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Turkey and the Old Testament

Two of the four rivers in the Creation account have their source in eastern Turkey. The Euphrates and Tigris Rivers flowed through the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:13). Some traditions suggest that this garden in which Adam and Eve lived was located in southeastern Turkey. After the great flood Noah's ark rested on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). Mount Ararat, near the border of Armenia and Iran, is often identified as this site.

The descendants of Noah's son Japheth comprised the nations that settled Anatolia-Gomer, Magog, Javan, Tubal, and Meschech (Gen. 10:2). After Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, he settled for a time in Haran (Gen. 11:31-32), continuing his journey to Canaan only after his father Terah died. Jacob later lived in the region of Haran (Gen. 28:10ff.) for fourteen years while completing his service to Laban for his marriages to Leah and Rachel.

One of the great nations that lived to the north of Israel was the Hittites (Josh. 1:4). This empire, whose capital was Bogazkale, or Hattusas, existed from 1800-1200 B.C. A related people lived in Palestine, and Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, was a Hittite mercenary (2 Sam. 11:3-24).

One of the most important battles in history occurred at Charchemish. Here in 605 B.C. the Babylonian commander Nebuchadnezzar II defeated the Egyptian army, which four years earlier had killed Judah's last righteous king Josiah at Megiddo (2 Chron. 35:20-23). With the defeat of the Assyrians and their allies the Egyptians, the Babylonians now controlled the Near East.

Two decades later Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews sent into exile (586 B.C.). The earliest references to Jewish exiles in Turkey is found in Obadiah 20. Here Sepharad is a likely reference to Sardis.


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