No camels during the Patriarchal Age?

That’s what they are saying. It is a popular theme of those who want to put Bible believers in their place. Camels are mentioned repeatedly in Genesis 12-37, a section of Scripture set during the Middle Bronze Age (about 2100–1550 B.C.). Many of the well-known Bible characters of the Patriarchal Age are mentioned as riding camels.

A few days ago I was beginning to locate my sources to respond to the recent article in the New York Times, and in Time. While I was working on Visualizing Isaiah, Todd Bolen came out with two great articles on the subject. I include these links for the two people who read my blog but do not read the Bible Places Blog.

First, you should read the post about the Domestication of the Camel.

Then read.

Both are these posts are well documented with scholarly links you can track down to your own satisfaction. Don’t be unprepared the next time this subject comes up.

Camels at Abel-meholah, possibly the home of the prophet Elisha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Camels at Abel-meholah, possible home of the prophet Elisha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

4 responses to “No camels during the Patriarchal Age?

  1. It seems that a lot of critical Bible study goes back to Friedrich Christian Bauer’s attempt to squeeze everything into a tidy thesis-antithesis-synthesis package back in the 19th century. Hence, the Gospels had to be late to allow for the growth of the synthesis they represent. Perhaps today we recognize this for the poppycock it is, but it is still part and parcel of the intellectual baggage of simple unbelief.

    Doubtless proof of the early domestication of the camel will tumble out of the woodwork–oops, sand–sooner or later. After all, the Ebla texts showed that the patriarchs and some of the places they knew bore names similar to those known far back into the second millennium B.C.; other discoveries of the marriage customs of the Hurrians and others made some of the patriarchal marriage and inheritance customs “make sense” in the chronological context in which the historic understanding of Genesis placed them.

  2. Dear Ferrell,

    Thank you for your article and have it relayed Todd.

    Apparently, the debate rages in the U.S. while on the old continent, sola scriptura Christians react less strongly.

    Minimalists say this thing, but can not prove it!

    A famous quote says: “God will recognize his own!”

    Good luck for your blog richly documented and especially with the series on the book of Isaiah.

    Christian greetings.

  3. Ferrell,

    Thanks for posting these comments and references. This info will be useful to Bible teachers and preachers in response to questions. Todd had some good comments.

    As we say…. absence of evidence isn’t the same as evidence of absence.

    Best regards,


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