Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Canaan Abraham Knew

Alice C. Linsley

The period that tells us the most about Canaan during Abraham's time is from 2,200 to 1500 BC. This would include Abraham and other Biblical patriarchs. These were rulers as evidenced by the solar symbol at the beginning of their names: Yitzak, Yaqtan, Yisbak, Yishmael, Yacob, and Yosef.

The Canaanite Y symbolized a cradle for the sun, the emblem of the Creator. The Y in a man's name indicated divine appointment to rule. The ruler's tent was the head tent (oholibamah) and was represented by the ancient Hebrew and Arabic vaw. This sign was a Canaanite sign. Both the Y and V signs have been found on ancient Canaanite inscriptions.

The branch symbol was another common sign. It is sometimes called Tammuz and is associated with a deity described as "faithful son" (Ezekiel 8:14). However, the name likely has an association with Tamana, the earlier word for the shrine cities, many of which were dedicated to Horus.

Canaanite signs found at Wadi El-Hol

Hebrew developed from the Canaanite language spoken by people of Abraham's time. In Abraham's time rulers and their royal advisors spoke many languages. The ability to speak, read, and write more than one language continued to be a requirement for ruler-priests who served in the served Sanhedrin, the Beth Din HaGadol (The Great Court).

Priests belonging to prominent families were highly regarded members of the Sanhedrin. A "prominent" family was one whose lineages could be traced back to Horite Hebrew ruler-priests, what Jews call their Horim. (In English Bibles Horim is Horite.)

The third century Rabbi Johanan enumerates the qualifications of those in the Sanhedrin as follows: they must be tall, of imposing appearance, of advanced age, and scholars. They were required to be adept in the use of foreign languages. When testimony was give to the Sanhedrin in a foreign language, at least two members who spoke that language were required to examine the witness. There was also a third member who understood the language. These three members constituted a minor court of three, who then reported the testimony to the entire Sanhedrin.

Abraham is a combination of the words Ab – father and ham – burnt, referring to a reddish skin tone. The Horites are described in the Bible as having a reddish skin tone. According to Genesis 36, Esau married with the Horites of Edom (meaning red). He is described as being hairy and red. The Edomites and the Dedanites were known to live in rock-hewn houses or caves like those found at Beersheba during Abraham's time.

Peoples of Canaan

Many different people lived in Canaan, including Amorites, Kenites, Jebusites, Dedanites, Joktanites, and Phoenicians. Exodus 3:8 provides this list: "The Canaanite, and Hethite, and Amorite and Pherezite, and Hevite, and Jebusite." Here is is evident that the word "Canaanite" is intended as a general category.

Genesis 15:19-21 lists "the Kenites, the Kenizzites, Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Raphaim, the Amorites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."

The Kenites and the Amorites are found in both lists. Kenite is the likely origin of the word Kenanite/ Canaanite.

The word kinah-hu, found in the Nuzi tablets, refers to the Canaanites and to the color red. This aligns with what is known about Abraham's Ainu ancestors, who had a red skin tone. Some equate the word "Canaan" with the red purple dye used to make the garments of Tyrian rulers. However, it is more likely that kinah-hu relates to the Horites of Edom (red), to whom Abraham was related and from whom Moses was descended. This is substantiated by Joshua 15:21,22 which reports that, "The southernmost towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were: Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah..."

Kinah is a variant of the name Kenan. Genesis 5 lists Kenan as Cain's grandson. The name Kenan is a variant of Kain and Ghayin. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (2007) writes that ghayin lies behind kinah-huat in the Nuzi tablets. In the Canaano-Akkadian, "hu" is a pronominal suffix.

A principal shrine of the Amoprites was in Hazazon-tamar (Gen. 14:7), also known as Engedi (2 Chron. 20:2). Engedi was a large oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea bounded on the south by the Wadi Arnon. The Amorites are also called the Amurru. The word likely derives from Am-Ar, meaning the people, tribe, clans or caste of Ar. It also appears in the titles of many rulers, including Ar-Shem, Arsames, Artix, and Araxes and in the names of Biblical places, such as Wadi Arnon. Ar-non (originally Ar-nxn) means the Ar of Onn/Heliopolis. Here we find a connection between Abraham's Ainu ancestors of Onn. Joseph/Yosef married the daughter of the high priest of Heliopolis, a Horite shrine city.

The Amorites lived in ancient Egypt as evidenced by Tomb No. 34 at Thebes (c. 1550-c. 1292) where a bearded Amorite chief with light skin and red-brown hair is shown. It appears that they had a scribal function. Ariel means "Scribe/Messenger of God." The association of 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)

The Shrine Cities of Abraham's Time

In Abraham's time, Canaan was a collection of city-states that paid tribute to the Great House of Egypt, as attested in the Amarna tablets. During the final years of the Late Bronze Age, Egyptianized Philistines were a prominent power in Canaan. The principal cities were shrine cities set at higher elevations, These are referred to as the "high places" in the Bible. The central temple and palace were pillared and usually aligned to the the solar arc. These were sometimes called "sun temples" (o'piru) or houses of the sun. The sun was the emblem of the Creator.

During Abraham's time there were at least seven principal mound or shrine cities. These were Hazor, Shechem, Beersheba, Ramah, Jerusalem, Bethel and Hebron. The shrines were attended by priests, mainly Horites. The Horites were a caste of ruler-priests who were widely dispersed in the ancient world. They originated in the Nile Valley and were ethnically Kushites.

Shrine cities were built on high ground and had good water sources. The ruler's complex was at the highest level and included quarters for residential staff such as cooks, craftsmen, warriors and priests. The most holy shrine or chapel was within the royal complex.

From about 1400 BC there is evidence that the Hebrew (habiru) attempted to take control of the principal shrine cities in Canaan. This suggests that the Habiru under Joshua and Caleb's leadership attempted to supplant their Habiru kinsmen in those cities. Hazor was one of those cities.

Pillared residence at Hazor

Fourteen massive jars of scorched 3,400 year-old wheat have been found in a Late Bronze Age palace at Hazor. These are testimony to a large fire between 1400 and 1200 BC. Scholars do not agree on the cause of the fire. The Israeli archaeologist Amnon Tor-Ben believes that the Israelites conquered Hazor and burned it as described in Joshua 11:11- "None of the cities that stood on mounds did Israel burn, except Hazor only; that Joshua burned." However, Joshua 6:24 credits Joshua with burning Jericho, and Joshua 8:28 reports that he also burned Ai.

It is also possible that Hazor was burned by the Egyptians with the help of Horite warriors such as Joshua and Caleb. Seti I claimed to have destroyed Hazor in a military campaign around 1300 BC. It is possible that Horite warriors were among Seti's destroyers of Hazor and memory of the event came into the Hebrew Bible from them. It seems doubtful that the Habiru would have burned Hazor on their own initiative since the king of Hazor was friendly to the Habiru as evidenced by Amarna document EA 148 (Cairo Museum Cat. Number 4765, ca. 1400-1100 BC).

According to Jewish tradition, the Hebrews entered Canaan from Egypt and conquered it between 1240-1200 BC. The Amarna tablets make it clear that there were already ‘apiru or Habiru living among the Canaanites. In the ancient Egyptian piru means house. However, in the proto-Saharan languages p is sometimes replaced by b so that Hapiru also appears as Habiru, which in English is Hebrew.

The Hapiru served in the ancient temples and water shrines called hâît, or pirû, a reference to the house of the deity. The Dravidians referred to their East-oriented temples as O'piru, meaning "Sun House."

Archaeological excavations at Hebron reveal traces of strong fortifications dated to the Early Bronze Age. Hebron is where Abraham's wife Sarah resided. There was a grove of oak trees and a male moreh or prophet sat under one of these on a hill overlooking Hebron. Abraham likely consulted that moreh. (Photo right: Hebron vineyard with the Moreh's Hill in the background)

There are caves here and some of these were used for burial. Islamic tradition places Joseph’s tomb in Haram al-Khalil in Hebron, in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a heavy rectangular building that encloses the Cave of Machpelah that was explored in 1967. This is believed to be the cave that Abraham purchased for Sarah's burial.

Arabic Al-Khalil translates the ancient toponym Hebron as haber (friend), but more likely it relates to the Habiru who served as priests at this shrine.

Abraham's second wife was either his patrilineal cousin or niece. She resided at Beersheba which was inhabited from at least 4000 BC according to archaeological finds.The settlement that Abraham would have known was comprised of rock-hewn dwellings and a deep well that supplied fresh water to the inhabitants. This is the well from which the settlement took its name: the "well of Sheba."

Beersheba is where Abraham spent his old age.

Both Abraham and Keturah were descendants of Sheba (Gen. 10:26-30). Keturah's father was Joktan (Yaqtan) and she named her first born son Joktan, as was the custom for the patrilineal cousin bride. Joktan was Abraham's first born son, but not his heir according to the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern. Abraham complained before the Lord that he had no proper heir from Sarah, his half-sister wife.

Related reading: Language Families; The Urheimat of the Canaanite YWho Were the Canaanites?; Edom and the HoritesTwo Named Esau; The Cousin Bride's Naming Prerogative; Abraham's Complaint; Abraham a descendant of both Shem and Ham; Confirmation of Early Biblical Populations; The Genesis King Lists


Jonathan said...

I'm with you to the extent that the Hebrew letter Vaw is capable of containing a divine mystery about the connection between heaven and earth, and about the generations of the Lord. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Vav/vav.html#Advanced
But I don't get your point the names Yitzak, Yaqtan, Yisbak, Yishmael, Yacob, and Yosef. Don't all these names begin with the Hebrew letter Yodh, not Vaw?

Alice Linsley said...

Both Y and V were solar cradles. The first was the masculine sign and the second was the feminine sign - V, a glyph retained in the word vagina. Eve = Ha-Va, meaning the Birther.