Simply stated, history is a systematic record of past events. Chronology serves as the backbone of history, in that it establishes the order and dates for the events. Chronology is essential for any study of history, even Biblical history.
A foundation for biblical chronology has been established by comparing events recorded in Scripture with ancient Assyrian annals. These records list the names of certain rulers and principal astronomical events of the year, such as the eclipse of June, 15, 763 B. C. Examples of important dates established through such lists are the conquest of Samaria in 722 B. C. and the attack on Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 B. C. A rough chronology can be established, but every detail can not be put an exact date to. For those people that would try to refute the Bible’s accurateness, these archaeological finds have been invaluable in proving once and for all to an unbeliever that the Bible is accurate and true.
Civilization had its birth and childhood in the eastern Mediterranean region known as the Fertile Crescent. This broad land area stretches north along the Persian Gulf to the mountains of eastern Turkey and then extends southward along the eastern Mediterranean seacoast into the delta and Nile Valley of Egypt.
Most of the region is quite fertile because it is watered by the great rivers of Mesopotamia and Egypt and also with the moisture-laden winds of the Mediterranean Sea. The modern countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt are the primary beneficiaries of this agriculturally productive terrain. It is to the eastern half of the crescent that the beginnings of biblical history may be traced. (See map below.)
The first period of chronology is known as The Primeval Period which stretches from Creation to 2166 B. C. God both formed and filled the heavens and the earth. He gave man a vast Garden of Eden to live in and enjoy. There are several older accounts of Creation. There is a Babylonian version that was composed about 1800 B. C. In some ways it is very similar to the Biblical account, but the Babylonians put their own beliefs in it, such as several gods instead of one God. It seems that the story of the Creation was well known to the people of that day in whatever text they read it from.
The fall of man resulted in the corruption of man that was so bad that God eventually judged him with the flood. Noah and his family and the animals that God had foreordained were the only ones that escaped from the flood. The ark was more like a barge than a ship. It was approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet broad, and 45 feet high. It was large enough to contain 522 modern railroad boxcars. Since two of each of the air-breathing creatures in the world today could be comfortably carried in a mere 150 boxcars, it would appear that there was no shortage of space on the ark. As the waters receded, the ark settled down on what most scholars believe to be Mount Ararat which is 16,916 feet high. This is in the Armenian region of eastern Turkey.
There is a debate as to whether the flood was local or global, but the Bible seems to indicate that it was global even though that is entirely beyond most of our comprehensions. In Genesis 7:19-20 it says that the waters covered all the mountains of the earth and resulted in the destruction of all living creatures. The duration of it was 371 days and this in itself suggests that it was not just a local flood.
Accounts of a universal flood are found in the legends of almost every culture on earth, with the most famous being that of the Babylonian version. It tells of a man and his wife who built a boat and became the sole survivors of a universal flood. His name was Uta-naphishtim. The Hopi Indians in the Southwest and the Incas in the Peruvian Andes also have legends of a great flood that covered the tops of the mountains and destroyed virtually all life on earth.
Even some of the scientific community is starting to believe in the account of the flood as digs in places have revealed where something chaotic has happened because of vast layers of sediment in places all over the world that happened about the same time.
After the flood, God instructed Noah and his family to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth”. Their family was the new beginning and Noah’s descendents are recorded in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. Chronologically this record follows the Tower of Babel incident which reveals why the people were scattered.
Noah had three sons – Japheth, Ham, and Shem. The sons of Japheth became the northern nations – the Indo-Europeans. The sons of Ham became the southern nations – Africans. And the sons of Shem became the central nations – the Semitic peoples. Shem was the father of Eber and is thought to be the chief forefather of the Hebrew people. Abraham is a descendent of Shem through Eber.
Careful study of biblical chronology indicates that the birth of Abraham can be dated about 2166 B. C. It is not possible to provide dating for biblical events prior to Abraham with any accuracy.
Abraham was a Semite who lived in Mesopotamia. Not much is known of his background until God called him and changed his name from Abram to Abraham, meaning father of a multitude. Abraham was called out of a nation and family that served many gods. Even his father Terah served many gods. The primary deity at Ur, where Abraham grew up, was the moon god, Sin. This is one reason that God had to call him out of there. He had to be away from all the other idols so that God could teach him who THE REAL GOD WAS. Even before he knew God had to put in him a strong enough faith that he left his land and his people to go to a place that God had not even yet revealed. The next study will be about the land of Mesopotamia and its cities where Abraham was born and grew up. (After viewing The Fertile Crescent diagram, keep scrolling down for diagram of the Ark.)