Archive for archaeology

Bible’s Bronze-Age Background

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, life, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , on December 8, 2010 by chouck017894

The third millennium BCE, the Early Bronze Age timeframe, was a period in which urban life had been well established in the Near East region now known as Palestine.  Archaeological research has shown that there were cities of several thousand persons in that timeframe which contained palaces, temples, and defined areas of commerce, all surrounded by impressive ramparts and buttresses.  These commonly served as the capital of city-states which ruled over the surrounding rural population.  For the most part, these were well-developed but rather languid cultures.

This Early Bronze Age urban atmosphere is glaringly out-of-place as background for the stories of Genesis or for the alleged wilderness wanderings as depicted in the biblical books of Exodus and Numbers.  According to those priest-written accounts, written in seventh century BCE Jerusalem, urban life was virtually nonexistent: world population was thus characterized in the biblical tales from a pastoral nomadic point of view.  This clearly indicates that something brought about the breakdown of the urban way of life later in the third millennium BCE, so the early Bible tales are actually set in the Intermediate Bronze Age, the timeframe between two urban eras.  The collapse of the urban cultures apparently occurred suddenly c. 2200 BCE, lasting into about 1800 BCE (the Intermediate Bronze Age), which is more closely the time associated with priest interpreted chronology of the alleged patriarchs.

It was noted earlier in these web posts that there were worldwide climate changes in this Intermediate Bronze Age timeframe.  Rainfall dropped by twenty percent, crops failed everywhere, famines swept across the urban societies which resulted in riots and massacres.  Temples and whole cities were abandoned: the Old Kingdom of Egypt collapsed, for example.  The Kingdom of Akkad also collapsed, and there is a preserved lamentation called The Curse of Akkad, that tells of the Akkad empire’s fall.  Typically the lamentation attributes the collapse as due to an outrage of the gods toward one of the grandsons of Sargon who is accused of having plundered the temple of Enlil.  Part of the lamentation reads: For the first time since cities were built and founded/  The great agricultural tracts produced no grain/  The inundated tract produced no fish/  The irrigated orchard produced neither syrup nor  wine/  The gathered clouds did not rain, the masgurum did not grow…  Coinciding with this, the weather throughout Europe brought a long period of freezing conditions.

Biblical chronology implies that Abram (who was later transfigured into Abraham) was supposedly born c. 2150 BCE in Chaldea and departed the city of Ur c. 2100 BCE (the third millennium BCE).  This would be in the  Intermediate Bronze Age, and although there were no large cities in this timeframe, it was not an entirely nomadic period: much of the population led sedentary lives in hamlets and villages. 

For many generations the historical existence of the alleged patriarchs of the Bible tales was never doubted, and the “age of the patriarchs” was long accepted to be the earliest phase of a sequential history of Israel.  Thus the patriarchs were believed to have come upon the world stage sometime from the mid-third millennium BCE to maybe the late third millennium.  The science of archaeology, however, began to unearth evidence that moved the background of the patriarch saga more into the early second millennium BCE.  The unearthed evidence pretty much exposed the biblical “historical” accounts, compiled by priests of Yahweh in the seventh century BCE, to be more of a national mythology than reliable history.  Part of the appeal of the Old Testament tales is the illusion of culture and customs that outwardly parallels Mesopotamian customs and laws to those portrayed in the patriarchal stories.  The secret to those enduring biblical accounts is that those cultural features are presented in such a general manner that they could easily apply to most any locale in the Intermediate Bronze Age history of the Near East.

Biblical Patriarchs

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, history, humanity, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2010 by chouck017894

Patriarchs: the names given to the alleged heads of families in early Scriptural “history.”  Any of the progenitors of the human race before the Deluge, from Adam to Noah: the post-Flood characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or any of Jacob’s twelve sons, said to be the eponymous  progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

It has been noted in these Time Frame posts that the 8th and 7th centuries BCE covered a period of intense writing in Jerusalem of those “sacred” tales regarded as patriarchal narratives.  In this period of dynamic priest writing the nation of Assyria dominated much of the Mid East region; it was, we should note, only in this timeframe that camels became common enough as beasts of burden to merit mention only incidentally in trader’s reports.  Archaeology research has shown that camels were not domesticated until after c. 1000 BCE., which makes it awkward for some Genesis tales. 

In Genesis 37:25, for example, the story goes that Joseph, the eleventh son of the patriarch Jacob (generally claimed to have lived c. 1700 BCE) is alleged to have been sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt.  In the scene that is set with the slavery sale, there is mention of camels as beasts of burden as well as products such as “gum, balm and myrrh.”  In the 7th century BCE, at the time of the writing, these were main products in active  trade under Assyrian supervision—but not in the alleged time-setting of the Jacob-Joseph story.

Given mention in Genesis 20:1, in the alleged Isaac narrative, is found reference to a Philistine center named Gerar in connection with the Abraham saga, which implies it was a center of some importance in Abraham’s time.  By some accounts the time projected for Abram and Sarai was c. 2150-2100 BCE.  Others insist that Abraham departed from Ur in Chaldea around 2100 BCE.  And  others assert that Abraham made his way to Egypt c. 1935 BCE.  In the Isaac narrative Gerar is not actually identified as a Philistine center by the authors—probably because that location did not gain importance until about the time of the priestly composition of patriarchal lore—the 7th century BCE—when it was a heavily fortified Assyrian administrative stronghold.  Nonetheless, in Genesis 26:1, we are told that Isaac, son of Abraham, encountered King Abimelech of the Philistines, the very king who had taken to his harem Abraham’s wife Sarah.  And Isaac is said to have dwelt the Gerar because the Lord had told him, “Go not down into Egypt (verse 3).  But archaeological evidence shows that no city of the Philistines flourished until after c. 1200 BCE; they did, however, continue into Assyrian times.

Obviously the alleged patriarchal narratives were late compositions, for the incidental details that set the scenes, such as camels, non-existent cities, caravan products, etc, are out of  place for the timeframes of the alleged patriarchal characters.

The priests of Yahweh, in authoring their version of “history,” also freely indulged themselves in reproachful commentary on any and all cultural neighbors—especially those to the east such as Moab and Ammon.  With holy hatred they declared that the nations of Moab and Ammon arose from sons born to the two daughters of Lot who had an incestuous union with their father following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38).  This was clearly invented propaganda by the 8th-7th century BCE priests to inflame followers with hatred for those rival nations across the Dead Sea.

Thus today do the three organized religions of the west still dish out the legacy of crafted lies and practiced hatred as the sacred path into God’s acceptance!

Walls of Jericho

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, history, humanity, random, religion with tags , , , on August 6, 2009 by chouck017894

In the priest-written version of the chosen people’s “history,” the first city to fall to the Israelites in their invasion of Canaan was Jericho.  Basically the plot-line of Joshua’s leading Israelites into the “Promised Land” is strangely similar to the Moses tale.  The differences are in minor details that reveal major fabrication.  The parting of the waters of the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) by Moses is echoed in Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River (symbol of the flow of life).  Remember, parting waters is the opening scene of scriptural Creation myths.  There is, however, a big inconsistency with the Moses/Joshua episodes: it is the crafty upsetting of time frames.

Archaeology has shown conclusively that the fall of Jericho did indeed occur c. 1400 BCE, so the Joshua character has to be placed at c. 1400 BCE.  On the other hand, the Moses tale is commonly accepted as having occurred in the general time of Rameses II, c. 1300-1224 BCE—which means the Moses tale used events that happened from one hundred to two hundred years after the events used to fashion the Joshua tale.  Only holy priests could make time turn backwards.

As mentioned, the little town of Jericho did fall: and it did fall to vibration.  In the explanation given in the book of Joshua we are told (6:3-4), “And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once.  Thus shalt thou do six days (echoing the six days of Creation).  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of ram’s horns…and the priests shall blow the trumpets.”  Of course after the seventh traipsing around the perimeters of Jericho while tooting ram’s horns the walls came tumbling down.  The priest-authors, as usual, take credit for doing what god could have done with a mere sigh.  Not content with destroying Jericho, the priests then placed a curse upon it.  The only person saved in Jericho was the harlot, Rahab, who lived in the wall of Jericho.  (The reason for and the meaning of this is explained in The Celestial Scriptures.)  In typical priestly compassion the story relates, verse 21: “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”

Wait a minute, dude!

Rationality falls flat with the walls.  Didn’t Joshua and his holocaustic hoard just come out of the wilderness?  Hadn’t they been starving and emaciated?  Wouldn’t they not only want  life-supporting things, but desperately need them to survive?  If we are to believe scripture, however, “…the silver and gold and vessels of brass and iron…” were more important!  The reason?  To “consecrate unto the Lord…”  Like, maybe the Lord was running a pawn shop?

No: this is another take on the Creation myth, so the precious metals are symbolic of the mineral and chemical elements through which life is to be made manifest (just as in the Genesis account where gold, bdellium and the onyx stone are said to be in Eden even before biological life is created: see earlier post Inner Relationship of All Things, July 27.)

Anyway, according to priest-authors, the walls of Jericho fell flat (much like the priestly rationality for Joshua’s heartless carnage); and the priests could not  legitimately take credit for the earthquake that did actually rumble through the area.  In fact, the Israelites could have been nowhere in the vicinity when it happened either.  Even more damning to the story,  archaeological research has shown irrefutably that villages or cities of Canaan did not have fortifying walls.  Furthermore, extensive archaeology research has shown that in thirteenth century BCE there would have been, at most, only an insignificant settlement at that location.

The tragedy of such holy stories is the encouragement of hatred and inhumane behavior toward others that they have inspired and which now roils through the species of  life called man.