Thursday, June 25, 2009

Testimony of Blessed John, Forerunner

Alice C. Linsley

Does kinship analysis provide insight into the relationship of John the Forerunner and Jesus the Christ? It certainly does! It helps us to identify the intermarriage (endogamy) between of the priestly lines from which both are descended. Understanding how John and Jesus were related helps us to grasp more fully John's testimony concerning Jesus, the Son of God, the Lamb of God.

There have been many attempts to reconcile the genealogical information given in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. These attempts address the lists, noting differences in names and in the order of names. But this is not a fruitful approach because it fails to take into consideration the complexity of the kinship pattern of ruler-priests after the 6th century B.C.

A more fruitful approach is to look for the repetition of kinship patterns and to consider what the patterns intend to tell us.

The relationship of John and Jesus is best understood when we understand that both come from the priestly lines that descend from Amram (see diagram). One line is traced through Aaron, Moses' full-brother, and the other is traced through Korah, Moses' half-brother. According to Numbers 26, Korah's claim to be priest was supported by the Hanochites (descendants of Nok through Jacob's first-born son Reuben). The priestly lines of Aaron and Korah later became organized into divisions. One division, that of the line of Matthew (Mattai/Mattan) resided in Bethlehem.  This was the line of Hari-mathea. 

Following the kinship pattern of his ruler-priest forefathers, Amram had two wives. onme was a half-sister as was Sarah to Abraham and the other was a patlineal couin or niece, as was Katurah to Abraham.  Ishar (whose name is a variant of Isis and was earlier called Hat-Hor, mother of Horus) was evidently his sister wife, which means that Jochebed would have been his cousin wife.

One of the difficulties in attempting to reconcile genealogical lists is that these lists are used by the writers to achieve different narrative purposes. Nevertheless, once we understand the kinship pattern we can recognize the historical validity of the biblical claim that John and Jesus were blood relatives and both descendants of the Horite priestly lines.

According to Holy Tradition, John was a cousin of Jesus Christ through his mother Elizabeth who was sister to Ana (also spelled Anah). Ana was Christ's maternal grandmother (as the Anah shown in the diagram was Korah's maternal grandmother). In the relationship of John and Jesus, we find intermarriage between lines of priests according to the ancient pattern of their ruler-priests forefathers. John’s mother Elizabeth was of the “daughters of Aaron,” meaning that she was the daughter of a priest. According to Holy Tradition, Mary was also a daughter of a priest, Joachim.

John's father was a priest of the division of Abijah. "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth…. Once when he [Zechariah] was serving before God while his division was on duty..." (Luke 1:5, 8) Abijah's was the eight division of priests.  (The sixteenth division resided in Nazareth.)

The recurrence of the name Abijah in the line of priests suggests the cousin-bride naming prerogative, one of the distinctive traits of the kinship pattern of the ruler-priests of Abraham’s Horite people. The cousin bride named her firstborn son after her father and this pattern is what makes it possible to trace Jesus' ancestry back to the Genesis 4 and 5 Kings.

Rabbi Shmuel Safrai, one of the founders of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, explains: "Apparently the priestly division of Abijah was named after one of the priests who returned to the land of Israel with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Nehemiah 12:4). Another Abijah, mentioned in Nehemiah 10:7, was one of the signatories of the covenant during the time of Nehemiah, a number of generations after Zerubbabel and the first wave of returnees to Israel. This Abijah probably was a descendant of the Abijah after whom the division was named. Other priests of the Second Temple period were named Zechariah. Rabbinic works mention two such priests from the last generation before the temple was destroyed: Rabbi Zechariah ben Auvkulos (Lamentations Rabbah 4:3) and Rabbi Zechariah ha-Katsav (Mishnah, Ketubot 2:9)."[1]

There were twenty-four priestly divisions after the construction of the Second Temple (corresponding to the 24 Elders who worship before the throne in Rev. 4:4) Nineteen of these divisions are listed in Nehemiah 12:10-22. In this list we find these names of particular interest: Eber, Joachim, Joseph, Abijah, and Mattenai. These are the names of priests who married the daughters of priests and from these lines came John the Baptist, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God.

The first Eber mentioned in the Bible is a fifth generation descendant of Noah (Gen. 10:24) He fathered Peleg (division) and Joktan (from whom Abraham's son Joktan is descended).

Joachim is the name of Mary’s father, which is one reason that scholars believe that Mary was the virgin daughter of a priest. According to the custom of the ruler-priests of Israel, she married into a priestly line when she married Joseph, grandson of Mattenai (Matthew 1:16).

Abijah is an important name in Israel’s history, especially as we consider the perspective of the author of the Chronicles. Abijah succeeded his father Rehoboam to the throne of David in 913 B.C. and reigned for only 3 years. He delivered a speech before King Jeroboam I of the Northern Kingdom in which he condemned Jeroboam’s insurrection against the divinely covenanted authority of David, defender of the true Faith. He accuses Jeroboam of worship of golden calves (2 Chronicles 13:8) which he erected at Bethel and Dan (I Kings 12:26ff). Implicit in this accusation is the abandonment of the legitimate priesthood, because "anyone who comes with a bull and seven rams to get himself consecrated can become priest..." (2 Chronicles 13:9).

This parting of ways between 2 kings and their priests is reminiscent of the one that took place during the time of Peleg. It is political in nature, but it did not disrupt the kinship pattern of the priestly lines from which John, Joseph, Mary and Jesus Christ descended. The Chronicler’s focus is on the ruler-priest caste that long preceded the monarchy. He is interested in the genealogies of the priests and Levites whose kinship pattern remained unchanged because of the conviction that the promised Son of God would be born through Abraham, through Judah, and through David.

So having established that Elizabeth and Mary are daughters of priests, to which divisions did they belong? Which divisions intermarried? We know that Elizabeth married Zechariah of the division of Abijah, the eighth priestly division. Mary appears to have been from Nazareth, which means that her father was a priest of the eighteenth division. She married into the priestly line descending from Asaph "who prophesied at the king's direction." (1 Chronicles 25:2) The first to whom the lot fell to be a cantor of the "songs of Yahweh" was Joseph, the Asaphite (1 Chronicles 25:9). Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, married into this line.

In 1962 excavators discovered in the ruins of a Caesarea synagogue a small 3rd to 4th century marble fragment with a list of the twenty-four priestly divisions. This lists names the places where four of the divisions resided, including Nazareth. Nazareth was the home of the eighteenth priestly division, ha·pi·TSETS (Happizzez) (1 Chronicles 24:15). Until the discovery of this fragment, there was no extra-biblical record of Nazareth's existence before the sixth century A.D and no identification of a priestly division at that settlement.

Now let us return to the diagram to explore the pattern. Here we see 2 priestly lines from Amram: one traced through Moses' half-brother Korah and the other through Moses' full-brother Aaron. Aaron's descendents are labeled "priests" while Korah's descendents are often labeled "Levites" (see I Chronicles 24:20). Regardless of the labels, it is evident that these lines intermarried. We note that one of Korah's descendents is named Obed and Obed is also the name of David's grandfather.

I Chronicles 26:4-8 tells us, "Also for Korah's descendants there were Obed Edom's sons Shemaiah (the firstborn), Jehozabad (the second), Joah (the third), Sachar (the fourth), Nethanel (the fifth), Ammiel (the sixth), Issachar (the seventh), and Peullethai (the eighth). God had blessed Obed Edom. His son Shemaiah had sons who ruled their families because they were soldiers. Shemaiah's sons were Othni, and Othni's skilled brothers Rephael, Obed, Elzabad, as well as Elihu and Semachiah. All of these people were Obed Edom's descendants. They, their sons, and their relatives were skilled and had the ability to perform the service. Obed Edom's family included 62 men."

"Obed-Edom" is how the Chronicler identifies Korah's descendents with the information given in Genesis 36. Seir is identified in Genesis 36:20 as a Horite. This means that he was a ruler among the people of Abraham. Seir's granddaughter is Anah, the maternal grandmother of Korah the Elder, whose daughter Ishar married her patrilineal cousin Amram, father of Moses, Aaron , Miriam and Korah.

Elizabeth married into the priestly line of Amram when she married Zechariah, descendent of Abijah, descendent of Aaron. Mary, of the priestly line of Happizzez (Nazareth), married into the levitical line of Amram when she married Joseph, son of Asaph. (The name Happizzez is related to the ancient Egyptian word for water, specifically the life-sustaining Nile which was call Hap or Hep.)

This means that John the Forerunner's testimony concerning Jesus as "the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) springs from direct knowledge of the tradition of his forebearers that the Son of God was coming into the world to save sinners.

Related reading:  Who Were the Horites?; The Genesis Record of Horite Rule; Abraham and Moses: Different Origins of Israel?; Matthew's Testimony Concerning the Empty Tomb; The Cousin Bride's Naming Prerogative


shannine.cute said...

hi!i want to know if there is connection between the belief of aeta in the philippines and the african religion?i think bathala the god of aeta is the same with yahwee.there are both supreme being.the word bahala na (what will be)comes from bathala same with yahwee (i am to be)what do you think?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Yes, there is a connection. Bahala is the name of the Supreme God among the ancient Tagalogs. It is related to the Hindi word 'vahala'. The languages of the ancient Tagalogs and Hanunó’o both descend from Proto-Canaanite-Phoenician-Aramaic-Brahmi. The words 'na' and 'aeta' are also found in Sanskrit.

Read more here:

and here:

This is further evidence of the diffusion of the Afro-Asiatic worldview through the agency of missionary-priests who controlled ancient water systems and traveled widely. Read more about that here:

Thanks for visiting Just Genesis and for asking a very good question!

Joshua LA said...

Hi, My name is Joshua Lee. I am a korean-american. Your blog is hidden treasures. Your articles make so much sense.

Of course i dont understand everything. So here is my question. I understand Amram had 2 wives. Where did you get the name of Amram's sister wife, Ishar??

I enjoy your blog and i always wanted to say Thank You.

Alice Linsley said...

Welcome to Just Genesis, Joshua Lee. I hope you will find the material here helpful to you in your journey to the joys of Heaven, hidden in Christ Jesus.

The answer to your question is here:

Ishar is a woman's name, derived from the Hebrew isha, meaning "woman." Women are sometimes listed as "sons" in Genesis and Exodus if the ruling line is traced through them, which is the case with Ishar (Ex 6:17), and Anah and Oholibamah (Gen. 36). The last two women are Horites of Edom, of the house of "Seir the Horite."

Abraham's father was a Horite, Moses' father was a Horite, and Samuel's father was a Horite. Jesus is a direct descendant of these Horite ruler-priests. It was to Jesus' Horite ruler-priest ancestors that the first promise concerning His coming was made back in Eden (Gen. 3:15).