SEDER OLAM - Revisited

סדר עולם - חדש



What is new

Index of names


Generations  1-14
(3760 - 2080 BCE)

Generations 15-21
(2080 - 1240 BCE)

Generations 22-28
(1240 - 400 BCE)

Generations 29-35
(400 BCE - 440 CE)

Generations 36-42
(440 - 1280 CE)

Generations 43-49
(1280 - 2120 CE)

Generation 50

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The Covenant between God and Abraham
(2047 AM - 1713 BCE)

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

Birth of Isaac
(2048 AM - 1713 BCE)

Hagar is sent off
(2051 AM - 1710 BCE)

Sacrifice of Isaac
(2074 AM - 1686 BCE)

Death of Terach
(2083 AM - 1677 BCE)

Death of Sarah
(2085 AM - 1675 BCE)

Union of Isaac and Rebekah

Abraham and Keturah

Birth of Jacob and Esau
(2108 AM - 1652 BCE)

Death of Abraham
Esau sells his birth-right

(2123 AM - 1637 BCE)

Death of Shelah

Esau's Canaanite wives

Death of Shem
(2158 AM - 1602 BCE)

The Flood in ancient tales

 Previous <<   Generation 18   >> Next

Hebrew years 2040 to 2160 (1720-1600 BCE)

Year 2047 – 1713 BCE  – God makes a covenant with Abraham

A few years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to him again, this time to make a Covenant:

"As for me, here is My covenant with you; you shall be the father of a multitude of nations; and your name will no longer be called Abram but your name shall be Abraham because I have given you to be the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you many many descendants, and make nations of you, and kings will come out from you. And I will ratify My covenant between Me and you, and between your offspring after you, for their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God for you, and for your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land where you sojourn, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting portion, and I shall be God for them."
--- Genesis 17:1-8

Compared to the previous promise that God made to Abram, to give to his descendants all the land from Egypt to the Euphrates, the promise has now been "reduced" to all the land of Canaan. It may be seen contradictory but it is not: most of the promised land, from Egypt to the Euphrates, will be given to Ishmael, while the land of Canaan will be given to the son that Abram will have after Ishmael. Thus Abram's inheritance has been shared between the two sons.

About the promise you shall be the father of a multitude of nations, nobody can deny the fact that Abram, "a man who ruled no empire, commanded no army, delivered no prophecy and performed no miracle"[1] has become the most influential character in history of humanity. There are today about 7 billion people on Earth, of which 2.4 billion claim to be Christian and 1.6 billion to be Muslim: this is over half of the population of the world who defines itself as coming from the heritage of Abram. There are also some 200 countries in the world (according to the United Nations) of which about 55 are Muslim, over 100 are Christian and there is one Jewish state (Israel). Out of the few continents, all America is Christian, all Europe and Austrlia is Christian, Africa is partly Christian partly Muslim, and Asia is mostly pagan except for the Middle-East and some states in Asia-Pacific. 

God changed the name of Abram into Abraham to give it a significance. Do names have such role? A teaching of the Talmud says so:

How do we know that the name [of a person] determines one’s destiny? — R. Eleazar said: Scripture says: "Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth (Psalms 46:9)." Read not ‘shammoth’ [desolations], but ‘shemoth’ [names].
--- Talmud, Berachot, 7b

The word used in this Psalm is indeed שמות [names] and not שממות  [desolations].

Then God ordered Abraham to perform the circumcision of all males after 8 days from birth, as an agreement of the covenant with Him:

"Thus My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And an uncircumcised male who will not have the flesh of his foreskin circumcised, you shall cut off this soul from its people: he has invalidated My covenant."
--- Genesis 17:13-14

Finally God ordered Abraham to call his wife Sarah from now on, instead of Sarai, and told him that she will conceive a son that they will call Isaac. Concerning Abraham’s two sons, God made the following statement:

"Here, I have blessed him [Ishmael], and will make many descendants from him, and I will multiply him a great lot; twelve princes will be born from him and I will give them to be a great nation.
But I will maintain My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year."
--- Genesis 17:20-21

And Abraham circumcised himself and his son Ishmael, and all the male servants and slaves of his house on the same day that God had spoken to him. Ishmael was then 13 years old and this explains why the Muslim people, who are the spiritual descendants of Ishmael, circumcise their sons at that age
until today. Although, strictly speaking, they received God's blessing with no obligation for the act of circumcision which was only imposed on the descendance of Isaac, as an acceptance of His covenant. But, Ishmael having been circumcised like the rest of the male household of Abraham, he took this tradition in his descendance.

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Year 2047 – 1713 BCE  – Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

The destruction took place on the date of 15 Nissan of year 2047, because it is mentioned that the two angels sent by God to address Abraham went down to the city of Sodom on that day and were welcome there by Lot who prepared them a meal with unleavened bread, the matzos (Genesis 19:3). God had decided to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the valley of Siddim, because of their evil manners that were against Nature.[2a]

Archaeologists have searched for evidence of a massive destruction in the region. Some have been convinced that the site of Tall el-Hammam may probably hold the clue because it is a site that has been dated in the Middle Bronze Age and which shows evidence of "an intense, fiery conflagration that left the […] city in charred ruins". Walls of this ancient city have been found below one meter deep of ashes ![2b]

Excavations at Tall el-Hammam
Excavations at Tall el-Hammam
(source: article in Biblical Archaeology Review – March-April 2013)

Lot and his daughters escaped to the city of Zoar, which is located east from the valley, in Moab territory (now Jordan), where the two daughters bore sons from their father, in one rare occurence of incestuous story in the Bible:

The older one bore a son whom she named Moab (מואב) who is the ancestor of the Moabites until this day. And the younger one she too bore a son whom she named Ben-Ammi (בן-עמי) who is the ancestor of the Ammonites until this day.
--- Genesis 19-37-38
The laws of incest were not formally known at the time of the procreation of the daughters of Lot with their father, but they were nonetheless admitted as part of the Noachide laws, as sexual transgressions. The daughters wanted to procreate and had no expectation to find any husband after fleeing their city. So they had made their father drunken in order to couple with him without his knowledge. Strangely, the chapter Genesis 19 started with the tale of the sexual sins of the Sodomites, which caused their destruction, and ended with the sexual sin of Lot’s daughters, from whom the final Redemption will come.[3] The same chapter of the two stories may be a way to show that when God decides to punish mankind for their sins, He also offers the root for their redemption at the same time. 

The name Moab means from the father and the name Ben-Ammi means son of my people. The kingdom of Moab was located at the East from the Dead Sea, while the kingdom of Ammon was located north from it, also at the East of the Jordan River.

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Year 2048 – 1713 BCE  – Birth of Isaac

Abraham and Sarah then went sojourning in Gerar which was in the Southern part of Canaan, in what became the Philistine land. Their encounter with their king called Avi-Melech led to an alliance. Avi-Melech is the name of a dynasty of kings from this land and the name is recorded in Amarna letters as Abimilku (these Amarna letters concerned a descendant of Avi-Melech, who bore the same dynastical name).[4]

Then, when Abraham was 100 years old, in year Hebrew 2048 (1712 BCE), his wife Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. According to Jewish tradition, Isaac was born on a New Year day, Rosh Hashana. It was the same year 1713 BCE as the destruction of Sodom in Nisan. That Hebrew year 2048 also happened 52 years since the Dsipersion (Tower of Babel) and 26 years since God spoke to Abraham in Charan: 52 is twice 26, number of God, showing the presence of God's will in these events (Dispersion, God promise to Abraham, birth of Isaac).

The birth of Isaac marks the 3rd direct action of God on the human race to transmit His message. Isaac represented the 21st human generation since the Creation: 1-Adam > 2-Seth > 3-Enosh > 4-Kenan > 5-Mahalalel > 6-Jared > 7-Hanoch > 8- Metushalach > 9-Lemech > 10-Noach > 11-Shem > 12-Arpachshad > 13-Shelah > 14-Eber > 15-Reu'> 16-Peleg > 17-Sherug > 18-Nachor > 19-Terach > 20-Abraham > 21- Isaac.  Already at the 7th generation, with Hanoch who walked in the path of God, and in the 14th generation (twice 7) with Eber, we witnessed God's attempt to awaken his essence in the human race. Now, in His 3rd attempt, He ensured that Abraham had an descendance from his wife Sarah, and God will always oversee the life of Isaac who will dedicate it to divine studies and will be void of any conflict or problem, unlike the lives of Abraham and his future son Jacob.

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Year 2051 – 1710 BCE  – Abraham sends off Hagar and Ishmael

When Isaac was weaned, Sarah became worried that Ishmael was of bad influence on him (some commentators assumed that his perversion was of sexual nature, and others assumed he was inclined towards idolatry like his mother Hagar) and, worse, that he may eventually kill him (Ishmael learned how to use bows and arrows). She requested that Abraham would send off Hagar and her son Ishmael. But God looked after them:

God was with the youth [Ishmael] and he grew up; he settled in the desert and became an expert in archery. He settled in the desert of Paran, and she took a wife for him, from the land of Egypt. 
--- Genesis 21:20-21

Ishmael however repented from his initial behaviour, and so did Hagar. this is why God could see this repentance and granted him a 120 years "new" life from the time He gave His protection to him. Ishmael thus died 120 years after he was sent off by his father, and will never again challenge Isaac.

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Year 2074 – 1686 BCE  – Sacrifice of Isaac (Akedat Isaac  עקדת יצחק)

The Biblical text does not give an exact timing for the Sacrific of Isaac, but it is narrated in Genesis 22, after the events between Abraham and Abimelech in Genesis 21, and before the death of Sarah in Genesis 23. The final verse of Genesis 21 states that Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistine (Abimelech) for many days (Genesis 21:34). Why days and not years, as it was the case? It is to make us understand that the duration of the sojourn in the land of the Philistines was related to divine duration, as human years are like "days" for God. This chapter is about God's own intervention in the life of Abraham to request that the latter would do something for Him. This is why the duration before God talked to Abraham again was based on divine days. The value of God name in letters being 26, we here assume that Abraham sojourned 26 years in Philistia until God called upon him to sacrifice Isaac. As Abraham went down south in the year of the birth of Isaac, the year of the Sacrifice of Isaac would thus be 2048+26= 2074.

This calculation has no proof but makes sense when we consider that God's major calls upon Abraham had occured every 26 years from the time of the Dispersion (Tower of Babel):

- 1996 - Dispersion (there is reason to believe that this event occurred on the 1st Tishri [5])
- 1996+26= 2022 - Abram leaves Charan on the 1st Tishri, after God called upon him a few days earlier in month Elul
- 2022+26= 2048 - Birth of Isaac on the 1st Tishri, after God announced it to Abraham on the 14 Nisan 2047
- 2048+26= 2074 - Sacrifice of Isaac, also on the 1st Tishri according to Tradition (for example Pesikta Rabbati 40)

Accordingly Isaac would have been 26 years old at the time of his sacrifice (Akedah עקדה).

But there are other views on this matter. According to the computation made by the Seder Olam Rabbah, the Akedah happened in the same period as the death of Sarah, who would have walked after her husband and son, and died on her way in Hebron where Abraham buried her. Thus the Akedah would have happened in year 2085 (see below for the death of Sarah), when Isaac would have been 37 years old (see Seder Olam, Part 1).

The date of the Akedah is not of big importance for the rest of the chronology. What is important is that the Akedah was the last call that God put upon Abraham. Indeed, the only other time when a divine intervention was made to Abraham was not from God Himself but from an angel He sent to Abraham (Genesis 22:15). There is possibly a message behind the fact that God never spoke to Abraham again after the Akedah: Abraham had obeyed to God but had not discussed it, or tried to change God's opinion as he had done for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And yet God's order about the Akedah would have had a direct disastrous effect on Abraham, personally, as Isaac was the son promised and announced by God Himself.

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Year 2083 – 1677 BCE  – Death of Terach in Charan

Terach, the father of Abraham, lived 205 years and died in Charan in the year 2083 (Genesis 11:32). 

Milca, who had married Nahor, brother of Abraham, had 8 sons: her last son, Bethuel, had a daughter called Rebekah (Genesis 22:20:23). They lived in Aram-Naharayim, near Charan. The name Aram-Naharayim means Aram of the two rivers. Possibly it was located at the present city of Al-Busayrah, which is at the junction of two rivers: the Euphrates and the Nahal Khabur. North from this place of Northern Syria, at the border with Turkey, is the vast oasis of Harran, which is the ancient Charan.

Region of Harran

It is assumed that Abraham was in Charan when his father Terach died, and buried him, because the Biblical text mentions that, after these things (the Akedah), it was told to Abraham about the children and grandchildren of his brother Nachor (Genesis 22:20-24). The other explanation is that Abraham was told by God himself, after the challenge to sacrifice the only son Isaac, that the latter will give a great descendance and God would have given to Abraham the knowledge of his brother's family in Charan and, eventually, that Rebekah the future wife of Isaac, was just born, thus in the year of the Akedah, in 2074. As the name of Rebekah is mentioned  in one chapter (Genesis 22:23) prior to the one concerning the death of Sarah (Genesis 23), Rebekah was born before the time of the Sarah's death, and before the time of Terach's death, two years earlier, when Abraham learned about the children and grandchildren of his brother Nachor.

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Year 2085 – 1675 BCE  – Death of Sarah

In the year 2085, Sarah died at the age of 127 in Kyryat-Arba which is Hebron today (Genesis 23:1). Abraham was then 137 years old and their son Isaac was 37 years old. The land of burial was at the times under the control of the sons of Heth, the Hittite. Abraham paid 400 silver shekels for the purchase of a burial place which featured an underground cave.

Burial of Sarah
The burial of Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah (Gustave Doré, 1866)

This method of burial, in an underground cave shut with a large stone, is typical of the period, the Middle and Late Bronze, and many such "shaft tombs" have been found in the Holy Land dating from these times. So the burial described in the Bible is indeed contemporary to the archaeological findings of the same period.

Example of shaft tomb
Example of "shaft tomb"
(source: Israel Antiquities Authority)

According to Tradition, the place was the burial location of Adam and Eve. The names Machpelah and [Kirith] Arba explains it because Machpelah means double (couple, pair) and Arba means four:

The Cave of Machpelah. Rab and Samuel differ as to its meaning. One holds that the cave consisted of two chambers, one within the other; and the other holds that it consisted of a lower and upper chamber. According to him who holds that the chambers were one above the other the term
'machpelah' is well justified but according to him who holds that it consisted of two chambers one within the other, what could be the meaning of machpelah? That it had multiples of couples.
Mamreh the city of Arba. R. Isaac explained: The city of the 'four' couples: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah.
--- Talmud, Eiruvin 53a

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Year 2088 – 1672 BCE  – Union of Isaac and Rebekah

Abraham then sent his old servant, Eliezer the Damascene, to Charan to find a suitable wife for Isaac, as he did not want him to take a wife among the Canaanites. God guided the servant to the city of Aram-Naharayim, toward Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milca and Nachor, brother of Abraham. And Rebekah had a brother called Laban.

After receiving all the gifts of gold and silver that Abraham sent for the family of the selected girl, Laban and her mother Milca intervened and wished to delay the departure of Rebekah for at least ten days, but Rebekah made the decision not to delay her departure and to follow Abraham’s servant (Genesis 24:55-58). Rebekah's family gave her the following blessing:

And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her: "Our sister, be you the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let your seed possess the gate of those that hate them."
--- Genesis 24:60

Isaac had been waiting at the northern border of the land of Canaan for the return of the old servant. His first encounter with his destined wife was under the sign of simplicity, modesty and chastity:

Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the beginning of the evening, and he raised his eyes and saw, behold, camels coming. And Rebekah raised her eyes and saw Isaac, and inclined over the camel. She said to the servant: "Who is that man in the field walking towards us?" And the servant: "He is my master." And she took the veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he did. And Isaac brought her to the tent of her mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah and she became his wife. And he loved her, and Isaac consoled after his mother.
--- Genesis 24:63-67

This union took place when Isaac was 40 years old (Genesis 25:20), so it was year 2088. The number 40 is symbol of maturity: in the case of Isaac, it means that he had to be mature of age before he could deserve a wife as good as Rebekah. She was 14 years old when she married Isaac, with the assumption that she born at the time of the Akedah. The Tosafoth agrees with the age of 14, based on the Sifre with comments on Talmud Yevamoth 61b: "He shall not marry a woman incapable of procreation". Thus, the fact that Isaac married Rebekah means she was capable of procreation at the time. But, there is a notable diverging opinion: the Seder Olam Rabbah has opted with Rebekah being 3 years old (!) when she married Isaac. This is to fit in the calculation of the chronology that the author of Seder Olam Rabbah has followed. The issue is caused by the age of Isaac at the time of the Akedah. Tradition says that, at that time, Abraham was informed of the birth of Rebekah. So then, as the Seder Olam considered that Isaac was 37 years old at the time of the Akedah and, as the Biblical stated that he was 40 when he married Rebekah, it makes that Rebekah was 3 years old ! If, instead, one would follow the Tosafoth and the present chronology, Isaac was 26 years old  at the time of the Akedah and therefore married at 40 when Rebekah was then 14 years old.

As of Abraham, he was a widower and Jewish customs invite any widower, man or woman, not to stay alone but find another spouse. So he took another wife called Keturah, after Isaac’s union with Rebekah. According to the tradition, Keturah was Hagar, who had remained chaste after being sent off by Abraham and had repented from her idolatry after God saved her and her son Ishmael from a sure death. She bore him the following new sons:

-          Zimran
-          Yokshan who begot Sheba and Dedan; Dedan begot the Asshurim, Letushim and Leummim
-          Medan
-          Midian who settled in Sinai peninsula and begot Eiphah, Epher, Chanokh, Aviyda’, Elda’ah
-          Ishbak
-          Shuah

All Abraham's descendance from Keturah/Hagar settled in Asia (Genesis 25:6: and he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country) and, according to some commentators, gave birth to the Chinese and other Asian nations.

But Abraham considered Isaac as his only spiritual heir, as God had told him. Isaac was born in Canaan and will never leave the land of Canaan.

Abraham gave all what he had to Isaac.
And to the sons of the concubine who were Abraham’s, Abraham gave them presents and sent them away from his son Isaac, while he was still alive, eastward to the previous land.
--- Genesis 25:5-6

Abraham did not want to leave Isaac with any conflict from his half-brothers from Keturah, and sent them east from Canaan. But most of them finally settled in the Arabian Peninsula, or towards Charan, and some of them must have gone as far as the Mesopotamia where they mixed there with the locals and did not form a distinctive people. As of Midian, he kept in the monotheist faith, as his father Abraham, and settled close enough from Isaac, in the Sinai peninsula: he is the ancestor of Moses' father-in-law.

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Year 2108 – 1652 BCE  – Birth of Jacob and Esau

Meanwhile, and after Isaac had prayed to God, Rebekah finally got pregnant and gave birth 20 years after their marriage: Isaac was 60 years old. She gave birth to non-identical twins as God had announced to her:

"Two nations are in your womb, and two nations from your insides will separate. One will strengthen nation after nation, and many will serve the younger."
--- Genesis 25:23

Rebekah gave birth to two boys. The first one came out red-haired and very hairy, and was called Esau. The second came out by holding onto the heel of his brother, and was named Jacob

Jacob represented the 22nd human generation since the Creation. His father Isaac was the 21st one, as explained above, which was a sign of direct divine intervention in his case.[6] But the 22nd generation is equally meaningful because of the number 22. This number is associated with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which was given to the Jewish people, and through them to the human race in general because the alphabets, as we known them today (and which are different from the pictogram writings introduced by the Sumerians and passed to the antique civilizations in the form of hieroglyphs and cuneiforms) are derived from the Hebrew alphabet. The birth of Jacob represented a turning point in the human race and the start of more divine revelations to come, following the ages of darkness that prevailed until the venue or Jacob.

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Year 2123 – 1637 BCE  – Death of Abraham; Esau sells his birth-right

Both boys grew up in different ways, Esau as a hunter who was living in the field, and Jacob as a simple person living and studying in the tents. One evening, Esau came back from the field and asked his brother to serve him the red stuff (אדם) that was in his stew: this is why Esau was also named Edom (אדום).

Jacob said: "Sell as this day your birth right to me."
Esau said: "Here, I am going to die, and what use is for me a birth right?"
Jacob said: "Swear to me as this day," and he swore to him. And he sold his birth right to Jacob. Jacob gave to Esau bread and a stew of lentils, and he ate and drank, got up and left. And Esau spurned the birth right.
--- Genesis 25:31-34

Jewish tradition indicated that Jacob was cooking a stew of lentils because his grandfather Abraham had just died and this was in fact the mourners’ meal. Esau did not feel concerned with Abraham’s death and went to the field, to carry out his usual hunting as if everything was normal at a time when many people, including Ishmael, had gathered at the family’s camp to mourn the death of Abraham whom they knew was guided by God.

And Abraham expired, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.
--- Genesis 25:8

Abraham had lived another 38 years after Sarah’s death and died at the age of 175, in year 2123. Both boys Esau and Jacob were 15 years old at this time. Some commentators say that he was supposed to live until the age of 200. But, anticipating that Esau will turn the evil way after the age of 15, he preferred not to be alive and witness the change. 

Abraham was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, near his wife Sarah.

Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hebron
Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, mosque built by the Turks above the Cave of Machpelah
(engraving by David Roberts, 1838)

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Year 2126 – 1634 BCE  - Death of Shelah

Abraham’s death was followed by the death of his ancestor Shelah, in 2126.

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Year 2148 – 1612 BCE  – Esau takes Canaanite wives

When he was 40 years old, in Hebrew year 2148, Esau took two wives from the Hittites. One was called Judith and the other Basemath. They created tension between Isaac and Esau.

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Year 2158 – 1602 BCE  – Death of Shem son of Noah

Shem, the wise Melki-Tzedek who lived in Salem, died in 2158, after a lifetime of 600 years. He was the last living witness of the Flood. He had passed all his knowledge of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob over the last years of his life. Jacob was 50 years old at the death of Shem.
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About Year 2160 – 1600 BCE  – The Flood in ancient writings

With the death of the last witnesses of the Flood, some people felt the urge to record in writing the tales they have heard from them (such as Melchi-Zedek, presumed to be Shem himself), which were about how humanity came to exist (Creation) and how it has been saved by the gods (during the Flood). In the 19th century, archaelogists have found in the Library of Assurbanipal in Nineveh multiple cuneiform-written tablets that told these tales.[7a] The oldest ones found date from that period, around the death of Shem, and are known today as the Epic of Atrahasis (probably the oldest one found), Eridu Genesis (Eridu was a city-state neighbour to Ur), the Enuma Elish[7b] and the Epic of Gilgamesh:

... the flood came forth.
Its power came upon the peoples like a battle,
one person did not see another,
they could not recognize each other in the catastrophe.
The deluge belowed like a bull,
The wind resounded like a screaming eagle.
The darkness was dense, the sun was gone,
... like flies.
the clamor of the deluge.
--- Epic of Atrahasis, III:5-20, translation from B.R. Foster adapted by

Epic of Atrahasis
Epic of Atrahasis (British Museum, room 56, #ME 78941)

These ancient tales of the Flood are very comparable to the story of the Bible, with more similarities found compared to the tales of the Creation. The latter being a much older story, with witnesses who were no longer alive, it has become distorted in the memory of Humanity. But, as for the Flood, it is a different situation. Although some people believe that the similarities with the Bible are coincidental, which could be accepted if the stories were just about a destruction of the world, but the stories contain details that cannot have been created from pure imagination. For example, beside the fact that the destruction was done by a "flood" in all these stories, here are some unsual details that are also common to the Bible:

- the boat (or ark) carrying Noah and his company stopped on a mountain
- when Noah wanted to check the levels of the waters, he waited seven days, and then he sent a dove which came back to him: these details are also found in the Epic of Gilgamesh
- then Noah sent a raven, and then knew that the levels were right

On Mount Nimuš the boat lodged firm,
Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
One day and a second Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
A third day, a fourth, Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
A fifth day, a sixth, Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
When a seventh day arrived
I sent forth a dove and released it.
The dove went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.
I sent forth a swallow and released it.
The swallow went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.
I sent forth a raven and released it.
The raven went off, and saw the waters slither back.
It eats, it scratches, it bobs, but does not circle back to me.
--- Epic of Gilgamesh, tablet XI, source

In another tablet, that came to light in 2014 and translated by Irving Finkel, the Ark is stated to have been round in shape, although this was a legend copying the concept of floating coracle widely used in Mesopotamia in the times:

“On a circular plan; Let her length and breadth be equal.”
--- Quotation from article from The Sunday Times of 19 January 2014

The ark tablet
Irving Finkel, curator at the British Museum, poses with the newly found "Ark" clay tablet
(Photo credit: AP/Sang Tan)

These details that are shared between these recorded tales and the Bible cannot possibly be the result of mere coincidences, unless someone would want to defy the laws of Probability ! The fact is that these tales recorded the same event and this fact is not seriously disputed. The question is to know if this event was a local catastrophy or a more global event that affected the entire planet. The Bible and these tales are supporting the latter, whereas some people may believe otherwise despite what these ancient records are telling us in unison.

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[1] This is the expression used by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in a speech at AIPAC 2013; to listen to the address to this convention, click here

[2a] The word sodomy is derived from the name of the city of Sodom; this sexual act was officially prohibited in the Roman Empire, based on the account of the Bible, by Emperor Justinian in year 559 CE (source: Novelle 141)

[2b] Collins, Steven, Where is Sodom? The case for Tall el-Hammam, Biblical Archaeology Review, March-April 2013, pp. 32-41

[3] The Messiah will be a descendant from King David, who was a descendant from Ruth the Moabite, whose ancestor was Moab, the son issued from the incestuous act that Lot's daughter had performed.

[4] See article on Abimilki in Wikipedia.

[5] The Biblical text is not explicit on the timing but the mention of Let us go down, let us confound there, etc. (Genesis 11:7) is unusual (rare) and thus must to be parallel to the creation of Adam when the text states Let us make man in our image (Genesis 1:26). This creation of Adam took place on the 1st Tishri year 1.

[6] The number 21 is equal to three times 7, which represents the 7th day of Shabbat, a direct order from God upon His Creation. The fact that Isaac came in the 3rd divine attempt means that these attempts reached a completion cycle, because the number 3 in Hebrew represents the completion, similarly to the 3 patriarchs, the 3 daily prayers, the 3 holy festivals, and so on

[7a] The British Museum has a collection of over 30,000 of such tablets that were found in Nineveh

[7b] The Enuma Elish consists of 7 tablets telling about the Creation; these tablets have been dated of the 7th century BCE but the text is assumed to have been composed much earlier, maybe around the time of Hammurabi

Copyright © Albert Benhamou 2013 - All rights reserved.