The Ebla Tablets

The ancient kingdom of Ebla boasted a population of 260,000 at the height of its power circa 2300 B.C. The grandson of Sargon the Great, Naram-Sin, destroyed Ebla in 2250 B.C. University of Rome professors Dr. Giavanni Pettinato, an epigrapher, and Dr. Paolo Matthiae, an archaeologist, discovered almost 17,000 tablets in 1975 and 1976 at Tell Mardikh, the ancient Ebla. These tablets are a scholar's treasure trove.

The Ebla tablets are court records and copies of records taken from the royal archives. Dating from around 2300 B.C. to the city's destruction circa 2250 B.C., the tablets name names and places and false deities that are named in the book of Genesis. For example, Adam, Eve, Noah, and the false god Baal are mentioned and so is Abraham's city of Ur. One single text provides 260 geographic names. Others list animals, fish, birds, possessions, and the names of officials.

Fantastic Find

Critics said that the Hebrew name of Canaan wasn't used at the time of Ebla's existence, nor was it used in Genesis 11:31. But the Ebla tablets supposedly contain the name Canaan, possibly proving those critics wrong.

Most of the tablets are economic records concerning tariffs, receipts, and other commercial and legal matters. Treaties and trade records made with the Hittites were also found. These treaties and agreements are similar in form to treaties recorded in the Old Testament book of Exodus, but they record transactions that occurred long before Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah from the Hittites of his day. Others are literary texts that include mythology, incantations, rituals, and hymns to false gods. A creation account found among the texts mirrors the Genesis creation narrative.

The vocabulary of the Ebla tablets and the Hebrew language are both Semitic and thus closely related. Many cities mentioned in the Old Testament are also mentioned in the Ebla tablets. These include Salilm (the city of Mechizedec), Hazor, Lachich, Megiddo, Gaza, Dor, Sinai, Ashtaroth, Joppa, and Damascus. The tablets refer to Urusalima, or Jerusalem, and are the earliest known reference to this important city.

Look in the Book

Critics of the book of Genesis say that the Hebrew word tehom, meaning “the deep,” was a later word that didn't exist until long after Genesis was written. But the Ebla tablets supposedly prove that the word was part of the Ebla kingdom's vocabulary and in use an amazing 800 years before Moses wrote Genesis.

The tablets refer to Carchemish, a town mentioned by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 10:9), and the King's Highway, a major road leading to Damascus. They also refer to the five “cities of the Plain”: Admah, Zeboiim, Zoar, and the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14:2).

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