Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Ethnicity of Abraham and David

Abraham, Moses, Samuel and David were all Horite (Horim) as evidenced by the common marriage and ascendancy pattern of their fathers. Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy structure of their families reveals the distinctive pattern of the Horite ruler-priest caste.

The pattern of Moses' family is identical to that of the proto-Saharan rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5 and 11 and to that of Abraham's father Terah and Samuel's father Elkanah." David's father was a ruler-priest of the horite city of Bethlehem. It appears that all of these great men were Horites.

Alice C. Linsley

As an anthropologist, I find the Bible to be a useful resource for understanding the people from whom we receive a long-standing tradition concerning the Son or "Seed" of God (Gen. 3:15). I read the Bible differently than a pastor or a theologian would read it. I collect data and correlate what I collect with findings in archaeology, anthropology and linguistics. This approach to the Bible has persuaded me of the reliability of the Biblical record, especially when it comes to the kinship data concerning Abraham and his Horite people.

The Horites are the direct ancestors of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17) and understanding their way of life and religious beliefs helps us to understand who Jesus is.

When someone asks about the ethnicity of a Biblical figure, they usually want to know about that person's appearance. The Bible tells us very little about the physical appearance of most Biblical persons. This is probably because people were less concerned about what we call "racial" distinctions. The genetic mix of the inhabitants of the ancient Afro-Asiatic world was extremely varied. There were black and red Nubians.

Red and black Nubians

The Egyptians were reddish-brown, dark brown and black.  The Edomites were lighter with dark wavy hair and a reddish skin tone. David is described as having a red skin tone, reflecting his connection to the Horites of Edom (Gen. 36). The Ainu (Hannu) were lighter with a reddish tone and some had green eyes. Ainu rulers wore beards.

Although both Abraham and David are portrayed in films and images as European or Middle Eastern Jews, neither was Jewish. Both lived before a people called "Jews" can be identified. Abraham lived between 980-1200 years before David and about 2200-2400 years before Jesus. (See Thoughts on Calculating the Dates of the Patriarchs.)

This Jewish writer, when asked if David was Jewish, defines Jewishness and then evades the question that must be answered. One is a Jew if his mother is Jewish or if he properly converts to Judaism. So, David was a Jew if his mother was, and his mother was not. Neither was Abraham's mother a Jew.  She was a Horite.

Seeing this is difficult because there are discrepancies in ethnic labels surrounding this caste of ruler-priests who originated in the Nile valley.  For example, it is likely that Horites and Hurrians are the same people.  The Hebrew root  is hr.  Hur was Moses' brother-in-law. Moses' family was also Horite, as evidenced by his father's marriage and ascendancy pattern. The name takes many forms including Na-hor, Hur, Haran, Harun (Aaron), and Harwa. The Horites were a caste, which means that they exclusively intermarried, a trait of all castes. It is called endogamy. The Edomites were Horites and one of their principal cities Petra reflects Horite beliefs.

The Bible does not explicity state the ethnicity of the mothers of Abraham and David. However, analysis of the genealogial data clarifies that they were both ancestors of Jesus Christ. Their people lived in expectation of the appearing of the Son of God, according to the promise that was made to their ancestors in Eden (Gen. 3:15). This points to the core family around which the tradition and expectation of the Son of God developed. Research on their identity makes it fairly certain that both women were of the Horite ruler-priest caste. Horite priests married the chaste daughters of Horite priests who maintained shrines along rivers or at wells. This is why so many of the leading figures of the Bible meet their wives at wells.

Horites Were Ethnically Kushite

Kushite wives are found among the Horite clans and many of the greatest figures of Biblical history married Kushite brides. Abraham and Moses did. Moses' Kushite wife was his first bride and his half-sister. Zipporah was his second wife and his patrilineal cousin. Abraham had two Kushite wives: Sa-ra and Ketu-ra. Their names represent two Horite clans, as evidenced by the Horite name for the Supreme God: Ra.

The ruler-priests of Abraham's people maintained their two wives in separate households on a north-south axis. This is what is revealed by analysis of the kinship pattern of Genesis 4-5 and Genesis 11. I Chronicles 2:13-16 lists David’s siblings, but doesn’t mention that some of these children may be the offspring of Jesse by two wives. Jesse of Bethlehem was a typical Horite shepherd-priest, and Bethlehem was a Horite settlement.

David of the Horite Settlement of Bethlehem

David was born about 1040 B.C. He was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem, 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: .  There is no record of David's mother's name. His father Jesse was likely a priest and shepherd and he probably had two wives.[2]  One wife (David's mother) was in Bethlehem and the other wife was probably in Hebron. This would explain why David was anointed first in Bethlehem and later anointed as king of Judah in Hebron (II Samuel 2:1-4). 

We note also that before being anointed as the ruler, David had married two wives following the custom of his ruler-priest ancestors. This parallels Isaac's story, in which Abraham must find his son a second wife (Rebecca) before he dies so that Isaac may become the ruler over his territory.  Rebecca was Isaac's cousin bride. Isaac's half-sister bride would have been living in Beersheba, which is where the servant brings Rebecca to wed Isaac.

David's first two wives are likely a half-sister and a patrilineal cousin.  Ahinoam of Jezreel would have been his cousin bride, as Jezreel is just north of Hebron. Abigail of Carmel was probably his half-sister bride, as Carmel is south of Hebron. [3] She is probably the Abigail named as David's sister in I chronicles 2:16. She had married Nabal who refused to help David when he needed provisions for his men. 

Now the question arises as to the identity of David’s mother. What should this matter? Because according to the custom of Abraham’s people, ethnicity or bloodline is traced matrilineally. Even today Jewish Law defines a Jew as one of three things:

• Someone who is matrilineally descended from Jacob (Israel) by any of his wives
• Someone who has properly converted
• Someone who is matrilineally descended from a proper convert.

The first is the only definition that can be applied to Abraham and David since both men lived before the Babylonian Captivity which marks the beginning of Jewish identity, and among their people ethnicity was traced through the mothers. This being the case, the critical question is what was the ethnic identity of David's mother?

David's Mother

According to the Talmud (a later source than the Bible) David's mother was called Nitzevet (tractate Bava Batra 91a). Her father was Adael. Adael is the masculine equivalent of the name Adah. Adah was the wife of Lamech the Elder, and the mother of Jubal and Jabal (Gen. 4). This is also the name of one of Esau the Elder’s wives. So Adah and Adael is a family name traced back to the lines of Cain and Seth (which intermarried). Both versions of the name are traceable to the Kenites, the descendents of Cain who intermarried with Seth's line.  So David is kin to the Kenites. This explains why David sent the spoils of war to the cities of Judah and to the Kenites (1Samuel 30:29).

We are familiar of the story of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, who killed Sissera by driving a tent peg through his temple while he slept (Judges 4:21).  Here we find a connection between the Kenites and the Hebrews. Heber means friend in Hebrew. It was given to Abraham, the friend of God.

David's ancestry is traced through the following women: Tamar, the daughter of a priest. Tamar, the Righteous, tricked Judah into impregnating her. When Judah discovered that she was pregnant, he ordered that she be burned to death. This was the sentence for daughters of priests who committed adultery or harlotry. The Horites, called Khar by the Egyptians, were ruler-priests who married chaste daughters of priests who ruled over water shrines.

Rahab of Jericho was the wife of Salmon the Horite, the Son of Hur (Hor). Salmon is called the "father of Bethlehem" in 1 Chronicles 2:54. Rahab became the grandmother of Boaz who married Ruth. Salmon (also Salma or Solomon) is a Horite name and is associated with Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 2:51).  The evidence concerning David's ethnicity points to Kenites and Horites who intermarried.

Abraham's Horite Mother

Abraham’s mother is not named in the Bible, but according to tradition she was the daughter of a priest associated with the Horite shrine of Karnach in ancient Nubia (Upper Nile). This is evident from the name of her father, called "Karnevo" in the Babylonian Talmud. Karnevo would have been a Horite since the shrine of Karnach was dedicated to Horus, called the “son of God”.

The Genesis genealogical information indicates that her father was Na’Hor. We are able to determine this because she named her first born son Na'Hor, according to the cousin bride's naming prerogative. Na' Hor is a Horite name, which means that Abraham's mother was Horite. That means that Abraham was Horite and David is a direct descendant of Abraham and his Horite kin, David also had Horite blood. This explains also why all of David's sons are called "priests" in II Samuel.

Related reading: Genesis in Anthropological PerspectiveEndogamy and Jewish IdentityThe Nilotic Origin of the AinuKushite Diversity and UnityWho Were the Horites?; Abraham's Horite Mother Challenge to Shaye Cohen's Portrayal of AbrahamMoses' Wives and Brothers


あじ said...

This is really fascinating stuff. I've always thought it strange that people so easily dismiss the historicity of the OT. It's not like that culture (cultures, really) in any way resembles ours, so how on earth do we think we understand it well enough to dismiss it?

I think you've done a pretty good job showing that both the fundamentalist and the skeptic haven't really done their homework. Both want to take the text at face value according to their own (biased) priorities and it just isn't that simple.

If David's mother wasn't a Jew, that may help to answer why so much of his army wasn't Jewish either (at least when he was running from Saul). But what does the apparently deeply embedded bigamist norm say about New Testament/Apostolic and post-Apostolic Christian views on monogamy?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Only ruler-priests had two wives. This was not the pattern for the common man. The pattern speaks of Christ and His Kingdom. After Christ's appearing the pattern stopped.

Sandra McColl said...

Is it fair to say that, if the Scriptures don't tell us who David's mother was, people in the days before 'the beginning of Jewish identity' weren't as completely fussed with tracing their matrilineal descent from the patriarch Jacob (itself a contradiction), but whether they were matrilineally Horite?

Alice C. Linsley said...

One could conclude that, but I don't think it is so. Matrilineal descent mattered very much, as did patrilineal descent. Blood line- race was traced through the mothers and social status-rule was traced through the fathers. Both mattered very much.

I believe the answer has to do with the final handling of the material by Jews, who after being taken from their land, were determined that their claim on the land should be irrefutable. Zionism isn't a modern development. It began with the return from Babylon. There are other clues as well: the placement of the information about Keturah after the account of Sarah's death and burial. Genesis doesn't actually say that Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died, but the final editor of the material suggests this by the arrangement of the material. This is intended to focus land claims on the person of Isaac, though Abraham had at least 6 other sons, also daughters who intermarried with the people of Sheba. This is why Sheba disputed David's claim to the throne (I KIngs 15).

Anonymous said...

Hi Alice,

I have enjoyed reading thus far, I just wanted to ask about your reference to Sheba's dispute, did you mean 1 Kings 10?

Alice C. Linsley said...

You can read how Sheba attempted to usurp King David and lost his head for it in II Sam. 20:22.

Lydia said...

Alice, why would the marriage pattern stop because of the coming of Christ?
As far as the Jews are concerned they still await the Messiah and the coming of Christ has no meaning for them at all.



Alice C. Linsley said...

The Horite caste practiced clan endogmany among its rulers. They were the people to whom the promise was first made in Gen. 3:1 that the "Seed" of the Woman would come to crush the serpent's head. The Horites intermarried exclusively because they actually believed that a virgin of their ruler-priest caste would bring forth the promised Seed. The pattern I've identified using the Bible can be traced to Jesus' time, but not beyond his time. Perhaps this is because the Jerusalem priesthood was devastated in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the Temple. Or perhaps because the marriage and ascendency pattern of Abraham's people (ancestors and descendants)had served its purpose.

Anonymous said...

During the Yoruba intertribal wars, a subgroup known as the Ibadan people of Southwestern Nigeria were identified by their difficulty in pronouncing the /ʃ/ sound (as in shoe). Do you suppose there are any links to the Ephraimites (Judges 12:5-6)?


Alice C. Linsley said...

YT, This is a fascinating question and deserves a fuller explanation than I can give here in the comment box.

I will write about this and post it at Biblical Anthropology, my other blog. This has more to do with that field than with the book of Genesis.

When I post the response to your question, I'll let you know so you can read it and respond here:

Anonymous said...

Okay Alice, I'll be expecting your response.
I also discussed this with a friend and this is what he pointed at:

"Remember also that there is no people called Ibadan; because Ibadan is a location, but there are Oyos and you might want to search through the archives using that as a key.

There are good links between Oyo and Babylonia than is between Oyo and Ephraim.

Now let me say that Ephraim was sacked from the land of Canaan and is reputed to have migrated to Persia. The Persian Jews are said to be some remnants of the Ephraimite tribe. There is an Ibadan in Persia.

Also, where did the Yoruba term "alanu Samaria" come from? What is its origin?"


Alice C. Linsley said...

Your friend gives good information! Many groups are called by the area where they reside or have left artifacts and/or skeletal remains, but this is not what the tribes/clans call themselves. This happens in anthropology too. Neanderthals were fully human but were named for the Neander Valley in Germany where the first fossils were identified. The "Badarian" were not a people but a Saharan population whose artifacts were named for where they were first found at al-Badari in Sudan. The same with the Natufians. These were ethnically Kushites but their material culture received the name "Natufian" because that is where their artifacts were first found in Palestine.

There are many place names in India that parallel places in Africa. Orrisa/Orisha is an example. There are also words in Sanskrit that are originally African words, such as "sarki." The Sanskrit word for male human is "manu" which resembles the African word "adamu." The Dravidian "ka ayi" = mother resembles the Hausa/Hahm "eyi" = gave birth. The Hausa/Hahm toro = clean is like the Tamil tiru = holy. All are related to the proto-Dravidian tor = blood. In some Kushitic languages "mtoro" means rain and "toro" refers to God. These are related to the Egyptian ntr = deity, the Pure One.

There are many other examples from linguistics. There is also DNA evidence to trace migrations from Africa to India. You might be interested in this:

Alice C. Linsley said...

YT, I haven't forgotten your question. I'll have a post on this and other clan/tribal traits soon at Biblical Anthropology.

Alice C. Linsley said...

YT, the essay addressing your question about the Ephraimites is here:

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes,
Alice C. Linsley

vera said...

Hello Alice I really live your humility,,,,what is your take on revelation 1: 14,15 about the black color of Christ,,,,do you have any books in print I would love to be further educated,,,,

Thanks so much

Alice Linsley said...

Vera, You are very kind.

Rev. 1:14 and 15 describes Jesus Christ's appearance in these words:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like burnished brass, as if burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Wooly hair and a burnt skin with eyes the color of gold and white hair describes someone from the Sudan region of the Nile. The word Ham means burnt, not black necessarily, but more likely dark reddish brown, the color of the Beja of Sudan, one of the oldest native peoples of the region. The Beja are metal workers (like Cain and Tubal-Cain). Abra-Ham means "father of the burnt ones." His ancestors came from the Upper Nile region of modern day Sudan. Jesus is a direct descendant of the ruler-priests who originated in the Nile Valley.

In ancient Egypt the Beja were called "Medjayu." These metalworking nomads from the eastern Nubian desert were recognized for their military skills. They served as mercenaries in the Egyptian army and policed the desert in the late Old Kingdom. At the end of Egypt's Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1640–1550 B.C.) they played a role in expelling the Hyksos from the Nile Delta. The Medjayu buried their dead in a distinctive way in circular "pan graves" which they marked with the decorated skulls of bulls, gazelles and goats. These have been found in cemeteries of Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia beginning in the Second Intermediate Period. (Source: Sudan, 2000–1000 B.C., Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art) They brought gold to Egypt from mines deep in the heartland of Nubia and Kush.

The Beja (Arabic: البجا‎) are Kushitic people who live in parts of Sudan, Egypt and the Horn of Africa. Their name comes from the ancient Egyptian word for meteroric iron - bja (metal from heaven), and they were metalworkers. Beja corresponds to the Sanskrit word bija, meaning semen or seed. Meteoritic iron was used in the fabrication of iron beads in Nubia about 6000 years ago. These beads may have been perceived as seeds from heaven which brought divine power to the wearer. Meteoritic iron was used in the fabrication of crooks and flails, the symbols of the Egyptian and Kushite pharaohs. These symbols were believed to give the ruler powers from heaven.

You can see a photo of the Beja here:

Anonymous said...

So why are Jews "God's chosen people" if Abraham and David are Hoeites?

Alice Linsley said...

The term "chosen people" has a biblical parallel - "treasured people" and has been interpreted different ways. The idea is based on Deuteronomy 14:2, which says: "For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth."

The idea comes out of the time after the Babylonian captivity which also marks the earliest time in history that we can speak of a distinct people called "Jews".

Abraham and his ancestors were not Jews. They were known by the terms Habiru (Hebrew), the Shasu of YHWH and Horites (Horim).