Camels in Bible, But Not As Early As We Thought
“In addition to challenging the Bible’s historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes.”
Though Biblical scholars are aware that many of the stories in the Bible were not written by those who were actually there at the time, or edited later, new evidence produced by two archaeologists in Israel is further evidence of these thoughts.
After using radiocarbon dating on camel bones and other techniques, Dr Lidar Sapir-Hen and Dr Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University have placed the arrival of the domestic camel no “earlier than the last third of the 10th century BC,” according to their article published in the “Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University.”
The purpose of the study was to “narrow down the range in which domesticated camels were introduced to 30 years,” said Sapir-Hen.
Though there were “wild camels” around ancient people, the two doctors concluded that camels were not exploited as “pack animals” prior to 900BC because of the bones being found around copper-mining sites and the impact on the bones of having carried heavy loads.
This new information contradicts the mention of camels in the Old Testament of the Bible, which mentions camels at least 20 times.
– “Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels.” Genesis 31:17
– “Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master.” Genesis 24:10
– “And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.” Genesis 24:11
However, though the Biblical stories of Abraham and Jacob clash with this new evidence, many say that it is not because of deliberate deception.
In an opinion piece for CNN, Joel Baden writes: “Biblical authors simply transplanted the nomadic standards of their time into the distant past. There is nothing deceptive about this. They weren’t trying to trick anyone. They imagined, quite reasonably, that the past was, fundamentally, like their present.”
The archeology team, led by Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef, found the oldest known signs of domesticated camels on the border between Israel and Jordan, from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, thought to be brought by Pharaoh Shoshenq I who invaded the Kingdom of Israel between 926 and 917 BC.
“By analysing archaeological evidence from the copper production sites of the Aravah Valley, we were able to estimate the date of this event in terms of decades rather than centuries,” said Ben-Yosef in a press release.
This new evidence, though possibly troubling to those who take the Bible literally, really opens up doors to what life was like the area thousands of years ago.
Since mules and donkeys were limited, “the introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Ben-Yosef said.
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