Weet jy wat die naam Mesopotamië beteken?
Waar in die Bybel lees ons van hierdie twee riviere?
Genesis 2:14,15 Die derde is die Tigris wat oos van Assirië verbyloop, en die vierde is die Eufraat. 15 Die Here God het die mens in die tuin laat woon om dit te bewerk en op te pas.
Wanneer mens in hierdie wêreld besoek, kom jy op talle ruïnes van zigoeratta af. Die bybel vertel ons waar die heel eerste een wat gebou is.
Waar dink jy was dit?
Genesis 11:4 Die hele wêreld het net een taal gepraat. 2 Toe die mense ooswaarts getrek het, het hulle uitgekom by ’n vlakte in Sinar en daar gaan woon. 3 Hulle het op ’n keer vir mekaar gesê: “Kom ons maak stene en ons brand hulle hard.” Hulle het toe stene in plaas van klip gebruik en asfalt in plaas van klei. 4 Toe sê hulle: “Kom ons bou vir ons ’n stad met ’n toring waarvan die punt tot in die hemel reik en ons maak so vir ons ’n naam. Dan sal ons nie oor die hele aarde versprei nie.”
Dis ‘n groot oomblik wanneer mens besoek en jy besef die Bybel is waar.
Die oorspronklike toring van Babel, die ziggoerat is verwoes. Daarna is dit ‘n paar weer gerestoureer.
TEENSTELLING MET EGIPTE
In teenstelling met Egipte se piramiedes, obeliske en kleurvolle antieke grafkelders sien mens net hope en hope ruïnes wanneer jy in Irak reis. Die Bybel het die lot van Nineve en Babilon voorspel. Argeoloë het in die puin gaan rondkrap en stede ontdek waarvan die Bybel eeue gelede oor geskryf het.
Die boek Daniël het voorspel dat kennis mbt hierdie profetiese eindtyd boek sou toeneem. Dit het gebeur die spykerskrif ontsyfer is. Ons lees die boodskappe en hulle verklap vir ons geheime wat duisende jaar onder die grond bewaar is.
Ons lees van mense en hulle alle daagse lewe. Van huwelike en sake dokumente. Kinders het skool bygewoon en op sagte klei boodskappe neergeskryf. En die Here het dit so beskik dat die kleitablette veilig onder die Mesopotamiese sand bewaar is.
Die heerlikste van hierdie ontdekkings is die feit dat hulle uitroep: “Die Bybel is waar.”
By Nineve het ek die plek besoek waar Asjurbanipal ‘n biblioteek met 10,000 kleitablette opgerig het. Een van hulle het groot opslag verwerf toe Assirioloog George Smith die vloedverhaal op hom gelees het.
Luister na die woorde:
“Op die sewende dag het ek ‘n duif laat vlieg. Hy het iewers ‘n rusplek gekry en nie teruggekom nie.
Ek het dieselfde met ‘n swaeltjie gedoen maar hy het teruggevlieg.
Ek het ‘n kraai gestuur wat die lyke in die water gesien het dit get het. Hy het geswem en nie teruggekom nie.”
Kom ons kyk wat die Bybel vir ons wil sê:
5 En die waters het geleidelik afgeneem tot die tiende maand. In die tiende maand, op die eerste van die maand, het die toppe van die berge sigbaar geword.
6 Toe het Noag aan die end van veertig dae die venster oopgemaak van die ark wat hy gebou het,
7 en ’n kraai uitgestuur wat gedurig heen en weer gevlieg het totdat die waters weggedroog het van die aarde af.
8 Daarop laat hy ’n duif van hom af wegvlieg om te sien of die waters oor die aarde verminder het.
9 Maar die duif het geen rusplek vir die holte van sy voet gevind nie en na hom teruggekeer in die ark; want die waters was oor die hele aarde. So het hy dan sy hand uitgesteek en hom gegryp en in die ark by hom gebring.
10 Daarna het hy weer sewe dae gewag. Toe stuur hy die duif weer uit die ark.
11 En die duif het teen die aand na hom gekom, en daar was ’n groen olyfblad in sy bek! Toe merk Noag dat die waters oor die aarde verminder het.
12 Daarna wag hy weer sewe dae en stuur die duif uit. Maar hy het nie weer na hom teruggekeer nie.
Daar is ooreenkomste maar daar is ook groot verskille. Die gode wou die klomp mense op aarde stilmaak en toe stuur hulle die vloed.
Die Bybel het ‘n ander weergawe:
Genesis 6:5,6 Toe die HERE sien dat die boosheid van die mens op die aarde groot was en al die versinsels wat hy in sy hart bedink, altyddeur net sleg was, 6 het dit die HERE berou dat Hy die mens op die aarde gemaak het, en daar was smart in Sy hart.
‘n God van liefde ween oor die besluit dat die mensdom die Satan, die bedriër gevolg het en hulle daardeur vernietig het.
In die Babiloniese skeppingsverhaal Enuma Elish, maak Marduk die seemonster, Tiamat. Daarna verdeel hy die monster soos ‘n plat vis in twee helftes en gebruik elke helfte [voor- en najaar] in die skepping van die hemel.
En die duiwsel bemark hierdie onsin en daar is mens wat dit glo.
Luister hoe mooi klink die Bybel se skeppingsvehaal.
Genesis 1:1-3 IN die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.
2 En die aarde was woes en leeg, en duisternis was op die wêreldvloed, en die Gees van God het gesweef op die waters.
3 En God het gesê: Laat daar lig wees! En daar was lig.
Uruk is een van die baie interessante plekke om in Irak te besoek. Luister na hierdie van die Gilgameshepos.
Gilgamesh is die tiran van ‘n koninkryk van Uruk. Sy onderdane pleit by die gode vir iemand wat hom kan doodmaak. Ekidu word geskep om dit te doen, maar hulle word vriende en vermag verstommende heldedade.
Toe hulle die kruin van hulle sukses bereik sterf Enkidu in sy slaap. Dit was so ‘n skok vir
Gilgamesh dat hy Uruk verlaat en vir die res van sy lewe na onsterflikheid soek.
Die Bybel praat van Ur van die Chaldees maar waar is die plek. Argeoloë het dit gekry.
Die jong argeoloog Sir Leonard Woolley het van 1922 tot 1934 baanbrekerswerk hier gedoen.
Hy het die ziggoerat van Urnamu deeglik ondersoek en hierdie ou reuse pronk nog steeds.dit word as die beste gepreserveerde ziggaroet in die wêreld beskou.
Woolley se graaf het antieke tempel, paleise en woonkwartiere opgegrawe. Hierdie ontdekkings het die argeoloë verras want daar was eerste klas skole en eerste klas geleerdes. Die inwoners het ‘n baie hoë lewensstandaard gehandhaaf.
Die mees opspraakwekkende ontdekkings was die weeldebelaaide koninklike grafte. Sommige mense beskou die goud en ander edelgesteentes as gelykstaande aan die van die
Konings en koninginne met al hulle paleispersoneel, lyfwagte, kore en sangers, koetse, diere, meubels en juwele is saam met hulle in massagrafte begrawe.
Die pragtigste musiekinstrumente, metaalwerk en puik vakmanskap van die hoogste gehalde is daar gevind. Een van die grafte wat uitstaan, is die van koningin Puabi wat saam met haar diensmeisie begrawe is. Dit wil voorkom of hulle gif gedrink het.
Mense wat krities oor die vroeër beskawings se lewenspeil besorg was, het hulle opinie na hierdie ontdekkings verander.
URUK BYBELSE EREG
Wanneer mens Uruk se ruïnes besoek kan jy nie glo watter fondse hier ontdek is nie. Die Bybel verwys na Uruk as Ereg.
Genesis 10:10 En die begin van sy ryk was Babel en Ereg en Akkad en Kalne in die land Sínear.
Numerous tablets from this place had been dug up illegally by natives before excavations started, and had found their way to various museums in Europe and America. They had given the scholarly world a foretaste of the material that could be expected to come to light through a scientific exploration of this large site.
The Germans excavated the city from 1928 to 1939. They were especially successful in clarifying many architectural problems of the early Mesopotamian period, and had the good fortune to find a great number of cuneiform texts on clay tablets coming from the earliest literate period. These texts show clearly the stages in the development of the invention of the script. From a pure pictorial writing it went through semipictorial or semi-ideographic script to a syllabic form of writing in which many characters represented, not an object or an idea, but a sound.
Although this system of writing was less advanced than the alphabetic script, it was a great improvement over the simple pictorial method of writing. It has even one advantage over the early alphabetic systems of writing that had no characters to express vowels, since the syllabic script expressed both consonants and vowels. A word written, for example, by three cuneiform signs that can be translated as har–ra–nu, meaning “road,” allows us to approximate the ancient pronunciation harranu. But for a word like d–r–k, “road”; written in old Hebrew script without vowels, only the later traditional pronunciation of the Jewish scholars of the early Middle Ages gives us that word as derek. And we are by no means sure of its pronunciation in Old Testament times.
Of great importance to the student of the Bible and the ancient Orient is the excavation by the Americans (1925-31) of Nuzi, near the present oil city of Kirkuk. Here many texts came to light which, though written in a barbaric Babylonian, shed a great deal of light on the conditions that existed during the patriarchal age, in the first half of the second millennium B.C. With the exception of the famous law code of Hammurabi, found in the ruins of Biblical Shushan in 1901-2, Nuzi has given us more material that sheds light on the patriarchal age than any other city. A few of these illuminating Nuzi texts will be mentioned in the next section. Nuzi has also helped the historian resurrect the ancient Hurrians, whom we know in the Bible as the Horites. Their language, history, and culture have thus once more come to light.
As the last of the many important sites uncovered recently in Mesopotamia, the city of Mari must be mentioned. The site of this city, once a famous metropolis of the Amorites, was completely unknown. Archeologists had long searched in vain for the remains of this city, so frequently mentioned in ancient texts. W. F. Albright finally suggested Tell el-Hariri on the Middle Euphrates as its possible site, and was proved correct by a French expedition under M. Parrot which began excavating the place. A great palace of the time of Hammurabi (18th century B.C.) was uncovered, and an archive of many thousands of tablets was discovered. These documents came from a time when the city of Mari was in the hands of the Amorites, who used the Babylonian script and language for their correspondence and documents. The Mari texts, published intermittently in a number of volumes, have revolutionized our knowledge of the history of the Near East during the patriarchal age, and have required a later dating than was formerly supposed for Mesopotamian history preceding 1500 B.C.
An idea of the great number of documents excavated in Mesopotamia may be gathered from the fact that Layard and Rassam brought to the British Museum some 25,000 clay tablets from Nineveh, that De Sarzec’s workers found 40,000 tablets in Telloh in 1894, and that some 10,000 were discovered by the University of Pennsylvania expedition at Nippur. Many thousands of tablets also came to light in other excavations, carried out either by scientific organizations or haphazardly by natives. The known documents, which are spread over various museums of the Near East, Europe, and America, already number hundreds of thousands, and it is estimated that so far only about 10 per cent of the documents preserved in the soil of Mesopotamia have been discovered. The great majority of these tablets consist of uninteresting business documents, bills, invoices, notes, deeds, receipts, etc. But many of them contain extremely important historical, religious, or literary facts that provide us a vast amount of information with which to reconstruct the ancient history of the nations that used this script. The following section gives a survey of this wealth of material, in so far as it is of importance to the student of the Bible.
V. Mesopotamian Archeology and the Bible
One of the first fruits of the deciphering of cuneiform inscriptions by Rawlinson and his colaborers vindicated the Bible at a time when the higher critical schools of Europe apparently stood unchallenged. This was the discovery of the name of King Sargon of Assyria, a king then known only from the Bible (Isa. 20:1). Since none of the classical authors ever mentioned him, his very existence was referred to the realm of legend by some of the higher critics, though others thought that Sargon was only another name of Shalmaneser. Today Sargon, who claimed to have conquered Samaria and led its population into captivity, is a well-known figure of Assyrian history.
The discovery of the Babylonian story of the Flood by George Smith in 1872 and its impact on the religious world of that time has already been mentioned. However, the story itself should be described here in some detail because the Babylonian tradition of the Deluge resembles the Biblical record more closely than any other Flood story ever discovered.
The Babylonian Flood story is part of a great epic, in which the hero Gilgamesh is described as going in search of eternal life. During his quest for the “herb of life” he visited the nether world. There he met Utnapishtim, the Babylonian hero of the Flood, who told him the story of the Deluge and of his deliverance from it, and how he had been given a place among the gods.
Utnapishtim had been king of Shuruppak on the Euphrates when the gods decided to destroy all people as a punishment for their sins. Utnapishtim was advised to break down his house and build a ship, whose measurements were given to him, and to take all kinds of living creatures with him into it. He was, however, commanded to deceive his fellow men by telling them that the god Marduk had cursed him, and that he could live no longer in Marduk’s territory, but must sail away from it. This point in the Babylonian story presents one of the greatest differences in comparison with the Biblical record. Instead of preaching to his fellow men during a period of many years, like Noah, the hero of the Babylonian tradition was used by the gods to deceive the antediluvians and thus make them easy victims of the coming destruction.
After Utnapishtim had built the ship and loaded it with provisions, animals, and his family, he handed its navigation over to the skipper Puzur-Amurri. Immediately the Flood began. The storm and flood were so tremendous that the gods themselves were alarmed by the catastrophe that they had brought on the world. “The gods were frightened by the deluge, and shrinking back, they ascended to the heaven of Anu. The gods cowered like dogs, crouched against the outer wall.”
The great storm lasted for six days and six nights, and blotted out all living beings, who “returned to clay.” When Utnapishtim saw the immense destruction he knelt down and wept. After another day an island came into view, and the ship touched the peak of Mt. Nisir. Utnapishtim waited a week, and sent a dove out on the seventh day. The dove returned to him, since there was no resting place for it. Then he sent a swallow out with the same results. The third bird, a raven, did not return; then Utnapishtim, recognizing that the earth had dried up, left the ark and offered a sacrifice. The gods smelled the savor of the sacrifice with delight. Later they rewarded him with immortality and placed him among the gods.
The story shows remarkable similarities with the Bible records (as found in Genesis and some New Testament passages) in general points and even in details. The following similarities can be listed: (1) The hero of the Flood, Noah in the Bible, and Utnapishtim in the Babylonian story, received a divine communication concerning the threatened Flood. (2) The Deluge was a divine judgment because of sins committed. (3) The favored hero had to build a ship and forsake his possessions in order to save his life. (4) He received an order to bring animals and his family into the ship. (5) Measurements of the ship were given as well as instructions for building it. (6) The hero obeyed and received a message for his fellow citizens, although the content of the messages is very different. (7) A command was given to enter the ship and mention is made of one door. (8) A terrifying storm and rain caused the Deluge. (9) All human beings not in the ship were destroyed. (10) The ship touched a mountain after the waters had receded. (11) Birds were sent out to get evidence concerning the drying up of the earth. (12) After the disembarkation a sacrifice was offered. (13) The sacrifice was accepted favorably by the deity.
Differences between the Bible and the Babylonian narrative are also in evidence. The following chief differences are noticeable: (1) The Bible record speaks of one God of righteousness, whereas the Babylonian story mentions many gods quarreling among themselves. (2) In the Bible Noah is called “a preacher of righteousness” hence it can be assumed that he warned the people of the approaching deluge and thus gave them an opportunity to be saved; in the Babylonian account the gods had the people “deceived” in order to destroy them. (3) The covenant between God and Noah, which forms an important part of the Biblical story, is missing in the Babylonian tradition, and (4) many minor differences exist in details. For instance, the measurements of the ark are different, as well as the sequence of the birds sent out, the name of the landing place, the time elements given, and other features of the two stories.
The similarities between the two stories are nevertheless close enough to warrant the conclusion that there exists some relationship between them. Three main theories have been advanced to account for this obvious relationship: (1) Many modern scholars have claimed that the Jews took over the Babylonian story during the Exile, and adapted it to their own way of thinking, a theory wholly unacceptable to those who believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis under divine inspiration about a thousand years before the Exile. (2) A few conservative scholars have suggested as a second alternative that the Babylonians might have taken over the story from the Hebrews. However, since the most ancient extant copies of the Gilgamesh epic antedate the Mosaic period by several centuries, this theory cannot be correct. (3) The third view, undoubtedly the correct solution of the problem, holds that both stories went back ultimately to the same source. The story of a universal Flood with the deliverance of one family lived on for many generations. When the Babylonians put it into writing the story had suffered corruption through its oral transmission and the polytheistic influence of Babylonian paganism. The Biblical story, on the other hand, was written down under inspiration, and shows therefore the pure and elevated spirit of a monotheistic author.
These facts account for most of the similarities and differences observed in the two stories. Inasmuch as the earliest history after the Flood was enacted near or in Mesopotamia, its inhabitants had a better knowledge of the Flood and preserved it in a comparatively purer form than the nations living in faraway countries. Another element was the fact that it was put into writing earlier in Mesopotamia than anywhere else. However, it is not superior but much inferior to the Bible story, as is evident to any one who reads both stories and compares them. The moral force of the Biblical story is almost completely missing in the Babylonian tradition. The Bible gives us history; the Babylonians changed a historical event into a legend.
In the winter of 1901-2 a French expedition working in the ruins of Biblical Shushan, where the Jewish girl Esther became queen of the Persian Empire (Esther 2:5–8 etc.), discovered an eighth-foot pillar of black diorite broken in three pieces. The whole monument was covered with 39 columns of inscriptions containing a total of 3,624 lines of laws. They had been collected and publicly displayed on this stone pillar by Hammurabi, a great Amorite king of the Babylonian Empire during the 18th century B.C., the time of the patriarchs. The discovery of this ancient collection of civil laws caused a great sensation in the theological world. The judicial system found in the Pentateuch had been assailed, since it was thought that in the time of Moses such a highly developed system could not have existed. But the law code of Hammurabi revealed that Mesopotamia possessed similar codes even before the time of Moses, laws which ultimately go back to the divine Lawgiver, although they had degenerated in the hand of pagan idolaters, as a careful comparison between the Biblical and Mesopotamian systems shows.
The law code of Hammurabi revealed furthermore that the way of life reflected in the patriarchal stories of the Bible agrees in many details with the conditions existing in the ancient Near East during the period of the patriarchs. It seems strange to us today that Sarah gave her slave girl to Abraham in order to obtain through a servant the offspring that God seemed to deny her by natural means (Gen. 16:1–3). But what she did was in complete agreement with common practices existing in her native country, where such a procedure was entirely legal, and the rights and duties of a maidservant elevated to the rank of concubine, and of the children borne by her were regulated by law (see Code of Hammurabi, secs. 144, 145, 170, 171). That Sarah acted within her legal rights when she punished Hagar for becoming overbearing when she saw that she would bear a child to her master (Gen. 16:4–6) is also proved by the provisions of section 146 of that famous law code of Hammurabi. Many more examples could be quoted to show how this exceptionally important discovery has shed light on the patriarchal period and has shown that the Biblical stories are trustworthy. This law code was the first great witness resurrected from the soil of Mesopotamia that revealed that the patriarchs had not been legendary figures but men of flesh and blood, and that the milieu in which they had lived—the had lived—the setting as given in the Biblical description—agreed completely with the now known facts.
When the Assyriologist Alfred Jeremias, a higher critic himself, studied the legal provisions of the Code of Hammurabi and compared them with the customs reflected in the patriarchal stories of the Bible, he came to the following remarkable conclusion:
“We have shown how the milieu [the setting] of the stories of the Patriarchs agrees in every detail with the circumstances of Ancient-Oriental civilisation of the period in question, as borne witness to by the monuments. … Well-hausen worked out from the opinion that the stories of the Patriarchs are historically impossible. It is now proved that they are possible. If Abraham lived at all, it could only have been in surroundings and under conditions such as the Bible describes. Historical research must be content with this. And Wellhausen may be reminded of his own words (Komposition des Hexateuch 346): ‘If it (the Israelite tradition) were only possible, it would be folly to prefer any other possibility’” (The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient East [New York, 1911], vol. 2, p. 45).
Much more evidence in the same sphere came to light during the above-mentioned excavations of Nuzi. One document declares that a man sold his future inheritance for three sheep to help him over a time of need. Who is not immediately reminded of Esau’s selling his birthright for a dish of red pottage (Gen. 25:33)? Other Nuzi texts present close parallels to Jacob’s experiences in Haran, and his relationship with Laban, his father-in-law; they also show that every daughter, like Leah and Rachel, received a handmaid as part of her dowry from her father when she was given in marriage (ch. 29:24, 29). The Nuzi texts have in this way furnished much material that helps us to understand the somewhat strange customs of that time, and to see clearly that the patriarchal stories are based on facts, and not on foggy tradition or legends.
W. F. Albright, in referring to this and other related archeological and textual material that has shed so much light on the patriarchal period, made the following significant statement:
“Eminent names among scholars can be cited for regarding every item of Gen. 11–50 as reflecting late invention, or at least retrojection of events and conditions under the Monarchy into the remote past, about which nothing was thought to have been really known to the writers of later days.
“The archaeological discoveries of the past geeration have changed all this. Aside from a few die-hards among older scholars, there is scarcely a single Biblical historian who has not been impressed by the rapid accumulation of data supporting the substantial historicity of patriarchal tradition” (“The Biblical Period” in The Jews; Their History, Culture, and Religion, ed., by Louis Finkelstein [New York, 1949], p. 3).
Another period that has richly gained in clarity by the discoveries made in Mesopotamia is the time of the kings of Judah and Israel. The first king of Israel mentioned in an Assyrian inscription is Ahab, a contemporary of the prophet Elijah. He is described by Shalmaneser III as having fought against the Assyrian king in the battle at Qarqar with 2,000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers, more than any of the other kings with whom Ahab was allied at that time. Jehu, another king of Israel, is later described by the same Assyrian king as having paid tribute. Other Israelite kings mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions are Jehoash, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea. Under the last-mentioned king Samaria was conquered and its population taken captive. This event also is described in some detail by an Assyrian king in his annals and monumental inscriptions.
Kings of Judah who appear in Assyrian inscriptions are Joash, Azariah, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Sennacherib of Assyria has left us his own account of his siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. While boasting that he had shut up the king of Judah (Hezekiah) in his capital city like a bird in a cage, he dared not claim the capture of Jerusalem or the king. Later, invading Judah again, his army suffered a humiliating catastrophe (mentioned three times in the Old Testament (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 32:21; Isa. 37:36). Sennacherib praised himself for his military achievements, but he would naturally pass over in silence the loss of his army in Palestine.
The Babylonian captivity of the young king Jehoiachin is attested by a number of apparently uninteresting receipts from Babylon, the capital city of Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. These tablets simply state that the king and his sons received their rations of oil from the palace storehouses. Many other texts throw light on the events of the period during which the Jews were in captivity, and after the restoration.
During the last world war there was found in the Berlin Museum a tablet that on examination proved to mention Mordecai, a high dignitary of Xerxes’ court in Susa, the Biblical Shushan. It became evident that the book of Esther contains a story that is not fictitious but deals with historical facts and persons.
Even uninteresting private business documents throw light on in the Biblical stories. From Nippur has come a collection of the accounting records of a great business concern, that of Murashu Sons, showing that the firm had dealt widely with Jews. Among them appear many who had come to honor and wealth under the rule of the Persian kings, illustrating clearly the correctness of the Biblical record that gives the same picture concerning the wealthy and honored position of many Jews after the Exile.
The afore-mentioned examples of discoveries shedding light on the Bible are only fragments of the mass of material from Mesopotamia that make the Bible live again. Almost every Assyrian, Babylonian, or Persian ruler mentioned in the Bible has been rediscovered in contemporary documents, so that we are well informed concerning their history. We have thus inscriptions of kings like Shalmaneser and Tilgath-pileser, Nebuchadnezzar and the long-lost Belshazzar, Cyrus and Darius the Great, Xerxes, and many others. Even officials whose names are given in the Bible, such as Nebuzar-adan (2 Kings 25:8) or Nergal-sharezer (Jer. 39:3), are met in the official documents of their time.