Re: [asa] New Evidence for Two Human Origins

From: <philtill@aol.com>
Date: Fri Oct 05 2007 - 01:18:26 EDT

Hi Dick,
I appreciate your research!  I disagree about the geneologies, but for the most part I agree with you back as far as Seth.

I don't think there is any evidence in the SKL for long lives.  As an exercise several years ago I plotted all the ages (not just the antedeluvial kings) and you can see that by applying a different ad hoc factor to each city state the data becomes uniform with reasonable lengths of time and reasonable standard deviations for all the kings in all the city-states.  This factor must be ad hoc because we don't know the original number systems.  However, most scholars believe that this mistranslation of numbering systems is exactly what happened in the SKL.  Have you heard of any Mesopotamian scholar who says this is not a viable theory for the SKL ages?

Second, Utnapishtim isn't just long-lived in the Gilgamesh epic:  he is completely immortal.  He is an excellent analog of Santa Clause.  He lives forever with his wife who lives forever.  He is attended by fantastic beings with special powers.  He lives far away in an inaccessible land and uses a magical craft propelled by fantastic creatues to get back and forth to our world.  And he was based on a historical creature but with a vast history of distortion leading up to the popular tales, so that in all likelihood he was unrecognizable as the real person behind the legend.  The Mesopotamian world was riveted on the Flood story as a central feature of its cultural life, just as our world is riveted on Christmas and Santa Clause, and in both cases the cultural attention probably led the the exaggeration of the man.  So I wouldn't make too much of the details in the Utnapishtim story.  Like you, I believe the story originated in a real person and so there is some truth in it, but his immortality in this obviously fantastic tale is a very weak piece of evidence to support a particular interpretation of the Genesis geneologies.

As for the later Patriarchs, I am not sure how to interpret their ages.  A year or two ago I interpreted a book that is out of print and almost impossible to find, called _The_Bible_Dates_Itself_ by Arthur Earle.  Earle claims evidence for a base-7 number system.  In that number system, the dates for the Patriarch's ages actually do make pretty good sense.  So Joshua being 110 in base-7 would actually be 7^2 + 7 = 56 years old.  Abraham being 200 in base-7 would be 98 years old.  The problem with this is that Paul cites the OT as putting Abraham at a literal 100, so unless you are willing to say that Paul's quotation was culturally conditioned by the (mistranslated) OT manuscripts of his day, and accept the ramifications of this theologically in your theory of inspiration, then you will have a problem with the base-7 theory.  But Earle makes a decent case that all the problems of chronologies in the OT are immediately solved when you use base-7.  (On the other hand, he takes this too far into the era of Kings when clearly the evidence favors a base-10 system in use by the Jews.)

I sought out this book and bought it because it was the only source I had located where someone was using a base-7 system for the Jews at the time of the Exodus and thereabouts.  I did this because I had noticed that there is a funny numerical feature of the two censuses in the book of Numbers.  One of the two censuses never uses the digits 1, 8, or 9.  The other census only uses one of these digits one time.  The odds of that by chance you will never use more than 7 digits with no more than 1 exception in a list as long as these two censuses are about 1 in 500,000 (I forget the exact figure, but it was about that).  This is very strong evidence that the Jews were using a base-7 number system at that time.  This is reasonable if they had brought a version of a base-6 system with them from Mesopotamia.  In the Exodus when God announced the "Seventh Day" to be added to their 6-day mesopotamian calendar then they might also add a seventh digit to their number system.  The later census at the time of David is clearly a base-10 system, because all the digits are being used by that time.  (Surprisingly, Earle didn't notice the number patterns in the censuses.)

Let's not forget that "numbers" as an abstract idea were not firmly developed until after the era that we are discussing.  At that time, "numbers" always had units attached to them.  "7 sheep" and "7 years" and "7 acres" were often counted in different numbering systems and with different characters for the numerals.  During this time, the power of arithmentic was being discovered and new, more powerful numbering systems were being worked out.  The Semitic Jews with their (presumably) Mesopotamian-style numbering had just spent a period of time rubbing elbows with the Egyptians who used a heiratic system that was base-10.  The Hebrews later adopted a system somewhat similar to the Egyptian system, but using their alphabet rather than inventing separate symbols.  Who knows what numbering systems they were using in the periods of time we are discussing?  The later scribes wiped out all evidence of them when they translated the texts into written-out Hebrew words.  But we do know that the period of time where the "funny numbers" appear in the Bible is EXACTLY the period of time when new numbering systems were being invented, and so we should expect to see funny numbers exactly where we do.

This is actually a very strong argument for the authenticity of the text.  It is evidence that the text was written at the same period of time that it is describing, and not much later as higher criticism has claimed.

Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net>
To: ASA <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 11:32 am
Subject: RE: [asa] New Evidence for Two Human Origins

The historical evidence matches up somewhat with the idea that long-lived Semites or Adamites lived alongside short-lived Sumerians.  The Sumerian Kinglist is actually not one list but a number of lists found in excavated cities that all are quite similar.  There are variations, transpositions, etc., but all show a Sumerian base 60 or 60 sguared with extraordinary long years(?) as a result.  There is no distinction between Sumerian kings and Adamite kings, but also the SKL records years of reign not years lived.  Who knows how long Adamite (pre-flood Semite), Alalgar (the 2nd king) lived after the Sumerian king from Badtabira successfully warred against him at Eridu?

 

The eleventh tablet of Gilgamesh weighs in on the side of Noah (Utnapishtim) being long-lived versus the Sumerian king Gilgamesh who was expecting to die within a more normal time span.  That’s the reason Gilgamesh sought him out.  The eleventh tablet is the only one written in Akkadian, all other tablets are in Sumerian.  So likely an Akkadian scribe drew together two of the icons of his age and concocted a story of their meeting that pulled in some of the elements known about both men.

 

What I find especially intriguing is Gilgamesh’s opening remarks that parallel what we know about Noah from Genesis:

 

"As I look upon thee, Utnapishtim,

Thy features are not strange at all; even as I art thou

My heart had regarded thee as resolved to do battle,

[Yet] thou liest indolent upon thy back!

[Tell me,] how joinst thou the Assembly of the gods,

In thy quest of life?"

 

Utnapishtim means “he who found long life” in Akkadian and “Ziusudra” has the same meaning in Sumerian.  Also the impact on the world could have come about partially at least due to the longevity of Noah’s descendants.  At least one Assyrian king described Assur (Gen’ 10:11) as a “god.”

 

The trend of long-lived patriarchs living shorter and shorter lives continued long after the flood, even Joshua lived to 110, and none of the numbering schemes that have been devised to resolve the conflict with the ages of the pre-flood patriarchs take that into account.  Whatever devise may work from Adam to Noah breaks down after that.

 

Dick Fischer

Dick Fischer, Genesis Proclaimed Association

Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

www.genesisproclaimed.org

 

-----Original Message-----

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Received on Fri Oct 5 01:19:10 2007

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