Camels and the Veracity of the Bible

apologetics, Bible, camels No Comments

A recent article appeared in the National Geographic magazine claiming that there were no domesticated camels at the time of the biblical patriarchs (Abraham, Job), therefore, the Bible has to be in error.
John Noble Wlford calls the mention of camels in Abraham’s day (Gen. 12:16) an anachronism. An anachronism is a statement that represents a person, event, or thing in a historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed. It is a chronological inconsistency. Wilford writing in the New York Times, states, “These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history” (, 2/13/2014). Research was published recently by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, archeologists from Tel Aviv University in Israel based on radioactive-carbon dating techniques which they claim shows that camels were not domesticated until hundreds of years after the events documented in the book of Genesis. The authors suggest the domestication of camels in the eastern Mediterranean until 1000 B.C. ( article by Mike Krumboltz, 2/13/2014).
Archeologits have known for quite some time that camels were domesticated in China/Mongolia around 3500 B.C. and that they were domesticated in the Middle East somewhere around 2500 to 3000 B.C. (see the chart on domestication provided at There are two references that should be consulted on this matter that are very helpful to the Bible student.
The first is The New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas, organizing editor (1962) p. 181-183. The article on camels was written by K. A. Kitchen. Kitchen cites the archeological evidence for the domestication of camels in the partricarchal period. First and foremost, he mentions a reference to the domestication of the camel in a cuneiform tablet from Alalah in North Syria (18th century BC) as GAM.MAL; see Wiseman, JCS XIII, 1959, p. 29 and Goetze, ibid., p. 37…). Next, he mentions the kneeling camel-figure from Byblos of similar date, Montet, Byblos et l”Egypte, 1928, p. 91 and plate 53, No. 179. A camel’s jaw was found in a Middle Bronze Age tomb at Tell el-Fara’ by Nablus (c. 1900-1550 B.C.), de Vaux, op.cit., p. 9, note 8. In the Etyptian Fayum province was found a camel-skull dated to the “Pottery A” state, i. e. within the period c. 2000-1400 BC, the period from the patriarchs to Moses (see O. H. Little, Bulletin de l’Institut d’Egypte, XVIII, 1935-6, p. 215). From the Memphis region comes a figure of a camel with two waterjars (clear evidence of its domestication in Egypt) datable by associated archaeological material to about the 13th century BC, Petrie, Gizeh and Rifeh, 1907, p. 23 and plate 27.
A second resource is Approaches to faunal Analysis in the Middle East, edited by Richard H. Meadow and Melinda A. Zeder (Peabody Museum Bulletin 2) 1978, pp. 93-103. The article is titled, “The Camel: Its Distribution and State of Domestication in the Middle East During the Third Millennium B.C. in Light of the finds from Shahr-i Sokhta, pp. 93-103. (Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, New Haven, CT). The Peabody Museum is associated with Harvard University. The authors date the domestication of the camel before 2500 BC.
These resources help to establish the veracity of the Scriptures. Camels are mentioned in Gen. 12:16 and Job 1:3. The time of Abraham and Job is given as around 2100 to 2200 BC. The archeological evidence proves the truthfulness of the statements in God’s Word. Let God be true and every man a liar! (Rom. 3:4).