Titans or Watchers?
By Derek P. Gilbert, Host of SkyWatch TV
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God made a puzzling statement to Abraham while establishing His covenant with the patriarch, linking the time that Israel would sojourn in Egypt to the behavior of one group of people.
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:13–16, ESV)
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Iniquity is easy enough to understand; it means sin, vice, or immorality. But what did the Amorites do that God found so offensive? Who were these people and where did they come from?
The Amorites first stepped onto the world stage in the middle of the third millennium BC. The earliest known reference to an Amorite was from the ancient city of Shuruppak, dated to about 2600 BC. According to the Sumerian King List, Shuruppak, about halfway between modern Baghdad and the Persian Gulf, was the home city of the last Sumerian king before the Flood. That king was either a man named Ubara-Tutu or his son, the hero of the Sumerian flood myth, Ziusudra, the Mesopotamian Noah.
Scholars disagree on the location of the Amorite homeland. There are two main candidates: One is Jebel Bishri, a low mountain range along the west side of the Euphrates River in central Syria. The other is the Diyala River valley, which descends from the Hamrin mountains toward modern Baghdad. This is the traditional border between Iraq and Iran, and between Arab lands to the south and Kurdish territory to the north.
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There is evidence for both theories. One of the peaks in the Jebel Bishri range, Jebel Diddi, may be named for an ancient Amorite tribe, the Didanu (or Tidanu, or Tidnum, depending on when and in what language it was written). Or it may be that the tribe was named for the mountain. Either way, the name is important.