Lifestyle & Belief

Camel study throws the Bible's historical accuracy into question


A camel given as a gift to French president Francois Hollande was cooked and eaten in Timbuktu.


Christof Koepsel

The accuracy of the Bible has long been a hotly contested topic.

Now, camels — of all things — have thrown a hump into the holy book's writings.

New research showed the domesticated animals didn't arrive in Israel until the 10th century BC — several centuries after they make an appearance in the Bible.

Camels are mentioned dozens of times in the Old Testament, in stories about Abraham, Jacob and other biblical patriarchs.

Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.

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But carbon-dating research conducted by archaeologists Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University contradicts the Bible's text.

The Israeli archeologists' research placed the age of the earliest-known camel bones in Israel around 930 and 900 BC.

Many historians believe stories in the Old Testament took place much earlier, between 2000 and 1500 BC.

The findings suggest the Bible was written much later than the events it describes, and support earlier studies that have challenged its veracity as a historical document.

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A hot-button topic on social media, the study did not trouble biblical scholars.

“We expect history to provide an accurate narrative of real events,” Carol Meyers told TIME. “The biblical authors, composers, writers used their creative imaginations to shape their stories, and they were not interested in what actually happened, they were interested in what you could learn from telling about the past.”