"The DH is now accepted by essentially all mainline and liberal theologians." (the Religious Tolerance site)For two hundred years the DH has been extremely popular among scholars. In recent years many people have criticised its methodology at a theoretical level, but nobody seems to have done the obvious thing: why not test its predictions?
"The Bible opens with two different creation stories. The accounts are similar in that they both describe the creation of animals, plants, and humans. But they are distinct in several ways and even contradict each other on key issues. For example, though the stories describe some of the same events, they order them differently. In Gen 1, God creates plants, then animals, and then simultaneously creates man and woman. In Gen 2, God creates a human, plants, then animals, and later he divides the human into female and male. Additionally, the two stories employ different names for the deity. The first account uses the Hebrew word Elohim, meaning 'God,' whereas the second uses the tetragrammaton, YHWH (often represented by 'Lord')." (David Bokoyov, "The Two Creations in Genesis")We can simplify this into three claims:
"And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26)
"And the LORD God [Yahweh Elohim] said, Behold, the man is become as one of us" (Genesis 3:22)Each nation had its own god, with one father god at the head. In the Ugaritic religion (for example), the head God was called "El", and he had seventy gods below him, one for each nation:
"At Ugarit we read in the Baal myth of 'the seventy sons of Asherah (Athirat) (KTU 1.4.VI.46). Since Asherah was El's consort, this therefore implies that El's sons were seventy in number. Now Deut. 32.8, which is clearly dependent on this concept, declares, 'When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of God.' The reading 'sons of God' (bene elohim) has the support of the Qunran fragment 4QDeut [and many other sources]. This is clearly the original reading, to be preferred to the MT's 'sons of Israel' (bene yisrael), which must have arisen as a deliberate alteration on the part of a scribe who did not approve of the polytheistic overtones of the phrase 'sons of God'. Interestingly, it is known that the Jews believed there to be seventy nations on Earth, so the sons of God were accordingly seventy in number. This emerges from the table of the nations in Genesis 10, where there are seventy nations, and from the later Jewish apocalyptic concept according to which there were seventy guardian angels of the nations." (John Day, "Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan", Bloomsbury, 2010, p.25)There was nothing fixed about which god was at the top. Sometimes the top god was replaced. For example, in the Babylonian creation story (the Enuma Elish), the original God who created the elohim was Apsu. The creation story tells how Ea killed Apsu and took his place. Then Apsu's co-creator Tiamat planned to take revenge. Then the young god Marduk defeated Tiamat and became top god. Similarly, in the Greek creation story, the original top god was Uranos. he was overthrown by a lesser god, Cronus, who became top god. He was in turn overthrown by a lesser god, Zeus, who became top god. The Bible hints at a similar story for Yahweh: Yahweh is like Marduk, and also like Baal: he defeats the sea gods to become top god:
"Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers." (Psalm 74:13-15)
"Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Thou hast broken Rahab [the sea monster] in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm." (Psalm 89:9-10)As Israel grew more monotheistic, elohim was interpreted as a single god with plural nature (whatever that means). But in the original texts the elohim were the seventy sons of God, one of whom was Yahweh. Yahweh was simply one of the elohim. So in the beginning the council of the gods made the Earth. Then the focus moves to Yahweh, one of the gods (that is Yahweh elohim), and then we often see him by his name Yahweh. So Elohim and Yahweh were not different individual gods from separate traditions. Elohim was the council of the gods, and Yahweh was one of those gods. For a text to make sense, to show where Yahweh came from, it had to feature both names. So the DH is wrong.
"In Gen 1, God creates plants, then animals, and then simultaneously creates man and woman. In Gen 2, God creates a human, plants, then animals" (David Bokoyov, "The Two Creations in Genesis")Here are the verses in question. First, from Genesis 1, before Elohim creates an Adam to have dominion:
"And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:20-26)And then, in Genesis 2, before Yahweh-Elohim creates an Adam as his servant:
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." (Genesis 2:1-3)So Yahweh-Elohim created the world, including water and plants. But they did not grow properly until a mist arose from the ground. The DH sees this as contradiction, and proof of two competing sources describing the same thing. Is the DH right? Let's see what the source documents say. This is the story of Enki and Ninhursanga, when they are placed in Dilmun, a garden like the garden of Eden. This takes place after the world was created: cities exist, lands exist, and the sea must also exist, because in the creation stories that always comes first. Everythign seems to exist in state ready to start but it is not yet started.
"Pure are the cities -- and you are the ones to whom they are allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Sumer -- and you are the ones to whom it is allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Pristine is Dilmun land. [...] In Dilmun the raven was not yet cawing, the partridge not cackling. The lion did not slay, the wolf was not carrying off lambs, the dog had not been taught to make kids curl up, the pig had not learned that grain was to be eaten. When a widow had spread malt on the roof, the birds did not yet eat that malt up there. The pigeon then did not tuck its head under its wing. No eye-diseases said there: "I am the eye disease." No headache said there: "I am the headache." No old woman belonging to it said there: "I am an old woman." No old man belonging to it said there: "I am an old man." No maiden in her unwashed state ...... in the city. No man dredging a river said there: "It is getting dark." No herald made the rounds in his border district. No singer sang an elulam there. No wailings were wailed in the city's outskirts there. Ninsikila said to her father Enki: "You have given a city. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given a city, Dilmun. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given ....... You have given a city. What does your giving avail me?" (from 'Enki and Ninhursanga')So the god Enki makes waters rise from the ground and then everything starts working:
"(Enki answered Ninsikila:) '"When Utu steps up into heaven, fresh waters shall run out of the ground for you from the standing vessels (?) on Ezen's (?) shore, from Nanna's radiant high temple, from the mouth of the waters running underground. May the waters rise up from it into your great basins. May your city drink water aplenty from them. May Dilmun drink water aplenty from them. May your pools of salt water become pools of fresh water. May your city become an emporium on the quay for the Land. May Dilmun become an emporium on the quay for the Land. [gap?] May the land of Tukric hand over to you gold from Harali, lapis lazuli and ....... May the land of Meluha load precious desirable cornelian, mec wood of Magan and the best abba wood into large ships for you. May the land of Marhaci yield you precious stones, topazes. May the land of Magan offer you strong, powerful copper, dolerite, u stone and cumin stone. May the Sea-land offer you its own ebony wood, ...... of a king. May the 'Tent'-lands offer you fine multicoloured wools. May the land of Elam hand over to you choice wools, its tribute. May the manor of Urim, the royal throne dais, the city ......, load up into large ships for you sesame, august raiment, and fine cloth. May the wide sea yield you its wealth. The city's dwellings are good dwellings. Dilmun's dwellings are good dwellings. Its grains are little grains, its dates are big dates, its harvests are triple ......, its wood is ...... wood.' At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, when Utu stepped up into heaven, from the standing vessels (?) on Ezen's (?) shore, from Nanna's radiant high temple, from the mouth of the waters running underground, fresh waters ran out of the ground for her. The waters rose up from it into her great basins. Her city drank water aplenty from them. Dilmun drank water aplenty from them. Her pools of salt water indeed became pools of fresh water. Her fields, glebe and furrows indeed produced grain for her. Her city indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. Dilmun indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, so it indeed happened." (from 'Enki and Ninhursanga')So Genesis is telling the same story as in 'Enki and Ninhursanga'. The gods create the world, with all its plants and cities, but nothing works until fresh water springs rise up to water the land. This reflects the birth of farming: without fresh water civilisation cannot happen. Genesis is quoting a single account, not two accounts, so once again the DH is wrong. It is true that Genesis combines many accounts, but not in the contradicting way that the DH assumes: Genesis works like a good historian, taking the best accounts available and trying to work out what really happened. For example, Genesis does relocates the story at Dilmun (probably an island in the Persian Gulf) to where the rivers all begin (in Anatolia). Anatolia is a more accurate guide to where civilisation really began: it is the setting for Gobekli Tepe (a temple from ten thousand BC), Catal Huyuk (a large town from eight thousand BC), and so on. The bottom line is that, when we compare the ancient documents, the DH is wrong and Genesis is right. Again.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26)After this point we start to hear about Yahweh Elohim, or "lord God". Yahweh elohim then creates a human (an Adam) to be his slave:
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. [...] And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man" (Genesis 2:7,15-16)Notice the difference: the first Adam is like the gods, and has dominion: he gives commands. The second Adam is merely from the dust, and is pushed around, he takes commands. But the DH insists that this is the same Adam, from different original sources, each of which only had one Adam. Let us check the source materials and see if the DH is right. This is the creation story from the Atrahasis account:
"When the gods were man they did forced labor, they bore drudgery. Great indeed was the drudgery of the gods, the forced labor was heavy, the misery too much: the seven great Anunna-gods were burdening the Igigi-gods with forced labor. [Lacuna] The gods were digging watercourses, canals they opened, the life of the land. [...] forced labor they bore night and day. They were complaining, denouncing, muttering down in the ditch: 'Let us face up to our foreman the prefect, he must take off our heavy burden upon us! Enlil, counsellor of the gods, the warrior, come, let us remove him from his dwelling! [They complain to the high god Enlil, and he has a solution: create humans to to do the work instead:] Belet-ili, the midwife, is present. Let her create, then, a human, a man, Let him bear the yoke! Let man assume the drudgery of the god. [...] Let Nintu mix clay with his flesh and blood. Let that same god and man be thoroughly mixed in the clay. Let us hear the drum for the rest of the time. From the flesh of the god let a spirit remain, let it make the living know its sign, lest he be allowed to be forgotten, let the spirit remain. The great Anunna-gods, who administer destinies, answered 'yes!' in the assembly." (from the epic of Atrahasis)The second part of this sounds like Genesis 2: man is made out of clay, he has the breath from a god (the words for spirit and breath are usually the same), the assembly of gods (the elohim) declare that it is good, and the man is given work to do so that the gods may rest. But what about the first part? Notice how there are higher gods and lower gods. Where did the lower gods come from? The first tablet of the Babylonian creation account explains:
"When the heavens above did not exist, And earth beneath had not come into being — There was Apsu, the first in order, their begetter, And demiurge Tia-mat, who gave birth to them all; They had mingled their waters together Before meadow-land had coalesced and reed-bed was to he found — When not one of the gods had been formed Or had come into being, when no destinies had been decreed, The gods were created within them: Lah(mu and Lah(amu were formed and came into being. While they grew and increased in stature Anšar and Kišar, who excelled them, were created. They prolonged their days, they multiplied their years. Anu, their son, could rival his fathers. Anu, the son, equalled Ansar, And Anu begat Nudimmud, his own equal." (The Enuma Elish, tablet 1)So the higher gods give birth to the lower gods. This is the same in all creation accounts: the Titans created the gods, Bor and Bestla created Odin, and so on. Also notice how, in the Babylonian creation accounts, the lower gods are described as men. They have to work for their living, and they don't like it. So the Genesis source materials have a two stage creation:
"When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then YHWH said, '"My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.' The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And YHWH was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So YHWH said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH." (Genesis 6:1-8, via Livius)Here is the rest of the chapter, the alleged "P" source:
"These are the Records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.' Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him." (Genesis 6:9-22, via Livius)Then we are back with the supposed "J" source again:
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." (Genesis 7:1)So that is the DH on genesis 6. The DH says an original text will have either Yahweh or Elohim, but not both. And the DH says that an original text will have only one reference to entering the ark. OK. So now let's look at the original text and see if the DH is right. Here is one of the original text versions of Genesis 6. It starts, like Genesis 6, with the reason for the flood.
Twelve hundred years had not gone by; the land had expanded and the people had multiplied. The land was bellowing like wild oxen, and the god was disturbed by their uproar. Enlil heard their noise and addressed the great gods: The noise of humankind is too loud for me, with all their uproar I cannot go to sleep. Cut off food supplies to the people, let plant-life to feed them be scarce; Above, let Adad withhold his rain, Below, let the flood not rise from the deep; let the wind blow and parch the ground; let the clouds thicken but only drop drips; let the fields lessen their yields, let Nisaba seal up her breast." (Epic of Atrahasis, tablet 2)So Enlil did not like the noise of the people, and caused a famine. Apparently this did not work, because Enki, one of the lesser gods, felt sorry for the people and allowed them some food. So Enlil moved to plan "B". he would just kill everybody with a flood instead. This again made some of the other gods sad: they did not want to kill all the people. But they were had to obey Enlil. This is from the Eridu account. (The accounts are fragmentary at the start, so we need to use different fragments. But we have enough fragments to know that all the accounts had the same story.)
"That day, Nintur wept over her creatures and holy Inanna was fill of grief over her people; but Enki took counsel with his own heart. An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga had the gods of heaven and earth swear by the names of An and Enlil." (Eridu Genesis line 81, via Livius)For the rest of the story we have a very complete account from Gilgamesh. Here is Gilgamesh, up to the end of what became Genesis chapter 6:
"I will reveal to you, Gilgamesh, a thing that is hidden, a secret of the gods I will tell you! Shuruppak, a city that you surely know, situated on the banks of the Euphrates, that city was very old, and there were gods inside it. The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood. Their Father Anu uttered the oath (of secrecy), Valiant Enlil was their Adviser, Ninurta was their Chamberlain, Ennugi was their Minister of Canals. Ea, the Clever Prince(?), was under oath with them so he repeated their talk to the reed house: 'Reed house, reed house! Wall, wall! O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubartutu: Tear down the house and build a boat! Abandon wealth and seek living beings! Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings! Make all living beings go up into the boat. The boat which you are to build, its dimensions must measure equal to each other: its length must correspond to its width. Roof it over like the Apsu." (Gilgamesh tablet 11, via AncientTexts.org)
"[T]he stitching together of these two flood narratives creates some awkward moments with the chronology of the current JP composite account. Besides the more obvious contradictions listed above [this refers to a perverse reading of Genesis 8], there are a number of details narrated twice: the corruption of humanity (6:5 [J]; 6:11-12 [P]), the decision to destroy (6:7 [J]; 6:13 [P]), the commission to enter the ark (7:1-3 [J]; 6:18-21 [P])" (from "Contradictions in the Flood Story")Let's examine each of these claims. First, the corruption of humanity, and decision to destroy them:
"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy ['machah', wipe out] man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy ['shacath', destroy by corrupting] them with the earth." (Genesis 6:1-13)Notice the very different stages, just as in Atrahasis.
"Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. [God the tells Noah how to make the ark, and Noah obeys.] And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark" (Genesis 6:14, 7:1)This is like in Gilgamesh: first the command to build the boat, and later the sign that the flood is about to happen right now:
"[Ea said] O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubartutu: Tear down the house and build a boat! Abandon wealth and seek living beings! Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings! Make all living beings go up into the boat. [Ea then tells him how to make the ark, and Utnapishtim obeys.] Shamash had set a stated time: 'In the morning I will let loaves of bread shower down, and in the evening a rain of wheat! Go inside the boat, seal the entry!' (Gilgamesh, tablet 11)In Gilgamesh this second command, the sign of the precise time that the flood began, was given by Shamash. Genesis changes that to Yahweh because Genesis does not name the other gods of the elohim. Note that both Shamash and Ea were involved: later we will see that most of the junior gods secretly supported Utnapishtim, so Genesis was right to say this was commanded by the elohim and not just by Yahweh.
"Just then Enlil arrived. He saw the boat and became furious, he was filled with rage at the Igigi gods: 'Where did a living being escape? No man was to survive the annihilation!' [...] La spoke to Valiant Enlil, saying: 'It is yours, O Valiant One, who is the Sage of the Gods. How, how could you bring about a Flood without consideration" (Gilgamesh tablet 11, via AncientTexts.org)The "igigi" gods were the young gods. The fact that Enlil later blesses Utnapishtim shows that Enlil, the top god, was forced to backtrack: he must have had little or no real support for his action. The other gods went along with the plan because of Enlil's great authority, but most of the council of the gods - the majority of the Elohim - secretly agreed with Ea. So Genesis is not pushing things too far to say "the gods" warned Utnapishim. Because Ea represent most of the gods' true feelings, even though the others did not dare speak up. The result of this debacle was that Enlil, great god of the Sumerians, lost his authority. Ea, the preferred god of the upstart Akkadians, took over. Akkadian culture replaced Sumerian culture. This is rather like how the Catholic church lost its authority in Ireland in modern times. Ireland was always staunchly Roman Catholic, until it became obvious that the church was defending the indefensible: paedophile priests. So the Catholic god, Jesus, lost his authority, and was replaced by a rival young god waiting in the wings: the hot young god called science. The Catholics had long claimed that science was just part of its own pantheon, and supported Jesus. For example, the Vatican has its own observatory and scientific publications, but preaches that science supports Jesus, not the other way round. But after the paedophile priest scandal, Jesus was no longer top god in Ireland, and science became top god. In the same way, after the flood scandal, Enlil was no longer top god in Mesopotamia and Ea became top god there. The author of Genesis followed Yahweh (Ea), so wrote the account to emphasise that all other gods followed Yahweh's lead. He implies that it was not just Ea who whispered to Utnapishtim, it was effectively the whole divine council. The whole Elohim (with the obvious exception of Enlil) was with Ea in spirit as Ea whispered next to that reed wall. Genesis also puts a morel spin on the reason for the flood: the noise was the noise of sinning! All of this shows that Genesis does not merely mash together contradictory accounts: it takes consistent accounts, and rewrites them to make another consistent account, where Yahweh looks as good as possible. So the Documentary Hypothesis is wrong again.
"as if they were different versions of the same underlying tradition." (Barry L. Bandstra, "Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible", p.59-60). Genesis 4 is assumed to be how the "J" source recorded and changed the tradition, since it mentions YHWH, and Genesis 5 is from the "E" source since it mentions Elohim, or even the "P" ("priestly") source since it later mentions YHWH as well. So the DH makes at least two claims for Genesis 4:
"And he called his [son's] name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." (Genesis 5:29)Note that Yahweh had cursed the land of Lamech, but the curse did not continue to his son: this implying a conflict between Yahweh and Lamech in particular. At this time violence that offended Yahweh became common:
"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." (Genesis 5:11)According to the Atrahasis version of the flood story, Noah himself (Atrahasis) led a rebellion against some gods.
"Atrahasis took the order, Gathered the elders to his door. Atrahasis made his voice heard And spoke to the elders: I have called the elders, the senior men! Start an uprising in your own house, Let the heralds proclaim... Let them make a loud noise in the land: Do not revere your gods, Do not pray to your goddesses" (From the Atrahasis epic)So it is very likely that the Seth Lamech was a violent man just like the Cain Lamech. The only difference is that the Cain Lamech was begotten of Methusael ("man of God") and the Seth Lamech was begotten of Methuselah ("man of the dart" or "man of death"). Given that a thousand years of history is contained in the word "begat", which must have been translated or inferred through several languages, this could easily refer to some other connection, such as adoption. Note that genesis refers to two lineages merging at this point:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:1-4)"This is further supported by the use of the name "Yahweh". In Genesis 4, Cain is a man "from Yahweh". And in Genesis 5, Adam's line is from Elohim, and Enoch walks with Elohim. But when Lamech appears, recall that we we once again have a reference to Yahweh:
"And he [Lamech] called his [son's] name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." (Genesis 5:29)Also recall that the story showed no interest in the previous generations, other than a brief mention that Enoch walked with Elohim. All of this leads to the following conclusions:
Twelve hundred years had not gone by; the land had expanded and the people had multiplied. The land was bellowing like wild oxen, and the god was disturbed by their uproar." (Epic of Atrahasis, tablet 2)
"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them [...] And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. [...] And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:1,3,5)This is normal in Genesis: extremely large numbers in the Babylonian account (often tens of thousands of years) become smaller numbers. Those extremely large numbers are how modern scholars translate Akkadian units like the "isten" (60), "susu" (60 x 60) and "sussaru" (60 x 60 x 60). But of course these numbers were passed on over centuries, or perhaps thousands of years, passing through different numbering systems. The Babylonians used a base 60 system, which is why even today we have sixty minutes in an hour, sixty seconds in a minute, three hundred and sixty decgrees in a circle, and so on. But today we use base 10. If we assume the number "10" is base sixty, then we write it get a number six times bigger than we expect. Or "100" gives us a number sixty times bigger. If we mix numbers, or if another group of people use a different system, the numbers looks crazily big to modern eyes. But the writer of Genesis, in 600 BC, had access to ancient texts that we do not have. And crucially, ancient Sumerian language was still used in the temples, so there were still living priests who could explain any undocumented quirks. So the Genesis numbers could be more accurate than our modern reading of the Sumerian numbers. Crucially, the Genesis numbers pass every test available. Shuruppak, the city of the flood, was destroyed exactly when Genesis says it was: 2350 BC. And while a brief flood does not leave many remains, Gilgamesh says it was also burned, and the remains clearly show burning. The new religion of Yahweh (Ea) then dominated the region, just as Genesis said. The start date of the genealogies, taking the tree of knowledge at 4000 BC, corresponds to the first proto-writing. Of course, small mistakes will always be made. Hence no two copies of the king list are identical. but so far the dates all fit the external evidence. The only problems with the numbers are superficial: the length of lives, and the phrase "A became the father of B" and "A died". But the first writing systems were memory aids, not fully developed alphabets, so the earliest records were almost certainly just names and numbers. They would rely on the priest to explain if they referred to individuals or to dynasties. The lengths of each "life" - between three hundred and nine hundred years - is typical for a dynasty of kings, or for a city between being founded and destroyed. The Genesis names certainly look more like descriptions than names. For example, of dynasties rather than individuals.
"1656 AM – The Flood occurred. – At that time, after the death of Methuselah, the Lord said to Noah, Go thou with thy household into the ark; behold I will gather to thee all the animals of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and they shall all come and surround the ark." (Sefer haYashar, 6:1)"1656 AM" ("anno mundi", the year of the world) refers to the number of years after Adam's birth or creation. That is, based on his age given in Genesis 5. This start date is obtained by starting with reliably known dates in ancient history, then using Biblical passages and other evidence to work backwards. The Sefer haYashar cares about dates because its purpose is to create a year by year history using the Bible and other traditions. References like "all the animals of the Earth" mean this must be dated after the older flood stories, but the amount of detail shows that the suthor is not merely paraphrasing the Bible. Ther length and detail indcate that it is a serious work of scholarship, and not a simple forgery. Because the longer and more detailed the forgery, the more likely it is to be discovered. Modern scholars think the Hebrew grammar indicates that it was compiled in the sixteenth century. But as a eork of serious scholarship it must have been based on much older sources. The work is of a much higher quality than other books that have claimed to be "the book of Jasher". For example:
"I have in my possession three different works that go by the title Sepher Hayasher or The Book of Jasher. This first is, of course, this book. The second is the 13th century ethical treatise that I mentioned earlier. It makes no claim to being the Biblical Jasher and would never be taken for it. The third book is widely recognized for the fraud that it is. It has been republished by the Rosicrucian Order. It claims to have been discovered by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, Abbot of Canterbury in the 8th century, while on a pilgrimage. It is the briefest outline of the first six books of the Bible, consisting of about 70 pages of large print. It contains no useful details, and only the barest account of the familiar Hebrew stories. It seems to have been prepared hastily and with little attention to detail. The most obvious feature is that it claims to be the work of a man named Jasher who was the son of Caleb and one of the Judges of Israel. This seems to be its entire reason for existence. It is clear that the author had no real knowledge of Hebrew and failed to recognize that Jasher is not a proper noun. It is not anybody's name. It rather carries the meaning of the upright book or the faithful record. Clearly this book is a fake. It has all the characteristics that you would expect to see in a forgery. It is very brief and contains no unique information except the one thing that is so absurd as to expose it as a hoax. So the contrast between that imitation and this book is very telling. It is easy to see which is genuine." (From an anonymous modern commentary).So if this Jasher was a fraud, it is by a careful scholar with access to many earlier sources. The point is that Ussher's chronology is sometimes dismissed as relying on key dates that sere basically guesses: a couple of ambiguous links in the chain of dates, or a desire to fit everything into six thousand years for dogmatic reasons. It is also often noted that the Masoretic numbers differ from the numbers in the Septuagint, and others who add up the numbers have come to different dates. But the reliance on Jasher shows that this is not merely one person picking numbers from the air. At the very least, this is a chain of careful and well informed scholars who have thought very carefully about how the numbers fit together, using the best evidence available. An example of the older sources is the book of Jubilees. As the name suggests, Jubilees is a list of every jubilee (a period of 49 years, seven weeks of years). It divides world history into blocks of 49 years since the creation, and then describes what events happened in each jubilee. So the author had to use many different historical souces, see how the dates fit together, and resolve any disagreements. Jubilees is in the Coptic Egyptian Bible, so would have been available to a serious scholar such as the author of the Sefer haYashar. Of course it is not perfect: there are mistakes in every work, and the moral teachings in Jubilees are sometimes reprehensible (the author seems to hate women), but it was written around 160 BC (and is included in the Dead Sea Scrolls) so its author had access to many texts that are now lost. The author of Jasher no doubt had other texts and traditions that we no longer have: modern scholars do not have every book ever written! The more old texts we have, the more likely we are to have clues about even earlier texts.