Did Camels Exist in the Time of Genesis?

The debate has surfaced – again – this time in the pages of the NY Times Science section. Without totally tipping my hat, it is fair to say that this article is less that journalistic, and more like a description on one set of scientists and their theories. That is fine as long as it is introduced this way.This latest article however is riddled with opinion. Most notably: There is substantial other proof that camels DID exist in that time. One dig makes a theory which needs to be tested again. Since they base this on one dig, how scientific can this really be? The word gamal in the Torah might refer to something else. With that said –

Here is some great rebuttals:

There is actually strong evidence that camels were domesticated by the time of the Patriarchs.

1. A 3.5 foot cord of camel hair from Egypt, dated around 2500 BC, shows that Camels were in use and domesticated enough to be groomed.

2. A bronze figurine from the temple of Byblos in Lebanon, which is dated to before the sixth Egyptian dynasty (before 2182 BC), depicts a camel. While the figure could be taken as a sheep, the figure is arranged with items that would strongly require it to be a camel (a camel saddle, camel muzzle, etc.)

3. Two pots of Egyptian provenance found in Greece and Crete, both dating 1800-1400 BC, have camels represented, and one literally has humans riding on a camel back.

4. A text from Alalakh in Syria (c. eighteenth century BC) contains a rations-list. There is a entry for ‘camel fodder’ written in that document in Old Babylonian. This shows that camels were domesticated at that time.

5. Soviet archaeologists found camel-headed wagons that date back to the first half of the third millennium B.C. This showed that two-humped camels were used in Turkmenistan for drawing wagons at that time.

6. A bronze figurine of a man on a crouching camel, found at Nineveh, in Mesopotamia, shows that camels had been domesticated by the middle of the second millennium BC,

So, the evidence that camels were domesticated at the time that the Patriarchs lived is very strong. The absence of camel bones in two digs does not controvert this evidence.

The flaw in the research here lies in its apparent assumption that the Hebrew word used in Genesis for the animal under discussion, “Gamal,” was always meant to refer to the animal we call a camel. But traditional Jewish Rabbinic sources have always admitted to their own confusion about the correct translation of the animals referred to in the bible, particularly in Leviticus 11. The contemporary translations of many of those animals is entirely unclear. The fact that Ben Yehuda, in constructing modern Hebrew, decided to call a shafan a “rabbit” does not necessarily mean that the shafan in Leviticus 11 is actually a rabbit. Likewise, the gamal referred to in Genesis is as likely today’s “camel” as it is a horse or some animal we are unaware of today. Basing archaeological conclusions on the vagaries of modern Hebrew usage discounts the often arbitrary nature that went (and goes) into the construction of modern Hebrew. In this particular case, Ben Yehuda may have thought the “G” of gamal and “C” of camel somehow made it an easy match, and I can relate to that temptation on his part, but it was probably either a guess or, at best, a tenuous connection. Any Rabbinic scholar who was showed this article or the research would say, “So what? Whoever said a gamal is a camel? Let it be a horse.” Translation is always inherently flawed and necessarily inaccurate.

And another:

There are serious holes in the biology here.

A) why in the world would you take data from ONE site as the absolute limit of domestication??

B) “Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by s

igns in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.” Ah. So, there WERE older camel bones there. But they didn’t carry “heavy loads”. Golly – do you suppose it’s possible to keep semi-wild camels for a few thousand years- and only use them for meat, milk, and wool- and riding? (Answer; not only possible- but likely; YOU try inventing a camel pack saddle from scratch.)

And we’ll leave aside the “pinpoint” with radio-carbon dating- ask anyone who uses radio-carbon dating about that idea.

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#Scarjo’s Super Bowl, Haaretz’s SodaStream

Personally, I didn’t like #scarjo’s SodaStream ad during the Super Bowl. I thought that it didn’t come close to living up to the hype. I preferred Bob Dylan’s Chrysler/Detroit ad much more. Ok, I am from Detroit.

The SodaStream ad was boring and forgettable. Nonetheless, the #bds and #notbuyingit folks are decrying the objectification of women they claim the ad panders to. Compared to the history of ads exploiting women during the Super Bowl this hardly registered. In fact, I think that the only redeeming part of the ad is that it poked fun at the those who try to make something viral by objectifying women. Or at least that was my take on it, others may disagree.

Notwithstanding this, the #notbuyingit Israel boycotters are grabbing for anything now – sexism included – because more and more article are surfacing discounting their lies about @sodastreamusa.

Israel’s left-wing newspaper Haaretz has published a piece chronicling all the good about SodaStream. One might expect that the hate bubbling would die down. Hardly. #notbuyingit tweeters have gone on a full scale assault on #scarjo and @sodastreamusa. They continue to obfuscate the truth preferring incendiary accusations.

SodaStream, by the accounts of the recent Haaretz article, keep their Palestinian and Jewish workers happy. #scarjo knows this. Everyone knows this. And bad for the BDS’ers, the recent controversy they have caused will help the company sell more units.

I just hope that #scarjo’s advisors realize that millions of more people love Israel, and support her, than are critical of her choice to rep @sodastreamusa. She can weather the storm of these ideological and pathological Israel haters, and focus instead on the vast majority of Americans that think Israel is a moral country under impossible circumstances.

Americans by a vast margin support Israel – and will therefore support their #scarjo.

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Moshav feat. MATISYAHU to Headline Jewlicious X

The Moshav Band feat. MATISYAHU epic combination reunion will be this year’s headline act at our 10th Annual Jewlicious Festival! They rocked Jewlicious 6 and the 1st Annual Night of Unity. They are back together for our 10th. (Can you believe this – ten years???)

If you have never been to this totally Jewlicious weekend, its a combination of a conference, sleepover shabbaton, mini-music fest, and all around great winter weekender with hundreds of other Jewish young adults on a historic ship the RMS Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach harbor with ocean views and breezes.

Matisyahu will also be joining Jewlicious for the entire Shabbos.

Great other performers and speakers are booked and will be announced shortly.

Don’t miss this chance to buy your ticket packages before the prices go up on Feb. 1st! Prices from $121 for hotel, food, programming for 3 days and 2 nights. Really.


Kelly Thomas: No Justice in Life or in Death

Two police officers whose brutal attack on defenseless homeless man on July 5th, 2011, was captured on video, and seen by dozens of witnesses were quitted of all charges. The horrific murder and the subsequent verdict highlight our indifference to the homeless and mentally ill who live in the hundreds of thousands on the streets.

The headlines have flashed across the entire country. Former Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos was acquitted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of Kelly Thomas. Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. There were actually six police officers involved that sad day.

Kelly Thomas was a 37-year-old mentally ill homeless man who was known by many people. Thomas was beloved, not abandoned, but mental illness kept him on the streets.

The facts are horrific. A 33 minute video captured the brutal attack on the side of a busy street. Onlookers and passersby don’t come to Kelly’s aid. Eventually, the bruised, bleeding half-dead Kelly was attended to by medical personnel, but it was too late. He died after 5 days on life-support.

Kelly’s beating at a bus stop was done in public. No one came to his aid. Cars and passersby watched. The investigators interviewed 151 witnesses — yes, that is 151 people stared, watched and did nothing — viewed seven surveillance videos and two videos recorded by witnesses on their cellphones. In addition, a recording device attached to leader of the assault, which all Fullerton officers wear, recorded the murder in vivid detail. Only two of the six officers involved are were charged in his death, four others that took part were not.

Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father, waged a relentless battle to raise awareness about Kelly’s murder, the police cover-up, and ultimately about the fate of the mentally ill on our streets. Residents of Fullerton took to the city council to task and the FBI investigated the crime – but ultimately did nothing. Fullerton residents and the city were so shook up by the murder that they set up a taskforce to look for ways to improve the plight of the homeless in Fullerton. But none of that stopped the jury from exonerating the accused.

One of the main reasons that the jury could not convict the officers is because of indifference to the plight of the homeless. The numbers are staggering: hundreds of thousands of people call the streets their home every night. They sleep over subway grates, in alleyways and doorways. They are caught in a vicious cycle with no easy way out.

Those who call the street home are mostly ignored as if they do not exist. From time to time a passerby will show compassion, offering food, money, a kind word. Yet, most of us find ways to harden our hearts to their plight. We dismiss them as junkies, bums, beggars, or mentally-ill. Cities create laws to banish them from our sight. Yet, each homeless person, no matter their mental, physical, or hygienic condition, is a human being endowed with the same soul as anyone else.

In addition to their plight living on the streets of America, literally under our feet, the homeless are also targets of random murders across the country. Kelly Thomas’s murder was just one of many to make the papers.

Why are homeless people targeted for such random killing? Often because they are regarded them as less than human, murderers wrongly believed no one would miss these creatures of the streets. Some of the murderers have readily admitted that they calculated that no one would miss these people.

Kelly Thomas’s tragic life and death, and the resulting aquittle of the murderers, is another wake-up call to the issue of the homeless on their streets.

Hopefully it will not take more grizzly videos of a homeless person being bludgeoned, run-over, or stabbed and left to die by the side of the road for America to start taking notice.