Abraham's Gate: Dr. Johnny King discusses historic restoration
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The three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all trace their roots to Abraham, the first patriarch of the Jewish people. Abraham’s son Isaac is said to have been the grandfather of the 12 tribes of Israel, while his other son, Ishmael, is hailed as one of the Islamic prophets in the Muslim faith. The Bible describes Abraham as a native of the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia – modern-day south Iraq – who is called on by God to journey into the Levant where he would establish a new nation.
The Book of Genesis reads: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
“‘I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.'”
But what evidence, archaeological or other, is there to validate the biblical account of Abraham’s life?
According to some experts, Abraham was a nomad who lived in the Middle East during the Bronze Age (3300 to 1200 BC).
Others have argued the historicity of his story, suggesting instead Abraham is a purely mythological figure built around local legends and folklore.
One expert in particular, however, believes archaeological evidence with strong links to Abraham’s life has been found in the Middle East.
Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, told Express.co.uk why he thinks the evidence points to Abraham being “as real as you and I”.
He said: “Without Abraham there would be no Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
“Even though he lived 4,000 years ago (born in 2165 BC), windows into his past are still evident for the explorer to see today.
“For example, there is a well you can visit that he likely used and perhaps even owned at Beersheba.”
Beersheba is a city in the Israeli Negev desert, which sits about 2.5 miles (4km) from the biblical site of Tel Be’er Sheva where Abraham is said to have lived.
According to Professor Meyer, plenty of pottery from Abraham’s time has been found at the bottom of Abraham’s Well, which can be seen today at the Beersheba archaeological museum.
Another major discovery with links to Abraham’s life is the so-called Abraham Gate in the ancient ruins of Tel Dan.
Professor Meyer believes it is the same gate Abraham and his army of 318 men walked through in pursuit of his cousin Lot’s kidnappers.
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The expert continued: “But most spectacular of all the remains related to the patriarch of monotheism appeared in the roaring 20s of the last century.
“This is when archaeologists searched for tombs in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and excavated the home town of Abraham, the city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia.
“The perilous pathways to these locations were no deterrent to tourists.
“From all over the world they flocked to the city of Ur which was being excavated by Sir Leonard Wooley, the famous English archaeologist.
“Even the best-selling author of all time Agatha Christie was agog with the treasures being unearthed by the star archaeologist.”
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The treasures were divvied up between the British Museum in London, Pennsylvania University in the US and Iraq.
Wooley discovered the temple where Professor Meyer believes Abraham’s would have worshipped the Moon god moon Nannar before his quest into the Levant.
According to the Book of Joshua, Abraham’s family – not Abraham himself – were idol worshipers.
Professor Meyer said: “Perhaps he didn’t live within the city limits; he was a shepherd after all, who mostly stayed on the fringes of city life, out in the countryside.
“But he would certainly have visited the metropolis of Ur for trading purposes. And what a metropolis it was.
“Treasures like the golden vessels of Queen Pu-Abi and Prince Mes Kalam Dug were found by Wooley.
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“Only the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by Howard Carter garnered more attention in the mainstream media at that time.”
During his exploration, Wooley stumbled upon fluted dishes, silver ornaments, ornate harps and a golden goat’s head among other treasures.
Professor Meyer said metallurgy and writing were common practices in the city of Ur around 2000 BC.
And this led to Wooley’s next discovery – one of the largest schools ever found in ancient Mesopotamia.
Professor Meyer said: “Countless clay tablets were discarded by the students. Abraham was as real as you and I; without him, there is nothing.
“As the eminent professor William F. Albright once said, ‘I don’t want to die believing in nothing.’
“Even this great man acknowledged that archaeological evidence had repeatedly brought him to an increased commitment to the historical integrity of the biblical records.
“That included the patriarchal records of father Abraham himself.”
There are, of course, experts who are not convinced by the biblical account of events.
The Canadian scholar John Van Seters, for instance, has argued in his 1975 book, Abraham in History and Tradition, the Bible’s patriarchs were Iron Age creations, based on the content, names and messages of their stories.
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