Summary: This begins with the historical evidence from the ancient kingdom of Ebla that validates the life of Abraham and then I will look at God’s call. How He used Abram’s humanity, weakness and faith to open the door of God’s purpose.
Genesis 11 ends with the genealogy leading up to Abram (later Abraham). Terah took his son Abram and his wife Saria, and grandson Lot and headed toward Canaan. They did not get to Canaan, but dwelled in the city of Haran (which is probably named after Abram’s brother who died after he fathered Lot). Before I get into the scripture study of God’s call to Abram, I think we would benefit from a look into the life surrounding Abram. The Bible says that their intention was to move to Canaan, but they settled far short of the original plan. The reason most likely is that the Haran was economically centered between three kingdoms. Haran was located at the crossroads of the Egyptians, Hittites and Babylonians. Economically, this would have been a prosperous region. Not all these kingdoms were at their peak during this time, but the population and commerce would have been in place.
The Kingdom of Ebla was about 300 miles southwest of Haran and Abram would have passed through it on his journey to Canaan. The Ebla Kingdom was unknown to history until it was discovered in 1968 by Archaeologists and Professor Paolo Matthiae of the University of Rome. In 1975 the archives of the kingdom’s history was found. 17,000 clay written tablets were found in 1975 and another 1600 the following year. Science has dated this find at 2250 BC, which is in the same time frame as Abram’s life. Critics of the Bible often argue that scripture was written later in history. Some of the more liberal scholars claim the Bible only dates back to a few centuries before Christ. They make these claims in spite of the fact that archaeological finds provide a continuous flow of support to the biblical accounts. Cities, events and people not found in any known document are described in the scriptures. When these cities are found, it gives credibility to the scripture. Let’s look at some facts provided by the archives of Ebla.
Ebla had a population of 260,000 people. This would make it a major kingdom in the ancient world.
These tablets found were written in two languages. Linguists say that the primary language is distinctively Semitic (Jewish) and closely resembled Hebrew. Many of the words are identical to Hebrew and the rest of it is very similar.
Critics of the Bible have discredited the Mosaic Law saying that a civilization that early could not have handled this kind of legal code. Many also claim that the time Moses predates written language, therefore the scripture could not have been written by Moses. The Ebla find predates Moses by around 1000 years. The Ebla tablets detail a legal code that includes degrees of crime. The Ebla justice system included individual rights and case law. So both writing and legal codes predated the time of Moses and there is no reasonable argument against the age of scripture.
Many names found in these tablets are also found in scripture - including the name ’Abram’.
In one text alone there was a list of 260 geographical locations. Many of these names are Old Testament cities including Salim (believed to be the city of Melchizedek), Hazor, Lachish, Megiddo, Gaza, Dor, Sinai, Ashtoroth, Joppa, Damascus, and Carchemish. Many of these biblical cities were previously unknown by any other historical document but now we have a record dating to the time of Genesis.
Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned by name. These two towns were on the route of the King’s Highway and were regularly visited in route to Damascus. The tablets mention Sodom and Gomorrah with the five cities of the Plain. The other three cities mentioned were Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar. If we look at Genesis 14:2 we see an identical account:
they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
The kings of these 5 cities attacked and took Lot and his possessions. Abram attacked and rescued Lot and gained everything back and more. Zoar is the only difference but the Bible states that the city of Bela and Zoar are one in the same. This inside knowledge is not possible if the Bible was written shortly before Christ. The evidence points back to the time period the Bible claims.
Almost every culture has a creation account. Critics often claim that early missionaries inspired these creation accounts after the time of Christ. However, the Ebla creation account is remarkably similar to the biblical account and dates over 4,000 years back.
The Ebla tablets tell about prophets proclaiming about God long before biblical prophets arrive on the scene. This would also support the Bible. The King of Moab sought the services of a non-Jewish prophet of God. Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of the spoil when he rescued Lot. He was called the priest to the Most High God (Genesis 14:18).