Testing the Documentary Hypothesis

A journey through Genesis 1-7

The creation of Adam The Flood Cain's genealogy and therefore History in Genesis


This essay began when I noticed something interesting. I was reading about Noah's ark. Then I looked at the older versions of the same story (where Noah is called Ziusudra, Atrahasis, and Utnapishtim). These older accounts say that only the city of Shuruppak was flooded. And these accounts say it was deliberately burned as well. The archaeological record shows that Shuruppak was burned around 2350 BC. This is exactly when Genesis says the flood took place. Maybe those ancient dates are correct after all? 2350 is also the beginning of the height of the Akkadian Empire, under the god Ea. And some scholars think Ea was the forerunner of Yahweh (Yahweh might simply mean "I am", or "Ea exists"). So that certainly fits the Genesis account: a new start under Yahweh. I wonder what else is correct? All of this led on a journey through the first chapters of Genesis, to rediscover the Cain-ites, and the origins of Yahweh. But first I had to face the Documentary Hypothesis: the scholarly consensus that Genesis is basically unreliable. Last week (I'm writing this on October 1st, 2020) I listened to a podcast by a famous Bible scholar, David Bokovoy. He told his story, how he used to be a devout Mormon. Just like me! He still loves studying the Bible. Just like me! Though he's got a doctorate in the subject. Not like me. Well, one day he got the chance to study the Documentary Hypothesis (DH) and other modern Bible scholarship at a prestigious university. His church leaders warned him not to study the DH: they told him that everybody who studied the DH stopped believing that the Bible was reliable history. Bokovoy said "not me, I will find a way to study the DH and still believe!" But with two weeks of learning about the DH - yes, just two weeks - he too had stopped believing that the Bible was reliable. Obviously the DH is powerful stuff! I had to learn more! I should probably explain where I am coming from. I used to be an orthodox believer, but not any more. I now call myself an eighth-theist: I believe in maybe just one eighth of the Bible. But the start of Genesis interests me. Is it really history? Or, is the DH right, and Genesis is just a mess?

Let's do science!

I am not a professional scholar. I don't read Hebrew. I don't have a degree in any relevant field. So I really cannot comment on the theory behind the DH. But it turns out that there is a very simple way to test the DH. You see, the whole point of the Documentary Hypothesis is to reconstruct the original documents. Well guess what: thanks to archaeology, we now have some of those original documents! So we can compare the hypothesis to the actual documents! That's science. Make a hypothesis. Test it against the real world. Let's do science!

Yea, I don't have a doctorate, and I don't need one

These tests are very simple. Even I can do them, and I don't have a doctorate. Because, you see, I can count to two. The DH says the original creation story should have one Adam, not two. I can test that. I can count the Adams! That doesn't need a genius. And here is another test: the DH says the original text should have either Yahweh or Elohim, but not both. So I need to count the gods. One god or two? That's easy! Most of the tests are like that. If you can count to two, then you can test the DH. Testing the DH is like testing a car. You don't need to know how it works under the hood. You just need to know if it gets you from A to B. Leave the mechanics to the experts. Their job is to do the clever stuff and gets you from A to B. DH scholars are the same. Their job is to get you closer to the original documents. Can they do it? Or can't they?. "But wait", you say, "judging an ancient document takes skill!" Not at the very start it doesn't. If the DH fails even the simplest test - if the DH says one Adam, but Genesis and all the source documents say two Adams - then the DH has failed. DH makes predictions. The predictions fail. It's not rocket science.

What is the DH?

The DH is the hypothesis that the first five books of the Bible are made from separate documents that contradict each other. Scholars call these alleged documents "J" (if they mention the god Jehovah, i.e. Yahweh), "E" (if they mention "Elohim", the council of the gods), "P" (a "priestly" source concerned with rituals) and "D" (mostly Deuteronomy). "The DH is now accepted by essentially all mainline and liberal theologians." (the Religious Tolerance site) For two hundred years the DH has been extremely popular among scholars. In recent years many people have criticised its methodology at a theoretical level, but nobody seems to have done the obvious thing: why not test its predictions?

Why don't more people test the DH?

Why do DH scholars not test the DH? I mean, by comparing the actual documents I don't mean by constructing some new theory. Why not compare the predictions with the actual documents? My guess is because it makes the scholars look stupid. Many of these texts have been available for over a hundred years. For all that time the scholars have published learned papers predicting what the source materials say. And all that time the source materials have been available, and says the opposite. The scholars are now in too deep to admit they were wrong. Even worse, testing the DH would undermine the whole concept of scholarship. The vast majority of scholars have actively and passionately fought against the critics of DH for over a hundred years. This is worse than saying one elderly scholar refused to admit he was wrong. This is something wrong with the whole concept of scholarship! Scholars can never admit that, and so like good apologists they must use mental gymnastics to still believe. THe DH has many enemies, mainly among evangelical Christians. Why don't they test the DH predictions against the actual texts? Because the original documents say the evangelicals are wrong: they teach polytheism. Yahweh was merely one god in a council of the gods, and he fought his way to the top. Evangelicals do not like that. And since they are unwilling to accept the original texts at all, DH scholars do not take them seriously. Luckily I have no dog in this race. I am not a professional scholar, and I am not an evangelical. But I can read, and thanks to the Internet I have translations of some of the original texts. So let's see what they say. Is the DH right or wrong?

The creation of Adam

The first chapters of Genesis refer to both Elohim (often translated "God") and Yahweh (often translated "Lord"). After God creates man in chapter 1, the Lord-God creates man in chapter 2. The DH says these are two accounts of the same thing: "The Bible opens with two different creation stories. The accounts are similar in that they both describe the creation of animals, plants, and humans. But they are distinct in several ways and even contradict each other on key issues. For example, though the stories describe some of the same events, they order them differently. In Gen 1, God creates plants, then animals, and then simultaneously creates man and woman. In Gen 2, God creates a human, plants, then animals, and later he divides the human into female and male. Additionally, the two stories employ different names for the deity. The first account uses the Hebrew word Elohim, meaning 'God,' whereas the second uses the tetragrammaton, YHWH (often represented by 'Lord')." (David Bokoyov, "The Two Creations in Genesis") We can simplify this into three claims:
  1. The original documents would have just one creation of animals and plants.
  2. The original documents would have just one creation of Adam
  3. "Elohim" and "Yahweh" mean essentially the same thing, and the original documents had one or the other.
Lets test those predictions against the original texts. We'll start with the "one god" idea, as that is the basis for everything else.

Two different names for one God?

The names of Elohim and Yahweh can be traced to older texts, such as Canaanite inscriptions and Uraritic tablets. And we see that "Elohim" and "Yahweh" are not different names for the same god: Yahweh is a particular god, and "Elohim" is a plural term referring to all the different gods of the nations: the great council of gods. We even see this in Genesis itself: "And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26) "And the LORD God [Yahweh Elohim] said, Behold, the man is become as one of us" (Genesis 3:22) Each nation had its own god, with one father god at the head. In the Ugaritic religion (for example), the head God was called "El", and he had seventy gods below him, one for each nation: "At Ugarit we read in the Baal myth of 'the seventy sons of Asherah (Athirat) (KTU 1.4.VI.46). Since Asherah was El's consort, this therefore implies that El's sons were seventy in number. Now Deut. 32.8, which is clearly dependent on this concept, declares, 'When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of God.' The reading 'sons of God' (bene elohim) has the support of the Qunran fragment 4QDeut [and many other sources]. This is clearly the original reading, to be preferred to the MT's 'sons of Israel' (bene yisrael), which must have arisen as a deliberate alteration on the part of a scribe who did not approve of the polytheistic overtones of the phrase 'sons of God'. Interestingly, it is known that the Jews believed there to be seventy nations on Earth, so the sons of God were accordingly seventy in number. This emerges from the table of the nations in Genesis 10, where there are seventy nations, and from the later Jewish apocalyptic concept according to which there were seventy guardian angels of the nations." (John Day, "Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan", Bloomsbury, 2010, p.25) There was nothing fixed about which god was at the top. Sometimes the top god was replaced. For example, in the Babylonian creation story (the Enuma Elish), the original God who created the elohim was Apsu. The creation story tells how Ea killed Apsu and took his place. Then Apsu's co-creator Tiamat planned to take revenge. Then the young god Marduk defeated Tiamat and became top god. Similarly, in the Greek creation story, the original top god was Uranos. he was overthrown by a lesser god, Cronus, who became top god. He was in turn overthrown by a lesser god, Zeus, who became top god. The Bible hints at a similar story for Yahweh: Yahweh is like Marduk, and also like Baal: he defeats the sea gods to become top god: "Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers." (Psalm 74:13-15) "Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Thou hast broken Rahab [the sea monster] in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm." (Psalm 89:9-10) As Israel grew more monotheistic, elohim was interpreted as a single god with plural nature (whatever that means). But in the original texts the elohim were the seventy sons of God, one of whom was Yahweh. Yahweh was simply one of the elohim. So in the beginning the council of the gods made the Earth. Then the focus moves to Yahweh, one of the gods (that is Yahweh elohim), and then we often see him by his name Yahweh. So Elohim and Yahweh were not different individual gods from separate traditions. Elohim was the council of the gods, and Yahweh was one of those gods. For a text to make sense, to show where Yahweh came from, it had to feature both names. So the DH is wrong.

Two different creations for animals and plants?

DH believers appear confused by repeated references to plants and animals: "In Gen 1, God creates plants, then animals, and then simultaneously creates man and woman. In Gen 2, God creates a human, plants, then animals" (David Bokoyov, "The Two Creations in Genesis") Here are the verses in question. First, from Genesis 1, before Elohim creates an Adam to have dominion: "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:20-26) And then, in Genesis 2, before Yahweh-Elohim creates an Adam as his servant: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." (Genesis 2:1-3) So Yahweh-Elohim created the world, including water and plants. But they did not grow properly until a mist arose from the ground. The DH sees this as contradiction, and proof of two competing sources describing the same thing. Is the DH right? Let's see what the source documents say. This is the story of Enki and Ninhursanga, when they are placed in Dilmun, a garden like the garden of Eden. This takes place after the world was created: cities exist, lands exist, and the sea must also exist, because in the creation stories that always comes first. Everythign seems to exist in state ready to start but it is not yet started. "Pure are the cities -- and you are the ones to whom they are allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Sumer -- and you are the ones to whom it is allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Pristine is Dilmun land. [...] In Dilmun the raven was not yet cawing, the partridge not cackling. The lion did not slay, the wolf was not carrying off lambs, the dog had not been taught to make kids curl up, the pig had not learned that grain was to be eaten. When a widow had spread malt on the roof, the birds did not yet eat that malt up there. The pigeon then did not tuck its head under its wing. No eye-diseases said there: "I am the eye disease." No headache said there: "I am the headache." No old woman belonging to it said there: "I am an old woman." No old man belonging to it said there: "I am an old man." No maiden in her unwashed state ...... in the city. No man dredging a river said there: "It is getting dark." No herald made the rounds in his border district. No singer sang an elulam there. No wailings were wailed in the city's outskirts there. Ninsikila said to her father Enki: "You have given a city. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given a city, Dilmun. You have given a city. What does your giving avail me? You have given ....... You have given a city. What does your giving avail me?" (from 'Enki and Ninhursanga') So the god Enki makes waters rise from the ground and then everything starts working: "(Enki answered Ninsikila:) '"When Utu steps up into heaven, fresh waters shall run out of the ground for you from the standing vessels (?) on Ezen's (?) shore, from Nanna's radiant high temple, from the mouth of the waters running underground. May the waters rise up from it into your great basins. May your city drink water aplenty from them. May Dilmun drink water aplenty from them. May your pools of salt water become pools of fresh water. May your city become an emporium on the quay for the Land. May Dilmun become an emporium on the quay for the Land. [gap?] May the land of Tukric hand over to you gold from Harali, lapis lazuli and ....... May the land of Meluha load precious desirable cornelian, mec wood of Magan and the best abba wood into large ships for you. May the land of Marhaci yield you precious stones, topazes. May the land of Magan offer you strong, powerful copper, dolerite, u stone and cumin stone. May the Sea-land offer you its own ebony wood, ...... of a king. May the 'Tent'-lands offer you fine multicoloured wools. May the land of Elam hand over to you choice wools, its tribute. May the manor of Urim, the royal throne dais, the city ......, load up into large ships for you sesame, august raiment, and fine cloth. May the wide sea yield you its wealth. The city's dwellings are good dwellings. Dilmun's dwellings are good dwellings. Its grains are little grains, its dates are big dates, its harvests are triple ......, its wood is ...... wood.' At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, when Utu stepped up into heaven, from the standing vessels (?) on Ezen's (?) shore, from Nanna's radiant high temple, from the mouth of the waters running underground, fresh waters ran out of the ground for her. The waters rose up from it into her great basins. Her city drank water aplenty from them. Dilmun drank water aplenty from them. Her pools of salt water indeed became pools of fresh water. Her fields, glebe and furrows indeed produced grain for her. Her city indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. Dilmun indeed became an emporium on the quay for the Land. At that moment, on that day, and under that sun, so it indeed happened." (from 'Enki and Ninhursanga') So Genesis is telling the same story as in 'Enki and Ninhursanga'. The gods create the world, with all its plants and cities, but nothing works until fresh water springs rise up to water the land. This reflects the birth of farming: without fresh water civilisation cannot happen. Genesis is quoting a single account, not two accounts, so once again the DH is wrong. It is true that Genesis combines many accounts, but not in the contradicting way that the DH assumes: Genesis works like a good historian, taking the best accounts available and trying to work out what really happened. For example, Genesis does relocates the story at Dilmun (probably an island in the Persian Gulf) to where the rivers all begin (in Anatolia). Anatolia is a more accurate guide to where civilisation really began: it is the setting for Gobekli Tepe (a temple from ten thousand BC), Catal Huyuk (a large town from eight thousand BC), and so on. The bottom line is that, when we compare the ancient documents, the DH is wrong and Genesis is right. Again.

Two different creations for one Adam?

In Genesis 1, Elohim creates an Adam - that is, a human, and makes him like a God: "like one of us", with dominion over the world: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26) After this point we start to hear about Yahweh Elohim, or "lord God". Yahweh elohim then creates a human (an Adam) to be his slave: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. [...] And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man" (Genesis 2:7,15-16) Notice the difference: the first Adam is like the gods, and has dominion: he gives commands. The second Adam is merely from the dust, and is pushed around, he takes commands. But the DH insists that this is the same Adam, from different original sources, each of which only had one Adam. Let us check the source materials and see if the DH is right. This is the creation story from the Atrahasis account: "When the gods were man they did forced labor, they bore drudgery. Great indeed was the drudgery of the gods, the forced labor was heavy, the misery too much: the seven great Anunna-gods were burdening the Igigi-gods with forced labor. [Lacuna] The gods were digging watercourses, canals they opened, the life of the land. [...] forced labor they bore night and day. They were complaining, denouncing, muttering down in the ditch: 'Let us face up to our foreman the prefect, he must take off our heavy burden upon us! Enlil, counsellor of the gods, the warrior, come, let us remove him from his dwelling! [They complain to the high god Enlil, and he has a solution: create humans to to do the work instead:] Belet-ili, the midwife, is present. Let her create, then, a human, a man, Let him bear the yoke! Let man assume the drudgery of the god. [...] Let Nintu mix clay with his flesh and blood. Let that same god and man be thoroughly mixed in the clay. Let us hear the drum for the rest of the time. From the flesh of the god let a spirit remain, let it make the living know its sign, lest he be allowed to be forgotten, let the spirit remain. The great Anunna-gods, who administer destinies, answered 'yes!' in the assembly." (from the epic of Atrahasis) The second part of this sounds like Genesis 2: man is made out of clay, he has the breath from a god (the words for spirit and breath are usually the same), the assembly of gods (the elohim) declare that it is good, and the man is given work to do so that the gods may rest. But what about the first part? Notice how there are higher gods and lower gods. Where did the lower gods come from? The first tablet of the Babylonian creation account explains: "When the heavens above did not exist, And earth beneath had not come into being — There was Apsu, the first in order, their begetter, And demiurge Tia-mat, who gave birth to them all; They had mingled their waters together Before meadow-land had coalesced and reed-bed was to he found — When not one of the gods had been formed Or had come into being, when no destinies had been decreed, The gods were created within them: Lah(mu and Lah(amu were formed and came into being. While they grew and increased in stature Anšar and Kišar, who excelled them, were created. They prolonged their days, they multiplied their years. Anu, their son, could rival his fathers. Anu, the son, equalled Ansar, And Anu begat Nudimmud, his own equal." (The Enuma Elish, tablet 1) So the higher gods give birth to the lower gods. This is the same in all creation accounts: the Titans created the gods, Bor and Bestla created Odin, and so on. Also notice how, in the Babylonian creation accounts, the lower gods are described as men. They have to work for their living, and they don't like it. So the Genesis source materials have a two stage creation:
  1. The higher gods create god-men
  2. The god men create ordinary men to do their work for them.
We see exactly the same story in Genesis. Genesis 1 starts with Elohim - the council of the gods. Elohim then creates a god man: a human in his image, to "have dominion" over the world. This "lord god" walks in the garden and does not always know where Adam is: he is clearly a human. The lord-god then creates a servant human to do his work, so that he can rest (on the seventh day and ever after). This reflects real history. Ever since the neolithic revolution the world has been divided into a few rulers who claim to represent god, and the ordinary people who work for them. It is impossible to have a creation story any other way: you always need abstract gods, elites who claim to be gods, and the ordinary people. That is just how the world works. So the creation stories in Atrahasis, the Enuma Elish, Genesis, and elsewhere, always have this two stage creation. First the Adam (the human) who is like the gods and has dominion, and then this lord-god organises another Adam (human) to be his servant. In summary, the creation of Adam is a single story, involving two stages of creation. It was not two different stories mashed together. Genesis reflects real history and the oldest records. And the DH gets it completely wrong.

The Flood

Now let's move on to Noah's flood. Here again, the DH predicts what the original text should look like. According to the DH, 6:1-9 are from the "J" source, and 6:10-22 are from the "P" (priestly) source, added much later. See for example, Richard Elliott Friedman, "Who Wrote the Bible?" or Livius on the flood. Here is the alleged "J" source: "When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then YHWH said, '"My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.' The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And YHWH was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So YHWH said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH." (Genesis 6:1-8, via Livius) Here is the rest of the chapter, the alleged "P" source: "These are the Records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.' Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him." (Genesis 6:9-22, via Livius) Then we are back with the supposed "J" source again: And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." (Genesis 7:1) So that is the DH on genesis 6. The DH says an original text will have either Yahweh or Elohim, but not both. And the DH says that an original text will have only one reference to entering the ark. OK. So now let's look at the original text and see if the DH is right. Here is one of the original text versions of Genesis 6. It starts, like Genesis 6, with the reason for the flood. Twelve hundred years had not gone by; the land had expanded and the people had multiplied. The land was bellowing like wild oxen, and the god was disturbed by their uproar. Enlil heard their noise and addressed the great gods: The noise of humankind is too loud for me, with all their uproar I cannot go to sleep. Cut off food supplies to the people, let plant-life to feed them be scarce; Above, let Adad withhold his rain, Below, let the flood not rise from the deep; let the wind blow and parch the ground; let the clouds thicken but only drop drips; let the fields lessen their yields, let Nisaba seal up her breast." (Epic of Atrahasis, tablet 2) So Enlil did not like the noise of the people, and caused a famine. Apparently this did not work, because Enki, one of the lesser gods, felt sorry for the people and allowed them some food. So Enlil moved to plan "B". he would just kill everybody with a flood instead. This again made some of the other gods sad: they did not want to kill all the people. But they were had to obey Enlil. This is from the Eridu account. (The accounts are fragmentary at the start, so we need to use different fragments. But we have enough fragments to know that all the accounts had the same story.) "That day, Nintur wept over her creatures and holy Inanna was fill of grief over her people; but Enki took counsel with his own heart. An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga had the gods of heaven and earth swear by the names of An and Enlil." (Eridu Genesis line 81, via Livius) For the rest of the story we have a very complete account from Gilgamesh. Here is Gilgamesh, up to the end of what became Genesis chapter 6: "I will reveal to you, Gilgamesh, a thing that is hidden, a secret of the gods I will tell you! Shuruppak, a city that you surely know, situated on the banks of the Euphrates, that city was very old, and there were gods inside it. The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood. Their Father Anu uttered the oath (of secrecy), Valiant Enlil was their Adviser, Ninurta was their Chamberlain, Ennugi was their Minister of Canals. Ea, the Clever Prince(?), was under oath with them so he repeated their talk to the reed house: 'Reed house, reed house! Wall, wall! O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubartutu: Tear down the house and build a boat! Abandon wealth and seek living beings! Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings! Make all living beings go up into the boat. The boat which you are to build, its dimensions must measure equal to each other: its length must correspond to its width. Roof it over like the Apsu." (Gilgamesh tablet 11, via

Does stuff happen twice?

DH believers think that Genesis is full of neeedless repetition: "[T]he stitching together of these two flood narratives creates some awkward moments with the chronology of the current JP composite account. Besides the more obvious contradictions listed above [this refers to a perverse reading of Genesis 8], there are a number of details narrated twice: the corruption of humanity (6:5 [J]; 6:11-12 [P]), the decision to destroy (6:7 [J]; 6:13 [P]), the commission to enter the ark (7:1-3 [J]; 6:18-21 [P])" (from "Contradictions in the Flood Story") Let's examine each of these claims. First, the corruption of humanity, and decision to destroy them: "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy ['machah', wipe out] man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy ['shacath', destroy by corrupting] them with the earth." (Genesis 6:1-13) Notice the very different stages, just as in Atrahasis.
  1. The first problem is sex, not violence. There are too many people, and they are not obedient. God will "wipe them out". The Atrahasis account shows that this is through a famine. But that does not work, as the other gods feel sorry for the people.
  2. The later problem is violence. At this stage God (elohim: Enlil and the gods who obey him) will do the same to them.
So this is not a repetition, but a change to the problem, and so it has a new solution. Now let's look at the claim that Noah was told twice to enter the ark: "Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. [God the tells Noah how to make the ark, and Noah obeys.] And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark" (Genesis 6:14, 7:1) This is like in Gilgamesh: first the command to build the boat, and later the sign that the flood is about to happen right now: "[Ea said] O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubartutu: Tear down the house and build a boat! Abandon wealth and seek living beings! Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings! Make all living beings go up into the boat. [Ea then tells him how to make the ark, and Utnapishtim obeys.] Shamash had set a stated time: 'In the morning I will let loaves of bread shower down, and in the evening a rain of wheat! Go inside the boat, seal the entry!' (Gilgamesh, tablet 11) In Gilgamesh this second command, the sign of the precise time that the flood began, was given by Shamash. Genesis changes that to Yahweh because Genesis does not name the other gods of the elohim. Note that both Shamash and Ea were involved: later we will see that most of the junior gods secretly supported Utnapishtim, so Genesis was right to say this was commanded by the elohim and not just by Yahweh.

Yahweh and Elohim in the original

Notice that Gilgamesh mentions both "the great gods" as a single group (that is, the council of the gods, or Elohim), and contrasts that with the individual god Ea, who is most friendly to our hero and his the only god with the courage to stand up to Enlil. All of these gods act and sound like a human. When Gilgamesh refers to "gods" he clearly means the humans who represent them: the king, and his advisor, and his chamberlain, and his minister of canals. Ea is represented by a clever prince who finds a loophole in his oath to not tell anybody: all the "gods" swore not to warn the people, so Ea sneakily talk to the wall of a house, not a person. Knowing, of course, that Utnapishtim is on the other side of that wall. Ea, the friendly but brave and clever junior god, is like Yahweh, while the whole council of the gods is the Elohim. As a result of this superior brain and courage, Ea later became the chief god: he is god of the Akkadians who took over from the Sumerians. Ea and Eyahweh may be the same god. The name "Yahweh" might be derived from the words for "Ea exists". That is, Yahweh is just Ea saying that his name is "I am", just as he told Moses. (See Shin T. Kang, "Pre-Hebraic Traces Of The Term Yhwh" in Hebrew Abstracts Vol. 13, 1972, pp. 73-75) So we have the same mix of Elohim and Yahweh (or a similar god) that we see in Genesis 6. It makes no sense to separate them into different texts, because both are essential to the story. Not even the DH can separate them: notice how the name Elohim also appears in the supposed "J" source: "the sons of God" (the sons of Elohim) feature in Genesis 6:2. So the DH is wrong again.

Genesis spins the story, but does not change it

See how the Genesis account follows the order of events in the previous accounts:
  1. The earth is filled with violence or noise
  2. Some individual gods feel sorrow and grief
  3. One of the gods likes Noah / Utnapishtim
  4. We are reminded that the council of gods (i.e. Elohim, not Yahweh) has decided to destroy the city
  5. God warns Noah and tell him to build an ark
That last part, God (Elohim) warning Noah, is important. Because at first it appears to be different from the Gilgamesh account: in Gilgamesh it is only the single friendly god who warns Utnapishtim. But in Genesis it is the council of the gods, plural. How can this be? Notice how in the Sumerian account, Nintur and Inanna also opposed the decision. And in the Gilgamesh account, after Utnapishtim survives, the other gods defend him: it is clear that really just Enlil, the chief god, wanted to kill the people. The other gods went along with it, just as Ea did, but nobody else defended the action. "Just then Enlil arrived. He saw the boat and became furious, he was filled with rage at the Igigi gods: 'Where did a living being escape? No man was to survive the annihilation!' [...] La spoke to Valiant Enlil, saying: 'It is yours, O Valiant One, who is the Sage of the Gods. How, how could you bring about a Flood without consideration" (Gilgamesh tablet 11, via The "igigi" gods were the young gods. The fact that Enlil later blesses Utnapishtim shows that Enlil, the top god, was forced to backtrack: he must have had little or no real support for his action. The other gods went along with the plan because of Enlil's great authority, but most of the council of the gods - the majority of the Elohim - secretly agreed with Ea. So Genesis is not pushing things too far to say "the gods" warned Utnapishim. Because Ea represent most of the gods' true feelings, even though the others did not dare speak up. The result of this debacle was that Enlil, great god of the Sumerians, lost his authority. Ea, the preferred god of the upstart Akkadians, took over. Akkadian culture replaced Sumerian culture. This is rather like how the Catholic church lost its authority in Ireland in modern times. Ireland was always staunchly Roman Catholic, until it became obvious that the church was defending the indefensible: paedophile priests. So the Catholic god, Jesus, lost his authority, and was replaced by a rival young god waiting in the wings: the hot young god called science. The Catholics had long claimed that science was just part of its own pantheon, and supported Jesus. For example, the Vatican has its own observatory and scientific publications, but preaches that science supports Jesus, not the other way round. But after the paedophile priest scandal, Jesus was no longer top god in Ireland, and science became top god. In the same way, after the flood scandal, Enlil was no longer top god in Mesopotamia and Ea became top god there. The author of Genesis followed Yahweh (Ea), so wrote the account to emphasise that all other gods followed Yahweh's lead. He implies that it was not just Ea who whispered to Utnapishtim, it was effectively the whole divine council. The whole Elohim (with the obvious exception of Enlil) was with Ea in spirit as Ea whispered next to that reed wall. Genesis also puts a morel spin on the reason for the flood: the noise was the noise of sinning! All of this shows that Genesis does not merely mash together contradictory accounts: it takes consistent accounts, and rewrites them to make another consistent account, where Yahweh looks as good as possible. So the Documentary Hypothesis is wrong again.

Cain's genealogy

Many scholars argue that the genealogy in Genesis 4 (from Cain to Lamech) is very similar to the genealogy in Genesis 5 (from Seth to Lamech). They also note that Genesis 4 mostly refers to Yahweh, whereas Genesis 5 mostly refers to Elohim. Therefore, they argue, both are versions of the same genealogy: "as if they were different versions of the same underlying tradition." (Barry L. Bandstra, "Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible", p.59-60). Genesis 4 is assumed to be how the "J" source recorded and changed the tradition, since it mentions YHWH, and Genesis 5 is from the "E" source since it mentions Elohim, or even the "P" ("priestly") source since it later mentions YHWH as well. So the DH makes at least two claims for Genesis 4:
  1. The Genesis 4 list refers to the same people as Genesis 5
  2. Therefore one or both lists are unreliable
We can now test those claims, thanks to having some of the source material (the Sumerian king lists), and we can fill in the most important gaps using ancient inscriptions and archaeology. And they show that the DH is wrong again. Genesis 4 refers to different people than Genesis 5 (except in the last case, Lamech). And both lists turn out to be very reliable.

The genealogies

Let's start where everyone agrees: Genesis 5 is clearly based on the antediluvian section of the Sumerian king list. The reasons for this, and how we explain the differences, are not the focus of this essay. Here we are only interested in whether the Genesis 4 list is really about the same people. Here is the Sumerian king list, up to the flood: Alalngar: "Then Eridug fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira." En-men-lu-ana En-men-gal-ana Dumuzid, the Shepherd: "Then Bad-tibira fell and the kingship was taken to Larag." En-sipad-zid-ana: "Then Larag fell and the kingship was taken to Zimbir." En-men-dur-ana: "Then Zimbir fell and the kingship was taken to Shuruppag." Ubara-Tutu: "then the flood" In the earliest flood text, Ziusudra (Noah) was also a king. But he cannot have been a major king, as he is not listed in the king lists. Here is Seth's line in Genesis 5: Adam Seth Enos Cainan Mahalaleel Jared Enoch: he "walked with Elohim" Methuselah Lamech Noah Here is Cain's line Genesis 4: (Adam) Cain Enoch: he built a city Irad Mehujael Methusael Lamech: he killed a man and boasted about it. In later Jewish tradition he invents swords. his children included Jabal, Jubal, Tubalcain and Naamah. Except for the two names (Enoch and Lamech), they are all different. And Enoch is in a different position and different context. Some names may sound a little similar, but they have different meanings. Kenan (meaning "weaver") is not the same as Cain (meaning "metal worker"). Irad (meaning "city of refuge") is not the same as Jared ("descent"). Mahalalel ("praise of God") is not the same as Mehujael ("smitten of God"), and Methusael ("man of God") is not the same as Methuselah ("man of the dart" or "man of death"). For a detailed analysis of each name, see the online Abarim encyclopedia. It is true that we can make small changes so they are the same, but those are still changes. The text, as it stands, is mostly different names with completely different meanings.

The similarities

All we can say with any certainty (until we find the source material) is that two names are the same: Enoch and Lamech. Enoch could just be a coincidence: some names are popular. The interesting one is Lamech: it comes at the end of both lists, could easily refer to the same time period, and in both cases he is associated with violence. Cain's Lamech boasts of violence, and Noah's Lamech come at a time of great violence: "And he called his [son's] name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." (Genesis 5:29) Note that Yahweh had cursed the land of Lamech, but the curse did not continue to his son: this implying a conflict between Yahweh and Lamech in particular. At this time violence that offended Yahweh became common: "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." (Genesis 5:11) According to the Atrahasis version of the flood story, Noah himself (Atrahasis) led a rebellion against some gods. "Atrahasis took the order, Gathered the elders to his door. Atrahasis made his voice heard And spoke to the elders: I have called the elders, the senior men! Start an uprising in your own house, Let the heralds proclaim... Let them make a loud noise in the land: Do not revere your gods, Do not pray to your goddesses" (From the Atrahasis epic) So it is very likely that the Seth Lamech was a violent man just like the Cain Lamech. The only difference is that the Cain Lamech was begotten of Methusael ("man of God") and the Seth Lamech was begotten of Methuselah ("man of the dart" or "man of death"). Given that a thousand years of history is contained in the word "begat", which must have been translated or inferred through several languages, this could easily refer to some other connection, such as adoption. Note that genesis refers to two lineages merging at this point: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:1-4)" This is further supported by the use of the name "Yahweh". In Genesis 4, Cain is a man "from Yahweh". And in Genesis 5, Adam's line is from Elohim, and Enoch walks with Elohim. But when Lamech appears, recall that we we once again have a reference to Yahweh: "And he [Lamech] called his [son's] name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." (Genesis 5:29) Also recall that the story showed no interest in the previous generations, other than a brief mention that Enoch walked with Elohim. All of this leads to the following conclusions:
  1. Cain dealt with Yahweh
  2. Seth's line dealt with Elohim. genesis 4:26 does say they "began" to call upon Yahweh, but the next verse (5:1) is back to Elohim, and later Enoch walks with Elohim.
  3. The lines merge again with Lamech. There is conflict, and Yahweh begins to dominate again
So what is going on? Was the text just confused, as the DH suggests? Or is it the DH that is confused? Luckily we now have some ancient texts to shed light on the story.

A closer look at Cain

When most people think about Cain, they focus on the colourful part: Cain killing Abel and being driven out, then Lamech continuing to defy Yahweh. It was certainly important to the writer of Genesis to show that Cain was driven out. But we also need to look at the parts that are often overlooked: That last point, about Moses and the Kenites, may be the key to the mystery.

The Kenites

The first five books of the Bible are called "the books of Moses": they focus on Moses, and the law he got from Sinai. Everything in the Old Testament focuses on that point. Genesis is simply the history of the people of Israel up to just before Moses: the word "Genesis" just means "beginning". Genesis races through thousands of years of history, to explain where Israel came from, and their god, Yahweh. And all the sources - Genesis, Egyptian inscriptions, and archaeology - all imply that Kenites were the key. Moses apparently got his teaching first from his father in law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and then directly from God on Sinai. According to Judges 1:16, Moses' father in law (presumably Jethro) was a Kenite. The Kenites were a tribe of nomads in the region of Sinai and further north. So the teachings of Moses came from the Kenites, and from a sacred mountain in their lands. Kenite means "Cain-ite" - or metal worker. "Ken" comes from the Hebrew word "qyn", which is also translated as Cain. So the teachings of the Bible came to Moses from the Cain-ites and their land. However, the Kenites are not the Israelites. So the writer of Genesis had to explain how it was that they had a Kenite religion. Hence the story of Cain comes first: he was the man from The Lord, the first born, but he lost his position and was driven out to the east to become a nomad. And later his people rejoined the main lineage of Israel. All of this is confirmed by external sources. So we can now test the DH again: are the Cain-ites simply a confused version of the Sumerian kings? Or does this summarise actual history?

Ancient history confirms the story

The earliest references to Yahweh (so far) are from two Egyptian texts from around 1300 BC. They refer to "Yahu in the land of the Sosu-nomads", which can also be translated as "Yahweh in the land of the Shasu nomads": that is, the people of Yahweh in the land to the east of the river Jordan, later known as Moab. This is also the land of the Kenites. And as far as anybody can tell: the Egyptians called the Kenites the Shasu, and later that region was called Moab, so the Bible calls them Moabites. We know that the Kenites were definitely metal workers, because large copper mines have been found in their lands, at the Timna valley and elsewhere. These were mined at that same period as the Yahweh inscriptions (circa 1300 BC) and long before and after. So it is natural for neighbouring people to call these tribes Kenites (Cain-ites), or metalworkers. Numerous other details match up. To learn more, see the research by Nissim Amzallag of Ben Gurion University on the topic of Kenites (Cainites), ancient copper mining, and their god Yahweh.

So the DH is wrong again

The bottom line is that, for the Cain chronology, the DH is wrong again. The Genesis 4 genealogy is not the same people as Genesis 5, except for the last name, Lamech. It is a very good summary of the Cain-ites (the Ken-ites), the worshippers of Yahweh. It tells how they were driven from their homelands in ancient times, and ended up merging with the Seth-ites (Sumerians), causing great disruption. This led to a new beginning based on the worship of Ea (or Yahweh).

History in Genesis

The dates in Genesis

In the flood account, notice how the twelve hundred years in Atrahasis became one hundred and twenty years in Genesis: Twelve hundred years had not gone by; the land had expanded and the people had multiplied. The land was bellowing like wild oxen, and the god was disturbed by their uproar." (Epic of Atrahasis, tablet 2) "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them [...] And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. [...] And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:1,3,5) This is normal in Genesis: extremely large numbers in the Babylonian account (often tens of thousands of years) become smaller numbers. Those extremely large numbers are how modern scholars translate Akkadian units like the "isten" (60), "susu" (60 x 60) and "sussaru" (60 x 60 x 60). But of course these numbers were passed on over centuries, or perhaps thousands of years, passing through different numbering systems. The Babylonians used a base 60 system, which is why even today we have sixty minutes in an hour, sixty seconds in a minute, three hundred and sixty decgrees in a circle, and so on. But today we use base 10. If we assume the number "10" is base sixty, then we write it get a number six times bigger than we expect. Or "100" gives us a number sixty times bigger. If we mix numbers, or if another group of people use a different system, the numbers looks crazily big to modern eyes. But the writer of Genesis, in 600 BC, had access to ancient texts that we do not have. And crucially, ancient Sumerian language was still used in the temples, so there were still living priests who could explain any undocumented quirks. So the Genesis numbers could be more accurate than our modern reading of the Sumerian numbers. Crucially, the Genesis numbers pass every test available. Shuruppak, the city of the flood, was destroyed exactly when Genesis says it was: 2350 BC. And while a brief flood does not leave many remains, Gilgamesh says it was also burned, and the remains clearly show burning. The new religion of Yahweh (Ea) then dominated the region, just as Genesis said. The start date of the genealogies, taking the tree of knowledge at 4000 BC, corresponds to the first proto-writing. Of course, small mistakes will always be made. Hence no two copies of the king list are identical. but so far the dates all fit the external evidence. The only problems with the numbers are superficial: the length of lives, and the phrase "A became the father of B" and "A died". But the first writing systems were memory aids, not fully developed alphabets, so the earliest records were almost certainly just names and numbers. They would rely on the priest to explain if they referred to individuals or to dynasties. The lengths of each "life" - between three hundred and nine hundred years - is typical for a dynasty of kings, or for a city between being founded and destroyed. The Genesis names certainly look more like descriptions than names. For example, of dynasties rather than individuals.

The timeline

Ancient history matches the Cainite history at every point: Around 6000 BC the Timna valley copper mines were in use. This was the period when the ancestors of the Akkadian empire lived in the eastern Mediterranean. Over the next three thousand years many Kenites drifted north across the fertile crescent and ended up becoming the Akkadians. Around 4000 BC the Bible says that Eden was situated at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates. This places it in (then) fertile lands of Anatolia, the top of the fertile crescent. At this time the Kenites/Akkadians would also be there, with whatever god would become Yahweh. This is the period when hunter gatherers were being attracted or enslaved into the first towns. The story of Gilgamesh, though set a little later, reflects this theme: a wild man from the woods (Enkidu) living in the "Eden" (the fertile plains around the fist cities) is enticed to join civilisation. They then destroy the sacred trees of a rival god-king, and as a result Enkidu is condemned to die. Genesis recalls similar events in the story of Adam and the sacred tree. Around 2350 BC the Akkadian cities defeated the Sumerian cities, and reached the height of their power. This was not a simple "empire B beats empire A" because of the semi independent nature of city states: it was more like along running battle for cultural supremacy. The Akkadians were the worshippers of the god Ea (and other lesser gods). They were now living in the same lands as the Sumerians, and this no doubt caused conflict. Genesis records this as the Cainites (Kenites) merging with the Sethites (Sumerians). The year 2350 BC is important. This year (as far as we can tell) saw the fall of the city of Shuruppak. This event was recalled in the Gilgamesh epic as a battle between the god Ea (i.e. the priest of Ea) and the other gods of the city (i.e. their priests). The other gods wanted to kill the rebellious people by setting fire to their houses and also causing a flood (i.e. smashing the many agricultural dams during the annual flooding season). Shuruppak was built on a flood plain so such a flood this would be cataclysmic. but Ea warned his friend Utnapishtim (Noah), and the rest is history. Genesis dates this flood to 2348. After this date the Ea-worshippers, the people we call Akkadians, dominated the region.

How Genesis dates are calculated

The date 2348 BC is from Archbishop Ussher's famous chronology, where he added up the numbers in the Masoretic text. The Masoretic text was the result of extremely careful scholarship comparing all available texts, including the LXX, to work out the most likely original reading. For the flood date in particular he may have relied heavily on the Sefer haYashar. The title means the "Book of the Correct Record" and claims to be the original Book of Jasher mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. It is a history based on the Bible and other Jewish traditions, and each chapter began with a date though this is missing from some copies when dating fell out of fashion. For the flood, the text begins as so: "1656 AM – The Flood occurred. – At that time, after the death of Methuselah, the Lord said to Noah, Go thou with thy household into the ark; behold I will gather to thee all the animals of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and they shall all come and surround the ark." (Sefer haYashar, 6:1) "1656 AM" ("anno mundi", the year of the world) refers to the number of years after Adam's birth or creation. That is, based on his age given in Genesis 5. This start date is obtained by starting with reliably known dates in ancient history, then using Biblical passages and other evidence to work backwards. The Sefer haYashar cares about dates because its purpose is to create a year by year history using the Bible and other traditions. References like "all the animals of the Earth" mean this must be dated after the older flood stories, but the amount of detail shows that the suthor is not merely paraphrasing the Bible. Ther length and detail indcate that it is a serious work of scholarship, and not a simple forgery. Because the longer and more detailed the forgery, the more likely it is to be discovered. Modern scholars think the Hebrew grammar indicates that it was compiled in the sixteenth century. But as a eork of serious scholarship it must have been based on much older sources. The work is of a much higher quality than other books that have claimed to be "the book of Jasher". For example: "I have in my possession three different works that go by the title Sepher Hayasher or The Book of Jasher. This first is, of course, this book. The second is the 13th century ethical treatise that I mentioned earlier. It makes no claim to being the Biblical Jasher and would never be taken for it. The third book is widely recognized for the fraud that it is. It has been republished by the Rosicrucian Order. It claims to have been discovered by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, Abbot of Canterbury in the 8th century, while on a pilgrimage. It is the briefest outline of the first six books of the Bible, consisting of about 70 pages of large print. It contains no useful details, and only the barest account of the familiar Hebrew stories. It seems to have been prepared hastily and with little attention to detail. The most obvious feature is that it claims to be the work of a man named Jasher who was the son of Caleb and one of the Judges of Israel. This seems to be its entire reason for existence. It is clear that the author had no real knowledge of Hebrew and failed to recognize that Jasher is not a proper noun. It is not anybody's name. It rather carries the meaning of the upright book or the faithful record. Clearly this book is a fake. It has all the characteristics that you would expect to see in a forgery. It is very brief and contains no unique information except the one thing that is so absurd as to expose it as a hoax. So the contrast between that imitation and this book is very telling. It is easy to see which is genuine." (From an anonymous modern commentary). So if this Jasher was a fraud, it is by a careful scholar with access to many earlier sources. The point is that Ussher's chronology is sometimes dismissed as relying on key dates that sere basically guesses: a couple of ambiguous links in the chain of dates, or a desire to fit everything into six thousand years for dogmatic reasons. It is also often noted that the Masoretic numbers differ from the numbers in the Septuagint, and others who add up the numbers have come to different dates. But the reliance on Jasher shows that this is not merely one person picking numbers from the air. At the very least, this is a chain of careful and well informed scholars who have thought very carefully about how the numbers fit together, using the best evidence available. An example of the older sources is the book of Jubilees. As the name suggests, Jubilees is a list of every jubilee (a period of 49 years, seven weeks of years). It divides world history into blocks of 49 years since the creation, and then describes what events happened in each jubilee. So the author had to use many different historical souces, see how the dates fit together, and resolve any disagreements. Jubilees is in the Coptic Egyptian Bible, so would have been available to a serious scholar such as the author of the Sefer haYashar. Of course it is not perfect: there are mistakes in every work, and the moral teachings in Jubilees are sometimes reprehensible (the author seems to hate women), but it was written around 160 BC (and is included in the Dead Sea Scrolls) so its author had access to many texts that are now lost. The author of Jasher no doubt had other texts and traditions that we no longer have: modern scholars do not have every book ever written! The more old texts we have, the more likely we are to have clues about even earlier texts.

Weak conclusions

This essay makes a number of claims. Some of these depend on evidence and interpretations: anything about the Cain-ites or the Akkadians might change if new evidence or new approaches appear. They are interesting, but are not necessary for judging the DH. The DH fails for much simpler and stronger reasons:

Strong Conclusions

The DH does not depend on whether the Kenites were linked with the Akkadians, or any other details. The DH can be dismissed for much simpler reasons. It gets the most basic ideas wrong. The DH says there should be only one Adamic creation, when the original texts agree with Genesis: there were two. The DH says we must have either Yahweh or Elohim, not both. But the original texts say that we must have both. And so on. The DH fails at even the most basic level. There is no need to look deeper. The DH makes simple, clear predictions. And those simple clear predictions fail. The DH is not merely wrong, but it belittles perhaps our best sources of history from this period.

You can't say JOKE without J and E.

The DH is like a parody of bad apologetics. It's almost like scholars are testing people, will you believe these nonsense? Or do you believe in evidence? Perhaps the DH is a way that scholars test whether other scholars are worth talking to? So I wonder, is the DH just a gigantic in-joke among scholars? Have they been trolling us with this nonsense for 200 years?