A World Divided
Cave-men and Vagabonds
Genesis 7 to Genesis 11 and the beginning of recorded history
Genesis 12 and problems in dating Egypt
While secular scientists admit that early man was predominantly vegetarian and I quote from William H. McNeill’s 1976 work, “Plagues and Peoples”; “Dentition suggests an omnivorous diet, in which nuts and fruits, grubs, and perhaps some kind of vegetable shoots were more important than animal flesh”, they will deny the Biblical statements about God giving fruits and vegetables to Adam for food. And in keeping with the same train of thought, although many scientists admit to at least one and possibly several enormous ancient catastrophes they will deny the existence of the universal flood. But, as McNeill himself says in the same book, “Arguing from insufficient evidence can be misleading”. While atheistic and agnostic scientists argue about the early history of the earth we have the sure word of the Bible to go by.
Noah was called to build one of the most seaworthy vessels ever built, 450ft. long, 75ft. wide, and 45ft. tall, according to Henry Morris in “The Biblical Basis of Modern Science”. Oddly enough, there is no record of him using iron, first worked by Tubalcain back in Genesis 4, in its construction, as there was no use of any iron tool in the building of the temple by Solomon (1 Kings 6:7). At any rate, all human beings on earth today and virtually all animals come to us from these few creatures that were supernaturally led onto the ark of Noah. In it were preserved two of every living kind of animal at some stage of development.
Note that the Hebrew word for “kind” which is “min” is a larger subgrouping than “species”. Modern scientists define the word species in what I have counted as seven different ways. The science of genetics teaches us that there is enough “extra’ DNA in any animal or human to allow for a great many variations but there is no evidence anywhere that a lizard ever became an ape or, as the Smithsonian Institution was so quick to point out in its letter against the National Geographic, that a dinosaur ever became a bird.
So, in 2349BC, according to Archbishop Ussher, in his work, “Annals of the World”, or one year later according to Dr. Floyd Jones in his “Chronology of the Old Testament” after giving many years to the corrupt, decadent, and violent old world to repent, Noah entered the ark he had built and the flood began which wiped out nearly all life on earth outside of the boat. The mountains were covered with 22.5ft.of water and everything that BREATHED died. Now, what is the evidence found in science for the flood that the Bible speaks of so clearly and in language that lacks the fantastic and incredible assertions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (as in the ark was a cube)? One of the books I would recommend reading is Alfred Rehwinkel’s “The Flood”.
Now, remember, geologists claim that the fossil record was formed through the same natural processes occurring today and that it was laid down gradually over a time span greater than 600 million years. The Bible makes it clear that the fossil record is the result of the flood of Noah, a single, catastrophic event.
While, a survey of history does not provide enough time to go into details regarding the science of the flood there are certain concepts we can mention that you might pursue independently. While the flood continued for 150 days, the tops of the mountains were not seen for 10 months. I would refer you to the work of Harlan Bretz, geologist and winner of that discipline’s highest honor; the Penrose Medal in 1979, with regard to the Scablands of Montana to see how a catastrophic, fast moving flood can change such a large area of land so quickly, producing what uniformitarian geologists would demand took millions of years to produce. I suggest reading the book by E.K. Peters titled, “No Stone Unturned: Reasoning about Rocks and Fossils” from 1991. I would also recommend you to study the results of the Mount Saint Helens volcano and of how so many changes that were previously assumed to take millions of years to occur could happen in a matter of hours.
Sedimentary rock, laid down by the action of water, blankets the entire earth and most fossils are found within it. Except where uplift or erosion has removed these layers, every inch of earth is covered by hundreds of feet or even kilometers of sedimentary rock. Limestone, which is composed of debris from invertebrate exoskeletons, is in such quantity it was used in construction of such manmade monuments as the Sphinx and the Pyramids.
I want to move on with our timeline of study in the history of the world but I would recommend the work of creationist Kent Hovind, also known as “Dr. Dino”, which can be found at www.drdino.com
In Genesis 9:1, Noah and his family leave the Ark. They are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. They are told that animals will now be afraid of them, implying that before the flood animals co-existed peaceably with mankind. They are told that they can now eat animals, implying in confirmation of earlier scriptures that pre-flood man was a vegetarian. The first proscription is given against eating blood; a rule given here before the law, given in during the law in Leviticus 3:17, and after the law in Acts 15:20,29.
They are then given a statement about justice with regard to killing each other. Notice the contrast between Cain’s punishment, Lamech’s proud pronouncement, and the new standard of justice prescribed here by God.
God then makes a covenant with Noah and all creation, a dispensation, and promises that this world wide flood will not be repeated again. Verse 19 of chapter 9 states clearly that the three sons of Noah are the progenitors of the entire human race. Noah takes up
Adam’s role as a husbandman, taking care of a vineyard, which will have prophetic implications in Isaiah with regard to Israel. But, Noah gets drunk. Ham humiliates him and this results in his son, Canaan, being cursed, perhaps because Ham had already been blessed in verse 1 of chapter 9. Canaan is the father of the later inhabitants of Palestine listed in chapter 10, verses 15 to 20, whose religious practices mirrored that of the rest of the depraved cultures of the ancient near east and even magnified the bestiality, incest, temple prostitution, and murder of their religions which God hated so intensely. Canaan, in Ham’s place, is cursed to be a servant of servants. This comes true when the Hebrews, former servants of Egypt, become the masters of the survivors of Israel’s conquest of Palestine. Shem, the ancestor of the Jews, is upheld in the next verse to become Canaan’s master.
Next, comes an extensive genealogy of Noah’s descendants, our ancestors. This is called “The Table of Nations” by many people and there are many theories as to how modern populations are descended from these early ancestors. It would be lacking in common sense to try to trace a direct, unbroken link from modern populations to one of the three sons of Noah without acknowledging that there was much interbreeding and interaction between the three racial groups and that many modern populations are a mixture of all three. You can find many ideas of who is descended from who and many versions of the “Table of Nations” but in order to keep us from following someone into that maze let me just say that, in general, Ham would be the father of the African, Dravidian Indian, and Australoid racial groupings (race is a term that except at the extreme ends has little usefulness), Shem of the Semitic and Asiatic racial groupings, and Japheth of the Caucasians who emigrated from the steppes of Central Asia to take Europe and to conquer India. However, even this distinction is controversial and since it must be emphasized that there has been on the borders of these groupings much interbreeding setting people apart by their ancestry to one of Noah’s sons is extremely difficult. Let us remember the following verse from Acts;
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” Acts 17:26
The first person we are going to deal with in regard to the rise of the nations to come is Nimrod, Ham’s grandson, aka Orion/Saturn/Tammuz. He was a hunter of men, the world’s first great human leader.
The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and he was the instigator of the construction of the tower of Babel, the first great cooperative “United Nations” project, which led to the second greatest disaster for mankind. He built the cities of Erech, Accad, and Calnah in the plain of Shinar, the foundation of all false religion on the earth. In some way, most of the early religions of the earth were based on the worship of Nimrod and his wife. Nimrod, in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian history was also known as Ninus, who according to their histories conquered the people of Babylon before the city was even
built. The ancient historian Diodorus Siculus and the 19th century historian Alexander Hislop tie in the most ancient of Babylonian history to this king. In mythology, Nimrod becomes Orion, the hunter. Bel, who is called the founder of Babylon, is Cush, Nimrod’s father, as Ham is Hermes or Mercury for Her-mes is an Egyptian synonym for “son of Ham”. Once again, I recommend a careful reading of “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop, which is available and free online or through many Christian booksellers. It is a highly controversial book, so read it critically. Compare it to other mythology narratives. While there may be differences in some places the main theme of it will hold true if you study carefully.
Asshur went out of Shinar and built Nineveh. Asshur becomes deified, as does Nimrod/Ninus in later mythology as more than a mere mortal. He is the primary god of the Assyrians. He later becomes associated with the Sumerian Enlil.
Mizraim is also Menes, the founder of Egypt, known as the Great Embanker for the work he does on containing the Nile.
Now, as to chronology; the typical chronologies one finds in traditional textbooks on history are often at odds with each other. Whether it be the radiocarbon dating of pottery, looking for similar names in cultures which exist contemporaneously with each other, or the use of astronomical events to date historical periods there is no absolute agreement on dating. As the atheist historian, Will Durant, has said, “all theories of origins are pure conjecture”. Many problems arise with the insistence by scholars to use the standard accepted Egyptian dating as a yardstick. The dates from 2,000BC onward are regarded as
being fixed and the dates of events in other ancient cultures are measured by that standard. One of the primary means of determining dates for Egypt is the Sothis Star theory with periods of 1460 years based on astronomical observations first enumerated by Eduard Meyer of the Berlin School of Egyptology at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth although the concept was first proposed by a man named Lepsius a few decades earlier. Before this time, each period in Egypt was given widely divergent dates by different Egyptologists, or those who study ancient Egypt. There are, however, many scientists who disagree with this system and historical data seems to undermine it. Last, but not least, it does not agree with the Bible’s chronology.
When the evidence found does not agree or fit into the standard accepted Egyptian dating chronology such things as “dark ages” or “intermediate periods” are assigned which simply means that the finding of this or that is not consistent with what we believe about the Egyptian dating. For instance, according to this theory there was a great dark age in Greece of several hundred years where there is absolutely no evidence that anyone even lived, died, or traded there. This is accepted, that the events of the Greeks’ war with Troy and the “classical age” of Greece are separated by several hundred years with absolutely NOTHING happening in between even though the Greeks themselves said that these events occurred within only a few generations of their being reported by Homer in his Iliad and Odyssey. From a common sense point of view it would seem ridiculous and
intellectually dishonest to claim that simply because the evidence you have found doesn’t fit your prejudicial assumptions that an entire period of someone’s history becomes a blank.
For instance, in Daniel Snell’s “Life in the Ancient Near East” we find this ridiculous statement, “In Mesopotamia a Dark Age ensues, the length of which we do not know, and the social and economic realities of which are obscure”. This is said all because evidence does not line up with their accepted dating methods so rather than question the methods they just insert a dark age and then spend page after page explaining what it MIGHT have been like. If I am going to carry an assumption, then it will be that the Bible is correct and everything else is just waiting to catch up to it. Of course, these scholars then go on to write assumption after assumption after conjecture based on previous guesswork, report it to students in college and high school as incontrovertible fact, and then determine your worthiness as a student and your test results on your ability to spit back at them their own fantasies.
So, according to the Bible’s own chronology along with Ussher’s calculations, Noah leaves the ark in 2348BC. According to Ussher’s investigation, the Tower of Babel is started in 2247- 2242BC. God confounds the language of the people who have gathered together in the first great project of human cooperation and disperses the population. The remains of people living in caves and early nomadic populations can all be traced safely to the effects of this forced dispersion. The caveman of popular and Hollywood imagination can safely be relegated to fantasy. Since we are dealing here primarily with recorded history, the topic of cavemen, so to speak is for another place. However, all designations of Stone Ages, Bronze Ages, and Iron Ages all overlap and there are populations in remote parts of the world today that use stone tools such as the Tasaday of the Philippines as late as 1978. These “age” designations are artificial and in no way can be considered absolute. Quoting again from Snell; “Most observers have thrown off the simpler nineteenth century idea that there was linear human progress from ancient times to the present, that human societies and economies have gotten better over time……The terminology we sometimes use in characterizing archaeological ages implies some such sort of progress, as one moves from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. And yet archaeology shows that stone materials continued to be used right into the present century.”
The first great ancient nation we have to deal with is known as the Elam. Its center was a city named Susa. It is one of the oldest, advanced civilizations for which we have found archaeological evidence according to Durant’s ‘The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, Volume 1’. The modern Iraqi town of Shushan is close by but much of Elam was in present day southwestern Iran. Elam was a child of Noah’s son, Shem, first mentioned in Genesis 10:22. The Elamites were found to have, according to Durant, copper weapons and tools, cultivated grains and domesticated animals, hieroglyphic writing and business documents, mirrors and jewelry, and a trade that reached from Egypt to India. Traditional dating of their advanced culture goes back to 4500BC
although we know that due to the fallacies of the methods of dating Egypt these dates are greatly exaggerated. Bienkowski and Millard’s ‘Dictionary of the Ancient Near East’ says that the Elamite language is unrelated to any known ancient language. Common sense would tell us that it was related to the pre-flood language. Also, with only hieroglyphic, pictograph writing to go by, the modern scholar has to make a great leap of faith in himself to believe he even has their language figured out. Elam remained a powerhouse throughout the second millennium before Christ.
History now mentions descendants of Ham who founded a civilization south of Babylon and southwest of Elam called after a derivation of the word, Shinar, or Shunar, or Shumar which we call Sumeria. The Sumerian poets wrote about creation, a flood, and a lost paradise but, not being inspired, or in God’s will, they altered it and created a great fantasy which unbelieving historians claim for the original of the Judeo/Christian Bible’s account. This is nonsense as any reasonable person can compare the two accounts and see the difference between the Bible’s logical and matter of fact statements and the absurdities of Sumerian legends. Professor Wooley excavated in the ruins of Ur, which was one of their cities, originally in 1929 and after discovering a mere 8 foot layer of silt and clay claimed to have found the so called “Great Flood” of the Bible. Of course, this is a great attempt to discount the Bible. As we have said before evidence of the Great Flood is all around us.
Sumerian king lists extend their history back over 400,000 years with kings named Tammuz (aka Nimrod) and Gilgamesh, hero of a later Babylonian epic. The Sumerians were constantly trying to fend off attempts, both successful and unsuccessful, at invasion by descendants of Shem, or Semites. Elam and the Hamitic Amorites battled with Sumeria before Hammurabi, king of Babylon, finally invaded them. Ur of the Chaldees was one of their greatest cities.
It is interesting to note that Sumerians did not refer to themselves as Sumerian. Their language eventually became to be like Latin is to us today, the language of priests and scholars in the Ancient Near East.
Sumeria, like Egypt, was watered by the overflow of its great rivers, through a series of canals. The irrigation system, Durant tells us, was one of the great achievements of Sumeria and the foundation of its civilization. Their art was simple and their greatest known written work was the Epic of Gilgamesh written possibly when Sargon of Akkad, a nearby Semitic group, ruled this Hamitic civilization. Gilgamesh is non-Biblical history’s first “superman”, or as the Bible would put it, “mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Technologically, Sumeria was rather primitive by other standards of the Ancient Near East as most of their tools were made of either flint, bone, or clay, or at least the ones we’ve found, anyway. The chief method of transportation of goods and produce was apparently by water.
Sumerian worshipped the sun as Shamash, the light of the gods. They especially worshipped the virgin earth-goddess, Innini, known to the Akkadians as Ishtar, who became known later as Aphrodite-Demeter, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Cybele, the virgin Mary, with names like Lady Liberty and the Goddess of Immigrants. They also worshipped the sorrowful mother-goddess, Ninkarsag, who interceded with the gods for
them. They worshipped Tammuz, the god of vegetation who died and was reborn, who is a variation of Nimrod who is mourned by his mother/wife Semiramis as the child who dies and is resurrected. Sin, the moon god, with a crescent moon over his head, is worshipped. Much later, he becomes Allah of the Muslims. To the Sumerians, the air was full of spirits- good angels, with each Sumerian having one to protect him or her, and demons or devils trying to get rid of the protective deity and take possession of body or soul. It was common for women to be consecrated for temple duty as a wife of the gods. Speaking of women, they were nearly equal with men in regard to rights, but, of course, the man was lord and master and adultery for a woman was punished by death.
We will next discuss Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria and the struggle for dominance in the early part of the second millennium BC and how this affects the calling out of Abram, who came to be called Abraham, by God. First, though, I want to say a few words about the city he is called out of, Ur. It was a city of wealth and prosperity, a cosmopolitan city that had influence as far to the west as Egypt and east to India. The temple of Nannar was the example for all the great temples of the Ancient Near East with “pale blue enameled tiles; while its interior was paneled with rare woods like cedar and cypress, inlaid with marble, alabaster, onyx, agate, and gold.” (Durant). I would call to your mind, by comparison, the incredibly beautiful monuments of Washington, D.C. or New York to give you a comparison. Imagine having God tell you to leave the culture and architecture, the vibrant life and opportunities of New York, for something He had promised you but which you knew nothing about.
Back in Genesis 11:1 the statement is made that the whole earth was of one language and one speech. Of the many different linguistic theories about the origins of language, this clear and simple statement would fall under the non-Biblical theory of the Proto-World Language, the existence of which is believed to have been discovered using the sciences of archaeogenetics (analysis of DNA in archaeological remains) by the phylogenetic (simply a reference to similarity of creatures biologically from an evolutionary perpsective) separation of all humans alive today, by studying mitochondrial DNA. While not accepting their dating of 200,000 years ago for this to have occurred we can see how some scientific theories agree with the Bible’s statement in this regard.
We will find, by studying those who studied history, that the problems associated with dating can be very confusing. Whether you are discussing Colin Renfrew, who is credited with coining the term “archaeogenetics”, or the famous Egyptologists (those who study ancient Egypt) such as Flinders Petrie or the archaeologists, Frederick Kenyon, and his daughter, Kathleen, you will find a wide disparity in dating Egypt, upon which all other Ancient Near Eastern cultures are dated.
In verse 10 of chapter 12 of Genesis, we find Abram, who has now left Canaan, which he had been promised by God, to go into Egypt to be relieved due to a famine that was in the land. Here is the first instance of Egypt, later called “the iron furnace” (Deuteronomy 4:20), being a place where God’s people are nurtured and refreshed, although, later they are warned explicitly never to return there throughout the writings of the prophets. Ussher dated Abram’s sojourn in Egypt to 1921BC.
Finding out the name of who was actually ruling in Egypt at the time would be difficult as the date will vary widely depending upon whether or not you believe Champollion, Wilkinson, Boeck, Bunsen, Lepsius, Brugsch, Unger, Lieblein, Mariette, Lauth, Meyer, or any number of students of Egypt. The Encyclopedia Britannica said Amenhemet I, founder of the 12th dynasty, was pharaoh at that time reigning after a civil war. According to a strict literalist interpretation of the Bible, and according to Ussher, Mizraim or Menes, son of Ham, led his colony into Egypt about 2188BC. According to most traditionally dated chronologies from non-Biblical sources this would have had to have been around 4,000BC. The first verifiable person to the secular historian in Egypt’s history would be Imhotep, physician, architect, and chief advisor, to King Zoser around 3150BC, according to Durant.
Now, a word about the study of history in general and how to keep from falling into the trap into which many unbelieving historians fall. First, in any given country at any given time there can be more than one king presenting himself as the king of the entire country due to civil wars, dynastic power struggles, and invasions. For instance, history shows us that two kings can equally claim authority while neither one actually controls the entire country. Two dynasties might even run concurrent with each other in this case. Secondly, a king’s reign can be broken by revolt, invasion, or some other displacement as in the case of the more modern Vlad Tepes (Dracula) of Romania who reigned from Bucharest twice, separated by a few years. Thirdly, kings may adopt the name of a great hero or king of the past as their own to lend legitimacy or a sense of continuity and identification with a greater past to their reign such as various kings calling themselves Rameses, or even Henry or Charles or a Pope calling himself Benedict. Fourthly, the existence of foreign words or phrases in inscriptions can be misleading due to influence by such things as Greek mercenaries in ancient Egypt and Persia and the words they brought to those cultures which have confused modern, secular scholars in their dating of the book of Daniel. Foreign words and their derivation today are quite common in our language. Ultimately, an historian or archaeologist can only truthfully talk about what he has found, evidence which may be confusing or contradictory. The pronouncement in a
news article or a high school textbook that this or that is fact is not always an honest representation of conflicting evidence which has been unearthed. Your best option is to stick with the Biblical record whether you believe it represents world history to be 6,000, 10,000, or millions of years old.
As an example, we have the dating of the Great Pyramid. Everyone from Herodotus to Flinders Petrie has come up with different dates for its construction. I have read dates for
its construction from after the Exodus of the Hebrews to 12,000BC. You can spend a lot of time just reading the debate on the dating of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. Interestingly, the word, pyramid, is not mentioned in the Bible unless you interpret the word, Migdol, or tower, in Exodus 14:2 as a reference to the Pyramids.
The ancient historians, Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch, both said that in the early beginnings all Egypt was a sea. Herodotus says that in the reign of the first king, tradition held that the entire area of Lower Egypt or that closest to the Mediterranean was a marsh. Mizraim, Ham’s son, also comes down to us in inscriptions as Menes, the great embanker, who, according to Herodotus, claimed the land of Egypt by controlling the Nile as perhaps proudly proclaiming in Ezekiel 29:3. Even Durant concedes that at one time, the Nile Delta was undoubtedly a bay.
Creationists and Evolutionists alike describe a great sea in North Africa although they differ about the time of the existence of such a sea. Creationists state that after the flood there was a gradual drying out of a great deal of the earth and that many areas that are now desert were once wet. Evolutionists point out the great number of fossils, marine and otherwise, found under the desert ground of Egypt.
Another note about the study of history is pertinent here. Names found in history will vary a great deal for one person or place as you uncover writings in different languages. This is a great challenge for historians. For instance, the Islamic world of the era of the Crusades called the Byzantine Empire, Roma, due to it being the inheritor of the legacy of imperial Rome of the west, having been the eastern half of that empire. To them, Rome did not fall until 1453 when the Turks took Constantinople rather than 476 as our histories declare.
Let me make a couple of statements about the Sphinx, the lion with the human head which figures so prominently in our vision of the Great Pyramid of Khufu aka Cheops. Historians say that it must have been covered by sand for a long time because Herodotus, who recorded everything he saw and he saw practically everything, does not mention it.
Historians say it was built in or around 2500BC. Some legends of the Arabs say it was built before the Great Flood and others give it a extremely long ago date for an ancient civilization of as much as 12,000 years. Pharaoh Amenhotep II, in the middle of the second millennium BC said the Sphinx was older than the Pyramids. The “Inventory Stele” found by August Mariette in 1857 speaks of how Pharaoh Khufu or Cheops who is given credit for the Great Pyramid of Gizeh intended to excavate the already ancient Sphinx and restore it. In a research project by Mark Lehner conducted in the mid-1980’s Carbon 14 dating came up with dates of either 2746BC or 2086BC, take your pick. My pick will be the later date.
Durant dates the beginnings of Egyptian civilization at around 4,000BC whereas Ussher insists the march of Menes/Mizraim into Egypt to begin human life there after the
flood as reported before at 2188BC. One of the ways he arrived at that date was by accepting the statement of Constatinus Manasses that Egypt existed as a state for 1663 years until Cambyses of Persia conquered it. The oldest known Egyptian building is the Step-Pyramid of Sakkara, a tomb. In fact, if Egypt were known for nothing else it would be known for its elaborate tombs and it is proper and fitting that the book of Genesis ends with the words, “in a coffin in Egypt.” Egypt was a civilization obsessed with death and the after life.
Traditional historians tell us that the first great king of Egypt, the tyrant and pyramid builder, Khufu, ruled around 2500BC. Obviously, the discrepancies in dating methods make such statements questionable. Herodotus calls him Cheops and says that he plunged Egypt into all kinds of wickedness and forced labor to build for himself, the results of which can be seen on any travel poster of Egypt. His successor and rival for building extravagance would be Khafre. They were excellent at building tombs. In the Great Pyramid attributed to Khufu/Cheops there are 2 and ½ million blocks, some of them weighing 150 tons, all of them averaging 2 and ½ tons, covering half million square feet area and rising nearly 500 feet in the air. A scientist named Bauval noticed that the three pyramids on the Giza plateau are lined up perfectly with the belt of the constellation, the hunter Orion, who ancient mythologists also knew as Nimrod, the great corrupter of mankind and rebel against God. Virginia Trimble and Alexander Badawy first noticed that the “air” shafts in the King’s pyramid point towards Orion. Clive Ross disputes this and claims that the three pyramids correspond to the size relationship between Mars, Venus, Earth, and Mercury. All of this in spite of no one finding one shred of evidence on the Giza plateau that the ancient Egyptians knew anything spectacular about astronomy.
Another Pharaoh of note was the one that traditional historians call Pepi II. His reign of 94 years, traditionally dated in the middle of the third millennium BC, is the longest reign
in Egypt’s history. Egypt’s early history is divided into the “Old Kingdom” and the “Middle Kingdom” but these are designations given by modern Egyptologists, not the ancient Egyptians themselves. In addition, Egyptian history is divided into dynasties, often as if one dynasty followed another rather than there being competing dynasties ruling the areas they could control at the same time which is always a possibility. The First Dynasty begins the Old Kingdom, the alleged pyramid builder Khufu would be from the Fourth Dynasty, Pepi II would be from the Sixth Dynasty, after that there is supposedly an intermediate period (we know that means that evidence has been found that upsets the continuity of the scholar’s dating preconceptions), then the Eighth and Ninth Dynasties through the Eleventh finish the Old Kingdom. The Middle Kingdom begins about the time, in traditional dating systems, that Ussher has Egypt being discovered after the Flood. There really is a great deal of controversy regarding the dates in question.
After the Twelfth Dynasty there is a second intermediate period of lost information. The Fifteenth Dynasty was ruled by foreign invaders, the Hyksos. The New Kingdom begins with the Eighteenth Dynasty. This is considered to be Egypt’s most important
ancient dynasty and is where we find Tutankhamen listed. The third intermediate period finds Egypt ruled by priests. The Twenty Second Dynasty was Libyan. The Twenty Fifth dynasty begins the Late Kingdom and traditional dating coincides with the rise of Babylon, Assyria, and finally the Twenty Seventh is a Persian dynasty.
The Greco-Roman era begins with the conqueror, Alexander, who had himself declared “the son of God” while in Egypt to bolster his authority. The Roman Empire finishes Egypt as an independent power. However, Egypt never regained its former glory after the Persian invasion. Now, I am not giving you these dynastic or kingdom designations because I believe they are absolute or even completely reliable but to be historically literate you must at least be aware of the way they are conceived in the mind of the educators you will meet in college.
The common Egyptians lived and died based upon the seasonal flooding of the Nile River for growing crops and for transportation of those crops. Durant says that Egypt proper had no minerals and mining was done in conquered nations such as Nubia. The priests of the Egyptian gods were very powerful and along with the Pharaoh and the nobles kept order. They were responsible for the oldest public education system of which we know in temple schools. The Pharaoh himself was the highest authority to appeal to with regard to disputes, a sort of ancient Supreme Court. Royal incest was common, to keep dynastic power intact, but was not so among the common people. There was a high level of literature and personal life included an extensive possession of cosmetics and things we might even recognize. Egyptian medicine reached a great level of sophistication, as well, and the ancient Egyptians were performing medical routines that we only rediscovered little more than a hundred years ago.
In the period of time around Abraham’s sojourn in Egypt, the Egyptians were using a system of geometry, a numeral system, and tables of values for fractions. Their medical remedies are documented in papyrus fragments. Topics included medicine for arthritis, hookworm infection, and surgery for head injuries. By now, we have evidence that maps of cities and countries became useful tools in Mesopotamia where windmills were being used for irrigation and the Babylonians whom we will discuss more at length momentarily were using multiplication tables and compiling records of celestial observations, including star logs, as well as discovering the Pythagorean Theorem a thousand years before Pythagoras. The Sumerians developed squares and roots, cubes and cube roots, and quadratic equations. They also calculated an approximate value for Pi. Perhaps all of these things were just now being invented or rediscovered from the pre-flood civilization. In any event, Egypt was using glass ornaments, putting on plays in temples (consider this), and playing flutes, stringed lyres from Asia, and drums from Africa. More information about these ancient inventions can be found in “The Timeline Book of Science” by George Ochoa and Melinda Corey, as well as their “The Timeline Book of Arts”, printed in 1995 by Stonesong Press.
Other things that are attributed to discovery by the Egyptians of that era were the use of monkeys to claim fruit from trees, beekeeping; hives and all, a sophisticated navy with large plank boats, canals to bypass impassable areas of the Nile though not as extensive as the Sumerians, water clocks, sophisticated linen manufacture for clothing, small bronze rings that could be weighed and hung onto larger bronze rings for money, basic dentistry, beer brewing, and apparently the use of tobacco as evidence from the forensics work done on the body of Ramses II would indicate. I say that with apologies to Sir Walter Raleigh, who is credited with introducing that plant to Europe from America, according to traditional historians. Much more evidence can be found in the book “Ancient Inventions” by Peter James and Nick Thorpe, Ballantine Books, 1994. My point in bringing all of this up is to present to you the image of a very sophisticated and advanced civilization and society that nurtured the human spiritual ancestor of the Jews several hundred years before his descendants moved there en masse in response to another famine.
The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History, edited by Trevor Dupuy, Harper Collins publishers, 4th edition, 1994, gives an image of the power and might of the Egyptian nation militarily with well trained and professional standing armies maintained by the Pharaoh supported by foreign mercenaries, many of whom as in other ancient near eastern countries, over time, came from the Greek city-states.
The scholars of Egypt were mostly priests who enjoyed the comfort and security of the temples, much like our tenured professors enjoy the comfort and security of our many colleges and universities as well as the high esteem in which educated men are held in our country. I would warn you, though, that education without salvation equals damnation, as a wise evangelist once said. These priests laid the foundations for Egyptian science which the Greeks confessed was the source of most of their knowledge. Egyptian legends credited their learning as having originated with the god, Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom. We have already discussed that the sons of God who “left their first estate” and came to earth to interact with men as well as Satan himself, were credited with giving knowledge to mankind. The Greeks celebrated the god, Thoth, under the name of Hermes Trismegistus or Hermes (Mercury) thrice-great. He is credited with writing 36,000 volumes on science and learning for the Egyptians by the historian, Manetho. The glory of Egyptian science was medicine and they were masters at embalming the dead. The Ebers Papyrus reveals their detailed knowledge of the circulatory system. However, among the common people, amulets were more popular than medicine, according to traditional historians, as most disease was thought to be the result of possession by devils. They believed also that many diseases resulted from overeating. As one ancient saying goes, “we live on 1/4th of what we eat, our doctors live on the rest”.
The oldest worship in Egypt was of the moon god but the sun was the most important entity in their pantheon of gods. He is known as Ra or Re. Sun worship was prevalent in the ancient cultures around the earth.
You would never know by looking at the waste today that was once Babylonia that you were looking at the civilization that appears to have almost created astronomy, made great strides in medicine, made language a science, and passed onto the Arabs scientific and architectural knowledge. Standing near the Tigris and Euphrates today you would be hard pressed to believe you were looking at the rivers that watered Sumeria, Akkad, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Babylonia was, some historians believe, the by-product of the union of the Sumerian and Akkadian. Babylon became in time the master of all of lower Mesopotamia. Hammurabi is counted by traditional historians as the first great lawgiver and conqueror of note. Later, we will see how some Bible students believe that Amraphel, king of Shinar, in Genesis 14 was this Hammurabi. Hammurabi is given credit for the writing of a code upon which all Babylonian law was based. At least, we are often told this in high school and college. However, according to ancient near eastern expert, Daniel Snell, as well as Bienkowski and Millard in their dictionary of the ancient near east, it was not really a code and was “not intended to particularly to be a collection of all kinds of provisions that were to be enforced in Hammurapi’s domains, neither was it a reform of the various city legal systems that Hammurapi united politically.” (Life in the Ancient Near East, page 60). The so-called code is found on one stone monument found at Susa and was a model of his idea of justice but there is no evidence anywhere that this code was ever enforced as law by any court (Dictionary of the Ancient Near East, page 139). One side of the monument shows the king receiving the code from Shamash, the sun-god. The instructions are secular but Hammurabi was smart enough to couch them with the authority of the gods, according to Durant. The Ur, the Babylonia that Abram left, represented a pitch of civilization which has never been equaled or surpassed in the Middle East according to Christopher Dawson, in his book, Enquiries into Religion and Culture, although many would argue that Persia under Xerxes I would refute that conjecture. The constant competition between Egypt and Babylon and the occasional invasions by barbarians (Hyksos in Egypt and Kassites in Babylon, for example) is revealed in the Amarna Letters in which the puppet kings of Babylon and Syria beg Egypt for aid against rebel invaders.
The Babylonians worshipped Ishtar, goddess of immigrants and liberty, known as Astarte to the Greeks, the prototype of Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus, the same as the Egyptian Isis, Ashtoreth to the Jews, and also Demeter, Minerva, Diana, with the Catholic Mary eventually assuming her position as “The Virgin”, “The Holy Virgin”, “The Virgin Mother”, “Queen of Heaven”, and “The Mother of God”.
Sacred prostitution was as vital a part of Babylonian religion as it was of Canaanite/Phoenician. Herodotus reports that here as in Phoenicia and elsewhere “every native woman was obliged to, once in her life, to sit in the temple of Venus, and have intercourse with some stranger” (Durant, page 245). With regard to women, their level of rights was lower than in Egypt or Rome but equal to that of classic Greece or medieval Europe. Among the upper classes of women, they were confined to a certain area of the
house and were not permitted out without a chaperone in a very similar situation to Islam today.
Egypt was known for looking down on Babylon as an inferior culture and it is true that Babylon lacked the sophistication of Egypt. As Babylon eventually degenerated young men dyed and curled their hair, and perfumed their flesh and, as Herodotus declared, every man in his poverty prostituted his own daughters for money. The wealthier a civilization becomes, the more morally bankrupt it becomes.
Babylonia made maps of cities, such as Nippur, had knowledge of the sexuality of plants (something only rediscovered in 1694), played music on Lutes, used clay letters, clay envelopes and a postal system, and wrote in cuneiform script, a type of pictogram. They also developed positional notation based on the number 60. Their temple music changed from simple chanted hymns to a complete liturgical service, with five to twenty seven selections dispersed with instrumental music. Glass was used to form objects and vessels and as a glaze for pottery. The Babylonia, the Ur, of Abram’s age was not a primitive society but a rich cosmopolitan culture that traded for goods from India to Egypt and possibly beyond.
Durant gives us a further warning, though, in our study of history. He says on page 259 of his first volume on the Story of Civilization that “reconstruction of the whole from a part is hazardous in history, and the writing of history is the reconstruction of the whole from a part.” I would add, once again, to stick to God’s inspired word for your absolute standard of infallible truth, not any historian’s, including mine, feeble efforts.
The last superpower I will deal with briefly is Assyria, which developed into a formidable fighting force and is sometimes referred to as a type of Nazi Germany where loyalty to the state was the ultimate religion and where all other ethnic groups were mere fodder for displaying one’s warlike attributes. Assyria’s main god was Asshur, builder of Nineveh, Rehoboth, and Calah, and son of Shem. His worship was eventually integrated in with the Sumerian Enlil. Assyria grew out of the cities mentioned and the name of Shem’s son, although its predominant racial group may have been from a mixture of Ham and Shem. Nina, a version of Ishtar, was also worshipped. Nineveh eventually became home to over 300,000 people. The Assyrians took their common language and arts from
Sumeria and as most warlike nations were not particularly inventive on their own outside of vehicles made for war. At the time of Abram’s visit to Egypt in Genesis, chapter 12, they were developing into a fierce nation with which everyone would one day have to contend.
Finally, something should be said about the weapons of war these nations used in order to fight with each other. The axe, the mace, the dagger, and finally the sword were added to the spear and the bow and arrow for warfare and hunting. The chariot was a small cart, usually light weight, generally two wheeled with sometimes more, sometimes armored,
and sometimes with sharp blades projecting from the axles, and drawn by armored horses. Sometimes you fought from them and sometimes you dismounted and fought. An
apparent Sumerian invention, the chariot was developed to its supreme value by the Assyrians, with light chariots for archers, and heavier chariots for up to four spearmen. I personally believe that cavalry developed from the string of mounted horsemen that would naturally have had to accompany the chariot as a source of replacement horses for those killed in battle. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that if I wanted to disable a chariot, killing the horses pulling it would be much easier than killing its occupants who were shooting at you. This appears to be clear from Biblical accounts of David and Solomon’s own military and their contact with the military machine of their neighbors.
Next, Abram leaves Egypt and travels to Canaan.