Thursday, May 28, 2009

Horite Territory

The Horite rulers are the "mighty men of old" who controlled commerce on the major water systems from Lake Chad to the Indus River. Genesis 36 lists the Horite rulers living in Edom. Abraham's territory was entirely in Edom and he was a Horite ruler. His territory extended on a north-south axis between his two wives. Sarah, his half-sister, resided in Hebron. Keturah, his second wife and a patrilineal cousin, resided in Beersheba. Abraham also dug and maintained wells in the region of Gerar to the west and likely watered his livestock at Engedi to the east. Edom, south of Judah, was Horite territory. The rulers of Edom were related to the rulers of Nubia and to the Horite rulers of Ur and Haran in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham and his wives were Horites. The term "Horite" is the English variant of the Hebrew word "Horim" which is what Jews call their ancestors. The Horites were a caste of ruler-priests who were devotees of Horus. Horus prefigures Jesus Christ.This is the origin of Messianic expectation among Abraham's proto-Saharan or Kushite ancestors.

The worship of Horus originated in ancient Kush among Abraham's Kushite ancestors. The oldest known site of Horus worship is at Nekhen in Sudan. Horites spread from Africa to the Indus Valley. In the Bible they are associated with Seir the Horite (Gen. 36) and the region of Edom. Petra reflects Horite beliefs.

The word Horite is likely related to the Egyptian khar, a measurement of fuel used in burnt offerings. It is related also to the Egyptian har-wa, meaning priest. The root of Horus' name is HR and takes numerous forms: Horowitz, Hor, Hur, Har, horos, horismos, horizontal, horizon, horotely, horologion, etc.

Keturah, Abraham's cousin wife, was a Horite bride, the daughter of Joktan. Her sons became the founders of the Joktanite Tribes of Arabia. In the Qur'an the word Horite appears as Houris and refers to deified ancestors. Some Jews and some Arabs share this common ancestry.

Horite ruler-priests were careful to marry chaste daughters of priests. It is not a coincidence that Joseph, the first-born son of Jacob by Rachel, was married to Asenath, daughter of "priest of On" (Gen. 41:45). The intermarriage between Horite priestly lines requires that we take these words quite literally: "For me you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." (Ex. 19:6)

Terah, the father of Abraham and Sarah, was Horite, the son of Na'Hor or Na-Hur. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem". Clearly, the author of I Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement, less than 10 miles from Mt. Hor. Bethlehem was in the heartland of Horite territory.

David was born about B.C. 1040, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, a Horite shepherd-priest. The settlement was originally known for the sacrifice of sheep and rams. The meat was distributed to the poor, which is why the settlement was originally called "House of Meat." This meaning is retained in the Arabic name for the town: "bêt lahm".

The original Horite territory appears to have extended north-southeast between Mount Hor (shown above Kadesh-barnea) and Mt. Harun (at red marker). This is consistent with the pattern established among the rulers of Abraham's people who maintained 2 wives on a north-south axis. This pattern is evident with Terah, Abraham's father, who maintained one wife in Haran and the other in Ur. It is evident with Abraham, who maintained Sarah in Hebron and Keturah in Beersheba. The pattern is evident as far back at Genesis 4 where we find Cain associated with Nok and Kano and where we discover that Lamech the Elder set himself up as God by placing his wives on an east-west axis. In Horite cosmology, the sun was the Creator's emblem or God's chariot from which He daily surveys His territory, making a circuit from east to west.

Horite rulers controlled the major water systems at a time when Africa and the Near East were wetter. Noah was a great chief in the area of Lake Chad. Terah's territory was in the region of the Tigrus-Euphrates Valley, there was also a system of lakes about halfway between his settlements in Haran and Ur. Likewise the original Horite territory had water sources at both ends and a body of water halfway between Mt. Hor and Jabal Harun (Aaron's Mountain).

The prominence of the Horites is attested by the detail of the geneological information provided in Genesis 36 and I Chronicles 1. Here we find a great amount of information about Abraham's Horite people. Although Genesis doesn't explicitly state that Isaac married Horite brides, it is evident that he did. Rebekah (his cousin bride) was a descedent of Na'Hor and Terah, and Isaac's half-sister bride (living in Beersheba) was a descendent of Sheba.

Jacob married Horite brides in Rachel and Leah, both descendents of Na'Hor and Terah. Genesis 36 tells us that Esau married at least one Horite bride in Oholibamah, a descendant of Seir the Horite.

Besides being the name of Abraham's father, Terah is also the name of an Arabian tribe (Terabin) that dwells chiefly between Gaza and Beersheba. This information links Terah to the clans of Joktan and Sheba, from which he took his wife, Abraham's mother. It also suggests that Terah's mother was a daughter of a Horite chief named Terah. She named her first-born son by Terah after her father, according to the rites who married Horites.

Josephus calls the descendants of Abraham by Keturah "Hoorites" and, quoting the words of an ancient historian, speaks of them as "conquerors of Egypt and founders of the Assyrian Empire." The people of Esau (Edomites) hardly supplanted the Horites if Esau and Jacob were Horites. It is not possible that the Horites emerged after the time of Abraham since his father and grandfather were Horites.

Horite identity was figured through the mothers and is already evident at the time of Peleg, Noah's great great grandson. Peleg was one of 3 sons, and 3 sons in Genesis always points to a tribal unit. The Horite tribal unit is indicated by the clans of Peleg, Joktan the Elder, and Sheba the Elder. Yet we are told that Peleg's generation marked a time of "division." The division involved geographical separation of the Horite clans in Afro-Asiatic Arameans and Afro-Arabians.  However, the territorial division did not change their kinship pattern. Through intermarriage of the priestly lines, these rulers spread their essentially Nilotic worldview across the ancient Near East as far as Nepal and Cambodia.

During the Roman Period, the Nabateans occupied the heartland of Horite territory.  They were masters of water management and, like their kin in Dedan, lived in caves. Their capital was Petra, the architecture of which corresponds to that of Horite temples along the Nile.

Related reading: Edom and the Horites;  Edo, Edom, IdumeaWho Were the Horites?; Peleg: Time of Division; Abraham and Job: Horite Rulers; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; Who Was Oholibamah?; Abraham's Nephews and Niece; Who Were the Kushites?


Unknown said...

I just came across this site looking to find who was Jacob's sister bride as his cousin brides were Rachel and Leah?

Alice C. Linsley said...

That is a very good question, Andan. Here are some possible explanations:

1. Leah was his sister, though a later redactor made her a cousin to stress Laban's deception of the one who deceived his father. This explanation suggests that the marriage pattern was less important to the editor than the story of the deceiver getting deceived. Here we have a moral lesson.

2. Jacob had not married his first wife (a half-sister) before he left for Padan-Aram. He is described as a son who stayed close to his mother. He may have been spoiled by mother's attentions and not eager for a wife. It appears that both he and Esau were quite young men since neither had married yet.

3. Jacob's exile from his home made it necessary to break the marriage pattern of the ruler-priests.

What do you think?