Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Mighty Men of Old


Alice C. Linsley

The "mighty men of old" were a caste of rulers who spread across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion, establishing kingdoms for themselves. They were served by royal warriors, priests, and sages. In ancient texts the ruler-priest caste is known as "Habiru," and the rulers were associated with the seven visible planets. This is evident in the Luo (Nilo-Saharan) word for seven:  abiriyo. The word abir is a cognate of habiru, and Y is a solar symbol, as in the names of Habiru (Hebrew) rulers: Yaktan, Yishmael, Yitzak, Yosef, Yetro, Yeshua, etc.

Among the Habiru there were many peoples, including the Shasu, the Ainu and the Anakim. The last two words are related. Anak and his people the Anakim dwelt in the region of Hebron, where Sarah resided. They are associated with the Nephilim (Num. 13:33), with the Raphaim (Deut. 2:10) and with the Calebites (Josh.15:13). Supposedly, Caleb drove the Anakim out of the region, but there is much evidence that they remained well established in Canaan after the time of Caleb. Other related peoples are the Zumim and the Emim. Shrine cities, such as Hazor, were governed by Habiru, so the attempts of Joshua and Caleb to take these settlements indicates a power struggle between kinsmen rather than strangers.

The Anakim and the Nephilim are linked to the giants, the "sons" of God, and the "powerful ones of old" in Genesis 6:1-4. The word npyl (nephil) in Aramaic means giant or great one and is equivalent to nfy in Arabic, meaning hunter. It is said concerning Nimrod that he was a mighty hunter or a mighty man before the Lord.

The clue to understanding Genesis 6 is the word gibbor-iym (powerful ones). This passage is speaking about ancient rulers who were regarded as the "sons of the gods" or deified kings (elohiym). The gibbor-iym, also designated elohiym (deified rulers), comprise the divine council spoken of in Genesis. This is a common theme in Africa, especially among the Buganda of Uganda, the Yoruba, the ancient Kushites and the ancient Egyptians. The idea spread across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion.

Anak's father was Arba. Hebron was called Kiriath-Arba. This suggests that he belonged to a larger group known as the Ar clans. They were royal scribes. Dr. Catherine Acholonu connects the Ar of Canaan to the Aro of Nigeria. She writes, "In Nigeria the caste under reference is the Ar/Aro caste of Igbo Eri priest-kings, who were highly militarized in their philosophy."

Genesis 10 speaks of the Ar who controlled the Red Sea and the Mediterranean kingdoms of Tyre and Arvad. This appears to be a 3-clan confederation, consisting of Ar, Arvd and Arkt. The last two clans are called “Arvadites” and “Arkites” in Genesis 10:15-18.
Nok figurine

Apparently, the Anakim were taller than the general Canaanite population and probably wore necklaces. Some believe that the term anak comes from the Hebrew root Anak 'nq (anaq) which means necklace. The word appears in the Song of Solomon 4:9 and Judges 8:26. As a verb, anaq means to serve as a necklace (Ps. 73:6) or figuratively to bestow riches upon someone (Deut. 15:14). Hebrew scholars take the word Anak to be a reference to "people with necklaces" or 'long-necked people."

It is more likely, however, that the term anak is of Nilotic origin. Among the Nilotic Bisa, a small population of people who conform to the older ways, light skin cattle are called ánaku, which means "to bleach in the sun." This is probably the origin of the Biblical term Anakim for Abraham’s Ainu ancestors who had a lighter skin. The singular form of the word is ának. (Eric Ten Raa’s The Couth and the Uncouth: Ethnic, Social, and Linguistic Divisions among the Sandawe of Central Tanzania, p. 148)

Excavations in the region of Edom in Jordan have turned up graves containing necklaces. The Edomite shrine city of Petra reflects the pillared architecture of the Horite shrines of the Nile, and Obodas, the first ruler of Petra, took his name from the Edo/Edomite name for ruler which is Oba. Linguist Helene Longpre notes that Demotic Egyptian (7th-5th BC) and Nabatean Aramaic closely correspond to Meroitic or Old Nubian. (Longpre, "Investigation of the Ancient Meroitic Writing System", Rhode Island College, 1999.)

Lists of place names in the Nubian temples of Soleb and Amara West record six toponyms located in “the land of Shasu.” One of the six is found on a monument of Ramesses II that claims he “has plundered the Shasu-land, captured the mountain of Seir” in Edom; a 19th Dynasty letter mentions “the Shasu-tribes of Edom”; Ramesses III declares that he has “destroyed the Seirites among the tribes of the Shasu.” The Egyptians regarded the Shasu as a prominent part of the Edomite population. (Read more here.)


Social organization of the Anakim

The Anakim were organized into three-clan confederations as were many other groups living in Canaan. The three Anakim clans were named for the three highest ranked sons of Anak whose names are Sheshai (Shasu), Ahiman and Talmai (Josh.15:14).

Three-clan Horite confederations included Uz, Huz and Buz and Magog Og and Gog.

Other three-clan confederations listed in Scripture include:

Cain  Abel  Seth (Gen. 4-5)
Ham  Japeth  Shem (Gen. 5-9)
Og  Gog  Magog (Gen. 10; Nu. 21:33)
Haran  Nahor  Abraham (Gen. 11-12)
Ishmael/Yishmael  Joktan/Yaqtan  Isaac/Yitzak (Gen. 16, 21, 25)
Shelah  Perez  Zerah (Nu. 26:20)
Jeush  Jalam  Korah (Gen. 36: 4-18)
Korah  Moses  Aaron (Ex. and Nu.)
Dedan  Tema  Buz (Jer. 25)

In Canaan, the 3-clan Jebusite confederation consisted of Sheba, Jebu and Joktan.

Among the Sara of Chad, Sudan and Somalia the confederation is comprised of the qir ka, the qin ka, and the qel ka. The Sara are descendants of the Sao, an earlier three-clan confederation of warriors and kingdom builders. According to legend, there were giants among them. This connects the Anakim to Sara, Abraham's half-sister wife, who lived in Hebron.

Martin Noth, in his seminal work "The Scheme of the Twelve Tribes of Israel" (1930), showed that the twelve tribes of Israel did not exist prior to the covenant assembly at Shechem described in the book of Joshua. It appears that the older pattern of social organization involved three clans.


Related reading:  The Clans of ArThree-Clan Confederations to Twelve-Clan Confederations; The Nubian Context of YHWHRecovering the African Background of Genesis; Boats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans; Kushite Kings and the Kingdom of God

3 comments:

AlDahir said...

The snake association of all of these constellations referred to in Biblical texts is apparent. Indigenous serpent worship mingled with the worship of similar deities of the occupiers, both Semitic, as the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and non Semitic as the Persians, Greeks and Romans. The Greeks occupied Palestine from 330 BCE to 63 BCE at which time the Romans, who were greatly influenced by Greek culture, overtook the occupation. So, it is not surprising that the culture of the occupiers became imbedded into the native cultures they occupied. The Aramean constellation Nephila became associated with the Greek demigod Orion and the Biblical god YHWH was associated with the constellation Draco, the serpent who guarded the astral tree of life (constellation Ursa Minor).

Draco was known in Greek mythology as Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were the property of the Greek queen of the gods, Hera. The golden apples, which grew in this garden, imparted immortality to anyone who consumed them; the same as the tree of life imparted immortality to the residents of Eden. Also, Hercules, known as Melqart to the Tyreans, is accredited with strangling two snakes who were, most likely, the constellations Serpens and Hydra. Orion, who is Osiris in Egyptian mythology, seems to have been associated with the equatorial pole star AthThuban or the snake which was located in Draco’s tail. The constellation Ophiuchus, known as Asclepius to the Greeks, was associated with a snake entwined staff which is very reminiscent of the nehushtan or caduceus with magical healing powers that Moses carried on the exodus (Numbers 28:8,9). The nehushtan was supposed to have magical healing powers much like the Sumerian snake god, Ningizzida who, like Asclepius, was associated with the caduceus. The nehushtan was destroyed by the Judean King Hezekiah because the Hebrews worshiped it as an idol (2 K 18:4).

From the above evidence, it seems that a good part of Biblical mythology was written as a reaction to the snake cults as well as the astral cults that were a very prevalent part of the early Hebrew religion. Another snake deity of Babylonian/Akkadian origin, Tiamat, a river goddess, became Leviathan, who like YHWH, was a fire breathing serpent according to Job 41. Tiamat/Leviathan was a water serpent who may also have ended up in the sky as another constellation swimming in the great heavenly ocean. The ancient Egyptians worshiped the constellation Sobek (the handle of the Big Dipper or Ursa Major) as one of their creator gods. Sobek was the crocodile god who crawled out of the watery chaos or ‘nun’ to create creation much as YHWH created creation from the dark waters in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

Astral cults and snake cults seem to be intricately intertwined in Biblical mythology. The Biblical authors attempted to distance the Hebrews from their mythological astral ancestry by inventing an earth enveloping flood which drowned the Nephilim or descendants of the astral god, Nephila. Perhaps not all succumbed to the deluge, as these same authors imply that the wives of 2 of Noah’s sons, Ham and Japhath, were surviving descendants of the Nephilim. The authors of the Biblical texts label both the Hamitic people and the offspring of Japhath as ‘goyim’ or non-Hebrews.

AlDahir said...

The cult of the serpent was celebrated throughout Israel and later Judea. The Beersheba altar, where YHWH is carved as a serpent, the nehushtan, Moses’ brass serpent, the Galilean Migdal synagogue stone with its carving of snakes coiled around trees and an ouroboros surrounding the flower of life as well as the many ophic artifacts found throughout this land indicate wide spread snake cults which were present even in the time Jesus walked the earth as is indicated by the Galilean Migdal stone. These snake cults were so embedded into the religion of the area that the Masoretes left them as part of the texts that Jews and Christians honor as ‘the word of YHWH’ who, according to Psalm 18, roared like thunder while hail, glowing coals and flames blasted from his nostrils. YHWH was indeed a formidable astral dragon who attempted to destroy the Nephilim, the children of the god Nephila, in an earth enveloping flood. Nevertheless, the blood of this astral god lingered in the descendants of Ham and Japhath, which caused the tainted bloodline of these offspring to be forever labeled as ‘goyim’ and to be forever excluded from the congregation of YHWH. The ban lasted until the Hebrew religion absorbed the religious beliefs and practices of their non-Semitic occupiers; the Persians, Greeks and Romans. Under Roman occupation, Hellenized Hebrews like Paul of Tarsus, thought it expedient to include Nephila’s descendants into the congregation of YHWH. To accomplish this feat, Paul elevated Jesus to the status of a demigod.

Paul morphed Jesus into a Promethian figure who, like the Titan Prometheus, offered himself as a bloody sacrifice to benefit humanity. Under the influence of Greco-Roman mythology, the goyim were thus cleansed of their ‘Nephilim’ heritage and became eligible for inclusion into the congregation of YHWH; at least according to the followers of Pauline doctrine aka Christians. Those racial purists who claim Jewish heritage, however, insist that the goyim offspring of Nephila remain excluded and that the ‘racially’ untainted Jew must continue to segregate himslef/herself from the goyim. This attitude has led these Jews to build walls of segregation and to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its native inhabitants. The irony is that these racial purists have proven, through DNA testing, to be goyim who originated from the southern Russian Steppes. Meanwhile, the result of this same DNA sampling among Palestinians has demonstrated that the Palestinians are the original Hebrews. So the irony is that Nephila’s offspring, the goyim, rule Palestine by executing and ethnically cleansing the original Hebrew population that converted to Islam in the 7th Century. The two astral gods, YHWH and Nephila are locked in a strange conflict. The ruling goyim have claimed descent from the Yahwists (Hebrew worshipers of YHWH) and the former Yahwists are now Muslims. And so, Biblical mythology continues to entangle the Middle East in the coils of the fire breathing astral serpent, YHWH.

Alice Linsley said...

Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors were great observers of the constellations and stars. Plato records that the Nilotes had been recording astronomical information for 10,000 years. The Habiru designed their temples so that they were aligned with the solar arc. This is because they recognized that the Sun alone rules in heaven and over the Earth, giving light, warm and generating life.