(Continued from page 468)Archaeology contributes to our understanding of the period of the patriarchs
Having learnt from 1 Kings 6:1 that the 4th year of Solomon's reign was 966BC and that this was 480 years after the Exodus, we can add 966 to 480 and obtain the date of 1446BC as a firm date to attach to the Exodus. Combining this date of 1446BC for the Exodus with information derived from Exodus 12:40-41:
40 Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.
41 And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.1
informs us that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt 430 years, and by another simple sum: 1446 + 430 = 1876 BC, we arrive at the date when they began their sojourn in Egypt.
Turning back in time to Genesis 47:9 we read:
So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning."1
Thus Jacob stood before Pharaoh in 1876 BC at the beginning of the sojourn of the children of Israel as a result of the work God had called Joseph to carry out in Egypt, re-uniting them miraculously as a family so that they would survive and escape the famine which would destroy so many others. If Jacob was 130 years of age in 1876 BC we add these figures, 1876 + 130 = 2006 BC, to arrive at the date of his birth. If we now turn further back to Genesis 25v26 we discover further information:
And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.1
Thus we discover that Jacob and his twin brother Esau were born when Isaac was 60 years of age, i.e., Isaac was born in 2006 + 60 = 2066 BC, and by using this fact and returning to Genesis 21v5, we read:
Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.1
And so we learn that at the time of Isaac's birth Abraham was 100 years old meaning that Abraham was born in 2066 + 100 = 2166 BC, making him a twenty-second century BC man!
Archaeology has shown that in 2200 BC the city of Ur was a thriving metropolis in which an unusual type of idolatry existed, but the evidence shows us clearly that Abraham must have been a cultured individual and a sophisticated urban dweller in one of the largest civilizations of the 22nd century BC. Further reading in Genesis 12v4 gives us greater insight:
So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.1
From the figure of 2166 BC that we arrived at for the birth of Abraham we now know that he departed from Haran when he was 75 years old, which gives us by simple subtraction: 2166 - 75 = 2091 BC, the year that he departed.
We may assume that the Patriarchal Period describes the time when Abraham left Haran until the children of Israel entered Egypt, giving us a time-span from 2091 BC to 1876 BC, although some see the period extending from when Abraham left Haran in 2091 BC to the death of Joseph (Genesis 50v26) in 1805 BC so that, from the entrance of Abraham into Canaan to the death of Joseph we find the Patriarchal Period extends to 286 years in length. Both opinions are valid in this study.
1. New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, 1977
2. 'Josephus - His Life and Writings' - Sage Digital Library, Vol. 1-4, The Master Christian Library on CD-ROM
3. 'Evidence that Demands a Verdict' J. McDowell, published by Coloprint, 1972; p. 37-40
4. Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, Oxford Univ. Press, 1957
5. 'The Apocrypha' - The Deluxe Multimedia Bible on CD-ROM; ; Focus Multimedia Ltd. 1996
6. The Lion Handbook to the Bible, 1973 Ed., Lion Publishing
7. The Book of Genesis, Driver, S.R., New York: Edwin S. Goram, 1904
8. Israel, Its Life and Culture, I-II - Pedersen, J.; London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1926
9. "Biblical Customs and the Nuzu tablets," The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, Vol. II, 21-33; Gordon C.H.
10. "Mari," The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, Vol. II, 3-21 Mendenhall, G.E.
11. "Mesopotamian Legal Documents,"Ancient Near Eastern Texts; 217-222
12. A.N. Wilson in Israel, BBC1 programme, 1997