Biblical Egypt by R. David Pogge

Chapter 1

The Old Kingdom and Genesis 5 – 11

The Story of the Ark, Pyramids, and the Tower of Babel

Section 1.1 - The Flood

Noah was warned by God about the impending judgment, and was instructed to build a big boat; which he did. Then a forty day rainstorm resulted in world-wide flood, with standing water for about a year. At the end of that year, Noah and his family got off the Ark. They all lived together for a short time; but soon they began to spread out. Japheth took his wife and sons and grandsons and great grandsons north to Turkey. Shem’s family moved east to Babylon. Ham took his family south to Egypt.

After a while, Ham’s family grew into a tribe, and then a kingdom. By the third and fourth dynasties of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, they were building really big pyramids. Shem’s family in Babylon didn’t want to be outdone, so they began building an even bigger tower.

This displeased God. He destroyed the nearly complete tower, and confused men’s languages. Japheth’s descendents moved farther north and populated Western Europe, Scandinavia, and Great Britan. Shem’s descendents scattered to the east into India, Asia, and Japan. Eventually, much later, they moved north along the coast of the Pacific Ocean and crossed into Alaska and down into North America. Ham’s descendents went farther south into Africa. Centuries later, some of them built rafts and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in South America about the same time that Shem’s descendents were coming down through Central America to meet them.

How do we know this is true? What evidence is there, other than the Bible, to support this story? And then, once we see that Biblical account is true, what relevance does it have for those of us who are living today? As it turns out, it is very relevant and important.

Section 1.2 - Population Estimates

Let’s look at the Biblical account in Genesis 10 to see how everything fits together. Genesis 10 is one of those chapters in the Bible that people tend to skim over because it seems to be nothing more than a boring genealogical list. There is, however, some interesting and important information in it.

Chapter 10 tells us that Noah had 16 grandsons and 36 great-grandsons—but that can’t be the whole story. He had to have had some granddaughters, too. Those 16 grandsons had to marry someone to produce those 36 great-grandsons. They must have married their sisters or cousins. We call that “incest” today, but in those days it was a necessity. There were no other females. As strange as it seems to us today, it was not unusual in Egypt, even in the New Kingdom, for pharaohs to marry their sisters. Incest in ancient times has been historically confirmed.

If Noah’s sons (and their wives) gave him 16 grandsons, the odds are that they gave him 16 granddaughters (give or take a couple), too. They aren’t mentioned because women weren’t generally mentioned in the Bible. We don’t even know Mrs. Noah’s first name. Unless the woman did something remarkable (or something remarkable was done to her) women aren’t mentioned in the Bible. That’s just the way it is, like it or not.

But it isn’t just women who aren’t mentioned. Consider this passage near the end of Genesis 10.

25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.

26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,

27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,

28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,

29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.

30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.

Chapter 10 tells us Eber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan. Joktan had 11 sons, but doesn’t say anything about Peleg having sons or daughters. One might assume (incorrectly) that Peleg had no children.

On the other hand, Chapter 11 says,

14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:

15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.

16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:

17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.

18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:

19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.

So, Peleg did have a son named Reu, and other sons and daughters. They just weren’t mentioned in Chapter 10. Joktan and Joktan’s sons and daughters aren’t mentioned in Chapter 11. This isn’t a “Biblical contradiction.” It isn’t two different genealogies. Moses just chose to discuss the two genealogies separately. That’s why you have to read the whole Bible, and not just certain passages.

If you read all the genealogies in Genesis in detail, you will notice several things. In Genesis 5, Mahalaiel had his first son when he was 65 years old. Enoch was that same age when he had Methuselah. But the other patriarchs were 130, 105, 90, 70, 162, 187, and 182 when they had their first son. Noah had his last son when he was 500. Lamech died young—at 777 years of age.

After the flood, the patriarchs started having children when they were about 30 years old. Those born shortly after the flood lived about 400 years, but their life spans dropped down to about 200 after a couple of generations. That may have been because Genesis 9 says that people started eating meat after the flood; but incest might have had something to do with it, too.

They had big families in ancient times. Canaan had 11 sons (and an unknown number of daughters). Mizraim had seven sons, and Cush had 6 sons.

Let’s make a conservative estimate of how the population grew after the flood. Let’s assume that each generation produces only 6 breeding couples, they start having children at 30 years old, and everyone dies at 200 years old. It only takes 240 years to get to 12 million people (and over 72 million people just 30 years later).

Low Population Estimate
YearsBreeding CouplesTotal Population
036
301842
60108258
906481,554
1203,8889,330
15023,32855,986
180139,968335,922
210839,8082,015,532
2405,038,84812,093,186
27030,233,08872,559,104
300181,398,538435,354,606

These are just ballpark estimates—not exact figures. They don’t take into account wars or famines. Any attempts to adjust these figures for wars or famines would introduce wild guesses. The purpose of these calculations is simply to determine a plausible estimate for what the world population could have been in the 300 years following the flood, based on low-end family sizes and lifespans claimed by the Bible.

Section 1.3 - Pyramid Builders

If there were more than 1500 farmers and shepherds just 90 years after the flood, it would be pretty crowded. Noah’s three sons, and their families, would have to spread out. Let’s assume that one-third went north, one-third went east, and Ham took his one-third south down to Egypt. Then, just 240 years after the flood, there would be more than 4 million people (12,093,186 / 3) in Egypt. Would that have been enough people to build the Great Pyramid at Giza?

It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu (often Hellenicised as "Cheops") and was constructed over a 20-year period. … Verner posited that the labour was organized into a hierarchy, consisting of two gangs of 100,000 men, divided into five zaa or phyle of 20,000 men each, which may have been further divided according to the skills of the workers. 1

If half of the 4 million descendents of Ham were male, and it took 200,000 men to build the pyramid, that means 1/10th of the male population was employed in the construction. That’s certainly not unreasonable. In fact, the pyramids could have been built even sooner than 240 years after the flood because our population estimates are based on a small (for that time) family size, and more than 1/10 the male population was probably involved in building the pyramids.

While Ham’s descendents were “making a name for themselves” building great pyramids in Egypt, Shem’s descendents in Babylon apparently wanted to do the same thing. Genesis 11 tells us that God wasn’t pleased with this building project, and messed with men’s minds, confusing their language, to make it difficult for them to communicate and complete the project.

Movies generally show lightning bolts from heaven destroying the tower of Babylon; but that’s not actually in the Bible. It is more likely that men scavenged the bricks from the tower to build other things because archaeologists tell us that’s what happened to many of the pyramids in Egypt.

It seems incredible to believe that people built really big towers more than 4500 years ago. Modern, rational people would certainly dismiss the Biblical claim that people built really big towers back then except for this one fact: Some of them are still standing.

Consider all the pyramids ever built more than 60 meters (about 200 feet high) during the Old Kingdom.

Ancient Pyramids
Approximate
Date
Height
in Meters
Name
2610 BC62.6Djoser
2600 BC93.5Meidium
2600 BC101.1Bent
2580 BC104Red
2560 BC146.5Great
2530 BC143.5Khafre
2500 BC65.5Menkaure

Over a period of about 100 years, seven pyramids taller than 60 meters were built. They were increasingly taller, except for the last two. Then, no pyramids over 60 meters were built for about 2300 years, as the table below shows.

Modern Pyramids
Approximate
Date
Height
in Meters
Name
210 BC76Mount Li
12 BC37Cestius
100 AD75Sun
300 AD43Moon
900 AD66Cholula
1000 AD30El Castillo
1972 AD260Transamerica
1989 AD20.6Louvre
1993 AD111Luxor
(Las Vegas)
2012 AD309.6The Shard

Notice that the pyramid shaped Luxor hotel in Las Vegas is only two thirds the size of the Great Pyramid. It wasn’t until 1972 that the first of the only two pyramids bigger than the Great Pyramid was built.

What conclusion can we draw from this? Not so fast! We need to talk about boats, first!

Section 1.4 - Big Old Boats

The Bible says the Ark was 300 cubits long and 50 cubits wide. That’s about 135 meters (450 feet) long and 23 meters (75 feet) wide, built out of wood. How does that compare to the two biggest wooden ships ever built in modern times?

The Rochambeau, built in 1865, was the largest wooden boat ever built. At 115 meters long, it was 20 meters shorter than the Ark; and it had to be iron-clad to reinforce it. Actually, the boat itself was only 100 meters long with a 15 meter long battering ram on the front. It only sailed in the open ocean once, and wasn’t very stable. The second-longest wooden ship was the 103 meter Pretoria, built in 1900. It also had steel keelson plates, chords, arches, and diagonal steel straps, so it wasn’t made entirely of wood. It was only in service for 5 years. 2 There wasn’t an ocean liner as big as Noah’s Ark until the steel Great Eastern was built in 1860. 3

So, with that in mind, what conclusions can we draw?

A skeptic might say that more than 4,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians could not have built pyramids nearly 150 meters tall because no modern people built a pyramid that big until 1972, and Noah could not have built a 135 meter boat because no modern people were able to build one that long until 1860. But we know that the Egyptians did build pyramids that tall because they are still standing today. Granted, archeologists have not found any 4,000-year-old wooden boats—but wood doesn’t last as long as stone.

Because the pyramids from the Third and Fourth Dynasties are still standing today, we have proof that people could, and did, build really big structures in Old Kingdom times without modern technology. There’s no reason to doubt that Noah could not have built a boat on an equally large scale.

Apparently, when God confused man’s languages, He also confused man’s ability to build great structures. If you don’t agree with this conclusion, here’s the question you must answer: “If the Egyptians were able to build huge pyramids more than 2000 years before Christ, why didn’t man build another one equally as large until nearly 2000 years after Christ?” What was responsible for man’s 4,000 year inability to build large pyramids?

There is no archeological or mathematical reason to doubt the accuracy of Genesis chapters 5 through 11. I didn’t address the anthropological and historical confirmation of the human migratory patterns described in those chapters because Bill Cooper has already done an excellent job of that in his book, After the Flood (available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.com). You can go to just about any creationist website for geological confirmation of Noah’s Flood, so I didn’t address geology, either. There is no need for me to add anything on those subjects. Besides, my book is all about how Egyptian history and the Bible supplement each other, so those topics are outside the scope of this book.

Section 1.5 - The Devil’s Advocate

One of my reviewers feared that a skeptic could twist my population estimates to discredit the Bible. Here’s how:

“Higher critics” claim that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible around 1400 BC. They claim that Judaism was invented by anonymous priests during the reign of King David around 1000 BC. A few used to claim that Judaism was invented even later, and that kings Saul, David, and Solomon were fictional characters, too. (They abandoned their claim that King David was fictional when archeological evidence of his existence was found.) They say the Old Testament stories about creation, God giving the land to Abraham, Abraham’s descendants, the Exodus, and so on, were written as an elaborate backstory to give Judaism credibility, and justification for possessing the Promised Land.

The reviewer pointed out that someone with this opinion of the Bible might say that the long lives and large family sizes were given to these fictional Old Testament characters in order to explain how the population of Egypt could have grown large enough to build the pyramids, and that my calculations could be used to confirm their bogus claims.

That presumes some remarkable foresight and mathematical skill on the part of the priests who supposedly invented the Old Testament stories. They would have had to have anticipated that people would use genealogy to create a timeline from their fictional flood story up to the actual time when the pyramids were built. Then, using a handwritten spreadsheet, they would have had to have calculated reproductive characteristics capable of creating a population sufficient to build the pyramids. Their calculations would have shown them that their fictional genealogy would have required these exceptionally long lives and family sizes.

I can’t imagine priests being that sophisticated. If one is going to make up a fictional genealogy, it makes more sense to give the fictional ancestors realistic lifespans and family sizes. It makes no sense from a human perspective to invite doubt by giving fictional characters incredible attributes.

Back to the Introduction Table of Contents On to Chapter 2

Footnotes:

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_longest_wooden_ships
3 http://www.thegreatoceanliners.com/sizechart.html