Home » Biblical studies » The Problem with Camels and the Old Testament

The Problem with Camels and the Old Testament

camels

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob. But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE).

 

Whenever you read a Bible or a children’s Bible with illustrations, you’re bound to come across images of camels alongside Abraham, Issac, or Jacob.  We take this for granted most of the time.

The New Bible Dictionary: 3rd Edstates,

In Scripture, camels are first mentioned in the days of the Patriarchs (c. 1900 – 1700 BC) [a bit different from the caption above].  They formed part of the livestock wealth of Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 12:16; 24:35; 30:43; 32:7, 15) and also of Job (1:3, 17; 42:12).  On only two notable occasions are the Patriarchs actually shown using camels as transport: when Abraham’s servant went to Mesopotamia to obtain a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:10), and when Jacob fled from Laban (Gen. 31:17,34)- neither an everyday event.  Otherwise, camels are attributed only to the Ishmaelites/Midianites, desert traders, at this time (Gen. 37:25).  This very modest utilization of camels in the patriarchal age corresponds well with the known rather limited use of camels in the early 2nd millenium BC. (p. 160)

 

However, recent archaeological and scientific studies provide new evidence that suggests that camels were domesticated in the regions associated with the biblical Patriarchs centuries later than is portrayed in the biblical accounts.

This research and issues with the domestication of camels is not new news and has been known for some time now.

This research is interesting when trying to place a time-frame on when and where the Pentateuch was written and compiled.

How science and biblical studies converge – read the article here.

 

 

 

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