The Genesis Fraud
The Genesis Fraud
According to Christian tradition the book of Genesis was written somewhere between 1513-1440BCE, at around the time of the Israelite's alleged exodus from Egypt. This tradition has now been proven to be founded upon nothing more than erroneous and unsubstantiated belief. According to the overwhelming amount of archaeological, textual and extra-biblical record, the book of Genesis was more than likely written, or altered, sometime during the 6th to the 5th centuries B.C.E, whilst the Israelites were exiled in Babylon or even after they had returned, also known as the exilic and post exilic periods. At this point the reader may be wondering why this fact is significant. It is important, especially within the context of the archeologically proven fact that the Chaldeans, Sumerians and Babylonians, all had near identical myths from the creation of heaven and earth, the fall of man, the great flood, the tower of Babel, the Ten Commandments and even a Garden of Eden, to name a few. All of these ancient Babylonian myths pre-dated the Hebrew Scriptures by over a thousand years or more.
In discussing the evidence for the greater antiquity of the Babylonian flood myth, renowned Oxford scholar, Sir James George Frazer said:
"….conclusive evidence of the vastly greater antiquity in which of the Babylonian legend is furnished by a broken tablet, which was discovered at Abu-Habbah, the site of the ancient city of Sippar, in the course of excavations undertaken by the Turkish Government. The tablet contains a very mutilated version of the flood story, and it is exactly dated; for at the end there is a colophon or note recording that the tatflet was written on the twenty-eighth day of the month Shabatu (the eleventh Babylonian month) in the eleventh year of King Ammizaduga, or about 1966 B.C."(1)
In addition the 'Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies' has the following to say regarding biblical archaeology and the Babylonian origin of the myths contained within the book of Genesis:
"These (anthropological responses) took various forms: cultural, religious, and historical. The cultural responses were based upon the discovery of Assyrian and Babylonian texts which resembled the biblical accounts of creation and flood and the laws of Exodus 21–4. They illuminated the cultural context of ancient Israel and disclosed the history, religion, and culture of ancient Mesopotamia as never before. One conclusion that was drawn from these discoveries was that everything that was thought to be unique to the Old Testament was, in fact, derived from Babylon (Delitzsch 1901–2)."(2)
There are a number of reasons to consider the probability that the book of Genesis was written, or at least added to, well after the traditional date and even more reasons to suggest that it was composed in post exilic times (after the Jewish exile to Babylon).
The Hebrew Language
The first and foremost reason for considering a much later date for the composition for the book of Genesis than is held by the Judeo-Christian tradition, is the fact that the Hebrew language was not yet in existence during the period in which the book was allegedly written. There are two major forms of script in Hebrew, the 'Ketav Ivri', which is derived from the Phoenician (ancient Lebanese) language and the 'Ketav Ashuri', rooted in the Acadian or Babylonian language. Neither Hebraic Scripts originate with the actual Hebrews themselves they are borrowed languages from people who worshiped other gods. This begs the question; in what language would Yahweh have spoken to the Hebrews, if the language of Hebrew itself did not exist at the time he allegedly spoke to them? And why did the "one and only true god" not directly bestow a language on his chosen people, leaving them to plunder the languages of much more advanced civilizations whom Hebrew scripture tells us that he despised? Whether the original manuscripts of Genesis were penned in the Babylonian Hebrew or the Phoenician Hebrew, one thing is almost certain and that is, the earliest possible date that the book of Genesis could have been written is no earlier than 1000 B.C.E.
With regards to the relatively late development of the Hebrew language the 'Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the World's Ancient Languages' relates that:
"No extant inscription that can be identified specifically as Hebrew antedates the tenth century BC, and Hebrew inscriptions in significant numbers do not begin to appear before the early eighth century BC."(3)
The Philistines and the City of Gerar
Another piece of evidence indicating that the book of Genesis could not have been written any earlier than around the 8th century BCE, relates to the mention of the Philistines and the Philistine city of Gerar within the book of Genesis. According to all available archaeological evidence, the Philistines did not arrive in Canaan until around 1200BCE, some 300 years later than the traditional date of Genesis' composition. What's more, the Philistine city Gerar mentioned at Genesis 26:1, did not become a city until around the 8th to 7th centuries BCE, which pushes back the composition, or alteration of the book of Genesis to somewhere in between the 8th to the 7th centuries BCE, around 800 years later than the traditionally accepted date of its authorship.
In their book, The Bible Unearthed, professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, Prof. Israel Finkelstein and archaeologist and ancient historian Neil Asher Silberman, discuss this piece of evidence in the following words:
"Then there is the issue of the Philistines. We hear of them in connection with Isaac's encounter with "Abimelech, king of the Philistines," at the city of Gerar (Genesis 26:1). The Philistines, a group of migrants from the Aegean or eastern Mediterranean, had not established their settlements along the coastal plain of Canaan until sometime after 1200BCE. Their cities prospered in the eleventh and tenth centuries and continued to dominate the area well into the Assyrian period. The mention of Gerar as a Philistine city in the narrative of Isaac and the mention of the city (without the Philistine attribution) in the stories of Abraham (Genesis 20:1) suggest that it had a special importance or at least was widely known at the time of the composition of the patriarchal narratives. Gerar is today identified with Tel Haror northwest of Beersheba, and excavations there have shown that in the Iron Age-the early phase of Philistine history-it was no more than a small quite insignificant village. But by the late eighth and seventh century BCE, it had become a strong, heavily fortified Assyrian administrative stronghold in the south, an obvious landmark."(4)
The next reason for questioning the traditional date of composition for the book of Genesis is the presence of camels in the narrative. This issue is not as cut and dry, as some of the others that demonstrate the late composition of the book of Genesis, but there is strong evidence to suggest that camels were not domesticated during the 2nd millennium B.C.E. According to Ladaj Saphir an archaeo-zoologist working in the Archaeozoology Department of Tel Aviv University in Israel, camels were not domesticated, at least in Egypt, until after 1000BC. She says:
"According to the archaeological evidence, the camel could not have been domesticated as a beast of burden before the first millennium B.C."(5)
You may be wondering why this issue is important!
In Genesis 12:16 Abram is rewarded by the Pharaoh of Egypt for giving the Pharaoh his "sister," who was actually Abram's wife/half-sister. For this gift of prostitution, the Pharaoh rewarded Abram with sheep, asses, slaves, and a camel. However, as mentioned above, camels were not domesticated until after 1000BC and this story is traditionally said to have taken place before 2000BC, that is, during the 2nd millennium B.C.E. Therefore, the author of Genesis was living in a time when camels were domesticated, which according to both archaeological evidence and the scholarly consensus amongst archaeologists, couldn't have been before the 1st millennium B.C.E (1000 B.C.E~1BC). This pushes both the story of Abraham and the book of Genesis to after 1000BC at least.
The 'Harper Collins Bible Dictionary' corroborates the above point, whilst disagreeing only slightly on the date of the introduction of the Camel to Canaan and Egypt. It states:
"There is however no archaeological corroboration for the camel being known in Palestine or Egypt at the beginning of the second millennium B.C., as the seventeen references to the camel in Genesis might suggest, and those references are therefore considered anachronisms."(6)
In addition two Jewish Rabbis, Messod and Roger Sabbah, discuss this point in their bestseller, 'Secrets of the Exodus: The Egyptian Origins of the Hebrew People', arguing that the appearance of camels within the narratives found in the Book of Genesis are tell-tale signs that the book was composed much later than previously believed:
"Biblical researchers believed that the presence of camels in the story of the patriarchs was an error of the scribes. However, the scribes went into great detail, as if they wanted to pass on a message. "He caused the camels to kneel ..." (Genesis 24:11). "Rebecca looked up and alighted from the camel ..." (Genesis24:64). Presenting Biblical characters alighting from camels' backs is an anachronism that the scribes apparently wished to present.
By the sixth century BC, the camel, a symbol of wealth and power, had already been domesticated in Babylonia. Had they forgotten that camels did not exist in ancient Egypt?
Couldn't they have presented and described Abraham's power and wealth without camels? The camels give a Mesopotamian twist to the story, which would have been pleasing to their captors."(7)
Finally, with regards to the absence of the domesticated camels during the 2nd millennium B.C.E, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, Israel Finkelstein says:
"First, the stories of the Patriarchs are "packed" with camels: usually herds of camels, but, as in the story of Joseph's sale by his brothers into slavery, camels are also described as beasts of burden used in caravan trade. We know that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the early first millennium; in other words, they were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 b.c.e. The account of the camel caravan carrying "gum, balm, and myrrh" in the Joseph story reveals an obvious familiarity with the main products of the lucrative Arabian trade that flourished under Assyrian domination in the eighth to seventh centuries b.c.e. Indeed, excavations at the site of Tell Jemmeh in the southern coastal plain of Israel—an important trade entrepot on the main caravan route between Arabia and the Mediterranean—revealed a dramatic increase in the number of camel bones in the seventh century."(
Further, the book of Genesis describes Abraham's birthplace as being in Ur in Chaldea, which as previously mentioned, is more popularly known today as Babylon. At Genesis 11:28, 31 and 15:7, the Hebrew word 'Kasdim' (Eng. Chaldee) is used to describe the ancient region of Babylonia. The problem with the use of the word 'Kasdim' is that it was not used to describe ancient Babylonia until the 6th century BCE, which is known as the Neo-Babylonian Period. Before this it was known as 'Sumer', yet the account given in Genesis refers to this region as Chaldea. This fact provides further evidence that the book of Genesis was more than likely written, or at least redacted and altered, sometime during or after the 6th century BCE. According to Messod and Roger Sabbah, the story of Abraham was a 6th century composition constructed to pander to the jewish's Babylonian captors and masters. They say:
"Although the city of Ur existed in Sumeria, the name "Chaldea" (Chaldees) does not appear until sometime around the sixth century BC. Chaldea has never yielded any archeological proof of the existence of the great patriarch, Abraham. In order to survive and for their traditions to survive as well, the Yahuds introduced anachronisms into the history of the Patriarchs. They made the story compatible with sixth-century Babylon. They recast a large part of their history at that time, probably under considerable restrictions. The new text of the story had no historical reality at all."(9)
Moreover, the 'Harper Collins Bible Dictionary' informs us that:
"In the OT, Ur is mentioned four times (Gen. 11:28, 31; 15:7; Neh. 9:7), in each instance as the home of the patriarch Abraham before his migration to Harran and Canaan, and in each instance the Hebrew phrase "Ur Kasdim" is used. Kasdim here almost certainly indicates the "Chaldeans" (cf. already the Septuagint), which suggests that the phrase as a whole refers to the southern Mesopotamia!! Ur of the period of the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean Empire. To be sure, this period is much too late for Abraham…"(10)
Further still, the President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York, Gary Greenberg said in his book, 101 Myths of the Bible:
"These references to Ur of the Chesdim, Chesed, and Aram obviously stem from a time when:
1. Aramea and Chaldea had come into existence;
2. the Hebrews started to adopt Aramaic terminology;
3. Chaldea had become a major force in Mesopotamia;
4. the collective memory of Chaldean and Aramaic origins had receded into myth; and
5. the Hebrews would use the Aramaic pronunciation rather than the native dialect for the Chaldean name.
This suggests a timeframe well after the Babylonian conquest of Judah and almost certainly into the Persian or Hellenistic period (fifth century B.C. or later.)"(11)
It appears that many, if not all of the accounts of Abraham's birth and travels, were created no earlier than the 6th century B.C.E, which seems to indicate that the writer(s) was either in Babylon during the exile or had already returned to Israel. Either way, the authors of the Hebrew Scriptures had ample opportunity to copy and re-script the mythologies of the ancient Babylonians to suit their own social and theological needs.
Kings in Israel
Genesis 36:31 says;
And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.
The obvious implication of this statement is that at the time the author was writing this passage, there had been numerous kings who had reigned in Israel as evidenced by the phrase, any king over the children of Israel.
The very first king of Israel was Saul and his reign has been dated from 1020BCE-1000BCE. (Bruce Metzger and Herbert G. May. The New Oxford Annotated Bible With Apocrypha. (1977) Pg.1548.). Thus, the author must have been writing the account in Genesis following this period. There may well be good reason to suggest it was long after this period, due to the fact that the author says; "before there reigned any king over the children of Israel." Use of the phrase, 'any king' implies that he was aware of more than one king. If only one king had reigned it would have made more sense for the author to name that king, or if there were two, to use the phrase 'either king', or 'both kings', or use their names, but it definitely seems as if there had been many kings which preceded the account. This evidence coupled with the textual and archaeological evidence showing that Saul was the first king of Israel in the 10th century B.C.E, seems to indicate that the account in Genesis was written well after this date.
Bozrah in Edom
The next clue to the late composition of the book of Genesis can be found within the reference to an Edomite king by the name of Jobab ruling in place of King Bela who was reported to have died. Jobab's father was Zarah, a king from Bozrah (see Genesis 36:33).
Recently, the ancient city of Bozrah was excavated by archaeologists who discovered that it came into being no earlier than the 8th century B.C.E.
The archaeologist responsible for excavating Bozrah, Bennet said:
"There is no archaeological evidence to support the story of the king of Edom refusing passage to Moses, or for a powerful kingdom of Edom in the time of David and his son Solomon. Biblical traditions such as Genesis 36:31 and Numbers 20:14 probably reflect 8th-6th century BC conditions. The evidence for a very impressive occupation and a city with all the appetencies of prosperity is overwhelming during the Neo-Assyrian period and is supported by the records in the Assyrian annals, and 8th century BC biblical references to Bozrah (especially Amos 1:12)." (12)
The 'Harper Collins Bible Dictionary' supports this conclusion, stating:
"Excavations by Crystal-M. Bennett reveal that it flourished in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. and probably continued into the fourth.
As is the case with other Edomite sites, it does not appear to have existed before the eighth century B.C., which raises serious questions about the historical accuracy of the Edomite king lists in which it is mentioned (Gen. 36:33; 1 Chron. 1:44)."(13)
In providing evidence contrary to the alleged conquest of Canaan by Joshua, the Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies discounts the existence of Bozrah prior to the traditional date of Joshua's alleged conquest, reporting:
"Thus the traditional picture of Israel's 'conquest' of Canaan has been dramatically revised as a result of archaeological excavation and survey in the hill country. The evidence from Canaanite cities, formerly used to support the conquest theory, no longer works; certain cities named in the conquest narratives—Jericho, Ai, Heshbon, and Arad—were not Late Bronze Age cities. The kingdom of Edom, mentioned as an obstacle to Israel's migration in Num. 20: 14–21, did not yet exist, as was shown by the excavations of Bennett at Umm el-Biyarah, TaWleh, and Busayra and the surveys of B. McDonald…"(14)
Renowned Archaeologist and Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, Israel Finkelstein adds:
"But Edom did not exist as a distinct political entity until a relatively late period. From the Assyrian sources we know that Edom emerged as a fully developed state only in the late-eighth century b.c.e. It became a serious rival to Judah only with the beginning of the lucrative Arabian trade under Assyrian domination. The archaeological evidence is clear: the first large-scale wave of settlement in Edom accompanied by the establishment of significantly large settlements and fortresses may have started in the late-eighth century b.c.e., but reached its peak only in the seventh and early-sixth centuries b.c.e. Before then, the area was sparsely populated. Excavations at Bosrah (Buseirah), the capital of late-Iron II Edom, revealed that it grew to become a large city only in the Assyrian period."(15)
Another clue which seems to suggest that the passage in question was written in the post exilic period, is that the author, if living within the 7th century would have known that contrary to the account given in Genesis (36:31), there were kings in Israel before there were kings in Edom, and not vice versa, as was errantly claimed by the author of Genesis (see Genesis 36:31). Quite a lot of time would have to elapse before this fact would be forgotten by the people of Israel and the author or authors of Genesis. As a result of this historical inaccuracy, it may not be unreasonable to suggest that the book of Genesis could have possibly been written, or at the very least, redacted, as late as, or even later than, the 6th to 5th centuries B.C.E.
Yet another piece of evidence which seems to show that Genesis was written in either the exilic or post exilic period is the primary reference to Nineveh, listed first and foremost amongst the cities of Babylonia. During the period in which Genesis was traditionally believed to be written, the capital city of Babylon was Asshur, yet there is no mention of this city, instead we see three major cities listed; Nineveh, Rehoboth and Calah.
Genesis 10:11-12 lists the cities of Babylonia as follows;
…Nineveh and the city Rehoboth and Calah.
And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
The fact that Nineveh is the first mentioned city is of great importance from a literary point of view. It seems to indicate that it was the most significant city, probably the capital. Moreover, in verse 12 it is given first place again over the city of Calah. The issue here is that it did not become the capital city until the 7th century BCE.
According to the Harper Collins Bible Dictionary:
"Ninevah was the capital of Assyria at its height from the time of Sennacherib, who assumed the throne in 705 B.C. to its fall in 612 B.C."(16)
There is little doubt that the author of this passage in Genesis, saw Nineveh as the chief city of Babylon, leading him to give it pride of place as the first city mentioned and that in so doing demonstrated that he belonged to a period later than the 6th century B.C.E.
The final piece of evidence I will provide to show a late date for the composition of the book of Genesis relates to the mention of a town yet unfamiliar to the 15th century B.C.E inhabitants of the region, a town called Lud or Lydia in English. In Genesis 10:22 the town of Lud (Lydia) is mentioned, however it was unheard of before the 7th century BCE according to Ashurbanipal, the king of the Babylonian Empire. According to Ashurbanipal, Lud was unheard of by his fathers and so it is highly unlikely that an Israelite author writing in the 15th century BCE would have heard of it. Ashurbanipal was the head of a great empire that had conquered almost all of the surrounding nations, their exploits spanned across many countries and yet his fathers had not heard of this place known as Lud. So then what are the chances of an author hearing about this place before the kings of a mighty empire? However, if the author of Genesis was writing the account after Ashurbanipal's testimony, then he would have had the opportunity to learn of such a place and include it in his record. This seems to be the most likely scenario and would place the author sometime after Ashurbanipal's reign which spanned from 669-633 BCE.
In Knight's comprehensive work entitled 'Ancient Civilizations', we read:
"Lydia truly emerged as a civilization only under the Mermnad dynasty, established in about 685 B.C. Its founder was named Gyges, a palace guard who, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, murdered the king, Kandaules, married his wife, and usurped the throne."(17)
Finally, with regards to the late composition of the book of Genesis, referring to the 'Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies', we are able to establish the probable truth that the book of Genesis was written during and more than likely after the 7th century B.C.E:
"Attempts to identify Abraham's family migration with a supposed westward Amorite migration at the collapse of the Early Bronze Age c.2100–1800 bce, or to explain personal names, marriage customs, or laws of property by reference to fifteenth century Nuzi or Mari documents have failed to convince. Abraham's life-style is no longer seen as reflecting Intermediate Early Bronze/Middle Bronze bedouin, or donkey caravaneers trading between Mesopotamia and Egypt, or tent-dwellers living alongside. Middle Bronze Age cities in Canaan; rather, with its references to Philistines and Aramaeans, Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites, Ishmael and his descendants Kedar, Nebaioth, and Tema, Assyria and its cities of Nineveh and Calah, camel caravans and spices, Genesis reflects the first millennium world of the Assyrian empire. With its emphasis on the southern centres of Hebron and (Jeru)salem (Gen. 14: 18) and the northern centres of Bethel and Shechem, the Abraham story reveals knowledge of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (cf. Gen. 49: 8–12, 22–6), in its present form probably deriving from Judah's Floruit in the seventh century bce."(18)
From all of the available evidence of which I have only canvassed a small sample, the authors of at least portions of the book of Genesis were more than likely living some time during or after the 6th century BCE. This places them in the exilic or post exilic period, thus affording them ample opportunity to copy the myths of their hosts, the Babylonians.
1. Sir James George Frazer. Folk Lore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend and Law. Macmillan & Co Ltd. (1918). Pg. 119.
2. J.W. Rogerson. Judith. M. Lieu. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. Oxford University Press, (2006). Pg. 7.
3. Roger D. Woodward. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages: The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia. Cambridge University Press. (2008). Pg. 36.
4. Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. Touchstone (2002). Pg. 37-38
5. Thierry Ragobert and Isy Morgenzstern. The Bible Unearthed. TV. Documentary Series. Part 2: The Exodus. (2005).
6. Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). Pg. 165.
7. Messod and Roger Sabbah. The secrets of the Exodus: The Egyptian roots of the Hebrew People. Allworth Press (2004) Pg. 90.
8. Israel Finkelstein & Amihai Mazar. The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archeology and the History of Early Israel. Brill (2007) Pg. 46.
9. Messod and Roger Sabbah. The secrets of the Exodus: The Egyptian roots of the Hebrew People. Allworth Press (2004). Pg. 91.
10. Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). Pg. 1187
11. Gary Greenberg. 101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History. Sourcebooks Inc. (2000). Pg. 116.
12. Crystal M. Bennett. "Excavations at Buseirah (Biblical Bozrah)." John F. A. Sawyer & David J. A. Clines, editors. Midian, Moab and Edom; The History and Archaeology of the Late Bronze and Iron Age Jordan and North-west Arabia. 1983. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Supplement 24. Sheffield, England. Pg. 16-17.
13. Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). Pg. 153.
14. J.W. Rogerson. Judith. M. Lieu. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. Oxford University Press, (2006). Pg. 63.
15. Israel Finkelstein & Amihai Mazar. The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archeology and the History of Early Israel. Brill (2007) Pg.47-48.
16. Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). Pg.759.
17. Judson Knight, Stacy A McConnell & Lawrence W. Baker. Ancient Civilizations Almanac. Vol. 1. A.X.L An Imprint of the Gale Group. (2000), Pg. 145.
18. J.W. Rogerson. Judith. M. Lieu. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. Oxford University Press, (2006). Pg. 61
You can always trust a person in search of the truth, but never the one who has found it. MANLY P. HALL