Daily Archives: September 9, 2010

Ties between Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean, and Egypt

Folks who study the Bible have understood that the people of the ancient near east traveled through Canaan as they made their way from Mesopotamia to Egypt, and back.

Several discoveries illustrating the contact between these ancient lands have recently been made. We commented on discoveries at Tell el-Da’ba in Egypt showing contacts between Babylon and Egypt here.

Word has come of a Syrian-German expedition “working in the Katana Kingdom ruins at Tel el-Mesherfeh archaeological site in Homs.”

Prof. Peter Pfalzner said the archeological finds in the site during the past two days indicate that Katana Kingdom enjoyed influence and important international and trade ties.

He added the finds reveal the existence of cultural relations between Katana Kingdom and the Pharaohs and Mesopotamia, in addition to trade relations with Mediterranean countries

The news report, which may be read here, continues,

Pfalzner underlined the importance of Katana kingdom during the Middle Bronze Age in the 2nd Millennium BC, adding that the royal palace in it was one of the greatest in Syria. He also noted that the archeological sites in Syria are filled with treasures waiting to be uncovered.

The Middle Bronze Age (about 2100 to 1550 B.C.) is the period of the biblical Patriarchs. Assume for a moment that Abraham and his family came from Ur in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), rather than from northern Mesopotamia (Genesis 11:28 — 12:5). The map from Bible Atlas shows some of the places we will mention below.

Map showing Hamath and Kedesh. BibleAtlas.org.

Map showing Hamath and Kedesh. Courtesy of BibleAtlas.org.

The route taken by Abraham from Haran to Shechem in Canaan would most likely take him through the Syrian towns we know as Aleppo, Ebla, Hama and Homs. Homs would be at approximately the point referred to in the Bible as the entrance of Hamath (= modern Hama; 1 Kings 8:65). Several of these references indicate that Israel’s territory extended that far north during certain historical periods (2 Kings 14:25; Amos 6:14).

A few miles south of Homs are two significant sites illustrating the movement of ancient kingdoms. Tell Nebi Mend is the site of the battle of Kadesh where Rameses II and the Hittites fought. Another site nearby is Riblah where Nebuchadnezzar made his headquarters when he destroyed Jerusalem.

Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:6-7 ESV)

Here is a photo I made of Tell Nebi Bend. The Orontes River is to our back in this photo, and the valley of the battle of Kadesh is on the opposite side of the tell. There were a few houses of a modern village on the tell, but most of them were empty.

Kadesh - Tell Nebi Mend in Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tell Nebi Mend (=Kadesh) in Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Bible informs us that 4 kings of the east engaged the 5 kings of the region of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14).

And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). (Genesis 14:3 ESV)

The new information we are learning shows that such movement was not all that uncommon.

HT: Joseph Lauer