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The Biblical patriarch Abraham anchors the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faith around a single prehistoric figurehead. According to the Hebrew Bible, Abraham was a Bronze Age nomad who secured a covenant with God that resulted in the birth of Israel and is celebrated today as a patriarch of the Jewish nation. Abraham’s sons meanwhile, Isaac and Ishmael, are said to be the roots from which Judaism’s and Islam’s followers stem, respectively.
And though many historians and scholars argue Abraham was not a historical figure, but rather a literary one, a scripture expert has put forward archaeological discoveries that he believes can prove the Bible right.
Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, told Express.co.uk there is historical proof validating Abraham’s family tree, as described in the Bible.
By extension, Professor Meyer believes the evidence validates the Biblical narrative as a source of historical knowledge.
The Bible expert has previously shared his insight into the possible final resting place of Israel’s founding father, Jacob.
He now said: “Archaeological objects have been discovered that demonstrate the historical reliability of the Bible, more specifically the historicity of Abraham’s family tree.
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“These objects bear inscriptions of places named after the obscure ancestors of Abraham mentioned in the Bible.
“The custom of naming places after historical people is both a modern and ancient one.
“For example, Victoria, London was named after Queen Victoria, and Edison, New Jersey was named after Thomas Edison.”
According to the expert, the Biblical genealogy of Abraham spans a period of about 300 years.
The oldest name mentioned in Abraham’s family tree is that of Shem, the son of Noah.
Professor Meyer said: “According to the Bible, Abraham was called by God to leave his home at Ur in ancient Mesopotamia – located in modern-day southern Iraq – and to go to a place that God would show him; the Bible later tells us that the land which God promised was Canaan.
“But the family of Abraham only made it to a place named Harran, perhaps due to the frail health of Abraham’s father, Terah – and perhaps that of his grandfather, Nahor – who joined him on the journey.
“After Terah’s death, the Bible tells us that the extended family of Abraham stayed behind and settled in the region of Harran and began to establish cities while Abraham would go on with his wife, Sarah, and cousin, Lot, to Canaan.”
The Bible says Abraham’s grandfather went on to found the city of Nahor, which was named after him.
Although the city itself has not been discovered, Professor Meyer said its name appears in two extrabiblical sources.
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Nahor is first mentioned on the so-called Mari Tablets, a 19th to 18th century BC clay tablets discovered in the ancient city of Mari in what is modern-day Syria.
The tablets were penned in the ancient Akkadian language and contain a wealth of information about the kingdom and the people who lived there.
The second source naming Nahor are 14th-century Assyrian tablets.
Professor Meyer has also highlighted the discovery of Abraham’s Gate – a 4,000-year-old structure in Israel, which many believe Abraham walked through.
Professor Meyer believes there is more evidence of Abraham’s family tree buried somewhere in the Middle East, and that is the city of Terah.
Founded by Abraham’s father, Terah, the city is mentioned in a ninth century BC Assyrian text some 1,300 years after the city was supposedly founded.
The text names the suburb north of Haran as the Mound of Terah and the place where the family settled.
Professor Meyer said: “Extrabiblical discoveries mentioning cities named after Abraham’s obscure ancestors once again demonstrate that the historical accuracy of the Bible stands up to the keenest scrutiny.”
But even with these clues in mind, not all historians agree Abraham was a real figure.
Canadian scholar John Van Seters, for instance, argued in his book Abraham in History and Tradition that the Biblical patriarchs were drawn up based on the beliefs and customs of Iron Age people.
Author William G. Dever also wrote in 2002: “After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible ‘historical figures.'”
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