New Light On Genesis 14. -- By: G. B. Michell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 083:330 (Apr 1926)
Article: New Light On Genesis 14.
Author: G. B. Michell

New Light On Genesis 14.

G. B. Michell

An epoch-making discovery by Dr. Fotheringham, the Oxford Astronomer, which was announced by Mr. Stephen Langdon, Professor of Assyriology at Oxford, in a footnote to the preface of his work on “Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts. Vol. 2. The Weld-Blundell Collection. Vol. II.” (Oxford University Press, 1923), does not seem to have attracted the attention it deserves.

Until that discovery the date of the foundation of the “First Dynasty of Babylon” by Sumu-abu was accepted as B. C. 2225, and that for the beginning of the Isin dynasty as B. C. 2357, mainly on the authority of the astronomical calculations of Father Kugler, S. J., of the tablet of observations of the morning and evening appearances and disappearances of the planet Venus for the 21 years of the reign of Ammizaduga, tenth king of the first dynasty. These resulted in fixing the beginning of the reign of Ammizaduga in 1977. From this it followed that the reign of Hammurabi began in 2123 and it was possible to identify Hammurabi with “Amraphel, king of Shinar,” so far as the chronology was concerned.

This identification, however, was attended with many difficulties and tended rather to throw discredit on the Bible narrative of Chedorlaomer’s expedition against the Cities of the Plain. Hammurabi certainly was not slain in that expedition, nor was it easy to believe that he occupied such a subordinate position to the Elamites as to be drawn into following their King in such an undertaking. On the contrary, it was just about that time, according to the accepted chronology, that Hammurabi repelled an Elamite attack (in his 30th year), and in the following year he conquered and slew Rim-Sin the Elamite king of Larsa and of Emutbal, the western district of Elam.

Now Dr. Fotheringham has carefully recalculated the whole of the data and has found that Kugler’s date must be given up, as it is astronomically impossible. He “now maintains that only the year 1916–15 is possible for the

sixth year of Ammizaduga. He says that by introducing his values for the apparent acceleration of the Sun and assuming a proportionate acceleration for Venus, Venus was not visible in the evening of the 3rd day before the new moon on the 1st of Kislev, 1972–1. In other words, in the evening of January 5th (Gregorian) Venus was not visible, if the new moon was seen January 8th. He finds that only the astronomical year —1914 (1915 B. C.) is possible. He now states definitely that 1922–1 alone satisfies the astronomical tablet, and makes that year begin about March 31st (Gregorian). His calculations are of very great importance, for they prove that the recent tende...

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