Camels at Pyramids, Egypt (courtesy Wikipedia)
By Spencer D Gear
In February 2014, some of you may have been exposed to what seems like a tirade of derogatory comments in the mass media about camels recorded in the Book of Genesis; Genesis can’t be trusted, and the Bible is unreliable.
Genesis 24:64 records this: ‘And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel’ (ESV).
Leviticus 11:4 makes is clear: ‘Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you’.
Was it a camel or not? Verses like these have come under criticism by the archaeologists who are saying that
camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE, centuries after they were depicted in the Bible as Patriarch-era pack animals, new carbon dating of the earliest known domesticated camel bones found in Israel shows.
The research, conducted by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel-Aviv University, challenges ”the Bible’s historicity.” The discrepancy “is direct proof that the [Biblical] text was compiled well after the events it describes,” according to a statement released by the university on Monday.
The researchers examined ancient copper smelting sites in the Arava Valley, in southern Israel, and discovered that “camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later,” and that “all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them.”
(The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014)
This is a sample of the negative comments I’ve read in the mass media online:
- ‘Camels had no business in Genesis‘ (New York Times, 10 February 2014).
- ‘Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say‘, Fox News (6 February 2014).
- ‘Earliest Camel Bones Contradict Bible, Archaeologists Say‘, (Nature World News, 5 February 2014).
- ‘Camel bones discovery suggests biblical inaccuracies‘ (Statesman, 6 February 2014).
- ‘Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible‘ (The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014).
- ‘Will camel discovery break the Bible’s back?‘(CNN, 11 February 2014)
Abram’s Journey from Ur to Canaan (József Molnár, 1850) (courtesy Wikipedia)
We could go on and on with examples trying to disprove the accuracy of the Bible, especially the camels at the time of Abraham. But, what’s the truth? Should we chuck out the Book of Genesis as an unreliable piece of literature that should be treated as containing myths? Or should we treat it as Jesus did? You’ll find some of Jesus’ evidence in the articles,
‘Jesus, the New Testament and Genesis‘;
‘The use of Genesis in the New Testament‘; and
‘Genesis: Real, reliable, historical‘.
I recommend equipping yourself for a rebuttal of these mass media anti-Genesis views by becoming acquainted with the issues in these articles:
- Lita Cosner’s article, ‘Camels and the Bible‘ (Creation Ministries International, 11 February 2014). I’m grateful for those who know their Bible and the scientific literature and have material available to demonstrate the futility of the anti-Genesis charges.
- See another refutation of the anti-camel stance in, ‘Camels in Genesis Prove Old Testament is ‘Very Accurate,’ Professor Claims as He Refutes Archaeologists’ Findings‘ (Christian Post).
Here’s some more evidence in support of camels at the time of Abraham:
- ‘Theology professor counters claim that camel bones disprove Bible, explains Abraham owning camels‘ (Global Dispatch, 17 Feb 14).
- ‘Abraham, Camels and Egypt, or, Where did Abram get his Camel from?Genesis 12:1‘ (Studylight.org).
- ‘Is the Bible Wrong about Camels?‘(Stand to Reason).
I pray that you will be equipping the people in your church to provide a defence of the Christian faith when this kind of opposition comes. There are enough links here to get you started with a few opportunities for equipping in your church over the next few weeks. We are blessed that there are equipping ministries who have researchers and writers to deal with these issues – and provide us with ready information to pass on to our church people.
Let’s not miss the opportunity.
Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 November 2015.