Jerry's Blog

Elam and Abraham

For most of my life, I had no idea where Iraq and Iran were located. It took the Gulf war to get me interested enough in geography that I could finally figure them out. Isn’t it interesting that the countries of the Bible have suddenly taken a front row in current events?

When I was living in France, I had a friend whose name was Ebrahim Hachémi. He was a retired professor who left Iran after the Shaw was deposed. He was very intelligent and very proud of the very ancient culture of his nation. In fact, he extolled it above the Iraqi culture. Of course, he would!

Iran was previously called Persia, and before that, it was Elam. The oldest civilizations were in Iraq and Iran. The Magi came from Persia, and Esther was in Persia. In Genesis 14, it was the king of Elam who captured Lot and was defeated by Abram. So does the Bible jive with what we can learn from history?

What we know of ancient Elam comes from artifacts and kings lists. We don’t know a lot about the daily life of people, and what we do know is confusing and hard to fit together. Elam began as a mining operation in the mountains, which made it commercially valuable to Mesopotamia.

Several centuries before Abraham, Sargon of Akkad conquered Elam and most of the world around him. No other Mesopotamian king had that reputation. He has been equated with Nimrod in the Bible, even though the names are not similar.

Around 2004 B.C., Kindattu, the 6th king of the Simashki dynasty of Elam sacked Ur, bringing and end to the Ur III empire. This was about the time of Abram in Canaan. Although we can’t identify an Elamite king who had Canaan under tribute for 12 years before being defeated, we can see that it is reasonable.

The remarkable thing about Genesis 14 is that the king of Elam was in charge and that the king of Shinar or Babylon was with him. I can’t find many times when Elam was more powerful than Mesopotamia (Iraq). We find this sequence of events: Ur III was powerful. Abram left Ur. Ur was conquered by Elam. Elam was in charge during the campaign into Canaan. I think that’s cool.

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