​​ Chapter 4  Genesis 1-11 in Light of the Physical Evidence

​​Genesis 1-11 is not literal science or literal history.  The physical record is very clear on this.  Whatever the chapters ultimate purpose is, it is not to convey a step by step literal description of historical events that immediately preceded Abraham even if the authors thought this to be true.  I would suggest that the stories are contained and retained in the Bible as teaching stories, not as history.  These teaching stories are reasonable for the time Genesis was written to explain God and world origins in a simple fashion to a people who could not know or understand the true realities.  But they are stories, not history.  “When I was a child I thought as a child and acted as a child.  When I became an adult I put away childish things.”  With modern scientific knowledge and understanding they cannot be considered true and literal history.  On the other hand, we must realize these stories have been effective for introducing the Bible for nearly 3,000 years.  That has to mean something.

The Bible is essentially the story of Abraham, his descendants, and their interaction with the creating God.  Promises were made to Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to the world.  Even the New Testament believers are considered grafted into the family of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).  Those promises are still being fulfilled in our time today.  His physical descendants, and the “grafted in” descendant's, have provided the Bible for the world.  However, it is a mistake to consider the Bible infallible and every word directly inspired by God.  That topic is covered in the previous chapter.  Such facts must not devalue the Bible.  They should  help us to better understand it.  The Bible provides a reason and purpose for human life and instructions for how to live it effectively.  It provides the key to eternal life… which men have sought since the days of Gilgamesh and beyond. 

The story of Abraham starts in Genesis 12 and continues throughout the rest of the Bible.  What Abraham knew about God is a serious question.  Certainly he did not know all the laws that were later revealed at the time of Moses.  He had even married his sister which is unlawful by those later laws.  He knew God as El Shaddai, the “greatest of the gods.”  This is, of course, true.  He is greater than any of the other meaningless gods of the day.   However, when God appeared to Moses He didn’t want Israel to know Him as merely the “greatest of the gods” but rather by the name Yahweh, meaning something like the “I Am,” the Eternal, the Self Existent One.  Abraham, while faithful and obedient in what he knew, did not know everything about God that was later revealed in the Bible.  Abraham was the starting point, not the ending point.  Knowledge of God was revealed over a long period of time through Moses and the other prophets of Israel, coming to a high point at the time of Jesus and the New Testament Church.

The historic context of the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all make sense in light of what we know historically and archaeologically about the times in which the Patriarchs lived (Probably the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE) with a few minor exceptions.  Certainly we would not expect to find any direct, provable archaeological evidence for their individual existence.  The history we have of them may have been compiled from legends or stories passed down for generations before being written down for a more stable record.  We cannot expect them to be literally word for word perfect in every detail.  However, to deny that they contain a core of truth is also unrealistic.

The evidence for their descendants in Egypt is similar.  The geographical setting and history makes sense with the geology, archaeology, and the history we have of Egypt at the time, if we do not take an absolute fundamentalist view that all the numbers, times, and dates given in the Bible are absolutely correct, but allow for some error and leeway in their understanding.  While we take the Bible as a serious source of information, a rigid, fundamentalistic approach that every word is absolutely true ultimately proves false and unhelpful when trying to understand the historic realities… and the real meaning and way to understand the Bible.

The settlement in the land of Canaan is witnessed by much archaeological data.  There are, however, a number of questions and problems in correlating it to the Bible that remain to be understood correctly.  There is much better historic and archaeological evidence for the period of the early united Monarchy.  Even more abundant evidence exists for the biblical stories of the later kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  The same is true for the captivity of both nations, first Israel by Assyria and later Judah by Babylon.  The Persian period and Israel’s return also fit both the secular historic and archaeological data well.

The problems with Genesis 1-11…

The one part of the Bible that directly contradicts the physical evidence when taken at literal face value is much of Genesis 1-11.  It simply does not fit reality.  Some of these stories may be “inspired” teaching stories, but they certainly are not literal history and science.  Let’s list a few of the contradictions when we compare them to literal history and science.

1. The earth, sun, and moon are ancient and were not created in six days less than 10,000 years ago.  Modern knowledge of astronomy, geology, paleontology, and archaeology make this history more than abundantly clear.  Extending the day to mean thousands or millions of years doesn’t make rational sense of the physical realities either.  Neither does having the earth refurbished six thousand years ago after a major destruction, as in the “gap theory.”   The creation story of Genesis 1 simply does not fit the facts of the physical record.  It is something else, not literal history.

2. Human-like beings and their antecedents have been on the earth for tens of thousands of years.  (I have personally done the lab work for radiocarbon dating bone from two different human burials in the western United States that were both around 10,000 years old.  I have also personally done the lab work to date animal bones from the human layers at the site of Abri Pataud in France that were 19,000 and 31,000 years old.)

3. There is no physical evidence that any humans had a lifetime of multiple hundreds of years in length.  Human skeletons go through general time dependent stages of development.  These stages prove true throughout the archaeological record.  Teeth wear out and are not replaced after the first deciduous tooth replacement.  If one is eating stone milled grain with its residual grit, as most early people did, those teeth wear out even faster.

 4. There was not a worldwide, or even a “local” Mesopotamian, flood about 2,350 BCE that destroyed all living cultures.  Archaeology reveals that the living cultures in Mesopotamia continue through that time period without major disruption or extinction.  The unique Egyptian culture also continues through this time period without major disruption. 

Even more telling is the archaeological story of the empire of Sargon of Akkad.  Shortly after 2300 BCE there arose in Southern Mesopotamia the first known human empire.  This empire extended across Mesopotamia from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.  It forcibly incorporated countless city states and larger “dynasties” which had large populations at the time. This included such well known and well populated areas as Er, Uruk, Kish, Mari, and Ebla.  It did not take place in a geographic area that had been depopulated by a major flood even as much as 100 or more years previous.  There were thousands and thousands of people living all over Mesopotamia at the time.  Excellent descriptions of this empire is found in Foster 2016 and Van De Mieroop 2016.

5. The earth’s major geologic strata were not deposited rapidly or by “flood” processes, no matter how dramatic the video scenarios presented by Creationists make it appear.  If one seriously looks at the geologic strata in context over a wide area the picture is entirely different than that portrayed by the Creationists.  In the western United States one can trace the geologic events in context from nearly 2 billion years ago at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, through all the major geologic periods since, including the glacial periods of the last two and a half million years, right up to the last snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.   The proof of this is covered in considerable detail in chapter 6.

6. Genetic evidence indicates that all living human beings have not descended from eight individuals who lived four and a half thousand years ago.

7. The continuity of Egyptian civilization through this period without a major break.

These stories of early Genesis are simply not true as we consider truth today.  They are not history.  They are not science.  They are stories used to fill in a history between a postulated creation and Abraham.  The details of the physical record could not have been known at the time. One must stop making them something they are not and try to understand what they really are.  The Bible does not tell us who wrote this material, when it was written, or why it was written.  Many have merely believed the tradition that Moses wrote it.  It is past time to question that tradition and make sense of reality.  We must not build faith on false conclusions about traditions.  As knowledge unfolds we must alter our understanding and faith.  Many have built their faith on a fundamentalism that is simply wrong.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis seem to have been written to fill the gap in the story between Abraham and the creation of the earth by individuals totally unfamiliar with the physical realities.  They would seem, however, to have been familiar with the “history and science” of Mesopotamia.  Geology, paleontology, and archaeology have much to reveal about this extensive time period and it certainly does not conform to the events of Genesis 1-11 in either time or sequence.  Who wrote this material, when, and why it was written are important questions but we simply don’t have all the answers.

​t is clear the material is not science or literal history, but rather theological stories of one type or another.  One may liken these stories to the parables or other stories of the Bible.  One may have once considered them to be a revelation of literal history but truth shows they are not.  If they are interpreted as literal history they become wrong.  To do this discredits the Bible to anyone who knows what is true.  It would rather be wise to apply Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 to these stories;

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Faith is very important but so is truth.  True faith can only be built on what is true.  If faith is built on a foundation of error or half-truths, that faith will eventually fail.

Did Moses write the Pentateuch?

The centuries old fundamentalist tradition of much of the Christian and Jewish world is that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, including Genesis.  There are a multitude of serious textual objections to this tradition.  This is not the place, nor am I the person to go into that story.  The Bible nowhere states that Moses wrote it.  He most probably wrote parts of what was later incorporated into the whole.  Trying to sort out the history and reality of the writing of the Old Testament has occupied the time of biblical scholars for more than two centuries.

It is important to consider that the Hebrew language had not yet developed in the time of Moses.  Moses probably wrote, but in what language he wrote we do not know.  He didn’t write the Pentateuch in biblical Hebrew!  We are told that Hebrew as a language didn’t develop until about 900 BCE, three hundred plus years after Moses.

The national Hebrew script arose abruptly in the ninth century.  Earlier Israel used the Early Linear Phoenician alphabet at home in Syria-Palestine. (Cross 1998:242)

Other scholars studying the development and evolution of the Hebrew language believe they can generally determine when portions of the Old Testament were written by the stage of development of the Hebrew used.  The Hebrew in which Genesis is written corresponds to the Hebrew of the 9th to 6th centuries.

Outside of these few texts with features of Archaic Biblical Hebrew or Late Biblical Hebrew, the language of Genesis belongs to the period of Classical Biblical Hebrew, which ranges roughly from the ninth-sixth centuries BCE.  This is the language of Hebrew inscriptions from this period and is very close to the contemporary language of Moabite and other Northwest Semitic inscriptions.  (Hendel 2012:56).

 That the dating of the writing of Genesis is important is further stressed in a later publication by Hendel and Joosten.

Isn’t the life of the Bible independent of its time of composition?  Perhaps in many respects it is.  But it is also shaped by its history, even as it shapes later history.  Its central narrative relates to tribal, national, and cultural history from end to end.  Its history like narrative is neither a parable nor an atemporal myth.  If we could only place it in its historical context, even approximately, we would understand its nuanced meanings better.  But this means taking on the challenge of dating the texts.  (Hendel and Joosten 2018:ix).

Who wrote and/or compiled all of the Pentateuch is certainly a major question over which much ink has been spilt.  My scientific and archaeological training has not prepared me to make good judgments on many of these textual questions.  I am personally not qualified to judge the material that must be evaluated to determine such answers.  From what I can discern as the “best guess” of qualified scholars is that much of the early Pentateuch was edited and assembled in Hebrew in the years of the combined Monarchy sometime in the late eleventh, tenth, and ninth centuries from earlier sources and writings.  I would assume that Moses may indeed have originally written some of those earlier sources even though he didn’t “write the Pentateuch.”

It would seem that the early kingdom years of Israel and Judah would have been the time when much of the later chapters of Genesis were put together from earlier sources.  Chapters 1-11 follow a style and understanding of “history” that is similar to the understanding of the Mesopotamians.  It would appear that their “history” and their “science” played heavily into the writing of the early Genesis chapters.  The Hebrews certainly did not copy the literature, the epics and myths, of early Mesopotamia but the writers seemed to have followed the same structure of the history, as was understood in that early historic period.  That general structure was: a period of creation, followed by a long period of human activity, a major flood that wiped out humanity, followed by another long period of human activity leading to the current society.  This is also the structure that is pictured in Genesis 1-11.  Exactly who wrote it and how it was done is now lost in history.  We do know that the stories don’t reflect the reality of the physical archaeological record.

An introductory summary to help understand the literature of early Mesopotamia can be obtained by reading the following Mesopotamian epics and myths: Atrahasis, Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Enuma Elish (The Babylon creation epic.)  These are readily available from many authors (e.g., Dalley 2008, Pritchard 1969) or can even be listened to on YouTube.

These stories were not copied and put into Genesis.  But the Genesis stories do “rhyme” with some of them.  The style of the Genesis stories is in some ways similar to those of early Mesopotamia.  However, big differences occur in the Genesis stories.  They are monotheistic, much more reasonable, realistic, and far less mythological in description.

 In the words of Brandon…

When seen in the context of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cosmogonies, this Hebrew account at once impresses by its greater lucidity, its comparative freedom from the more primitive mythological imagery, and the high quality of its drama. (Brandon1963:156).

The Genesis 1-11 material was not just carelessly added without taking into account the best knowledge available.  It was skillfully put together.  It was probably based on the best understanding and history available to the writers or assemblers at the time.  Much of that knowledge, however, was not based on true history or true science.  It was the knowledge available at the time and location of the writing of the early material of Genesis.

Genesis 1-11 must have been edited and compiled at the time the Pentateuch was being assembled.  This appears most likely to have been during the kingdom periods of Israel and Judah according to language and textual studies.  Genesis 1-11 must have been added to fill the gap in the story line between the origin of the earth and the birth of Abraham.  That gap can now be more accurately filled with our modern understanding of geology, paleontology, paleoanthropology, archaeology, and other associated sciences.  Ignore these facts at the danger of building faith on a false foundation and in contradiction to what can be truly determined by science.  Acceptance of the truth from science gives a more correct understanding of the Bible.  It allows the biblical material to be placed in a more accurate context and time line of earth and life history.

In spite of the story type nature of Genesis 1-11 consideration must be given to its effectiveness.  Genesis 1-11 has worked for 3,000 years to effectively introduce the story of Abraham and the Bible as a whole.  It also contains seven key spiritual lessons that remain valid and intact throughout the rest of the Bible.  It is possible that these lessons were written back into Genesis from a later time period of their introduction.

1. There is one Creator God (Yahweh), or perhaps more than one (Elohim), responsible for the heavens, earth, and life.

2. Humans were made in the mental and spiritual image of God, but made of flesh that dies.    Humans are to worship God and obey His instructions, not to decide for themselves what actions are right and wrong.

3. There exists an evil spirit being that promotes behavior, values, and philosophies that are contrary to, and in opposition to, those of the Creator.

4. Marriage is established as a norm for society.  A man is to leave his family of birth and be permanently joined to a wife forming a new, nurturing family unit.

5. The seven-day week and the Sabbath are established.

 6. The human nature of man is emphasized in the story of Cain, “…sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

7. God has subjected the earth, plants, and animals to human control.

These lessons may have been purposely written back into the Genesis 1-11 “history” from the knowledge of  later writers after the time of Abraham and Moses.  The Egyptians, at the time of Israel’s sojourn there, apparently had three ten day weeks that made up a 30 day month.  As slaves they likely would have been forced to use that work week.  Perhaps the seven day week with its Sabbath was established at the time of the Exodus.  This could have given reason for the seven day structure to be written back into Genesis.

What does the physical scientific record reveal about the time period between the creation of the earth and Abraham?

The earth is old.  It is probably close to 4.5 billion years old.  The earliest fossil evidence for the living organism, bacteria, is about 3.5 billion years old.  The first fossil evidence for abundant living organisms of more recognizable life forms occurs about 500 million years ago.  From that time period onward there is complex fossil evidence for developing “families” of organisms.  Evolutionists would interpret these fossil lines of organisms as caused by natural physical forces working in random ways to produce such living forms.  I would judge these lines of organisms to be the result of an intelligence driven creative development process over time by “spiritual” forces… a creative developmental process working in conjunction with natural forces.  The details of this long period of fossil life forms are way too complex to even summarize here.  Chapter 7 is devoted to more detail on this subject.

The earth’s continental plates have been shifted around on the earth’s surface for millions of years.  Such movements are proven by a multitude of details.  The present structures of the earth’s surface only make sense by recognizing the past reality of these movements.

During the last two and a half million years or so the earth has experienced at least 4 major “ice ages” or glacial periods.  The last one of these ended about 10,000 years ago.  Good evidence exists for these periods in both Europe and North America.  They were not short term events.  They each lasted for thousands of years with intervening warmer periods.

Human-like forms, termed hominins, occur as fossils since about 4 million years ago.  The record is sketchy but real.  Modern humans even share many physical traits with apes.  That’s reality.  But humans are not apes.  You wouldn’t want your daughter to marry one!  These human-like forms show a general progression toward the Homo sapiens form.  This too is a reality, not a made up story.  But there are only ideas and theories of why or how this happened.  I would suggest it was part of a creative developmental process that was intelligently driven.  This too, however, is the subject of another chapter, chapter 8.

Artifacts made by deliberate intelligent processes of hominins are found in the archaeological record by at least 2.5 million years ago.  The artifacts steadily improve in design and complexity, often in a stepwise fashion.  By about 35,000 years ago high quality tools and art works, including cave paintings, are found in the archaeological record in France.  About 12,000 years ago agriculture enters the record.  After that things like pottery, worked copper, bronze and iron developed.  About 5,000 years ago a form of written language begins.

All of this occurs between the origin of the earth and the arrival of Abraham on the scene between three and four thousand years ago.  The Genesis 1-11 material was written at a time when this was the best information they had and could assemble about past history.  The today’s knowledge has filled in much of that history.  To ignore our modern knowledge is not only unreasonable but also unthinkable.  It makes for and obsolete religion in this modern age

 The history of the earth and life upon it is not as simple as Genesis 1-11, if taken literally, would indicate.  To have an accurate,  realistic,  and truthful faith one has to bring these realities into how one understands the Bible and the biblical Creator.

The conflict between early Genesis and the physical facts of geology has really been known for quite some time.  Mostly it has been rejected or ignored by the fundamentalist community.  In the second edition of his commentary published way back in 1904, S. R. Driver, a professor at Oxford, examined the problem extensively and concluded a following statement.

From all that has been said, only one conclusion can be drawn.  Read without prejudice or bias, the narrative of Gen. i. creates an impression at variance with the facts revealed by science:  the efforts at reconciliation which have been reviewed are but different modes of obliterating its characteristic features, and of reading into it a view which it does not express.  The harmonistic expedients adopted by Sir J.W. Dawson and Prof. Dana are in reality tantamount to the admission that, understood in the natural sense of the words – and we have no right to impose any other sense upon them – it does not accord with the teachings of science. (Driver 1904:26).

Six years later in 1910 John Skinner, a professor at Cambridge produced another commentary on Genesis.  He wrote:

The old controversies as to the compatibility of the earlier chapters with the conclusions of modern science are no longer, to my mind, a living issue; and I have not thought it necessary to occupy much space with their discussion.  Those who are of a different opinion may be referred to the pages of Dr. Driver, where they will find these matters handled with convincing force and clearness.  (Skinner 1910:VII).

Skinner goes on to state later:

With respect to the origin of the world, the antiquity of man on the earth, the distribution and relations of peoples, the beginnings of civilization, etc., its statements are at variance with the scientific knowledge of our time; and no person of educated intelligence accepts them in their plain natural sense.  (Skinner 1910:vi).

These conclusions were drawn over a hundred years ago on the science then known.  Our scientific knowledge today is so much greater and gives us the same conclusion.

The 1964 Anchor Bible Genesis deftly side steps the issue with the following statement.

In these circumstances, the question that immediately arises – one that is necessarily more acute here than in nearly any other context – is the basic question that has to be raised about any statement in a given source; and this is not whether the statement is true or false, but what it means…   In other words, the point here is not whether this account of creation conforms to the scientific data of today, but what it meant to, and how it was arrived at by, the writer concerned.  (Speiser 1964:8-9).

This statement makes it clear that the question of whether Genesis 1 is a true statement of scientific reality had long since been settled in the negative and need not be asked again.  The only real question left is what it meant to the people who wrote it and what it meant to the people to whom it was written.

However, an alternative fundamentalist view is vigorously defended in the commentary of Keil and Delitzsch originally published 100 years earlier than the Anchor Bible Genesis.  It was reprinted in 1988 by Eerdmans.

The account of the creation, its commencement, progress, and completion, bears the marks, both in form and substance, of a historical document in which it is intended that we should accept as actual truth, not only the assertion that God created the heavens, and the earth, and all that lives and moves in the world, but also the description of the creation itself in all its several stages. (Keil & Delitzsch 1988:37).

In counter to the critical theologians and geologists of the period they write:

…the book of Genesis may clearly be seen to be the careful production of one single author, who looked at the historical development of the human race in the light of divine revelation, and thus exhibited it as a complete and well arranged introduction to the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God.  (Keil & Delitzsch 1988:37).

Various quotes from Keil & Delitzsch pp. 40-43

…The biblical account of the creation can also vindicate its claim to be true and actual history, in the presence of the doctrines of philosophy and the established results of natural science…

…All the theories which have been adopted, from Descartes to the present day, are not the simple and well-established inductions of natural science founded upon careful observation, but combinations of partial discoveries empirically made, with speculative ideas of very questionable worth…

…Now if the rocks, both crystalline and stratified, were formed, not in any mechanical way, but by chemical processes, in which, besides fire and water, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, and possibly other forces at present unknown to physical science were at work; the different formations may have been produced contemporaneously and laid one upon another.  Till natural science has advanced beyond mere opinion and conjecture, with regard to the mode in which the rocks were formed and their positions determined; there can be no ground for assuming that conclusions drawn from the successive order of the various strata, with regard to the periods of their formation, must of necessity be true.  This is the more apparent, when we consider, on the one hand, that even the principal formations (the primary, transitional, stratified, and tertiary), not to mention the subdivisions of which each of these is composed, do not always occur in the order laid down in the system, but in not a few instances the order is reversed, crystalline primary rocks lying upon transitional, stratified, and tertiary formations (granite, syenite, gneiss, etc., above both Jura-limestone and chalk); and, on the other hand, that not only do the different leading formations and their various subdivisions frequently shade off into on another so imperceptibly, that no boundary line can be drawn between them and the species distinguished by oryctognosis are not sharply and clearly defined in nature, but that, instead of surrounding the entire globe, they are all met with in certain localities only, whilst whole series of intermediate links are frequently missing, the tertiary formations especially being universally admitted to be only partial.

The Keil and Delitzsch commentary is scholarly to be sure.  It is also extremely fundamentalist.  They had certainly read a lot of the very early geologic ideas but had gained little understanding of the true nature of the geologic record.  The objections and conclusions presented here make absolutely no sense in light of the modern knowledge of geology.  The technical sounding argument may sound good to the fundamentalist who doesn’t really understand any of it.  When one tries to match it to the actual geologic record it falls apart.  I would refer one to chapter 6.

To summarize…

The introductory chapters of Genesis contain theological stories of creation, the flood, and other historic material involving some of the same topics as found in neighboring Mesopotamian literature of a similar time frame.  The Mesopotamian influence seems unquestionable.  However the monotheistic core and higher quality of the material sets these writings apart.  But they are not literal history or science.  They are not compatible with the truth we know from geology, paleontology, and archaeology derived from extensive modern scientific study.

We must not base our faith in the Bible on their being literal, history, and scientifically true.  They are not.  They have effectively introduced the Bible for 3,000 years.  They contain theological concepts that remain true throughout the rest of the Bible.  I believe one should best understand them as teaching stories based upon the science and history of the day that has been long since superseded.

 References for Chapter 4

 Brandon, S. G.  F.
1963   Creation Legends of the Ancient Near East.  Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., London.

Cross, Frank Moore
1998  From Epic to Canon.  The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Dalley, Stephanie
2008  Myths from Mesopotamia.  Oxford University Press.

 Driver, S. R.
1904  The Book of Genesis, 2nd ed.  Methuen & Co.

 Foster, Benjamin R.
2016  The Age of Agade: Inventing Empire in Ancient Mesopotamia.  Routledge, New York, NY.

 Hendel, Ronald
2012   Historical Context.  In The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation,
         edited by Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr, and David L. Petersen, pp. 51- 81.  Brill, Leiden.

 Hendel, Ronald and Jan Joosten
2018  How Old Is the Hebrew Bible?  Yale University Press.

 Hoffmeier, James K., Gordon J. Wenham, Kenton L. Sparks
2015  Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither?  Zondervan.

Keil, C. F. and F. Delitzsch
1864(?) (Reprinted 1988) Commentary on the Old Testament – The Pentateuch.  Eerdmans.

 Pritchard, James B., editor
1969  Ancient Near Eastern texts relating to the Old Testament.  Princeton University Press.

 Skinner, John
1910   Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis.  T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh.

 Speiser, E. A.
1964   The Anchor Bible Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes.  Doubleday & Co.

 Van De Mieroop, Marc
2016  A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, 3rd edition.  John Wiley & Sons.