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harmony by representing Potiphar as both Joseph's master and also captain of the guard.1

1 I have marked chapters xxxix. and xl. of Genesis, which contain the account of Joseph in prison, with initials indicating the work respectively of the Jahvist, the Elohist and the Redactor or Editor.


IT is not too much to say that modern excavations in Babylonia have revolutionized our conceptions of the early history of the Jews. The general supposition in the eighteenth century was that the Old Testament was the earliest available record of civilization in the East, and that the Hebrews represented the earliest civilized nationality. Since the discoveries of Dr. George Smith, Mr. de Morgan, Mr. Boscawen and others in Babylonia, those of Mr. Petrie and Dr. Budge in Egypt, and the subsequent deductions which have been drawn from them, no other conclusion is possible than that the Hebrews were quite a young race compared with the Babylonians and the Egyptians. Chronology carries back the beginnings of civilization to dates previous to 5000 B.C.: indeed, the estimated date of the foundation of the Temple of Bel at Nippur is put before 6000 B.C. Of these two great early civilizations, the Babylonian and the Egyptian, it is curious to observe that the former had far greater influence on the Hebrews than the latter. If we had only the stories in Genesis and Exodus to go by, we should naturally imagine that the Hebrews must have learnt a good deal during their residence in Egypt. But it is not so. There are not many evidences connecting the early Israelite faith with the Egyptian. To take only one instance. There are no Angels in the Egyptian theology, and the Angels and Messengers of Jahveh appear constantly in the Old Testament. Babylonia, however, exercised a steady, potent and enduring influence upon the Israelites, almost from the beginning to the end of their national history.

As early as about 2250 B.C. there existed, according to the results of archæological study, on the Euphrates and Tigris, a highly-developed culture in the Babylonian Lowland, a district about the size of Italy. Earlier than this date we

move only amongst mists. But we know vaguely that in this same Lowland there first existed a primeval race, neither Indo-germanic nor Semitic, which we call the Sumerians or the "Accadians." To them succeed the Semitic Babylonians, with whom history first concerns itself from 3800 B.C. onwards. In 2500 B.C. we have we have the reign of a King Hammurabi, the contemporary of Abraham, supposed to appear under the name Amraphel, King of Shinar, in that strange fourteenth chapter of Genesis, in which Abraham is depicted as a warrior fighting with powerful Kings from the East. Now Hammurabi was the author of a code of Laws, known by his name, and in this code we find enactments precisely similar to those embodied in the Laws of Moses.1 When the Israelites were only a nomad race, Babylonia was a civilized country, with a definite organization of political and social life, with a civil code, with a peculiar writing which we find on the cuneiform inscriptions, with astronomical knowledge and a considerable artistic development. When we divide the Zodiac into twelve signs and call them the Bull, the Twins, the Ram, etc., when we divide the circle into 360°, the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds, we are doing what the Babylonians did about 5000 years ago.

Let us take a few definite instances of the Babylonian influence upon the Hebrews:

(i) The story of the exposure of Moses in the ark of bulrushes is the story of a King Sargani, one of the oldest of the Babylonian rulers yet known, belonging to the third or perhaps the fourth millennium B.C.

(ii) The Hebrew story of Creation in Genesis, chapter i., is derived from a Babylonian creation epic, written upon seven tablets and discovered in 1872 by G. Smith, in the library of Assurbanipal at Nineveh, the exploits of Marduk, the supreme God of Babylon, being transferred to the God of Israel.

1 See Delitzsch, Babel and Bible, English translation, 1903, pp. 34 and 186.

(iii) The story of Noah's flood is derived from the Babylonian deluge story, also written on tablets and found in the same library. In this case we know that the Babylonians possessed a legend of a flood from a certain Berossus, a Babylonian priest who lived about 300 B.C. and compiled a work on Babylonian History. Babylonia was especially the land of floods, the alluvial lowlands along the course of all great rivers discharging into the sea being usually subject to cyclones, tornadoes and deluges. The Babylonian Noah, called Xisuthros or Ut-napishtim, receives a command from the God of the Ocean to build a ship of a specified size, and to carry in it his family and all living seed. He does what he is told, the doors of the ship are closed, and he tosses about upon the billows until at length the vessel strands upon a mountain called Nizir. Then follows the episode of the dove, and finally, when land has appeared again, Xisuthros offers upon the top of the mountain a sacrifice. The story was transplanted to Palestine, but unfortunately it was forgotten that the local conditions in Babylonia and in Canaan are quite different, so that the account given in Genesis is now declared to be scientifically impossible.

(iv) Similarly the story of Man's fall in the Garden of Eden is to be paralleled in Babylon. There is an old Babylonian cylinder seal, in which we find in the middle a tree with hanging fruit. On the right sits a man, on the left a woman, both stretching their hands out to the fruit, and behind the woman is a serpent. It may also be remarked that the site of Paradise, with its four rivers, of which the Tigris and the Euphrates are two, points decisively to Babylonia.

(v) More doubtfully, the weekly Sabbath came from the same source. The Babylonians appear to have had a Sabbath Day (Sabattu), on which no work was to be done, celebrated on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th days of a month.

(vi) The Lex talionis, that is to say, the ordinance, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," existed in Babylonian law.

(vii) Even the very word which designates the Hebrew


God is by some authorities traced in Babylonian records. At all events, there are three small clay tablets in the British Museum which belong to the age of Hammurabi, and contain three names, Ja-a-ve-ilu, Ja-ve-ilu, Ja-u-um-ilu, which seem to mean "Jahveh is God." There is some doubt about this, however.

There are many other links of connection especially based on the legal and ethical code, but the evidences given are enough to show how close is the correspondence between Babylonian and Hebraic thought. No doubt is possible as to which came first, for the Assyrian civilization is much older than the Jewish. Hence the conclusion follows that the priestly writers, when they were editing their ancient records, found a large number of existing beliefs, myths and observances borrowed from their Eastern neighbours. When and how this influence was exerted is easy to explain. The Bible itself contains references to an early connection. Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis xi. 28). The ancestors of the Hebrews are said to have dwelt beyond the river, that is to say, the Euphrates, and "served other Gods" (Joshua xxiv. 2). When the El-Amarna tablets were discovered in the winter of 1887, between Thebes and Memphis, it was found that they contained letters of Babylonian and Mesopotamian Kings to the Pharaohs Amenophis III. and IV., and communications from Canaanite cities such as Tyre and Sidon to the Egyptian Court. There are also letters written from Jerusalem before the immigration of the Israelites into the Promised Land, which exist in the Berlin museums. Now the fact that the chiefs of Canaan avail themselves of the Babylonian language and write on clay tablets, somewhere between 2200 and 1400 B.C., proves the omnipotent influence of Babylonia, so that when the Twelve Tribes of Israel invaded Canaan they came to a land largely permeated with Babylonian culture. It is at least a significant fact that when the first Canaanite city, Jericho, was captured, a Babylonish mantle excited the greed of Achan (Joshua vii. 21). Probably Babylonish ideas were first naturalized among the Canaanites, and then transmitted from

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