Friday, August 1, 2014

Were Rachel and Leah half-sisters?

Diagram of Genesis 11:16-27

Alice C. Linsley

Analysis of the Genesis king lists reveals that the Horite ruler-priest lines intermarried according to a distinctive marriage and ascendancy pattern. This is the case for the lines of Cain and Seth, the lines of Ham and Shem, and the lines of Nahor and Abraham.

In the diagram above there is at least a 4 generation gap between Dedan and Abraham that can be reconstructed when we take into consideration that Abraham's cousin wife, Keturah, was the daughter of a Horite ruler named Joktan. This is confirmed by the fact that she named her first born son Joktan, after her father (the cousin bride's naming prerogative). Keturah represents the Arabian Horites. Sarah, Abraham's half-sister wife, came with him to Canaan from Harran. She represents the Aramean Horites. Jacob's two wives appear to follow the pattern of Abraham's two wives, suggesting that they were not sisters.

Rachel and Leah represent two lines that share a common Horite ancestry: the Aramean and the Dedanite (Arabian) lines. Rachel's son's name, Benjamin, suggests that she is of the Dedanite line. Ben-jamin means "son of the south" (or "son of the right hand" as one faced the rising sun). The name of Leah's first born son is derived from the name Reu, one of the founders of the Aramean kingdom (Gen. 11:16-27).

Leah was the mother of six sons and at least one daughter. Her first born son was Reuben. Genesis identifies her as Rachel's "sister" and yet her name and the name of her first born son suggest that her lineage was not the same as Rachel's. The term "sisters" may mean that they were of the same Horite caste, or if their father had two wives, Rachel and Leah would have been half-sisters.

It is often repeated that "Rachel" means female sheep (ewe) in Hebrew. However, the Hebrew word for ewe is kivsah and sometimes talia (the "Even-Shoshan" dictionary). Instead the name Rachel/Rahel is derived from Ra-heli. This is evident in the spelling of the name in other languages: Ráhel (Magyar/Hungarian); Raheli (Swahili); Rahil (Arabic). Ra-hel is likely a reference to the Horite name for the Creator - Ra.

The name Heli appears in the ancestry of Jesus Christ. These names are found in the lineage of Joseph: Melchi, Levi, Matthat, and Heli. Matthat and Heli are names pertaining to the Horite ruler-priest caste. The royal hat is found in the names of Egyptian rulers such as Amen-em-hat, Hat-shep-sut, Merytre-Hat-shep-sut and in the name of one of Isreal’s great rulers, Yeho-shep-hat/Jehoshephat (Matt. 1:8). One of Yehoshephat’s sons was Shep-hat/Shephatiah (II Chron. 21:2).

Leah's Edomite Ancestry

There is speculation that the name Leah is related to the Hebrew le'd, meaning "cow." However, it is more likely that the name is linked to the "Letushim" and "Leummim" who are descendants of Dedan, the son of Joktan (diagram above). Dedan is associated with Uz in the hill country of Edom. Uz was the homeland of Job. One of Job's inquisitors, Elihu, was a descendent of Nahor by Buz. Buz and Uz were Nahor's sons by Milcah (Gen. 22:20). Uz the Elder's grandson (by his daughter) was Uz the son of Dishan (I Chron. 1:42). Uz the Younger was Seir's grandson. Here is Seir's Horite family:

When there are two names that are very close, there is usually a third. The third is Huz, so that Uz, Buz and Huz represent another 3 clan confederation. I Chronicles 5:14 mentions that the son of Buz was Jahdo and Jahdo's son was Yeshishai, the Aramaic form of Yeshua/Jesus. This connects the name of Jesus with the devotees of Horus who are called "Horites."

Buz is related to Uz and is grouped with the peoples of Dedan and Tema in Jeremiah 25. This is probably why this Horite confederation is not identified as Uz, Huz and Buz, but rather as Dedan, Tema and Buz. The oldest Arabic script emanated from the Afro-Arabian oases of Tema and Dedan in the Hijaz.

Did Isaac follow the marriage pattern of is ancestors?

It is likely that Isaac also had two wives, following the pattern of the Horite rulers. Rebecca would have been his second wife, taken shortly before he ascended to the throne of his father. Isaac's first wife would have been a half-sister living in the area of Beersheba, where Keturah resided. Isaac's second marriage took place in Beersheba because as the heir to Abraham's territory, Isaac was not permitted to leave his territory. Note the contrast between Isaac’s admonition to Jacob to leave and not marry a local girl (Genesis 28:1-4) and Abraham’s admonition to his servant never to take Isaac from his territory, but instead to fetch a wife for him from his own Horite people in Padan-Aram (Genesis 24:4-8).

Related reading: Why Rachel Didn't Trust Laban; Peleg:  Time of Division; Abraham's Complaint

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alan Dicken on Noah's Flood

Alan Dicken

Time to Abandon Aristotelian Approaches to Genesis?
by Alan Dicken
Professor, School of Geography and Earth Sciences
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario


"During the Enlightenment, the scientific method was developed as an empirical approach to the acquisition of knowledge, by rejecting the Aristotelian notion that the nature of reality could be determined by logical deduction alone. But by insisting that Genesis should be interpreted in a scientific vacuum, many theologians are perpetuating an Aristotelian approach to biblical interpretation against reliable empirical evidence. Relinquishing a few of these ill-founded beliefs will allow an improved understanding of the true nature of biblical origins. For example, abandoning the unscientific belief that all of humanity is biologically descended from Adam and Eve allows a more profound understanding of their roles as the ones first called to spread the spiritual image of God throughout the earth. Abandoning the unscientific belief that only Noah’s family escaped annihilation in the Flood allows a more profound understanding of Noah’s role as the one called to preserve the revelation of God to humankind during a major natural disaster. Abandoning the unrealistic belief that building the Tower of Babel was a nonreligious act allows a more profound understanding of the threat of false religion to the worship of the True God in an ancient multicultural society. Finally, abandoning a belief that the call of Abraham came in a spiritual vacuum leads to a new understanding of how the story of creation and humanity’s early history was preserved within a faith community devoted to calling on the name of the Lord, rather than through the mythology of pagans."-- Alan Dicken

Listen to his presentation here.

Response to Dr. Dicken's presentation
Alice C. Linsley

I did not attend the ASA/CSCA/CiS conference this summer. It was held at McMaster University where Dr. Dicken is a professor. I attended the 2013 conference in Nashville where I met Dr. Dicken and we discussed the the cultural context of Abraham's ancestors. He asserts that they were Sumerians and I that they were Nilo-Saharans. Indeed, ancient images of the common folk of Sumeria reveal physical features and sun and cattle symbolism characteristic of the Nilo-Saharans. In fact, the term "fertile crescent" was coined by James Henry Breasted (1865–1935), a scholar of ancient Egypt and director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, in his 1916 textbook, Ancient Times: A History of the Early World. By this term Breasted meant a much larger area than the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. He had in mind the centers of civilization from the Nile to the Indus.

Dr. Dickens is a geologist and I am an anthropologist. This means that we approach the Genesis material from different disciplines. In his presentation he proposes to show that Noah's flood took place in Mesopotamia before 5000 BC, drawing on geological information that he believes supports this view.

Apparently, the abstract above was intended for a poster presentation, but instead Dr. Dicken gave an oral presentation. This explains why the title - "Time to Abandon Aristotelian Approaches to Genesis?" - does not align closely with the content of the talk.

This is a strange title as the empirical approach is the best way to understand the original cultural context of the Genesis accounts. It is older than Aristotle and the Scientific Method. Essentially it is the principle of acute observation. This is the work of Biblical Anthropology, a science. Science did not begin with Aristotle, but Aristotelian approaches have served science very well since before the Enlightenment.

Recycling the Mesopotamian Thesis

Dr. Dicken attempts to support the view that Noah' flood took place in Mesopotamia with geological information about the Tigris-Euphrates as a major water system that tended to flood. However, the only place on the surface of the earth that claims to be Noah's homeland is in the region of Lake Chad - Borno, meaning the Land of Noah.

Rifting combined with prolonged rains caused this entire region to flood. Lake Chad is located at the boundary of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.

Noah lived approximately 2490-2415 BC and according to geoarchaeologist Karl W. Butzer this region of Africa was wet at that time. One of Dr. Butzer's areas of expertise is Egypt and Nubia, including dissertation fieldwork (1956); archaeological survey for the German Archaeological Institute (1958); Quaternary studies and geoarchaeology for Yale University (1962-63); and geoarchaeology of the ‘Lost City of the Pyramids’ (Ancient Egypt Research Associates) (2001-02). Butzer’s early research of Egypt and Nubia was brought together in Desert and River in Nubia (with Carl Hansen, 1968) and especially Early Hydraulic Civilization in Egypt (1976). The latter is one of the most widely cited works in archaeology.

Noah lived during the period of the Old Kingdom, a time of great cultural and technological achievement. This places Noah and his sons in relatively recent history, not at the dawn of human existence. Further, the account of Noah preserving a collection of animals has historical basis when we place him in the proper cultural context. The oldest known zoological collection was found in the extended Nile Valley during excavations at Nekhen in 2009. The royal menagerie dates to ca. 3500 BC and included hippos, hartebeest, elephants, baboons and wildcats. It was the custom for Nilo-Saharan kings to collect exotic animals.

Lake Chad is a great depression or basis which in the Nilo-Saharan is Tchad. The etymology of the word is very interesting. It is linguistically related to the Luo word chaddhoreh, meaning a wound or bruise. In Isaiah 1:6 the King James Version translates the Hebrew chabbarah as "bruises", but it also means wound or depression where something has been cut out. The Luo verb chaddho means to cut out, to pluck out, or to bruise the skin. So the name Chad describes the cut out basin which filled with water and became Mega Chad in the Holocene.

Petroglyphs of boats found in the Eastern Central Desert of Egypt and Sudan
They date to between 4300 and 2900 BC.

The Proto-Saharans were river peoples who shared many common beliefs, customs and symbols. Their civilization was at its peak between 10,000 and 4000 BC when the Sahara was wet. The major water systems connected the Nile and Central Africa. The historian Roland Oliver describes the Green Sahara as follows:

[In] the highlands of the central Sahara beyond the Libyan desert,... in the great massifs of the Tibesti and the Hoggar, the mountaintops, today bare rock, were covered at this period with forests of oak and walnut, lime, alder and elm. The lower slopes, together with those of the supporting bastions — the Tassili and the Acacus to the north, Ennedi and Air to the south — carried olive, juniper and Aleppo pine. In the valleys, perennially flowing rivers teemed with fish and were bordered by seed-bearing grasslands.

The black mahogany Dufuna dugout was found in the Sudan buried 16 feet under layers of clay and sand whose alternating sequence showed evidence of deposition in standing and flowing water. The dugout is 8000 years old. By comparison, Egypt's oldest boat is only about 5000 years old. Peter Breunig (University of Frankfurt) has written this description of the Dufuna boat:

The bow and stern are both carefully worked to points, giving the boat a notably more elegant form”, compared to “the dugout made of conifer wood from Pesse in the Netherlands, whose blunt ends and thick sides seem crude”. Judging by stylistic sophistication, Breunig reasons that, “It is highly probable that the Dufuna boat does not represent the beginning of a tradition, but had already undergone a long development, and that the origins of water transport in Africa lie even further back in time.

About 7,500 years ago Lake Chad was 130 feet deeper than it is today and covered an area of about 135,000 square miles (350,000 sq km). The footprint of ancient Mega-Chad has been confirmed by satellite photography. The Nile waters swelled from increased rainfall and cut a deeper and wider floodplain, extending well into Sudan to the west.

The Nile floods were much more extensive than Dr. Dicken recognizes. They spread nearly 100 miles west of the river and created "mega-lakes" in the ancient desert. This has been shown by a team of American and Egyptian researchers using Space Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM). Data from these surveys reveal that the Nile floods started about 250,000 years ago and were much more extensive than originally thought.

Related reading: Boat Petroglyphs in Egypt's Eastern Desert; Nile Floods Gave Rise to Ancient Mega Lakes; Recovering the African Background of Genesis

Painting the "ancients" as ignorant

Dr. Dickens argues that the "ancients" did not know that there was a globe. I'm not sure to which "ancients" he refers. Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors were known for their wisdom and had considerable astronomical understanding. By 4245 BC, the priests of the Upper Nile had established a calendar based on the appearance of the star Sirius that becomes visible to the naked eye once every 1,461 years. Apparently, Nilotes had been tracking this star and connecting it to seasonal changes and agriculture for thousands of years. This is verified by the Priest Manetho who reported in his history (241 BC) that Nilotic Africans had been “star-gazing” as early as 40,000 years ago. Plato, who studied in Egypt, claimed that the Africans had been tracking the heavens for 10,000 years.

Material evidence continues to turn up in Africa indicating sophisticated astronomy among the Africans who lived in the time of Cain, Noah and Nimrod. There are ancient astronomical monuments in southern Africa and in the Sudan.

The wisdom of the Horite priests was so extensive that it was unrivaled in the ancient world before the rise of Greece and much of the wisdom ascribed to the ancient Greeks was borrowed from the Horites. Iamblichus wrote that Thales of Miletus insisted that Pythagoras go to Memphis to study because the priests there were esteemed for their knowledge and wisdom. Plato studied for 13 years in Egypt under the priest Sechnuphis and his conception of the eternal Forms was based on Horite metaphysics.

The Greek word for boundaries in creation is oros or horos, a reference to the celestial archetype of Horus who was said to be the marker of boundaries. Horus was born of Ra by the virgin queen Hathor-Meri who became pregnant when overshadowed by the Sun, the emblem of the Creator. Hathor's totem was a cow and temple images show her holding her son in a manger. This is an early expression of Messianic expectation and it is based upon the Edenic promise that a Woman of the Horite lines would bring forth the "Seed" who would crush the serpent's head and restore Paradise (Gen. 3:15). Jesus identified Himself as that Seed in John 12:24 when he told his disciples, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

In the works of Plato and Aristotle horos or horismos refers to landmarks, boundaries and categorical limits. From Horus come the words hour, horoscope, horologion, horotely and horizon. The association of Horus with the horizon is evident in Har-ma-khet, meaning "Horus of the Horizon". Horus was said to control the winds and to establish the cardinal points. The stars, planets and constellations were fixed in place by Horus, and as Ben Sira reminds us, not one of the heavenly bodies "has ever got in the way of another, and they will never disobey his word." (Ecclesiaticus 16:24)

Horus shrines and temples were located at major water systems and Horus ruled the waters. This is why the Horus name appears in the word for river in Hebrew and Arabic (nahar/nahr) and in Aramaic (nehar). Abraham’s older brother controlled commerce on the Tigris River between Ur and Haran. His Horus name is Na-Hor (Gen. 22:20).

Related reading: Ancient Wisdom, Science and Technology; Medical Care in Ancient Egypt; Seats of Wisdom

Dating Noah

Dr. Dickens believes that Noah's flood took place before 5000 B.C. and bases this on Mesopotamian and Sumerian sources. I find this strange in light of his opening remarks about allowing the Bible to speak for itself. The Sumerian king lists are not found in the Bible. However, the Genesis king lists do serve to identify Noah as a Nilo-Saharan ruler and are useful in calculated the approximate dates of these rulers.

The biblical description does not suggest that Noah lived between 8000 and 5000 BC (Neolithic Period). Noah was a descendant of the kings listed in Genesis 4 and 5. These ancient rulers controlled the major water systems of Lake Chad, the Nile, and the Tigris and Euphrates. The interconnected waterways were their roads. In other words, Noah would have been familiar with boats and likely had a fleet. The lines of his sons Ham and Shem intermarried according to the pattern of the ruler-priests. He kept a royal menagerie and drank wine, a drink reserved for the Nilo-Saharan nobility and ruler-priests.

Earliest evidence of wine consumption among the Nilotic rulers dates to between 4000-3600 BC, but rulers could have afforded to import wine from great distances. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”

In the late 1980s, German archaeologists found remains of wine making equipment in the tomb of King Scorpion I. That find consisted of grape seeds, grape skins, dried pulp and imported ceramic jars covered inside with a yellow residue chemically consistent with wine. Ancient Egyptian murals depict details of wine-making.

The common people drank beer rather than wine and Nubian beer contained high levels of tetracycline. Beer was a staple in Egyptian diets, and was listed in the rations for pyramid builders.

Noah would have known of the greatest technological accomplishments of his time, including those of Egypt's Golden Age, the Fourth Dynasty, which lasted from c. 2613 to 2494 BC. It was a time of peace and prosperity, and trade with other countries. Ancient Egyptian rulers traded with Elam, Sumer, Palestine, Afghanistan and with modern Pakistan, the source for lapis lazuli, documented to have been imported into Egypt from Predynastic time.

Noah would have been born only about 100 years before the Horite ruler-priest Shepseskaf-ankh, who lived during Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty (c. 2392-2282 BC). Shepseskaf-ankh was a priest of Re whose emblem was the Sun. The Horites were a caste of ruler-priests who were devotees of Ra, Horus and Hathor-Meri.

Shepseskaf-ankh's is the third tomb found at Abusir belonging to a physician. Originally the huge limestone tomb was marked by a pyramid. The discovery was made at Abusir near Cairo, not at the Abusir in Sudan. The Abusir pyramids in Sudan, along with the pyramids of Saqqara and Giza, are aligned with the ancient obelisk of Heliopolis (Biblical On).

Shepseskaf-ankh was one of the most distinguished physicians of the Era of pyramid builders. The Director of the Czech mission, Miroslav Barta, stated that the tombs in Abusir were constructed starting from the mid 5th Dynasty and many priests and officials who worked in the Pyramid complex of the 5th Dynasty Kings of Abusir and the Sun Temples were buried there.

Noah's reign must have been one of great prosperity for his people. An oracle concerning Noah states, “This one shall bring us relief from our work and the toil of our hands.” (Genesis 5:29)

Related reading: Chronology of the Genesis RulersThoughts on Calculating the Dates of the Patriarchs; The Early Kings of Nekhen; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blood and Gender Distinctions

Alice C. Linsley

I'm a traditionalist. My position takes as its basis the tradition of the priesthood which the Church received from Abraham's Horite people. This older understanding of the priesthood clarifies why "woman priest" is an ontological impossibility. Ignoring the origins of the priesthood weakens the traditionalist defense of the male priesthood. Traditionalists tend to go back only to the first and second centuries of Christianity, overlooking thousands of years of salvation history and significant anthropological and archaeological information.

Anthropological studies have shown that the origins of the priesthood predate Abraham. The oldest known order of priests to worship one supreme Creator were the Horite priests of Nekhen along the Nile (3000 B.C.). The ruler-priest Melchizedek was not the first of his kind. Priests were a caste in the ancient world, and as such practiced endogamy, that is, they married only within their priestly lines. Archaeological discoveries reveal that there was an order of priests dedicated to the Creator and his Son (Ra and Horus) as early as 3000 B.C. These are called "Horites" and they are Abraham's ancestors. This fact is recognized by Abraham's descendants who refer to their ancestors as "Horim."

The Horite ruler-priests held a binary worldview (versus a dualistic worldview). They were great observers of the patterns in nature and noted certain fixed binary sets: male-female, day-night and east-west. These priests kept records of celestial events and natural phenomena because they believed that God has made his divine nature and eternal power known in the order of creation (Romans 1:20). When we ignore or confuse such binary distinctions we have a distorted view of the fullness of Christ.

The ancient priests (Habiru/Hebrew) regarded blood as the substance of life. This why the first man is called Adam in the Bible. Adam is a reference to blood. Ha-dam means "the Blood" and specified human beings among archaic peoples. Leviticus 17:11: “The life is in the Blood.”

There is an etymological connection between the words Adam, Edom and the Hausa word Odum. These words pertain to the color red. Edom was the home of an especially prestigious line of ruler-priests. These Horite rulers are listed in Genesis 36. Jesus Christ's ancestry is Horite.

Blood is the complex and somewhat mysterious transport system that allows communication and coordination between different parts of the human body. It nourishes organs and muscles. Without it, life as we know it could not exist. It is natural to associate blood with the beginning of life and the renewal of life. For Saint Paul the Blood of Jesus speaks of the fullness of life in God. The blood of sacrificed animals prefigured the Blood of Jesus, but could never serve as a substitute.

For St. Paul, the benefits of the “blood of Jesus” are manifested as the pleroma, the fullness of all things in heaven and on earth, both invisible and visible. The Gnostics used the term to describe the metaphysical unity of all things, but Paul uses the term to speak about how all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ in bodily form (Col. 2:9).

Paul refers to the Blood of Jesus no less than twelve times in his writings. Because God makes peace with us through the blood of the cross, he urges “Take every care to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together” (Eph. 4:3).

The Bible does not say that women can be priests because the very notion would have been unthinkable to the ancients. They held to the binary distinctions that reveal “woman priest” as an ontological impossibility. The idea of women sacrificing animals in the Temple would have been a great affront to the Creator. He created women to bring forth life, not to take it.

This idea that men and women have distinct blood work is a foreign concept to moderns. Today women fight in combat, hunt and abort their unborn. However, in the ancient world men and women had distinct roles when it came to blood work. These roles were not to be confused. Nor was it proper for the blood shed by males and females to be present in the same place. That is why women were not permitted at the altar of blood sacrifice and men were not permitted inside birthing chambers.

Abraham's Horite people made a distinction also between the blood work of men in killing and the blood work of women in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary opposites of life and death. The blood shed in war, hunting and animal sacrifice fell to warriors, hunters and priests. The blood shed in first intercourse, the monthly cycle and in childbirth fell to wives and midwives. The two bloods were never to mix or even to be present in the same space. Women did not participate in war, the hunt, and in ritual sacrifices, and they were isolated during menses. Likewise, men were not present at the circumcision of females (Pharaonic circumcision, not female genital mutilation) or in the birthing hut.

The distinction between the blood work of females and the blood work of males is ultimately about the distinction between life and death. This is why the Habiru (Hebrew) were commanded never to boil a baby goat it its mother’s milk. The mother's milk symbolizes life. Killing the new life in the substance of life blurs the distinction between life and death.

Historically, after childbirth women and their newborn infants were received into the church with great solemnity and joy. This was the Church’s way to recognize the woman and welcome the child. This liturgical moment, called "churching," affirmed the blood work of child bearing. This practice was observed in the Church for centuries, but began to disappear as feminist influences increased in the Church. Today, instead of welcoming the newborn and affirming the labor of the mother, Episcopal Church seminary dean, Katharine Ragsdale, leads her listeners in this chant:

“Let me hear you say it:

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.”

The innovation of women priests has caused great confusion and division in the Church. This has spread throughout the whole Anglican Communion. This innovation is contrary to the binary pattern of Holy Scripture whereby the "blood work" of women and of men is distinct and never confused. A female standing as a priest at the altar is as confusing as a male image intended to represent the Virgin Mary.

Regardless of how one views the priest standing at altar - in persona christi, in persona ecclesiae, a icon of Christ, etc., this is not a matter of secondary importance. No synod or jurisdiction has authority to change the received tradition concerning Jesus Christ and his blood shed for the salvation of the world.

C.S. Lewis is correct that when it comes to the Church's received tradition, "We cannot shuffle or tamper so much. With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us." (From Priestesses in the Church?)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

70,000 Year Old Settlement Discovered in Sudan

Site of excavations in Affad. Photo: Marta Osypińska

During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.
The site known as Affad 23, is currently the only one recorded in the Nile Valley which shows that early Homo sapiens built sizeable permanent structures, and had adapted well to the wetland environment.
This new evidence points to a much more advanced level of human development and adaptation in Africa during the Middle Paleolithic.
Read it all here.

Though this settlement is located in northern Sudan, Nubian Middle Stone Age artifacts have been discovered there, suggesting that stone technologies traveled along the Nile.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

G. K. Chesterton on Divine Frivolity

Chapter XVI of Heretics – “On Mr. McCabe and a Divine Frivolity”

“If there is one thing more than another which any one will admit who has the smallest knowledge of the world, it is that men are always speaking gravely and earnestly and with the utmost possible care about the things that are not important, but always talking frivolously about the things that are.”

“Numbers of clergymen have from time to time reproached me for making jokes about religion; and they have almost always invoked the authority of that very sensible commandment which says, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.’ Of course, I pointed out that I was not in any conceivable sense taking the name in vain. To take a thing and make a joke out of it is not to take it in vain. It is, on the contrary, to take it and use it for an uncommonly good object. To use a thing in vain means to use it without use. But a joke may be exceedingly useful; it may contain the whole earthly sense, not to mention the whole heavenly sense, of a situation. … The thing which is fundamentally and really frivolous is not a careless joke. The thing which is fundamentally and really frivolous is a careless solemnity.”

“…paradox simply means a certain defiant joy which belongs to belief. … if Mr. McCabe asks me why I import frivolity into a discussion of the nature of man, I answer, because frivolity is a part of the nature of man. If he asks me why I introduce what he calls paradoxes into a philosophical problem, I answer, because all philosophical problems tend to become paradoxical.”

And this from Orthodoxy

G.K. Chesterton
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Related reading: The Africa Chesterton Never KnewChesterton on the Value of Detective Stories; Chesterton on Premature Celebrations of ChristmasChesterton on the Kingdom of HeavenWho is Sunday? Who is Thursday?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Abraham's Audience with Pharaoh

Genesis 12:18-20

18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife (isha)?

19 Why saidst thou, ‘She is my sister (achot),’ so I might have taken her to me for a wife? Now therefore behold thy wife; take her and go thy way.”

20 And Pharaoh commanded his men (anashim) concerning him; and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham's meeting with Pharaoh is an understated account of a remarkable moment in the patriarch's life. Likely he met with Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II, a powerful ruler of the 11th Dynasty who reigned for 51 years.

Mentuhotep II

Sometime around the 39th year of his reign Mentuhotep II reunited Egypt after two centuries of political instability. Consequently, he is considered the first ruler of the Middle Kingdom. He was a builder of great monuments. The southern shrine city of Thebes was the center of his political power. His royal house had close connection to Nubia and at least one of his wives was Nubian.

Kemsit, Mentuhotep's Nubian queen
She was buried at Mentuhotep's mortuary complex at Thebes.

Mentuhotep had at least seven wives, including his sister Neferu II. He appears to have been a collector of wives and consorts, and this story concerning Sarah reflects historical reality.
Abraham's audience with Pharaoh
Circumcision was a sign of purity among the ancient Egyptians and only circumcised males were permitted to appear before Pharaoh. Therefore, it is highly probable that Abraham was already circumcised at the time of his audience with Mentuhotep.
The king and his insignia, including the crook and the flail, were never to be touched by ordinary mortals. All who were granted audience approached with due reverence, prostrating themselves seven times. During the Late Bronze Age the rulers of Canaan compared the pharaoh to the sun and themselves to the dust under his feet. Gold was associated with the sun and Horus' totem was the golden falcon which appeared on the top of Mentuhotep's cartouche.

After his enthronement Mentuhotep also bore the title "son of Re" and was known as the ruler of the Upper and Lower Nile regions which were symbolized by the sedge (Upper) and the bee (Lower) and by the double white and red crown.

As a Horite (devotee of Horus), Abraham would have been aware of the titles held by the king of Egypt. The oldest title was the Horus name assumed by Mentuhotep II when he came to the throne as heir or "son" of Horus, ruler of the universe. This was written inside a serekh with the Golden Horus name. The concept of the golden falcon has been definitely traced to the time of Mentuhotep and the 11th Dynasty. The ancient Egyptians believed in the resurrection and associated the golden falcon with the deified king who would rise from the grave and lead his people to immortality.

Sarah was Abraham's half-sister
Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy structure of Abraham's people reveals that the Horite rulers had two wives. The first was a half-sister, as was Sarah to Abraham. The second wife was usually a patrilineal cousin, as was Keturah to Abraham. The wives maintained separate households in distant settlements on a north-south axis. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah resided at Beersheba to the south. Both Hebron and Beersheba were in the Horite territory of Edom. The Greeks called this region Idumea, referring to the land of the people with a red skin tone.

It is commonly believed that Abraham lied to Pharaoh when he said that Sarah was his sister. However, Scripture reiterates that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister in Genesis 20:12. Here Abraham explains this to Abimelek, “She is the daughter of my father, but not of my mother.” This is a significant clue in gaining understanding of the kinship pattern of the Horite rulers.

Related reading:  The Horite Ancestry of Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ of Two Crowns; The Marriage and Ascendancy Pattern of Abraham's People; Chronology of the Genesis Rulers; The Nubian Context of YHWY; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A.N. Wilson on Bishops in the Church of England

In 1983, British biographer and novelist A.N. Wilson wrote, in his Life of John Milton, “It needs an act of supreme historical imagination to be able to recapture an atmosphere in which Anglican bishops might be taken seriously; still more, one in which they might be thought threatening.”