View Full Version : If Genesis Borrowed from Babylonian Epic, Why An Egyptian Word for Noah’s Ark?

11-03-15, 12:49 PM
If Genesis Borrowed from Babylonian Epic, why an Egyptian ‘loan word’ for Noah’s Ark?
November 11, 2014
by Damien F. Mackey


Pan-Babylonianism is a far too one-dimensional approach to the study of the ancient Scriptures.

Professor A. Yahuda (The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford, 1933) dealt a shock blow to both the documentary theory and to the related Pan-Babylonianism. Yahuda, unlike P. J. Wiseman (New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1936), was an expert in his field. His profound knowledge of Egyptian and Hebrew combined – not to mention Akkadian – gave him a distinct advantage over fellow Egyptologists unacquainted with Hebrew, who could thus not discern any appreciable Egyptian influence on the Pentateuch.

Yahuda, however, realized that the Pentateuch was absolutely saturated with Egyptian – not only for the periods associated with Egypt, most notably the Joseph narrative including Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, but even for the periods customarily associated with Babylonia (presumably the Flood account and the Babel incident ).

For instance, instead of the Akkadian word for ‘Ark’ used in the Mesopotamian Flood accounts, or even the Canaanite ones current elsewhere in the Bible, the Noachic account Yahuda noted, uses the Egyptian-based tebah (Egyptian db.t, ‘box, coffer, chest’).

Moses, traditionally the author of the Pentateuch substantially speaking – and I believe the editor of Genesis – was he not, to all appearances, “an Egyptian”? Exodus 2:19: “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock”. (Cf. Acts 7:22).

Though Anne Habermehl has, in a recent ground-breaking article, Where in the World Is the Tower of Babel? (https://answersingenesis.org/tower-of-babel/where-in-the-world-is-the-tower-of-babel/) completely shifted the playing field, by re-locating the biblical “Shinar”, and the Babel incident, to the Sinjar region of NE Syria. This may render even less relevant the Babylonian view.

Most important was this linguistic observation by Yahuda:

Whereas those books of Sacred Scripture which were admittedly written during and after the Babylonian Exile reveal in language and style such an unmistakable Babylonian influence that these newly-entered foreign elements leap to the eye, by contrast in the first part of the Book of Genesis, which describes the earlier Babylonian period, the Babylonian influence in the language is so minute as to be almost non-existent.

{Dead Sea Scrolls expert, Fr. Jean Carmignac (Birth of the Synoptic Gospels), had been able to apply the same sort of bilingual expertise – in his case, Greek and Hebrew – to gainsay the received scholarly opinion and show that the New Testament writings in Greek had Hebrew originals: his argument for a much earlier dating than is usual for the New Testament books}.

While Yahuda’s argument is totally Egypto-centric, at least for the Book of Genesis, one does also need to consider the likelihood of ‘cultural traffic’ from Palestine to Egypt, especially given the prominence of Joseph in Egypt from age 80-110. One might expect that the toledôt documents borne by Israel into Egypt would have become of great interest to the Egyptians under the régime of the Vizier, Joseph (historically Imhotep of Egypt’s 3rd dynasty), who had after all saved the nation of Egypt from a 7-year famine, thereby influencing Egyptian thought and concepts for a considerable period of time.

(More/Source (https://historyancientphilsophy.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/if-genesis-borrowed-from-babylonian-epic-why-an-egyptian-loan-word-for-noahs-ark/))


Where in the World Is the Tower of Babel? (https://answersingenesis.org/tower-of-babel/where-in-the-world-is-the-tower-of-babel/)
Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited (http://creation.com/fall-of-the-sothic-theory-egyptian-chronology-revisited)
From What Did Moses Compose Genesis? (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2005/12/26/From-What-Did-Moses-Compose-Genesis.aspx#Article)
Tracing the Hand of Moses in Genesis (academia.edu) (http://www.academia.edu/8175774/Tracing_the_Hand_of_Moses_in_Genesis)

11-03-15, 02:48 PM
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