Archeology Proves the Bible—Part 1

How Genesis Was Written

THE Bible is the textbook of Christianity. Christ accepted the Old Testament Scriptures as the Word of God; he was guided in his ministry by their instructions and comforted by their promises. Jesus’ apostles shared his confidence in the truthfulness of the Old Testament Scriptures; and in addition to the teachings and example of Jesus, they, like him, based their teachings on the Old Testament. The New Testament is in reality an explanatory supplement to the Old Testament, so that for Christians the Old and New Testaments together are an infallible revelation of the plans and purposes of the Creator with respect to his human creatures.

This understanding and acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God was quite general by all professed Christians until the nineteenth century, when in the minds of many, inroads of doubt began to be made by the assertions of the higher critics, and the theory of human evolution. To the higher critics, most of the historical records of the Old Testament have no basis in fact, but are merely allegories, myths, and fables. According to the theory of human evolution, God did not create Adam and Eve and there never was a Garden of Eden; but instead, man is said to have evolved from lower forms of animals.

Thus seen, higher criticism and the theory of human evolution have been as frontal attacks on the validity of the Holy Scriptures. However, in the minds of honest and thinking people this trend toward unbelief in the infallibility of the Bible is gradually being reversed. This is being brought about by the spade and the pick of the archeologist. Archeologists began their work of exploring the lands of the Bible about the middle of the nineteenth century, some even before this. J. E. Taylor; Paul Botta; A. H. Layard; Henry Rawlinson, were among the pioneers in excavating the ruins of cities mentioned in the Bible.

This work continued with varying degrees of enthusiasm until it was halted almost entirely by the outbreak of the First World War. Following the war it was resumed and while slowed down considerably by the Second World War, the archeologists continue to find outstanding proofs of the validity of one after another of the historical accounts of the Old Testament. For example, the Bible speaks of Abraham’s living in a city by the name of Ur. It was claimed by doubters that no such city ever existed, but the archeologists have proved that this conclusion was wrong, for they have discovered the ancient city of Ur, and in the locality where the Bible places it. The city of Nineveh, where the people repented as a result of the message the Prophet Jonah presented to them from the Lord, has also been discovered.

The Art of Writing

One of the claims made by the higher critics was that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Old Testament, for the art of writing was not known at the time the Bible indicates that Moses lived. Now we know that writing was in vogue in the days of Moses. We quote from New Discoveries in Babylonia: “Nearly a thousand years before Abraham was born and a millennium-and-a-half before the birth of Moses, Lugalzaggisi, king of Erech, began his inscriptions with words which do not differ greatly from those used by the last king of Babylon, 2,200 years later.”—p. 38

It is believed that probably the earliest form of writing was by means of ordinary pictures, which the ancients used to convey their thoughts on stone or clay. Pictures are used today on roadway signs throughout the world. The Hebrew verb ‘to write’ means to ‘cut’ or ‘dig.’ The ancients cut their messages mostly on clay tablets which they later baked in the sun to make them durable.

Ordinary cuneiform writing became quite general in the early ages. Thousands of clay tablets have been found which, according to the archeologists, were written before the Patriarchal Age. More than a quarter of a million cuneiform clay tablets have been distributed among the various museums of the world. This writing technique was used, not only for keeping family and business records, but also to communicate information on very ordinary matters to distant friends and relatives.

For example, a letter by a woman to her husband was discovered, informing him that the children were well, and asking advice on a trivial matter. Also discovered was a letter by a son to his father informing him that someone had greatly offended him, and that he wanted to thrash this person, but first was seeking the father’s advice. All this indicates that at that early time the people not only were able to write, but also that an efficient postal system of communication had been developed. “Writing material was cheap, which may account in part for the fact that the Sumerians, Babylonians, and the Assyrians seemed unwilling to transact even the smallest items of business without recourse to a written document.”—Luckenbill’s Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia. pf.


In the Book of Job—which was written, as most scholars now believe, in the Patriarchal Age—we find a reference to the use of a ‘seal’: “It is changed as clay under a seal.” (Job 38:14, R.V.) Judah carried a seal about with him, and Joseph was given Pharaoh’s seal ring. (Gen. 41:42) “At Ur of the Chaldees Sir Leonard Wooley found seals owned by men who lived before the Flood. The use of this seal impression was the equivalent of the modern signature. When the owner’s seal had been impressed upon the clay, the tablet, if written by a scribe, had sometimes written on it the name of the owner of the tablet. I have in my possession tablets sealed over 4,000 years ago.”—New Discoveries in Babylonia, p. 42

It would seem from all the archeological evidence that man has been acquainted with the art of writing from essentially the time of his creation. In the development of the art of writing the ancients first used tablets of soft clay on which they impressed their messages. Stone tablets were later used, and then papyrus on which the message could be written with ink. There is good evidence, we think, that the Book of Genesis was first written on clay tablets. The Ten Commandments were written on tablets of stone, and in a sense similar to the ancient Babylonian tablets, in that they were written on both sides.—Exod. 32:15

Internal Evidence

While many clay tablets have been discovered which were written before the Flood, as yet the archeologists have not unearthed tablets on which are recorded any part or parts of the Book of Genesis. However, there are scholars who call our attention to strong internal evidence in the composition of Genesis to indicate that it was written in sections on clay tablets, and that these sections were kept together and finally came into the possession of Moses who used them in composing nearly all of that part of Genesis with which he was not personally acquainted.

This internal evidence is found principally in the expression, “These are the generations of.” Many suppose that this expression is an introduction to a new section of the book. However, based on the style and customs of records of other things written on clay tablets in that early period, many scholars have concluded that the expression, “These are the generations of” indicates the completion of a section.

The Hebrew word translated ‘generations’ in this expression is toledoth. Gesenius, a critical Hebrew scholar, explains this word to mean, “History, especially family history, since the earliest history among oriental nations is drawn from genealogical registers of families.” Prof. Strong gives ‘history’ as a figurative meaning of toledah.

This key expression appears first in Genesis 2:4. The text reads, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day in which the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Certainly this is a reference to the preceding record of creation, not to anything which follows. In chapter I the expression, “And God said,” frequently appears. The writer of this chapter acknowledges that he had no personal knowledge of what he was describing, and that he received his information directly from the Creator.

Genesis 5:1 reads, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.” Here again the reference is clearly to the contents of chapters two through four, because the chapters following have nothing to say concerning Adam except that he lived 930 years and begat sons and daughters. Adam was personally acquainted with the facts set forth in these chapters, so the expression, “And God said,” no longer appears. Clearly, then, in these chapters we have the ‘book,’ or written record which was either written by Adam, or written by someone else and possessed by Adam.

Genesis 6:9 reads, “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” This covers the record from Genesis 5:1 to 6:9. In this period Seth and Methuselah lived contemporaneously for 355 years. Obviously, then, this section of Genesis ascribed to Noah contains information which was readily available to him, either through personal contacts with those involved, or from those who possessed the necessary firsthand information.

The other names attached to the succeeding portions of Genesis are the sons of Noah, Shem, Terah, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, and Jacob. The record following that section of Genesis to which Jacob’s name is attached deals more particularly with the story of Joseph, the circumstances that took him into Egypt, and his rise to favor and power under Pharaoh. Those associated with the royalty of Egypt were well educated, and without doubt a record of Joseph’s rise to power as food administrator in a time of dire national stress was chronicled, probably on papyrus by this time.

There is a long lapse in the records of the Hebrews following the death of Jacob. After all, they became slaves in Egypt, and who would be interested in writing about them? Finally Moses appeared on the scene, and became learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. It is not difficult to believe that Jacob took the whole series of tablets, beginning with the creation, into Egypt with him, and that devout Hebrews treasured and cared for them, and that later they came into the hands of Moses, and were used by him in compiling the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis.

Another Proof

Another internal proof that the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis were originally inscribed on clay tablets and were used by Moses in compiling the book, is seen in certain brief editorial explanations he makes. Note these in Genesis, chapter fourteen: “Bela, which is Zoar,” verses two and eight; “Vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea,” verse three; “Enmishpat, which is Kadesh,” verse seven; “Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus,” verse fifteen; and “Valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale,” verse seventeen.

In Genesis 23:2 we read, “Sarah died in Kirjath-arba, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.” This is very revealing as affirming that this chapter was originally written at a very early date; certainly before the Israelites had entered the land after the Exodus. The Israelites must have known it quite well after its capture in Joshua’s day. It was given to Caleb for an inheritance, and under the Law was made one of the cities of refuge.

The fact that Moses thought it essential to give the current names of certain locations, and, as in the case of Hebron, to explain also where it was located, is strong evidence that he was copying the records from writings available to him. And it would also indicate that in compiling these records into a whole, he was loyal to the original text, giving only the additional up-to-date information which he considered essential for clarity.

Before leaving this aspect of our subject, we wish merely to observe that it has been only by the diligent study of styles and methods of writing on tablets that the expression, “These are the generations of” which appears in the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis, provides such clear proof that the art of writing was known and used, at least for the purpose of keeping records, from before the Flood.

It will be noted that the records pertaining to pre-Flood days are much more brief than those of the post-Flood period. This would seem to indicate—and this is not surprising—that the early art of writing was not so well-developed as it became in later times. In any case, we rejoice that archeologists have furnished us with this additional evidence of the validity of the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis.

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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