Home / Old Testament History

Index to this Study

A History of the Bible

Dr. William S. Sadler

11. An Outline of Old Testament History


  • 1.A thousand years before, Abraham, civilization was old in the Orient. The Hebrews were latecomers.
  • 2. 6,000 B.C.-Jericho--before the age of pottery --was a thriving city. They domesticated animals, had cereal crops, and elaborate irrigation. This was almost 5,000 years before Abraham.
  • 3. A thousand years later--in the next level--pottery appears. Agriculture and craft specialization are discovered.
  • 4. By 4000 B.C. colored decorative pottery appears, with human and geometric figures. This pottery is found from the lake of Van south to Kirkuk.
  • 5. The first city-states appear. We do not know what language they spoke; there were no writings.
  • 6. The diggers are, of course, bothered by the mystery of the Sumerians. See The Urantia Book, p. 875.
  • 7. They find pottery wheels and the ovens for firing the pottery.
  • 8. About 3300 B.C. the first writing is discovered. So far, we are unable to read these writings (probably Sumerian).
  • 9. Aside from the Urantia Book, the Sumerians remain the great mystery of all history.
  • 10. During those times Egypt also enjoyed an advanced culture.
  • 11. During those times successive waves of "Semites" went forth from Mesopotamia to the north and west.
  • NOTE: The story of the Andite expansion found in the Urantia Book, page 889.
  • 1. Ur was the cultural center of Mesopotamia.
  • 2. The theocratic city-states were the final stage of Sumerian culture.
  • 3. At this time, the Sumerians were polytheistic each city-state had its own god.
  • 4. The early Semites of Mesopotamia were the Accadians. They adopted Sumerian culture but kept their own Semitic language.
  • 5. The empire of Acead (2360-2180) was the first real empire. The founder was Sargon of Kish.
  • 6. The center moved from the temple of the god to the palace of the king.
  • 7. Egypt prospered. The old kingdom Pharaohs built the 'pyramids and other hewn-stone (the oldest) buildings.
  • 8. Egypt invented hieroglyphic writing. Religion had many ups and downs.
  • 9. Culture in Palestine was far below that of the Nile and Euphrates. Nevertheless., there were prosperous cities at Jericho, Megiddo., Beth-shan, Ai, Shechem, Gezer, and Lachish.
  • 10. The Canaanites spoke their own language., of which the later Hebrew was a dialect.
  • 11. The Guti overthrew the Accad Empire and a brief "dark age" resulted.
  • 12. Utu-hegal, king of Erech, destroyed the Guti and established the dynasty of Ur (2060-l950). Again Sumerian culture flourishes.
  • 13. But this was the last of Sumerian culture, rule, and language.
  • 14. About this time the Amorite invasion of Palestine began. Many cities destroyed.
  • 15. The Mari empire was next to rule Mesopotamia. There was a long "balance of power" between Mari, Assyria, and Egypt.
  • 16. Numerous groups of Semites infiltrated Palestine during these times.
  • 17. Egypt declined in power and plunged into the "dark ages."
  • 18. Babylon, under Hammurabi., took over. But the Elamites, Assyria, and the Mari were yet to be conquered.
  • 19. Mari (1750-1697) became the ruler of upper Mesopotamia. (Confimed by recent excavations, yielding thousands of tablets.)
  • 20. The Mari had horse-drawn chariots and the battering-ram. A palace with 250 rooms has been uncovered--one of the wonders of the ancient world.
  • 21.But all this was overthrown by Hamurabi--Babylon took over the empire.
  • 22.Mari was completely destroyed and the god Marduk took over in the new empire.
  • 23.The Hyksos-origin unknown--took over in Egypt. Confusion reigned--a dark age was coming on.
  • 24.The Hittite rule is to come later. But now it is time to go back and pick up the story of Israel during the times of the Patriarchs.


  • 1. These stories are supposed to have been written by Moses. But we know they were penned centuries after Moses' death.
  • 2. We know that the patriarchal narratives consist of four different sources.
  • 3. Modern archaeological research has shed much light on, and done much to confim, the Old Testament story of the Patriarchs.
  • 4. Excavations of dozens of sites in Palestine confirm the traditions of early Israel. See Deut. 6:20-25; 26:5-10. Josh. 24:2-13.
  • 5. The early traditions and records were probably heroic poems like the Song of Deborah.
  • 6. It is impossible to reconstruct the patriarchal age, but the little we do know does not contradict the traditional narrative.
  • 7. Abraham and Lot were heads of large clans.
  • 8. Abraham was known as the "friend of God."
  • 1. Abraham is a name known in Babylon. Nahor occurs in the Mari texts. Benjamin was a Mari tribe. Gad and Dan are both found in Mari.
  • 2. Social customs of the Patriarchs conform to Hittite and Huerian practices.
  • 3. They were largely nomads. Lived in tents. Owned no land except for burial grounds.
  • 4. They were not desert nomads--they did not have camels. Camels did not appear until the times of Gideon.
  • 5. The patriarchal age lies somewhere between the twentieth and sixteenth centuries.
  • 6. It is not possible to set an exact date for the Hebrews going into Egypt.
  • 1. Starting point of Abraham's journey was probably occupied by Huerian clans.
  • 2. Israel probably had multiple ancestors--Canaanites of various origins. Consider Moab, Ammon, and Edom.
  • 3. Abraham's father, Terah, came from Ur of Chaldea.
  • 4. The Arameans also probably find a place among Israel's ancestors.
  • 5. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were real people. They were chieftains of semi-nomadic clans.
  • 6.We should remember that the actual events recorded of the Patriarchs were vastly more complex than the Bible narratives.
  • 7. The Patriarchs were not altogether peaceful. Note - the assault of Simeon and Levi upon Shechem. Gen. Chap. 34. Jacob seizes land near Shechem; Abraham's battles with Chedorlaomer.
  • 8. The religion of the Patriarchs is not well defined. Moses is probably the father of Hebrew religion.
  • 9. See the Urantia Book for account of Abraham and Melchizedek. Paper 93, P.1014.
  • 10.There is no mention of Yahweh until we come to the times of Moses.
  • 11.The God of the Patriarchs was Elohim-the Most High.


  • 1. These events took place sometime between 1550 and 1200 B.C.
  • 2. In 1550 Amosis drove Hyksos into Palestine and Egypt took over the Euphrates territory. Egypt conducted 16 campaigns.

    3. Only serious opposition the Egyptians met was the Hittites. Many local rulers were Indo-Aryans and worshiped Vedic gods-Indra and I-Lithra.
  • 4. Amenophis IV changed his name to Ikhnaton, built a new capital., and introduced a monotheistic religion. This was about one hundred years before Moses.
  • 5. Hittites and others were in revolt and took over Palestine.
  • 6. The earliest historic reference to Israel tells about King Marniptah fighting the Israelites in Palestine.
  • 7. Most of the early Canaanites were more properly called Amorites.
  • 8. There were also many Hurrians and some Indo-Aryans in Palestine. The Horites (Hivites) were non-Semitic.
  • 9.Among the early inventions of Palestine was the alphabet of the Phoenicians passed on to Greeks and then to Europe.
  • 10. Later, from somewhere, came the Edomites and the Moabites.
  • 11. Date of the Exodus is in doubt. Probably in the thirteenth century. I Kings 6:1 places the Exodus 480 years before the fourth year of Solomon's reign. This would be in the fifteenth century.
  • 12.For the Moses story, see Urantia Book, p. 1055.
  • 13. Remember that Moses had spent years with Kenites before going back to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.
  • 14. There is almost two stories about the wilderness wanderings: In one, they tarry a long time at Sinai. In the other they seem to have spent this time at Kadesh.