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'^ C^

Albert!, Clay'

* OCT 11 1907 *•'

^ — >■ — — —

ESI) 80









Light on the
Old Testament
from Babel

By / .


Assistant Professor 0/ Semitic Philology and Archaeology, and

Assistant Curator of the Babylonian Section, Department

0/ Archaeology, University »/ Pennsylvania.




The Sunday School Times Company


Copyright, 1906,


Thi Sunday School Times Co.





A CONSIDERABLE portion of the material of
*■ this pubHcation formed the basis of lectures
delivered at Winona Bible Conference, Mt. Gretna
Chautauqua, Pocono Pines Assembly, and other
institutions and churches, besides those given on
Sunday afternoons in Houston Hall under the au-
spices of the Christian Association of the University
of Pennsylvania.

In addition to the discussion of the cuneiform
inscriptions in these lectures, which bear more par-
ticularly upon the Old Testament, several chapters
(VII, VIII, XII, and XV) have been included
on life in ancient Babylonia. Besides facts published
by others, these chapters include a presentation of
certain discussions of general interest which I have
published in a more technical form in the series : " The
Babylonian Expedition of the University of Penn-
sylvania. " These chapters, however, also contain
much material that appears for the first time.

The scholar whose privilege it is to labor upon
the ancient records of the past cannot but feel under


deep obligations, not only to the explorer who by
his unselfish devotion and sacrifice has unearthed
them, but to the men who have made possible by
their generosity and intelligent interest this opening
up to the light of day of these remains of ancient
peoples in the land of primitive civilization — appar-
ently the cradle of the universe. To these I desire
to express my gratitude, and also to those who in
any way have aided me in the publication of these
lectures, notably Mr. William H. Witte, Assistant
in the Babylonian Section of the Department of
Archeology of the University of Pennsylvania, a great
many of whose photographs are used to illustrate
these lectures ; to Mr. Clarence S. Fisher, the architect
of the Nippur excavations, for the excellent plan
of the Temple Ekur; to my friend Mr. Hermann
Faber, Professor of Art ; and also to The Sunday
School Times Company for their kind co-operation
in securing typographical accuracy for these lectures.

Albert T. Clay.



Introductory Remarks 1-22

The Great Antiquity of Man 23-58

The Babylonian Creation Story 59-76

The Babylonian Deluge Story 77-88


The Tower of Babel and the Babylonian

Temple 89-124

The Fourteenth Chapter of Genesis 125-144

Babylonian Life in the Days of Abraham 145-200

Code of Hammurabi 201-222

Moses and Hammurabi 223-234


The Name Jahweh in Cuneiform Literature.. 235-250

The Amarna Letters 251-282




Babylonian Temple Records of the Second

Millennium Before Christ 283-312

The Assyrian Historical Inscriptions 313-360

The Neo-Babylonian Historical Inscriptions... 361-389

Babylonian Life in the Days of Ezra and

Nehemiah 390-429

• • •




Amraphel of Genesis in bas-relief 128

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Arab workmen digging tablets 57

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Aramaic endorsements on documents of Murashd Sons. ... 402

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Archaic arch of Nippur 35

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Ashurbanipal as the high priest or canephorus 355

(From the catalogue of the British Museum.)
(By permission of the Trustees.)

Asphalt spring near Hit 94

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Baby rattles in terra-cotta 195

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Belshazzar, Chronicle recording the death of 374

(Delitzsch-Hagen, Beitrdge zur Assyriologie.)

Besieging a walled city, The Assyrians 315

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Brick-makers in Egypt 273

(From Ball, " Light from the East.")

(By permission of Eyre and Spottiswoode.)

Brick-stamps of Sargon I and Naram-Sin 118

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Bronze head from Fara 54

(Possession of H. V. Hilprecht.)

Case tablets of the Cassite period, containing seal impres-
sions 173

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Cattle and sheep leased by Temple officials, Records of ... . 297

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Centaur, The earliest known form of the 174

(Drawn by the Author.)


List of Illustrations


Creation epic of the Babylonians 68

(From King, "Seven Tablets of Creation.")
(By permission of Luzac & Co.)

Cyrus, Cylinder of 383

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Cyrus. Portrait sculpture of 385

(From Lindl, "Cyrus.")

Darius, Cylinder-seal of 387

(British Museum.) (By permission of Eyre & Spottiswoode.)

Deed with an Aramaic endorsement 395

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Deluge tablet of the Babylonians 79

(British Museum. Photograph from a cast.)

Dog and her puppies in terra-cotta 391

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Door-socket of Gimil-Sin found at Ur of the Chaldees 198

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Dragon of Babylon in tiles 381

(Delitzsch, Babel und Bibel.)

Dragon of Nippur 380

(Constantinople Museum. Photograph by Haynes.)

Dungi and Kuri-Galzu, Inscriptions of 286

(From Hilprecht, "Old Babylonian Inscriptions, Part I.")

Entemena, Silver vase of 53

(From Heuzey, Decouveries en Chaldee.)

Esarhaddon holding biblical Tirhakah and Baal with thongs. 3 53

(Berlin Museum.)

Evil-Merodach, Tablet dated in the reign of, biblical 370

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Excavations in the Temple Court at Nippur 27

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Excavations in the Temple precincts to virgin soil 36

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Excavations showing pavements of different ages 29

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Excavations within the Temple Area at Nippur. . Frontispiece
(Photograph by Haynes.)


List of Illustrations


Fall of Man, So-called scene of the 83

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Fight of Marduk and Tiamat 65

(From Ball, "Light from the East.")
(By permission of Eyre & Spottiswoode.)

Furnace of the time of Abraham 192

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Garden scene of Ashurbanipal 357

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Gilgamesh epic, Seal impression with scene from 86

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Gimil-Sin, Door-socket of 198

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Grinding corn in the Arab camp at Nippur, A woman 144

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Gudea, Stone vase of 113

(Museum at Constantinople. Photograph by Haynes.)

Gudea, Statue of 161

(From Heuzey, Decouveries en Chaldee.)

Hammurabi, Clay cone of 130

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Hammurabi, Code of 203

(Louvre in Paris. Cut loaned by Professor Max Kellner.)

Heads of dolerite statues found at Telloh 1 59

(From Heuzey, Decouvertes en Chaldee.)

Home scene in the Arab camp at Nippur 282

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Hunting scene of an Assyrian king 359

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Images, or household gods, of Bel and Beltis 194

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Incantation bowls in Hebrew and Mandaic 409

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Jehu paying tribute, Bas-relief depicting 323

(Photograph from a cast.)
Jeweler's guarantee concerning the setting of an emerald . . 412

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)


List of Illustrations


Kudur-Mabug, Bronze canephorus dedicated to Nana by. . 134
(Berlin Museum. Photograph from cast.)

Labels or tags in clay 157

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Lease of fish-ponds in which the agent exacted a mess of
fish each day ' 415

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Lion of Babylon in tiles 366

(Delitzsch, Babel und Bibel.)

Lugal-kigubnidudu, Votive slab of 45

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Lugal-zaggisi, Inscription of 139

(From Hilprecht, "Old Babylonian Inscriptions.")

Marble head, Early Sumerian 37

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Marduk and Ramman 367

(Report of the " Deutschen Orient Gesellsckaft.")
Merneptah, Stele of, mentioning Israel 277

(From Petrie, "Six Temples at Thebes.")

Merodach-Baladan, Boundary stone with the picture of,

biblical 340

(Berlin Museum.)

Models of different systems of drainage at Nippur 191

(Made by C. S. Fisher. Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Moon-god Sin, Seal cylinder impression of Ur-Engur, who

stands before the ^99

(Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Mound covering Nippur Tower 107

(Photograph by Haynes.)
Multiplication table: 18 x i = 18 189

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)
Musicians, Bas-relief in stone depicting 165

(From Heuzey, Decouvertes en Chaldee.)
Nabonidus, Cyhnder of, containing a prayer for Belshazzar 372

(British Museum, Photograph by Mansell & Co.)
Nabopolassar, referring to Tower of Babel, Building in-
scription of. . ^^^

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

• •

XI 1

List of Illustrations


Nebuchadrezzar, Inscribed brick of 363

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Nebuchadrezzar, referring to the Tower of Babel, Cylinder of 368
(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

"Ninib " in Aramaic, Name of 400

Original tablet illustrating the impressing of the stylus. ... 170
(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Pavements laid by Ashurbanipal, Kadashman-Turgu and

Ur-Ninib 29

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Payments made to temples in Nippur, Records of 311

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Payments of Temple stipends 305

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Payments to priests showing check marks, Records of 309

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Pithom, the store-city. Map of 269

(From Naville, "The Store-city of Pithom.")

(By permission of Egyptian Exploration Fund Committee.)

Plan of buildings in Tablet Hill 183

(By C. S. Fisher.)

Plan of Ekur at Nippur 114

(By C. S. Fisher.)

Prayer of Nazi-Maruttash 287

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Putting out the eyes of a prisoner 365

(From Maspero, "The Passing of the Empires.")
(By permission of D. Appleton & Co.)

Receipts and Records of Payments belonging to the Tem-
ple archives 3°7

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Reference cylinders from the Temple School of Nippur. ... 185

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)
Release given for and on account of a claim for damages.
Document recording a 426

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Sargon II and his officer 33^

(From Price, "The Monuments and the Old Testament.")
(By permission.)


List of Illustrations


Sargon I, Door-socket of 31

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Seals and Seal-cylinders 172

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Sennacherib, Cylinder containing the annals of 345

(From the catalogue of the British Museum.)
(By permission of the Trustees.)

Sennacherib seated before Lachish 350

(From the catalogue of the British Museum.)
(By permission of the Trustees.)

Sennacherib, Storming of Lachish by 349

(From Ball, "Light from the East.")
(By permission of Eyre & Spottiswoode.)

Shalmaneser II, Black obelisk of 320

(British Museum. Photograph from cast.)

Sheep's liver in terra-cotta. Design of a 11

(From "Cuneiform Texts," British Museum, Vol. XV.)
(By permission of the Trustees.)

Shrine of Bel 103

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Sisiktu marks instead of seal impressions ■ ■ • • 176

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Sixty-year lease of lands and buildings 411

(Possession of H. V. Hilprecht.)

Statues in dolerite from Telloh 163

(From Heuzey, Decouvertes en Chaldee.)

Stylus, Beveled end 169

(Made by the author.)

Stylus, Square end 169

(Made by the author.)

Tablet and envelope 177

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Tablet written with beveled end stylus 170

(By the author.)

Temple of the moon-god Sin at Ur of the Chaldees 197

(Photograph by the Wolfe Expedition.)
(By permission of Dr. W. H. Ward.)

Temple School of Nippur 181

(Photograph by Haynes.)


List of Illustrations


Temple stipends, Document recording payments of 301

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Temple stipends, Transliteration of document recording
payments of 302, 303

(From Clay, "Documents from the Temple Archives of Nippur,"
Vol. XIV.)

Thothmes III 272

(From Maspero, "The Struggle of Nations.")
(By permission of D. Appleton & Co.)

Thumb-nail marks instead of seal impression 175

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Tiglath-pileser or Pul before a besieged city 328

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Topographical map of the environs of Nippur 293

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Topographical map of Nippur in

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Tower of Babel, Simpson's picture of the loi

(From Ball, "Light from the East.")
(By permission of Eyre & Spottiswoode.)

Tower of Ekur, the Temple of Bel at Nippur 107

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Ur-Engur, Stamped brick of 105

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania. Photograph by Haynes.)

Ur-Enlil, Votive slab of 41

(Original in Constantinople Museum.)

Ur-Nina, Votive slab of 40

(From Heuzey, Decouvertes en Chaldee.)

Urumush, Marble vase of 46

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Vase fragments, Pre-Sargonic 39

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Water buffalo used in irrigating machines 420

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Water-wheel or nd'tira in Babylonia 424

(Photograph by the Wolfe Expedition.)
(By permission of Dr. W. H. Ward.)

Water-wheel, illustrating ancient irrigating machines.
Modern 422

(Photograph by the Wolfe Expedition.)
(By permission of Dr. W. H. Ward.)


List of Illustrations


Wine jar lined with bitumen 427

(Museum, University of Pennsylvania.)

Winged bulls from the palace of Sargon 335

(British Museum. Photograph by Mansell & Co.)

Zebu, called the ox by the ancient Babylonians 226

(Photograph by Haynes.)

Map of Palestine, Syria, Assyria and Babylonia.



Why is there such an intelHgent interest displayed
in these days in Oriental excavations ? Why are such
immense funds expended, and such sacrificing
efforts put forth, in digging up the ruin-hills of the
past to find perchance the remains of a wall, an
inscribed object, or a potsherd? Why does arche-
ology, or the study of the material remains of ancient
times, possess a charm for so many? And why do
people delight in having opened up vistas of the past
through the discoveries of what is left of bygone

A desire to have more knowledge concerning
biblical matters has been responsible, in most
instances, for the work of opening up the mounds
which cover the remains of ancient activities. It
was felt that the Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians,
and other nations, having thrived in the days cf
Israel, and having come into close relation with ihe
Hebrews, should have left that which would .nrow
light upon the Old Testament. Broader questions,
such as the interdependence of national ideas and
customs, were scarcely thought of. The question
uppermost in importance was whether points of
contact could be found, and the Bible verified ; and

2 Light on the Old Testament

every scholar who has worked upon material from
which there was a possibility that such revelations
might come forth, has longingly searched for the
desired data. And when we glance over the tro-
phies gained by sacrifice, industry, patience, and
skill, we must exclaim: What a change has been
wrought within a few decades by the explorer, the
excavator, the archeologist, and the philologist!

Not many years ago little was known of extra-
biblical history of the age prior to the days of
Greece and Rome. The conception of these times
was largely based upon the Old Testament and the
uncertain myths and legends which have been pre-
served by the Greeks and Romans. These furnished
all the knowledge which we possessed of the early
history of man. But now we have original sources.
The resurrection of ancient cities, and the decipher-
ment and interpretation of that which has been
unearthed, has enabled us not only to reconstruct
ancient history, as well as the background for the
Old Testament, but to illustrate, elucidate, sub-
stantiate, and corroborate many of the narratives
of the early Scriptures. This, in truth, is one of the
greatest achievements of the last century.

The right interpretation of the Old Testament,
of course, is the greatest service rendered by the
monuments, but the average Bible student has
regarded the confirmation of the Scriptures as being,
perhaps, of greater importance. Corroborative
evidence of a contemporaneous character has been

Introductory Remarks 3

in the highest degree welcome, especially because of
the declarations made by the skeptic or by the
destructive critic. Immense results in this line have
been achieved. Episodes which have been affirmed
to belong wholly to the realm of fiction, or which
have been regarded as mythical or legendary in
character, are now proved to be historical, beyond
doubt. Many theories, even those put forth by
careful and conservative students, have been modi-
fied, and many supposed inconsistencies have been
satisfactorily explained. Some theories growing
out of alleged results achieved by certain scholars,
being no longer tenable because of their ephemeral
character, have completely disappeared. In short,
while some scholars have endeavored to show
portions of the Old Testament wholly fictitious,
many of their theories, by the help of archeology
and philology, can now be shown to be wholly
fallacious. On the other hand, there has been much
grasping after verifications by some which, in many
cases, have turned out to be illusory ; and as a result,
their supposed confirmations, having been popu-
larized and widely circulated, have done more harm
than good.

There is scarcely a period of Old Testament
history that has not received some light through
these researches. It is as though additional chron-
icles of the kings of Israel and Judah have been
found. The bare outlines of ancient history pre-
served in the Old Testament are clothed in such a

4 Light on the Old Testament

way as to offer pictures realistic in the extreme.
Episodes, passages, words, receive new meanings.
Acquaintance with the rehgious institutions of the
nations with whom Israel came in contact has
offered a better understanding of Israel's religion;
and incidentally many questions, as, for example,
their besetting sin — proneness to idolatry — receive
new light. In short, the study of the life and customs
of these foreign peoples shows certain influences
that were felt in Israel; and with this increased
knowledge we naturally gain a more intelligent
understanding of the Old Testament.

While these researches have caused many diffi-
culties to vanish, the fact must not be lost sight of
that they have given rise to new problems. While,
also, much contemporary evidence has been pro-
duced which corroborates the historical character
of portions of the Old Testament, certain discoveries
have given a totally different conception of other
portions, forcing us to lay aside a number of anti-
quated views, and to reconstruct our ideas on many
important questions. Old interpretations which
have been copied or revised by a succession of
commentators, and have been handed down from
century to century, disappear; and that which
approaches nearer to the truth becomes known.
This increased light is, of course, heartily welcomed
by the biblical student, and is regarded as being of
inestimable value, as it makes possible a better
understanding of the Scriptures.

Introductory Remarks 5

Perhaps the most fascinating feature of the
results gained through these studies is the retro-
spective glances afforded into the early doings of
man. While we are disappointed in not being able
to reach still nearer the primitive beginnings, our
knowledge of the history of man has been projected
backward several thousand years, and is attended
by many surprises. We find that cultured peoples
antedated Israel by millenniums; and that instead
of Abraham's descendants belonging to the dawn of
history, they lived in the late pre-Christian period.
Instead of Israel being an all-powerful nation of
antiquity, we find that, with the exception of the
time in the days of David and Solomon when the
borders of the nation were temporarily extended,
it scarcely can be classed with such world-conquering
powers as Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Persia, and
other nations. Yet, while Israel politically is not
to be compared with some of her illustrious neigh-
bors, intellectually and spiritually the nation is
found to stand in a unique position.

Another important result is the new historical
geography which has been reconstructed, with its
thousands of additional data. Hundreds of im-
portant points have been located definitely, whose
provenience previously could only be surmised, or
for which no reasonable position could be assigned.
As a result, the number of places and rivers in the
Old Testament concerning which nothing is known
at the present time is comparatively small. By our

6 Light on the Old Testament

knowledge of the nations surrounding Israel, its
historical setting is worked out in a remarkable way.
The improved perspective for many of the episodes
gives them a totally different aspect. Peoples of
whom we have had little or no knowledge are again
introduced into the galaxy of nations. We become
familiar with their language, their religious institu-
tions, their local habitations, their conquests, and
even their e very-day life. Personalities loom up
among their leaders which appear to be equal in
greatness with those familiar to us in modern

One of the most important results obtained is the
knowledge that Israel enjoyed — in common with
other peoples — certain social, political, and religious
institutions, as well as rites and customs. This
knowledge, at first thought, is disturbing to some,
especially when told that that which has been re-
garded as peculiarly Hebraic in character had its
origin in antiquity. To cite a single example,
circumcision was practised long before the patri-
archs. Professor W. Max MuUer has recently
ascertained that the Egyptians circumcised at least
2500 B. C.

After some reflection this truth, instead of causing
apprehension, enables us to understand how it was
possible for the leaders of Israel to influence the
people. It is impossible to imagine how unheard-of
rites and ceremonies could have been introduced in
Israel, even though one divinely sent advocated

Introductory Remarks 7

their practise. With some, also, it cannot be inferred
that the leaders directly borrowed these rites and
customs from their contemporaries, especially in
view of the injunction they received: "After the
doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall
ye not do : and after the doings of the land of
Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do;
neither shall ye walk in their statutes" (Lev.
18:3). The people w^re required to shun the prac-
tises of these peoples; but what shall be said con-
cerning such customs, manners, and traditions, that
for centuries during the patriarchal period had
gradually crept into the Hebrew life and remained
with it? By making use of customs with which they
were acquainted, and giving them a significance that
conveyed the truth which the leaders desired Israel
to have, the success attending their practise is
comprehensible. This becomes clearer w^hen we
take into consideration the intellectual status of
the people, and the fact that, as far as we know, there
were no efforts put forth to elevate them prior to
the leadership of Moses.

The people of Israel, we must remember, developed
into a tribal nation in a land which was enriched
by the traditions and civilizations of peoples living
there at least several millenniums before them.
This land was a highway between two continents —
a bridge or a path of communication between the
civilizations of the Tigro-Euphrates valley and the
Nile ; and at the same time it was the outlet to the

8 Lisrht on the Old Testament

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Online LibraryAlbert Tobias ClayLight on the Old Testament from Babel → online text (page 1 of 23)