[b-hebrew] Re: Eden's Four Rivers (article)

kwrandolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon May 9 19:17:44 EDT 2005


Walter:

I appreciate it that you have moved your articles off list, and just 
provide URLs to those articles on list.

As for dates claimed by archeologists, I now take them with a big 
grain of salt. For example, the date that Nehemiah was sent to 
rebuild Jerusalem's walls has been listed by others from 390-440 BC, 
a span of 50 years. Rohl suggests that Egyptian history is off by 
about 2.5 centuries for 1000 BC, and he has a good argument. And 
these are dates for which we have written records. Where the records 
are far sketchier or even lacking, how can we trust the dates given 
by archeologists? I know I can't.

The problem with a localized flood is the wording in Genesis. From a 
linguistic standpoint, the Shuruppak flood and Noah's flood were two 
different events, which may have been combined in Sumerian memory.

Further, Abraham was not even from Sumer, but from Ur of the 
Chaldeans, which spoke a different language. Would Abraham have even 
known about the Sumerian legends? That there are similarities between 
the Sumerian and Biblical flood accounts could also be the result of 
a common source for those and all flood accounts around the world.

You recognized the linguistic problem with the four rivers of Eden.

Now this is not an argument commanding you to "believe the Bible" 
(unless you were predisposed to do that before) but just an 
acknowledgement that linguistically, the Biblical account makes 
certain claims which you are free to accept as truth or reject as 
mere legend.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Walter R. Mattfeld" <mattfeld12 at charter.net>
>
>  Dear Karl,
>
>  You are right _all_ proposals om Eden's one river becoming four are
>  in the end only "speculations." I recall some scholars suggesting
>  wadi Batin from Saudi Arabia being the Pishon connecting with the
>  Euphrates near the Shatt al Arab and then the Euphrates itself
>  along with the Tigris empty into the Shatt al Arab, then the Karkun
>  (Gihon according to some) from Iran's Zagros mountains also
>  connects with the Shat al Arab. However these "four" rivers are not
>  coming _out of one river_, they are flowing _into it_ just the
>  "opposite" of Genesis' scenario.
>
>  As regards Noah's Flood destroying the Edenic river courses- this
>  is a pretty common understanding since Renaissance among some
>  scholars.
>
>  The problem ? A Mesopotamian text of the 2d millennium BCE has the
>  flood at a city called Shuruppak in Sumer, its king, called
>  Ziusudra (also called Atrahasis and Utnapishtim) is warned by his
>  god Enki to build a boat and save himself, family and animals. He
>  does.
>
>  Shuruppak has been identified as present day Tell Fara. When
>  excavated a "flood layer" of two feet of clay was found and dated
>  to circa 2900 BCE. It was the _only_ flood deposit found at the
>  city. It appears at the end of Jemdat-Nasr phase and above it lies
>  a new era called Early Dynastic I. The residents of Shuruppak
>  rebuilt their city after the flood but "nearby" rather than
>  directly over the flooded site. Microscopic anaylsis of the aluvial
>  sediment overlying "Jamdet-Nasr" Shuruppak was determined to be
>  caused by a flooding Euphrates, not a world wide flood.
>
>  Many scholars who study the Mesopotamian account are struck by the
>  "parallels" between the Shuruppak flood and the Genesis' flood.
>  Both heroes are warned by a god to save themselves by building a
>  boat. The flood occurs at the "end" of a _600_ year cycle for
>  Ziusudra; Noah is _600_ years old (Ge 7:11) when the flood occurs.
>  Both heroes are given seven days notice before the flood's arrival;
>  After the flood both send out birds to find evidence of land
>  appearing above receding waters; both offer a burnt offerings
>  sacrifice after the flood. The god (Enlil) who sent the flood gives
>  the survivors of the flood (on the boat) a blessing; Yahweh gives a
>  blessing to Noah after the flood too. A god (Enlil) swears he will
>  never send another flood to destroy all of mankind; so too Yahweh.
>  The biblical chronology for the Flood suggests for some scholars a
>  date circa 2348 BCE, in the 3rd millennium BCE. Archaeologists
>  dated Shurupakk's flood layer to the 3rd millennium BCE, circa
>  2900/2800 BCE. Other flood layers have been found at other cities
>  in Sumer, but they are of different periods of time. Not finding
>  any evidence of a flood destroying _all_ the cities of 3rd
>  millennium BCE Sumer, some scholars, understandably, have
>  reservations about the biblical account of a 3rd millennium BCE
>  Flood.
>
>  As you are probably aware, some scholars understand the biblical
>  flood is recalling the Shurupakk flood event because of above noted
>  similiarities in the two accounts, Mesopotamian and Biblical.
>  Because they also understand the Shuruppak flood did not encompass
>  the world,  they therefore seek the river of Eden and its four
>  "heads" (Hebrew: rasim) somewhere in the confines of a 5th through
>  3rd millennium BCE Mesopotamia (The world being created by Yahweh
>  ca. 4004 BCE according to the biblical chronology worked out by a
>  Christian scholar Bishop Usher). To date, archaeologists have
>  failed to find evidence of world wide flood in the 5th-3rd
>  millenniums BCE in Mesopotamia, Syria or Canaan. They date some
>  settlements in Sumer to the Ubaid period of circa 4900 BCE,
>  specifically the ancient city of Eridu (modern Abu Shahrein near Ur
>  of the Chaldees), which in Mesopotamian myths was the very first
>  city built by the god Enki. This myth has the world covered in
>  water, then a freshwater stream eurpts from the depths of the
>  ocean, land forms about it and Enki builds the first city Eridu. Of
>  course in the Bible the first city is built by Cain and called
>  Enoch after his son (Ge 4:17). So, it is clear that Genesis' author
>  understands at least _one city_ was engulfed by Noah's 3rd
>  millennium BCE flood, but the archaeological evidence does not
>  support this notion.
>
>  I personally favor Shurupakk as the flood being recalled in
>  Genesis, and thus "my interest" in finding a river in a 3rd
>  millennium BCE Mesopotamian context which divides into "four
>  heads". I noted in my article that in the 3rd millennium BCE the
>  Euphrates did divide into four heads or streams as it fanned out
>  over edin-the-plain (Sumer) between Sippar and Nippur (as shown on
>  the archaeological map). If someone knows of any earlier scholarly
>  articles proposing the Euphrates as a "possible" river of Eden that
>  divides into four streams I would be much obliged to receive, off
>  list, a bibliography for my further studies.
>
>  Regards, Walter
>  Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.
>  mattfeld12 at charter.net
>  www.bibleorigins.net



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