Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gap Theory or Gap Fact?

Alice C. Linsley

Whether the earth is billions of years or only 6000 years old, there is a gap of time between Adam and Eve and the first biblical rulers listed in Genesis 4 and 5. If the earth is 4.5 billion years, and the oldest human fossils are about 3.6 million years, we have a gap of millions of years between Adam and Eve and Cain (Gen. 4) and Seth (Gen. 5).

If the earth is 6000 years, and Cain and Seth lived about 5000 years ago, we have a gap of about 1000 years. So, whether one holds a young earth position or an old earth position, there is a gap of time between Genesis 1-3 and Genesis 4-5.

How is this gap explained in Scripture? When we set aside our preconceptions and look objectively and in great detail at the data of Genesis, we find two truths that explain the gap.

First, the so-called "genealogies" of Genesis 4 and 5 (the "begats") do not list the first people living on earth. These are the oldest existing king lists. Cain, Seth and their descendants listed here lived during a time of established kingdoms, laws, trained warriors, weapons, urban centers, temples, priests, and numerous technologies of the Neolithic Period (the new stone age).

Second, the Bible does not say that Eve gave birth to Cain. Consider the text.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have gotten/gained (qa-nithi) a man with the help of the Lord." Genesis 4:1, The Hebrew Study Bible

The human knew Havva his wife, she became pregnant and bore Kayin. She said: Ka-niti (Qanithi)/ I have gotten a man, as has YHWH.  Genesis 4:1, The Schocken Bible, Vol. 1

Qany(ty) or Qan-itti comes from Nilo-Saharan languages like Oromo and ancient Egyptian. These languages share many phonemes with ancient Akkadian, the language of Nimrod's kingdom. The Akkadian itti, as in itti šarrim, means "with the king" or "for the king." It is attached to the names of royalty. Even today the Oromo of Ethiopia and Somalia attach itti to names: Kaartuumitti, Finfinneetti and Dimashqitti. That itti is associated with Nilotic rulers is evident in the name of the great Egyptian queen Nefertitti.

Kain has many linguistic equivalents: Qayan, Cain, and Kahn, as in Genghis Kahn. All the words mean the same thing: king. Eve says that she has gotten a "king" with the help of YHWH. Some might interpret this as a messianic reference.

Kain is the archetype of the earthly ruler throughout the Bible. He represents a rightfully appointed ruler who is corrupted by desire for worldly power, fame and wealth. He murdered his brother and deserved to die, but God showed him mercy by allowing him to become established as a ruler, by protecting him from those who might kill him, and by allowing him to be one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ.

In the epistle of Jude (c. 68 AD), Cain is the archetype of an earthly ruler. Jude warns those who might abandon Christ because of their suffering that God punishes those who are against Him. Jude uses three men as examples: Cain the ruler, Balaam the prophet, and Korah the priest. These are the three sacred offices among Abraham’s people and we see here that Cain stand as the archetype of the earthly king.

Knowledge of the meaning of qaniti or kanitti - king- helps us to better understand Genesis 4:1. Eve is the mother of a line of rulers from whom Jesus comes. In fact, analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's Horite people reveals without a doubt that Jesus descends from these earliest known kings.

Timeline of the Genesis Rulers

B.C. 2490-2415 - Noah lived in the region of Lake Chad in Africa
B.C. 2438-2363 - Ham
B.C. 2417-2342 - Kush, the father of Nimrod and Ramah
B.C. 2290-2215 - Nimrod, probably Sargon of Akkad
B.C. 2238-2163 - Arpacshad, "Blessed Ruler of the Ar"
B.C. 2217-2042 - Salah
B.C. 2196-2121 - Eber
B.C. 2175-2100 - Peleg (Peleg's brother was Joktan, "father" of the Joktanite tribes of Arabia.)
B.C. 2154-2079 - Reu
B.C. 2133-2058 - Serug
B.C. 2112-2037 - Nahor
B.C. 2091-2016 - Terah
B.C. 2039-1964 - Abraham
B.C. 1987-1912 - Joktan the Younger, Abraham's firstborn son by his cousin wife, Keturah.

Noah lived in the area of Lake Chad approximately 2490-2415 BC, when the Sahara experienced a wet period (Karl W. Butzer 1966). This coincides with the Old Kingdom in Egypt, a time of great cultural and technological achievement. This places Noah and his sons - Ham, Shem and Japheth - in relatively recent history, not at the dawn of human existence. Noah's sons ruled over territories in East Africa and Arabia during the 7th, 8th and 9th Egyptian Dynasties.

First Intermediate Period
2475-2445 BC: 7th - 8th Dynasties Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth and Kush
2445–2160 BC: 9th -10th Dynasties Nimrod, Arpachshad, Salah, Eber and Peleg and Joktan

Middle Kingdom
2160-2000 BC: 11th Dynasty Nahor, Terah and Abraham
2000-1788 BC: 12th Dynasty Jacob, Esau, Joseph

Here is a diagram showing Abraham's line of descent from Nimrod, the Kushite kingdom builder.

Noah's royal ancestors

Noah was a descendant of the Nilo-Saharan brothers Cain and Seth. Their royal lines intermarried so that it is not possible to say that Noah is a descendant of Seth alone, as is usually claimed. 

Cain and Seth lived about 700 years before Noah. When they were living in Africa (3200 BC) there were cities, kings, temples, priests and ritual burials. The oldest known painted tomb (Tomb 100) was found in Sudan. It had plastered walls, and dates to between 3500 and 3200 BC. Pillared chapels have been discovered there also.

The shrine city of Nekhen (4500 BC) in Sudan was built on the Nile and supported extensive river commerce. Excavations there have yielded numerous important artifacts, including evidence of sun veneration, circumcision, a caste of priests and animal sacrifice. The city was dedicated to the deity Horus who was called "son of God." The caste of priests who served Horus were called Horim (Horites). To this day Jews call their ancestors "Horim."

Abraham's ancestors were known by various names: Habiru (Hebrew); Horim (Horite); Shasu of Yahweh, Anu or Hanu (Ainu), and the Tera-neter (priest of God). Tera-neter refers to a ruler-priest of the Anu, a pre-dynastic people of the Upper Nile (Nubia). Abraham’s father had the title Tera, which means priest.

Flint knives (shown right) found in the area of Nekhen date to between 4000 and 3200 BC. They were for ritual use, including circumcision.

Nilo-Saharan technologies included mining, ship building, and ceramic, leather and metal works. Animals, such as the wild donkey and the wild dog were domesticated. Elephants and camels were used to carry cargo and construction materials. 

Nilo-Saharan rulers maintained personal zoos. The oldest zoological collection was discovered during excavations at Nekhen in 2009. This royal menagerie dates to 3500 BC and included hippos, hartebeest, elephants, baboons and wildcats. The story of Noah preserving a collection of animals has been shown to have a basis in history.

About 4000 years before Noah people were using dugouts to navigate the rivers of the Sahara. This is attested by the discovery of an 8000 year old black mohagany dugout in Dufuna in the Upper Yobe valley along the Komadugu Guna River in Northern Nigeria. Clearly the Sahara was much wetter at the time that Noah and his sons were living there.

Dufuna boat: 8000 year old dugout found in the Sahara

Cemetaries were established which reveal ritual burial. Paul Sereno unearthed 10,000 year old skeletons at Gobero in Niger. These were buried on the edge of a paleolake on the northwestern rim of the Chad Basin. The Gobero site is the earliest known cemetery in the Sahara and the skeletons found there indicated that some were at least 6 feet tall.

Gobero skeleton (G3B8) measures 6 feet 6 inches
Photo (c) Mike Hettwer, courtesy Project Exploration

Dispersal of Humans on Earth

At the time of the Gobero populations (9700-4400 years ago), humans populations were living in Africa, Europe, Asia, and on many islands from Madagascar to the Philippines. There is no evidence that any of these peoples were wiped out by a worldwide flood.

Consider the following population estimates by urban center between 2500 and 2200 BC, the time of Noah's flood. Note that all these urban areas were built on major water systems.
  • Memphis, Egypt - 32,000 inhabitants at the time of Noah. There is evidence of local Nile flooding.
  • Mari, Syria - 50,000 inhabitants at the time of Noah. There is evidence of local flooding of the Euphrates, and human bones have been found here that date to 400,000 years.
  • Lagash, Iraq - 60,000 inhabitants at the time of Noah. There is evidence of local flooding. Lagash sat at the conjunction of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
  • Mohenjodaro, Pakistan - 40,000 inhabitants at the time of Noah. There is evidence of local flooding of the Indus River. In August 2010, the Indus flooded again and reached the limits that existed in the time of Noah. The ancient river bed is visible from space.
Indus River August 2009
Indus River August 2010

Baodun settlements in China covered an area of about 373 miles. There is no evidence of destruction by flooding though all six Baodun settlements straddled the Min River in central Sichuan province. The Min is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River.

1.8 million stone axes

Humans were making reed mattresses 77,000 years ago in South Africa. That is where the oldest mattress— made from compacted grasses and leafy plants— was found at the Sibudu Cave site in KwaZulu-Natal. In this same region a stone carving of a python has been found that dates to 70,000 years.

There is the evidence of mining in South Africa between 80,000 to 100,000 years ago. These are major mining operations that included quarries and tunnels. It is estimated that a million kilos of red ocher ore was excavated from several mines. At one mine half a million stone-digging tools were found. The red ocher was ground to power and was used globally to bury rulers. Anthropologists agree that the red ocher symbolized blood. Apparently, it was connected to the people’s hope or expectation that the ruler might rise from the dead and lead his people to immortality.

On the Arabian Peninsula, the Qafzeh population was using tools 125,000 years ago at Jebel Faya.

Humans were living in the Dmanisi area of Georgia (Europe) 1.8 million years ago. 

1.8 million year skull recovered from the rocks at Dmanisi
Photograph courtesy Georgian National Museum

There were small human populations living along rivers in Cameroon and Ethiopia 3-4 million years ago. The discovery of a complete fourth metatarsal of A. afarensis at Hadar shows the deep, flat base and tarsal facets that "imply that its midfoot had no ape-like midtarsal break. These features show that the A. afarensis foot was functionally like that of modern humans." (Carol Ward, William H. Kimbel, Donald C. Johanson, Feb. 2011) Read the report here.

Additionally, A. afarensis used polished bone tools, shared food, and controlled fire. Some of the earliest evidence of controlled use of fire by humans was found at Swartkrans in South Africa. Other sites that indicate fire use are found near Lake Baringo, Koobi Fora and Olorgesailie in Kenya.

A. Afarensis had human dentition which is easily distinguished from that of apes. In humans, the back teeth are larger than the front teeth, and the canines are not pointed. Humans characteristically lack the diastema or tooth gap found in apes.

Mary Leakey’s 1979 discoveries in Tanzania added to the evidence that humans walked the earth over 3 million years ago. At Laetoli, about 25 miles south of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Leakey discovered footprints of a man, woman and child created about 3.6 million years ago and preserved under falling ash from the nearby Sadiman volcano. The raised arch and rounded heel of the footprints showed that whoever left these footprints walked as humans walk today.

Related reading: Millions of Years Between Genesis 4:1 and Genesis 4:17Genesis: On Gaps and OverlapsAfrica is Archaeologically Rich; A Scientific Timeline of Genesis; Who Was Abraham?; Climate Cycles and Noah's Flood; Cain as Ruler


Jonathan said...

If you contend that the Bible does not say that Eve gave birth to Cain, could you then try to paraphrase exactly what it would need to say in Genesis 4:1 instead? The versions cited in your post from the Hebrew Study Bible ("She conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have gotten/gained (qa-nithi) a man with the help of the Lord") and the Schocken Bible ("The human knew Havva his wife, she became pregnant and bore Kayin. She said: Ka-niti (Qanithi)/ I have gotten a man, as has YHWH.") both still sound pretty resolutely to me like Cain is supposed to have been born of Eve directly, without a gap of intervening generations. Am I too simple?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Kaniti means I have gotten "a ruler", not I have given birth to Kain of Genesis 4.

Jason said...

How does Eve's comment negate the fact scripture states she bore Cain?

The next sentence in that paragraph states she bore Cain's brother, Able. Then described Abel keeping sheep and Cain tilling the ground.

Are you saying Eve didn't give birth to Able either?

Jonathan said...

The point I am pushing on, is not so much in controversy of whether the Cain/Kayin of Genesis 4 could be taken as a ruler or not (and the father of other rulers), but how much of a "generation gap" is or isn't implied by the Scripture between the Fall and the conception of Cain. I was always reading Scripture before to the effect that there shouldn't have been that great of a generational lapse between the Fall and the conception of Cain, because, when you read it that way, it makes Gen 3 (the Fall) related to Gen 4 (the other consequences of the Fall, and the beginning of the Redemption of mankind). I take it that, if Cain/Kayin isn't shown to have been born directly of ancestral Eve, he still would have had to have been born of SOME woman (one of the "seven daughters of Eve", shall we say?); and that woman is shown in Scripture as naming him "Cain" with some forward-looking and "trans-generational" intention in mind, presumably a pious one, as opposed to the idea that Scripture is just preserving the records of a backward-looking archivist who wanted to record a king-list so that posterity could remember it better. I was looking to see if you would want to validate the idea that this woman, whoever she was, Eve or a daughter of Eve, or a great-great granddaughter was naming him "Cain" deliberately in expectation of the future fulfillment of the special promises of God contained in the earlier part of Genesis, including the promise to the woman in Gen 3:16 ("I will multiply thy conception") and to the serpent in Gen 3:15 ("[her seed] shall bruise thy heel"). Do you still see the text about her "naming" capable of holding that meaning? Would the word 'eth in Hebrew (TWOT 187 and translated with evident difficulty in so many versions: variously "from", "with the help of", and "as has" [the LORD], to name a few) in Gen 4:1 be capable of bearing some of the transgenerational meaning that you are usually conjecturing is latent but present here in the Genesis texts?

Alice C. Linsley said...

The effect of the Fall was death. By sin came death. Since all living creatures die, it seems obvious that the Fall applies universally. I am not convinced that the idea of transgenerational inherited sin is found in Genesis. I don't see it.

Why wouldn't Kain have Eve as his ancestral mother? We all do, if Adam and Eve are the first created humans.

In the Bible, Adam and Eve represent both the first created humans and the first parents of the ruler-priest lines from which Jesus descends. We have two ideas here. Are they in conflict?

The oldest human fossils are about 3.8 million years. Were Adam and Eve created around that time? If they stand for those first created humans, there is a huge gap of time between them and Kain and Seth who lived between 4000 and 3200 BC.

Adam comes from ha-dam, meaning the blood. This was a common word for human being in archaic communities.

Genesis 4:1 has Hebrew parallelism: Eve gave birth to Kaniti (ruler) and said I have gained a Kaniti (ruler) man with the help of YHWH. We have some clues then to the time in which this entered the text. It would be after the emergence of Hebrew parallelism and after the emergence of the holy name YHWH. Clearly, it comes long after the time of the first human - 3.8 million years ago. Hebrew parallelism developed before 1000 BC and the oldest inscription with the name YHWH dates to about 1400 BC. My guess is that Genesis 4:1 entered the tradition between 1400 and 1000 BC.

Jonathan said...

OK, considering the text here, and still interacting with the idea that you are presenting about the "fact" of a gap between Eve and Cain and of its being comfortably explained compatible with the Scripture (if we read Scripture with care), you now say that we can surmise that Gen 4:1 might have entered the tradition non-contemporaneously with the birth of Cain, but rather more likely around 1400-1000 B.C.E., as a guess, which we can derive from the instantiation of a "Hebrew parallelism", a special literary device. Great answer! I love it, and I am more than ready to accept it. But then, what happens to the rest of the story in the surrounding passages, such as Gen 3:15, which contain similar literary hallmarks as Gen 4:1? Do you think that the Gen 3 passages, which by the way, also display Hebrew parallelism (e.g. "It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel") similarly enter the tradition late, and not so contemporaneously with the Fall? The idea that I was going for here, is that Scripture, even if considered for its stand-alone literary qualities (if not more!), does link the birth of Cain immediately to the aftermath of the Fall, and the evidence is all over the place, even judged on the strength of the use of literary devices such as parallelism, or puns, on the name "Kayin", making all this Gen 3-4 writing part of a single, integrated story ... without there being a gap in the action. The name Cain/Kayin (Qoph-Yodh-Nun) -- the acquirer ) being rich with meaning (not excluding the meanings that you develop in your post), but at the same time reaffirming the woman's (Eve's) spiritual consciousness when naming him, presumably shows her as the central figure in the story, being able to retain the messages she had obtained from God in Gen 3:15-16 and pass them on to her "seed". (Although, now that I focus on the passage more closely, I realize that the text does not actually say that Eve named Cain: could that omission be relevant?) But you would say there is a gap, proved by "two truths": one, that the begats are king lists (which is a truth I accept with ease), and second, that the Bible does not say that Eve gave birth to Cain (which "truth" I find difficult to be reconciled to.). Also, doesn't your late dating of Gen 4:1 to the time of the Judges and the Conquest, pose difficulties with what you asserted in your post on October 16, 2013? There you credited "Abraham's ruler-priest ancestors" with a functional knowledge of Gen 3:15 -- because they held to faith in God who "made the original promise in Eden that a woman of their lineage would bring forth the 'Seed' of God who would crush the serpent's head"? Is it likely that Abraham's ancestors might be walking around with an accurate and literal knowledge of the Edenic promise, but not have a very complete and literarily formed grasp of the meaning of Cain's name, the sin of Cain, the judgment and exile of Cain, etc., all that Gen 4 stuff, as those things only entered the tradition later??

DDeden said...

So Eve bore a king (title, not name, like YHWH)?

Balaam - had a talking donkey? Is there a rational explanation for that story? Might the donkey represent a slave/servant? If not, it is as nonsensical to me as the Quran's talking ant.

this may be of interest:

Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution
Larrasoaña JC, Roberts AP & Rohling EJ 2013
PLoS ONE 8(10):e76514
doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0076514
open access

Astronomically forced insolation changes have driven monsoon dynamics & recurrent humid episodes in N.Africa, resulting in GSPs, with savannah expansion throughout most of the desert.
Despite their potential for expanding the area of prime hominin habitats and favouring out-of-Africa dispersals, GSPs have not been incorporated into the narrative of hominin evolution, due to poor knowledge of their
timing, dynamics & landscape composition at evolutionary time-scales.

We present a compilation of continental & marine paleo-environmental
records from within & around N.Africa, which enables identification of >230 GSPs within the last 8 My. By combining the main climatological determinants of woody cover in tropical Africa with paleo-environmental &-climatic data for representative (Holocene & Eemian) GSPs, we estimate precipitation regimes
& habitat distributions during GSPs. Their chronology is consistent with the ages of Saharan archeological &
fossil hominin sites.
Each GSP
- took 2­3 ky to develop,
- peaked over 4­8 ky, bio-geographically connected the African tropics to
African & Eurasian mid latitudes,
- ended within 2­3 ky, which resulted in rapid habitat fragmentation.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Dedan. Interesting link, if off topic.

The stories of Genesis 1-4:17 and the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5 are entirely different in nature. The earlier are creation and origin stories and come from two cultural contexts of the ancient Horites: Mesopotamian and Nilotic. With the king lists we have historical persons.

DDeden said...

Cain - land owner/ce-tiller=settler
Abel - nomadic herder, tent/tenders

Kings only ruled (measured/bound/titled/held) lands;
nomad chiefs led clans/clal/in-clusters

Alice C. Linsley said...


Where exactly does Scripture link Cain's birth to the aftermath of the Fall? You are imposing this based on the arrangement of the stories, an arrangement that comes from a much later time than when Kain and Seth lived. This is a serious theological and exegetical mistake, in my opinion. A similar mistake is made when we assume that Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died because Keturah is mentioned after Sarah's burial. The arrangement of the material is misleading. Genesis no where explicitly states that Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died. In fact, that would be in direct contradiction to all the evidence of Scripture, as all the Horites rulers had two (and only) two wives living at the same time.

Jonathan said...

I get the idea of reading both the chapters (3 and 4) as a linked set from, among other things, a set of linguistic hints: hints that I didn't discover on my own, but once discovered, are pretty convincing to me. For instance, the deliberate similarities employed in the language between Gen 3:16 and Gen 4:7, where I defy the reader to NOT compare one scene with another when the words in Gen. 3:15 ("thy desire (Heb. teshookaw) shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over (Heb. mashal) thee"),relate exactly to the words in Gen 4:7 ("unto thee shall be his desire (Heb. teshookaw) and thou shalt rule (Heb. mashal) over him")-- and that's only the most obvious, but certainly it's not the only evidence that invites the reader to assimilate and conjoin the one chapter with the other. Is this a serious exegetical and theological error? I believe that some of the early church fathers did teach and elaborate on this similarity as well. But they could be wrong, and so could I. By the way, I do agree that the way to sequence Abraham's marriages to Sarah and Keturah, respectively, doesn't have to be imposed simply from the sequence of the presentation in the text, as well as there being lots of other examples of deliberate transposition of time events in Scripture, which is legitimate under poetic license and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for purposes of making a more coherent narrative, when the need arises.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Great comments, Jonathan. It is clear that you are thinking deeply about this important material. Keep doing it! Also, I enjoy hearing from you.

DDeden said...

Abra(ha)m, Abel:
ab/of/auf + Ra ((hi/ha) + m)
ab/of/auf + El ((oh) + im)

Agree with kings list & kaniti interpretation.

DDeden said...

"B.C. 2490-2415 - Noah lived in the region of Lake Chad in Africa"

(Noah pronounced Noach, not No'ah)

in the land of Nod? Bornu?

The Nopa (Nuba?) lived between the 1st & 2nd cataracts of the Nile

Two cities of Nob: King David entered one for shewbread


DDeden said...

land of nod...node/nodule
(Arabic) lubya = bean (nut-like)
(Arabic) lub = gourd/heart

Nod as a place of many paths/channels/canals/-atl=water
camatl(Aztec) mouth