Water Wars of Old: The Battle for Water Is Ancient History, According to the Bible and Other Middle Eastern Texts

Science & Spirit, July-August 2007 | Go to article overview

Water Wars of Old: The Battle for Water Is Ancient History, According to the Bible and Other Middle Eastern Texts


More than five thousand years ago, the Sumerian deity Ea destroyed the world with a flood as a punishment for sins. The story of Noah, told in Genesis, gives a similar account. Historians think that both stories are based on a real flood that deluged the Near East.

Water has also been the cause of border disputes and wars, but just as often used as a strategic weapon. The Sumerian king Lagash (2500 B.C.) diverted water from the "edge of paradise" region. About a millennium later, the Code of Hamurabi (1790 B.C.) in Babylon codified rules against water abuse, even though his grandson later damned the Tigris River to stop escaping rebels.

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Whether it was a miracle or good water management, Moses "parted the Red Sea" to escape the pharaoh's chariots. Five hundred years later (705 B.C.) Sargon II invaded Armenia and flooded its land by destroying the irrigation system. Soon after, Sargon's son flooded Babylon after razing the city, and then turned toward Jerusalem, where King Hezekiah saved the people by a secret underground aqueduct. …

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