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      • Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (6) The multitude of camels... —The verse paints the commerce of the East, as Isaiah 60:5had described that of the West. For the camels and riches of Midian, see Judges 6:5; Judges 8:26.
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  2. Isaiah 60:6-7. The multitude of camels — The treasure that is brought upon camels. By these, and such like figurative expressions in several verses of this chapter, is implied the coming in of all nations to Christ, and therefore they are brought in as presenting the chief commodities of their respective countries.

    • The Camel Question
    • Camels—Ships of The Desert
    • carbon-dated Camel Bones
    • Considering The Challenge
    • Camels Here, Camels There, But Necessarily Camels Everywhere
    • Anachronistic Camels?

    Tel Aviv University archaeologists Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef, who have been exploring ancient Aravah Valley copper mines between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, decided to take a crack at the camel question. The camel question is not a new one, and they are not the first to dispute the Bible’s historical accounts of camels. Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef are the first, however, to publish a study dogmatically drawing down the numerical power of carbon dating upon the biblical accounts. Even though the Bible describes the use of camels by Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob, some modern liberal scholars insist the camel did not achieve importance as a pack animal until the early Iron Age and not before the 12th century BC.1 According to a press release from the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU), “Archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000–1500 BCE). In addition to challenging the Bible’s...

    The Aravah Valley was an important place in the economy of the Middle East by the time of King Solomon, and trade routes naturally traversed the area. The copper mines of the valley are thought to have been on trade routes between the Arabian Peninsula and the settled lands nearer the Mediterranean. Camels would probably have been better able to meet mine-related transport demands than donkeys or mules. Camels were well-suited to handle the rigors of long journeys along Middle Eastern trade routes. They became a vital part of the economic strength of the region described in the Old Testament. But when did they begin making their contribution to the economic health of the lands at the crossroads of three great continents?

    “The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Ben-Yosef says. “By analyzing 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.” Because carbon-dated camel bones abruptly appear in the strata of the ancient copper mines in the region, Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef report they “have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the moment when domesticated camels arrived in the southern Levant, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE. The findings,” according to the AFTAU, “further emphasize the disagreements between Biblical texts and verifiable history.” The carbon dates assigned to the Aravah Valley camel bones—the late 900s BC—are decades too late to have been left there during the time of Kings David and Solomon, according to Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef, and they are centuries too late to confirm a domesticated...

    In examining the challenge based on these copper-mined carbon dates, we need to consider both the calibration of the technique and the historical context of the claims. Clearly the AFTAU assumes the Bible’s history is neither historically accurate nor verifiable. In this instance, they are defining “verifiable” as that which can be assigned a scientifically trustworthy date. So how trustworthy are carbon dates for the times encompassed by the Old Testament? Like all clocks, the “clock of carbon-dating” must be calibrated. Unfortunately, carbon dating for the times described in the Old Testament was calibrated in accordance with dates drawn from Egyptian history. Even most secular Egyptologists now agree that the traditional timeline of ancient Egypt history is in disarray. Traditional Egyptian chronology was developed in the 19th century, and for a long time it was the only archaeological yardstick available to date the history of other ancient near eastern people. However, later da...

    Yet even beyond the technical issues with the dating methods, could there be other reasons that might allow for the presence of domestic camels in the herds of Abraham while they were not yet a prominent feature between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba? A look at the map should make the answer clear. There is no reason to assume that the abrupt appearance of camel bones at a certain level in the copper mining region of the southern Aravah Valley precludes their use as pack animals by Abraham and his nomadic neighbors. Abraham entered the Levant from a northerly route, visited Egypt, and returned to the Levant where he remained the rest of his life. Whether or not camel-dependent trade routes across the Aravah Valley into the Arabian Peninsula were yet established has no bearing on the use of camels by people in the more westerly portions of the Levant. And while Egypt’s domination of the region after the time of Solomon could well have resulted in more intensive use of camels thro...

    When quizzing the past for its historical secrets, historians must rely on written accounts recorded by people who were there. So-called “higher critics” of the Bible, however, have since the 19th century claimed that the history of the Old Testament was written centuries after the writers claim to have written down God’s Word under His inspiration. This was the only way those critics who did (and do) not believe in God’s power to prophesy of coming events could explain away the accuracy of God’s historical predictions. The claim by the AFTAU that these carbon-dated camel bones prove the Hebrew writers were just trying to create a great history for their nation is just more of the same. But, as we can see from the history of carbon dating’s fallible calibration as well as the historical geography evident from a quick look at a map, there is no reason to question the reliability of God’s Word.

    • Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell
    • Evidence of Camel Domestication in The Ancient Near East
    • Camel Domestication and The Patriarchs
    • References

    Evidence shows that camels were known as early as the 4thmillennium B.C., and domesticated before the beginning of the second. Biblical scholar Joseph Free surveyed the available evidence and concluded that the camel was well known in Egypt from earliest times, as early as the Fourth Dynasty (Free, 1944). Michael Ripinsky notes that excavations carried out over a century ago established the presence of camels in Egypt dating back at least to the First Dynasty (3100-2850 B.C.) with additional evidence indicating they were known in Pre-Dynastic times (prior to 3100 B.C.) (1985, 71:136-137). Although the domestication of the camel may have come much later, it nevertheless preceded the age of the patriarchs. Ancient texts mention the camel in passing, but do so in ways that indicate they had been domesticated early in Mesopotamian history. A lexical text found at Nippur known as HAR.ra-bullum, alludes to camel milk (Archer, 1970, 127:17). To risk stating the obvious, one does not simply...

    In the final analysis, we can say that the evidence for the domestication of the camel in patriarchal times is clear, but limited. Clear, because the evidence indisputably points to the domestication of the camel very early. Limited, because the camel does not appear to have been widely used, and the few and rather brief allusions to camels in texts seem to mirror the limited role they played in the ancient Near East at that time. As regards the Bible, the evidence suggests that the camel was indeed used for transportation, even if it was not the most popular choice of animals available to ancient travelers and workers. The Bible records the existence of domesticated camels in the patriarchal narratives, but their footprint is actually quite small. They are listed among the very last items in the total wealth of both Abraham (Genesis 12:16) and Jacob (30:43; 32:7,15). They are mentioned as being used for travel by the patriarchs (Genesis 24:10-64; 31:17,34) and by the Midianites (Ge...

    Albright, William Foxwell (1951), The Archaeology of Palestine (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books). Archer, Gleason (1970). “Old Testament History and Recent Archaeology from Abraham to Moses,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 127:3-25. Collon, Dominque (2000), “L’animal dans les échanges et les relations diplomatiques,” Les animaux et les hommes dans le monde syro-mésopotamien aux époques historiques, Topoi Supplement 2, Lyon. Davis, John J. (1986), “The Camel in Biblical Narratives,” in A Tribute to Gleason Archer: Essays on the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody Press), pp. 141-150. Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed (New York, NY: The Free Press). Free, Joseph P. (1944), “Abraham’s Camels.” Journals of Near Eastern Studies, 3:187-193. Gordon, Cyrus H. (1939), “Western Asiatic Seals in the Walters Art Gallery,” Iraq, 6[1:3-34. Gordon, Cyrus H. and Gary A. Rendsburg (1997), The Bible and the Ancient Near East (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.), fourth edition. Ham...

  3. Feb 07, 2014 · Camels play a major role in the Biblical narrative of the patriarchs; the animals are mentioned over 20 times in Genesis alone.However, a recent publication by Tel Aviv University (TAU) archaeologists Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen suggests that camels were not domesticated in Israel until the end of the 10th century B.C.E.

  4. 31:22-35 God can put a bridle in the mouth of wicked men, to restrain their malice, though he do not change their hearts. Though they have no love to God's people, they will pretend to it, and try to make a merit of necessity. Foolish Laban! to call those things his gods which could be stolen!

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