One capable person questions my assumption in this matter,
saying;: "You begin with 'an argument from silence"
-- the weakest possible form of argument ever conceived. Your
reasoning is that because there is no mention of the name Asshur
prior to the Flood, it did not exist. How do you know? The fact
that these names occur later in history means nothing. History
tells us that old names are constantly re-applied to new places
as they are founded, like London in Ontario, Berlin (now Kitchener)
in Ontario, Hull in Quebec, and so forth. The United States in
chock full of them.
In reply may we draw attention to factors favoring the view that such names are strictly postdiluvial?
The argument assumes that if Asshur was a man's name and Assyria (a whole country) was named after him, yet could not this man have been named after an older predecessor and an older country? In short, there could be an antediluvian Asshur and a postdiluvian Asshur; possibly in entirely different localities. In view of the fact that we know many names are duplicated in history, the objection my friend raises is wholly valid; yet it is itself assumption. Thus we are dealing in opposing assumptions.
Now as to old names being applied to new locations, the reference to London, Ontario, is a most interesting example, named after London, England. Both Londons are on the banks of a river named the Thames; both are in a Middlesex county; in both cases by following downstream you will be drawing near to Chatham, though the Chatham in England is not on the Thames River as is the Chatham in Ontario. The parallels are numerous and striking, but they are limited. We soon discover sharp differences. The Thames in England flows easterly: the one in Ontario westerly, and so on.
If "Asshur" is both an antediluvian and a postdiluvian place name, we are immediately confronted with a vital question: Does the name in each case indicate the same place? The answer must be, Yes, or, No. If Yes, no differences will be observed in the description thereof, and our arguments on the whole will be little affected: if No, differences may be expected, and would be well nigh conclusive.
One might pile up Bible Dictionaries and commentaries from floor to ceiling which tacitly agree or plainly say, like Schaff's Bible Dictionary, (11th edition, Studten4's; American Sunday School Union), under the heading, "Assyria": "A great empire founded by Asshur, Gen. lO:lO-ll, who built Nineveh ", etc. The thought of any other "Asshur" was foreign to these men of the past.
It seems, too, that the name "Asshur" in Genesis 2 is so related and tied-in with other names that it is virtually impossible to separate it from the "Asshur" of later history. It is related to the River Idiklat (Hiddekel), which settles it,-- unless there were two Idiklats in ancient times, just as we today have two cities named--- London, and two rivers named Thames. The Idiklat of Genesis 2 was part of an easterly-flowing drainage system, the same as we know the Euphrates-Tigris system to be,making it appear identical -- unless there were not only two Asshurs, but two Idiklats and each connected with a distinct easterly-flowing system, both having in them a river named Euphrates: But the system in Genesis 2 is linked by another river (the Gihon) with Cush (Kassites), just as the Tigro-Euphrates system is linked by the Dijala river to the home of the Kassites, which should settle this point -- unless we were confronted with two Asshurs, two Idiklats, two easterly-flowing systems, and two rivers connecting each to two places called Cush. And so on and so on. We could continue to stack up parallel relationships with historical conditions until the chances of the description in Genesis 2 being other than the later known situation begins to assume the most staggering proportions. We feel, at present, that the possibility of so much duplication is an assumption too big to be taken without some direct proof or evidence.
If we can agree to assume the identity of the location of the Asshur and other names in Genesis 2 with the locations known in later, historical times, then only the matter of the origin of the names remains in question. If these names (and others in Genesis 10) did not arise after the Flood, in relation to each other, as depicted in Genesis 10, but arose in a dim and distant past before the Flood, we know not just how, then of what value is Genesis 10 at all? If the people of Asshur were not named after their ancient leader, a man named Asshur; if Cush was not the founder of the Cushite tribes; if Havilah the son of Joktan was not revered as the father of the tribe of that name; if all these tribal groups existed before the men named in Genesis 10 were born -- then must not Genesis 10 be discarded as a "Table of Nations"?
If the men named in Genesis 10 were named after older predecessors and after ancients clans and groups, then the grouping and relating of names in Genesis 10 is utterly valueless in studying groupings and relationships of ancient clans and tribes, since the clans and tribes existed before the men and their relationships came into being: We feel it far more satisfying to assume that all the names in Genesis 10 are intended to be taken as postdiluvial unless the text otherwise indicates.
One other point we should mention. When Moses, or whoever it was that compiled the Book of Genesis, he wrote down this river name Hiddekel (Idiklat). He had a concept in mind as to what river he meant by it. He expected his readers to have a similar concept. Suppose there was more than one river by that name; he would not want his readers confused on the subject. He may have been copying or drawing information from a clay tablet hoary with age, as some think.
It could be that the tablet before him spoke only the name Idiklat at this point, without defining which Idiklat was meant, assuming there two or more rivers of this name. If so, he may have added the explanatory phrase, "that is it which goeth to the east of Assyria." In this case, "Assyria" to him would be the Assyria of his day, and the Idiklat we today know as the Tigris. But if the tablet before him bore the explanatory phrase, he copied it as it stood, evidently understanding it as applying to the Assyria of his day. As he added two qualifying expressions.
If I had been, say. Joshua's grandson and wrote the new book "just off the press," would not I understand it then to mean the Asshur of the time I lived in?
If there were two Idiklat Rivers and two Asshurs, then the qualifying phrase describing the river is useless. It would be like trying to explain which Thames River I referred to, by saying, it is the one which flows through London, and not tell whether I meant London, England, or London. Ontario. The writer of Genesis had more skill as an author than that.
If the descriptive phrase was added by a later scribe, (and I discount the idea), then the scribe evidently thought this Idiklat to be the one which flowed by Asshur of his day, in short, the Tigris. And who can prove he was wrong?
If the presumed clay tablet before Moses bore some older name or names, no longer in current use, and Moses substituted therefore names in current use at his time, Idiklat, Asshur, etc., then again we are forced to face the fact that we are handling postdiluvial or historical names in use during the second millennium B.C.
Thus whatever approach we make, we seem to be almost forced to treat the names in Genesis as postdiluvial, except for a few exceptions; Eden and Nod and Enoch may be older, etc.
End of Appendix A
|Chapter One||A Few Leading Clues|
|Chapter Two||The Rivers Euphrates and Hiddekel|
|Chapter Three||The River Pison|
|Chapter Four||The River Gihon|
|Chapter Five||The Changing River Courses|
|Chapter Six||Eden in Relation to Geology|
|Chapter Seven||Eden and Biblical Chronology|
|Chapter Eight||Cain's City of Enoch|
|Appendix A||Are the names in Genesis 2 Postdiluvial?|
|Appendix B||Maps, sketches and notes|