SCIENCE AGREES WITH THE HEBREW BIBLE
Note: Professor Robert Thorson, Geology Professor at the University of Connecticut, published an essay in the Hartford Courant "proving" that the process of Creation (meaning the series of events from the initiation of the Big Bang until the first appearance of Homo Sapiens on the planet Earth) could not have taken place in six days, as is asserted in the Hebrew Bible:
Thus the Heavens and the Earth were completed, and all their Vast Array. By the Seventh Day God had finished His Work that He had been doing; and so He abstained on the Seventh Day from all His Work that He had done. And God blessed the Seventh Day and sanctified it, because on it He rested from all His Work of Creating that God had done. (Genesis 2:1-3)
From: Mark Rosenblit
Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2008
Subject: Science Agrees With The Hebrew Bible
Unlike most others, I do not criticize Professor Thorson for poor faith, but rather for poor science.
If two Martians are driving on a road which circumnavigates the planet Earth, and they agree to stop for a meal at 5:00 pm, they will not know when to stop unless they also specify which 5:00 pm on Earth (i.e., which time zone) is intended by their agreement.
Similarly, any scientific analysis of the Hebrew Bible's account of a six-day Creation must first seek to ascertain which six days is being described in the biblical text.
Although Professor Thorson assumes that the Bible is referring to six days as measured on Earth, the text itself and Science both refute that assumption. Since an Earth day is measured by the Earth's completion of one rotation on its axis as it revolves around the Sun, and since the Earth was not even fully formed until sometime during the Second Day, and since the Earth’s present relationship to the Sun was not established until the Fourth Day, the Six Days of Creation cannot logically be Earth-based days.
Rather, they are Six Universal Days (according to the phenomenon known as Time Dilation, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity) that can be converted to Earth-based time by analyzing the present rate of expansion of the extant Cosmic Background Radiation waves created by the Big Bang.
Since, by this measure, at present, the rate of the passage of Time -- like the Universe itself -- has been stretched by a factor of approximately one trillion since the Big Bang, the Six Universal Days of the Bible are equivalent to the roughly 16 billion Earth-based years to which Science ascribes the age of the Universe (i.e., 6 Universal Days x 1,000,000,000,000 Cosmic Background Radiation expansion factor / 365.25 for conversion of Earth-based days to Earth-based years).
Consequently, there is no substantial disagreement between the Bible and Science on the amount of Time that has elapsed from the Beginning.
Note: There are many areas in which Science agrees with the Hebrew Bible. For example, after relating that -- at the initial urging of the Serpent -- Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in defiance of God’s very first Commandment, the Hebrew Bible continues:
And HaShem God said to the Serpent: “Because you have done this, accursed are you beyond all the livestock and all the wild animals; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all of the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will crush your head, and you will bite his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
This biblical passage implies that, before being cursed by God, the Serpent possessed appendages that allowed it to walk. Even more curious -- and even more improbable -- is the connection established in this biblical passage between the Serpent’s prospective loss of its appendages and the Serpent’s prospective acquisition of the ability to attack flesh. Nonetheless, Science has established that the Hebrew Bible accurately described a prehistoric change that occurred in the anatomy of snakes. Read on:
Evolution of a slither -- study tracks snake's loss of legs
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
(Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2008) The Book of Genesis reports that the Serpent who persuaded Eve to tempt Adam was cursed by God with the loss of its limbs: "Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life."
Now 16 researchers from universities and research institutes in four countries -- including Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology -- have found that the world's snake species had indeed evolved from four-legged lizard-like creatures some 140 million years ago.
Dr. Ram Reshef of the Technion's biology faculty worked with scientists from Leiden University in the Netherlands, Whitman College in the US and the University of South Australia on a study entitled the "Evolutionary origin and development of snake fangs" which recently appeared in the journal Nature. In the extremely technical submission, the scientists show how the front legs gradually disappeared, followed by the disappearance of the hind legs, forcing the creature to slither on its belly.
In some snake species, an undeveloped thigh bone can still be found. The disappearance of the limbs caused the snakes' bodies to sprout fangs and glands, some of which produce toxic venom, to protect the animal and improve its hunting abilities.
Reshef and his colleagues noted that as snakes evolved into limbless creatures, their bodies lengthened and they gained access to subterranean "niches" of sustenance not utilized by other animals. But the loss of their limbs made it very difficult for snakes to catch prey and hold it in their mouths.
The researchers (who do not mention the Bible's account of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden) said their studies indicated that snakes had undergone a large number of "dramatic" evolutionary changes. A relatively large number of skull bones had detached themselves from the bones covering the brain, making the mouth much more flexible. The release of a bone connecting the skull bones and the lower jawbones had allowed the jaws to open much wider and the snakes to swallow whole a variety of larger prey -- sometimes animals bigger than the snakes themselves.
The more advanced snake species are able to kill their prey by squeezing them with their massive trunk muscles. As the species evolved, some developed a special gland in the back part of the upper jaw that produced venom to ease the process of capturing and consuming their victims.
The Nature article ends a long debate by scientists on the source of fangs in advanced species such as rattlesnakes, pythons and cobras. Reshef contributed to this understanding via his discoveries on the embryonic development of snake species native to this region and the SHH gene, which expresses itself in the development of fangs. He discovered that the fangs in snakes with poisonous venom originate in the back part of the maxillary teeth. Although they originally were of equal size, about 60 million years ago they broke into two regions, with some turning into large fangs. The venom, consisting of enzymes and toxins, flows through the fangs when the snake bites.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Note: It is worth repeating the above biblical passage in order to highlight another aspect thereof:
And HaShem God said to the Serpent: “Because you have done this, accursed are you beyond all the livestock and all the wild animals; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all of the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will crush your head, and you will bite his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
This biblical passage states that God decided to create a predisposition within human beings to fear and hate snakes; but the passage does not explain how this feat was to be accomplished. Helpfully, Science has recently discovered that, in prehistoric times, human beings (and other primates) developed a unique genetically-encoded ability to detect the presence of snakes. Read on:
Snakes On the Brain: Are Primates Hard-Wired to Recognize Snakes?
Oct. 28, 2013 — Was the evolution of high-quality vision in our ancestors driven by the threat of snakes? Work by neuroscientists in Japan and Brazil is supporting the theory originally put forward by Lynne Isbell, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis
In a paper published Oct. 28 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Isbell; Hisao Nishijo and Quan Van Le at Toyama University, Japan; and Rafael Maior and Carlos Tomaz at the University of Brasilia, Brazil; and colleagues show that there are specific nerve cells in the brains of rhesus macaque monkeys that respond to images of snakes.
The snake-sensitive neurons were more numerous, and responded more strongly and rapidly, than other nerve cells that fired in response to images of macaque faces or hands, or to geometric shapes. Isbell said she was surprised that more neurons responded to snakes than to faces, given that primates are highly social animals.
"We're finding results consistent with the idea that snakes have exerted strong selective pressure on primates," Isbell said.
Isbell originally published her hypothesis in 2006, following up with a book, "The Fruit, the Tree and the Serpent" (Harvard University Press, 2009) in which she argued that our primate ancestors evolved good, close-range vision primarily to spot and avoid dangerous snakes.
Modern mammals and snakes big enough to eat them evolved at about the same time, 100 million years ago. Venomous snakes are thought to have appeared about 60 million years ago -- "ambush predators" that have shared the trees and grasslands with primates.
Nishijo's laboratory studies the neural mechanisms responsible for emotion and fear in rhesus macaque monkeys, especially instinctive responses that occur without learning or memory. Previous researchers have used snakes to provoke fear in monkeys, he noted. When Nishijo heard of Isbell's theory, he thought it might explain why monkeys are so afraid of snakes.
"The results show that the brain has special neural circuits to detect snakes, and this suggests that the neural circuits to detect snakes have been genetically encoded," Nishijo said.
The monkeys tested in the experiment were reared in a walled colony and neither had previously encountered a real snake.
"I don't see another way to explain the sensitivity of these neurons to snakes except through an evolutionary path," Isbell said.
Isbell said she's pleased to be able to collaborate with neuroscientists.
"I don't do neuroscience and they don't do evolution, but we can put our brains together and I think it brings a wider perspective to neuroscience and new insights for evolution," she said.
Other co-authors on the paper were: Jumpei Matsumoto, Minh Nguyen, Etsuro Hori, Anh Hai Tran and Taketoshi Ono at Toyama University. The work is an international collaboration under the Asian Core Program of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Copyright 2013 by ScienceDaily, LLC or by third-party sources, where indicated. All rights controlled by their respective owners.
Note: The Hebrew Bible enigmatically describes the Second Day of Creation as follows:
God said: “Let there be a Firmament in the midst of the Waters; and let it separate between Waters and Waters.” So, God made the Firmament, and it separated between the Waters which were beneath the Firmament and the Waters which were above the Firmament; and it was so. God called to the Firmament: “Shammayim”; and there was Evening, and there was Morning -- a Second Day. (Genesis 1:6-8)
* In this context, the Hebrew-language word “Shammayim” means “Sky”. Interestingly, when “Shammayim” is separated into its component parts, it becomes “Sham Mayim”, meaning “Water is There”.
According to this biblical passage, God created the Firmament to serve as an atmospheric barrier between the terrestrial waters (i.e., the primordial Earth’s oceans which then covered the entire planet) and the celestial waters (i.e., the innumerable chucks of matter hurtling through outer space which were composed largely of ice). According to the below article, in the aftermath of the Big Bang, water vapor cooled into bits of ice that coalesced into comets containing organic chemical compounds which were necessary for the creation of Life on the planet Earth. These comets bombarded the Earth’s oceans for a time, and then stopped. The below article does not state (or even speculate) why the bombardment eventually ceased, but it may be inferred from the Hebrew Bible that God’s creation of the Firmament is responsible for such cessation, which was also necessary for the creation of Life. Read on:
Comets may have jump-started appearance of living organisms, TAU researchers say
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
(Jerusalem Post, May 7, 2009) Comets contain the key elements needed for the emergence of life on Earth and may have indeed provided our planet with them, according to Tel Aviv University researchers.
While investigating the chemical makeup of comets, Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun -- a former director of the Israel Space Agency who works at TAU's [Tel Aviv University’s] geophysics and planetary sciences department -- found they were the source of missing ingredients needed for life in Earth's ancient primordial soup.
"When comets slammed into the Earth through the atmosphere about four billion years ago, they delivered a payload of organic materials to the young Earth, adding materials that combined with Earth's own large reservoir of organics and led to the emergence of life," says Bar-Nun.
It was the chemical composition of comets, he believes, that allowed them to kickstart life. He has published his theory widely in scientific journals, including Icarus.
Using a unique machine he devised at TAU, he and colleagues simulated comet ice and found that comets contain ingredients necessary for providing the basic nutrients of life.
Specifically, Bar-Nun looked at the "noble" gases argon, krypton and xenon because they don't interact with any other elements and are not destroyed by Earth's oxygen. These elements have maintained stable proportions in the Earth's atmosphere throughout the lifetime of the planet, he explains.
"If we look at these elements in the atmosphere of the Earth and in meteorites, we see that neither is identical to the ratio in the Sun's composition. Moreover, the ratios in the atmosphere are vastly different than the ratios in meteorites, which make up the bulk of the Earth.
"So we need another source of noble gases which, when added to these meteorites or asteroid influx, could change the ratio. And this came from comets."
Formed in the early days of the solar system far away from our Sun, comets originated as water vapor condensed directly into ice, thus creating tiny grains. These grains came together to form the comets, says Bar-Nun.
During the comets' formation, the porous ice trapped gases and organic chemicals from outer space, creating a certain ratio of argon to krypton to xenon. This ratio, together with that of gases coming from rocky bodies, gives us the ratio that we observe in the atmosphere of the Earth, he adds.
Thus, the arrival on Earth of comets and asteroids led to the necessary ratio of materials for organic life "that eventually were dissolved in the ocean and started the long process leading to the emergence of life on Earth," says Bar-Nun.
This process began between 4.6 and 3.8 billion years ago when both the Moon and the Earth were bombarded by asteroids and comets.
"On the Earth, most of the craters were obliterated by continental movement and weathering winds and water erosion. On the moon, they remained as they were," says Prof. Bar-Nun, who adds that no life could thrive during this period of bombardment.
But the Earth recovered, and 300 million to 400 million years later, fragile forms of life emerged after the comet-delivered elements precipitated into the ocean.
"There was another chemical development of these molecules in water, which became more and more complex," says Bar-Nun, leading to the origin of life on Earth.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Note: Apparently, the Science of Archeology also agrees with the Hebrew Bible. As the Hebrew Bible relates:
And Pharaoh said to Joseph: “See, I have placed you in charge of all the Land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh removed his ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he then had him dressed in garments of fine linen, and he placed a gold chain upon his neck. He also had him ride in his second royal chariot, and they proclaimed before him: “Avrech!”; thus, he appointed him over all the Land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:41-43)
'Joseph-era' coins found in Egypt
By JPost.com Staff
(Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2009) Archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of biblical Joseph, Al Ahram recently reported. Excerpts provided by MEMRI show that the coins were discovered among a multitude of unsorted artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt.
According to the report, the significance of the find is that archeologists have found scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.
The period in which Joseph was regarded to have lived in Egypt matches the minting of the coins in the cache, researchers said.
"A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait.
The discovery of the cache prompted research team head Dr. Sa'id Muhammad Thabet to seek Koranic verses that speak of coins used in ancient Egypt.
"Studies by Dr. Thabet's team have revealed that what most archeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face -- just like the coins we use today," the report said.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Note: It appears that principles of modern Science are embedded in the very nomenclature employed by the Hebrew Bible. Read on:
Mere coincidence or divine truth?
By Yocheved Miriam Russo
(Jerusalem Post, December 8, 2009) A niggling curiosity about colors started the whole thing. "For many years, I found myself idly wondering if the name value of colors mentioned in the Bible had any relationship to their wave frequency," says Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Professor Haim Shore.
"In the scheme of things, that's an outrageous suggestion - why would anyone think that the Hebrew name for colors mentioned in the Bible -- red, green, yellow -- would bear any relationship to the wave frequency of the color itself?" he asks. "Finally, just for fun, I checked it out. When I saw the results, I was stunned. It was a heck of a coincidence, but the two were linearly related."
"The Hebrew word for the color actually matched the color's wave frequency," Shore says. "How could that be?"
Shore's methodology was relatively simple. He took the Hebrew names of five colors that appear in the Bible -- red (adom), yellow (tzahov), green (yerakon), blue (tchelet) and purple or magenta (argaman) -- and calculated a numerical value for each word by adding the total values of the letters, with aleph as one, bet as two, etc. Then he plotted them on a graph. The vertical axis charted the colors' wave frequencies, which are scientifically established, while along the horizontal axis, the 'CNV', Color Name Value, appeared. When it was complete, "I was astonished," Shore recalls.
"The five points on the graph formed a straight line -- which means that the names of the colors related directly to their established wave frequencies." It was a straight-out statistical analysis, Shore says. "I didn't manipulate a single number in doing the analysis."
"I didn't plot anything at all until I had all the data," he says. "But when I saw it, I was like a lion in a cage, pacing around. I couldn't believe it. Then I went on to other words in the Hebrew Bible, plotting the value of the letters against known scientific data. The whole thing blew me away."
"What I found is that there's an astonishing number of 'coincidences' in which the Hebrew name for some 'entity' in the Bible relates directly to that entity's scientifically established physical property," Shore continues. "I began recording it all, and finally published it in a book which contains about 20 different analyses - statistical, scientifically verifiable findings."
"I have no intention of trying to tell anyone what this means, or how this information should be interpreted. All I did was publish what I found," he says. "As a scientist, as a matter of integrity, I felt compelled to offer what I'd found for discussion."
Shore's book Coincidences in the Bible and in Biblical Hebrew offers dozens of incidents in which the Hebrew words in the Bible offer hidden information about the objects or people they represent, information which, in many cases, couldn't have been known or measured until modern times.
"This is not gematria," Shore says. "Gematria, adopted by rabbis and Jewish Bible interpreters, suggests that if two Hebrew words share the same numerical value, there's then a 'secret' that binds them together. By contrast, the Hebrew word, 'heraion' (pregnancy) has the same numerical value as the duration of human pregnancy, 271 days."
"That is not gematria," he insists, "nor is this a 'Bible Code' sort of thing, with overtones of prophecy. [The Bible Codes refer to words that are created by combining letters in the Torah which appear at equidistant intervals from each other, either in regular or reverse order, and which have a logical relationship to that portion of the Torah in which they are embedded]. What I have attempted to do, with as plain and non-technical means as possible, was to offer several quantitative analyses that demonstrate that major physical properties are probably reflected in the numerical values of Hebrew words."
Colors were one thing. Celestial objects were another -- moon, earth and sun. "It is well known from Kabbalistic literature that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet were created first, and that thereafter, by use of these letters, God created all the worlds. Ancient Jewish sources repeatedly stress that idea," he says.
"Could there be a linkage between numerical values of biblical words and certain physical properties, as demonstrated by the 'heraion' example?" Shore asks. "In Hebrew, yareach is moon, eretz is earth, and shemesh is sun. One thing that distinguishes the three bodies is their size, expressed by the diameters. I used their diameters as listed by NASA, and plotted them on a graph, just as I did with the colors.
"On the horizontal axis is the numerical value of the Hebrew word, on the vertical axis is the planetary diameters from NASA (on a log scale)," he continues. "To my astonishment, the phenomenon repeated itself. The three points aligned themselves on a straight line -- an exact mathematical relationship would have given a linear correlation of '1,' whereas these three points had a linear correlation of 0.999. Again I thought, 'What an amazing coincidence!'"
IT'S NOT as though the Tiberias-born Shore was intellectually primed to believe what he was seeing. "My research has been in the areas of statistical modeling and quality and reliability engineering," he says. "I graduated from the Technion in Industrial Engineering and Management, received a Masters in Operations Research, plus a BA in Philosophy and Psychology, then a PhD in Statistics from Bar Ilan. I've worked as a management consultant, taught at Tel Aviv University, then came to BGU [Ben Gurion University of the Negev] in 1996. But beyond that, I'm an engineer. I don't accept anything as true unless there is quantitative analysis -- without that, everything is debatable."
"But not this," Shore says. "It's a universal principle of engineering that if you have two sets of data, you put them in ascending order, plot one set on a horizontal axis and the other on a vertical axis and they fall on a straight line, that means both data sets are measuring the same thing, only on different scales."
Nor did he start out believing what the Sages had written, that within the Hebrew words lay an additional layer of information, hidden to us, which can be exposed by relating to the numerical value of the word.
"Not at all," he says. "For many years I was utterly convinced all that was based on superstition -- pure myth, no different from those provided by any number of other religions and cultures. But what I was seeing made me think twice about what was written in the Talmud, like in Midrash Rabba, where it says, 'Thus was God observing the Torah and creating the universe,' and in Berachot, [where it says,] 'Bezalel [being the builder of the Hebrew tribes' portable sanctuary in the desert which housed the Ark of the Covenant] knew how to assemble letters with which Heaven and Earth had been created.'"
Shore's postulations don't amount to scientific evidence, he
says, but he's now moved beyond terming the multitude of correlations he found
as mere "coincidences."
"Initially, I related to these incidents as curiosities, things that had no scientific basis. But over the years, I've come to see these coincidences' evolve into something more," he says. "By 2006 I'd reached the conclusion that the number of instances I'd assembled had reached a critical mass, which justified putting some of it into print."
One of the things that fascinates Shore is how modern science and technology reflects or reinforces Biblical terminology. "The word 'year' -- in Hebrew 'shana' -- is numerically equivalent to 355, which happens to be the average duration of the lunar (moon-based) Hebrew year," Shore explains. "Or 'ozen' which means 'ear' in Hebrew, which comes from the same root as the Hebrew word for 'balance [izun].' That's curious, because it was only at the end of the 19th Century that we discovered that the mechanism responsible for the body balance resides in the ear."
Another curiosity relates to the name of the Biblical character, Laban, one of the more menacing personalities in Genesis. A passage in the Passover Haggada reads, "Go and realize what Laban the Aramean wished to inflict on Jacob our Patriarch. Pharaoh decreed against the males only, however Laban wished to uproot all."
"Laban represents a total loss of Jewish identity," Shore says. "He wanted everything mixed up, with no one, or no culture, having any distinguishing features. He mixed his children, his wives, his religious faith, his language and his property. He idealized the 'everything goes' maxim -- the 'global village, as we'd say today -- where everyone and everything is just alike."
"As every Hebrew school kid knows, the name 'Laban' means 'white' -- which is extraordinary," he continues. "'Laban' is the only personal name in the Bible that's also the name of a color. Up until 1666, when Isaac Newton came along, every scientist since Aristotle believed that white was a single basic color. Not until Newton passed a thin beam of sunlight through a glass prism did anyone recognize the spectrum of colors. White, Newton argued, is really a mixture of many different types of rays that are refracted at slightly different angles, with each ray producing a different color. White, then, is a mixture of all colors."
"Isn't that bizarre, if it's just a coincidence? That
in the Bible, Laban, the man who mixed everything up, should be named
'white'?" Shore asks.
THE BOOK of Genesis, especially the creation story, comes in for special treatment. Together with Prof. Yehuda Radday, Shore analyzed Genesis and published a book in 1985.
"Prof. Radday, who passed away on Sept. 11, 2001, was one of my closest friends. We first met when I was a teaching assistant back in the 1970s and he was affiliated with the Technion doing statistical analysis of Biblical texts," Shore recalls. "At that time, the theories of German-born Julius Wellhausen were in vogue, and we set out to statistically test Wellhausen's theory that there were multiple authors for Genesis."
Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) was a German Bible scholar who argued that the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses [known as the Torah in the Hebrew language], were not written by Moses but rather resulted from oral traditions that evolved from a nomadic culture which, relatively recently, had been pieced together. Wellhausen named the four sources "J", "E", "D" and "P" distinguishing individual verses and segments on the basis of terminology and by perceived differences in philosophy. For many decades, Wellhausen's theories enjoyed general acceptance among Biblical scholars.
"Yehuda and I published our research - which statistically affirmed the position that the book of Genesis was homogenous with respect to authorship (namely, a single author) - in several research papers and ultimately in a book published by the Biblical Institute Press in Rome (Romae E Pontificio Instituto Biblico) of the Vatican," he tells. "So when I began looking at the book of Genesis again, I already had considerable background."
One of the elements Shore analyzed was the Biblical timeline of creation. In the Genesis story, the universe was created in six "days," whereas in modern day cosmology, it's measured in billions of years, which sets off the faith vs. science debate.
"I started by taking the events of the first chapter of Genesis -- just the facts as given, no interpretation. 'Light' was created on the first day; on the second -- the sky; on the fourth -- the sun and the moon were set in place; on the fifth -- marine and bird life; and on the sixth day, according to oral Torah, Adam and Eve were created at the end of the 14th hour," he says.
"I took the six points and correlated each Biblical day -- '1 day,' '2 day' -- with the scientifically established time period. For example, science has established that galaxies started to be formed about 11.8 billion years ago, the sun and the moon, 4.5 billion years ago, etc. I plotted the cosmological age on the vertical axis and the Biblical timeline (day one through six) on the horizontal axis. I found them to be arranged in a straight line," Shore says.
"Is that possible that the two sets of data, the biblical and the scientific, represent the same 'timeline,' just expressed in different time scales?" he asks.
"Statistical analysis shows that the probability that would happen by chance alone is less than 0.0021%," he continues. "If you take out day 2 and day 5 -- there's scientific debate about when life as we know it came into existence, or when exactly large scale structures had appeared in the early universe -- you can plot just four points. The probability of those four points aligning themselves on a straight line, the way they did, by chance alone is still less than 0.0165%."
Shore now believes he might have used a word other than 'coincidences' in the book title. "The title reflected my attitude towards many of the examples given in the book. But during the short span of about two or three months when I feverishly wrote it all down, something changed. I'd now say it's highly probable that hidden information in biblical words supplements the exposed information submitted."
What did Shore hope to gain by publishing his findings? "I knew very well I was putting my reputation on the line with this book," he says. "What I hoped would happen is that it would start a discussion, that people would begin to talk about it."
"That hasn't happened so far, probably because I've been reluctant to publicize it," Shore admits. "I finally went ahead because the data is significant. Everyone can figure out for himself what it all means - I'm not saying anything here about God or the Bible or biblical Hebrew. But there's something here that should be discussed and analyzed further."
Several more 'coincidences' have helped shape Shore's life. At present, he is statistically processing data received from a web-based feedback survey, conducted at the end of the 18th Maccabiah. "We're measuring participants' satisfaction, which involves analyzing questionnaires submitted by e-mail to athletes, delegation officials and Maccabiah staff," he says.
"The Maccabiah is special to me because in 1932, my father, Daniel, came to Tel Aviv to participate in the first Maccabiah as a member of the Polish football team. Once here, he stayed -- which meant that he escaped the Holocaust (most of his family did not). Because of that, I told the Maccabiah Organizing Committee, who had approached me with a request to conduct this feedback survey, that I would conduct the survey and analyze its results free of charge, on a voluntary basis only," Shore recalls.
Then, too, Shore was stunned to find that he wasn't the first Shore to write a book on Genesis. "My father's grandfather, Baruch Schorr, was a famous cantor in Lemberg, called Lvov today," he says. "He wrote two books, one about Ecclesiastes and another about Genesis that he named Bechor Schorr. I only learned about Baruch's book of Genesis -- which was published in Lemberg in 1873 -- long after my book about Genesis, with Prof. Radday, was published."
"That's just one more coincidence," Shore adds.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Note: It appears that Science may have illuminated an enigmatic passage in the Hebrew Bible. As the Hebrew Bible relates:
And it came to pass that HaAdam [Humankind] began to multiple on the face of the Earth, and daughters were born to them. And B’nei HaElohim [the Mighty Beings] saw that the daughters of HaAdam [Humankind] were beautiful; and they took for themselves wives from whomever they chose. Then HaShem said: “My Spirit will not reside within a human being forever, for he is mortal; his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” HaNefilim [the Giants] were on the Earth in those days -- and also afterward -- when B’nei HaElohim [the Mighty Beings] came into the daughters of HaAdam [Humankind] and had children by them; they were the heroes of antiquity -- men of renown. HaShem saw that the wickedness of HaAdam [Humankind] was great upon the Earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And HaShem reconsidered having made HaAdam [Humankind] on the Earth, and He grieved in His Heart. And HaShem said: “I will erase HaAdam [Humankind] whom I created from the face of the ground -- from human being to animal to invertebrate to flying creature of the skies -- because I have reconsidered having made them.” But Noah found grace in the Eyes of HaShem. (Genesis 6:1-8)
By distinguishing between “HaAdam” (literally, “the Man”, but idiomatically “Humankind”) and “B’nei HaElohim” (literally, “the Sons of God”, but idiomatically, “the Mighty Beings”) and “HaNefilim” (literally, “the Fallen Ones”, but idiomatically “the Giants”), the Hebrew Bible informs us that there were three groups of humanoid creatures which coexisted at the dawn of History.
All three of the below articles discuss two of these groups -- (1) Homo sapiens (sometimes denominated as Homo sapiens sapiens) which is more commonly known as Modern Man and (2) Homo neanderthalensis which is more commonly known as Neanderthal Man. Thus far, paleontologists have not found any fossil evidence of the existence of the third group. Since the biblical HaNefilim were distinguished by their great height, it is likely that the short but powerful Neanderthals were the biblical B’nei HaElohim. So, what happened to the biblical HaNefilim, of which no trace can be presently be found? The answer may be found in the literal meaning of their name -- “the Fallen Ones”. Perhaps the sins of HaNefilim were so abhorrent that, through the agency of the biblical Flood, God wiped the Earth clean of them as well as all record of their existence.
The first article discusses the revelation that Neanderthals first encountered modern humans when they immigrated to the Land of Israel and its environs from Europe. The second article discusses the evidence that Neanderthals had a similar diet (i.e., derived from plants as well as animals) and similar food preparation methods (i.e., cooking their food) to modern humans, thereby demonstrating one aspect of their cultural affinity to modern humans. Although the first article (from 2010) also states that no Neanderthal DNA has been discovered within the later human genome, thereby seeming to refute the possibility that Neanderthals mated with modern humans, that assertion is refuted by the third article (from 2012), which marshals the evidence that modern humans and Neanderthals peacefully cohabited in the Land of Israel, and which states that a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA does indeed exist within the later human genome.
The missing link
By ABRAHAM RABINOVICH
(Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2010) As Neanderthal man has come into better view in recent decades, so has a larger mystery about him whose geographic focus is -- where else? -- Israel.
He had red hair, light skin and was not as dumb as you think, in fact not dumb at all.
Neanderthal man [Homo neanderthalensis] has suffered a bad press since his remains were first excavated in the Neander Valley in Germany in 1856, three years before Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species”. Short and powerfully built, he had prominent brow ridges, large front teeth, a sloping forehead and a protruding jaw. His braincase was even larger than that of modern humans, but there was no mistaking him for an intellectual giant. His appearance was that of a “gorilla-like character” equipped with the sinews and brutish instincts that permitted him to survive among the beasts of the field.
“His lowering face accentuates his squat ferocity,” wrote Popular Science in 1921. Accompanying the article was an artist’s rendering -- the first “scientific” reconstruction based on the Neander Valley remains -- showing a dark, hairy figure gripping a spear as he surveys the landscape for prey.
“And was this the being from whom we sprang?” asked the caption.
The implicit answer was yes. Archeological finds showed that Neanderthal man disappeared about 30,000 BP (before present), giving way to modern man (Homo sapiens sapiens), taller, slimmer, recognizably “human” -- apparently the next rung on the evolutionary ladder.
The image of Neanderthal man began to change in the 1950s when a century-long accumulation of hundreds of Neanderthal fossils led researchers to conclude that he had been greatly underrated. For more than 100,000 years he had coped with the cold, sometimes glacial, climate of Europe. He had controlled fire, made tools and crafted animal traps. He was the first creature to bury his own kind. “Once seen as dull-witted cavemen, Neanderthals were intelligent, adaptable and highly effective predators,” anthropologist John J. Shea of State University of New York would write.
About a decade ago, his image was softened even further when it became possible to extract DNA from some of the fossils. Neanderthal’s genes showed him to have fair skin, red hair and possibly even freckles. Anatomical and genetic evidence showed that he had the capacity for speech. “What is emerging,” wrote a British archeologist, Prof. Stephen Mithen, “is a picture of an intelligent and emotionally complex creature whose most likely form of communication would have been part language and part song.”
However, the DNA also showed that this increasingly sympathetic being had been climbing a different evolutionary ladder than Homo sapiens. Although scientists do not rule out sexual contact between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, the DNA analysis establishes that there was no significant crossbreeding and that modern man carries no Neanderthal genes. It is not clear whether this was due to lack of sexual activity or whether the two were separate species and thus could not produce fertile offspring.
Neanderthal Man and Homo sapiens had diverged from a common ancestor in Africa close to a million years ago. When Neanderthal’s ancestors trekked north from Africa, his uncles remained behind and developed into Homo sapiens. It is clear from the archeological evidence that Neanderthals were for tens of thousands of years the sole hominids roaming Europe. Their stout build resembles that of cold-climate peoples today, like Eskimos. Some researchers have estimated that the Neanderthals never numbered more than 15,000 at any given time.
When Homo sapiens finally arrived in Europe, they displaced the Neanderthals in a relatively short period, a few thousand years. “What makes it so mysterious is that the Neanderthals were well adapted to the climate, very good hunters, very good toolmakers,” says Dr. Silvana Condemi, a French paleoanthropologist who lectured on the subject last month at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.
The most widely accepted explanation is that the Neanderthals could not compete for game with the more numerous and better organized and armed Homo sapiens. The Neanderthals, who lived in small groups, are believed to have had only thrusting spears and stone knives, which obliged them to engage in close combat with often fierce prey, a scenario supported by the serious wounds many of the fossils display. The numerous fractures to ribs, spine and skull among Neanderthals is attributed to this close combat. Some researchers see a similarity with the wounds suffered by modern rodeo professionals and suggest that Neanderthals may even have wrestled some of their prey to the ground as in rodeo steer wrestling.
Homo sapiens are believed to have had stand-off weapons -- throwing spears -- offering greater efficiency and to have hunted in larger packs. Apart from this tactical advantage, some researchers suggest that Homo sapiens may also have dealt directly with the Neanderthal competition by killing them off. But there is no evidence for this and the two populations did apparently live in proximity for thousands of years. The last redoubt of the Neanderthal, as far as archeology tells us to date, was the cliffs of Gibraltar at the edge of the continent.
AS NEANDERTHAL man has come into better view in recent decades, so has a larger mystery about him whose geographic focus is -- where else? -- modern-day Israel.
In the 1930s, fossils were found in the caves of Skhul and Tabun on the western edge of the Carmel range alongside tools and other artifacts associated with European Neanderthals, the so-called Mousterian culture. This was the first indication that Neanderthals had reached this part of the world. Fossils associated with the Mousterian culture were uncovered shortly afterward in the Qafzeh cave near Nazareth by René Neuville, the French consul in Palestine. Similar finds followed.
French paleoanthropologist Bernard Vandermeersch carried out follow-up excavations at Qafzeh decades later and closely studied the fossils found in the country by those who had preceded him. In 1981, he published a paper which came to an astonishing conclusion: While all the relevant fossils found in Israel from the Paleolithic period were indeed linked with the Mousterian culture, not all were Neanderthal. In some of the caves -- like Qafzeh and Skhul -- the remains were clearly of Homo sapiens.
The fact that the Neanderthals had ventured this far south had been the first surprise. Even more surprising was the fact that Homo sapiens adopted for thousands of years the same Mousterian tool kit their Neanderthal predecessors created, defying the accepted notion that evolutionary change in Mankind goes hand in hand with technological progress. “This has challenged established ideas concerning parallelism between biological evolution and cultural evolution,” says Condemi, a former student of Vandermeersch. What the evidence points to instead is apparent acculturation -- an extended period of close contact between early modern man and the species he was destined to displace, with the latter offering him a helping hand.
The greatest surprise, however, was yet to come. New dating tools which became available in recent decades -- like thermo-luminescence, which measures the residual energy in flint which had been exposed to fire in antiquity -- obliged a reassessment of fossil dates. Experts had initially believed the early modern humans unearthed at Qafzeh and Skhul to be contemporary with the first human remains found in Europe, which they closely resembled. The new dating pushed the Israeli cave finds back some 60,000 years -- to 90,000 and 100,000 years BP respectively. Many of the Israeli Neanderthal finds proved much younger than that, turning the accepted chronology -- Neanderthals older, Homo sapiens younger -- upside down. The Neanderthal skeleton at Kabara dated to 60,000 BP and those from Amud cave to 55,000 BP.
In Europe, the chronology had been clear cut. Homo sapiens arrived about 40,000 BP and within about 10,000 years had displaced the last of the Neanderthals. But in the Middle East, the chronology was a mess. According to the archeological evidence, Neanderthals were still on the scene tens of thousands of years after modern man set up home in the Qafzeh and Skhul caves. Further complicating the scenario was the discovery in the Tabun cave on the Carmel of a Neanderthal fossil dating 130,000 BP – that is, predating by 30,000 years the Homo sapiens at Qafzeh, who in turn predated the Neanderthals of Kabara and elsewhere. Adding to the confusion, the Tabun Neanderthal fossil was itself predated by a Homo sapiens found in the same cave, but it is not clear by how much.
The explanation suggested by researchers is that climatic changes in Europe triggered the southern migration of some Neanderthals to the Middle East, including the Iraq-Syrian border area, although some experts admit to still being puzzled by the evidence. The fact that all the Middle East Neanderthal fossils are “classic” Neanderthals and not earlier forms shows that they did not evolve in the Middle East but came fully formed, as it were, from outside the region. This presumably means Europe, since no Neanderthals or proto-Neanderthals have been found in Africa.
As for Homo sapiens, Vandermeersch believes that those who would make their way to Europe about 40,000 BP originated not in Africa, as is generally believed, but in the Middle East itself. They evolved, he suggested, from fossils like the 200,000-year-old remains unearthed at Mugharet-el-Zuttiyeh, a cave near the mouth of Wadi Amud at the western shore of Lake Kinneret [also known as the Sea of Galilee]. If this could be proven, Israel’s -- and to be fair, the region’s -- claims on historical importance would be matched by its claims on prehistory as well.
“The anthropological specimens found in Israel have been crucial in changing our ideas about the evolution of modern man,” says Condemi.
Israel and its immediate neighbors formed the land bridge across which mankind’s ancestors forayed cautiously out of Africa more than a million years ago on the way to their destiny. It is in the caves of modern-day Israel that early man, pausing on that epic trek, apparently lived in closer proximity with his Neanderthal cousins than anywhere else and for longer periods.
Dr. Condemi, who spent six years at the Centre de Recherche Français in Jerusalem doing research on fossils, believes that the silent dramas of pre-history played out in this land merit more attention, alongside biblical archaeology, and that new excavations should be undertaken. “Paleolithic studies were very popular in Israel until about 1970,” she says. “It will be good if people realize how important this is.”
Should Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume, the negotiators might consider a joint visit beforehand to the Carmel caves for a whiff of perspective. They would find it poignant, and perhaps instructive, to note that the attempt by two populations -- “cousins” on parallel tracks -- to coexist in this narrow strip of land despite their differences goes back, literally, to the beginning of Mankind. Back then it seems to have worked.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Fossilized food stuck in Neandertal teeth indicates plant-rich diet
By Katherine Harmon | Monday, December 27, 2010
Ancient humans' lax dental hygiene has been a boon for researchers looking for clues about early diets. Traces of fossilized foodstuffs wedged between Neandertal teeth have revealed plentiful traces of grains and other plants, supporting the theory that these heavy-browed humans were not just meat-eaters.
"Many researchers have proposed biologically or technologically mediated dietary differences" between modern humans and Neandertals as a key cause of the latter's extinction, and "some scenarios have focused on the apparent lack of plant foods in Neandertal diets," a team of researchers noted in a new study. Scattered evidence has placed plant products on the scene of Neandertal sites, but these traces had been "fragmentary and not always unequivocally linked to diet."
Fortunately for paleobiologists, the mineralization process quickly "traps and preserves many components of the oral environment, including bacteria and food particles," leaving traces of Middle Paleolithic meals in the mouths that ate them.
After analyzing a selection of these particles from European and Middle Eastern Neandertal dental remains, the team found "direct evidence for Neanderthal consumption of a variety of plant foods." Researchers examined content found on seven teeth from three individuals -- two unearthed in Belgium and one in Iraq. The study, led by Amanda Henry of the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, was published online December 27 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Some of the Paleolithic snacks seem to have included legumes, date palms and grass seeds. The grasses were from the Triticeae group, which includes wild varieties of barley, rye and wheat relatives.
In addition to profiling the types of found-foods these ancient humans were consuming, the researchers were also able to assess some of the preparation methods, which included cooking. This culinary step "represents a significant shift in human behavior, by improving the nutritional quality of plant foods and potentially altering the social organization of human groups," the researcher noted.
From the individual from the Iraq site (Shanidar Cave), for example, the team found that 42 percent of the recovered starch was from cooked materials, though Henry and her colleagues "expect that the actual proportion of cooked foods within the diet of this individual was probably much higher." To better assess starch grains from the samples, the researchers tried cooking similar plant products and found that heating the starches for more than half an hour rendered them largely unidentifiable, and thus they would not have been categorizable in fossil form.
The new findings suggest, "an overall sophistication in Neanderthal dietary regimes" and that "Neanderthals were capable of complex-food gathering behaviors that included both hunting of large game animals and the harvesting and processing of plant foods," the researchers concluded. Thankfully for the researchers, these early humans' tool selection did not likely include floss.
© 2011 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc.
Neanderthals, humans may have co-existed in Israel
By JPOST.COM STAFF
(Jerusalem Post, October 1, 2012) Archaeological evidence shows that the warring sub-species may have lived peacefully in Nahal Me'arot in North Israel.
It may be known for modern-day conflict, but 80,000 years ago the Holy Land may have been the only place where early Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals lived peacefully, new archaeological findings suggest.
Archaeologists working in Northern Israel's Nahal Me'arot, Unesco's most recently declared World Heritage Site, found evidence that the genealogical relatives lived side by side and perhaps even interbred, according to a report in The London Times.
“If that interbreeding did take place, it must have been here,” the Times quoted Daniel Kaufman, an archaeologist working at the site, as saying.
Genetic research showing Neanderthal genes make up 1-4 percent of European genes supports the notion of peaceful interbreeding between the two sub-species.
Earlier theories speculated that the relationship was the result of rape between the constantly-warring groups.
Archaeologists have found tools of both Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals at the Israeli site.
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Note: It appears that Science may have proved the existence of a famous battle from the Book of Judges. As the Hebrew Bible relates:
And the Children of Israel continued to do that which was evil in the Eyes of HaShem after Ehud died. And HaShem delivered them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan who reigned in Chazor; and the general of his army was Sisera, and he lived in Charoshet HaGoyim. And the Children of Israel cried out to HaShem, for he had 900 iron chariots, and he oppressed the Children of Israel with great force for 20 years. (Judges 4:1-3)
Long time archaeological riddle solved
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
02/07/2010 [July 2, 2010]
Canaanite general was based in Wadi Ara [in the Lower Galilee].
The riddle of the identity of a 3,200-year-old round bronze tablet with a carved face of a woman has apparently been solved, 13 years after it was discovered at the El-ahwat excavation site between Katzir-Harish and Nahal Iron (Wadi Ara) by scientist Oren Cohen of the University of Haifa.
The small, broken-off piece of metal is probably part of a linchpin that held the wheel to a war chariot sent to battle by the Canaanite general Sisera against the Israelites, says Prof. Adam Zertal, who for 33 years has led weekly walks with university colleagues and volunteers over “every square meter” of Samaria and the Jordan Rift to search for archeological evidence from biblical times.
The round, bronze tablet, about 2 centimeters in diameter and 5 millimeters thick, features a carved face of a woman wearing a cap and earrings shaped as chariot wheels. It was found in a structure identified as the “Governor’s House.”
Cohen was unable to find its parallel in any other archeological discoveries. When carrying out a study on the walls of the Temple of Rameses III in Egypt of ancient reliefs depicting chariot battles, Cohen identified a unique decoration – the bronze linchpins fastening the chariot wheels were decorated with the faces of captives, foreigners and enemies of Egypt. He also noticed that these decorations characterized those chariots that were used by royalty and other dignitaries. Cohen found that the linchpin with the woman’s face found near Katzir was almost identical to that found in the Egyptian temple.
The identification as a linchpin, Zertal said, reinforces the claim that a high-ranking Egyptian or local ruler was based at this location and is likely to support the theory that the site is Haroshet Hagoyim -- the Canaanite base of Sisera, as mentioned in the fourth and fifth chapter of the Book of Judges, the 70-year archeologist told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The Egyptians and Canaanites both created linchpins for chariots with the carved faces of their enemies; the place on the wheels were considered “very undignified,” said Zertal, like the Jews putting Haman’s name on the soles of their shoes for beating against the floor while the Book of Esther is read aloud.
The woman whose face is depicted on the linchpin found at the site was apparently a Hittite goddess; the Hittites were bitter enemies of the Egyptians. “So suddenly we realized that there was evidence of chariots from the head of the broken linchpin, which was found 10 centimeters underground in the large ‘Governor’s House’ that overlooked the northern quarter, where a large number of chariots had apparently been parked,” Zertal said.
The city’s uniqueness -- its fortifications, passageways in the walls and rounded huts uncovered in the Zertal digs -- made it foreign amid the Canaanite landscape. Zertal has proposed that based on these unusual features, the site may have been home to the Shardana tribe of the Sea Peoples, who, according to some researchers, lived in Harosheth Hagoyim, Sisera’s capital city.
The full excavation and its conclusions have been summarized in Zertal’s 2010 Hebrew-language science-based novel, “Sisera’s Secret, A Journey following the Sea-Peoples and the Song of Deborah”.
Sisera was the captain of the army of Yavin [translated into the English-language as Jabin], king of Canaan. According to Judges 4:3, Sisera led an army of 900 iron chariots and oppressed the Israelites for two decades. Deborah the Prophetess, then leader of the Israelite tribes, persuaded Barak to face Sisera in battle. He led a force of 10,000 and destroyed the army of Sisera, whose origin was completely unknown. The battle, the Bible says, led to a 40-year peace.
After his defeat, Sisera fled to the tent of Hever the Kenite in the plain of Za’anaim, where Hever’s wife, Yael, invited him inside and gave him milk to drink. This put him into a slumber; Yael -- becoming the second heroine in the story after Deborah -- quietly came close to him and pounded one of the tent pegs into his temple with a mallet, killing her enemy.
Zertal identified Sisera with the town of Sassari, arguing that he came from the people of Shardana -- or Sardinia [a Mediterranean island that is part of modern-day Italy]. “Sisera’s name did not appear on any archeological findings in the Middle East. But we did research and found that in Sardinia, there is a city called Sassari. About a third of people’s names in the World are based on the place their family comes from. We believe that Sisera or his family came from Sassari. Sea peoples came to the Land of Israel from the sea. The Philistines were the most famous, but the Shardana people also arrived,” Zertal said.
Eighteen years ago, said Zertal of the university’s Zinman Institute of Archeology, “we discovered an unknown city near Katzir with a huge, six-meter-wide wall. We found corridors, which were unusual, and in 1995 reached the conclusion that the residents were foreigners and not natives. They established features from their native home, just as the Chinese in New York created Chinatown. Everything fit together,” said Zertal, who noted that the area in Wadi Ara was very strategic, as it connected between Galilee and Samaria. “So the battle of Sisera and the Israelites was very important. But we had no visible signs where the Haroshet Hagoyim mentioned in the Bible as the place where the chariots left for battle actually was located.”
The Haifa team wondered where the residents could have come from and realized that the Egyptian writing on the Temple of Rameses III in the 12th century BCE described his being a warrior who fought against Philistine and Shardana soldiers who wanted to capture Egypt. He was described as having constructed citadels, but archeologists were unable to find any.
Zertal noted that it was fortunate the site was not built on afterward, from after the battle until the modern age. “But Katzir had plans to expand into the area. That has been canceled, and we have built a fence. We want people to visit the site,” he said.
The Haifa archeologist was raised at a Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz and severely wounded in the Yom Kippur War. “I spent a year at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, and I became interested in archeology. Although I had argued that the Bible was full of myths, I decided after my recovery to travel the Land by foot to look for archeological evidence.”
Zertal, who took the walks often using crutches from his decades-old injury, added: “I am a man of science and have to investigate whether what is described in the Bible suits the geography. Nobody thought there was an altar on Mount Ebal, but the evidence was found. It is not a legend. When you do archeological research as you should, you see a lot [of the biblical stories] is Reality.”
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Note: It appears that Science has finally proved the veracity of the Hebrew Bible’s declaration that God created the very first animals as sexually-mature adults. As the Hebrew Bible relates:
And God said: “Let the waters swarm with teeming life; and let flying creatures fly above the earth across the expanse of the skies.” And God created the large reptiles and all life that creeps with which the waters swarmed according to their species and all winged flying creatures according to their species; and God saw that it was Good. And God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas; and the flying creatures shall multiply on the earth.” And there was Evening and there was Morning -- a Fifth Day. (Genesis 1:20-23)
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
British scientists claim to have solved the mystery
updated 7/14/2010 6:17:55 AM ET
It is an age-old riddle that has perplexed generations: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Now British scientists claim to have finally come up with the definitive answer: The chicken.
The scientific and philosophical mystery was purportedly unraveled by researchers at Sheffield and Warwick universities, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
The scientists found that a protein found only in a chicken's ovaries is necessary for the formation of the egg, according to the paper Wednesday. The egg can therefore only exist if it has been created inside a chicken.
The protein speeds up the development of the hard shell, which is essential in protecting the delicate yolk and fluids while the chick grows inside the egg, the report said.
"It had long been suspected that the egg came first, but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first," said Dr. Colin Freeman, from Sheffield University's Department of Engineering Materials, according to the Mail.
"The protein had been identified before, and it was linked to egg formation, but by examining it closely we have been able to see how it controls the process," he said.
© 2010 msnbc.com
Note: Has Science confirmed the existence, and provided the likely date, of the Jewish people’s Exodus from Pharaonic Egypt?
The Exodus: Does archaeology have a say?
By STEPHEN GABRIEL ROSENBERG
(Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2014) The short answer is “no.” The whole subject of the Exodus is embarrassing to archaeologists. The Exodus is so fundamental to us and our Jewish sources that it is embarrassing that there is no evidence outside of the Bible to support it. So we prefer not to talk about it, and hate to be asked about it.
For the account in the Torah is the basis of our people’s creation; it is the basis of our existence, and it is the basis of our important Passover festival and the whole Haggada that we recite on the first evening of this festival of freedom. So that makes archaeologists reluctant to have to tell our brethren and ourselves that there is nothing in Egyptian records to support it. Nothing on the slavery of the Israelites, nothing on the plagues that persuaded Pharaoh to let them go, nothing on the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, nothing.
Nothing at all. There are three Pharaohs who said they got rid of the hated foreigners, but nothing to say who the foreigners were, and no Pharaoh is named as having persecuted foreign slaves or suffered unspeakable plagues.
However, there is another way of looking at it, another way of seeking support for this fundamental experience of our peoplehood.
We do not look for evidence from the biblical text, but we can look to it for the general context of a sojourn in, and an exodus from, Egypt, and there are three major elements.
The first is that the Israelites were slave workers in mudbrick. They had to manufacture the material, and they were semi-skilled workers in laying the bricks. As there were thousands of Israelites, what projects were they working on? The pyramids and the temples were in stone, the mudbrick houses of the peasants were built by themselves; so what project needed hundreds of workers in mudbrick?
Secondly, when the Israelites escaped, it was during a period of turmoil brought on by the magical plagues, a period when the Egyptians were off their guard and keen to see the slaves go as they wished into the desert. When could that have been?
And thirdly, the Israelites escaped into the desert and there built a most luxurious portable shrine to their God, to accompany them through their long desert trek and to house the Deity that would lead them and protect them on the way. It was to be made of fabulous materials, in hardwood and colored cloth with gold and copper trimmings, as described in detail in 16 chapters of the Torah.
How could all that have been manufactured and assembled in the arid Sinai wilderness? We should then ask, is there any period in Egyptian history when the conditions for these three elements could have come together and thus formed a basis for the context and account of the Exodus? And the answer here is “yes” – there was one such period.
It was around the death of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, the one who decreed that all worship should be directed to the single god Aten, the disc of the sun, and all other gods should be downgraded to secondary rank. To impose his new religious order, Akhenaten closed the old cultic centers of Saqqara and Luxor, closed the temples there, disowned their priests and founded a new city, Akhetaten, called the Horizon of the Aten, on a prime site well away from the old centers.
To impose the new rule, the city had to be built quickly, and it went up in the incredibly short time of two years, being built throughout in mudbrick, except for the temple and palace, which were in traditional stone.
How could it have been built so quickly? It was said to have employed thousands of slaves working under military taskmasters. It was the largest mudbrick project in Egyptian history and it required thousands of bricklayers and millions of bricks. It employed the army to supervise the slave workers and force them to work as fast as the Pharaoh demanded.
The new city was at El Amarna, on the east bank of the Nile, where there was plenty of soft mud for the bricks but little straw.
Thanks to slave labor, Akhenaten’s model city was built in record time, but it did not last long. After only 16 years, Akhenaten died; his reforms had been deeply unpopular, and when he died, his new religion was abandoned, and so was his city. Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Nefertiti had had no son, only six daughters, and so it was one of the sons-in-law who succeeded him: Tutankhamun, the famous boy-king Tut.
He had the onerous task of restoring the old order, the old religion, the old gods and their priests, and he was under threat if he did not do so. The restitution stele says that the old gods would punish him if they were not given back their old rights and positions.
Hapi, the androgynous god of the Nile, would make its waters undrinkable; Kermit, the goddess of fertility, would release her frogspawn to swarm over the land; Osiris, the god of corn, would not prevent the locusts from consuming his cereals, and Ra, the sun god, would refuse to shine. Sound familiar? The laws of succession had already been altered, as there was no firstborn son to succeed Akhenaten, only a daughter and son-in-law.
As the new city was abandoned, there was breakdown in law and order and the Israelite slaves saw their chance to escape. Like the other departing inhabitants they took with them any treasure they could lay their hands on. They “despoiled the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:36) and marched off with precious materials and, above all, the battle shrine of Tutankhamun.
Every Pharaoh had a portable battle shrine, to go with him into war, so he could consult the deity and look to it for guidance on the field. Tutankhamun did not go to war, as far as we know, but he had to be ready and he had a war chariot, as one was figured on his furniture, so he would have had a battle shrine as well, but none was found among the luxurious treasures of his tomb when it was uncovered by Howard Carter in 1922.
Where then was his battle shrine? It had been taken away by the Israelites.
And what was its form? We can assume that it was similar to that of Ramesses the Great, whose battle shrine is depicted on the walls of his temple at Abu Simbel. It was a two-chamber movable building set in a large courtyard; the inner chamber was square and contained the ark of a deity protected by two winged birds, and the outer room was twice as large, for the worshipping priests.
That of Tutankhamun was taken by the fleeing Israelites and converted by artisans Bezalel and Oholiab, as instructed by Moses, to become the portable Mishkan or Tabernacle that accompanied them through the wilderness and landed up at Shiloh, in Canaan. Thus it was made of the finest material, as was everything else that Tutankhamun left behind, including furniture with carrying poles and a golden chest surrounded by cherubim. Sound familiar?
Thus, at the death of Akhenaten, we have a situation in Egypt where the three major conditions of the Israelite account of the Exodus came together; the building of a vast mudbrick project; a period of unrest and turmoil when slaves could escape; and the foundation of the Mishkan in the shape of a luxury battle shrine. The date of the death of Akhenaten is placed at about 1330 BCE, and Tutankhamun came to the throne the same year. Was that then the date of the Exodus? Dating is a tricky subject and it is difficult to see how the Hebrew Bible can give us exact dates; for how were they counted in antiquity? But the Bible gives us two hard dates. One is that the Children of Israel were in Egypt for exactly 430 years, from entry to Exodus (Exodus 12:40). If the Exodus was 1330 BCE, the entry would have been in 1760 CE. That of course is too early for Jacob and his 12 sons, and the rabbis themselves have rejected that period of 430 years and reduced it to 210 years in the Passover Haggada, to relate it more logically to the four generations from Jacob to Levi, to Kehot, to Amram, to Moses. But it works with the idea that the Israelites came to Egypt with the semitic Hyksos, as proposed by Josephus Flavius, the early Jewish historian, and that event is placed by scholars at around 1750 BCE.
The other “fixed” biblical date is that the Solomonic Temple was built 480 years after the Exodus (I Kings 6:1). That is a nominal date, as the author will have counted 12 generations and multiplied them by the biblical reckoning of 40 years per generation. But that figure is too high, as a generation, for even in biblical times it was more like 30 years. If we then say 12 generations make up 360 years, then 360 years after 1330 is 970 BCE. The Temple is dated by most scholars to around 950 BCE, so 970 BCE is not a bad fit.
Evidence or not for the Exodus? Evidence there is none, but we can see that there was one period in Egyptian history when such an event could have taken place, one period when the three major conditions suggested by the biblical account came together and could have given it plausibility. And that would make Akhenaten the Pharaoh of the Oppression and young Tutankhamun the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
And the date? That would be around 1330 BCE.
The author is a Senior Fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2014 The Jerusalem Post.
Note: The Egyptian Pharaohs, like virtually all despots of their era who viewed themselves as god-kings, always recorded their victories, but never their defeats. So, despite the author's implication to the contrary, the lack of any Egyptian record of the biblical Plagues or the subsequent Exodus of the Jewish people is neither surprising nor of any evidentiary value. Hence the axiom: Absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence, meaning that a lack of proof that the hypothesized event did happen does not constitute proof that the hypothesized event did not happen. Conversely, the similarity between the potential punishments attributable to the pantheon of Egyptian gods and an enumeration of the biblical Plagues is indeed enlightening. However, the author’s implicit supposition that the Hebrew Bible borrowed the Egyptian gods’ arsenal of punishments and subsequently used them to fabricate mythical Plagues is not the only conclusion that can be deduced from the archeological evidence. In fact, the author may have succumbed to a reversal of Cause and Effect. For, it is just as likely that, after being afflicted and humiliated by the serial Plagues of the God of Israel, Tutankhamun managed to banish his resulting cognitive dissonance by concluding, not that Egypt’s gods were imaginary and that the God of Israel had consequently punished Egypt for its populace’s continued fealty to them, but rather that Egypt’s gods were real and that they had consequently punished Egypt for Tutankhamun’s predecessor’s lack of fealty to them. This conclusion necessarily required Tutankhamun to officially attribute the horrific Plagues to the wrath of the gods of Egypt rather than to the Wrath of the God of Israel. In order to memorialize this conclusion and attribution, Tutankhamun inscribed the Plagues on the monument that he erected to Egypt’s gods. Consequently, that monument may be the archeological proof that the Plagues actually happened. -- Mark Rosenblit
Note: It appears that Science has finally conceded that it was mistaken in positing that all dinosaurs were land reptiles. This turnabout was forced by the discovery of a huge aquatic dinosaur, which could also walk on land. Interestingly, the Hebrew Bible accurately states that, in the Beginning, God created large aquatic reptiles that had the ability to creep. As the Hebrew Bible relates:
And God said: “Let the waters swarm with teeming life; and let flying creatures fly above the earth across the expanse of the skies.” And God created the large reptiles and all life that creeps with which the waters swarmed according to their species and all winged flying creatures according to their species; and God saw that it was Good. And God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas; and the flying creatures shall multiply on the earth.” And there was Evening and there was Morning -- a Fifth Day. (Genesis 1:20-23)
Scientists unveil alien-like, giant aquatic dinosaur
Casa Grande Dispatch Posted: Friday, September 12, 2014 8:47 am
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON — Picture the fearsome creatures of “Jurassic Park” crossed with the shark from “Jaws.” Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck’s.
The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists unveiled Thursday.
This patchwork of critters, a 50-foot predator, is the only known dinosaur to live much of its life in the water.
The beast, called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, was already known to scientists from a long-ago fossil discovery, but most of those bones were destroyed in Germany during World War II. Now, 70 years later, a new skeleton found in Morocco reveals that the beast was far more aquatic than originally thought.
Spinosaurus had a long neck, strong clawed forearms, powerful jaws and the dense bones of a penguin. It propelled itself in water with flat feet that were probably webbed, according to a study released Thursday by the journal Science. The beast sported a spiny sail on its back that was 7 feet tall when it lived 95 million years ago.
“It’s like working on an extraterrestrial or an alien,” study lead author Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Chicago said, while standing in front of a room-sized reconstruction of the skeleton at the National Geographic Society, which helped fund the research.
“It’s so different than anything else around,” he said.
Ibrahim described the creature as “so bizarre it’s going to force dinosaur experts to rethink many things they thought they knew about dinosaurs.”
Scientists had thought that all dinosaurs stuck to the land, with occasional brief trips into the water. But the new skeleton shows clear evidence of river and lake living: hip bones like a whale’s, dense bones that allowed it to dive for food, and nostrils positioned high on the skull, allowing Spinosaurus to mostly submerge.
It could walk and would probably nest on land, but on land it moved more awkwardly than in water, said study co-author Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago. It lumbered on its two hind feet because its powerful forelegs with sharp curved claws were designed more for killing than walking, he said.
Sereno called it “an evolutionary experiment going into the water.”
The new find is amazing and convincing, showing how wrong scientists have been about this dinosaur and about how diverse dinosaurs can be, said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr., who wasn’t part of this study.
It’s also a creature that once was lost to history and war. German paleontologist Ernst Stromer first discovered Spinosaurus bones in Egypt in 1912. The bones went back to Europe, but in 1944, most were destroyed in the bombing of Munich in World War II. Spinosaurus was lost.
But in 2008, Ibrahim was in Morocco on a quest for Spinosaurus. It wasn’t going well. He had heard of a local dealer who might know where some bones were, but couldn’t find him. Ibrahim had given up hope and was contemplating returning home while sitting in a cafe. He looked up and spotted the dealer walking by.
They went to a Moroccan dig site and found a mostly complete set of bones.
Spinosaurus, which grew some 9 feet longer than Tyrannosaurus rex, feasted on aquatic creatures the size of cars in an area that was history’s “most dangerous place,” Ibrahim said. Three giant predators nearly the size of a T. rex roamed on land. Even the sky had giant predators. And in the water 25-foot sharks, giant sawfish and six or seven types of ancient nasty crocodiles lurked.
Sereno noted that a Spinosaurus did fight a T. rex in the movie “Jurassic Park III,” but it was a land battle and based on the old conception of the dinosaur. In reality, the two didn’t live on the same continent or in the same time period.
In the movie, the Spinosaurus won. And Sereno said if the two species had fought in the water, Spinosaurus would have won easily.
Copyright 2014, trivalleycentral.com, Casa Grande, AZ Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.
Note: Science may have proven the existence of souls by inducing post-traumatic stress disorder in worms. As the Hebrew Bible relates:
“And to every animal of the earth, and to every fowl of the sky, and to every [creature] that creeps upon the earth, in which exists a living soul, every green herb I have given for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:30)
Worms suffer from PTSD, too - new research
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN
(Jerusulem Post, May 2, 2019) Little is known about the physiology behind this phenomenon, such as how do live things leverage these memories to prepare for future adversities?
Worms are capable of forming memories that associate a certain sound, smell or tone of voice with a particular outcome, according to a new report by Hebrew University researchers.
The most famous story of associative learning dates back to the 1890s, when Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was researching salivation in dogs in response to being fed. Pavlov predicted that the dogs would salivate in response to the food placed in front of them. However, he learned that any object or event that the dogs learned to associate with food (such as the lab assistant or eventually a bell) would trigger the same response.
But little is known about the physiology behind this phenomenon, such as how do living things leverage these memories to prepare for future adversities?
Dr. Alon Zaslaver and research associate Dr. Yifat Eliezer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Genetics Department discovered that even a very basic animal life form like the C. elegans worm has the ability to learn from past experiences. They also pinpointed the exact neurons that store these memories and the physiological changes the worms undergo when they retrieve memories to cope with future hardships. The C. elegans worm only contains 302 neuron cells.
“We trained the worms to form associative memories,” explained Zaslaver. “However, instead of feeding the worms like with Pavlov’s dogs, we starved them for a day – and instead of ringing a bell, we sprayed a scent that the worms like.
“We hoped that by linking this odor with hunger, the worms would learn that from now on, this pleasant odor signals a distressed situation,” he continued.
The next day, the team fed the worms and sprayed the odor again, which led the worms to enter a defensive mode and turn on their stress-protective genes. In other words, the worms now associated what used to be a pleasant odor with hardship.
“However, when we again subjected the worms to starvation, they were better able to survive the hardship than before their associative-learning training,” Zaslaver said.
The response is similar to humans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Those who experience PTSD can have anxiety attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or other symptoms – even after the smallest exposure to a similar scene or scent.
“In a way, their PTSD had helped them,” Zaslaver said of the worms’ response to the scent.
Because the worms have so few memories, the researchers could pinpoint the specific neurons that hold associative memories.
“It’s very rare that you can look at a neuron and say ‘Here, here is the memory,’” he said, explaining that once the neurons were located, the researchers were able to then genetically engineer new worms whose “fight or flight” neurons could be activated simply by shining a light on them – without spraying the scent.
Now, Zaslaver and his team are using their findings to better understand the molecular changes that take place within human memory neurons and the privation-mode responses they provoke – to alleviate and possibly cure PTSD triggers.
Copyright © 2019 Jpost Inc. All rights reserved
Note: The Hebrew Bible records a punishment inflicted by God upon King Nebuchadnezzar II, as prophesied in a dream interpreted by the Prophet Daniel:
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living serenely in my house, flourishing in my palace. I had a dream that frightened me, and my thoughts in bed and the vision of my mind alarmed me. I gave an order to bring all the wise men of Babylon before me to let me know the meaning of the dream. The magicians, exorcists, Chaldeans, and diviners came, and I related the dream to them, but they could not make its meaning known to me. Finally, Daniel, called Belteshazzar after the name of my god, in whom the spirit of the holy gods was, came to me, and I related the dream to him, [saying], “Belteshazzar, chief magician, in whom I know the spirit of the holy gods to be, and whom no mystery baffles, tell me the meaning of my dream vision that I have seen. In the visions of my mind in bed I saw a tree of great height in the midst of the earth; the tree grew and became mighty; its top reached Heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the Earth. Its foliage was beautiful, and its fruit abundant; there was food for all in it. Beneath it the beasts of the field found shade, and the birds of the sky dwelt on its branches; all creatures fed on it. In the vision of my mind in bed, I looked and saw a holy Watcher coming down from Heaven. He called loudly and said: ‘Hew down the tree, lop off its branches, strip off its foliage, scatter its fruit. Let the beasts of the field flee from beneath it And the birds from its branches, but leave the stump with its roots in the ground. In fetters of iron and bronze let him be drenched with the dew of Heaven, and share Earth’s verdure with the beasts. Let his mind be altered from that of a man, and let him be given the mind of a beast, and let seven seasons pass over him. This sentence is decreed by the Watchers; this verdict is commanded by the Holy Ones, so that all creatures may know that the Most High is Sovereign over the realm of humanity, And He gives it to whom He wishes, and He may set over it even the lowest of men.’ I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had this dream; now you, Belteshazzar, tell me its meaning, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make its meaning known to me, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” Then Daniel, called Belteshazzar, was perplexed for a while, and alarmed by his thoughts. The king addressed him, “Let the dream and its meaning not alarm you.” Belteshazzar replied, “My lord, would that the dream were for your enemy and its meaning for your foe! The tree that you saw grow and become mighty, whose top reached Heaven, which was visible throughout the Earth, whose foliage was beautiful, whose fruit was so abundant that there was food for all in it, beneath which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged — it is you, O king, you who have grown and become mighty, whose greatness has grown to reach Heaven, and whose dominion is to the end of the Earth. The holy Watcher whom the king saw descend from Heaven and say, ‘Hew down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump with its roots in the ground. In fetters of iron and bronze in the grass of the field, let him be drenched with the dew of Heaven, and share the lot of the beasts of the field until seven seasons pass over him’ — this is its meaning, O king; it is the decree of the Most High which has overtaken my lord the king. You will be driven away from men and have your habitation with the beasts of the field. You will be fed grass like cattle, and be drenched with the dew of Heaven; seven seasons will pass over you until you come to know that the Most High is Sovereign over the realm of humanity, and He gives it to whom He wishes. And the meaning of the command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots is that the kingdom will remain yours from the time you come to know that Heaven is Sovereign. Therefore, O king, may my advice be acceptable to you: Redeem your sins by beneficence and your iniquities by generosity to the poor; then your serenity may be extended.” All this befell King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace at Babylon, the king exclaimed, “There is great Babylon, which I have built by my vast power to be a royal residence for the glory of my majesty!” The words were still on the king’s lips, when a voice fell from Heaven, “It has been decreed for you, O King Nebuchadnezzar: The kingdom has passed out of your hands. You are being driven away from men, and your habitation is to be with the beasts of the field. You are to be fed grass like cattle, and seven seasons will pass over you until you come to know that the Most High is Sovereign over the realm of humanity, and He gives it to whom He wishes.” There and then the sentence was carried out upon Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven away from men, he ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of Heaven until his hair grew like eagle’s [feathers] and his nails like [the talons of] birds. When the time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my reason was restored to me. I blessed the Most High, and praised and glorified the Ever-Living One, whose Dominion is an everlasting Dominion And whose Kingdom endures throughout the generations. All the inhabitants of the Earth are of no account. He does as He wishes with the host of Heaven and with the inhabitants of the Earth. There is none to stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” There and then my reason was restored to me, and my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom. My companions and nobles sought me out, and I was reestablished over my kingdom, and added greatness was given me. So now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of Heaven, all of Whose Works are just and Whose Ways are right, and Who is able to humble those who behave arrogantly.” (Daniel 4:1-34)
Could archeology and modern medicine help validate the Bible?
"The observation of a unique medical condition and the discovery of a related archaeological object could help explain one of the most bizarre accounts in the Bible."
By TOBIAS SIEGAL
(Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2020) Archeology and modern medical techniques may be able to shed some light on one of the Bible's most intriguing stories: the madness of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, according to research reported by the Daily Express on Sunday.
The Bible is celebrated by billions of people around the world as a spiritual document, but some researchers believe it could also be used as a tool for gaining insights into our history. One of those researchers is Prof. Tom Meyer, an expert in Middle Eastern languages from the Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, who believes that archaeology, combined with the medical knowledge we possess today, can help validate many stories in the Bible.
"The observation of a unique medical condition and the discovery of a related archaeological object could help explain one of the most bizarre accounts in the Bible, the cruel and unusual divine punishment of the famous sixth century BCE king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar," Meyer said.
Nebuchadnezzar II ruled the Babylonian empire between 605 BCE and 562 BCE. He is considered to have been the longest-reigning and perhaps most powerful ruler of the ancient Babylonian empire, being described as the "destroyer of nations" in the Book of Jeremiah.
The Book of Kings depicts Nebuchadnezzar as the king responsible for two sieges of Jerusalem, one in 597 BCE and another one 10 years later in 587 BCE, which brought about the destruction of Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, marking the conquest of Judah.
Meyer explains that, "after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and at the zenith of Nebuchadnezzar’s power, when his heart was lifted up with pride, the God of Israel took away his royal authority for seven years by driving him from human society."
The Book of Daniel depicts Nebuchadnezzar's period of madness as a punishment from God, after Daniel interprets one of the king's dreams as a prophecy by God that world powers will soon rise and fall, and that Nebuchadnezzar will be the first to suffer such a fate. According the text, this did happen, as the king “was driven from men and did eat grass as oxen” (Daniel 4:30).
WHILE MANY scholars view the Book of Daniel as mostly fictional for different reasons, Meyer and his colleagues believe otherwise.
"The most famous and powerful king in the world was condemned to spend seven years in the fields with the wild animals and to eat grass like a cow until he learned that the God of Israel has power over human kingdoms and that he can give them to anyone he chooses," the professor said.
In modern medical terms, according to this interpretation, the king suffered from a mental condition known as boanthropy, which would explain his bizarre behavior as depicted in the Book of Daniel.
Boanthropy is a personality disorder that causes a person to believe they are a cow or an ox. Nebuchadnezzar II is considered to be the most famous figure to have suffered from this condition.
"In 1946, Dr. Raymond Harrison of England recorded his experiences of observing a modern-day case of boanthropy... Dr. Harrison observed that the patient’s only physical abnormality was the lengthening of his hair and a thickened condition of the nails, the same anomalies that beset Nebuchadnezzar," according to Meyer, who adding that, "like the famous king, the observed patient spent the entire day roaming the asylum grounds from dusk till dawn eating handfuls of grass and drinking out of puddles like an animal."
Another explanation for Nebuchadnezzar’s bizarre behavior could be that he was afflicted by porphyria, a name given to a group of disorders that result from the buildup of porphyrins in the body, organic compounds that are essential for the proper function of hemoglobin but may negatively affect the nervous system when present in high levels.
As for the archaeological object linked to this narrative, Meyer mentions that "Assyriologist A.K. Grayson published a sixth century BCE cuneiform tablet found in Babylon and now on display at the British Museum – object number 34113 – that states Nebuchadnezzar’s life appeared of no value and that he continually gave contradictory orders, could not recognize his own family members or contribute in any of his building projects.
"This period of madness likely took place during the seven years he was driven from human society," the professor said.
"Through the data uncovered by medical and archaeological research, we are able to measure the Bible’s historical accuracy," Meyer concluded.
"In every instance where the Bible’s claims can be tested, even in such bizarre accounts as the humbling of the famous Nebuchadnezzar, the Bible proves to be accurate and reliable."
Copyright © 2020 Jpost Inc. All rights reserved
Evidence for Ruth’s Famine—From Ancient Pollen?
Pollen analysis reveals a long, devastating region-wide drought and food shortage — matching up with the biblical account of the book of Ruth.
By Christopher Eames • August 5 [August 5, 2020]
The famine of the book of Ruth is a pivotal event of the judges period, one that is integral to the ancestry of King David. And research directed by archaeologist Prof. Israel Finkelstein has revealed evidence of this event, from the tiniest of artifacts: pollen samples.
Ruth 1:1-2 in the King James Version reads:
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi ….
As a result of the famine, Elimelech’s family migrated east into the land of Moab, where his sons married two women — Orpah and Ruth. During their sojourn, Elimelech and his two sons died (verse 5). Finally, after 10 years, Naomi made her return to her homeland with Ruth, after “she had heard in the field of Moab how that the Lord had remembered His people in giving them bread” (verse 6).
In 2013, scientists from Tel Aviv University (tau) and Germany’s University of Bonn revealed their research of pollen grain samples that pointed to a major, lengthy famine in the Levant, between the years 1250 and 1100 b.c.e.
The Proof Is in the Pollen
Pollen grains are remarkably durable, extremely distinct (each individual plant has a unique “fingerprint” pollen form), and preserve well over millennia in lake or desert environments. The research team drilled sediment cores from the Sea of Galilee and the Wadi Zeelim, near the Dead Sea. Over the course of three years, researchers combed meticulously through the layers.
They discovered that within the period of 1250–1100 b.c.e, there was a sudden, dramatic decrease of Mediterranean trees that require large amounts of water — particularly pines, oaks and carobs. In their place was a rise in the farming of dry-climate trees, such as olives. The researchers identified this as the result of repeat, successive droughts within this 150-year period.
This discovery matches up with other regional pollen samples dating to this period, taken from Egypt, Syria, Cyprus and Turkey. (The Israeli research was unique, however, in its meticulous “chronology control” — parsing the sediment cores into extremely narrow, 40-year intervals.)
This fits with the wider historical picture. At the start of this period, a Hittite ruler wrote to the 13th-century Pharaoh Ramses ii, “I have no grain in my lands.” (The Hittite empire spanned from Syria into modern-day Turkey.) The following pharaoh, Merneptah, noted grain shipments being sent to “keep alive the land of Hatti” (circa 1210 b.c.e.).
This time period from the 13th to 12th century is known for the mysterious “Bronze Age Collapse”—the upheaval of civilizations around the eastern Mediterranean. The Hittite empire collapsed. The Egyptian empire became greatly diminished, never to rise to its earlier days of prominence. Greece emerged entirely different. Wars broke out, migrations were rife, a strange “sea people” began marauding throughout the region, and the Philistines invaded and settled in large numbers alongside Israel. The reason for this upheaval and ensuing “dark age” has long stumped historians. But could it have been exacerbated — perhaps even caused — by a devastating regional famine, between 1250 and 1100 b.c.e.? And could it be the reason Elimelech’s family moved east toward the plains of the Middle East — away from the Mediterranean region?
A Long, Hard Famine
The Bible only describes one famine in the Levant between the time of the patriarch Jacob (circa 1700 b.c.e.) and King David (circa 1000 b.c.e.) — and that is the famine mentioned in the book of Ruth. The setting of this book is during the latter part of the judges period; the genealogy of chapter 4 locks it into the exact same time period as the above-discovered famine — particularly toward the late 12th century, or end of the famine period.
The Bible doesn’t describe exactly how long the famine lasted, apart from the fact that it did last a long time. The famine is spoken of more generically as taking place “in the days when the judges ruled.” The biblical judges period spanned from the 14th to the 11th centuries b.c.e. — roughly 350 years (see Judges 11:26) — so this famine appears to have taken up a significant percentage of this attributed period.
The migration of Elimelech’s family into the land of Moab due to the famine lasted a full 10 years—up until it was “heard in the field of Moab how that the Lord had remembered His people in giving them bread” (verse 6). Interestingly, the tau researchers discovered that at the end of the “drought” sedimentary layers, there was evidence of a wet recovery period.
But the biblical famine had been long and hard—and there is further indication of this, long before the migration into the land of Moab. The sons of Elimelech and Naomi, who would have been young adults at the time of their journey, were named Mahlon and Chilion. Mahlon means “sick” (from a root indicating weakness), and Chilion means “wasting away,” or “pining” — both names that would fit well with the birth of malnourished children in a famine setting. Partway through their sojourn, both young men died, along with their father — leaving to widowhood the matriarch Naomi and their wives, Ruth and Orpah.
Many people know the period of the judges as a violent, sinful time of upheaval for the fledgling nation of Israel. A time of constant rebellion, wars, foreign oppression and slavery. The backdrop of famine throughout a large part of this period is perhaps overlooked—but it should not be surprising. In the “blessings and curses” chapters of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, God told the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land that if they rebelled, they would face, among other things, brutal famines. Some of the specifics in these prophetic chapters are remarkable. Deuteronomy 28:40 states that, among the curses, the rebelling people would have olive trees—but that they would lose the fruit of them. (Remember, the tau pollen samples showed that during the famine, there was a dry-climate surge in olive tree farming.) Even the root word for the name Chilion is found in Deuteronomy 28:65—and the root word for Mahlon can be found in the following chapter, continuing to describe the curses (Deuteronomy 29:21).
The tau findings, then, corroborate the biblical account of an enduring famine event through the judges period — as also mentioned in the surrounding ancient texts. (It is ironic that the research was led by the famously “anti-David” Professor Finkelstein — given that the book of Ruth is key in setting up the ancestry of King David.)
Some scholars speculate that the book of Ruth was conjured up in the fifth century b.c.e., as a counter-narrative to Nehemiah’s strict rules against intermarriage (Nehemiah 13; the “intermarriage” question of Ruth is another subject entirely). But evidence shows otherwise. Outside of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah), the Hebrew writing in Ruth is one of the oldest styles found anywhere in the Bible — if not the oldest. The repeated use of very early words and spelling would be extremely unusual — if not virtually impossible — for a postexilic writer to accurately represent. Thus it naturally fits a very early period of writing (it is traditionally attributed to the Prophet Samuel). As one leading critic admitted, the ancient stylistic “purity” of the book sends it “decidedly to the pre-exilic period.”
And now, from the smallest of “artifacts,” we have evidence for the geopolitical situation of the book of Ruth—the account fitting in precisely with the secular historical dating of a region-wide catastrophic famine. A famine that drove Elimelech east to the land of Moab, where Naomi met Ruth — and three generations later, Israel’s greatest king was born.
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Note: The Bible declares that water vapor ascended from primordial Earth, which initially watered all its vegetation. This biblical statement logically implies that the source of this water vapor was a vast reservoir of water situated beneath the surface of the Earth. The existence of this reservoir, situated approximately 660 kilometers (approximately 410 miles) below the surface of the Earth, has been confirmed by Science:
This is the account of the Heavens and Earth when they were created. When God made Earth and Heaven, no shrub of the field was yet on Earth, and no grasses of the field had yet sprouted, because God had not sent rain upon the Earth, and there were no human beings to till the soil; but there ascended from the Earth a mist that watered the whole surface of the ground. (Genesis 2:4-6)
How did Earth get its water? Exoplanet research raises new theories
Israeli-born scientist says study is the first step in determining whether there is life on planets beyond our solar system.
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN
(Jerusalem Post, April 12, 2023) Large quantities of Earth’s water may have resulted from a chemical interaction and not visits by ice-filled asteroids and comets, as scientists believe, according to new research by an Israeli-born scientist in Washington, DC.
“We demonstrated that early in Earth’s existence, interactions between the magma ocean and a molecular hydrogen proto-atmosphere could have given rise to some of Earth’s signature features, such as its abundance of water and overall oxidized state,” explained Dr. Anat Shahar, a staff scientist and deputy for research advancement at Carnegie Science.
Shahar’s research was published on Wednesday in Nature.
It is widely agreed by scientists that Earth and other rocky planets were formed from disks of dust and gas that surrounded our newly formed sun. As these disks interacted, they started to form larger clumps, known as planetesimals. The baby planetesimals that eventually created Earth grew hotter and larger until they melted into a vast magma ocean.
"Over time, as the planet cooled, the densest material sank inward, separating Earth into three distinct layers - the metallic core, and the rocky, silicate mantle and crust," Shahar said.
Even though there were likely water molecules in the debris that made up the disk, scientists understood that it was too hot for the water to condense into a liquid – so it would evaporate instead. Moreover, even if it had become liquid, Earth was not assumed to have an atmosphere, meaning that any liquid droplets would have been sucked into space.
Simulating a baby Earth
Shahar and her team – co-researchers from the University of California – simulated a baby Earth with a hydrogen atmosphere using a new modeling approach. In this scenario, the magma ocean and the atmosphere would have interacted, resulting in large masses of hydrogen moving into the metallic core, the oxidation of the mantle and the production of large quantities of water.
"This hydrogen-rich atmosphere surrounding the magma ocean acts like a blanket," Shahar said. "It traps the heat already on Earth and does not allow it to escape. The planet then stays in the magma ocean phase for longer, and chemistry happens between the hydrogen-rich atmosphere and the magma ocean. It would be responsible for all our Earth's features today, including water."
She said that her research does not mean asteroids and comets didn't bring water, just that this explanation would no longer be necessary to explain Earth's current state.
It also would not mean that humans will ever be able to access the water locked up within the Earth itself in the transition zone, around 660 kilometers below the surface.
“What we have is what we have, and we need to take care of it,” she said of the Earth’s water sources. “No matter how much water is ‘in earth,’ we cannot access it and use it for drinking.”
Shahar began researching whether Earth could have been surrounded by a hydrogen disk two years ago as part of the interdisciplinary, multi-institution Aether project she is leading. The project aims to reveal the chemical makeup of the Milky Way galaxy’s most common planets and to develop a framework for detecting signatures of life on distant worlds.
The study of what are known as “exoplanets” – planets beyond our solar system – began only in the last few decades. Shahar said scientists had discovered these hydrogen disks around many exoplanets, and she and her team wanted to know why this could not have been the case with Earth.
“Exoplanet discoveries have given us a much greater appreciation of how common it is for just-formed planets to be surrounded by atmospheres rich in molecular hydrogen, H2, during their first several million years of growth,” Shahar explained. “Eventually, these hydrogen envelopes dissipate, but they leave their fingerprints on the young planet’s composition.”
Shahar said her team used what it learned about exoplanets and applied it to Earth.
"Until 30 years ago, we thought there were only nine planets," Shahar continued. "Over the last few decades, planets outside our solar system have been found orbiting stars elsewhere. Astronomers say that if you look at the sky now, almost every star you see is likely to have planets that orbit it - extrasolar planets or exoplanets."
"Astronomers say that if you look at the sky now, almost every star you see is likely to have planets that orbit it" --
Dr. Anat Shahar
More recently, with the launch of the Kepler mission and now the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists better understand these exoplanets, including their mass, radius and density. In addition, they have found that many of them still have this rich hydrogen atmosphere around them.
Does that mean there could be life on those planets, too?
“Liquid water is what you need to have life – we think,” Shahar said. “We wanted to see if you could make water using pure chemistry. Knowing you can create water with a rich hydrogen disk and a planet of hot magma means that many of these exoplanets probably have water, too.
“If you put those things together – you need liquid water to have life, and these planets probably have water – now you can start to search for what is called a biosignature – a signature of life within an atmosphere.”
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