Camels Through Time

Archaeologists from Israel have determined through radiocarbon dating that the arrival of domesticated camels in the Middle East happened much later than the events in the Bible suggest.

In Genesis 12:10-20 Abram goes to Egypt to escape famine and he and his sister–er, wife–Sarai, have their infamous encounter with Pharaoh. In courting Sarai, Pharaoh gives Abram “servants” (that is, slaves) and animals, including camels. The trouble comes when Ussher’s biblical timeline is used. Ussher puts Abram/Abraham leaving for Egypt 1921 BCE. After he gets his camel gift, he returns to Bethel (in Israel), presumably with his camels. The study finds that the first domesticated camels didn’t arrive in Israel until almost a millennium later in 900 BCE.

Is this a big deal? In some ways yes. It challenges the notion that the Bible is perfect and infallible (which, even without this new tidbit of information it clearly is not). That’s only a subset of believers though, so I imagine the Jewish and Christian worlds will carry on as usually.

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