Friday, January 1, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- where are we?

Because I know what you’re saying.  You’re saying that if Kush is Ethiopia, why does it say that Kush sired Nimrod who ruled in Mesopotamia?
There are three words in Torah which have confusing consequences but a common feature.
Kush is used for places both in the north and the south.  Genesis 10 uses it for a place in Mesopotamia, possibly the great city of Kish.  Jeremiah uses it for an Ethiopian, at a time when the Kushi ruled Egypt from their capital at Meroe.
Qadesh is used for places both in the north and the south.  Qadesh in the north, where Syria is now, is where Ramses II (TWO not three) fought a Hittite king to a draw (but claimed a victory).  Qadesh in the south is where Miriam died during the years in the wilderness in Sinai.
Chiti is used for places both in the north and the south.  Kings II says (in English translations) that King Shlomo married Hittite women.  Unfortunately that’s a bit late.  Shlomo’s times come about 200 years after the Sea Peoples destroyed the Hittite empire. 
Genesis refers to the people from whom Avraham bought Makhpelah as b’ney Chet.  The urban legend is that this is the Hittites, and the timing is not impossible, if you agree with me that Avraham lived in the Holy Land before 2200 BCE.  But there’s no sense puzzling your head about why people from an Anatolian empire would be in the south of the Holy Land.  From the other two examples, it’s perfectly obvious that Hebrew might spell things the same that aren’t the same at all.
The urban legend is that Nimrod is Gilgamesh.  The connection is “hunter” which is tsaid in Hebrew.  The urban legend relates this to a Hittite word (written in Akkadian cuneiform) that is read sai’idu.  But that means “roving, restless.”  So the urban legend jumps to Gilgamesh, to whom Enkidu was given as an opponent to control his restless, combative nature, plus the tale of Gilgamesh and Enkidu hunting the demon Huwawu in “the cedar forest” (Lebanon).  And in Akkadian tsayyadu means hunter.
Now, if Kush, who “sired” Nimrod, relates to Kish, we are right back with Lady Kug Bau.  She was from Kish, which was such an important city that Eannatum of Lagash called himself “king of Kish” when he took over all of Mesopotamia. 
But Gilgamesh was not king of Kish.  He was king of Uruk, and fought Aga the king of Kish.  So we’re probably wrong to think that Nimrod is Gilgamesh.
Further, the original five-tablet version of Gilgamesh dates from just after the Gutian defeat by Utu-Hengel.  That’s too late for Nimrod to rule over all of Mesopotamia.  The last king of all Mesopotamia known by the time of Utu-Hengel was either Sargon of Akkad or his predecessor, Eannatum, who was so pointedly left out of the king list.
And finally, of course, Gilgamesh was the standard “Dick and Jane” of the cuneiform schools, so even the five-tablet version was a closed book to the ancestors of the Jews. 
Setting Genesis 10 in the time of Ebla, before its destruction, means that if there really is a king of Mesopotamia whom Nimrod represents, it’s Eannatum.  And that puts us right after Kug Bau.  Which matches the 2350 BCE destruction of the cities of the plain.
But wait, there’s more.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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