Better archaeological model for Abraham



 Damien F. Mackey


At first glance, the Middle Bronze I phase of archaeology might appear to be a most appropriate phase for the great Abraham, given that it was a nomadic phase, and has been dated to c. 2000 BC – the biblically calculated time, approximately, for Abraham – and also that it had been identified by celebrated early scholars as the time of Abraham.

The truth is, however, we can do much better than that.





Apart from the above factors ostensibly in favour of Middle Bronze I’s being the suitable period for Abraham there is the further potential pillar in support of it that king Hammurabi of Babylon, a favoured (especially in the early days) candidate for Abraham’s contemporary, Amraphel king of Shinar (Genesis 14:1), has been dated to c. 1750 BC, within range of the Middle Bronze I Age (2000-1750 BC).

Owing to the fact that patriarch Abraham was located by such luminaries as Drs. Nelson Glueck and W. F. Albright to the phase of Palestinian archaeology known as Middle Bronze I [MB I], that period, in the words of Dr. J. Osgood, “has since been indelibly associated with the time of Abraham in the minds of many” (“The Times of Abraham”: But, as Osgood continues, despite that MB I fits the conventional dating, and that it may have been a nomadic phase, “placement of Abraham in the Middle Bronze I Age has nothing more positive than that to offer”.

What conventional scholars in the past have tended to do is to calculate biblically the dates for Abraham and then to align these with the standard dates for Mesopotamia.

And that process appears to be continuing today.

Thus we read in Matt McClellan’s “Abraham and the Chronology of Ancient Mesopotamia” (


There are other ways of dating Abraham including the use of the popular date of 1446 for the Exodus and 645 years between Abraham and the Exodus. Using this method one will date Abraham’s 75th year in the year 2091 during the Ur III period. It is during this period that Gleason Archer has placed Abraham (Archer 2007, p. 183). With 430 years between Abraham’s 75th year and the Exodus he would have arrived in Canaan in the year 1876 during the Isin-Larsa period like Kitchen dates him. Alfred Hoerth, in his Archaeology and the Old Testament, uses this method to date Abraham to this period (Hoerth 1998, pp. 58–59).


Using Ussher’s date of 1491 for the Exodus and 645 years Abraham would have entered Canaan in the year 2136 during the reign of the Gutium. Using 430 years would place the same event in 1921 during the Isin-Larsa period. To make things even more complicated many scholars seem to date Abraham (and the other patriarchs) to the Middle Bronze Age without being specific on whether Abraham lived during Ur III or Isin-Larsa (Albright 1963, pp. 4, 7; Bright 1981, p. 83; LaSor, Hubbard and Bush 1996, pp. 41–43; Rooker 2003, pp. 233–235).5 ….

[End of quote]


Normally one will find that, prior to, say, the C8th BC approximately, the conventional history is well out of kilter with the biblical history. In the case of the Ur III dynasty, however, which some consider to be contemporaneous with Abraham, the unusual situation may actually be that these two histories are in fact closely synchronous. Revisionist scholar, David Rohl – presumably following Herb Storck (see below) – has accepted this syncretism between the two and has proceeded to identify Abraham’s contemporary, Amraphel of Shinar, with Ur III’s Amar-Sin (c. 1980 BC, conventional dating).

Despite the likes of Kenneth Kitchen arguing that the Genesis 14 coalition of kings would have to have occurred at a time in Mesopotamian history when, in the words of McClellan “no individual dynasty had complete control over the region” (Kitchen wrote on this):


However, by contrast with the Levant, this kind of alliance of eastern states was only possible at certain periods. Before the Akkadian Empire, Mesopotamia was divided between the Sumerian city-states, but this is far too early for our narrative (pre-2300). After an interval of Gutian interference, Mesopotamia was then dominated by the Third Dynasty of Ur, whose influence reached in some form as far west as north Syria and Byblos. After its fall, circa 2000, Mesopotamia was divided between a series of kingdoms, Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, Assyria, etc., with Mari and various local powers in lands farther north and west. This situation lasted until the eighteenth century, when Hammurabi of Babylon eliminated most of his rivals. From circa 1600/1500 onward, Assyria and Babylon (now under Kassite rule) dominated Mesopotamia, sharing with none except briefly Mitanni (ca. 1500 to mid-thirteenth century) within the Euphrates’ west bend, and the marginal Khana and Sea-land princedoms were eliminated in due course. Thus, from circa 2000 to 1750 (1650 at the extreme), we have the one and only period during which extensive power alliances were common in Mesopotamia and with its neighbors (Kitchen 2003, p. 320) [,]


I think it is quite possible that this coalition could have consisted of two dominant rulers, Amraphel and Chedorlaomer of Elam, and two of their governors.

Did not the neo-Assyrian kings later boast that their ‘governors were all kings’?

Thus the two other coalitional kings listed in Genesis 14:1, “Arioch king of Ellasar”, and “Tidal king of Goyim”, were likely of secondary status by comparison with Amraphel and Chedorlaomer, and may thus have been only local rulers, e.g., ensi-governors. Herb Storck has made some potentially important observations regarding these two characters, Erioch and Tidal, in his article, “The Early Assyrian King List, The Genealogy of the Hammurapi Dynasty, and the ‘Greater Amorite’ Tradition” (C and AH Proceedings 3, 1986).

Here I reproduce a summary I made of the relevant parts of this article back in 2002:


Storck’s identification of the name 16 [in Assyrian King List: AKL], Ushpia (Ishbak), with the “Ushpia … known to have built at Ashur, according to a later tradition by Shalmaneser”, and his dating of this Ushpia “as a later contemporary of Abraham … [to] the later part of Ur III dynasty” now encourages me to try to identify members of the Mesopotamian coalition of Genesis 14 during Ur III, at the time of Abraham. Since Storck has already dealt with these four kings in part, I shall begin where he does, with Arioch of Ellasar [p. 45. Storck had already noted, with reference to Poebel, that the name Azarah might be composed of a Western Semitic (WS) form, “to come forth” and WHR “moon” (month)]:

A certain Arioch of Ellasar, furthermore, is cited as one of the four kings against five. This Arioch may provisionally be identified with Azarah if “WRH” moon (month) is closer to the original etymology. Ellasar has received various treatments over the years: Larsa al sarri or “city of the King”, Til Assuri, “the country of Assyria” and/or “the city of Assur ….The connection between Ellasar is explained as a derived form of A LA-SAR, an ideogram denoting the city of Assyria” …. That “Assur” is meant here may receive further support if the connection with Arioch-Azarah is defensible. However, to the best of our knowledge A LA SAR is not an attested reading for Assur. We therefore suggest that it was heard as “alu Assur” and “Ellasar” is an attempt to render this, based on oral transmission.

Now in the later part of the Ur III dynasty era – the era for Abraham according to Storck’s view – at the time of Amar-Sin of Ur (c. 2046-2038 BC, conventional dating), we read of an official of Ashur who may well be this Arioch/Azarah. He is Zariqum. I quote regarding him from the Cambridge Ancient History [Vol. I, pt. 2 (3rd ed.), p. 602]: “From Ashur itself comes a stone tablet dedicated by Zariqum, calling himself governor of Ashur, ‘for the life of Amar-Sin the mighty, king of Ur, king of the four regions’, whereby it is certain that Ashur was a vassal-city of Ur under its next king”.

The name Zariqum contains the main elements of both Arioch (ariq) and Azarah (zari), thus supporting Storck’s view that these are the same names, and further linking the king lists and the Bible. But this quotation may tell us more with regard to the coalition. It in fact gives us the name of the Sumerian ruler whom Zariqum served: Amar-Sin (var. Amar-Su’en).


The best that I can say at this stage is that Ur III is a most promising era for the time of Abraham who indeed hailed from “Ur of the Chaldees” (Genesis 11:31).



Both the Middle Bronze I archaeological era, and King Hammurabi of Babylon,

must now be rejected as corresponding to the time of Abraham.




We can immediately take King Hammurabi right out of calculations as being a possible Mesopotamian contemporary of Abraham’s, as Hammurabi was, instead, a contemporary of kings David and Solomon, about a millennium later than Abraham. See my:


Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon


That would mean that Hammurabi properly belonged to, archaeologically speaking, the early Late Bronze Era, and not to Middle Bronze.

And those who would think to identify Abraham and his Hebrew family amongst the nomadic Middle Bronze I [MBI] people are looking in the wrong place, too, for the patriarch. The MBI people were clearly the nomadic Israelites, following an Exodus route and carrying Egyptian artefacts – all that about half a millennium after Abraham.


Correct Archaeology for Abraham:

A: Palestine


Since Dr. J. Osgood, and he alone, has completely nailed it, there is no need to do any more here than simply to quote the relevant part of his article, “The Times of Abraham”. Osgood, having archaeologically traced the invasion of the four kings to Late Chalcolithic En-gedi, writes: (


The remarkable thing about this [Late Chalcolithic] culture also was that it was very similar, if not the same culture, to that found at a place in the southern Jordan Valley called Taleilat Ghassul (which is the type site of this culture), and also resembles the culture of Beersheba. The culture can in fact be called ‘Ghassul culture’ and specifically Ghassul IV.


The Ghassul IV culture disappeared from Trans Jordan, Taleilat Ghassul and Beersheba and the rest of the Negev as well as from Hazezon-tamar or En-gedi apparently at the same time. It is remarkable when looked at on the map that this disappearance of the Ghassul IV culture corresponds exactly to the areas which were attacked by the Mesopotamian confederate of kings. The fact that En-gedi specifically terminates its culture at this point allows a very positive identification of this civilization, Ghassul IV, with the Amorites of Hazezon-tamar.


If that be the case, then we can answer Bar Adon’ question very positively. The reason the people did not return to get their goods was that they had been destroyed by the confederate kings of Mesopotamia, in approximately 1,870 B.C. in the days of Abraham.


Now as far as Palestine is concerned, in an isolated context, this may be possible to accept, but many might ask: What about the Mesopotamian kings themselves? Others may ask: What does this do to Egyptian chronology? And still further questions need to be asked concerning the origin of the Philistines in the days of Abraham, for the Philistines were closely in touch with Abraham during this same period (Genesis 20). So we must search for evidence of Philistine origins or habitation at approximately the end of the Chalcolithic (Ghassul IV) in Palestine. All these questions will be faced.

[End of quote]


Much earlier than the MBI age, when the Exodus Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, four eastern kings swept through the Palestine of Abram’s (Abraham’s) day, destroying the Late Chalcolithic phase of En-gedi and the contemporaneous Amorite Ghassul IV culture which now ceased to exist.


Abraham’s contemporary East

(a) Laying entirely new foundations



With Hammurabi of Babylon now revised significantly downwards, to the Late Bronze Age, the era of kings David and Solomon of Israel – and thereby becoming an impossibility for being Abraham’s contemporary, Amraphel of Shinar – what new historico-archaeological eastern scenario can we put in place to fit with our revised scenario for the time of Abraham?




The task here is far from being an easy one.


But thanks to the sterling efforts of Dr. John Osgood, as we considered these in Part Two, a most positive start has been made towards determining the archaeological phases in Palestine, at least, to be associated with the life of Abram (Abraham). This was no small step as scholars generally have completely muddled the situation by confusing the nomadic (Exodus) Israelites, the Middle Bronze I [MBI] people – of a period obviously much later than Abraham’s – with the nomadic Abraham and his family.

A vital synchronism was achieved by Dr. Osgood between Abraham and the four invading eastern kings of Genesis 14 when Osgood was able to identify the Late Chalcolithic phase of the site of En-gedi (or Hazezon-tamar) with some of the destruction wrought by the invading kings, and then correlate it with Ghassul IV culture, which he could now identify as Amorite.

This means that we are no longer flying blind with regard to sighting the time of Abraham. Having the archaeological foundations now firmly laid in Palestine, the task of determining who might have been Abraham’s eastern contemporaries (e.g., those four invading kings) – {and later we shall also be considering his Egyptian contemporaries} – becomes so much easier.

Now, at least, we have some distinct points of reference.

Having said that, I repeat what I wrote at the beginning:


The task here is far from being an easy one.


That will become apparent as we proceed with what must be considered, at this stage, a tentative reconstruction of Abraham’s eastern contemporaries and their associated cultures.


Biblical “Land of Shinar”


A complication arises immediately.

Genesis 14:1 begins as follows: “At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar …”.

Now, we have all thought that we knew what the Book of Genesis meant when it referred to “Shinar”, e.g., Genesis 11:2: “As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there”. Surely it is Sumer (southern Mesopotamia). That has been the standard view. Well, Creationist writer Anne Habermehl has turned things completely upside down by showing that “Shinar” was not actually Sumer at all, but rather NE Syria (Sinjar):


Where in the World Is the Tower of Babel?


Thanks to her, at last, we have a realistic chance of finding the elusive city of Akkad (Agade), which has so far defied archaeologists thinking that this capital city must lie somewhere in the land of Sumer.

Habermehl’s own preference for Akkad is the important site of Tell Brak in Syria.


Because of the new and improved archaeological scenarios as provided by, now Dr. Osgood, and now, Anne Habermehl, the ‘goal posts’ have been radically shifted – but entirely for the better. This means that we now have a far more satisfactory foundational platform upon which to erect a revised history and archaeology for the great patriarch Abraham.


Abraham’s contemporary East

(b) Considering Elam




With Abram (Abraham) now firmly set in Palestine’s Late Chalcolithic and Ghassul IV phase – and not in the Middle Bronze I Age as has been thought – we now stand upon a more secure foundation from which to estimate the patriarch’s contemporaneous eastern civilisations.  




The leaders of the eastern coalition of four kings were apparently Amraphel of Shinar and Chedorlaomer of Elam. Genesis 14:1 is headed by the former: “At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar …”. But Chedorlaomer seems to have held dominion over the region of Pentapolis, of whose kings it is written (v. 4): “For twelve years they had been subject to Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled”.



Archaeologically, then, we would need to be looking for a period of early eastern history corresponding to Ghassul IV in Palestine. And, whilst previously one might have thought to correlate this to a time when Sumer, traditionally identified with biblical “Shinar”, was allied with a powerful Elam – {and these two were not traditional allies} – we now instead identify “Shinar” with NE Syria.

Dr. John Osgood, who has so far led us upon a secure path by connecting Abraham archaeologically to Ghassul IV, will now endeavour to link that up with Mesopotamia, with mention also of Egypt. Osgood was writing before Anne Habermehl’s important identification of “Shinar” with NE Syria (Sinjar), rather than Sumer. So, whilst what follows may be important from the point of view of Chedorlaomer of Elam, it may not properly account for the Shinarian (revised) aspect of the coalition.

Dr. Osgood wrote (“The Times of Abraham”:

The Mesopotamian complex of Chedor Laomer


Ghassul IV corresponds in Mesopotamia to the period known as the Jemdat-Nasr/ Uruk period, otherwise called Protoliterate (because it was during this period that the archaeologists found the first evidence of early writing). Ghassul IV also corresponds to the last Chalcolithic period of Egypt, the Gerzean or pre-Dynastic period (see Figure 7). Let us look, therefore, at both of these geographically and archaeologically, and see what we find.


Figure 7. Correlation of national archaeological periods.


Uruk is so called because it refers to a culture associated with the archaeological site called Warka (Uruk of Mesopotamian history or biblical Erech – Genesis 10:10) in the land of Sumer or biblical Shinar (see Figure 8), and we note that one of the kings of the Mesopotamian confederacy came from Shinar, namely Amraphel.


Jemdat Nasr is a site in northern Sumer, northeast of Babylon (see Figure 8). It is a site that was found to have a pottery with similarities to the culture of Elam and corresponding in time to the later phases of the Uruk culture.


We have in Mesopotamia, therefore, archaeological evidence that there was a period in which the Uruk culture, and an Elamite culture typified by Jemdat Nasr, were in some sort of combination, and this corresponds to the period in Palestine when the Ghassul culture disappeared. The writing of this period does not allow us to recognise at this point any particular kings from contemporary records for it is undeciphered, but all that is known archaeologically is in agreement with the possibility of a combine of nations of the description of Genesis 14 existing. Considering the war-like attitudes of Sumer and Elam in later years this is all the more remarkable, for no other period of Sumer/Elamite relationship accepts the possibility of such a semi-benevolent relationship.

Figure 8. Location of Uruk, Jemdat Nasr and other important sities in Mesopotamian history.


Anne Habermehl though, consistent with her view that “Shinar” represents, not Sumer, but the region of NE Syria, has looked to locate the biblical “Erech” further to the west of the southern Mesopotamian city of Uruk. Her revised geography had already made it possible for the identification of the famous city of Akkad (Agade) – her own choice being Tell Brak – which great city has never been found in Sumer.

Regarding Erech, Habermehl offers the following possible location in her revised setting


There are historical indications of a city in the Khabur triangle area in the north of Syria that could have been the biblical Erech. Called “Urakka” in various Assyrian sources, it is mentioned by Astour (1968, 1993), Olmstead (1921), and Postgate (1974). Urakka is shown on the online map of the Assyrian Empire (Parpola 1987), near the modern city of Amuda in Syria, almost on the Turkish border (see fig. 3). There is an ancient mound 6 km (3 miles) south of Amuda, called Tell Aqab, that could possibly be this Urakka; excavations carried out on Aqab show it to have roots in great antiquity (Davidson and Watkins 1981). Looking at Urakka/Aqab from the point of view of etymology, if the “Ur” is taken off the front of “Urakka,” “akka” is very close to “Aqab, making the equating of the two names plausible.”14 Another spelling variation of the same city appears to be Arakdi; this city is stated to be north of “Til Bari” (called Tell Barri today, located about 10 km (6 miles) north of Tell Brak), and was considered to be a fairly important place in the ninth century BC (Olmstead 1918). This would point to the same location near Amuda for both Urakka and Urakdi, and there would be reason to believe that Tell Aqab is the location of Erech of the Bible, again allowing for the many spelling variants of these names.

[End of quote]


Given that another of the coalitional kings was “… Arioch king of Ellasar …” (Genesis 14:1), with “Ellasar” though to refer to either Larsa (in Sumer) or Assur (to the north, in Assyria), then it is possible that a Shinarian culture arising out of NE Syria had extended its influence right throughout Mesopotamia, even with the duplication of names, such as Erech (Uruk).

This will need to be determined archaeologically, of course.


Osgood continues, now describing the situation even further to the east, in Susiana:


Archaeology in Iran. in the plain of Susiana, has demonstrated a resurgent Elamite culture contemporary with Jemdat Nasr in Mesopotamia,9 and this fits the biblical suggestion of a dominant Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14).


Considering the fact that the Bible allows the interpretation of Chedorlaomer being the chief of the combine of kings, one could even theorise that Jemdat Nasr may have been a site deliberately built by the Elamite king to assist control of the region of Sumer, but that remains highly speculative.


We have then so far, in summary, the following evidence as a witness that the end of the Chalcolithic in Palestine was during the days of Abraham:-


  1. A fit on the archaeological table previously presented that corresponds.
  2. Positive identification of a culture, corresponding exactly geographically to the biblical story, which disappeared from the scene at that period of time in Palestine and Trans Jordan.
  3. Archaeological evidence in Mesopotamia which is consistent with a combination of Sumerian and Elamite kings, and which definitely allows the possibility of other confederates.




Abraham’s contemporary East

(c) Major Influence of Akkad




Dr. John Osgood’s important linking of Abraham archaeologically to the very early dynastic phase of Egyptian civilisation, to the time of pharaoh Menes, will now enable us to ascertain that Abraham’s most significant eastern contemporary was the highly powerful Akkadian ruler, Naram-Sin. For Dr. Albright had shown that Naram-Sin warred with pharaoh Menes.




The following sections from Dr. Osgood’s “The Times of Abraham”, which encompass both the Egyptian and Philistine scenarios relevant to Abraham, are replete with archaeological syncretisms beneficial to our series (


But Egypt!


At this stage there will be many objections to the hypothesis here presented, for it is totally contradictory to the presently held Egyptian chronology of the ancient world. However, I would remind my reader that the Egyptian chronology is not established, despite claims to the contrary. It has many speculative points within it. Let us continue to see if there is any correspondence, for if Abraham was alive in the days of the Ghassul IV culture, then he was alive in the days of the Gerzean culture of pre-Dynastic Egypt, possibly living into the days of the first Dynasty of Egypt.

The correspondence between this period in Palestine and in Egypt is very clear, and has been solidly established, particularly by the excavations at Arad by Ruth Amiram10 and at Tel Areini by S. Yeivin.11

Such a revised chronology as here presented would allow Abraham to be in contact with the earliest kings of Dynasty I and the late pre-Dynastic kings, and this would slice a thousand years off the presently held chronology of Egypt. To many the thought would be too radical to contemplate. The author here insists that it must be contemplated. Only so will the chronology of the ancient world be put into proper perspective. Long as the task may take, and however difficult the road may be, it must be undertaken.

In order to support the present revised chronology here held, the author sites another correspondence archaeologically, and this concerns both the Philistines and Egypt.


The Philistine Question


Genesis 20 makes it clear that Abraham was in contact with the Philistines, yet the accepted chronological record presently held does not recognise Philistines being in the land of Philistia at any time corresponding with the days of Abraham. Yet the Bible is adamant.

The Scripture is clear that the Philistines were in Canaan by the time of Abraham, approximately 1850 B.C., or at least around the area of Gerar between Kadesh and Shur (Genesis 20:1), and Beersheba (Genesis 21:321) (see Figure 9). A king called Abimelech was present, and his military chief was Phicol (Genesis 21:22).

…. We have placed the end of the Chalcolithic of the Negev, En-gedi, Trans Jordan and Taleilat Ghassul at approximately 1870 B.C., being approximately at Abraham’ 80th year. Early Bronze I Palestine (EB I) would follow this, significantly for our discussions. Stratum V therefore at early Arad (Chalcolithic) ends at 1870 B.C., and the next stratum, Stratum IV (EB I), would begin after this.

Stratum IV begins therefore some time after 1870 B.C.. This is a new culture significantly different from Stratum V.112

Belonging to Stratum IV, Amiram found a sherd with the name of Narmer (First Dynasty of Egypt),10, 13 and she dates Stratum IV to the early part of the Egyptian Dynasty I and the later part of Canaan EB I. Amiram feels forced to conclude a chronological gap between Stratum V (Chalcolithic) at Arad and Stratum IV EB I at Arad.12:116 However, this is based on the assumption of time periods on the accepted scale of Canaan’ history, long time periods which are here rejected.

The chronological conclusion is strong that Abraham’ life-time corresponds to the Chalcolithic in Egypt, through at least a portion of Dynasty I of Egypt, which equals Ghassul IV through to EB I in Palestine. The possibilities for the Egyptian king of the Abrahamic narrative are therefore:-


  1. A late northern Chalcolithic king of Egypt, or
  2. Menes or Narmer, be they separate or the same king (Genesis 12:10-20).


[End of quote]


Some extremely famous names here, all bundled up together into the (approximately) one historical point in time: Abraham; Menes and Narmer!

And thanks to the conclusion of Dr. Albright (another famous name):


Dr. W.F. Albright’s Game-Changing Chronological Shift


we can include the name, Naram-Sin, who, according to Albright, had fought and conquered pharaoh Menes.

Now, I took this a stage further in my article:

Narmer a Contemporary of Patriarch Abraham. Part Two: Narmer as Naram Sin.


in which I proposed that Narmer – who we know from Osgood to have been closely contemporaneous with Abraham and Menes – was the very Naram-Sin (Narm[er] = Naram) who had defeated Menes according to Albright.

This means that Narmer was an eastern potentate, a Shinarian of the famous Sargonic dynasty of Akkad, an invader, and not an actual Egyptian pharaoh.

Nor was he a Sumerian – which land we have divorced from “Shinar”.

As an invading Shinarian, at the time of Abraham, Naram-Sin now stands the likeliest chance of having been the biblical Amraphel (Genesis 14:1):


“At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar …”.


David Rohl’s choice for Amraphel of Amar-Sin of the Ur III dynasty, I, too, had once favoured.

It admittedly has some positives:


The name Amar-Sin certainly appears to be a better fit for Amraphel than is Naram-Sin; and Amar-Sin also has the seeming advantage of a potential “Arioch king of [Assur?]” type contemporary ally in his governor Zariqum of Assyria.


On the negative side, though:


Amar-Sin was presumably a Sumerian, not a Shinarian (as was Amraphel).

He reigned for only 9 years and was not a greatly significant king.

And he could not have been a contemporary of Abraham’s if, as according to current history, the Ur III dynasty followed the Akkadian dynasty (thus missing out on the Abraham-Menes-Naram-Sin connection).

Nor was he an ally of Elam, as Amraphel indeed was (ally of “Chedorlaomer king of Elam”), as Amar-Sin is known to have campaigned against Elamite rulers.



Abraham’s contemporaneous Egypt



If Abram’s “Pharaoh” were the same person as Abraham’s “Abimelech”, as previously argued, then, considering that this monarch was in power when Abram was about 75 years of age, and was still ruling when Isaac and Rebekah were together (Genesis 26), he must have reigned over Egypt and Philistia for at least half a century.




Summary so far:


Patriarch Abraham, not a Middle Bronze I nomad, but belonging to the Late Chalcolithic and Ghassul IV cultural era of Palestine, was a contemporary of the Akkadian ruler, Naram-Sin (likely Amraphel of Shinar) and of the Elamite Jemdat-Nasr culture (presumably Chedorlaomer’s).

Abram was also contemporaneous with the kings of Pentapolis.

His Egyptian contemporary was the first dynastic pharaoh, Menes, who was defeated by Naram-Sin, the latter being also Narmer, who was not therefore an Egyptian.

In biblical terms, and according to my reconstruction, there was also at the time an “Abimelech”, who ruled both Egypt and southern Canaan/Philistia.


It remains for me to determine, what now is looming as most likely, if Menes and “Abimelech” can be matched together.


Other Views


The scenario for Abraham as summarised above has nothing in common with the conventional view of Abraham as a Middle Bronze I nomad. We read about this in Matt McClellan’s “Abraham and the Chronology of Ancient Mesopotamia”:


In summary, most scholars date Abraham to the Middle Bronze Age in which is the period of either Ur III or the Isin-Larsa period. It is clear that one piece of evidence as to why Abraham is dated to these periods is the nature of the Genesis 14 coalition of kings. However, it must be noted that the number one reason for this dating is the acceptance of the standard chronology of the Ancient Near East. Abraham is dated anywhere between c. 2100 and c. 1900 and this range of dates are then applied to the standard chronology of Mesopotamia.


Becoming popular amongst certain revisionists, on the other hand, is the proposed location of Abraham to the era of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt (c. 2615 to 2495 BC), to the time of the Giza pyramids. McClellan tells of this as well:


However, there have been a number of scholars who have come out against the standard chronology in the recent past.6 There has been a concentrated effort to use this new research in ancient chronology to correlate biblical events with Egyptian chronology.

Two separate studies have dated Abraham to sometime during the Early Dynastic or the Old Kingdom periods in Egypt. John Ashton and David Down (2006) have dated him to the Fourth Dynasty while this author (McClellan 2011, p. 155) has given a range of dates from the 2nd–6th Dynasties.7 Placing Abraham in this earlier period in Egyptian history also forces Abraham to be dated significantly earlier in Mesopotamian history. (Ur III and Isin-Larsa correspond to the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, and that time aligns better with the Mosaic period than with Abraham’s.)

If Abraham is to be dated earlier in Mesopotamian history then in what period did Abraham live in Mesopotamia? What is interesting about the quote by Kitchen above is that he notes that there was another period in Mesopotamian history in which a coalition of kings could have existed; that is, the period before the Akkadian Empire. What is more interesting is that this is the time period that Freedman dated Abraham. So one has to ask whether or not this period could be the setting for Abraham’s life?


[End of quotes]


A couple of comments on this. Whilst the Fourth Egyptian dynasty is far too late for Abraham, McClellan’s “2nd” dynasty is getting closer to the mark.

And, regarding: “Placing Abraham in this earlier period in Egyptian history also forces Abraham to be dated significantly earlier in Mesopotamian history”, the matter has been entirely solved by Dr. Albright, with a solid synchronism now between the first dynasty of Egypt (Menes) and the Akkadian dynasty (Naram-Sin). The conventional history has separated these two powerful contemporaries by (Menes, 3150 BC and Naram-Sin, 2250 BC) some 900 years.


Pharaoh of Abraham and Isaac


According to what has gone before, Abram’s “Pharaoh” was the same as Abraham’s “Abimelech”, also known to Isaac and Rebekah, meaning that this ruler must have been on the throne for half a century or more.

Can he be the same as pharaoh Menes, with whom we found Abraham also to have been a contemporary?

I have already discussed all of this in my article:


Pharaoh of Abraham and Isaac


in which I concluded that the pharaoh in question was the very long-reigning Menes, who was the same as Egypt’s first dynastic ruler Hor-Aha.

Dr. Osgood had also provided us with a corresponding archaeology for the Egypt of Abram’s day, the Gerzean culture, or Naqadah II.

It was during this period that Egypt also came under the influence of the Jemdet Nasr/Uruk culture which Dr. Osgood had associated with the invading Chedorloamer of Elam. Thus we read at:


The influence of Uruk even reached as far west as Egypt in the Naqada II (or Gerzean) period contemporary with the Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods [about 3100-2900 BC]. Lugged and spouted jars were characteristic of Late Uruk pottery. Cylinder seals also first appeared in Egypt at that time. Some were imports from the east, but others had been made locally and used Mesopotamian or Iranian motifs. Late Pre-dynastic (before about 2920 BC) art from Egypt also showed some influence from Mesopotamia. In particular, carved ivory knife handles and slate palettes contained Mesopotamian motifs, even though the objects themselves were typically Egyptian.


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