Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Hebrew Rulers of Genesis


Naamah named her firstborn son Lamech after her father, Lamech the Elder (Gen. 4). Lamech the Younger was one of Methuselah's sons (Gen. 5). 

According to the Bible scholar Umberto Cassuto, the name "Lamech" is related to the Akkadian word lumakku, meaning “priest” (Commentary on Genesis, Vol. 1, p. 233). Further, Lamech is related to the Akkadian word malku (ruler-priest). It also is related to the Hebrew word melek, meaning “king”. 


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The men listed in the Genesis “begats” were of high social standing in the ancient world. They were rulers, priests, and kingdom builders. Their successors ruled according to a long-established ascendancy pattern. Having an heir was extremely important, and two wives increased the likelihood of having a male heir. The Hebrew rulers who controlled territories maintained two wives in separate settlements usually on a north-south axis.

The marriages of the Hebrew rulers cannot be considered "biblical" and cited as models for Bible believers today. The Hebrew marriage pattern pertains to kingdom builders long before Judaism emerged. These were regnal marriages involving a bride and a groom from related Hebrew clans or between half-siblings. Royal marriages are not like the marriages of commoners because of political complexities and the need for an undisputed heir. Further, the kingdom to which Christians are committed is the Kingdom of Christ our God.

The firstborn sons of the two wives had different rights according to the Hebrew hierarchy of sons. The firstborn son of the first wife was the proper heir to his father’s holdings. The firstborn son of the second wife (usually a cousin) was to serve in the territory of his maternal grandfather.

The two-wife pattern pertained to rulers only, not to lower status Hebrew men. Two wives helped to "build up the house" of the ruler and strengthened the house of the cousin bride's father. The firstborn son of the first wife (usually a half-sister) ascended to rule in place of his father, and the firstborn son of the second wife (usually a patrilineal cousin) became a high official in the service of his maternal grandfather.


The early Hebrew regarded territorial expansion and many children as a sign of the Creator’s blessing upon them. This is evident in Abraham’s petition before God concerning his need for a proper heir (Gen. 15) to rule over his territory in ancient Edom. That territory extended between the settlements of his two wives, Sarah in Hebron and Keturah in Beersheba. Both locations are shown on the map above. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Learn About the Early Hebrew


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The application of kinship analysis, a tool of cultural anthropology, has proven extremely useful in identifying the features of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew, the ruler-priest caste that believed in the Father God who has a son and whose Spirit generates life. Understanding their social structure sheds light on many of the more difficult passages of Scripture. Therefore, I recommend my book "The First Lords of the Earth: An Anthropological Study" (Amazon).
Chapters 1 and 2 explain the empirical, data gathering method of Biblical Anthropology.
Chapters 3-5 present what is known about the early Hebrew (4000-2000 BC), drawing on the available data. Specifically, these chapters look at the Hebrew caste and moiety system, the oldest known site of Hebrew worship along the Nile, and what the Hebrew believed.
Chapter 6 clarifies that the social structure of the early Hebrew was not patriarchal, as is often claimed, and chapters 7-13 demonstrate the gender balance of their social structure using the biblical data.

I was able to make a rather complex subject easy to understand. I hope you will buy the book and discover answers to some questions, such as:

  • Was the social structure of the biblical Hebrew patriarchal?
  • Who were the Horite Hebrew and the Sethite Hebrew?
  • Where is the oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship?
  • Were the Hebrew in Canaan before Abraham's time?
  • Why did many high-status Hebrew men have two wives?
  • What was the difference in status between wives and concubines?
  • What types of authority did the biblical Hebrew recognize?
  • How did the Hebrew acute observation of the order of creation inform their reasoning?
  • If Judaism is NOT the faith of the early Hebrew, what did they believe?

I hope you will find the book helpful and informative. The sequel describes the lives of the "First Ladies of the Earth" and will be available in August 2024.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Historical Eve


Badarian Eve (mortuary figurine), housed at the Louvre.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The historical Eve would have been a high-status woman with servants and resources. She would have influenced the style of dress and adornments of women of lesser status. She probably sought high status wives for her sons from among her Hebrew ruler-priest caste.

Analysis of the kinship pattern of the rulers listed in Gensis 4 and 5 indicates that two of Eve’s daughters-in-law were the daughters of a ruler named Enoch/Enosh (Enos in the Septuagint). Enoch is a royal title. The word is derived from the ancient Egyptian anochi, pertaining to the first-person singular. The term is related to the ancient Akkadian anaku which is a reference to the royal first person. The title also relates to royal succession. Among the Igbo, anochie means “a replacer” or “direct heir to a throne.”

Eve was the mother of Cain and Seth who married their cousins, the daughters of a ruler named Enoch. Eve’s firstborn Cain is described as an early city builder and Seth is the founder of the Sethite Hebrew who are mentioned in texts from 2400 BC. This means that the historical Eve probably lived between c.5000-4500 BC.

The historical Eve lived in the vast well-water region called Eden. The term Eden derives from the Akkadian term edinu, which refers to a fertile plain or a flood plain. According to the description in Genesis 2:10-14, Eden extended from the Pishon and Gihon at the sources of the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates. The region is described as rich in gold and bdellium. Bdellium is a semi-transparent oleo-gum resin extracted from Commiphora wightii and from Commiphora africana. These trees grow in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Given the biblical data, it is likely that Eve lived in the Nile Valley. That is where her son Seth was established as a regional chief. Later this region became known as Ta-Seti, meaning “Land of the Bow.” That was the Egyptian description of Nubia (Nub - gold) where hunters used bows and arrows. They are shown on Nubian rock art dating to 4000-2500 BC.

Eve's Sons  

Eve’s firstborn son was Cain (Gen. 4). He left his homeland and settled “east of Eden” (Gen. 4:16-26), probably on the east side of the Red Sea. That would be the land of Canaan where Cain’s metal working descendants lived. They are known as the “Kenites.” The names Cain, Canaan, Kenan, and Kenite are linguistically equivalent.

One of Cain’s daughters married her cousin Enosh and named their firstborn son Kenan, after her father. This is an example of the cousin bride’s naming prerogative, a feature of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the early Hebrew.

Eve's other living son was Seth (Gen. 5). He was a son in the image of his father Adam (Gen. 5:3), meaning he was a red man. The Hebrew language scholar, Jeff A. Benner, explains: Dam is the "red" blood, adamah is the "red" ground, edom is the color "red" and adam is the "red" man. Adam is a reference to the color of blood (dam in Hebrew). That means at least some of Seth’s descendants, known as the Sethite Hebrew, were also red.

The Sethites ranged from the Nile to the Eastern Desert of Egypt, and some were living in the land of Canaan. The ancient Egyptians referred to a man of the Nubian Desert as An-ti Set. They called the dwellers in the Eastern Desert of Egypt An-tiu Sett, according to the archaeologist E. A. Wallis Budge. Budge claims in his Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (1920) that the An-tiu Sett lived as far north as the land of Canaan. This is not surprising because Seth’s descendants living in Canaan would have intermarried with Cain’s descendants living in Canaan.

Many Sethites served at the sacred high places (mounds) along the Nile and are mentioned in the Ancient Pyramid Texts (2400-2200 BC). One of those places was Nekhen where this figurine of red Seth was found. He has the head of a hippo and the body of a man. Perhaps the hippo was the totem of the Sethite Hebrew, and the falcon was the totem of the Horite Hebrew.

Seth as a red hippo

Nekhen is the oldest known site of Horite worship (c.4200 BC). At Nekhen archaeologists found hippos buried in the elite cemeteries (Nekhen News, Vol. 25, 2013, p. 20). They also found numerous carved and sculpted figurines of hippos, some with red coloration. They concluded that hippo imagery is "linked to local elites" (Nekhen News Vol. 27, 2015, pp. 8-9).

Eve’s Cultural Milieu

Eve’s cultural context would have been like that of the Badarian culture (5000-4000 BC). The Badarian culture extended at least as far as between El Badari in the Lower Nile south to Nekhen in the Upper Nile.

The Nilotic culture of that period was agricultural and cattle-herding. The contents of storage facilities included wheat, barley, lentils, and tubers. Fishing provided a substantial source of protein. Reed boats were used to transport produce and livestock. Dogs were used for hunting, and hunting was mainly the sport of the upper class.

Water resources were more than sufficient to sustain the Nilotic populations of Eve’s time. The Nile supplied a year-round water supply of water. In addition to that, there was seasonal rainfall draining from the mountains into the lower elevations. There were many wadi systems terminating in or near the Nile floodplain with water-retaining Pleistocene sands and gravels that supported vegetation, small trees, and shrubs. The local populations were able to draw water from natural springs fed by the Nubian Aquifer which runs under the Sahara west of the Nile.

The burial practices reveal social stratification with separate elite cemeteries. Burial sites of the more wealthy contained grave goods such as green malachite palettes, shells, flint tools, amulets in the shape of the antelope and hippopotamus, ostrich eggshell vessels, hippo tusks, and jewelry made of ivory, quartz, or copper.

The Badarian rulers traded with people of other regions. The turquoise and glazed steatite beads found in the Badarian territory were imported. Upper class Badarian men wore beaded belts. Some rulers had ripple knapped knives with decorative handles.

Mythical Eve versus Historical Eve

The person of Eve is surrounded by the observations of Bible commentators and theologians making it difficult to separate the historical Eve from the Eve of the Genesis creation stories. The mythical Eve is wrapped in profound theological speculation about the origin of sin and death, the presence of evil, and the necessity of divine intervention. The implications of Eve's disobedience have probably been plumbed to the depth. It is time to investigate her historicity using an empirical method. Strangely, most who regard Adam and Eve as historical figures never inquire about the historical Eve. It is as if they were afraid to discover the truth.

The historical Eve was the Hebrew mother of two surviving sons, Cain and Seth. Both sons were clan chiefs and rulers over territories. Further, their descendants intermarried according to an endogamous marriage pattern that was well established before Eve's time. Clearly, Adam, Eve, and their offspring were not the first humans on earth.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Understanding "Biblical" Marriage Practices


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

This recently came across my Facebook feed. It is misleading and reveals ignorance of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew and their Jewish descendants.

The Hebrew persons listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10, 11, 25 and 36 were rulers, not commoners. These are king lists similar to the Sumerian king lists, only more easily authenticated using kinship analysis.

None of the marriages of the Hebrew rulers can be called "biblical" and therefore cited as models for Bible believers because this pattern pertains only to Hebrew ruler-priests, the "first lords of the earth". It is not a biblical pattern for marriage. It is a pattern for royal Hebrew persons beginning long before Judaism emerged. These were regnal marriages involving a bride and a groom from related Hebrew clans or between half-siblings (endogamy). Royal marriages are prone to irregularities because of the necessity of a proper heir, and political complexities.

That these were rulers is evident in the fact that they had a distinctive marriage and ascendancy pattern that involved two wives. The firstborn sons of the two wives had different rights according to the Hebrew hierarchy of sons

Jacob's marriage to two "sisters" is the single example in the Bible, and it is more likely that Leah was his half-sister and Rachel is cousin. A proper marriage arrangement of a Hebrew ruler-priest was with a half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and with a patrilineal cousin (as was Keturah to Abraham). Leah and Rachel fit the pattern. Jacob was a sent-away son, and those sons usually went to live with their maternal uncles.

Solomon is criticized for taking many wives and concubines in order to forge political alliances. However, that was a common practice, and his father David did it also.

The payment of dowries was a widespread practice among the many diverse biblical populations. It is still the custom in Africa and among Hindu and Muslim populations. Dowries are not to "purchase" a bride. They are gifts given to the bride by her family to secure some personal wealth for her when she marries. The bride and her dowry contribute to the building up of a new household.

Levirate marriage was a custom among the Hebrew and their Jewish descendants. Levirate marriage is an extremely ancient practice in which the widow of the deceased brother marries one of his brothers. Levirate marriage is practiced by societies with strong clan and caste structures in which exogamous marriage is forbidden. Such a marriage arrangement is intended to preserve the deceased husband's lineage and inheritance. 

Hebrew rulers over territories maintained their two wives in geographically separate settlements. Territorial boundaries were marked by the wives' settlements. Sarah's settlement was in Hebron and Keturah's settlement was in Beersheba. Abraham's territory extended on a north-south axis between the settlements of his wives. 

Hebrew rulers with two wives include Lamech, Terah, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Amram, Moses, Elkanah (Samuel's father), Ashur (1 Chronicles 4:5), Mered (1 Chronicles 4); and Joash (2 Chronicles 24:1–3). Caleb fathered children by his two wives Azubah and Jerioth.

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Influence of Hebrew Wives


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The wives of Hebrew men in the service of high kings socialized with women of the royal courts. They enjoyed privileges that average Hebrew women did not have. They were aware of court protocols and listened to court rumors. Doubtless, they conveyed much of what they heard to their husbands. The story of Esther provides a glimpse of the court intrigues to which they were privy.

The Hebrew wife was viewed as her husband’s helper (Gen 2:18,22). Adam’s wife is described as his ezer, a Hebrew word for one who aids, supports, or helps. This is the same word used to describe God in Psalm 33:20, Psalm 70:5, and Psalm 121:1-2.

The wives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob influenced the actions of their husbands. They shaped events that served the interests of their husbands. Examples include Sarah’s concession to use Hagar as a surrogate, and Rachel’s theft of the teraphim by which she could claim some inheritance for Jacob. According to Hurrian/Horite legal records, possession of the ancestor figurines validated claims of inheritance.
Sometimes the wives’ influence and actions worked against the wishes of their husbands. That is evident in Rebekah’s attempt to pose her son Jacob as Isaac’s proper heir. It is clear in Genesis 25 that Isaac regarded Esau as his proper heir. Isaac intended that Esau should receive the birthright and the blessing due to his proper heir.

The marriages of high-status Hebrew women to Hebrew ruler-priests helped to form political alliances between Hebrew clans. Sometimes those clans were geographically distant. This is illustrated by Nimrod’s marriage to a Sumerian princess. Nimrod was a Kushite kingdom builder (Gen. 10) who was sent away to establish himself in a new territory. His marriage to Asshur’s daughter is evidence of the close connection between the rulers of the Nile Valley and the rulers of Mesopotamia, two early riverine civilizations.

Before Israel existed, the wives of the Hebrew rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5, 11, 25, and 36 ruled over large households, arranged royal weddings, owned property, and assisted in the building of kingdoms.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

My Life as a Blogger

Alice C. Linsley

Recently I was asked about the work that I do as a blogger. To answer that question, I am posting this information about the 7 blogs I manage. I manage two of these for other people. The blogs are listed in the order that they were started.

Just Genesis (Began March 2007)
This blog examines the Book of Genesis through the lens of cultural anthropology, genetics, linguistics, and archaeology. The INDEX of topics considered at this blog is accessed by seminary students, Bible scholars, clergy, and members of the international Facebook group The Bible and Anthropology.

Reflections on the Writing Life (Began March 2007)
Formerly this blog was called "Students, Publish Here!" and it was a platform for my creative writing students, as well as my own thoughts about writing. The INDEX is here: Reflections on the Writing Life: INDEX of Topics (

Ethics Forum (Began April 2008)
I started this blog to help my Ethics students at Midway University find materials related to the course I taught there. The INDEX is here: Ethics Forum: INDEX of Topics (

Biblical Anthropology (Began Sept. 2010)
This blog presents the emerging science of biblical anthropology, a data seeking, empirical approach to the 66 canonical books of the Bible. The INDEX is here: BIBLICAL ANTHROPOLOGY: INDEX of Topics at Biblical Anthropology

Distinctive Discipleship (Began July 2013)
I started this for Ed Lundwall, Jr., a retired Army chaplain. I contribute posts, as does my sister Hope Rapson. The INDEX is here: DISTINCTIVE DISCIPLESHIP: INDEX of Topics (

STEM Education (Began August 2013)
I started this blog and I manage it for Christian Women in Science, an affiliate of the American Scientific Affiliation. It is designed to help Christian students find news reports on various sciences that they may be studying. It is accessed largely by homeschooling parents and their students. The INDEX is here: STEM Education: INDEX of Topics (

Philosophers' Corner (Began March 2013)
I started this blog to help my Philosophy students at Lexington Christian Academy and Midway University (both in Kentucky). The INDEX is here: Philosophers' Corner: Topics at Philosophers' Corner (

Monday, January 8, 2024

Exploring Isaac's Story

Isaac ruled over his father's territory in ancient Edom. 
The territory extended between Hebron and Beersheba, both shown on this map.

Alice C. Linsley

Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him. (Gen. 26:12-14)

Isaac was a high-ranking prince of ancient Edom. His name is derived from iššakkum, a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince. He was a man of great wealth.

He was Abraham's proper heir, and he inherited control of Abraham's territory that extended north-south from Hebron to Beersheba. That territory was entirely in the region that the Bible calls "Edom" or "Idumea" in Greek. Edom was under the control of Horite Hebrew ruler-priests listed in Genesis 36. 

Both Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) were in ancient Edom. Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and included mountains and lowlands.

Questioning Isaac's existence

When I was in seminary, my Old Testament professor told the class that he doubted Isaac’s existence because there is so little information about Isaac. He noted that the story of Isaac pretending that Rebecca was his sister parallels the story of Abraham asking Sarah to say that she is his sister. He concluded that Isaac is a literary construction reflecting the author’s love of doublets, two different narrative accounts of the same event.

Duplicative narratives reflect a pattern that is familiar to two different authors. An example is the attempt of Abraham and Isaac to pass off their wives as their sisters. In Abraham's case, Sarah was indeed his half-sister. They had the same father, but different mothers because it was the custom of high-ranking Hebrew ruler-priests to have two wives. It is likely that Issac followed the marriage pattern of his Hebrew ancestors. If so, his first wife was a half-sister, the daughter of Abraham and Keturah. 

Another example of a duplicative pattern involves the birth of twins. There are close parallels between the birth of Esau and Jacob and the later birth of Zerah and Perez. Both stories speak of the birth order of twins and identify the firstborn sons as Esau and Zerah. By rights, Esau was Isaac's proper heir, but as such, he probably was not Rebekah's son. He would be the son of Isaac's half-sister, the bride of his youth. In the Hebrew marriage and ascendancy, the firstborn of cousin brides did not rule over the territories of their fathers. They were sent to serve their maternal grandfathers, which is what happened with Jacob. 

My professor also noted the limited genealogical information about Isaac. However, a closer look reveals that Isaac had at least 7 half-siblings. They include Ishmael (born of Hagar) and Eliezer (born of Mesek). Hagar and Mesek were concubines. Genesis 25:6 makes it clear that Abraham had more than one concubine. The Hebrew literally speaks of Abraham's sons by concubines (Speiser on Genesis, Anchor Bible, p. 197).

Abraham's cousin wife Keturah bore him 6 sons: Joktan/Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Zimran, Shua, and Ishbak/Yishbak. Yishbak means "sent away". He is one of the sons to whom Abraham gave gifts and sent away from Isaac. The sending away of non-ascendant sons is made explicit in Genesis 25:5-6: “But Abraham gave everything he possessed to Isaac. While he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons he had by his concubines, but then sent them away to the country of the east, putting a good distance between them and his son Isaac.”

Ishmael also was a sent-away son. The circumstances of his being sent away vary in the book of Genesis. According to one account, Ishmael and Hagar were sent away ("cast out") because of Sarah's jealousy (Gen. 21:10). According to another account, Abraham's eight sons were given gifts and sent away from Isaac's territory before Abraham died.

While I appreciate my professor’s observations, I disagree with his conclusion. Isaac’s historicity can be verified by his adherence to the kinship pattern of his ancestors. Fictional characters do not have verifiable kinship patterns.

The Bible does not identify Isaac’s first wife. Her presence is suggested through multiple lines of evidence. The text in Genesis 26:7 speaks of Isaac having a sister wife. The half-sister wife clearly was not Rebekah since she was Isaac's patrilineal cousin. Isaac would have married according to the pattern of his Hebrew ancestors which means he had two wives. Isaac was living near Beersheba when Abraham’s servant arrived from Padan-Aram with Rebekah. Beersheba was where Keturah resided and where Isaac's half-sister bride was living.

The twin boys assigned to Rebekah were probably the firstborn sons of Isaac’s two wives. Since Esau was Isaac’s proper heir, he would have been the firstborn son of Isaac and his first wife, his half-sister. Rebekah would be the mother of Jacob, a son sent to serve in his maternal grandfather’s territory. This aligns with the social structure of the early Hebrew, as the son of the cousin bride belonged to the household of his maternal grandfather and would reside there after coming of age. This occurred with Jacob who went to live with his maternal uncle (avuncular residence).