Saturday, September 14, 2013

Were the Shasu related to Moses?

Alice C. Linsley

It is evident from study of the tetragrammaton YHWH in Biblical references that the giving of the Divine Name at the burning bush does not represent a new development. It represents reaffirmation of received tradition from the Horim or Horites. Hagar the Egyptian recognizes her angelic helper as the angel of YHWH (Gen. 16:7). In Genesis 12:7, Abraham builds the altar at Shechem and offers sacrifice there. This was dedicated to YHWH. He bargains with YHWH over the fate of Sodom (Gen.18:1).  Abraham utters the Divine Name twice, in Genesis 24:3 and 24:7. In the latter instance he recognizes "YHWH Elohim" as the one who called him out of Mesopotamia. In Genesis Abraham's servant invokes the help of YHWH no less than ten times in his quest for Isaac's cousin bride.

Two hieroglyphic references dating to the New Kingdom (1550 BC–c. 1069) refer to “the land of the Shasu of YHWH.” These are the oldest references to YHWH outside the Bible. The "Shasu of Yhw" is found on inscriptions from the Nubian temples of Soleb and Amara West, and corresponds precisely to the tetragrammaton.

Reproduction of the hieroglyphic inscription of YHWH dated to 1400 BC.
Discovered in the temple at Soleb (Nubia) built by the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Credit: Benny Bonte
The Horites originated in the Nile Valley. One of the oldest Horite temples was built at Nekhen in modern Sudan. At that time, around 4000 BC, the city set on the banks of the Nile. Originally the shrine was probably at water's edge, but later it was moved to high ground. The Horites are the oldest known caste of priests. They are later identified as ethnically Kushite.

Shasu may be a variant of Saka, another word for Horite royal priests among the Kushites. As they dispersed out of Africa, they spread the Proto-Gospel across the vast Afro-Asiatic Dominion. The Matsya Purana claims that the Saka ruled the ancient world for 7000 years.

The Shasu are definitively connected to the Horites of Seir in Edom (modern Jordan). The Horites occupied Edom at least as early as 2000 BC. Lists of place names in Nubian temples of Soleb and Amara West record six toponyms located in “the land of Shasu.” A monument of Ramesses II claims that he “has plundered the Shasu-land, captured the mountain of Seir” in Edom; a 19th Dynasty letter mentions “the Shasu-tribes of Edom” and Ramesses III declares that he has “destroyed the Seirites among the tribes of the Shasu.” Clearly, the Egyptians regarded the Shasu as a prominent part of the Edomite population which is described in Genesis 36.

Association with Moses the Horite

The Divine Name is given at Mount Horeb, a mountain sacred to the Midianites. The narrative starts with Moses shepherding the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and ends with the theophany of the burning bush (Ex. 3:14) in which God declares from the bush, "I am that I am" (Ehye aser ehye). The entire narrative is limited to the location of this mountain sacred to the Horites living in that region, one of them being Moses' father-in-law Jethro. His ruler-priest status is designated by the spelling of his name with the initial solar symbol: Yetro. Jethro is a descendant of Abraham by his cousin wife Keturah.

Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy structure of Moses' family reveals the distinctive pattern of the Horite ruler-priest caste. Moses is a direct descendant of Seir the Horite who ruled in Edom.

It is evident that the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern characterizes the great men of the Bible, including Samuel, Methuselah, Abraham, and Moses. The oldest layers of the Hebrew Scriptures appear to be a record of Horite rule in the ancient world.


Jason said...

Do you think there is any connection between "Shasu" and Shashamane, Ethiopia?

Alice Linsley said...

Very likely, Jason. Do the research and let me know.

Sha-sham-ane would be my guess. Shams means "sun" in Arabic and ane may refer to the Nilotic Anu.

Jason said...

Interesting - I was thinking of Shas-ham-ane, as in "Shasu," "Ham," but completely missed the "Anu" and was wondering how it could tie in. I'll see what I can dig up. Thank you Alice!

Alice Linsley said...

Reporting on his second expedition to Abydos (1896-1897), Abbe Émile Amélineau had this to say about Abraham's Anu ancestors: "These Anu were agricultural people, raising cattle on a large scale along the Nile, shutting themselves up in walled cities for defensive purposes. To this people we can attribute, without fear of error, the most ancient Egyptian books, The Book of the Dead and the Texts of the Pyramids, consequently, all the myths or religious teachings. I would add almost all the philosophical systems then known and still called Egyptian. They evidently knew the crafts necessary for any civilization and were familiar with the tools those trades required. They knew how to use metals, at least elementary metals. They made the earliest attempts at writing, for the whole Egyptian tradition attributes this art to Thoth, the great Hermes an Anu like Osiris, who is called Onian in Chapter XV of The Book of the Dead and in the Texts of the Pyramids.”