Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Biblical Motif of Two Sons


Alice C. Linsley

The best way to appreciate the Biblical narrative is to honor the story as a meaningful whole while investigating the smaller anthropologically significant details.

Some commentaries on Genesis cut the whole into pieces to get at what is inside. This seems an impatient mode of operating. I'm reminded of a problem I occasionally encounter when trying to open the large dog food bags with white stitching across the top. To open the bag properly one must find the right end of the string, jiggle it a bit and pull in a straight line. If you try to rip from the wrong end or yank at an odd angle, the bag won't open. If at this point you become frustrated and take scissors to the bag you will get at what's inside, but you will have destroyed the integrity of the whole.

Cutting the whole into pieces leads to skepticism about the text because the pieces no longer possess a natural arrangement. We are unable then to see the relationship of the pieces. This is like trying to make sense of a person's dream while insisting that parts of the dream belong to someone else. Biblical narratives have a complexity similar to dreams. They have their own logic involving symbol and structure. Many of the same cognitive approaches used in interpreting dreams can be used to interpret biblical narratives. Attention must be given to symbolic details in the dream, but the greater narrative always must be kept in sight and kept intact.

The biblical theme of 2 sons requires just this approach of preserving the integrity of the whole while exploring the genealogical details.

In the New Testament the motif of two sons appears in the case of James and John, and Andrew and Peter, and at least 2 parables involving 2 sons. The Old Testament motif of 2 sons often involves murder, jealousy and conflict between brothers and/or the first born sons of the Horite ruler-priest's two wives. The following list provides something of the scope of this motif. Two sons comprise an essential element in the following narratives:

Cain and Abel (interesting Bantu parallels to Cain's murder of Abel)
Cain and Seth
Ham and Shem
Eber's sons, Peleg and Joktan
Terah's sons, Abraham and Nahor
Joseph’s son, Manessah and Ephraim
Judah’s sons, Perez and Zerah
Moses’s sons, Eleazar and Gershom
Naomi’s 2 sons who died in Moab
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas
Moab and Ammon
Ishmael and Isaac (two of Abraham's 9 sons)
Jacob and Esau (two of Isaac's sons, but likely not his only sons)
Simeon and Levi
Judah and Joseph
Rueben and Judah
Moses and Aaron

This list, while not comprehensive, is adequate to illustrate the scope and recurrence of the theme of 2 sons. Clearly, the biblical narrative derives structure from this theme. However, it would be erroneous to conclude that these were the only sons born at a time before birth control and when fecundity was highly valued. We must remember that Nahor had 8 sons (Gen. 22:20-24) and Abraham had 8, if we add them all together. We remember also that Jesse had 8 sons, the youngest being David.

Let us return to the analogy of the dog food bag. Analysis and proper interpretation require finding the right end of the string: key words, recurring images, or genealogical patterns that allow us to get inside to what Carl Jung called the “ah hah moment.” In other words, understanding what the Bible means requires investigation. Such is the case in examination of the 2-sons motif. Let us now turn to a specific case.

Speiser could not see the natural relationship of the Judah-Tamar-Joseph narrative because he wasn’t looking at the bigger picture. Instead he was focusing on documentary threads, following the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis. Thus he wrote concerning Genesis 38, “The narrative is a completely independent unit. It has no connection with the drama of Joseph which it interrupts…” (E.A. Speiser, The Anchor Bible Commentary on Genesis, p. 299).

By looking at the whole, we see that the placement of the story of Judah and Tamar is not an interruption of the Joseph narrative, but rather a key to understanding that story. Both narratives are about the loss of 2 sons and the gain of 2 sons. Jacob lost Joseph and then Benjamin to Egypt, but gained Perez and Zerah in Canaan. Both stories are about the loss of sons and God’s action to restore. The loss of Joseph and Benjamin in Egypt was temporary and foreshadows the Egyptian captivity of Israel. The gain of Perez and Zerah in Canaan foreshadows the dynasty of David and the coming of Messiah. Chapter 38 constitutes a bridge between two settings of divine action: Egypt and Canaan. It reminds us to seek God's working out of salvation in more than one place.

Joseph would have been about 26 at the time that Judah’s first born son married Tamar. This son died and the next oldest was enlisted to marry Tamar according to the law of levirate marriage. The second son also died and Judah was reluctant to have another son involved with Tamar so he sent her home to her “father’s house” in Edom. Judah, like his father Jacob, lost two sons. The key here is the term “father’s house” – the opposite of Naomi’s words to her daughters-in-law. Naomi told them to return to their “mother’s house” which was a way of urging them to remarry. Judah, on the other hand, by sending Tamar to her “father’s house” condemned her to widowhood and broke the law. He knew what he was doing because later he admits that Tamar is more righteous then he.

So after losing 2 sons, Judah gained 2 sons and his rule was amplified through Perez from whom would come Israel's greatest king and the promised Messiah.

The theme of loss, restoration and amplification is lifted up when Joseph presents his sons to his father. Then Israel said to Joseph, "I did not think I should ever see you again, and now God has let me see your children as well." (Gen. 48:11)

The theme of 2 sons also involves reversals. Consider the repetition of the blessing of the younger son over the older.

When Israel saw Joseph’s two sons, he asked ‘Who are these?’ ‘They are my sons whom God has given me here,’ Joseph told his father. ‘Then bring them to me,’ he said, ‘so that I may bless them.’ (Gen. 48: 8). Joseph presents his older son to Jacob’s right hand and is surprised when old Jacob lays his right hand on the younger and his left hand on the older. Just as Jacob received the first born's blessing, now he bestows it upon his youngest. This theme is found in extra biblical sources also.

Consider the Falasha account of the death of Moses. Moses wife “went weeping and said to the children: ‘Go to your father before he dies, for you shall see him no more.’ She awakened them from their sleep and brought them, holding their hands in her right and left hands and said to them: ‘Weep over your father, for you and he must part… Look well at your father until you be satisfied, for soon you will be parted.’ When they saw their father they fell on their faces and wept with a great weeping. Moses wept with them… [and] he put his younger son Eleazar on his right knee and his older son Gershom on his left and he blessed them.” (Falasha Anthology. Yale University Press. p. 110).

Such reversals in the Scriptures must be taken seriously as clues to meaning. Reversals indicate that God is acting both here and now and also in another place and time. The Judah-Tamar story is an example. It points out that God is working in two places: Egypt and Canaan. The Judah drama in Canaan parallels the Joseph drama in Egypt. We see this alluded to in the mention of the women’s association with sacred shrines. Joseph’s wife, Anath, was the daughter of the priest of the shrine at On (Heliopolis) and Tamar dressed herself as a shrine prostitute.

Tamar is the most famous female ancestor of David. She is mentioned in Genesis and in Ruth. Her name means date nut palm, a symbol of fertility, prosperity and strength. Honoring this ancestor, Solomon made her hometown in Edom one of his 7 fortified cities. Tamar is to Edom what Anath is to Egypt. Both women had 2 sons and in both cases, the younger son was elevated above the older.

What lesson are we to take away from this exploration of the theme of two sons? God is not restricted by customs of primogeniture. He blesses whom He chooses and his blessings extend in all directions. So it is with the youngest of Terah's sons, Abraham, that God forms an everlasting covenant through which all the peoples of the earth will be blessed, and it is to the youngest of Jesse's sons that the throne of Israel is given that the scepter might pass to the eternal Messiah.

Related reading:  Genesis in Anthropological Perspective; Sent-Away Sons


26 comments:

Fr. Gregory Jensen said...

Thank you Alice for this essay. I especially appreciated the image of opening the dog food bag. You are right, it is often 'easier' (at least in one sense) simply to rip open the Scriptures w/o regard to structure. This was my complaint when I first took Scripture as an undergrad. I could not understand why in Scripture class we were taking apart the OT while in English class we were so concerned with learning the structure of Homer's Iliad. Here were to ancient texts--one need to be dismembered, the other studied as a whole.

The other thought I had is that your essay makes a good counterpoint to those in the Orthodox Church who would simply read the text in light of its liturgical use. Like the historical-critical and form critical methods, not wrong by any means, but we often ask our hermeneutical method to do more work than it can. By all means let us see the pre- and post- history of the text. But let us not lose sight of the text as it is given to us as a canonical whole.

Finally, let me say how helpful I found your explication of the theme of the two sons. I never say the parallels you draw out and I must reflect more on them. Your ideas that "theme of loss, restoration and amplification" as well as the notion that reversals "indicate that God is acting both here and now and also in another place and time" are not one's I have heard before. I was wondering, how might these ideas play out in the NT? Or do they appear at all?

Again, thank you for the post.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

TLF+ said...

Jesus uses at least two (2) "Two son" parables that I can think of right away - The Prodigal Son is the more complex, and then there is a simpler story about a man who had two sons who were asked to go work in the field...

The Prodigal certainly has loss-restoration-amplification, and the shorter "two sons" parable is about reversal.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you, Father Tim. I believe you have answered Father Gregory's question! : )

Alice C. Linsley said...

"...why in Scripture class we were taking apart the OT while in English class we were so concerned with learning the structure of Homer's Iliad."

A wonderful observation, Fr. Gregory. Why indeed?

TLF+ said...

We also have James and John, generally identified as the sons of Zebedee...but also called "the two sons of Zebedee" in the incident when they (or their mother) asked if they could sit at Jesus side in the Kingdom. I think that they are singled out this way in Gesthemane as well.

TLF+ said...

OK, just one more...

Galatians 4:22, where Paul uses the "two sons" of Hagar and Sarah (Ishmael and Isaac) as types of the Old and New Covenants.

Georgia said...

Thank you so much - I also had never noticed the many stories of two sons in Scripture. I had heard sermons about Esau and Jacob, Ephriam and Mannasseh - that it was an injustice that the younger sons receiving the elder sons' blessing and these stories foreshadowed Jesus receiving our inheritance of God's wrath for our sin and that we humans are receiving Jesus', the elder son's just and blessed inheritance.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Georgia, It seems you have been listening to good Calvinist preachers. This is the emphasis they typically place on the Two Sons theme. This is not however what the text is stressing nor what the early Fathers saw there. The probalem seems to be that Calvinism confusing universal blessing with universal salvation. The Bible teaches the first, but not the latter. Calvinist go too far, in my opinion, judging who will be saved and who will not. As CS Lewis' Aslan tells the children: You are not to know another's story. Only your own. Nor do I tell you what might have been.

You might enjoy reading these essays on St. John Chrysostom's understanding of universal blessing:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/07/st-chrysostom-on-lamech.html

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/07/chrysostoms-interpretation-of-lamechs.html

poetreader said...

Very interesting piece. I like your structural view of Geneis and other books much better than the usual critical dismemberment. Regardless of original sources, the Scriptures simply aren't an accidental growth. I firmly believe the way in which the material is assembled (whoever the editors might have been) is a large part of the inspiration.

I hadn't seen the two sons theme as being as pervasive as you demonstrate. Thanks. The thought leads me to look further into the NT. St. Paul, of course, revisits both Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and Esau, presenting them both as bearers of central truths of the Gospel. It's telling that Jesus, at least twice, made the contrast of two brothers the centerpiece of parables. The good brother who said NO vs the disobedient brother who said Yes -- and the multiple levels of contrast between the prodigal and his elder brother.

I find myself wondering if the contrast between Lucifer and Michael might be intentionally in the same genre.

It might be fruitful to look through Church history as well, to see how God has shown Himself in Holy Tradition through, for example, the multitude of brother saints that keep popping up in the calendar. I'm sure you can recall several pairs.

Then there is the interesting fact that Rome claims one brother and Constantinople claims the other as patrons. Does that perhaps have meaning?

Outside hagiography, the theme seems to resonate in other ways as well. The stories of Kings Richard and John and the Robin Hood legends wrapped around them seem strangely biblical when seen in the light of your little study.

You've sort of got my mind to chugging here. contrasts, rivalries, cooperations, reversals, God's coloring outside the lines, and yet His faithfulness to promise. There's a lot of potential in this line of thinking.

ed

Alice C. Linsley said...

Ed,

Rome claims St. Peter because he was there and The Orthodox Church claims St. Andrew because he was th first called. The Antiochian Orthodox are especially fond of St. Paul as he made Antioch the base of his missionary operations.

You have stimulated my thinking also, as always, dear friend.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Arabic speaking Norh African Jew, Jacques Derrida, recognized this binary structure (2 sons) and the significance of reversals. He viewed reversals as a strategic intervention within the bounded Western philosophical system, allowing us to break out of that system.

He wrote, "Deconstruction cannot limit itself or proceed immediately to neutralization: it must, by means of a double gesture, a double science, a double writing, practice an overturning of the classical opposition, and a general displacement of the system. It is on that condition alone that deconstruction will provide the means of intervening in the field of oppositions it criticizes" (Metaphysics).

This reversal is no small aspect of Derrida's Semitic interpretive strategy. His argument is that in examining a binary opposition and reversals, deconstruction brings to light traces of meaning that must have metaphysical existence. This is not a new idea or even a new approach to meaning. It is consistent with the mystical approaches of the Afro-Asiatic peoples. In a sense, Derrida’s contribution to Philosophy has been to re-introduce the Semitic interpretive approach.

Let's examine a case in point to understand the value of this method.

Genesis 12:8 says that Abraham proceeded “to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.”

This sentence is full of meaning because of the reversal that it represents. Bethel means “House of God” and is associated with the east, the direction of the sunrise. Yet we are told that Abraham pitched his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. This mysterious orientation represents a reversal. The word Ai suggests a mystical explanation. In Jewish mysticism, “Ain soph” is Hidden God and “Aima” is great reproductive Mother. Ain is one with Aima. It is a mystical union that signals that something new is about to be born.

Now we must remember that Abraham had come into this land as a stranger and did not possess a territory. The Oak of Moreh was in this vecinity. It is also called “the navel of the earth” (Judges 9:37). “Moreh” means instructor or diviner. In other words, Abraham went to the Diviner’s oak. I suggest that the diviner interpreted this reversal.

In Jewish mysticism Ain soph is associated with north and the number 1 and represents the Hidden God, the Cause of all causes. Aima is associated with south and the number 3. Because the house of Ain (Bethel) has moved to the west, south has moved to the position of north. We have a reversal of directional poles that places south in the position of priority. South also presents marriage and reproduction. Then in Genesis 12:9 we are told that Abraham’s next journey takes him to the south, with him making “his way stage by stage to the Negev.” I believe that it was at this time that he took Keturah to be his second wife. Now with Sarah in Hebron and Keturah in Beersheba, Abraham was able to establish control over a territory on a north-south axis, following the pattern of his forefathers.

We have further confirmation of the association of 1 with north and 3 with south in I Kings 7:23-26and II Chronicles 4:1-4. Here we read that the altar in Solomon’s temple was to rest on 12 oxen: 3 facing north, 3 facing west, 3 facing south and 3 facing east. We note that north heads the list, having the position of priority. Then comes west (associated with the numbers 9 and 10) and then in the third position we have south.

The logic of “supplementarity” (Derrida’s term) shows that what is conceived as the marginal object does in fact define the central object of consideration. Thus Gen. 38, whil appearing to be an interruption, actually defines the Jospeh story. So the binary polarities of the Afro-Asiatic worldview that assigned priority to north and east (those being associated with God) are reversible, bringing south and west to the position of priority. This reversal of south and north interpreted for Abraham the direction he was to go.

With south at the position of priority, Abraham knew to head in that direction. There, at the well of Sheba, he took his second wife, Keturah, his patrilineal parallel cousin. Just as he had worshiped between Bethel and Ai (Genesis 12:7), so Abraham worshiped in Beersheba. Genesis 21:33 tells us that, “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” The tamarisk is a date palm and a symbol of fertility among the ancient peoples of Arabia. The name Tamar is derived from this tree.

poetreader said...

Considering the thousand years or so in which Rome and Constantinople have been the leading sees of their repective parts of divided Christianity, there seems to be a possibility of some deep significance in the fact that they both (for quite appropriate and not really related reasons) look to brothers as their patrons. Might God ontend to work through a realization of that?

ed

Alice C. Linsley said...

Ed, May it indeed be true! Many pray daily for the reconciliation of the 2 brothers/sons and from what the Scriptures teach us, this work is God's delight and profound joy.

poetreader said...

Alice,

You seem to have touched something very deep and primal here, when you have commenters of such diverse background coming by different routes to such similar thoughts. I was impressed when my long comment appeared to notice how much if it (unkeknownst to me) had already been said by others. I see the Spirit at work in this.

ed

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Ed. I tried for years to cut open the Scriptures but God has made me focus for 30 years on finding the beginning of the thread. Genesis is the beginning and we must get hold of the thread and pull it straight.

My Presbyterian sister, Anne, email me this message and I had to laugh: "Good stuff… I will have to ponder it more. One thing is for certain – only my sister could draw biblical images from sacks of dog food!"

Alice C. Linsley said...

Georgia, you wrote that you've heard sermons in which these "stories foreshadowed Jesus receiving our inheritance of God's wrath for our sin and that we humans are receiving Jesus', the elder son's just and blessed inheritance." This points to the Christological implications of 2 sons, the hidden son (who in these last days is revealed in Jesus Christ) and other sons and daughters (joint-heirs with Christ). I'll address these in the final essay in this series, "Jesus in Genesis." You're ahead of me!

Dr. Mabuse said...

I love the mysterious parallels between so many of these stories; it persists in mythology, too. One theme seems to be almost what I would call the "first draft" story - where the first attempt at something is rejected in some way, as if it has some sort of intrinsic flaw. Ishmael the elder son, cast aside in favour of Isaac. Obviously it wasn't because of anything HE had done, he was just a child, but he wasn't "the one". The legend of Lilith, Adam's first wife, who was rejected and replaced by Eve. You could almost point to the family relationship of John the Baptist and Jesus as another example, where "he who comes after me has surpassed me".

The Mahabharata story we were discussing on my blog also traced back to two brothers: Dhritirashtra, the elder, who was born blind and so passed over for the kingdom in favour of his younger brother, Pandu. Even Tolkien managed to work it into his stories, with the theme of the almost illicit creation of the dwarves, who were actually created ahead of the elves, but not allowed to waken until after the elves. It's an interesting idea, that the rules are normally very clear that the eldest is preferred, but in these most important matters, the rule is broken.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Wonderful comment, Dr. Mabuse. You've added dimension to this discussion.

It is not surprising that the Vedic narratives share themes with the Semitic. These have roots in the old Afro-Asiatic Dominion. You may read about that here: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/11/linguistic-evidence-for-afro-asiatic.html

I'd love to hear from you about the "The Theme of Hidden Sons" also.

FrGregACCA said...

Perhaps all of this points to the relationship between the First and Second Adam, both called "the Son of God", the latter being the savior of the former.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I agree. It also sheds light on Psalm 109:1: "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies the footstool of Your feet." The Psalm goes on to speak of Melchizedek, the first King and Priest of Salem. He prefigures Christ, the Second King and Priest, "begotten before the morning star" (verse 3), He who fulfills all things.

In Matthew 22:41-45, Jesus asks the pharisees to consider this mystery. He doesn't explain it to them, but leaves them with this question: "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?" His enemies are unable to answer and "from that day on" didn't dare to ask Him any more questions. When it came to understanding their own Scriptures, they showed themselves to be ignorant and unenlightened. However, this question left an impression on Matthew, who recorded it in his Gospel. He must have pondered it for some time, as faithful stewards of the Scriptures should do.

Alice C. Linsley said...

James wrote (e-mail): "I followed a link to your blog from T19 today and was intrigued by your investigations of the 2 sons/3 sons idea in the bible. My mind went back immediately to a sermon by Tory Baucom on the three-part parable in Luke 15 (Tory pointed out that Luke introduces this as a single parable, though it is commonly treated as three). In Tory's exegesis the older son is the Jewish leaders who have failed to go out and find their lost brother (the "tax collectors and sinners" that precipitated the parable), even though the "lost" was fully "half" of the family (whereas the woman searched when only one tenth of her coins were lost and the shepherd searched when only one-hundreth of the sheep were lost--and there was great rejoicing when they lost was found). Tory went on to say that Augustine (I'm pretty sure it was Augustine) said that there was actually a third, unmentioned, son who left his father and went to the far off country and searched for the lost son and brought him home, just like the shepherd in the first part of the story. There's that third, unmentioned son, again (and, boy, am I ever grateful for him!).

Pretty interesting, no?"

Alice C. Linsley said...

James, Tory's exegesis of Luke's parable of the Prodigal is very good. I've found that biblical stories involving 2 sons must be understood to hint at a third (hidden) son. In the case of Luke's parable of the Prodigal, the third son is suggested as the one who fetches home the lost brother, a symbol of Jesus Christ.

Micaela said...

I've recently discovered this on my own. Now, Im only passing through, I just want to mention that I hope you inluded Leah and Rachel, because Rachel was the truly loved of Jacob..she got what the first was to get first, if you will. Jacob divided the two families by His love for their mothers, this is how the covenant was passed. Her firstborn son Joseph which was manifested through Ephraiminherited the birthright of Reuben Leah's son,the real firstborn of the bunch . I hope you remembered to include the mothers is what I am saying!

Alice C. Linsley said...

The mothers are key to understanding the ethnicity of Abraham's people who were Horites, a caste of ruler-priests who originated in ancient Kush.

Isaac also had 2 wives, as did all his Horite ruling ancestors. The wife who isn't mentioned was a half-sister who lived in Beersheba. She bore Isaac a son named Yishbak, so Isaac had at least three sons: Esau who married a Horite daughter (Gen. 36). Jacon who married into the Horite clan of Na-Hor and Yisbak (also spelled Ishbak, following modern Hebrew). Ishbak the Elder is mentioned in Gen. 25:1. He is Abraham's son by Keturah. His daughter married Isaac and named their firstborn son Ishbak, according to the Horite custom which I have identified in my 34 years of research on Genesis. I've called this distinctive practice "the Cousin Bride's Naming Prerogative."

The Kohan or "priest marker" has been known for a long time. It is identifiable and distinctive because Horite priests married daughters of priests exclusively. The haplogue studies based on mitochondrial samples reflect the women since we receive the mtDNA from our mothers. DNA studies confirm that the Horite ancestors of the priests of ancient Israel did marry exclusively within the priestly divisions/lines, which is what analysis of the Biblical genealogy material shows. This is the blood ancestry of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Anonymous said...

6 years late to this party but I would like to chime in. Just finished reading Genesis and also picked up on the theme of the second son being "the chosen" over the firstborn son...or really...the theme of "the second" for lack of a better term. I can't verify what I will say next...these are my own thoughts...Genesis hints at 2 creations of man...the second being that of Adam and Eve (and in my book can completely account for evolution). The flood...with God promising to never destroy the earth again...and start anew a second time. Old Testament/New Testament. As you stated before, Cain/Abel, Ishmael/Issac, Esau/Jacob, Leah/Rachel,Mannaseh/Eprahim...Others brought up the great examples of John the Baptist/Jesus and the parable of the prodigal son. It continues with the concepts of the "the first shall be last, and the last shall be first". Is this God's way of showing that our ways are not his ways? Why the repeated theme of preference of the second over the first? As for the story of Tamar...it really struck me. Tamar essentially sinned by tricking Judah into having intercourse with her. But God did not charge her for that...instead his plan continued on...God was going to have his plan fulfilled one way or another...loss of 2 sons of Judah (killed by God for their wickedness and lack of doing their part to do God's will)...to be replaced by another 2 sons of Judah through Tamar...and on to the line of David. What hits home for me is that God accepts us in our imperfect human condition and will continue to work out his Will through us...God will have his Will done...one way or another. Thank you for having this site and a place to intellectually discuss the bible!

Alice Linsley said...

Glad you have joined the party! These are deep thoughts.

Perhaps the question should be why the preference for the sent-away son? The answer is found in the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite ruler-priests. The first born of the sister wife ascended to the throne of his biological father. So Isaac was Abraham's proper heir, since Sarah was Abraham's half-sister. The first born son of the cousin wife ruled as a high ranking adviser to the heir of his maternal grandfather's throne, which is why he is named after his maternal grandfather. Lamech the Younger is named for Lamech the Elder. Esau the Younger is named for Esau the Elder. This is called the cousin bride's naming prerogative. Abraham's first born son by his cousin wife was Joktan(Yaqtan) and he was a sort of prime minister in the territory of Joktan the Elder (his maternal grandfather). All other sons were given gifts and sent away to establish territories of their own (Gen. 25:6). The sent-away sons are the heroes of the Bible: Nimrod (Son of Kush); Abraham (son of Terah); Moses (son of Amram) and David (son of Jesse). Why this preference? Because it is about Jesus, the Sent-away Son of God who came into the world to save sinners and to receive a kingdom.

The dispersal of the Horite sent-away sons drove the Kushite expansion out of the Nile Valley, a migration that has been confirmed by DNA studies. See Clyde A. Winters, The Kushite Spread of Haplogroup R1*-M173 from Africa to Eurasia (September 2010) Research Journal of Biological Sciences, Maxwell Scientific Organization
http://maxwellsci.com/print/crjbs/v2-294-299.pdf

These sent-away sons are the Bible’s greatest heroes since they must rely on God to deliver a kingdom into their hands: Nimrod, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Jesus Christ who was sent into the world to redeem us and establish an eternal kingdom.