Monday, October 17, 2011

Extant Biblical Tribes and Clans

Alice C. Linsley

The clans and tribes of the Bible represent governmental units based on family and marriage ties.  The clan is often desginated by the head tent (oholibamah), and the Egyptian hierogylph was the symbol of a tent peg. 
Tent peg represented by the ancient Hebrew and Arabic letter Waw.
The high tent was the residence of the chief or ruler of the clan.  The clan or tribe and the locale were often named for this person. That is why there are so many place names that correspond to rulers in the Bible. Clans and tribes of the ancient world moved farther than is generally recognized.  The Yoruba of Nigeria and Benin originated in ancient Kush. This makes the work of tracing biblical peoples more challenging, but often clans, marriage ties, and lineage can be identified by their totems.

The ruling tribe is designated by the sceptre which in Hebrew is שבט.  According to Genesis 49:10, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."  Here Judah is designated as the ruling tribe and as Jerome correctly interprets, Shiloh refers to the Christ who is to be sent.  This prefigures the Son of God who will rule over peoples from every tribe, nation and tongue (Rev. 5:9), and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

The sceptre belongs to the high king who rules over the confederation of clans. The scepter is sometimes called "the rod" and is a version of the Pharaonic crook.  The crook and flail were symbols of the power of ancient Kush and Egypt, from whence came Abraham's ancestors.

The crook and flail were carried by the high king and represented his deification as a son of God.

Family based units are extremely resilient and usually adapt well to changing circumstances. This allows for the succession of rule through many centuries, even millenium.  Though it is assumed that the clans and tribes named in Genesis are extinct, it is more likely that many are extant and can be studied to gain better understanding of the cultural context of the peoples of Genesis.  Certainly this is the case with the Jebusites (Ijebu), a Yoruba people who migrated to Nigeria from the Nile region.

Study of the living Jebusites enables us to trace their Nilotic origins. The supreme ruler of the Ijebu is called "Awujali” and his coronation ceremony involves palm branches (just as Jesus was greeted as one to be enthroned in Jerusalem, formerly a Jebusite city).  The present Awajali has described how the Ijebus are descended from ancient Nubians and Egyptians (Kushites). He pointed to the correspondences between coronation rituals, scarification, circumcision and linguistics. Over 100 Yoruba words are virtually identical to ancient Egyptian words. Here are some examples:

EGYPTIAN                   YORUBA
wu (rise)                         wu (rise)
Asa (Osiris)                    Ausa (father)
eere or ar (serpent)         Ere (python/serpent)
Horise (great god)          Orise (great god)
sen (worshippers)           sen ( to worship)
ged (to chant)                 igede (a chant)
ta (sell/offer)                  ta (sell/offer)
sueg (a fool)                   suegbe (a fool)
on (living person)           one ( living person)
kum (a club)                   vkumo (a club)
enru (fear/terrible)          eru (fear/terrible)
kun/qun (brave man)      ekun (title of a brave man)
win (to be)                      wino (to be)
odonit (festival)               odon (festival)
ma or mi (to breath)        mi (to breathe)
tebu (town)                     tebu (town)
khu (to kill)                     ku (die)
tan (complete)                 tan (complete)
em (smell)                       emi (smell)
kot (build)                       ko (build)
kot (boat)                        oko (boat)
omi (water)                     omi (water)
ra or osa (time)                ira or osa (time)
Horuw (head)                  Oruwo (head)                  Jesus (HR) is the Head of the Church.
min (deity)                       emin (spirit)
ash (invocation)               ashe (invocation)
do (river)                         odo (river)
ma (to know)                   ma (to know)
hir (praise)                       yiri (praise)
hoo (rejoice)                    yo (rejoice)
osa (tide)                         osa ( tide)

Read the full list here.

An ancient name for God as Father is Ausa and is sometimes spelled Asa. The Asante tribe bears this name.  Asa-nte means "the people of Asa." The Egyptian Asa refers to God as father. Nilotic peoples living today still worship As, as is the case with the Kushitic Kalenjin, whose territory is in the Great Rift Valley. Traditional Kalenjin call the Creator Asis. Most Kalenjin are Christian.  Akkadian records attest to the antiquity of this name for God.  Sar-gon the Great was born at the shrine city of Azu-piranu, which means Sun House of Azu. God was called Azu in Akkadian, Asa in Chadic, Asha in Kushitic, and the name appears in Hebrew also. A Jerusalem priest named Am-ashai is named in Nehemiah 11:13.

Muhammad Bello, Ruler of Sokoto Caliphate, narrated the organization of the Yoruba. He explained:

"West of Katsina and Gobir there are seven separate countries called 'Banza Bakwai'. These are Zamfara and Kebbi, Yauri, Nufi [Nupe], Yoruba, Borgu and Gurma. Each of these has a Sarki [king] who is equal to the others.

The country of Yoruba is extensive and has streams and forests and rocks and hills. There are many curious and beautiful things in it. The ships of the Christians come there.

The people of Yoruba are descended from the Kanaana [Canaanites] and the kindred of Nimrud.

Now the reason of their having settled in the west according to what we are told is that Yaarubu [son]of Kahtan [great man] drove them out of Irak to westwards and they travelled between Masar [Misr, i.e. Egypt] and Habash [Ethiopia] until they reached Yoruba. It happened that they left a portion of their people in every country they passed. It is said that the Sudanese who live up on the hills [the Nigerian Plateau] are all their kindred; so also the people of Yauri are their kindred.  The people of Yoruba resemble those of Nufi in appearance."  (From here.)

Yemitom connects the Yoruba word for God - Ela - with the oldest known biblical word for God - El. He writes, "Yoruba tradition has it that Ela is derived from the name Orunmila which has been said to be a contraction of Orun lo mo atila, meaning “only Heaven knows who will be saved.”

The Yoruba Baale means "father of the land." Hence the word Baale must be a contraction of Baba Ilẹ since baba and ilẹ are translated as father and earth/land/ground respectively."

The Clans of Ar

The Arabs represent numerous extant clans and tribes that are named in Genesis. These include the Ar clans of the Red Sea, Trye, and Arvad which constitued a scribal caste. This is supported by the name Ar-vad. Vad means “to speak” in Sanskrit. The word Ar-ab can mean “father is scribe.”  The earliest known written communications originated along the coast lines of the Nile, the Red Sea and Phoenicia.

The Igbo of Nigeria call their scribes the Ar or Aro. The Arabic word for throne is aarsh and likely related to the scribal function attached to rulers.

One of the great Ar ruler was Noah's grandson Arpachshad. The peoples living in Arvad, Tyre and Sidon employed serpent imagery in their temples.  Moses lifted a serpent on a rod in the wilderness and those who looked upon it were saved from the vipers. (Numbers 21:8,9) Here the Serpent is a symbol of Christ our God. The Egyptians spoke of Asa-ar, the Serpent of God.  John 3:14-16 makes this connection: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

Israelites associated by their names with the Ar patrimony include Aroch (1 Chr 7:39, Ezr 2:5, Neh 6:18, Neh 7:10) and Ariel (Ezr 8:16, Isa 29:1, Isa 29:1, Isa 29:2, Isa 29:2, Isa 29:7). Ariel means “Scribe/Messenger of God.”  The association of the name Ar with the scribal caste is further demonstrated by the discovery of Aramaic scrolls from Arsames, the satrap, to his Egyptian administrator Psamshek and to an Egyptian ruler named Nekht-hor. (A.T.Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, pp.116-117) Some variations of the name Ar include Ar-Shem, Arsames, Artix, and Araxes, and all of these are figures named in historical texts.

More research must be done to trace biblical tribes to their living descendants, but as can be seen from this brief investigation, it is possible. Clan-based units are resilient and survive through the millenium.  It is highly likely that many other biblical clans are extant. They should be identified and studied in their natural contexts.  Such anthropological investigation promises to be a treasure trove of information for Bible enthusiasts.

Related reading:  The Marriage and Ascendency Pattern of Abraham's People


Anonymous said...

Are the Hausa/Fulani also of Ausa?
The tribe names Hebrew, Yoruba, Oromi, Arabi seem related. Time to look at your posts more thoroughly.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I would say the Hausa are. The word H-ausa certainly suggests that possibility.

Yoruba is another fascinating name. I wonder if it is the agglutinated form of Yar-ube which might have meant the Ar Patrimony of God. The Y could have been the tent peg (Egyptian/Arabic/Hebrew WAW). Ube is a Yoruba word meaning God. What do you think?

yemitom said...

Biblical prophecy was fulfilled with the trans-atlantic slave trade and the slave coast. This is where to look for the identity of the Yoruba.

By the way, are there any texts mentioning the children of Nimrod?

Alice C. Linsley said...


To which Bible prophecies are you refering?

Genesis 11:10-32 are descendants of Nimrod (Sargon the Great).

Anonymous said...

Water is a common link among languages but I was surprised to see this: Yoruba-omi, Nile-omi, Florida Seminole-oki, Japanese-mizu, Ojibwa-mizi (missisippi).

Not sure about Ube, a friend knows, I'll ask him (he's Yoruba).


yemitom said...

Genesis 15: 12-17
The Amorites were not Egyptians.
The Israelites were not enslaved in Egypt for up to 400 years.
The physical features of the Amorites and the slave coast are the clue to knowing who enslaved Abraham's descendants for 400 years.

yemitom said...

The Yoruba (Ewe) are not descendants of Nimrod but of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You can check out this forum and site.

Alice C. Linsley said...


It appears that the Yoruba and the Horites were Nilotic peoples who settled in Arabia and Mesopotamia (Abraham's ancestors) and in Nigeria, following the great river systems, especially the Benue Trough.

Abraham is a descendant of Nimrod who built his kingdom in Mesopotamia. That is why we find him living in Mesopotamia though his ancestors came out of the Nile Valley. The Yoruba are not descendants of Nimrod. They had already moved away from the Nile. We are talking about a movement of peoples between 4000-2200 B.C. This is before the time of Isaac and Jacob.