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Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew (Part 6)

All rights reserved. If you borrow, please cite this page. This information represents 35 years of research.

Alice C. Linsley

Part 1 of this series addresses the Feminist claim that the biblical Hebrew had a patriarchal social structure. This unfounded assumption is the basis for attempts to justify the innovation of women priests. Since women were denied the opportunity to serve as priests among the patriarchal Hebrew the Church should ordain women to correct that social injustice.

It should be noted that arguments in favor of women priests come primarily from New Testament professors whose focus precludes a wider investigation into the historic roots of the Church's priesthood among Abraham's Hebrew people. Among them are William Witt and N.T. Wright.

The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church of North America noted in a recent statement that women's ordination is an innovation without sufficient Scriptural warrant to make it a normative practice. This was the conclusion of the ACNA house of bishops after consideration of a 5-year study of the question. Dr. William Witt served as one of the advisers to the study group. He argues that women were denied the opportunity to serve as priests among the Hebrew because of patriarchy, and to correct that social injustice the Church should ordain women.
However, examination of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew reveals that the argument has no basis in fact. The social structure of the biblical Hebrew is not patriarchal because it is not characterized by these 6 conditions of absolute patriarchy:

1. descent is traced through the paternal line only (Part 2)
2. inheritance rights come through the father's lineage only (Part 3)
3. right to rule is vested with males only (Part 4)
4. patrilocal residence; that is the bride lives with or near the groom's clan/family (Part 5)
5. governed by a council of all males
6. ultimate authority rests with a male figure such as a patriarch, chief or king.

In this article we explore the claim that the social structure of the biblical Hebrew was characterized by the governance of males exclusively.

One of Dr. Witt's arguments is that the contemporary view of male "headship" (complementarianism) is not the biblical view of the relationship of male and female. I agree with him. The headship argument acknowledges the equality of men and women and also asserts a permanent hierarchy with men in authority over women. This does not describe the social structure of the biblical Hebrew. There are examples of women serving in roles of authority over men. 

Refutation of this misguided headship view does not support women's ordination because, after all is said, not a single women served as a priest among the biblical Hebrew, nor can one be found in the Bible.

It is also a fact that the Hebrew priests were not the final decision makers in ancient Hebrew society. These priests were under rulers who were not priests. Of the 24 priestly divisions, none was assigned to David's own Bethlehem because his sons served as the rulers over all the priestly divisions (2 Sam. 8:18).

Further, final decisions concerning governance were made by kings and queens. The Hebrew priests were in the service of these rulers. A Judean queen named Salome Alexandra ruled from BC 76-67. She was one of two women to exercise sole rule over Judea. Archaeologists have uncovered her palace in Jericho. Salome is the only woman mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some of the religious reforms that shaped second-Temple Judaism were implemented under her rule.

Wise women were consulted by kings. Huldah is an example. She lived in Jerusalem with her husband, Shallum, who was in charge of the priestly vestments. The narrative in 2 Kings 22 reveals the high esteem with which she was regarded by the king and the people.

Deborah ruled as a judge in Israel (Judges 4). She was the fourth to rule after the death of Joshua. Her husband was named Lapidoth, a variant of Lapidos. It is likely that he was of the ruler-priest caste as his name has a Sumerian/Akkadian root that refers to a box or arc (pid). Deborah's place of judgement was marked by a large date nut palm between the settlements of Ramah and Bethel. This means that people had to go out to her for counsel, just as people had to travel to John the Baptist in the wilderness.

Women ruled over their clans. Among them were Anah and Oholibamah. Anah is called a "chief" in Genesis 36. The wives of Hebrew priests ruled their households and exercised considerable influence in their social circles.

The first born son of the ruler-priest's second wife became a high ranking official in the territory of his maternal grandfather. This son was named after his maternal grandfather. This explains why there are two named Esau, Enoch, Lamech, Nahor, Joktan, etc. This is the "cousin bride's naming prerogative" and it is a distinctive feature of the social pattern of the biblical Hebrew. Here we have a glimpse of the powerful influence of the mother. Such power is portrayed in the story of Bathsheba appearing before King Solomon. 
When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king's mother, and she sat down at his right hand. (1 Kings 2:19)

In the final segment of this 7-part series, we will explore the nature of ultimate authority and whether this is exclusively vested with male biblical figures.

Related reading: Dr. William Witt's Response; Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David; The Priesthood is About the Blood; Why Women Were Never Priests

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Greek Linear Logic vs. Hebrew Step Logic

What follows is an excerpt from an excellent article written by Jeff A. Benner, Director of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center.  Here he touches on some of reasons western readers have a difficult time understanding the creation accounts in Genesis.

The Hebrew stressed the concreteness of God's work. They do not spiritualized the material as the Greeks tend to do. Benner cites Exodus 7:12 as an example of concrete thinking.
But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. (ESV, Exodus 17:12)
Benner writes, "In this passage we can see many concrete words including hands, stone, sat, side, steady and sun. In addition, the entire sentence creates a visual scene that we can easily picture in our mind.'

Jeff Benner

The Greek thinker uses a linear logic that flows in steps from a beginning to an end. Each step is linked closely to the next in a coherent and rational fashion. In contrast to this, the Hebrew thinker uses block logic, which groups things together according to their similarities. Because of these differences, Western readers of the Bible, who are reading the Bible from a linear perspective, read the creation account in Genesis as if it was written in chronological order, but this was not how the narrative was written; the different events of the creation account are recorded in blocks of related events.

The first three days of creation are related to separation.
Day 1 – Separating light from darkness
Day 2 – Separating the water from the sky
Day 3 – Separating the land from the water

The next three days of creation are related to the filling of the creation.
Day 4 – Filling the light with the sun and the dark with the moon
Day 5 – Filling the water fish and the sky with birds
Day 6 – Filling the land with animals and man

The record of events for the first six days of creation, are written in blocks of parallels, a form of Hebrew poetry, and can be written like this;

1 – Separating light from darkness

2 – Separating the water from the sky

3 – Separating the land from the water

4 – Filling the light with the sun and the dark with the moon

5 – Filling up the water with fish and the sky with birds

6 – Filling up the land with animals

Days 1 and 4 are paralleled with each other and are recording the same event as we can see from the following verses.

And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (ESV, Genesis 1:4)

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night … and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good." (ESV, Genesis 1:14a, 18b)

Verse 4 occurs on the first day and is describing the action of God separating light and darkness, but in verse 14, which is day four, we have God again separating light and darkness. There are only two possible explanations for this. Either the separation of light and darkness on the first day disappeared and had to be separated again on the fourth day, or the first and fourth days are recording the same event. In addition, days 2 and 5 are recording the same event, as are days 3 and 6.


Throughout the world, past and present, there are two major forms of philosophy, Western and Eastern and these two forms of philosophy are very different from each other.

The Bible was written by Hebrews in a culture that was predominately Eastern in its philosophy, while we, the readers of the Bible, live in a culture that is predominately Western in its philosophy. Eastern philosophy is the form of philosophy of all ancient cultures (as well as all primitive cultures that still exist today). Western philosophy was developed in the Greek culture by its ancient philosophers about 3,000 years ago. When we read the Bible, which was written from an ancient Eastern Hebrew perspective, we will frequently misinterpret the text because we are reading it from a Western Greek perspective.

When it comes to reading the Bible in its proper perspective, the five major differences between Hebrew and Greek thought must be kept in mind; concrete vs. abstract thinking, passive vs. active descriptions, impersonal vs. personal relationships and linear vs. block logic.
It is hard for our Western minds to grasp these very different perspectives of thought, but if we do not accept the fact that the Bible was written from a perspective that is very different from our own, we will continue to misinterpret it.

Jeff & Denise Benner
Ancient Hebrew Research Center

Related reading: The Binary Worldview of the Bible

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Did Abraham Intend to Sacrifice Isaac?

Caravaggio, 1598

Alice C. Linsley

Jews speak of the sacrifice of Isaac as the "binding of Isaac" (Akeidat Yitzchak).  Most Jews do not believe that Abraham intended to sacrifice his son. In The Binding of Isaac, Religious Murders and Kabbalah, Lippman Bodoff argues that Abraham never intended to sacrifice his son. Rather, he had faith that God had no intention that he should do so.

Genesis Rabbah holds that God "never considered telling Abraham to slaughter Isaac. Rabbi Yona Ibn Janach wrote that this story is about a symbolic sacrifice. Rabbi Yosef Ibn Caspi maintained that Abraham's "imagination" led him astray. Ibn Caspi wrote, "How could God command such a revolting thing?"

Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz maintains that child sacrifice was "rife among the Semitic peoples," and finds it "astounding that Abraham's God should have interposed to prevent the sacrifice, not that He should have asked for it." Hertz's interpretation of Genesis 22 is that God was correcting the practice of human sacrifice among Abraham’s people. Unfortunately, there is little anthropological and archaeological support for this view. The is no evidence that the Horites practiced human sacrifice.

Jacques Kinnaer reports, "The earliest known example of human sacrifice may perhaps be found in Predynastic burials in the south of Egypt, dated to the Naqada II Period. One of the discovered bodies showed marks on the throat from having been cut before having been decapitated."-- Human Sacrifice, Jacques Kinnaer

Kinnaer also provides two definitions of human sacrifice:
  • "The ritual killing of human beings as part of the offerings presented to the gods on a regular basis, or on special occasions."
  • "Retainer sacrifice, or the killing of domestic servants to bury them along with their master."

For the first definition there is no evidence among Abraham's ancestors, and regarding the second definition, there is dispute among Egyptologists. Caroline Seawright has written, "Human sacrifice is not generally connected with ancient Egypt. There is little evidence of human sacrifice during most of the dynastic period of ancient Egypt... but there is some evidence that it may have been practiced in the Nile Valley during the 1st Dynasty and possibly also Predynastic Egypt.

Seawright is referring to subsidiary graves at Abydos, the burial place for the first kings of a unified Egypt. These were Kushite rulers. However, these were the graves of domestics and officials who probably died naturally, not the graves of servants who were sacrificed to serve the ruler in the afterlife. Even the most provocative National Geographic report has to admit that this is probable, lacking hard evidence that the ancient Nilotic peoples sacrificed humans.

It is apparent that Abraham intended that Isaac should be offered to God as a sacrifice of some sort. Genesis tells us that Abraham fully expected to return with Isaac to his men waiting at the base of the mountain. Abraham, the Horite Hebrew, expected resurrection and he told the men that both he and Isaac would return (Genesis 22:5).

Abraham knew to expect a son who would overcome death. He likely believed that Isaac would be raised to life after the sacrifice. In other words, he acted by faith. By provision of the ram on Mount Moriah, a site that was sacred to the Horites, Abraham received confirmation that his offering was accepted, and he also discovered that Isaac was not the anticipated Ruler foretold in Eden (Gen. 3:15). That one would be revealed in the future.

Paul and James are perceived to be in conflict on the question of justification, yet they both argue based on this story of Abraham and Isaac. There is no conflict in their understandings of this event if they understood that Abraham trusted God to confirm the truth to him. This is the man who posed the great question: "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25) This same Abraham believed God's promise concerning the appointed Son on a deep level.

What Abraham discovered on Mount Moriah is that Isaac was not the long-awaited Messiah who would overcome death and lead the people to immortality. That Lamb of God was yet to be born, and He would die a ram (in full strength of manhood) in the future. James tells us that Abraham discovered justification through acting on his Messianic faith... that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:21-24).

The Jews call their ancestors "Horim" because they recognize the Horite Hebrew identity of Abraham and his ancestors. The Horites believed in the resurrection, but this fact has been suppressed by rabbinic teaching.

The Horites anticipated that a woman of their ruler-priest lines would miraculously conceive by the overshadowing of God and bring for the Son of God. This explains why their lines intermarried exclusively, as analysis of their marriage and ascendancy pattern shows. Both Joseph and Mary are descendants of the Horite ruler-priest lines. This is attested by the fact that Joseph had to register for the census in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a Horite town. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hor as the "father" of Bethlehem.

The Nilotic Horites held an annual a 5-day festival in which they mourned the death of the son of God. He is called Horus, from which come the terms "Horite" or "Hurrian." On the third day, the priests lead the people to the fields where they planted seeds of grain to symbolize his rising to life. This was a custom among Abraham's Nilotic ancestors who hung their hopes on the resurrection of the Righteous Ruler.

Genesis 3:15 speaks of how the Woman would bring for the Seed who would crush the serpent's head. Jesus claimed to be that Seed when He spoke to his disciples about his impending death. He explained: "Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)

The rabbis do not agree on the meaning of the binding of Isaac, but one thing is certain: the Horite Hebrew did not practice human sacrifice. The biblical evidence indicates that child sacrifice among the Semites developed after Abraham's time because God condemns it between the 8th and 7th centuries BC, about 1200 years after Abraham.

There is little evidence of human sacrifice among biblical peoples. This narrative of Abraham with Isaac isn't about human sacrifice. It is about Messianic expectation of the dying and rising son. The narrative concerning Jephath's sacrifice of his daughter is a moral lesson about not swearing rash oaths (compare James 5:12), and a critique of Canaanite practices surrounding war.

Related reading: Ram Symbolism in the Ancient WorldJesus: From Lamb to Ram; What Abraham Discovered on Mount Moriah;  Genesis and the True Meaning of Christmas

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Messiah's Sign in Creation

Alice C. Linsley

Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis. The Cross remains constant while the world turns. Those are the words of Pope John Paul II (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 60) in a chapter addressing suffering. Often our suffering draws our focus from the Cross to ourselves and we forget that the Cross redeems all suffering ultimately.

It seems to me that the cross shape is Messiah's sign in creation because it is found everywhere. The intersecting lines between the cardinal points form a cross. The cross-shaped laminin (shown right) holds the body together (cell adhesion). The beta and alpha chains of laminin "influence pre-synaptic and post-synaptic development, thus providing a way to coordinate maturation of the sending and receiving sides of the synapse." Referring to Jesus Messiah, Paul wrote, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri

Before he died at age 108,  Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri left a signed note indicating Messiah's identity: Yeshua - Jesus. A few months before, Kaduri had surprised his followers when he told them that he met the Messiah in dreams and visions. Kaduri gave a message in his synagogue on Yom Kippur, teaching how to recognize the Messiah. Kaduri's manuscripts, written in his own hand, have cross-symbols painted all over the pages.

Many attempt to explain the crosses by arguing that the great Rabbi Kaduri was not a Christian. We have no reason to believe he was. Instead, it appears that he was a Jew who accepted Jesus as Messiah. Only God knows. This we may safely assume: Rabbi Kaduri was wise and prayerful, and he knew the tradition of his Hebrew ancestors. Perhaps this led him to Jesus, the Son of God, at the sacred center of our cross-shaped reality.

His ancestors were Horite Hebrew. For them the sun and the cross spoke of the Creator who had a son. The son is called Horus (Enki in Akkadian). Horus was the archetype of Jesus, the son of God. Both the sun and the cross are found on stone reliefs at the Temple of Horus in Edfu (shown below). The relief also shows the sun resting over the banks of the Nile (directly below the bird). A variation of this image is the Hebrew horned altar, an apophatic solar image. The sun resting over a place or person represents divine appointment and blessing. The Canaanite Y is another example.

Photo: Maureen Palmer

Horus was called "lord of the sky" in hieroglyphs at the beginning of dynastic Egypt (c. 3000 BC). His priest devotees were called Horites (Gen. 36) and one of the terriotries they controlled was ancient Edom, known as a seat of wisdom.

This Egyptian temple of Horus closely resembles the pillared architecture of Petra. The ancient temples of the Sun cities had many pillars, typically at least 25. Entrance pillars were often named for righteous ancestors. The entrance pillars of Solomon's temple were named from his maternal and paternal great great grandfathers.

Vertical pillars and horizontal entrance beams/stones form a cross, and as the entrances to the ancient temples faced east, the sunlight came into the sacred space through the cross.

The Horite Hebrew regarded the sun as the symbol or emblem of the Creator. They are called Ha'biru in ancient Akkadian. The word is related to the Arabic yakburu, meaning “he is getting big” and to the intensive active prefix: yukabbiru, meaning "he is enlarging." This is a reference to the morning ritual of Horite Hebrew priests who greeted the rising sun with prayers and watched as it expanded across the horizon. This is the origin of the morning ritual whereby the sun is blessed daily in every devout Hindu home (Agnihotra) and the Jewish Sun Blessing ritual (Birkat Hachama) that is performed every 28 years.

Aspects of the solar symbolism are found in the Bible and in historical texts. Psalm 92:2 describes the Lord as “a sun and a shield.” The Victory Tablet of Amenhotep III describes Horus as “The Good God, Golden [Horus], Shining in the chariot, like the rising of the sun; great in strength, strong in might…” (Tablet of Victory of Amenhotep III, J.H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, p. 854). At the oldest known Horite Hebrew fortress at Nekhen on the Nile, the priests greeted the rising sun and placed prayers in the crevices of the rock.

Consider how the boundary markers of Abraham's territory suggest intersecting lines that form a cross. First, the placement of his wives in separate households on a north-south axis. These settlements marked the northern and southern boundaries of the his territory. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah in Beersheba. For Abraham, the east-west boundaries were marked by water sources: Engedi to the east, and wells in Gerar to the west.

Our experience of earth and the heavens suggests a geometrical quality of lines, angles and boundaries. The boundaries fixed by the Creator can be observed in genetics (horotely), climate cycles, and in time and space. Abraham's people respected the boundaries since they perceived of them as having been established by the Creator. Their religious and social practices reflect concern to distinguish the values of entities in the binary sets of Heaven-Earth; God-Man, Pure-Defiled, and Life-Death, and to serve the greater value.

Consider how the residences of the prophets reveal the vertical and horizontal lines that form a cross. Abraham visited the prophet (moreh) at a great oak half way between the cities of Ai and Bethel (east-west axis). Deborah judged from her nut palm tree halfway between the cities of Bethel and Ramah (north-south axis).

In our cross-shaped reality, there is always a sacred center. In the ancient world the sacred center of a territory was usually the shrine city, an elevated fortification near a water source. For the ancient Nilotes the sacred center was depicted in this image of the lions and the sun. 

We also may speak of a metaphysical sacred center. After his many years of deconstruction, Jacques Derrida concluded that there is a center and that there is a "presence" at the center. He claimed that throughout the history of philosophy this metaphysical presence is called by different names, including God. Materialists are baffled and perhaps frightened by this metaphysical presence since it must be of greater power and authority than they. There is existential angst about the possibility that expressions of authority depend on God's existence (Romans 13:1). A Facebook friend recently wrote that there are many ways to kill people, but the most certain way is to persuade them that there is no God, no Truth, and no morality. 

Pope John Paul II said that "the Cross remains constant while the world turns." Were we to investigate with seeking hearts, we would see Messiah's sign everywhere.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Priesthood is About the Blood

Alice C. Linsley

Speaking from the perspective of Biblical Anthropology, the priesthood of the Church stands in continuity with the Hebrew priesthood that was known to Abraham and his ancestors. The priest's office is unique, very ancient, and stands as an ensign of the hope for immortality.

Melchizedek attended to Abraham's spiritual needs after the battle of the kings (Genesis 14). It appears that he performed a cleansing ritual to diminish Abraham's blood guilt. After that, there was a communion of bread and wine.

The priesthood has always been about the Blood. Priests sacrificed animals because blood is the sign of the Covenant. Jesus exhorts His own to drink His blood in the Sacrament. The priest stands at altar as a divinely appointed agent of that Blood. Life is in the Blood!

Redemption and eternal life require that we have that Blood as our "covering" just as the skins of rams dyed red formed the covering over the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 26:14).

The Hebrew priests kept sheep and cattle to offer as sacrifices. These were often kept in a stone sheep cote (naveh) that had a beehive shape. The sheep cotes were sacred places. With the exception of red heifers, rarely were the females sacrificed. The sacrifice of the red heifer was to be a perpetual sacrifice for Israel (Numbers 19:9). It was for cleansing. 

The earliest ritual burials suggest a priestly office associated with blood. The burial of nobles in red ochre (a blood symbol) was the custom among Abraham's R1b people for at least 40,000 years. It expressed the hope of life after death through the blood.

In the ancient world the community was represented by its chief or ruler. Hope of life after death was pinned on the ruler. If the ruler rose from the grave he would lead his people to immortality. This royal procession language is found more than once in the Bible. Psalm 68:18 says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (Also Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:15) Messiah Jesus leads the royal procession to the Father from Calvary's bloody hill.

Paul writes that we who are baptized into Christ "have been brought near in the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). We enter with boldness into the Most Holy Place "by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is His body..." (Hebrews 10:19, 20)

In this we follow Jesus, our great High Priest, who "did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood..." (Hebrews 9:12)

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth." (Ephesians 1:7-10)

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is to be signified by every priest of the Church whether at the altar or in the confessional.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew (Part 5)

All rights reserved. If you borrow, please cite this page. This information represents 35 years of research.

Alice C. Linsley

Part 1 of this series addresses the Feminist claim that the biblical Hebrew had a patriarchal social structure. This argument is used to support the ordination of women to the priesthood among Anglicans. The argument maintains that women were denied the opportunity to serve as priests among the Hebrew because of patriarchy and to correct that social injustice the Church should ordain women.

A detailed examination of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew reveals that the argument has no basis in fact. The social structure of the biblical Hebrew is not patriarchal because it is not characterized by these 6 conditions of absolute patriarchy:

1. descent is traced through the paternal line only (Part 2)
2. inheritance rights come through the father's lineage only (Part 3)
3. right to rule is vested with males only (Part 4)
4. patrilocal residence; that is the bride lives with or near the groom's clan/family
5. governed by a council of all males (Part 6)
6. ultimate authority rests with a male figure such as a patriarch, chief or king

In this article we explore the claim that the biblical Hebrew practiced patrilocal residence (point #4 above). Patrilocal residence or patrilocality refers to a system in which a married couple resides with or near the husband's parents. In other words, the bride leaves her family or clan. However, this is not a characteristic of the biblical Hebrew because they practiced endogamy which means the bride and groom are close kin. As half-siblings (Abraham and Sarah) or patrilineal parallel cousins (Jacob and Leah) the bride and groom have the same relatives in their extended families.

The clan to which the individual belonged did not depend on where the person resided. It depended on the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Hebrew people. For example, upon her marriage to Methuselah, Naamah belonged to her husband's clan, but her first born son Lamech the Younger belonged to the clan of Naamah's father, Lamech the Elder.

Further, the evidence of Scripture indicates that the biblical Hebrew had at least four residential arrangements: patrilocal, matrilocal, neolocal, and avunculocal. The residence of married couples depended on the social position of the groom. The residence of widows depended on their eligibility to remarry.

Patrilocal residence

Among the biblical Hebrew it was customary for the first born son of the principal wife to ascend to the throne of his father and to reside in the territory over which he ruled. This meant maintaining two separate households, one for the principal wife and another for the second wife. Abraham's territory extended on a north-south axis between Sarah's residence in Hebron and Keturah's residence in Beersheba. As the proper heir to Abraham's holdings, Isaac ruled over Abraham's territory and resided at both settlements. When he first met Rebekah, he was residing in Beersheba. This would have been where his first wife was living. She was Isaac's half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham). This is also where Abraham spent the last years of his life.

Edom (Idumea) extended between Hebron and Beersheba.

As Abraham approached his death, Isaac had not taken his second wife, a prerequisite for ascension to his father's throne. According to a long observed Hebrew custom, the heir's second wife was a patrilateral cousin. Therefore, Abraham enjoined his servant to seek a wife for Isaac among his Aramean kin in the territory of Abraham's older brother Nahor.

Abraham's servant asked what he is to do if the woman refused to come back to Beersheba with him. Abraham answered: "If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there." (Gen. 24:8) As the proper heir to Abraham's territory, Isaac was not to leave Abraham's territory in Edom. Upon marriage, Rebekah was to reside with her husband in his father's territory (patrilocal residence). Patrilocal residence applied to the proper heir and his wives, but not to all married couples.

Widows who were not eligible to remarry lived with or near their fathers. This is why Judah told Tamar to return to her father's house. "Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, 'Live as a widow in your father's household..." (Gen. 38:11)

Some widows resided in the Temple precincts or at shrines. Anna is an example. She was a widow for 84 years. "She never left the temple, but continued to worship there night and day with times of fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:36-38)

In the ancient world, some women attached themselves to shrines or temples once their husbands died. This is still a custom in Africa and India. The Hindu scholar, Dr. Shubhash C. Sharma, explains: "The same type of consideration, as … for young girls, is generally applicable to adult women, especially the widows, when they decide to live in temples and religious places... Note that even though the widows living in such places (temples etc.) might number in several thousand they still represent an extremely small minority relative to millions of Indian widows."

Matrilocal residence

Widows who were eligible to remarry went to live with or near their mothers. This is why Naomi told her daughters-in-law to return to their mothers. "Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go back, each of you, to your mother's home." (Ruth 1:8)

Neolocal residence

The first biblical reference to residence is found in Genesis 2:24. "Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife." The context is a garden in Eden from which the man and the woman are sent away.

Likewise, Cain was sent away and he built a city named Enoch, in honor of his son Enoch. This city was away from his natal home and appears to be an example of neolocal residence. Neolocal residence pertains to sent-away sons. These are the sons who venture from their homes to gain a territory of their own, often with the help of kinsmen living in the region.

Most of the heroes of the Bible were in similar circumstances: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David. Abraham moved to Hebron where he had familial contacts. Jacob moved to Paddan-Aram where he initially had familial support. Moses moved to Midian where he had a kinsmen in Jethro, and David sought refuge for his parents with the king of Moab, who was a royal kinsmen.

Before he died, Abraham gave grants to all his sons and sent them away from Isaac, his heir. These sent-away sons had establish neolocal residences in places where they could maintain their households.

In some instances, the sent-away sons received assistance from their maternal uncles. If they take up residence with or near their maternal uncles, it is called avunculocal residence. Avunculocal residence is common in matrilineal societies, as it brings the adult males of a matrilineage together as a single residential unit.

Avunculocal residence

Upon the death of Terah, Abraham's older brother ruled over Terah's holdings in Mesopotamia. Abraham became a sent-away son. Sent-away sons, like Abraham and Jacob, often lived with or near their maternal uncles. This is called "avunculocal residence" and Abraham's visit to the prophet at Mamre may have been directed by his maternal uncle who was a ruler in that territory. Abraham's mother was said to be the daughter of a Hebrew ruler of Nebo. He is called Kar-Nevo/Nebo in the Talmud. Kar/Har Nebo refers to Mount Nebo. From Mount Nebo sentries would have been able to survey all of Palestine.

Likewise, Jacob was sent away to live with his maternal uncle Laban. There he gained the wealth and wives he needed to establish himself in another place (neolocal residence). He set out for his natal home in Edom, but after making peace with his estranged brother Esau, he finally settled in the area of Shechem. Shechem later became the first capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Related reading: Abraham's Maternal Line; Isaac's Second Marriage; Jacob's Journeys; Where Abraham Spent His Old Age; The Bible and Anthropology FB Forum

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Abraham's Maternal Line

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham's mother is not identified in the Bible. This seems a strange oversight since Jewish identity is traced through the mother. Perhaps the final editor of Genesis (the Deuteronomist Historian) found this problematic because Abraham's mother was not a Jew, and therefore, Abraham was not the first Jew, as is often claimed. This is one of the many questions that reveals contextual incongruities in the book of Genesis.

Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's Horite Hebrew people indicates that Abraham's mother was his father's half-sister. This means she was Terah's first wife, the wife of his youth. According to Jasher 7:50 her name was Amsalai. This name suggests her high rank. It means the "sweet fragrance of the people." Am refers to people, and salai refers to frankincense derived from the Boswellia serrata, a deciduous tree that grows in dry, mountainous areas. Her people are often referred to as the "hill people" and known by various names: Amurru/Amorite, Edomite/Seir, and Horite.

During the time of Abraham, the Amurru controlled a territory from Mount Hermon to Beersheba in the south, and from Engedi to Gerar in the west.

Jasher 7:50 states, "Terah took a wife and her name was Amsalai, the daughter of Karnevo; and the wife of Terah conceived and bare him a son in those days." Kar refers to a high place or a mountain. Nevo is a variant of Nebo, so it appears that Abraham's maternal grandfather ruled a territory from near Kar-Nebo or Mount Nebo, which is הַר נְבוֹ‎ (Har Nevo) in Hebrew. The oldest known settlement in this area is Jericho which had ramparts as early as 4000 BC. The name Jericho is related to the name Jerah, a son of Joktan. Jerah was a grandson of Eber (Genesis 10:26).

Amsalai gave birth to Nahor and Abraham. Abraham was the younger and therefore, not the proper heir to his Terah's throne. He was a sent-away son to whom God gave a kingdom between Hebron and Beersheba, in the ancient land of Edom. The Greeks called this land Idumea, meaning "land of red people."

Note that both Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) are in Edom. Abraham's territory extended on a north-south axis between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in Edom.

When Abraham arrived from Mesopotamia he likely visited his maternal uncle and went from there to consult the prophet (moreh) at the great Oak at Mamre, near Hebron. Hebron is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo and Edom are in the modern state of Jordan. 

This was the land of the Horite Ha'biru (Hebrew) rulers who are listed in Genesis 36. Abraham's mother and father were kin to these rulers. Among Abraham's Horite ancestors (called "Horim" by Jews) ancestry was traced by double descent, along both the maternal and paternal lines. However, the ethnicity of a son depended on the clan of his mother. This is still true for Jews today. One is a Jew by two means: either by proper conversion, or if one's mother is Jewish.

Amsalai and Terah had the same father, Nahor the Elder. Nahor was a ruler in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. He was ethnically Kushite, a descendant of Nimrod, the son of Kush (Gen. 10:8) As the Horite Hebrew practice endogamy, we may assume that they shared this Kushite ethnicity.

Suggestion of avunculocal residence

Abraham's older brother ruled over Paddan-Aram upon the death of Terah. This was the pattern among the Horite Hebrew. The first born son of the half-sister bride was the proper heir. Other sons born to that bride were sent away either to serve in the realms of their maternal uncles, or to establish their own kingdoms. Sent-away sons, like Abraham and Jacob, often lived with or near their maternal uncles. This is called "avunculocal residence" and it appears that Abraham's trip to Mamre and Hebron was directed by his maternal uncle who ruled that territory. From Mount Nebo his sentries would have been able to survey all of Palestine.

A distinctive pattern of marriage and ascendancy

Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's people indicates that his mother was his father's half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham). She was of the Horite ruler caste. These rulers have the Canaanite Y, a solar symbol, at the beginning of their names: Yitzak, Yaqtan, Yisbak, Yishmael, Yacob, and Yosef are examples. This solar cradle indicated divine appointment by overshadowing.

These ruler-priests clans intermarried. The women named in Genesis are Horite brides who married Horite rulers. Abraham's father's name was Terah which means "priest" among his Nilotic ancestors. The daughters of priests married the sons of priests, and all are descended from the same rulers named in the Genesis King Lists.

The Horites were  associated with the rulers of Nubia, Kush, Egypt and Edom. Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On or Onn (OXO, Iunu, city of the High God Anu), where the tera ruled. Heliopolis (biblical On) was a very prestigious shrine city in the ancient world.

In the ancient world these ruler-priests were called Ha'piru, Ha'biru or A'piru. They served at the temples in the ancient sun cities. The temples were called O'piru, meaning sun houses. The O symbolizing the sun. My Luo friend and language consultant, John Ogutu, noted a fascinating correspondence with his Luo language. He wrote, "O'mbiru, obiru refers to a small house built like a shrine or as a symbol among the Luo. A man who died before he could build his house would have the mourners erect one before his burial."

Many Hebrew words have a linguistic connection to Luo and other Nilotic languages. We would expect there to be linguistic connections, seeing that Abraham's ancestors were Nilotic ruler-priests.

Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew indicates that Abraham’s mother was a daughter of Terah, a ruler-priest of Kushite ancestry. It is likely that Amsalai was the sister of Keturah's mother who was of the royal house of Sheba (see diagram). This connects Abraham's mother to the line of Sheba. Terah and Keturah's father, Joktan the Younger, appear to have married sisters, a common pattern with among the Horite Hebrew ruler-priest caste.