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Camels in Genesis

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  • Camels in Genesis

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/0...ack/?hpt=hp_t3

    ... a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, werenít domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

    Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

    But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE



    http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page...ticle&id=19673
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  • #2
    Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/0...ack/?hpt=hp_t3

    ... a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, werenít domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

    Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

    But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE



    http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page...ticle&id=19673
    It's a good indication that the narratives were written after the domestication of camels. While there are no impacts to the purported theological truths of the OT narratives, this can give some difficulty to the literalist perspective.

    I will say, however, that those crtitics who jump up and down and say "See, I told you the Bible is false" go too far.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/0...ack/?hpt=hp_t3

      ... a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, werenít domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

      Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

      But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE



      http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page...ticle&id=19673
      I think they are trying to show that camels weren't domesticated in the Levant until the end of the 10th century BC but that does not preclude someone coming from another part of the world (where they could have been domesticated earlier) on camels. Camels were thought to have been domesticated in eastern Iran around 2600 BC and Abraham was from Ur (southern Iraq). It is not inconceivable that they arrived upon camels which could have for a variety of reasons died out in a few generations.

      Even so AFAICT most scholars have for years considered the mention of camels as an anachronism so this hardly constitutes breaking news.

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      • #4
        Did they have pack saddles? If not, this is silly.

        Saddlery develops rather late. There's a limit to what you can safely tie on an animal without a tree to help distribute it - and it's not necessarily a heavy load. Some scrawny nomad isn't going to weigh a camel down by much and they were moving, not trading. (Makes a big difference in how animals are laden - movers don't over burden animals as often because it's counter productive. Traders need to maximize loads.).

        Also, Scripture refers to donkeys more than camels as pack animals (makes sense - cheaper to keep and easier to load) - so when Jacob sends his sons to Egypt it's with donkeys and they are going specifically to trade - the return trip should have been well laden. Camels used as light pack animals, riding animals or even draft animals wouldn't have the same skeletal signs as heavy pack animals.

        Assuming the methodology is sound it only shows that camels might not have been heavy pack animals - doesn't tell us anything about whether or not they were domesticated at all.

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        • #5
          Not to mention, there aren't very many. Maybe an expensive rarity? What's the chance of finding their camels anyway?
          If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
            Did they have pack saddles? If not, this is silly.
            Not silly. Even carrying small burdens will make a substantial difference in how the muscles and bones develop, just as even a mild relatively mild exercise regimen, maintained over several years, would make an observable difference in human skeletons.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post
              http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/0...ack/?hpt=hp_t3

              ... a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, werenít domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

              Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

              But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE



              http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page...ticle&id=19673
              Well, that's not a problem, as the country of Israel didn't even exist while Abraham and Issac were still wandering the earth...
              Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TimelessTheist View Post
                Well, that's not a problem, as the country of Israel didn't even exist while Abraham and Issac were still wandering the earth...
                Humorous. However, the article is referring to the region, not to the nation.

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                • #9
                  Not silly. Even carrying small burdens will make a substantial difference in how the muscles and bones develop, just as even a mild relatively mild exercise regimen, maintained over several years, would make an observable difference in human skeletons.
                  Is silly - they specified heavy loads. That requires a different level of tech. It's also dubious that a lightly ridden animal would be that distinctive - a top heavy animal will have more significant leg development than a lightly ridden one and similar back issues - how would you know which was ridden and which had weird genes? How do you know you're looking at early domestication and not simple breed differences? That, I suspect, is why they looked for heavy pack animals - easily distinguished. But it comes with a sting in the tail - early domestication is unlikely to have a lot of heavy pack animals, least of all camels (you can win a fight with a donkey; camel, not so much). It takes time to learn how to utilize animals - and to convince that stupid camel it really is gonna lie down for you to pack him. That process should have been faster with the less onery, smaller and not-strong-enough-to-kill-you-when-you-tick-it-off donkey than with the cantankerous, huge, perfectly-willing-to-stomp-on-you camel.

                  "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                    Is silly - they specified heavy loads.
                    Which would be blatantly obvious in the skeleton. We have example skeletons of burden-carrying camels and non-burden-carrying camels, both ancient and modern. The comparisons can be made--doing so is relatively trivial.

                    That requires a different level of tech.
                    Incorrect. We have examples of both pack and riding camels from Egypt and Mesopotamia dating back considerably before this time.

                    Both pack saddles and riding saddles can be constructed from materials that are unlikely to survive in archaeological digs. Indeed, even today, provided you eschew plastic, that's still not just possible, but quite likely.

                    Now, one potentially huge problem with the article: while this is the earliest they have discovered, what happens if there are more skeletons out there that have not been discovered? This is the biggest pitfall of such claims.

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                    • #11
                      This is relevant. N.B.

                      Quote
                      " This entire process, it has been argued, took place without the benefit of camel transport, the camels making their appearance only at a much later date from parts unknown. But it has been demonstrated that the camel was already in use during the period in question and that its probable homeland was southern Arabia. It is much more reasonable, therefore, to assume that the camel was the main carrier on the incense route from the very beginning, or nearly so, and that the Semitic tribes of the north came to know the camel in this way in very small numbers. In other words, the presence of camels in the Abraham story can be defended and the story treated as primary evidence of camel use without disputing Albright's contention that camel-breeding nomads did not exist in Syria and northern Arabia at that time."
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                      • #12
                        Didn't get past the 'it's silly' bit, did you?

                        It really does take a different level of tech to use heavy packs - a tree, preferably. Egyptians having said tech (evidenced, per you, by the presense of camels showing signs of heavy load) doesn't equal the Israelites (Hebrews/early Patriarchs/however we're refering to them today) having the same tech (Egyptians guarded the chariot tech pretty closely - packing tech is also a tactical advantage so they probably weren't sharing a lot). Hence you can have two groups with the same animals domesticated, but entirely different patterns of use. So no, it doesn't prove no domestic camels, just no camels found that were heavy pack animals.

                        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                        My Personal Blog

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Quantum Weirdness View Post
                          This is relevant. N.B.

                          Quote
                          " This entire process, it has been argued, took place without the benefit of camel transport, the camels making their appearance only at a much later date from parts unknown. But it has been demonstrated that the camel was already in use during the period in question and that its probable homeland was southern Arabia. It is much more reasonable, therefore, to assume that the camel was the main carrier on the incense route from the very beginning, or nearly so, and that the Semitic tribes of the north came to know the camel in this way in very small numbers. In other words, the presence of camels in the Abraham story can be defended and the story treated as primary evidence of camel use without disputing Albright's contention that camel-breeding nomads did not exist in Syria and northern Arabia at that time."
                          Best to go to the original.

                          People can come up with arguments to justify anything. Whether those arguments are sensible, logical, or remotely realistic is another matter. But this is yet another case where faith is impervious to evidence. If you are comfortable with that, then all is well. If you ever become uncomfortable with that, it is still quite feasible to discard literalism and yet retain your faith. Plenty of others have done so.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                            Didn't get past the 'it's silly' bit, did you?
                            I did, but felt it would be rude to point out the projection.

                            It really does take a different level of tech to use heavy packs - a tree, preferably. Egyptians having said tech (evidenced, per you, by the presense of camels showing signs of heavy load) doesn't equal the Israelites (Hebrews/early Patriarchs/however we're refering to them today) having the same tech (Egyptians guarded the chariot tech pretty closely - packing tech is also a tactical advantage so they probably weren't sharing a lot). Hence you can have two groups with the same animals domesticated, but entirely different patterns of use. So no, it doesn't prove no domestic camels, just no camels found that were heavy pack animals.
                            How much does a saddle weigh? Add in the weight of a rider, and whatever they may carry with them. You're dealing with "heavy pack animals" when you deal with riding, as well as when you're dealing with carrying freight.

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                            • #15
                              You do realize that you're now making no sense at all, right?

                              The study doesn't support the 'the Bible got it wrong' thing - a point you were in partial agreement with. So why the tangetial and insulting 'well, y'all just gonna believe whatever you want to no matter what' when QW merely cites something that solves the purported problem? Who's really clinging to belief in that case?

                              I know enough about horses and saddlery - and their history - to know that if you don't have pack saddles you don't have the heaviest packs (not possible - this doesn't change for camels). Looking specifically for heavy loads makes sense from the perspective of being able to distinguish the animals - but none from the historical perspective because saddlery develops at very different paces (heck, the stirrup is one of the last things to develop!). No pack saddle = lighter loads - quite possibly too light to easily distinguish in a couple bones from a long dead animal. So, yeah, it tells us something about heavy packing - but doesn't tells us diddly about light usage.

                              QW brings in a completely different point (I sorta danced around it myself but he hits it directly) - they didn't have to have the same number of camels as another area more used to camel usage to still have domestic camels present and in use. A tiny sample wouldn't leave much of a historic footprint even if they did have the saddlery. Bones, like saddles, don't usually survive thousands of years to lend themselves to being analyzed, so fewer camels makes finding the few domestic, heavy pack camels (presuming they existed) less likely.

                              "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                              "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                              My Personal Blog

                              My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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