

[2] Millard, Ebla, 18-19.

[3] Alfanso Archi, Ebla and Its Archives—Texts, History and Society, (Boston: de Gruyter, 2015), 79.

[4] Ibid., 80.


[6] “Language,” Ebla Tablets, (Wikipedia).


[8] Archi, Ebla and Its Archives, 262.

[9] Joshua J Mark, “Cuneiform,Ancient History Encyclopedia, 3/15/18;

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