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Ancient history questions

We have received some questions this summer about some of the information in Story of the Ancient World, espeically about the details recorded in Ancient World that are not found in the Bible. One such question was in regard to Cain, after he was banished to Nod. In chapter 5 of Ancient World, it is recorded:

 

"Even after committing so awful a crime as murder, Cain did not show remorse for his sins, but only bitterness at the punishment he was to suffer. In this pattern Cain continued, for when he arrived in Nod, and saw that the earth would no longer bring forth fruit for his support, he did not learn to correct his ways from his punishment, but instead increased in wickedness.

He ceased to earn his living as a farmer, and began to work in trade. He invented the system of measures and weights by which men learned to buy and sell; and was also the author of dishonest measures and weights, and greatly increased his wealth by robbery. He was the first to set boundaries about land, and to move those boundaries for his own increase. He gained all that would satisfy base desires through injury to his neighbors, and became the leader of wickedness among men."

 

This detail comes from Josephus, and here is the full passage of his description of Cain:

 

"And when Cain had traveled over many countries, he, with his wife, built a city, named Nod, which is a place so called, and there he settled his abode; where also he had children. However, he did not accept of his punishment in order to amendment, but to increase his wickedness; for he only aimed to procure every thing that was for his own bodily pleasure, though it obliged him to be injurious to his neighbors. He augmented his household substance with much wealth, by rapine and violence; he excited his acquaintance to procure pleasures and spoils by robbery, and became a great leader of men into wicked courses. He also introduced a change in that way of simplicity wherein men lived before; and was the author of measures and weights. And whereas they lived innocently and generously while they knew nothing of such arts, he changed the world into cunning craftiness. He first of all set boundaries about lands: he built a city, and fortified it with walls, and he compelled his family to come together to it; and called that city Enoch, after the name of his eldest son Enoch. Now Jared was the son of Enoch; whose son was Malaliel; whose son was Mathusela; whose son was Lamech; who had seventy-seven children by two wives, Silla and Ada. Of those children by Ada, one was Jabal: he erected tents, and loved the life of a shepherd. But Jubal, who was born of the same mother with him, exercised himself in music; and invented the psaltery and the harp. But Tubal, one of his children by the other wife, exceeded all men in strength, and was very expert and famous in martial performances. He procured what tended to the pleasures of the body by that method; and first of all invented the art of making brass. Lamech was also the father of a daughter, whose name was Naamah. And because he was so skillful in matters of divine revelation, that he knew he was to be punished for Cain’s murder of his brother, he made that known to his wives. Nay, even while Adam was alive, it came to pass that the posterity of Cain became exceeding wicked, every one successively dying, one after another, more wicked than the former. They were intolerable in war, and vehement in robberies; and if any one were slow to murder people, yet was he bold in his profligate behavior, in acting unjustly, and doing injuries for gain." Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, chapter 2

 

Josephus also records that Seth was the first astronomer, that Nimrod built the Tower of Babel and all the history behind it, and that Abraham was a wise man in astronomy among the Chaldeans, who tried to return his moon- worshiping neighbors to the true God who created the moon. All these details are also mentioned in Story of the Ancient World in the appropriate places in the narrative, to illuminate for children the history the Bible gives us.

 

On the reliability of Josephus as a historian, for nearly 2000 years he has stood — among conservative theologians — as the preeminent historian outside of the Bible for events which the Bible records. Concerning him, the Catholic Encyclopeda writes:

 

"The fact that the "Antiquities" testifies to the truth of Divine Revelation among the Jews as among the Christians, and confirms the historical facts related in the Bible by the incontrovertible testimony of pagan authors, renders this work of Josephus of extreme value for the history of the chosen people."

 

One factor in his favor, out of many, is that in Antiquities, he does not only tell that which reflects glory to the Jews, but like the Bible, tells the good and the bad of his people. This tends to lend credence to the fact that he, as a Jew in good standing, of the tribe of Levi, and thus of the priests, was to the best of his ability trying to obey the command to "not bear false witness."

 

There are more answers to questions about Story of the Ancient World that we have received on the Ancient World FAQ page.

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