Rachel and Leah & Ancient City of Nuzi

A dream like that would be a shocker, especially with You talking. 

So did Jacob really work for seven years for Rachel?

Once the seven years were up they celebrated and that night Laban had Leah sleep with Jacob, and they had sex. 

In the morning when Jacob realized that it was Leah and not Rachel in bed with him he was enraged and angrily questioned Laban. 

His response was that in his country he could not give away the younger before the firstborn.  Jacob worked another seven years to marry Rachel.

“And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, 1 he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (Gen 29:30-31). 

“Leah gave birth to four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.  These are a third of the 12 tribes of Israelites, which are God’s chosen people. 

These are a portion of the people that God was talking about when He told Abraham that they would have a hard time for 430 years.  You’ll hear more about them later in the Book of Exodus with Moses.

Nuzi Tablets and the Patriarchs
Many in the scholarly world are dismissive about the historicity of the patriarchs. One source that is helpful in understanding the world of the biblical patriarchs is that of the Nuzi Tablets.

Nuzi was a Hurrian administrative center not far from the Hurrian capital at Kirkuk in northern Iraq. The Hurrians are equivalent to the Horites in the Old Testament, also called Hivites and Jebusites.

Excavations were carried out at Nuzi by American teams from 1925 to 1933. The major find was more than 5,000 family and administrative archives spanning six generations, ca. 1450–1350 BC. They deal with the social, economic, religious and legal institutions of the Hurrians.

The tablets tell of practices similar to those in Genesis such as adoption for childless couples (Gn 15:2–3), children by proxy (Gn 16; 21:1–21), inheritance rights (Gn 25:29–34), marriage arrangements (Gn 28–31) and levirate marriage (Gn 38; Dt 25:5–10).

They also demonstrate the significance of the deathbed blessing (Gn 27; 48–49) and household gods (Gn 31:14–19, 30–35).

Some Nuzi tablets, called “tablets of sistership,” have agreements in which a man adopted a woman as a sister. In the society of the Hurrians, a wife enjoyed both greater protection and a superior position when she also had the legal status of a sister. In such a case, two separate documents were drawn up, one for marriage and the other for sistership.

This may explain why both Abraham (Gn 12:10–13; 20:1–2) and Isaac (Gn 26:7) said their wives were their sisters. It is possible that they had previously adopted them to give them higher status, in accordance with the custom of the day.

Family records were highly valued at Nuzi, being passed down from father to son for as many as six generations. Nowhere else in the ancient Near East is this kind of reverence for family documents illustrated, except in the Old Testament.

Indirectly, the practice at Nuzi supports the position that Genesis and the other books of history in the Old Testament are grounded in actual family, clan and tribal records carefully passed from generation to generation.

As with Mari, the Nuzi records demonstrate that the cultural practices recorded in the book of Genesis are authentic. The accounts are not fictional stories written at a much later time, as some critics claim, since the customs were unknown in later periods.

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 

And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? 

And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 

And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.  And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son” (Gen 30:1-5).

Bilhah gave birth to two sons: Dan and Napthali.  Jacob then slept with Leah’s handmaid, Zilpah, and she gave birth to two sons: Gad and Asher.  This is another third of the 12.

Again, God allowed Leah to have two more boys, Issachar and Zebulun, as well as a girl, Dinah.  He then allowed Rachel to become impregnated and she gave birth to Joseph. 

This is now 11 of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Dinah is not a part of the tribes, they have to be men.  I mention her because there is much bloodshed later because of her.

Jacob was now ready to leave but Laban didn’t want him to.

“And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. 

Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service, which I have done thee. 

And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake. 

And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.

And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 

For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also? 

And he said, What shall I give thee?  And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me anything: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock” (Gen 30:25-31). 

Laban had done Jacob wrong with the daughters and his wages, so Jacob is going to pay him back.  Since Laban was Jacob’s uncle we can say that scamming was in the bloodline.

“I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire “(Gen 30:32). 

And Laban  agreed because the speckled and spotted livestock were of less value.

“And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. 

And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chestnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.

And he set the rods, which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink. 

And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 

And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle.

And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 

But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 

And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (Gen 30:36-43).

1 Leah hadn’t done anything for God, so why did He help her out?  We don’t have to do anything for Him, and actually there’s nothing we can do aside from believe in Jesus, trust Him, and give Him our time. 

God loves everyone, even the evil, unless they blaspheme the Holy Ghost: or haven’t been saved when they die.

“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mk 3:28-29).

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Rom 5:8-11).

“(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;).

For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”  (Rom 9:11 & 15-16). 

God wishes for everyone to accept Jesus and spend eternity with Him.

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).

Ancient City of Nuzi

The ancient city of Nuzi (modern Yorghan Tepe), located a few miles southwest of Kirkuk in Iraq, has provided archaeologists, with a wealth of material.

Mesopotamia in 2nd millennium B.C.

Estates of the nobility have yielded exquisite wall paintings, figurines, cylinder seals and ceramics in a style dubbed “Nuzi ware.”

The most significant dis­covery to date, however, has been extensive archives dating to approximately 1500-1350 B.C., during which the Mitanni king­dom controlled Nuzi.

Most of the 3,500 tablets in these archives originated from pri­vate homes and document the lives of the city’s ruling families, as well as providing information regarding the political structure and social conditions of this region and time.

Several Nuzi texts parallel and illumin­ate Biblical accounts of the patriarchs. Not all of the alleged correspondences between the Bible and information gleaned from Nuzi are certain, but at the very least they demonstrate that the context of Genesis is in fact rooted in ancient customs.

Some of the more famous of the proposed congru­encies include:

Enlil was the Mesopotamian god of the atmosphere and ruler of the skies and the Earth.
Enlil was also known as the lord of the wind and the air. He was the child of Ansar and Kisar, the very first set of gods and descendants of primordial beings. Enlil, along with Anu, and Enki, made up the trinity that ruled over the heavens, the Earth and the seas.

It is said he was so powerful that even the other gods could not look at him. His temple in Nippur, which is now south-eastern Iraq, was known as Ekur, or house of the mountain.

Enlil held the “tablets of destiny”, and therefore had power over all of the cosmos and of all of the people. He controlled the prosperity of the land and was credited with the invention of the plow.

In the legends, Enlil assigned Anzu, a massive bird who breathes fire, to guard his bathing chamber. While in the bath, the demon bird steals the tablets of destiny and flies to the top of a mountain to hide them. Enlil’s brother Anu, the chief of the gods, sends a posse of gods to retrieve the tablets and kill Anzu.

Perhaps one of the most famous myths of the storm god is the story of Enlil and Ninlil. He comes across the grain goddess Ninlil while she is bathing. Enlil, having all the charisma and character of a conceited adolescent god, forces himself on her. As punishment for the rape of a goddess, he is banished to the underworld by the council of Anunnaki gods.

Realizing she is pregnant with the child of a very important god, Ninlil decides to follow Enlil down to the underworld. She disguises herself three times and meets with Enlil in each disguise. Each time, he has to beg for her affections and each time she eventually agrees. As the myth continues, he learns to control himself, and court her properly. She learns her worth as a woman and as a goddess. Their first child is born, and is known as Nanna, the god of the moon. The family ascends from the underworld and lives happily ever after.

The myth seems to represent the cycle of crops, beginning with pollination by the wind. The birth and ascent from the underworld represent the cycle and rejuvenation of the crops.

* A childless couple in Nuzi could adopt a servant as an heir (cf. Abram’s assumption that his stave, Eliezer, would inherit his estate since Abram had not yet sired a son).

* Legal tablets demonstrate that an infer­tile primary wife could give her maidservant to her husband for the expressed purpose of providing him an heir, who could subse­quently be adopted by the primary wife.

According to these texts, if she later gave birth to her own son, he would displace the maidservant’s son, as the rightful heir (cf. the accounts of Sarah and Hagar in Gen 16:1 -4, 21:8-10 and of the maidservants of Leah and Rachel in Gen 30:1-13).

Marriage contracts discovered in Nuzi demonstrate that brothers could arrange for their sister’s marriage, although she often had the option to agree or disagree with the proposed union.

Marriage contracts formulated by a father, however, did not require his daughter’s consent. There are also parallels to the institution of levirate marriage (cf. Judah and Tamar’s story).

Prior to discovery of the Nuzi tablets, scholars had assumed that a later editor had added the notes that Laban gave named maidservants to his daughters when they married (Gen 29:22- 24, 28-29).

But researchers have discovered Nuzi marriage contracts stipulating that the bride was to be given a handmaiden, whose name was duly recorded in the contract.

An individual family’s household idols were considered highly important in Nuzi and were handed down to the principal heir.

If the inheritance were disputed in court, possession of the family idols could be accepted as proof that the deceased had intended the possessor to be his heir.

Thus, Rachel’s theft of the family idols could have been construed as a serious crime, an attempt to secure Laban’s wealth for her husband and possible future children (Gen 31:22-37).

Some historians have argued that Nuzi arrangements allowing a man to adopt a young woman as his daughter for the pur­pose of giving her in marriage to his son shed light upon Abraham’s two separate protestations that his wife was in reality his sister (Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-18).

There is some doubt that this is a true parallel, but these incidents at least suggest that the patriarchs’ stories likely had roots in ancient custom of which we may now know little or nothing.

Although the city of Haran, in which Abraham had lived before journeying to Canaan, is some distance from Nuzi, the Hurrians controlled both cities during the second millennium b.c.

Therefore it is not surprising that the Nuzi archives and the Biblical stories of the patriarchs reflect com­mon customs and legal arrangements.

Jacob’s Dreams & Paddan Aram

I can understand Esau’s hatred towards Jacob.  Jacob ‘s a conniver, he would do well in politics.  He probably inherited that from his grandfather because he was a 1 politician, but not a conniver. His shrewdness was probably in the bloodline.  

He inherited the conniving ability from his mother, but the ability to negotiate probably came from his  grandfather because he had been a politician, but not like the politicians of today, Abraham was an honest man. 

“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of 2 Canaan. 

Arise, go to Padan-aram (like our counties, Haran is a part of Padan-aram), to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother (Gen 28:1-2).

Jacob obeyed Isaac, and Esau was now mad at Isaac also, so he wanted to displease him.

And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;

Then went Esau unto Ishmael (remember Ishmael is their uncle), and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife” (Gen 28:8-9).

“And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 

And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 

And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!  This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen 28:11-17).

The Great Mosque

Jacob arrived at a well and while he was talking to the sheep herders his cousin Rachel showed up with his Uncle Laban’s sheep.  And Jacob was infatuated by her. 

After introducing himself and helping her feed the sheep he went to Laban’s home (children lived with their parents for a long time back then). 

Laban was happy to see him and gave him a job, but he wouldn’t let Jacob work for free, he wanted to pay him.  Sounds like a decent guy but was he?

Jacob’s job was to take care of Laban’s livestock and Laban what did he think was fair pay?  Leah, Rachel’s older sister, was tender eyed, but Rachel was beautiful and well favored. 

Jacob told him he would work for him for seven years if he could then marry Rachel.  Laban agreed  (Gen 29:1-27).

1 Abraham and certainly Moses (who is to come), was a Patriarch, which literally means, rule of the father. 

A Patriarch has absolute rule over his clan, whether it be politics, economics, military matters, religion, social affairs, and over life and death.

2 Remember that Abraham didn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman, they’re evil and worship other gods.

Paddan Aram

The geographical name Paddan Aram has been found only in Genesis and its meaning and exact location are uncertain.

Many scholars believe that Paddan Aram is an alternate name for Aram Naharaim (“Aram of the two rivers – Gen 24:10), the northern region of the vicinity of Haran, which figures prominently in Genesis as the patriarch’s ancestral home.

The prophet Hosea referred to Jacob’s journey to the “country [or field] of Aram” (Hos 12:12).  Some scholars believe this phrase to be Hosea’s translation of Paddan Aram, based upon the facts that a Ugaritic text refers to “fields of Ararri” and that an Arabic noun, paddan, sometimes means “field.” This argument remains, however, inconclusive.

Others suggest that Paddan means “road,” based on the similar Akkadian word paddanu (“highway”).  Thus Paddan Aram would mean “road of Aram.”

A synonym of paddanu is the word harranu, which may have been the source of Haran, the city from which Abram departed for Canaan.

Understood in this light, Paddan Aram would in fact be an alternative name for Haran. Although uncertainty about the name remains, scholars are confident that Paddan Aram refers either to the region around Haran or to Haran itself.

Some also say that Paddan Aram was an early Aramean kingdom in Mesopotamia.

Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing – 1760 B.C. & Ancient City of Haran

So what’s up with Esau and his wife?

“And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. 

And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:

Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;

And make me savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. 

And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son.  And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it” (Gen 27:1-5).

Esau was Isaac’s favorite and Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite.  Isaac was blind so Rebekah told Jacob to get two good kids and she would cook the meal for Isaac. 

Rebekah then put some of Esau’s clothes on Jacob and since Esau was hairy and Jacob was smooth she placed the goat skins on his neck and hands.  Jacob didn’t want to do this, fearing that Isaac would curse him if he was caught.

“And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son?  And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me. 

And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not. 

And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. 

And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him. 

And he said, Art thou my very son Esau?  And he said, I am” (Gen 27:20-24).

“And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.

And he drew near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed.

Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:

Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee” (Gen 27:26 & 28).

Later Esau showed up with the venison meal for Isaac and he was not happy when he found out that Rebekah and Jacob had tricked him.

“And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who?  Where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? Yea, and he shall be blessed.

And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.

A map of Jacob’s flight from Esau. After Esau discovered Rebekah’s plot and Jacob’s deception, he sought to kill Jacob. Jacob, thus, fled to his ancestors homeland in northern Mesopotamia.

And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing. 

And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob?  For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing.  And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? 

And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 

And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father?  Bless me, even me also, O my father.  And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept” (Gen 27:33-38).

Esau was infuriated. 

“And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob” (Gen 27:41). 

Isaac told Rebekah of Esau’s anger so she sent Jacob to her brother Laban in Haran, she figured in time Esau would calm down and Jacob could come back.

The Bible explains God’s love and hate:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).

“Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods” (Deut 12:31).

Our love and hate is a bit different and we will never reach His level of that type of love and hate, at least not on our own, because we don’t have His holiness and righteousness.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). 

Yet, we are capable of reaching His level through faith in Jesus Christ.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom 3:21-25).

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Rom 4:16).

“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Gal 3:22).

In Mal 1:2-3 God says that He loved Jacob and hated Esau. 

God didn’t hate Esau as we understand hate, but He does hate evil. 

The word hate in this situation pertains to His love, He loved Jacob more, and made a covenant with him, and not with Esau. 

As Jesus explained:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26).

He means that if you love anything or anyone more than Him then you are pushing Him out of your life and then He is unable to protect you from the devil who will destroy you.

We have not seen the last of Esau.

Ancient City of Haran

Also spelled Harran, Roman Carrhae, ancient city of strategic importance, now a village, in southeastern Turkey. It lies along the Balikh River, 24 miles (38 km) southeast of Urfa.

The town was located on the road that ran from Nineveh to Carchemish and was regarded as of considerable importance by the Assyrian kings. Its chief cult in Assyrian times was that of the moon god.

Harran An ancient city in Mesopotamia, famous for a temple of the Moon god Sin and the defeat of the Roman general Crassus in 53 B.C. (“battle of Carrhae”). Harran still stands after being constantly inhabited for thousands of years. It is said that this is the longest span that humans have ever lived in any one place on planet earth. Adam and Eve were said to have come to Harran after being expelled from the garden of Eden, Terah and his son Abram, grandson Lot, and Abram’s wife Sarai halted in Harran on their way from Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan. Jacob lived here for 20 years laboring for his uncle Leban.

It is frequently mentioned in the Bible; Abraham’s family settled there when they left Ur of the Chaldeans.

In Roman times, Carrhae was the scene of a disastrous defeat of the Roman governor Crassus by the Parthians (53 B.C.) and of a later defeat of the emperor Galerius by the Persian king Narses (AD 297). Population in 1990: 2,158.

The ruins of the Ulu Cami (mosque) in Harran. This 8th century center of worship and study in the Islamic world is one of the most impressive ruins in the area.

According to the Old Testament, Abraham resided here and his father Terah died here. Haran is known for its interesting cone and cubic shaped dwellings. They are made of clay and known to be naturally very suitable for the hot climate of the region.

These mud-brick houses are up to 4-5 meters high and this height is considered to be the other reason for cool and comfortable inside conditions. The present-day town of Harran is about 50Kms to the south of Sanli Urfa, a south-eastern province of Turkey.

According to the tradition, Abraham was moving from Ur to Canaan which was in Promised Land, when he rested in Harran. The town is surrounded by a city wall. Although the wall was restored in the 12th century A.D., only five of its 12 original gates have survived till today.

Beehive House of Haran The houses were made from clay and had numerous conical shaped beehive domes sticking out of their topsides. These beehive adobe homes are constructed without the aid of wood, and appear to be a sedentarized version of a nomad tent.

The ancient settlement was on and around the hill in the center of the town. This part has not been excavated yet.

On the way up the hill there are two doorposts with markers indicating that this place was “Aran’s House” from which Abraham took Sarah.

Inscriptions indicate that Harran existed as early as 2000 B.C. The place is known to be one of the most important cult centers of that time.

The temple of the moon-god Sin was here. Sin was one of the great gods of the Assurian-Babylonian pantheon. The roof of the temple was covered with cedar tree from Lebanon.

During early periods Sin was represented with a long beard and a crescent above a horned tiara. This was transformed into a single crescent only during the following centuries. Worshipping Sin continued until 6th century A.D. in Harran.

Harran became the capital city to Assurians during the reign of king Assurbanipal in the 7th century B.C.

The Roman army led by Crassus in 53 B.C. was defeated by the Parthians in front of Harran and Crassus was killed.

In 217 A.D. (April 6th), Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Cracalla was murdered here while he was on his way from Temple of Sin to the palace. Sin was an important god of Romans.

The Temple of Sin was devoted to the Moon cult and was famous throughout the the ancient world for its star readers, was locatedin Harran. Within a 1 km/.6 mile radius of Harran were other temples devoted to worshipping the Sun, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Mercury. This spot first came to prominence in 1100 B.C. under the Assyrians who made it a center to worship of the Mesopotamian god of the moon, Sin. Sin’s temple was rebuilt by several kings before a citadel/palace was built on top of these ruins

A citadel was built in the 14th century in place of the Temple of Sin. This lies in the south-west quarter of the town.

The 8th century A.D. mosque called Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) which lies to the north slope of the hill.

It dates back to the Omayad period. The tombstones of the Babylonian king Nabouid were found in this mosque and are on exhibition in the museum of Urfa today.

The region has always been considered a very spiritual ground by many cultures. The remains of the cult Holy Planet or Sabiers is only 60 Kms away from Harran.

On an area with 1 Km radius there are various temples devoted to the cults of Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Mercury. The Sabier cult maintained its existence until the 17th century A.D.

 

 

 

Isaac’s Covenant – 1804 B.C. & Rights of the First Born

Jacob seems like a scammer.  I don’t understand why You allowed Jacob to buy Esau’s birthright?

“And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham.  And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 

And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father;

And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:1-5).

“Isaac went and lived in Gerar and he told the Philistines that Rebekah was his sister, just like Abraham did, and he dealt with the same king, or at maybe it was his son, the Bible doesn’t tell.

And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us?  One of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 

Gerar was an ancient town in the Negev, in the south of the land of Israel, roughly half-way between Beersheba and Gaza.In the time of Abraham, it was ruled by a Philistine king named Abimelech.

Both Abraham and Isaac (who was born in the area) made a treaty with the king of Gerar, after separate incidents in which both claimed that their wives were their sisters, in order to keep from bring killed.

And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death (Gen 26:10-11).

God blessed Isaac and he became very wealthy and prosperous.  The Philistines were jealous of Isaac’s wealth so they stopped up all the wells that Abraham had dug, so Isaac and his men dug more wells. 

Then they moved on to Beer-sheba, remember where Abraham had made an altar for God and Hagar and Ishmael had run to when Sarah kicked them out.

And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. 

And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.

Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 

And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 

And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;

That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD. 

And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink” (Gen 26:24-30).

“And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well, which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 

Abimelech (/əˈbɪməˌlɛk/; אֲבִימֶלֶךְ ’Ǎḇîmeleḵ) was a son of judge Gideon. His name can best be interpreted “my father is king”, claiming the inherited right to rule. He is introduced in Judges 8:31 as the son of Gideon and his Shechemite concubine, and the biblical account of his reign is described in chapter nine of the Book of Judges. According to the Bible, he was an unprincipled, ambitious ruler, often engaged in war with his own subjects.

And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.

And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:

Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah” (Gen 26:32-35).

1 The punishment for adultery by The Hammurabi Code was drowning.

Rights of the First Born

The Hebrew term bet av (“paternal household”) reflects the fact that in ancient Israel the family was patrilineal: Inher­itances were passed through the male line.

The patriarch had authority over the entire household, including sons, daughters-in-law, unmarried daughters and grandchildren.

Upon the patriarch’s death the firstborn son became the new head of the family, and the paternal lineage of the extended family con­tinued through him.

This firstborn son, there­fore, exercised both special privileges and unique responsibilities.

Several Biblical texts stipulate that the firstborn belonged to the Lord and needed to be redeemed (since all firstborn sons be­longed to God after the plague on the first­born in Egypt, Israelites had to symbolically buy them back with animal sacrifices, according to Ex 13:2,12-16; 22:29; Nu 3:13.

The firstborn took precedence over his younger brothers and received a double portion of the inheritance, as well as a spe­cial blessing.

The Hellenistic period begins formally with the arrival of Alex­ander the Great in the Near East in 334BCE, but this date is not the beginning of Greek influence in the region.

The Near East as a whole, and Palestine and its Jewish residents more particularly, first came under Aegean influence in the fourteenth century BCE. As trade connections increased, this influence became much more extensive

This explains why Jacob took Esau’s birthright.

The patriarch/father was not free to arbi­trarily assign the first son’s birthright to a younger sibling, although the birthright could pass to another son in excep­tional circumstances (e.g., Reuben lost his birthright because he had defiled his father’s bed).

Documents from Nuzi and Mari reveal that if a concubine bore the first son, his birthright could be withdrawn if the primary wife subsequently gave birth to a son.

As had occurred between Ishmael and Isaac.

We also have access to Nuzi documents called “tablet of brotherhood” contracts. These concern the sale of a birthright to someone outside the family (based on a legal loophole of adopting the outsider as a family member) for the purpose of transferring property.

Although not identical in concept to what we see in Gen 25:27 and following, these Nuzi texts do indicate that the birthright could be sold or traded and provide some precedent for Esau’s sale of his birthright to Jacob.

The concept underlying the rights of the firstborn son has theological implications. The nation of Israel enjoyed a special rela­tionship with the Lord as his firstborn.

But Ps 89:27 indicates that Christ is the Lord’s firstborn. This is not to be seen as a contradiction.

Believers who are in Christ share in the privileges his intimate relation­ship with the Father entails (Heb 12:23-24), and we are warned not to spurn or devalue our birthright as Esau did (Heb 12:16-17).

A Bride for Isaac – 1856 B.C.

It’s clear that people knew You and Abraham were friends. 

Sarah’s dead now, so what did Abraham and Isaac do next?

“And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 

Canaan was the name of a large and prosperous ancient country (at times independent, at others a tributary to Egypt) located in present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel and was also known as Phoenicia.

The origin of the name `Canaan’ for the land comes from various ancient texts (among them the Hebrew Bible) and there is no scholarly consensus on precisely where the name originated nor what it was intended to convey about the land.

According to the Bible the land was named after a man called Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10).

Other theories cite `Canaan’ as derived from the Hurrian language for `purple’ and, as the Greeks knew the Canaanites as `Phoenicians’ (Greek for `purple’ as the Phoenicians worked, primarily at the city of Tyre, in purple dye and so were called by the Greeks `purple people’) this explanation is the most probable but, by no means, provable.

And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the 1 Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” (Gen 24:1-4).

“And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. 

Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:

And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 

And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.  And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher (Gen 24:12-16)

Ashtoreth, the ‘moon goddess’ has also been referred to by certain nicknames such as:

* Divine Mother

* Mother Nature

* Mother of God

* Queen of Heaven

* Virgin Mother

And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. 

And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go” (Gen 24:57-58).

And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the south country. 

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. 

And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 

For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?  And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself” (Gen 24:62-65).

1 Canaan was the son of Ham, the son that Noah cursed (Gen 9:25)

The stele of Baal with Thunderbolt found in the ruins of Ugarit

God didn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite because they were heathens (worshipped other gods).  The main two false gods were Baal, who they believed was the fertility god and controlled the wind, rain, and clouds. 

The other was Ashtoreth, who was a goddess and came from the Babylonian god Ishtar.  She consorted with Baal, bringing fertility to those that worshipped her. 

Yet, you must understand that these were not even people, but statutes.

Before Abraham’s time an ass was a chosen pack animal, and was capable of carrying 130 pounds and moving 2.5 miles for six hours a day.  A mule could carry 160 pounds and move three to four miles a day.

Isaac Offered as a Sacrifice to God – 1871 B.C. & Custom and Law in Ancient Mesopotamia

I see You made the promise good about the child.  I’m anxious to see what happens next.  This is an interesting story, You should write it out and get it published, I bet it would be a best seller.

There is no data proving when the following occurred, but according to Jewish Historian Titus Flavius Josephus, it happened in 1871 B.C., when Isaac was 25 years old.

Isaac Offered as a Sacrifice to God 1871 B.C.

“And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 

Mount Moriah (Mt. Gerizim)
In the Old Testament, Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his Son, Isaac in Genesis 22. In order to properly present the sacrifice, Abraham and Isaac ascended Mt. Moriah. It was on this mountain that God saw Abraham’s faithfulness and rewarded him, sparing Isaac.
No one is quite sure where this mountain is because the names of mountains have changed over time. However, many believe that Mt. Moriah is the same mountain as Mt. Gerizim.
The Samaritans considered Mt. Gerizim to be the same as Mt. Moriah, and have considered it a holy place since ancient times. They went to Mt. Gerizim to worship and present their offerings.

And he said, take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of  2 Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son.  And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

And they came to the place, which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 

And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Gen 22:1-14).

1 This symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Jn 3:16). 

God wouldn’t let Abraham kill Isaac, nor would God let Jesus stay dead. 

Abraham hadn’t known that He would or even could resurrect Isaac after he killed him, but it didn’t matter, he did what God told him to do because he trusted Him.

The mountains associated with Jerusalem today are Mount Ophen, Mount Zion and Mount Moriah. It’s believed that Mount Ophen is actually part of Mount Moriah which rises to 2,549 feet.

The Temple Mount sets at 2,428 feet. I believe the entire City of David was built on the lowest part of Mount Moriah.

2 Mount Moriah is the rocky hilltop of Jerusalem north of the old Jebusite city of Jerusalem where Solomon built the temple.  Actually the place earlier had been called the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, David bout it so he could offer a substitutionary sacrifice for himself and his house after he met the angel of death there during the great plague (2 Sam 24:17). 

The writer of 2 Chr 3:1 calls the site Mount Moriah.  Joseph, the first century Jewish historian, linked the site of the offering of Isaac with the site of the temple (Antiquities I, xiii.2)

Rabbinic literature follows this identification, and so does Muslim folklore concerning the Dome of the Rock, which stands there now.  Substitutionary sacrifices of Abraham and David at the site and the whole sacrificial system of the temple point forward to the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross.

Custom and Law in Ancient Mesopotamia

The Ur-Nammu law code is the oldest known, written about 300 years before Hammurabi’s law code.
When first found in 1901, the laws of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) were heralded as the earliest known laws.
Now older collections are known: They are laws of the town Eshnunna (ca. 1800 BC), the laws of King Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (ca. 1930 BC), and Old Babylonian copies (ca. 1900-1700 BC) of the Ur-Nammu law code , with 26 laws of the 57.
This cylinder is the first copy found that originally had the whole text of the code, and it is the world’s oldest law code.
Further it actually mentions the name of Ur-Nammu for the first time.

Laws from ancient Meso­potamia provide various interesting parallels to the Genesis stories. In particular, numerous regulations illustrate the marriage and inher­itance issues found in the accounts of the patriarchs.

For example: Just as Sarai procured an heir for Abram through her maid, the Sumerian laws of Ur-Nammu (founder and ruler of Ur’s Third Dynasty, c.2044—2007 B.C. allowed a husband to take a concubine after waiting in vain for his primary wife to bear children.

As in Sarai’s case, the primary wife might even have initiated the arrangement.

Hurrian law at Nuzi (mid-second mil­lennium B.C.) and the Code of Hammurabi in Babylonia (early 18th century B.C.) allowed a man to adopt as legitimate heirs any children he may have fathered through a slave woman.

In Sumer, the eldest son inherited the whole of his father’s estate and assumed responsibility for his siblings. But in Assyria and Nuzi brothers divided their father’s estate, with the eldest son receiving a double portion.

Nuzi law permitted inheritance rights to be transferred to a son born to the primary wife after she had adopted her surrogate’s son.

In a similar manner Isaac (although born after Ishmael) had the right to be Abraham’s chief heir.

Neo-Babylonian law included the pro­vision that sons born to a concubine would be subordinate to any sons born to the pri­mary wife and that the combined sons of the primary wife would inherit two-thirds of the estate.

The disinheritance of a son, a practice allowed in certain societies, generally required a court order that might be officially overturned if the father were found to have acted unfairly.

Some scholars, based upon such a prohibition in Nuzi law, have questioned the legality of Sarah’s demand to expel Hagar and Ishmael, which by analogy may indi­cate that Abraham lived under similar customs and laws.

Neo-Babylonian, about 555-540 BC – From Sippar, southern Iraq This clay cuneiform cylinder was discovered in the Temple of Shamash at Sippar.

It records the pious reconstruction by Nabonidus (reigned 555-539 BC) of the temples of the moon-god Sin in Harran and of the sun-god Shamash and goddess Anunitum at Sippar.

He tells us that during the work at Sippar, inscriptions of older kings Naram-Sin (2254-2218 B.C.) and Shagaraki-shuriash (1245-1233 B.C.) were discovered, and Nabonidus offers dates that considerably exaggerate their age.

Nabonidus came to the throne after the assassination of two of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar, even though he had no direct family connection with the Babylonian royal family.

He was old enough to have a mature son (Bel-shar-usur, the biblical Belshezzar – the story of him wetting his pants and being killed by God is in the Book of Daniel) and was almost certainly an experienced soldier.

A number of Nabonidus’ inscriptions include historical references intended to show that his irregular accession to the throne had the blessing of the gods and of earlier Babylonian kings. Linked to this concern for legitimacy are the recurring references to Nabonidus’ search for earlier buildings in the course of his own reconstruction work.

Collecting ancient documents and objects was already practised, for example, at Ashurbanipal’s library at his palace at Nineveh. In the ruins of the Northern Palace at Babylon a museum-like collection of ‘antiquities’ was found, apparently collected by Nebuchadnezzar and his successors.

This was probably still visible in Persian times.

Indeed, Abraham was hesitant to comply with Sarah’s wish and did so only after divine inter­vention.

In addition to family legislation, cer­tain laws and customs concerning con­tracts and other agreements mentioned in Genesis had parallels in Mesopotamia.

Treaties discovered at Mari and modern Tell Leilan (from the early 2nd millen­nium B.C.) are strikingly similar to the treaty reports in Gen 21,26, 31:

* In each case a formal oath was requested and given.

* The oaths were followed by reports of stipulations, frequently including a pledge of non-hostility.

* The oaths generally involved ceremonial feasts or sacrifices (Gen 26:30) and a gift exchange of sorts, particularly if the parties to the agreement had met in person.

The Mesopotamian cultural milieu from which the patriarchs emerged helps us to understand patriarchal social structures and practices reported throughout Genesis.

Abraham and Abimelich & The World of Patriarchs

Where is Abraham now?  And what about the kid You promised him?

Again, Abraham lies and says that Sarah is his sister, rather than his wife, in fear of losing his life.  Abraham didn’t exactly lie he just didn’t disclose all the facts, Sarah is his half-sister.  Sarah is over 90 years old, but she’s still good looking.

“And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman, which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. 

But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 

Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

This stone mask from the pre-ceramic neolithic period dates to 7000 B.C. and is probably the oldest mask in the world. A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer’s body, so in parts of Australia giant totem masks cover the body, whilst Inuit women use finger masks during storytelling and dancing.

And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. 

Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.

Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. 

Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us?  And what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.

And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? 

And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. 1

And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and women servants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. 

And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. 

And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.

So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bear children. 

For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife” (Gen 20:1-18).

Who Are the Patriarchs and Matriarchs?

The forefathers and foremothers of the Jewish people.

The Patriarchs, or avot (אבות) in Hebrew, refers to three generations of foundational figures in the Book of Genesis and Jewish tradition: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Matriarchs, or imahot (אמאהות) in Hebrew, refers to the Torah’s four foundational women: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Abraham and Sarah were the parents of Isaac, who, with Rebecca parented Jacob. With his two wives Rachel and Leah (and two handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah), Jacob fathered 12 sons and at least one daughter.

Of his sons, Rachel gave birth to two: Joseph and Benjamin. The 12 sons would go on to form the 12 Tribes of Israel. Israel is the name Jacob is given after he wrestles with an angel.

The three Patriarchs, and all but one (Rachel) of the Matriarchs, are believed to be buried at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a city in the southern West Bank (a region also known as Judea).

The site is also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs or Cave of Machpelah and — to Muslims — as the Sanctuary of Abraham. It is holy to Muslims, as well as to Jews, and a synagogue and mosque are both located there.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs has been a flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians at numerous times, most famously in 1994 when Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli Jew, opened fire on Muslim worshipers there, killing 29 people.

Having absolute faith in God isn’t always that easy.  It’s not hard to believe that He’s who He says He is, but it takes patience to believe that He’ll take care of problems, especially if you want Him to do something for you. 

But God takes care of us when the time is right, He’ll never let us down (Deut 31:6, Josh 1:5, and Heb 13:5).

1 As you can see that if your heart is right with God then He’ll take care of you.  Abraham’s faith was strong, but it’s obvious that at times his faith failed. 

If he had absolute faith in God he would’ve told King Abimelech that Sarah was his wife.  If you call on God only when you’re in a bind, He may not hear you (Is 59:1-2), and He certainly won’t let anyone use Him (Gal 6:7-8). 

The World of Patriarchs

The familiar figures of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph emerge out of the mists of Israel’s earliest memories.  Genesis 12-50 traces the journeys of these ancestral forefathers as they sought a land promised by God (Gen 12:1; 15:7).  Their migrations carried them from Mesopotamia to Egypt on several occasions, although the focus remained on Canaan, the land that their descendants would eventually possess.

We’re completely dependent upon Genesis for our knowledge of these great biblical figures since not a single reference to the patriarchs has been discovered outside the Bible.  This is not surprising, this is not surprising, given the emphatic biblical affirmation that God chose His people from the least of all the peoples on the earth (Deut 7:7).

Israel’s ancestors came from the peripheral edges of history even though they were at the theological center of God’s redemptive plan.  Yet this historical anonymity makes it difficult to place the patriarchs within their proper milieu.  Several scholars believe Genesis 12-50 reflects the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 B.C.) and place the migrations of the patriarchs within this period.

Mesopotamia
After the collapse of urban civilization, powerful states reappeared beginning about 2000 B.C.  In southern Mesopotamia the city-state of Ur had already gained control of the surrounding territory.  Ur-Nammu, greatest king of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (ca 2113-2006 B.C.), erected a great ziggurat (temple tower) and encouraged art and literature.

Amorites
The power of Ur ebbed under increasing pressure from new groups of people who came into Mesopotamia and changed the political landscape.  Particular important were the Amorites, a Semitic people perhaps originally from the fringes of the Syro-Arabian Desert west of Mesopotamia.  Tribally oriented and seminomadic, moving with small herds of sheep and goats, these Amorites gradually penetrated Mesopotamia, overthrowing the rulers of city-states and establishing Amorite dynasties at Isin and Larsa.  During a span of 200 years (2000-1800 B.C.) the Amorites dominated most cities in Mesopotamia.

By 1800 B.C. two powerful Amorite states – Mari and Babylon – controlled affairs along that Euphrates River.  Zimri-lim, king of Mari, built a palace comprised of 250 rooms covering an area 200 x 120 meters.  Within this palace archaeologists discovered 24,000 tablets inscribed in Akkadian.  These tablets contain valuable information on social customs of the Middle Bronze Age and give some indications of how prophets functioned outside Israel.

Babylon

By the 1700s B.C. Babylon became the center of a kingdom that controlled most of central and southern Mesopotamia.  Hammurabi, 6th king of the 1st Amorite Dynasty of Babylon (1792-1750 B.C.), was the most important ruler of the Old Babylonian Kingdom.  He conquered Mari and established a modest empire a modest empire that included southern and central Mesopotamia.  His famous law code, now in the Louvre Museum in Paris, indicates high levels of social and cultural refinement.

The story of Noah’s Ark is not just a Biblical story. Noah was known under a different name in India, among ancient Egyptians and Native Americans, just to mention a few cultures. The life of Utnapishtim and the Babylonian Flood Story are described in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Just like Noah, Utnapishtim is the survivor of the Deluge. Gilgamesh is the semi-mythic King of Uruk best known from The Epic of Gilgamesh (written c. 2150-1400 BCE) the great Sumerian/Babylonian poetic work.

The court at Babylon fostered the writing of great epics adapted from earlier Sumerian prototypes.  The Gilgamesh Epic, or “Babylonian Flood Story,” has been especially intriguing to biblical scholars because of its literary parallels with the flood recorded in Genesis 7-8.  The Enuma Elsih recounts the exploits of the great Babylonian god Marduk who prevailed over the primordial monster Tiamat and created the world.

After Hammurabi, the power of Babylon gradually ebbed.  Nippur and Isin were lost to Babylonian control shortly after Hammurabi’s death.  A Hittite raid by Mursilis I about 1595 B.C. brought an end to the 1st Amorite Dynasty of Babylon.  Babylon entered a dark age for the next 400 years, during which the Kassites dominated southern Mesopotamia.

Zoar & The City of Zoar

Wow!  What you did to Adam & Eve and to Cain does not compare.  These cities didn’t exist in the days of Moses, Jesus and Josephus.

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father” (Gen 19:30-32).

Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by him.

“And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.

And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day” (Gen 19:37-38).

Molech was the ancient Ammonite fire god.

As early as 1450 BC, as they wandered in the wilderness, Israel was worshiping Moloch, even before they entered the land of Canaan.

For that reason, God and Moses prohibited Israel from worshiping Moloch in Leviticus 18:21 and 20:2, 3, 4, 5.

The Ammonites didn’t walk with God, they were idolatrous and offered human sacrifices to their idol Molech.

The Moabites were polytheists (belief in more than one god) and they also probably offered human sacrifices to their gods, such as Chamos and Ashtar.

Yet, God didn’t destroy them even though they were against Him, simply because not all of the Moabites or Ammonites were evil.

God does not destroy people because of things others do.

Ruth, who you’ll read about later was a Moabite and an ancestor of King David who was an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

God knows that we’re not perfect, but as long as we trust Him and do our honest best not to sin He’ll always be with us and protect us.  He knows where our heart is (Rom 7:15-25 & 8:1).

Abraham was not perfect, but God wouldn’t allow anyone to harm him, as you’ll see?

The City of Zoar

Zoara, the biblical Zoar, previously called Bela was one of the five (Pentapolis) cities of the plain of Jordan in Genesis, which escaped the “brimstone and fire” that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Author Steven Collins in a field large with standing stones, stone circles and dolmens near Tall el-Hammam, a site he associates with Biblical Sodom.

It is mentioned by Josephus; Ptolemy (V, xvi, 4); and by Eusebius and Saint Jerome in the Onomasticon.

In the Bible

Zoara-, meaning “small” or “insignificance” in Hebrew, (a “little one” as Lot called it,) was a city east of Jordan in the vale of Siddim, which later became the Dead Sea.

Archaeology

Prior to the major archeological excavations in the 1980s and 1990s that took place in Zoara, scholars proposed that several sites in the area of Khirbet Sheikh ‘Isa and al-Naq’ offered further evidence of Zoara’s location and history.

Further information regarding Zoara in different historical epochs were obtained through the descriptions of Arabian geographers, suggesting that Zoara served as an important station in the Akkabah-to-Jericho trade route, and through Eusebius’s statement that the Dead Sea was situated between Zoar and Jericho.

Researchers who have studied ancient texts portray Zoara as a town erected in the middle of a flourishing oasis, watered by rivers flowing down from the high Moab Mountains in the east.

The sweet dates that grew abundantly on the palm trees surrounding Zoara are also mentioned in some historical texts.

The cave where Lot and his two daughters dwelt in has been recently discovered in the barren hills overlooking Safi, along with ruins of a small Byzantine church with mosaic floors and burial chambers.

At the base of the hill is Lot’s Museum, “The Lowest Museum on Earth” where about 400 archaeological finds from the area and across the Jordan Valley, representing history from 8000BC, are exhibited.

Several excavation surveys have been conducted in this area in the years 1986-1996. Ruins of a basilical church that were discovered in the site of Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata (“monastery at the Abata Spring” in Arabic), were identified as the Sanctuary of Agios (Saint) Lot.

An adjacent cave is ascribed as the location where Lot and his daughters took refuge during the overthrow of Sodom.

About 300 engraved funerary steles in the Khirbet Sheikh ‘Isa area in Ghor al-Safy were found in 1995.

Most gravestones were inscribed in Greek and thus attributed to Christian burials, while several stones were inscribed in Aramaic, suggesting that they belong to Jewish burials.

These gravestones were therefore traced back to the 4th to 5th centuries A.D., when Zoara was an important Jewish center.

Ancient World’s Largest Cemetery Identified at Biblical Zoar (Ancient Zoora)

At the southeastern end of the Dead Sea, nestled between the salt-encrusted shores of the sea and the dark, foreboding slopes of the Trans Jordanian highlands, lies Biblical Zoar (ancient Zoora or Zoara).

Amid the barren wilderness of Biblical Zoar (ancient Zoora) southeast of the Dead Sea, thousands of ancient burials, some more than 4,500 years old, have been discovered, making it perhaps the ancient world’s largest cemetery.

The ancient burials of Zoora shed light on the panoply of cultures and religions that lived here from the Early Bronze Age to the end of the Byzantine period.

The earliest ancient burials discovered by Politis at Zoar (Zoora) date to the Early Bronze Age I-II (c. 3100–2600 B.C.). These cist tombs were built during the heyday of the region’s two largest sites, Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira, considered by some to be the ruins of the ill-fated cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Some 2,500 years later, the site of Khirbet Qazone, about 15 miles north of Zoar, was used as an extensive burial ground during the period of the Nabatean kingdom.

Here more than 5,000 ancient burials from the 1st century B.C. to the 4 century A.D. have been identified.

Around the same time, Jewish families were also moving into the region of Zoar (Zoora) and purchasing date orchards and farms.

Scores of later Jewish tombstones found at Zoar (Zoora) attest to the Jewish community’s continued presence in the region throughout late antiquity.

During the Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries A.D.), Zoar (Zoora) became the center of a thriving Christian community.

Local Christians built an impressive monastery to commemorate the cave where they believed Lot and his daughters had found refuge during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The town was even the site of a major Christian bishopric. As such, it is no surprise that hundreds of ancient burials and Greek-inscribed Christian tombstones have been found at Byzantine Zoora.

While some of these ancient burials from Zoar (Zoora) have survived largely intact, most have been robbed and destroyed by looters.

Fortunately, Politis has managed to record many of the undisturbed ancient burials and salvage more than 400 of the Greek and Aramaic tombstones that have been looted from Zoar (Zoora), the ancient world’s largest cemetery.

Fire and Brimstone & Fire and Brimstone Explained

Some people think that homosexuality slowly crept into the world, but it’s been here since the beginning of time.  The devil is the father of perversion.  Satan is worse than the Catholics, because he’s the founder of it.

What are You going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah?

“And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides?  Son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. 

Archeologists believe they have discovered a ‘transsexual’ or ‘third gender grave’ in the Czech Republic

The male body – said to date back to between 2900-2500BC – was discovered buried in a way normally reserved only for women of the Corded Ware culture in the Copper Age.

The skeleton was found in a Prague suburb in the Czech Republic with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by domestic jugs, rituals only previously seen in female graves.

“From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake,” said lead archaeologist Kamila Remisova Vesinova.

“Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual,” she added.

According to Corded Ware culture which began in the late Stone Age and culminated in the Bronze Age, men were traditionally buried lying on their right side with their heads pointing towards the west, and women on their left sides with their heads pointing towards the east. Both sexes would be put into a crouching position.

And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city.  But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.1

And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. 

And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. 

And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: 

Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. 

And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 

Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou become thither.  Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 

The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. 

Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that, which grew upon the ground.

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.2

And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD:

And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

A pillar of salt named “Lot’s wife” is located near the Dead Sea at Mount Sodom in Israel.

The Jewish historian Josephus claimed to have seen the pillar of salt which was Lot’s wife.

Its existence is also attested to by the early church fathers Clement of Rome and Irenaeus.

And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt” (Gen 19:12-29).

1 Lot had been blessed by God, so he was wealthy and probably influential, but his own family didn’t believe him for they preferred the sin of the world over God’s righteousness.

2 Lot and his family had been told not to look back, but his wife disobeyed and therefore she was punished.  It’s been reported there is a mountain of salt at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea.

The valley of Siddim, where Sodom and Gomorrah had been are full of brimstone and salt pits.  This has grown into a vast lake, which, because of the brimstone still floating in it, is called Laces Asphaltitis or Lake of Brimstone, and because of the alt, Mare Salsum or Salt Sea.

Concerning these lakes, Gaius Julius Solinus, a Latin grammarian, of the 4th century, said.

A long way off from Jerusalem, there is a woeful spectacle, of a country to be seen, which was blasted from heaven and appeared by the blackness of the earth falling all to cinders.  There was in that place before this, two cities, one called Sodom, the other Gomorrah, where if an apple grew, though it appeared to be ripe, was not at all edible. 

Its outer skin contained nothing within it except a stinking smell, mingled with ashes and if ever so lightly touched, sent forth a smoke and the rest fell into a light dust of powder.

The basin of the Dead Sea has been investigated by an American expedition under Lieutenant Lynch, and the results are that there were two lakes; one was 13 feet deep and the other 1,300 feet deep.

It has been suggested that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was brought about by volcanic agency.  Furthermore, they report that they are satisfied that the account which Scripture gives of this catastrophe ought to be taken in its utmost literality. 

Fire and Brimstone Explained

The Dead Sea between Israel, West Bank and Jordan is the saltiest lake in the world, but in ancient Rome it was known as Lacus Asphaltites.

Brimstone (man now calls it “sulfur/sulphur”) is a lemon-yellow colored stone. Brimstone means, “burning stone” or, “the stone that burns.”

When plain brimstone is exposed to the air, nothing happens, but if a match is put to it, it will burn in a peculiar way, like a liquid fire, and it emits noxious fumes.

The stone melts like wax but the dripping is a peculiar thick fire, like a piece of wax on fire. As it burns, it has a rich, fluorescent-type deep cobalt bluish color.

It is an interesting, sticky, “acidy”-type burning fire. The little drops burn for some time. Ancient peoples sometimes used brimstone as a type of match.

A burning match held under brimstone causes it to catch on fire. It then melts and drips like wax and gives off fumes that do something to your nostrils. The fumes should not be breathed in, it is dangerous.

.Brimstone starts out in the molten rock under the earth’s surface. It spews out in the lava of volcanoes and often comes to the surface of the earth from volcanoes and hot springs.

Sulfur deposits have been found on the Italian island of Sicily where it lay near the surface of the earth and also Louisiana deep underground near the Gulf of Mexico.

Brimstone with a burned shell that has the unburned sulfur inside, and next to it is brimstone without a burned shell

One quote from the internet said,

A hundred years ago, people used to make a suspension of sulfur powder in molasses and drink it as a health tonic.

Brimstone/sulfur has many commercial/industrial applications. It is often converted to sulfuric acid which is so widely used that it is known as the “king of chemicals.”

Brimstone/sulfur is used for things such as fertilizer, car batteries, chemical/petroleum refining, paper, rayon, film, automobile tires, paint, detergents, explosives, matches, food processing (sulfur dioxide in food preservation can be harmful), drugs, and dyes.

It is said that sulfur is used at some stage of almost everything we eat, wear, or use. It is used to bleach fabrics. Too much sulfur dioxide in the air can kill people when they breathe it in because it causes choking and suffocation. It causes the throat and breathing passages to become irritated and closed up.

Sodom and Gomorrah – 2349 B.C. & Sodom and Gomorrah Explained

Since You’re God You can make anything happen.  What’s up with Sodom and Gomorrah?

The Bible doesn’t say that God, or the angels, told Abraham His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.  Yet, somehow he knew what was to happen, and he was scared for Lot because he lived there.

“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?  

Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

NOTHING LEFT BUT ASHES AND BRIMSTONE! Unlike the historical sites found in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, you can easily visit the ruins of the “five Cities of the plain.” The ashen ruins of Gomorrah is the best preserved site and is located right next to Masada, the well known mountain top fortress of King Herod where nearly 1,000 Jewish patriots took their own lives rather than submit to the tyranny of Rome.

And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

…Peradventure there shall be forty found there…I will not do it for forty’s sake…Peradventure there shall thirty be found there…I will not do it, if I find thirty there…Peradventure there shall be twenty…I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake…Peradventure ten shall be found there…I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. [vv. 29-32]

And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place” (Gen 18:23-33).

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men, which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 1

And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

World’s Oldest Homosexual Couple Found in Ancient Ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Tell el Hammeh, West Bank | Two 5,000-year old male skeletons unearthed near the city of Tell el Hammeh, in the southern Jordan river valley, could possibly be the world’s oldest known homosexuals in human history.

Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door” (Gen 19:1-11).

Aside from Lot and his family, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were lecherous, perverted, and homosexual. Being that way is bad enough, but wanting to have sex with God’s angels is horrendous.

Sodom and Gomorrah was a wretched place, filled of homosexuals, having the desire to sleep with the same sex is not a sin, but the act is. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t want tochange, if they had wanted to all they would’ve had to do was ask God for help.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).

God will not permit homosexuals into heaven.

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:7-8).

Sodom and Gomorrah Explained

View east along the southern wall of the destroyed city of Sodom (Bab edh-Dhra) southeast of the Dead Sea in modern Jordan.

The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea.  The modern names are Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sodom, and Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah. Both places were destroyed at the same time by an enormous conflagration.  The destruction debris was about three feet thick.  What broght about this awful calamity?  Startling discoveries in the cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra revealed the cause.  Archaeologists found that buildings used to bury the dead were burned by a fire that started on the roof.

What would cause every structure in the cemetery to be destroyed in this way?  The answer to the mystery is found in the Bible.  “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens” (Gens 19:24).  The only conceivable explanation for this unique discovery in the annals of archaeology is that burning debris fell on the buildings from the air.  But how could such a thing happen?

There is ample evidence of subterranean deposits of a petroleum-based substance called bitumen, similar to asphalt, in the region south of the Dead Sea. Such material normally contains a high percentage of sulfur.  It has been postulated by geologist Frederick Clapp that pressure from an earthquake could have caused the bitumen deposits to be forced out of the earth through a fault line.  As it gushed out of the earth it could have been ignited by a spark or surface fire.  It would then fall to earth as a burning, fiery mass.

It was only after Clapp formulated this theory that Sodom and Gomorrah were found.  It turns out that the sites are located exactly on a fault line along the eastern side of a plain south of the Dead Sea, so Clapp’s theory is entirely plausible.  There is some evidence for this scenario from the Bible itself.  Abraham viewed the destruction from a vantage point west of the Dead Sea.  

The Bible records what Abraham saw: “He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:28).  Dense smoke suggests smoke from a petroleum-based fire.  Smoke rising like smoke from a furnace     indicates a forced draft, such as would be expected from subterranean deposits being forced out of the ground under pressure.

The modern name Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah became an example in the Bible of how God judges sin. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did detestable things before Me.  Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).

Biblical scholars have long been divided about where exactly around the Dead Sea the cities were located.  Most traditional theories place the cities at the southern end of the Dead Sea, in and around the well-watered and fertile plains and valleys south of the Lisan peninsula.  At the southern end of this region, the Bible and other sources, including the first-century A.D. historian Josephus and the sixth-century A.D. Madaba Map, locate Zoar, one of the cities of the plain and the place to which Lot and his daughters fled following the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:22-23).

Finding no clear archaeological evidence for Sodom and Gomorrah in the vicnity of Zoar, however, W.F. Albright and others conjectured that the remaining cities of the plain lay submerged beneath the shallow waters of the Dead Sea’s southern basin.  They argued that during the time of Abraham, when the level of the Dead Sea was possibly much lower, the entire southern basin would have been a lush valley watered by rivers flowing down from the highlands of Moab.

By the late 1970s, when the level of the Dead Sea had begun to drop considerably due to industrial exploitation and damming projects, archaeologists had an unprecedented opportunity to search the now mostly dry southern basin for remains of the lost cities.  But not a shred was found; there was no evidence that the cities had been submerged beneath the salt sea.

While exploring the high fertile banks along the southeastern shore of the Dead Sea, however, the same archaeological expedition discovered the ruins of four towns that had been inhabited during the Early Bronze Age (3300-2000 B.C.).

Some scholars, though certainly not all, date the origins of the stories of Abraham and Lot to the end of this period.  The expedition, headed by archaeologists Thomas Schaub Walter Rast  excavated two of the largest sites in the plain (as noted above) – Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira – and discovered that both had been thriving Bronze Age cities that were destroyed at almost exactly the same time, about 2350 B.C.  Rast proposed that the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah originated from ancient traditions surrounding the near-simultaneous demise of these once-prosperous twin cities.

Although many have adopted Rast’s view of the southern provenance of the Sodom and Gomorrah tradition, others have proposed that the Bible actually locates the fabled cities at the northern end of the Dead Sea.  The most vocal proponent of the northern theory is Dr. Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University, who argues that Lot’s apportioned territory and all the “cities of the plain” (Genesis 13:8-13) should be located in the broad circular plain where the Jordan River meets the Dead Sea. 

First, according to Collins, Genesis 13 places the separation scene between Abraham and Lot somewhere around Ai and Bethel, an area that has commanding views over the northern Dead Sea and southern Jordan valley, not the southern Dead Sea region. 

Second, the passage describes Lot’s territory as the “circular” or “disc-shaped” plain of the Jordan; a term which Collins argues refers specifically to the broad alluvial plain of the southern Jordan valley just north of the Dead Sea.

Later research into Babe dh-Dhra revealed stark similarities in the style of pottery with Safi and Feifa. Feifa and Safi had stark similarities with Babe edh-Dhra.

When further excavations were done near Bab edh-Dhra another ancient settlement known as Numeira (located south of the spring) was discovered.

Another Early Bronze Age site Khanazir was also excavated. Tall el-Hammam was a site that had been discovered at a prior time.

Some scholars believed this was the site of Sodom, but the dates of destruction and other artefacts do not match the claims. So let us try to identify the location of true Sodom.

As far back as the first-century A.D. historianJosephus, visitors to the Dead Sea have hypothesized about the nature of the catastrophe that “overthrew” the cities of the plain under a shower of brimstone and fire.  For some, the explanation was a powerful flood that inundated the much shallower and then-dry southern basin of the Dead Sea.  For others, the destruction was wrought by an ancient volcano that has become hidden and dormant in the centuries since. Some have even postulated that God’s fury was unleashed by a fiery ancient asteroid over a half-mile in diameter that destroyed everything in its path.

But the explanation that provides the most likely historical and geological context for the legendary destruction is a massive earthquake.  The Dead Sea, part of the enormous geological fault line known as the Great Rift Valley, has been the epicenter of powerful earthquakes for countless millennia.  Indeed, geologist Amos Frumkin believes that an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale gave rise to both the Sodom and Gomorrah tradition as well as the story surrounding the Mt. Sedom salt pillar (known as Lot’s Wife) some 4,000 years ago.  Other scholars have proposed that the earthquake caused the narrow isthmus between the northern and southern Dead Sea basins to give way, which in turn flooded the southern “Valley of Siddim” and inundated the wicked cities and all their inhabitants.

Matching the earthquake theory to the Biblical conflagration, however, has required additional explanation.  Most have proposed that the earthquake caused the natural sulfur and bitumen deposits of the Dead Sea area to erupt to the

surface, thereby releasing large quantities of natural gas into the air.  When exposed to fire – perhaps created by a lightning strike from above – the gas could have ignited and turned the entire plain into a huge furnace, consuming everything and everyone that could not escape. 

What is more, Collins believes he has located theactual site of Biblical Sodom on a high bank overlooking the valley.  The site, Tell el-Hammam, is one of the largest mounds in the plain and supported almost continuous occupation from the Chalcolithic to the Byzantine period. 

For ten seasons (since 2005), a team of archeologists lead by Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University, New Mexico, has been unearthing layers of amazing ancient structures and artifacts.

This object found in Jordan’s southern valley date from the bronze age and it is believed that they are the remains of a big city-state. The location is known as Tall el-Hammam.

Collins says:
“Very, very little was known about the Bronze Age in the Middle Ghor (southern Jordan Valley) before we began our excavations in 2005. Even most of the archeological maps of the area were blank, or mostly so. What we’ve got on our hands is a major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our Project.”

Although the site has substantial Early Bronze Age remains (as at Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira), Collins believes that the extensive and well-fortified Middle Bronze Age city (c. 2000-1550 B.C.) represents the Sodom known to Lot and Abraham, Biblical figures that he and many others believe should be dated to the first half of the second millennium B.C. 

In one area of the Middle Bronze Age city, Collins located a massive destruction layer over three feet thick.  Could this layer be the archaeological residue of God’s infamous judgment on Sodom? 

But whether one locates Sodom and Gomorrah south or north of the Dead Sea, there is plenty of reason to suspect that the Biblical tradition surrounding the doomed cities of the plain was more than just fanciful legend.  As suggested by Amos Frumkin in his May/June 2009 article on the salt pillar known as Lot’s Wife, the Sodom story told in the Bible likely represents an ancient memory of a single catastrophic event that affected the cities and peoples of the Dead Sea region nearly 4,000 years ago.

The final destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is vividly described:

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all of the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground (Gen 19:24-25).

If the Biblical story does reflect a genuine historical memory of an ancient disaster in the Dead Sea region, what natural disaster would have brought about such a calamitous retelling?