Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Annual Camels-Disprove-the-Bible Story

Yes, I have been ignoring all of the crazy media coverage on the camel story. For one thing, the popular angle here is hardly new—scholars have tried to deny the accuracy of the Bible using camels for a long time. For another, the story is wrong. The biblical account is trustworthy, and the evidence from the recent study does not support the claims being made from it. (We didn’t find any camels being used at two copper-mining sites in the early 10th century; therefore, no camels were domesticated anywhere in the ANE before that time.)

If you are interested in learning what all of those media reports do not tell you, I would recommend some articles on evidence for the domestication of camels in the third and second millennium. Here are a few that are easy to access:

Stephen Caesar, Patriarchal Wealth and Early Domestication of the Camel, Bible and Spade, 2000.

Stephen Caesar, The Wealth and Power of the Biblical Patriarchs, Bible and Spade, 2006.

T. M. Kennedy, The Domestication of the Camel in the Ancient Near East, Bible and Spade, 2010 [updated 2014].

Randall W. Younker, Bronze Age Petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai, Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin 42, 1997.

These articles suggest other resources in their bibliographies.

Some other writers have posted on the subject this week. Gordon Govier considers “Abraham’s Anachronistic Camels” in a post at Christianity Today. Some of the quotes come from this week’s The Book and the Spade show in which he and I discuss the subject (direct link here). Michael Heiser shares an excerpt from the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch on his blog. Kyle Beshears suggests some additional points to consider. And yesterday I shared some observations from a journal article by Martin Heide.

Significant biblical references for the domestication of the camel are found all over the place, including Gen 12:16; 24:10; 32:7; 32:15; 37:25; Judg 6:5; 1 Sam 15:3; 30:17; 1 Kgs 10:2; 1 Chr 27:30; Job 1:3.

No camels and horses sign in Dahab, tb032606946

No Camels and Horses sign in Dahab, Sinai
Photo from Signs of the Holy Land



  • In any case, we already knew that camels were not common pack animals in southern Palestine until the 9th century BC. There are no camel bones at Tel Masos II.

    By Blogger pithom, at Tue Feb 18, 10:29:00 AM  

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