Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Is there any confirmation of Biblical events from written sources outside the Bible?

"The most documented Biblical event is the world-wide flood described in Genesis 6-9. A number of Babylonian documents have been discovered which describe the same flood.

The Sumerian King List, for example, lists kings who reigned for long periods of time. Then a great flood came. Following the flood, Sumerian kings ruled for much shorter periods of time. This is the same pattern found in the Bible. Men had long life spans before the flood and shorter life spans after the flood. The 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic speaks of an ark, animals taken on the ark, birds sent out during the course of the flood, the ark landing on a mountain, and a sacrifice offered after the ark landed.

The Story of Adapa tells of a test for immortality involving food, similar to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Sumerian tablets record the confusion of language as we have in the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). There was a golden age when all mankind spoke the same language. Speech was then confused by the god Enki, lord of wisdom. The Babylonians had a similar account in which the gods destroyed a temple tower and “scattered them abroad and made strange their speech.”

More examples of extra-Biblical confirmation of Biblical events:

- Campaign into Israel by Pharaoh Shishak (1 Kings 14:25-26), recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun in Thebes, Egypt.

- Revolt of Moab against Israel (2 Kings 1:1; 3:4-27), recorded on the Mesha Inscription.

- Fall of Samaria (2 Kings 17:3-6, 24; 18:9-11) to Sargon II, king of Assyria, as recorded on his palace walls.

- Defeat of Ashdod by Sargon II (Isaiah 20:1), as recorded on his palace walls.

- Campaign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib against Judah (2 Kings 18:13-16), as recorded on the Taylor Prism.

- Siege of Lachish by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14, 17), as recorded on the Lachish reliefs.

- Assassination of Sennacherib by his own sons (2 Kings 19:37), as recorded in the annals of his son Esarhaddon.

- Fall of Nineveh as predicted by the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah (2:13-15), recorded on the Tablet of Nabopolasar.

- Fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-14), as recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.

- Captivity of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, in Babylon (2 Kings 24:15-16), as recorded on the Babylonian Ration Records.

- Fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:30-31), as recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder.

- Freeing of captives in Babylon by Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-4), as recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder.

- The existence of Jesus Christ as recorded by Josephus, Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, the Talmud, and Lucian.

- Forcing Jews to leave Rome during the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41-54) (Acts 18:2), as recorded by Suetonius."

1 comment:

Jeff said...

There are various flood accounts other than Genesis (i.e., extra-biblical accounts), recorded in the history of major cultures, which basically parallel the Genesis Flood account.

One example would be the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, where, in Tablet XI, vs. 107, it mentions “The land He broke like a pot,” which sounds like it could be alluding to the breaking up of the continents.

Other interesting verses are:

Vs.105-“The raging of Adad reached
unto heaven”

Vs.106 -“And turned into darkness all that was light”

Vs.111- “no man could see his fellow”

Vs.112- “the people could not be recognized from heaven”

Vs.118-“In truth, the older time has turned to clay”

Vs.133-“and all mankind had turned to clay”

The Babylonian account has survived in several tablets, some dated to be 5,000 years old, found in the ancient city of Nineveh in the ruins of the Temple Library of Nabu (the biblical Nebo) within the palace library of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (7th century BC).

“The date of the composition of the Gilgamesh Epic can therefore be fixed at about 2,000 B.C. But the material combined in the Tablets is undoubtedly much older, as we can infer from the mere fact that the epic consists of numerous originally independent episodes, which, of course did not spring into existence at the time of the composition of our poem, but must have been current long before they were compiled and woven together to form our epic.” ("The Gilgamesh Epic," by Alexander Heidel, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963, pg. 15)

Apparently this Gilgamesh, who is the central figure of the poem, was a verifiable person listed in the Sumerian list as a King in the First Dynasty of Uruk.

Roman author Claudius Aelianus living during the second century AD corroborates the very existence of Gilgamesh, some 1600 years before the Tablets were discovered in Ashurbanipal’s Library.

Though the same accuracy cannot be attributed to the Gilgamesh Epic that can be attributed to Genesis, nevertheless, there is within the story an actual basis from which it sprang. But in fact, it's amazing that, considering the enormous span of time, the account remained astonishingly parallel to the biblical account.

Another example could be the Scandinavian Poetic Edda, which describes a volcanic upheaval of incredible magnitude, where "fire rages," mountains dash together, the sun darkens, and the earth sinks into the sea:

“Mountains dash together
Heroes go the way of Hell,
and heaven is rent in twain…
The sun grows dark,
The earth sinks into the sea’
The bright stars from heaven vanish;
Fire rages,
Heat blazes,
And high flames play
‘Gainst heaven itself’”

The ancient Greeks tell a story of Deucalion. Zeus, angry with humans, caused a great rain to flood the entire earth. Deucalion built a wooden box and filled it with supplies. He got into it, and, after the flood receded, the box landed on a mountaintop. After he exited the box, he began to make sacrifices.

The Samoans have their own account:
“Then arose smell…
the smell became smoke, which again became clouds…
The sea too arose, and in a stupendous catastrophe of nature
the land sank into the sea..
The new earth (the Samoan Islands) arose out of the womb of the old earth.”

The smoke mentioned would be consistent with a volcanic eruption. The "old earth" sank into the ocean, and the "new earth" arose out of the ocean, which would be consistent with the biblical account.

In Australia, they have an account as well, and one would expect that the aborigines of Australia would be free of any influence of the Hebrew and Babylonian accounts of the Great Deluge:

“Several aboriginal Australian peoples especially those whose traditional homelands are along the tropical northern coast, ascribe their origins to a great flood which swept away the previous landscape and society. Meanwhile in the Origin Myths of a number of other tribes, the cosmic serpent Yurbunggur (associated with the rainbow) is held responsible for the deluge” ("Fingerprints of the Gods," Graham Hancock, Three Rivers Press, NY, 1995, pg. 194)

Note in the above, "the cosmic serpent Yurbunggur," which affirms the universality of Satan (as the embodiment of evil). Also, "Yurbunggur" is similar to the Celtic "Iormungand" or "Yormungand." Also note the rainbow, which Genesis notes was placed in the sky by God, as a promise to never flood the world again.

You can also find an account in China: Noah in the Chinese language was known as Fa-He.

“..early Jesuit scholars who were among the first Europeans to visit China had the opportunity in the Imperial Library to study a vast work consisting of 4,320 volumes, said to have been handed down from ancient times and to contain ‘all knowledge’. This great book included a number of traditions, which told of the consequences that followed ‘when mankind rebelled against the high gods and the system of the universe fell into disorder’. : ‘The planets altered their courses. The sky sank lower towards the North. The sun, moon and stars changed their motions. The earth fell to pieces and the waters in its bosom rushed upwards with violence and overflowed the earth’.” ("Fingerprints of the Gods," Graham Hancock, Three Rivers Press, NY, 1995, pgs. 193,194)

In India, Manu (their version of Noah), during his ceremonial cleansing, found in his hand a small fish, which begged Manu to spare its life. Manu placed the fish in a jar. The next morning, the fish had outgrown the jar, and asked Manu to throw him in the lake. The fish soon grew too large for the lake and asked Manu to throw him in the sea. Manu did, and the fish warned Manu that a great flood would come to destroy the inhabitants of the earth. The fish gave Manu a large ship and ordered him to fill it with male and female of every living species, and the seeds of every plant. The flood covered the entire earth. The fish pulled the ark to “The Mountain of the North”.

In Egypt, their god Thoth became angry with people for their wickedness:

“They have fought fights, they have upheld strifes, they have done evil, they have created hostilities, they have made slaughter, they have caused trouble and oppression…[Therefore} I am going to blot out everything which I have made. This earth shall enter into the watery abyss by means of a raging flood, and will become even as it was in primeval time.” (The Egyptian Book of the Dead- Pharaoh Seti I’s funerary text-Chapter CLXXV)

The worldwide flood is not the only event of Genesis that is corroborated by various cultures. The creation story and the confusion of languages are also recorded throughout the cultures of the world.

The creation account of a certain tribe in Central Africa sounds very similar to when God walked in the cool of the day with Adam:

“According to the Boshongo, a Bantu Tribe in Central Africa, the Universal Creator Bumba walked among mankind, saying unto them, ‘Behold [the] wonders [of the Earth], They belong to you.’” (The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, Oxford, NY, 1996, pg. 94)

The Zulu people also have a Great Deluge account:

“The African story of this constellation tells of a Great Flood, similar to the biblical tale of Noah and his ark and the Greek myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha. The gods warned grandfather Teye that a flood was coming that would overwhelm the world, and that he should build a raft and put all the humans and animals on it (clearly he had to build an enormous raft). Grandfather Teye was most persuasive and everyone came except a stubborn old lion called Mbube. Mbube said that he wanted Grandfather Teye to come and tell him only after the rains had started, since he himself had grave doubts about any flood coming at all. The flood came, and the raft floated away, leaving Mbube to drown. Mbube was sorry and his pitiful cries and apologies were heard by the Sun God, who took pity on him and turned him into a constellation called, ‘The Lion Left Behind’.” ("Mythology of the Zodiac," Marianne Mc Donald. Metro Books, NY, 2000, pg. 55)

In the Brazilian Amazon, the Cashinaua Indians, hidden from civilization until recently, also have passed down an account:

“The lightning’s flashed
and the thunders roared terribly
and all were afraid
Then the heavens burst
and the fragments fell down
and killed everything and everybody
Heaven and earth changed places
Nothing that had life was left upon the earth.”

In Argentina, the Pehuenche people also have an account. Again, according to some of these accounts, it sounds like there was apparent volcanic upheaval which caused tons of smoke to fill the sky, and possibly, there may have even been a meteor that struck the earth during the Great Deluge:

“…the Pehuenche, associate the flood with a prolonged period of darkness:
‘The sun and the moon fell down from the sky and the world stayed that way, without light, until finally two giant condors carried both the sun and the moon back up to the sky’”.(The Mythology of South America, John Bierhorst, William and Morrow Company, NY,1988, pg. 165,166)

(There is a theory that the splitting of the land mass, referred to as 'Pangea,' by a giant meteor strike, would have triggered worldwide volcanic eruptions, spewing thousands of tons of tethra into the atmosphere. Some would return to the earth in the form of ‘black rain’, but a good deal of it would remain in the stratosphere for some time afterward, creating a darkness that could have caused “indescribable cold”.)

In the northern part of California, the North American Indian Wijot tribe has the following account:

“The Creator (Gudatri-Gakwitl) decides to destroy the world through a flood. Gudatri-Gakwitl (Above Old Man) was discontent with his creation; ‘the people who are furry and cannot speak clearly are more like animals than humans. The hero Condor, knowing that Above Old Man plans to destroy the world by a flood hides with his sister in a basket. When the waters finally recede, Condor finds only birds and a raccoon. He marries his sister and they have a human child, beginning a lineage of people who can talk and are not furry.’” ("Dictionary of Native American Mythology," by Sam p. Gill and Irene F. Sullivan, Oxford Univ. Press, NY, 1992, pg. 4)

The Acoma Indians in New Mexico and Arizona, talk about their God dividing the languages, which reflects the Tower of Babel biblical account:

“Some groups abandon the others and migrate to another location. Iatku causes the people to speak different languages so it will not be so easy for them to quarrel” ("Dictionary of Native American Mythology," pg. 5)

American Indians have developed what anthropologists term ‘earth diver’ stories, where animals attempt to dive deep into the sea to bring back a bit of mud from which to create the present earth (which may reflect a developed intertwining of the creation story with the flood account---remember that when Noah sent out birds to bring back evidence of dry land, the initial attempts failed---and, to those floating on the water, the ground would seem to rise, but of course, the water was actually disappearing):

“Earth diver is a type of creation tale found widely throughout North America. In the beginning the entire world is covered with water. The earth diver portrayed as beaver, duck, mink, muskrat, turtle, or loon, dives to the bottom of the water and brings up a small bit of mud that the creator transfers into land…In the Iroquois story, Turtle succeeds after various other animals try unsuccessfully to bring up soil to support Woman Who Fell From The Sky”(Dictionary of Native American Mythology, pg.78)

The Navajo Indians say that, in the beginning, the world was a featureless expanse of dried mud (which would make sense, immediately after the Flood).

According to stories handed down from generation to generation among the Arapaho, the Pima, and the Pawnee Indians, the Creator destroyed the world in order to destroy giants that were living on earth at that time (a reference to the Nephilim, mentioned in Genesis, when the "sons of God," which some interpret as fallen angels taking the form of men, had sexual relations with the daughters of men, and their offspring were giants).

The Seneca, just south of Lake Ontario, also have a legend, which bears similarities to the Tower of Babel account:

“The woman chief who lived during the time when the earth was new and everyone spoke the same tongue and lived in peace. Godasiyo’s village occupies both sides of a large river. Every night her people cross the river to attend dances and exchange goods with the people there. Eventually Chief Godasiyo’s large white dog begins to cause trouble. Fearing a fight, the chief decides to remove her loyal followers to another residence upstream. The people construct two birch bark canoes with a platform between them for Chief Godasiyo to ride on. The people make canoes for themselves and paddle upstream on either side of Chief Godasiyo’s canoe. At the fork in the river the people begin to squabble about which way to go. The two men paddling Chief Godasiyo’s canoe fight, causing her platform to split. Chief Godasiyo falls into the river and is transformed into a great fish. The people are upset but when they try to talk they no longer understand each other. Their languages are no longer the same and they become a divided people. This is the reason so many languages are spoken by the various tribes of the earth.”(Dictionary of Native American Mythology, pg.104)

The Zuni, just West of the Acomas between Arizona and New Mexico, believe that God caused the flood as a punishment for the sins of the people---specifically, for the sin of incest.

The Jicarilla Apache speak of a time when all humans were equal. Then, one day, the sky appeared to be on fire, after which all people became different from each other. The sky on fire might be an allusion to the volcanic activity that apparently occurred, along with other cataclysmic geological events, during the Great Flood. The differentiation of individuals could refer to the dividing of languages after the flood (as well as people dispersing to different parts of the world, and developing different characteristics and cultures, as well as speaking different languages):

“After the world has been made as it now appears, the Hactun all lived together in one huge lodge. At this time all people looked alike. One day the sky appears to be burning. The Hactun go to the sky to extinguish the fire. Before they leave, they make each person different from everyone else in appearance, intelligence and character. The Hactun, they depart, never to return to the earth.”(Dictionary of Native American Mythology, pg.109)

The Iroquois said that the Sky God created man out of red clay, and that the world was given to him for his domain. The reference to clay may be associated with the immediate after-effects of the Great Flood, or it may refer to the creation of Adam, when God fashioned him out of clay:

“In the Iroquois origin myth the Earth was created primarily for the benefit of mankind by the people of the Sky World. The Sky God Sapling created the first man out of red clay and then made a compact between the Earth people and the Sky World:
‘I have made you master over the Earth and over all that it contains. It will continue to give comfort to my mind. I have planted human beings on the Earth for the purpose that they shall continue My work of creation by beautifying the Earth, by cultivating it and making it more pleasing for the habitation of man.’” (The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, Oxford, NY, 1996, pg. 94)

The Eskimos have an account, as well:

“…among the Inuit of Alaska there existed the tradition of a terrible flood, accompanied by an earthquake which swept so rapidly over the surface of the earth that only a few people managed to escape in their canoes to take refuge on the top of the highest mountains petrified with terror.”(New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, pg.431)

In the Mayan and Aztec accounts, they remember the antediluvian civilization with contempt, because they disregarded their Creator and were rebellious. Their version says that, as a result of their disobedience, they were turned into monkeys (Genesis, of course, relates that they were killed; however, the Bible does say they were evil, which could be associated with acting like animals). It also relates them as being of wood, with no souls, apparently relating to their sinful separation from God, and their sinful acts. The "black rain" may be associated with volcanic activity. The Popol Vuh says that a Global Deluge consequently annihilated them:

“And it is said that their descendants are now the monkeys that now live in the forests.” (Popol Vuh Part 1 Chapter 3)

“And instantly the figures were made of wood. They looked like men, talked like men, and populated the surface of the earth. They existed and multiplied; they had daughters, they had sons, these wooden figures, but they did not have souls, nor minds, they did not remember the Creator nor their Maker…They no longer remembered the Heart of Heaven and therefore they fell out of favor…Therefore they no longer thought of their Creator nor their Maker…These were the first men who existed in great numbers on the face of the earth.
Immediately the wooden figures were annihilated, destroyed, broken up and killed.
A flood was brought about by the Heart of Heaven; a great flood was formed which fell on the heads of the wooden creatures…But, those that they had made, that they had created, did not think, did not speak with their Creator, their Maker. And for this reason they were killed, they were deluged. A heavy rain fell from the sky… This was to punish them because they had not thought of their mother nor their father, the Heart of Heaven called Huracan. And for this reason the face of the earth was darkened, and a black rain began to fall by day and by night.”
(Popol Vuh Part 1 Chapter 2,3) (Emphasis mine)

According to the Popol Vuh, the Mayans had migrated to Central America from somewhere across the Atlantic, in the East. Their native history also corroborates the biblical claim that, before the flood, all men spoke one language and worshipped God:

“The speech of all was the same. They did not invoke wood nor stone, and they remembered the word of the Creator and the Maker, The Heart of Heaven, The Heart of Earth.” (Popol Vuh Chapter 3, Part 3)

Also, relating to the time immediately after the Flood:

“The light of dawn fell upon the tribes at the same time. Instantly the surface of the earth was dried by the sun. Like a man was the sun when it showed itself, and its faced glowed when it dried the surface of the earth. Before the sun rose, damp and muddy was the surface of the earth, before the sun came up; but the sun arose.”
(Popol Vuh Part 3 Chapter 9)

Also of note:

“They also multiplied there in the East. Many men were made and in the darkness they multiplied. Neither the sun nor the light had yet been made when they multiplied. All lived together, they existed in great numbers and walked there in the East.
Nevertheless they did not sustain nor maintain their God; they only raised their faces to the sky, and they did not know why they had come as far as they did.
There they were there in great number, the black men and the white men, men of many classes, men of many tongues that it was wonderful to hear them.” (Popol Vuh Chapter 3, Part 3)

The Aztecs also had a story of a worldwide catastrophic flood. Their version says that there was so much rain that it created a worldwide flood so deep that all the mountains disappeared under the water and men were transformed into fish. According to their story, only two human beings survived. Their "Noah" is called Coxcoxtli and his wife was Xochiquetzal. Their ‘Noah counterparts’ had also been warned by the Creator of the impending doom and had been consequently instructed to build a huge boat. Their version also includes the boat finally landing on a mountain peak and the waters subsiding. In their version, at one point their many children became dumb and unable to speak, until a dove gave them the gift of languages, but all the languages were different, and they couldn't understand each other. (Note that the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, though I don't know whether there is actually any connection.)
(For a more exhaustive study, see Sir J.G. Frazer, "Folklore in the Old Testament Studies in Comparative Religion Legends and Law," Mac Millan London, 1923).

Of course, Darwinian Evolutionists would refuse to believe that these stories could all corroborate the biblical accounts in Genesis. They would refute this notion, because it does not fit into their evolutionary framework. Therefore, they relegate it to the category of myth, and claim that they are not based on an actual event.

However, how is it that all these cultures could carry such similar stories worldwide? Would it not make logical sense, after comparing all these stories, that there must have been some event in the distant past, common to all these people, which is at the root of all of these legends?

These accounts support the idea of a worldwide flood in which all the inhabitants of the earth were annihilated and only a few were spared to repopulate the earth. This is a far cry from the idea of localized territorial floods that evolutionary-minded anthropologists try to promote in order to try to refute the biblical account.