Re: [asa] "Enoch = Uruk" question for Dick

From: <>
Date: Tue Mar 27 2007 - 16:50:16 EDT

Thanks, Dick. As always you have provided a wealth of very interesting information!
You said,
Well, then I’d have to ask, “Okay, so who do you think built the city and how do you know more than the Bible writers”? I don’t mean this as a putdown, I just think it is too glib to write off what appear to be real persons who had verbal conversations recorded in Scripture and built real cities to say they were “archetypes.”
I don't believe that one individual built the entire city Unug, and it seems to me that the writer of Genesis 4 was more interested in the theology of the pattern of names than in the historical record of their names. I think the original author knew that his original audience would understand the common literary techniques in this genre.
In Psalm 104, where it says that God made Leviathan to sport with him (a passage parallel to the "great sea monsters" of Genesis Day 5), the author was using established literary norms in discussing Leviathan to claim that God was greater than any of the Canaanite monsters, or the dinos whose bones may have inspired such myths. He was not claiming that Leviathan as represented in the Canaanite myths really existed. Are we pretending to know more than the bible writers when we recognize their literary techniques?
That is kind of similar to where the Bible says "Smith" made a city. Cain literally means "smith", a person who makes things with his hands. God wasn't necessarily saying that "Smith" was really his name, just like He wasn't saying that "Leviathan" in Canaanite myths was actual history. The whole point of the geneology of Cain is to illustrate that man trusts the works of his hands, his smith-ing, rather than trusting God.
In addition to what I wrote about the meanings of the names in Cain's line, note the overall pattern:
Day Godly line Worldly line
=== ======= ========
 1. Seth (nobody comparable)
 2. Enosh Cain
          Kenan Enoch
 3. Mahalalel Irad
          Jared Mehujael
 4. Enoch (nobody comparable)
 5. Methuselah Methushael
 6. Lamech Lamech
 7. Noah (nobody comparable)
Next "week"
 1. 3 sons 3 sons
Note that Day 2 and Day 3 each have a chiasm (a criss-cross) rather than a single individual. Chiasms were a structural element in Hebrew literature intended to bind two things together. By using these pairs of names in chiasms, the writer bound them into a single unit. So the pattern goes like this:
1. Hero
2. Chiasm
3. Chiasm
4. Hero
5. Individual
6. Individual
7. Hero
It is a pattern with two triads (each beginning with a hero) followed by the distinctively Hebrew "seventh". The godly heros are distinguished not only by what they did (founder Seth, preacher Enoch, savior Noah), but by the fact that they don't have any corresponding name in the worldly line. They are "incomparable" in the worldly line. However, all the other names in the geneology do have counterparts in the opposite column: the persons in chiasms and the persons standing individually all have distorted counterparts in Cain's line.
Furthermore, the names in Cain's line have sinister meanings, which develop the main point of the geneology.
Note also that the flood-hero Noah falls on Day 7, and his name "Noah" means "rest". This pattern puts "Rest" on the day of Rest. I think the Cain geneology was intentionally created for the sake of this pattern so that the chiasms would bind two pairs of names together, so that Noah would fall on Day 7 and thus make the entire pattern parallel to the creation week in Genesis 1.
Thus, the specific names in Cain's geneology were probably chosen to be distortions of the names in Seth's line in order to make the parallels, to contrast their character with the godly line, and to bind the entire pattern together into a 7-day week.
Again, thank you for the fantastic explanation of Unug!
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 10:09 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] "Enoch = Uruk" question for Dick

Hi Phil, you wrote:
I understand that you believe a literal individual named Cain built a city and named it Unuk ("Enoch") after his son. I believe you are right that "Enoch" is probably a variant of "Unuk", which in turn is the same as the mesopotamian city "Uruk". However, I take Cain and his son Unuk to be archetypes of early mankind rather than as literal individuals. I believe they represent mankind's early efforts to develop civilization ("...Cain built a city...").
Well, then I’d have to ask, “Okay, so who do you think built the city and how do you know more than the Bible writers”? I don’t mean this as a putdown, I just think it is too glib to write off what appear to be real persons who had verbal conversations recorded in Scripture and built real cities to say they were “archetypes.” When does George Washington relinquish his humanity and become an archetype of an American president?
Theologically, observing the placement of this statement in the account, this tells us that mankind was continuing to trust the works of his own hands as he began building cities, just as Cain had earlier trusted the works of his own hands when he brought the offering of grain that he had gotten by working the fields; an offering that God rejected (the name "Cain"="smith" being a reference to the act of forging things, working with his own hands to make things). The next person in line after Unuk is "Irad", whose name means "city of a fugitive," so we see that city building did not bring salvation to the line of Cain, and after Irad comes "Mehujael"="cursed of God," and then "Methushael"="Man of Sheol (death)."
Naming people after something that applied to them was common practice. Does that make them more believable as real people or less believable? I don’t know.
In either case, whether Cain and Unuk are literal individuals or archetypes representing mankind, what I am wondering is what's the historical or theological significance of the city Uruk? You have posted here that Uruk was not the first city in Mesopotamia. Was it the first Akkadian city? Was it the first ruling city, or the first truly major city? Was it the best known Mesopotamian city to the descendants of Noah and Abraham? Did it have any significance to God's covenant people beyond the statement that Cain built it and named it after his son?
Eridu was the first city and regarded as a sacred city archaeologically dated to 4800 BC. At the bottom on virgin soil they found a small altar. In my book I call this “Adam’s altar” (with a question mark.) Enoch, or “Unug” in Sumerian, was dated to 4200 BC, so the times match up roughly with what we would expect if Adam resided at Eridu and Enoch was king of his city. We don’t know much added significance to any of the pre-flood cities during the pre-flood period. There just is not a lot of pre-flood history recorded.
According to the Sumerian king list after the flood kingship was reestablished at Kish by the Sumerians. They recovered from the flood more quickly than did Noah’s kin who with fewer numbers needed more time to reconstitute. Since Akkadian is a Semitic language and Hebrew derives from Akkadian we can assume that Noah and his kin were Akkadian and established Akkadian cities.
Uruk symbolized the beginning of a new era in civilization. It’s called the Uruk period and involved a complete system of laws and trade and a significant advance in civilization. There are entire books written about this period and I wouldn’t do any of them justice in this brief post. The Sumerian king list records 23 kings who ruled at Kish, all Sumerian, then Enmeskiagasher resettled “E-Anna(k),” or Enoch/Unug which forever after becomes Erech/Uruk. In the post-flood period Ur was primarily a Sumerian city and so were Eridu and Uruk. The Akkadians settled Babylon and were concentrated mostly west and north of the Sumerians though there was constant interaction between the two cultures.
One significance of Cain naming the city “Enoch” after his son is to demonstrate that some early cities were named for early kings. I live near Washington, DC, for example. Thus the city of Asshur confirms the founder who is unlikely to have been simply an archetype. As does Birs Nimrud named after Nimrod.
Dick Fischer
Dick Fischer, Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

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Received on Tue Mar 27 16:51:33 2007

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