Alice C. Linsley
I recently had a conversation with a man named Toshio who wanted to know how I came to the conclusion that Abraham was a descendant of Nimrod. He was not satisfied by my answers.
Toshio wants me to show him where in the Bible it says that Abraham is a descendant of Nimrod. He will not be satisfied unless I can cite chapter and verse. This highlights a common misconception about the biblical king lists/genealogies. They do not represent simple linear descent from a ruling male to a group of descendants. The kinship pattern of the biblical rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10, 11, 25 and 36 is much more complex. The complexity of the pattern indicates that we are looking at an authentic pattern. The fact that the pattern of marriage and ascendancy can be traced from Genesis to the New Testament adds weight to the theory that the biblical Hebrew married only within their lines (endogamy). Because of the practice of endogamy, Abraham must be recognized as a descendant of both Cain and Seth (whose lines intermarried), and a descendant of both Ham and Shem (whose lines intermarried).
Moving on to Toshio's concern...
Izhar/Ishar is mentioned in Numbers 16:1. It is generally held that Ishar is a male, but the name indicates a female as it is related to the Hebrew isha, meaning "woman." Other females are listed as clan chiefs in the Old Testament. Anah is listed as a Horite Hebrew chief in Genesis 36, a descendant of Seit the Horite.
Note the pattern of two wives. Note also that Ishar was the cousin bride. Only the cousin bride named her first born son after her father. The cousin bride's naming prerogative is first found among the Proto-Saharan rulers listed in Genesis 4 and 5. It is the necessary piece of information for those who wan to understand the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the biblical Hebrew.
Genesis 10 listed Nimrod as a son of Kush/Cush. He was a sent-away son like Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David and Jesus Christ. It is to the sent-away sons that God delivers a kingdom. These sons are the heroes of biblical history. Nimrod was such a son. He was not the proper heir to the throne of Kush. Nimrod and his brother Raamah (Gen. 10:6-12) established territories to the east of Kush (the Upper Nile). Raamah ruled in Southern Arabia. Nimrod built his cities in Mesopotamia. Nimrod's movement represents the Kushite migration out of the Nile Valley, something that has been confirmed by DNA studies and by evidence in other sciences. This migration of the Kushite rulers out of Africa was driven by their marriage and ascendancy pattern.
Linguistically, the language of Nimrod's kingdom - Akkadian - has close affinity to the languages of the ancient Nile Valley as has been demonstrated by Christopher Ehret's research. Ehret also recognizes that cattle were domesticated in Sudan as early as 9000 year ago. These cattle-herding Proto-Saharan or Saharo-Nubian peoples were among Abraham's ancestors.
Molecular genetics also confirms the Biblical data that points to the cradle of modern languages being between Lake Chad (Noah's homeland) and the Nile Valley. See this from the European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 26 March 2014; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2014.41
Y-chromosome E haplogroups: their distribution and implication to the origin of Afro-Asiatic languages and pastoralism
Eyoab I Gebremeskel and Muntaser E Ibrahim
Archeological and paleontological evidences point to East Africa as the likely area of early evolution of modern humans. Genetic studies also indicate that populations from the region often contain, but not exclusively, representatives of the more basal clades of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome phylogenies. Most Y-chromosome haplogroup diversity in Africa, however, is present within macrohaplogroup E that seem to have appeared 21 000–32 000 YBP somewhere between the Red Sea and Lake Chad. The combined analysis of 17 bi-allelic markers in 1214 Y chromosomes together with cultural background of 49 populations displayed in various metrics: network, multidimensional scaling, principal component analysis and neighbor-joining plots, indicate a major contribution of East African populations to the foundation of the macrohaplogroup, suggesting a diversification that predates the appearance of some cultural traits and the subsequent expansion that is more associated with the cultural and linguistic diversity witnessed today. The proto-Afro-Asiatic group carrying the E-P2 mutation may have appeared at this point in time and subsequently gave rise to the different major population groups including current speakers of the Afro-Asiatic languages and pastoralist populations.
Analysis of the Lamech segment shows that the lines of Cain and Seth intermarried, which means that Abraham is a descendant of both rulers. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried also, which means that Abraham is a descendant of both those rulers.
Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's ancestors reveals a fixed pattern for the ruler who ascends to the throne. That pattern applies to Lamech the Elder, Nahor the Elder, Terah, Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Amram, Moses and Elkanah, Samuel's father.
Here is the diagram showing the intermarriage of the lines of Ham and Shem and Nimrod's marriage to his patrilineal cousin. Note that she named their first born son after her father, following the pattern of these rulers. This is called the "cousin bride's naming prerogative." According to the marriage and ascendancy pattern of these Biblical rulers, Nimrod married a daughter of Asshur (Ash-Ur means throne of Ur). She would have been his second wife and this marriage took place shortly before he ascended to the throne of his father. His father was likely Sargon I. They were great kingdom builders of the ancient world.
Toshia's second concern was that I cannot cite chapter and verse that says Nimrod married the daughter of Asshur. He is what we might call a Bible "literalist" who only accepts as true what is explicitly stated. Kinship analysis means nothing to him. Biblical anthropology offers him nothing.
For those who wish to delve deeper into the text, the reconstructed kinship pattern of the biblical Hebrew rulers this based on the marriage and ascendancy pattern found in the Bible. As a scientist, I have to go by the best data available, especially when there is a consistent repetition of the marriage and ascendancy pattern throughout the Bible. I apply the tools of cultural anthropology to the Biblical texts. Biblical anthropology is a new branch of anthropology, but it is based on reliable methods and principles.
Science require observation of details and record keeping, and there is always the possibility that the next experiment might not provide the same results or conform to the hypothesis as did earlier experiments.
This radical doubt poses a problem for scientists. It means that the scientific method cannot be said to ascertain beyond doubt. This is Hume's problem of induction. Inductive methods predict or infer and are essential in scientific reasoning. One cannot assume that something is immutable and necessary because it has always or usually been reliable in the past. Though 20 experiments produce the same results, we have no certainty that the results will be the same after experiments 21, or 32 or 45. Though the sun has risen daily since the founding of our solar system, we have no certainty that it will always do so.
In 1953, Richard Rudner published “The Scientist qua Scientist Makes Value Judgments,” in which he argued that since no hypothesis is ever completely verified, in accepting a hypothesis the scientist must make the decision that the evidence is sufficiently strong to warrant the acceptance of the hypothesis. The problem of induction which David Hume framed so precisely is really a problem of decision about which action to take, not proof of the fallibility of science in general.
I assure my readers and Toshio that I have not tried to impose on the text something that is not there. My method is to begin with the Biblical text, trusting that it is reliable and truthful. Indeed, that is my working hypothesis.
Related reading: Horned Altars and Horned Sacred Vessels; Genesis in Anthropological Perspective; Kushite Kings and the Kingdom of God; Nimrod Was a Nilo-Saharan Ruler; The Kushite Marriage Pattern Drove the Kushite Expansion; The Genesis King Lists; DNA Research Confirms Kushite Migration; The Descendants of Kain and Seth; The Nubian Context of YHWH; Solving the Ainu Mystery