Pages 18-19 in E.A. Spiecer's Anchor Bible Genesis there were references that lead me to an obscure article written just before the turn of the 20th century and publish in the 1913 edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. The author was Professor Julius Oppert (1825-1905) a French-Jewish Assyriologist who was born in Germany but was naturalized as a French citizen in recognition of his services during an 1851 archaeologist expedition to Mesopotamia.
In 1857 he was appointed professor of Sanskrit and comparative philology in the school of languages connected to the Bibliotheque Nationale (National Library of France). He was fluent in English, French, German, Sanskrit and the language of the Sumerians. Oppert’s influence on Semitic scholarship was profound and in 1881 he became a member of Academie des Inscriptions et des Belles-Lettres and in 1891 became president of the Academy. Professor Oppert became a renowned authority in Assyrian culture and the decipherment of Sumerian cuneiform tablets. He noted, as did E.A. Speiser, that there is a parallel between the story of creation in the Bible and the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. On page 42 of The Anchor Bible Book of Genesis E.A., Speiser states:
“It is suggestive at any rate that the biblical account of the ark (of Noah) landed on a peak in the Ararat range, whereas the Akkadian version has it grounded on Mount Nisir, in the vicinity of modern Sulaimaniya. Armenia had various connections with the Hurrians, and the Hurrians had intimate contacts with the Hebrews. On this roundabout reasoning, the Hurrians could have served as intermediaries in the transmission of the antediluvian lists to biblical chroniclers.” If the Biblical Patriarch List was derived from the Babylonian Kings list then the problem doesn’t get simpler as the Kings list ranges in the tens of thousands of years from 10,800 to 64,800 years versus Patriarch lifetimes of less than 1,000 years in the Genesis version. No king or dynasty has ever lasted tens of thousands of years.
The Biblical story of the flood of Noah has much in common with the Sumerian version except with the account of the time that transpired from the creation of the universe to the universal flood of Noah. Professor Oppert determined that that those involved in writing the Genesis version, or those that may have edited it at a later date, reduced the time frame of the Babylonian version to match what they felt matched their perceived genealogical history. Professor Oppert’s calculations are somewhat difficult to follow but may be reviewed in their entirety on pages 67-69 of the 1913 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia.
According to Professor Oppert the Babylonians assumed a sexagesimal unit of measure base on 60 rather than our decimal system based on 10; however, our reckoning of time and measurement of angles are all based on Sumerian concepts. 60 seconds, 60 minutes and 360 degrees in a circle, etc.
Quoting Professor Oppert’s article:
“The Chaldeans admitted the eternity of the world without any beginning; but the existing astronomical bodies had a commencement. From the creation of these astronomical bodies to the great cataclysm, or the Deluge (Noah’s Flood), they assumed a sexagesimal unit, the number of the seconds in a day; that is, 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours = 86,400 seconds, and called it a lustra. The unit of the Babylonian school was 60 months, or 5 years, times the seconds in a day (a lustra); that is, 432,000 years (86,400 x 5 = 432,000).”
The Hebrew scribes took the 86,400 years of the Babylonians and divided it by the number of weeks in a year; that is, 86,400 / 52.1739 weeks in a year according to their reckoning and came up with 1,656 years. They then divided the 1,656 years into 72 periods of 23 years or 1,200 weeks; apparently they did this reduction so that the time frame would match their genealogical legends. Professor Oppert determined that the Patriarch list was calculated as follows:
Adam to Jared 130+105+90+70+65 = 460 x 86,400 / 1656 = 24,000 weeks
Mahalalel to Methuselah 162+65+187 = 414 x 86,400 / 1656 = 21,600 weeks
Lamech to Noah 182 + 600 = 782 x 86,400 / 1656 = 40,800 weeks
Total 1,656 years = 86,400 weeks
A simpler way to see the calculation is to take 24,000 Babylonian weeks in the first line and divide by the weeks in a year (52.1739) to arrive at 460 years. Professor Oppert goes on to state: “The corresponding Babylonian figures relating to the ten antediluvian Sumerian kings are:
The first three together = 93,600 years = 18,720 lustra
The following two together = 108,000 years = 21,600 lustra
The remaining five = 230,400 years = 46,080 lustra
Totals 432,000 years = 86,400 lustra
The Bible (Genesis) has ------------------------ 86,400 Weeks
The Chaldean texts have ------------------------ 86,400 Lustra
What legends the Hebrew and Chaldean authors used in apportioning the years assigned to each of the Hebrew patriarchs and the Chaldean kings appears now to be lost to history. E.A. Speiser made a cryptic remark in one of his writings indicating that he believed the Babylonian figure of 432,000 years came from a source further to the east of Samaria. Oppertagrees and assigns the origin of the Hebrew and Chaldean chronology to the oldest extant religious text that of the Hindus. The figure 432,000 years is the length of the present age in Hinduism; that is, the Kali Yuga. There are four ages in Hinduism.
Krta Yuga = 1,728,000 years
Treta Yuga = 1,296,000 years
Dvapara Yuga = 864,000 years
Kali Yuga = 432,000 years
MahaYuga = 4,320,000 years
The Hindu text appears to record time in eras just like modern science breaks the history of the earth into eras from the Hadean to the present Pleistocene. It may be that the Kings in the Sumerian text are not Kings and the Prophets in the Biblical text are not human beings but geological ages.
In the Hindu religion Brahma is the Allah of Islam, the God of Christianity and the Yahweh of Judaism. Brahma is the creator of the universe and one Maha Yuga x 1,000 equals one day of Brahma or 4,320,000,000 years. It is interesting that this length of time nearly matches the age of the earth as determined by modern science or perhaps indicates when the precursors of life first began to form shortly after the formation of the earth at 4.5 to 4.6 billion years ago.
A day and night for Brahma is 4,320,000,000 x 2 or 8,640,000,000 human years. A year of Brahma is 8,640,000,000 human years x 360 days in a Hindu year or 3,110,400,000,000; that is, three trillion one hundred and ten billion four hundred million years. The life time of Brahma is 100 of these years or 311,040,000,000,000 years; that is, 311.04 trillion years or a Maha Kalpa.
According to the Hindu text at the end of this time the universe is no more. At the end of this vast age Brahma does not die in the usual sense; rather Brahma rests and after a period of time, some say 100 million years, Brahma thinks a thought and the creative cycle begins once again as it has in the past and will in the future. Interestingly the latest concepts of how the universe began involve the collision of ’branes’, vast entities of immense size that set off a Big Bang and the creation of matter and energy. These collisions occur periodically over vast stretches of time and appear to have been doing so for an incalculable number of times and will continue to do so for an incalculable number of times in the future and seem to agree with the Hindu version of creation. The number of times this has occurred is a number beyond our ability to calculate except to use the words “an infinite number of times”.
Skeptics have posed the question “If God made the universe well then who made God?” Brahma, like the God of the Christians, Hebrews and Muslims, has no beginning and no end and is eternal. As sentient humans we are aware that we have a beginning and an eventual end. Mountains will arise and eventually they will erode away; our sun will eventually become a red giant in about 5 billion years and then become a dead cinder and eventually all the stars will exhaust their fuel and become dark. In some vast age the universe itself will finally become vacant and dark. Creationists claim that the end times are near. Well, don’t hold your breath or cash in your investments just yet as according to the Rig Veda the end times are some 311 trillion plus years in the future. According to science this is in the time frame of when all the stars will have burnt out and the universe will be a cold and dark place. In science it is the time well beyond 100 trillion years in the epoch of heat death referred to as the ‘Big Freeze’. Interesting how the ancients came up with these immense numbers that just happen to agree with modern science.
To our understanding everything has a beginning and an end. We find it near impossible to imagine something that never had a beginning and will never have an end. Perhaps God is something beyond space and time. It is interesting to note that these ancient texts were written in an age of scientific ignorance and evoke the question of how could these ancients have arrive at lengths of time that approximate modern scientific findings. There are those that will undoubtedly object to a connection between ancient Hindu texts and the Biblical book of Genesis. Rather than object they should realize that the connection from Hinduism to the Chaldean and then to the Hebrew is a confirmation of the validity of Genesis as a record of evolution and not a myth. Even so there will be those that will resist accepting any association between the Bible and other religions. It is human arrogance, ignorance and bigotry that posit that their religion is the only true religion and reject the possibility that other religions, other cultures, may contain truths. Perhaps in time they will consider that a supreme intelligence would not favor any of its creations more than another anymore than a human mother or father would favor one child to the neglect of the rest. Each civilization received the word, recorded it in a manner compatible with their culture. If we read about other religions and look for things that are common we may see common threads. The Rule of Reciprocity is an example as it occurs in virtually every religion on earth. Once again log on to the website and consider that these rules constitute the very foundation of all religions.
It is of interest that many have predicted the end of the world as we know it and have been proven wrong. Mark 13, particularly verses 31 & 32 clearly state that no one knows when the end will come. Log on to this site for a list of dates predicted for apocalyptic events....
3 - Noah’s Ark and the Flood
Was there a worldwide flood of Noah as described in Genesis chapters 6 through 8? According to creationists a literal reading of the Biblical text clearly indicates there was a world-wide flood, an ark constructed of some sort of wood and similar in design to photo #1. The first clue that the literal reading of the text is misleading is found in Genesis 6:7 where God is destroying all life on earth. That would include little children and infants and place God in the gutter with all the murderous tyrants of human history. Why would the author attribute the cause of the flood to God? In the era that the flood took place it was commonly assumed that if there was a natural disaster it was God, or the Gods, punishing humanity for some transgression. The Bible however provides clues that there was no world-wide flood and there are experiments anyone can conduct that will demonstrate that this is so. Experiments that could have been conducted at any time during the last three thousand years.
Was there a world-wide flood?
In Genesis 8:11 the dove that Noah sent out returned with a fresh Olive leaf. If the Olive tree had been completely submerged under water, as Genesis 7:20 states, and for five months as Genesis 7:11 and 8:4 claim, the tree would be dead and leafless. Any arborist or olive orchard operator can testify to that fact. The following three experiments will demonstrate that the flood was not world-wide.
Experiment One – The Olive Tree
I purchased a small five foot olive tree from a local nursery, placed it in a burlap sack with two bricks on the bottom for weight, secure the top of the sack around the truck of the olive tree and attached a cord to facilitate lowering and raising the tree. The olive tree was completely submerged in my swimming pool and left there for not five months but three. The first month nothing seemed to be happening. The second month leaves began to appear on the bottom of the pool. At the end ofthe third month the tree was leafless. The tree was then raised from the pool and planted in potting soil and cared for. After a month a gentle flexing of the outer branches caused them to snap off. At the end of another month the truck snapped off. The tree was not only leafless but dead. The dove therefore could only have returned with a leaf from an olive tree that had never been underwater and thus there was no world-wide flood and God did not cause the death of anyone. See photos 2 - 3.
Experiment Two – What would the herbivores eat once they left the Ark?
Obtain a small aquarium, or other suitable deep container, a plastic planter pan and several square feet of grass sod. Place grass sod in both the aquarium and the planter tray and cover the aquarium with window screen to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Water both for a month to insure that the grass is growing and healthy. At the end of the month add water to the aquarium and completely submerge the grass. In one month’s time syphon off the water in the aquarium. What is left is yellow stinking inedible goo. See photos 4 & 5.
Experiment Three – Noah’s Vineyard
After the flood Noah is said to have planted a vineyard. If so the vines would have been planted in soil that was saturated with salty sea water. Obtain a second plastic planter tray, clean the existing one and obtain a bag of potting soil and a variety of seeds. I used barley, oats, rye and wheat seed obtained from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply. Fill each tray with potting soil. Label one "water" and water the soil well with plain water. In the other mix up a salt water solution by filling a one gallon milk jug half full with plain water and adding salt water from the ocean making a half and half solution. If ocean water is not readily available then make up a solution of salt water by adding 2.33 ounces of common table salt to a gallon of water and use this in lieu of ocean water. If you do not have a scale then measure out a little more than 4 1/2 level tablespoons of common table salt per gallon of water. If you use sea salt or rock salt grind it to a powder first. This produces a salt solution equal to that of the ocean water. Creationists will falsely insist that the ocean was less salty in ancient times or that the flood water did not contain salt. They have yet to explain why there are 71 trillion tons of salt 1,200 feet under southeast Michigan and still larger deposits in the Midwest. Water the soil in the second tray with the half plain water and salt water solution and label the tray Salt Water. Next create four furloughs in each tray. Plant a variety seeds in every row and lightly cover with soil and place in a location where the trays will receive sunlight. Water both lightly if the soil begins to dry out. In about seven days green growth will emerge from the tray with plain water. Nothing will emerge from the salt water tray. Grape vines are especially sensitive to salt water and Noah would not be able to grow grapes as stated in Genesis 9:20, or any grain crops, with soil saturated with salt. Further proof that there was no world-wide flood. (See photo 6)
There is a potential fourth experiment involving placing meat outdoors exposed to the air. Anyone should know that in short order that any flesh under the sea would be consumed by scavengers and flesh on land by maggots and nothing would be left for the carnivore other than bones.
Was there a local flood?
According to Genesis 7:11 and 8:14 the flood lasted 12 months and 10 days. That is an unusually long time for a river flood but it does match the flood caused when the Mediterranean Sea broke through at the mouth of the Bosporus and flooded the Black Sea creating a massive water fall some two miles in width and four hundred feet high and caused the shore of the Black Sea to advance on average at the rate of a thousand feet a day as described in the book ‘Noah’s Flood’3. Such a flood would have been terrifying to those in the area causing them to flee. If Noah had drifted far out into the Black Sea, and eventually lost sight of land, by his reckoning the whole world must be underwater. In the ancient world natural disasters were typically considered brought on by God as punishment for some misdeed and would lead Noah to believe the world had been destroyed by God. Translation once again causes problems. The King James Bible says that the mountains were covered by water (Genesis 7:20). But the Hebrew word ‘har’ may also mean hill. The King James also infers that the flood was over the entire earth (Genesis 7:17-21) whereas eretz can also mean country or a very large expanse of land but not the entire earth.
Was there a Noah’s Ark?
Genesis 6:14 states that the Ark of Noah was constructed of Gopherwood but Hebrew scholars and theologians can’t agree on what type of wood it is. Perhaps they should consider gopherwood to be a Hebrew phonetic version of the Sumerian word ‘gaffa’ meaning a reed coracle that was coated with pitch just like the ark. The Sumerian story of Enu Elish, from which much of the Noah story is derived, clearly states “Wall, wall. Tear down this wall of reeds and build an ark”. Using only the primitive stone and wood tools available at the time, tools made of iron not being available for another 800 years, a wooden ship 450 feet long by 75 feet wide and a height of 45 feet would require a king’s ransom in funding and an army of workmen to complete. What Noah most likely constructed was what is referred to as a ‘Kelak’, a reed raft. Such a raft could easily be constructed by eight people using only local materials found near the Black Sea. Noah most likely also had a ‘Tarada’, a reed canoe or a Guffa coracle for fishing. A reed raft could easily be built by eight people using only flakes of obsidian, a form of volcanic glass. Most likely the ark would have been constructed of bundles of reeds stacked together to form a raft and may have looked somewhat similar to the reed Mudhifs of the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq. Such a vessel would flex in rough seas versus a rigid wooden vessel could break in half in rough weather. The S.S. Wyoming was a wooden ship similar in size to the Ark and it leaked so bad that a steam pump had to be installed to keep it from sinking. (See photos 7 – 9)
Did Animals Arrive from all over the World?
Creationist do not give a reasonable explanation of how animals from all over the world somehow manage to navigate oceans, deserts and mountain ranges and find Noah’s ark? They have no rational explanation of how Pandas found the special bamboo along the way that they require or Koalas the eucalyptus leaves they require. How did Noah store the ants and termites that Anteaters require? Strange that Noah’s says nothing about any exotic animals that he has never seen. Could it be that he didn’t find it necessary to describe the animals as they were his livestock? In addition to the some 24,000 animals Noah would have to board and care for he would have to travel all over the world and collected 360,000 species of trees and plants and in addition around a million insectspecies. (See exhibit 10)
Then there is the matter of the man-hours required to feed and water the animals and plants. Any major zoo can provide information on the number of animals they have and the number of people that are directly involved in their care8. Simple math will show that the man-hours each of the eight humans aboard the ark would have to work to feed, water and care for the animals, trees, plants and insects far outstrips the hours in a day by a very large factor.
It should be obvious that the story was based on a real event and that there was not a world-wide flood and thus God did not commit mass murder.
2) Detroit Salt Mine, http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/urban-
3) Noah’s Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman Touchstone
5) Tablet XI, Column 1 of the Epic of Gilgamesh by John Gardner & John Maier.
Age of Patriarchs compared to Sumerian Kings list Kings List
4 - Why does the controversy continue?
Why do we still have this controversy between evolution and creationism? What is it that drives creationists to advocate their views when so much scientific evidence refutes them? There are five major factors to be considered:
1) Jesus never mentions a word concerning the Genesis creation story. If Jesus didn’t find it necessary to mention it then why should any of the Christian faith be concerned?
The gospel of Jesus is not concerned with how or where we came from it is entirely about where we should be going and how to get there.
2) In 66 AD the Jewish population, fed up with Roman rule and taxation, revolted. Rome sent in legions of soldiers resulting in the destruction of the temple, the slaughter of the priesthood and destruction of copies of the Torah. Fortunately the Romans were not more thorough in their attempt to stamp out Judaism but suppose they had been. In the absence of the Old Testament the Christian religion would continue to function. Again why then all the concern over the Genesis creation story? Jesus stated clearly who he was, what his message was and that all have sinned and are in need of salvation.
3) Creationists insist that Biblical passages be read literally word for word as absolute truth. This stance ignores the fact that although the original information may have been from God its subsequent transmission was by humans and humans are not infallible. If Biblical text is taken literally then there are instances where one will be required to accept that God resorts to mass murder such as the Flood of Noah or the killing of
Egyptians in the Exodus stories and in other instances where God appears to act irrationally and to be incompetent. God has never caused the death of anyone and God certainly is not irrational or incompetent.
4) The misconception that if one accepts evolution then one must abandon the creation story of Genesis and thus bring the validity of the entire Bible into question and perhaps lose ones faith ignoring the fact that there are many evolutionists who are people of faith.
5) Vanity and ego. Often the expressed as "Well I certainly didn't evolve from some ape." For once creationists are correct. The Humanoid line didn't evolve from the primate (apes) the primate brnched off from the humanoid about 6 1/2 million years ago. Humans find it difficult to comprehend such a vast amount of time. If the average age at which a female gives birth is 18 years then there are some 360,000 generations from the present to the time humans and apes parted. Even this is difficult for many to comprehend. A better demonstration is to line up all your ancestors, either you fathers line or your mothers, spacing them 4 feet apart. That line will stretch nearly 273 miles about the distance from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. Hour after hour, mile after mile there will be your ancestors in a line stretching to the horizon.
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Photo 7 - A Gaffa Coracle Fashioned of Reeds and Coated with Pitch
Photo 1 - The Traditional Depiction of Noah's Ark
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Photo 2 - Grass Sod on Day One
Photo 5 - Grass in less than a month, dead.
Photo 3 - Olive Tree after 3 months. Dead & Leafless
Photo 8 - Mudhif of the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq
In the past I have been asked ‘Do you believe in God?” My standard answer is “I don’t know. What do you mean by God?” This is followed by an astonishing “Surely you must be joking!” I respond with “How can I answer your question when all that you have given me is a single word without any details?” Down through the ages atheists have insisted there is no God and theists have proclaimed that God does indeed exist. Neither atheist nor theist has ever provided evidence that would conclusively support their claims. All that can be accomplished is to provide speculation on what God may be based on what limited information there is in various religions. pe your paragraph here.
Photo 6 - Left Plain watered Right Salt Saturated
Photo 4 - Grass on Day One
Photo 9 - Interior of a Marsh Arab Mudhif