Friday, January 8, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- What was that??!!

Avraham was in the Holy Land in time to see the destruction of the cities of the plain.
No literature of the area records this.  Egypt doesn’t report it.  Ebla doesn’t report it.  They don’t even report losing contact with these trading partners – or else the tablets saying so haven’t been identified or translated yet.  It all happens in a vacuum.  Except for Torah.
In the 2300s BCE one language was used all over the trading area that used Ebla as a hub: Akkadian.  There might have been local vernacular dialects.  By 2000 BCE, when Utu-Hengel was putting the Mesopotamian hegemony back together, the western part had developed a dialect that was hard to understand in Mesopotamia.  This was the genesis of the western Semitic languages.  Their descendants were Ugaritic/K’naanitic, and Hebrew.  The only dialect which preserved the story of the destruction of the cities of the plain is the dialect that developed among Avraham’s descendants.
It’s not that other locations didn’t know something had happened.  Ash layers in Syria and offshore of Oman date to about 2350 BCE and have similar composition, but they don’t necessarily represent an event that destroyed the cities of the plain.
They may come from a bolide impact in what is now Iraq, in what were swamps, and after millennia of desiccation now have the name Umm al-Bini.  But there’s no proof that this is a bolide impact.  Satellite images show a round sort of pothole, but it’s too dangerous to go in on the ground to see if there are tektites or other evidence that only a bolide impact could form.  I would love to believe that it was a bolide but I can’t support that from the geological data. 
What we don’t have are tablets from Ebla reporting the Umm al-Bini event, if event it was, not even a note about ash falling in Ebla’s streets.  Or the tablets have not yet been identified or translated.  But that would only happen if Ebla had still existed when Umm al-Bini formed.
And we don’t have tablets in Mesopotamia reporting the event, although they were closest to it.  It’s only 160 kilometers from the lake at Umm al-Bini to Babylon.
If somebody tells you that the Umm al-Bini bolide caused the destruction of the cities of the plain, you are hearing a 21st century urban legend.
Torah as the sole source of a geologic event crops up related to the 1600s BCE and I’ll discuss that in its place.  In addition, I’ll show much  later on this page in the blog why neither story can reliably be called a complete fantasy.

Timing is everything and that leads to the next urban legend.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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