Monday, April 13, 2015

The Barren and Grieving Rejoice

Alice C. Linsley

So Sarah laughed to herself, saying,“After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

This narrative comes after the arrival of the Three Person God (Baal Shalisha) before the destruction of Sodom (Gen. 18). Sara laughed when she heard that she would bring forth a son in her old age. Her laughter proceeds from the disbelief of a woman past child bearing years and is a natural response. The Lord's promise caused Abraham to laugh as well.

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear a child? (Gen. 17:17)

Sarah denied laughing because she was afraid. But the Lord presented her with the truth: "No, but you did laugh." Is it any wonder that the announcement of a promised son should make this old lady laugh? She had long before given up hope that she would bring forth Abraham's proper heir. Sarah's barren state would have been even more unbearable after Abraham took his second wife. Keturah bore Abraham six sons. Here we find echoes of the Rachel-Leah conflict, and the Hannah-Penninah conflict.

Abraham had other sons by Keturah, his cousin wife and by two concubines. However, none of these were his proper heir. The proper heir of a Horite ruler was the first born son of his half-sister wife, in this case, Sara. This is why Abraham complained to the Lord about not having a proper heir. This is the nature of Abraham's complaint, and one that the Lord God understood. Abraham was a ruler and the matter of a heir is especially important for the ruler. Isaac was Abraham's proper heir and he ruled over Abraham's territory in Edom.

When Isaac was born, Sara laughed again (Gen. 21:6). The basic sense of the verb that appears in the Hebrew is “to laugh.” The initial צְחֹק (in a rare participial form) refers to Sara's joyful laughter upon giving birth to a son. There is a suggestion that the word Sara is related to the African word saran, meaning joy. It may also be related to the word dara/daura, meaning laughter. The verb to laugh in the Chadic Hausa is dara. Dara and Sara may be regarded as cognates since the letters d and s are interchangeable in many African languages and in Dravidian.


The message of the promised son came to Sarah indirectly. She overheard this as part of a conversation between the divine visitors and her husband. Sara was not the direct recipient of the message. One the other hand, the Virgin Mary received the announcement of the Promised Son directly from the Angel Gabriel.

Announcements about promised sons appear throughout the Bible. Many of these center on the person of David. The Akkadian form of David is Da-odu, which corresponds to the Yoruba Daw-odu. Da means ruler and Odu refers to Edom. David had Edomite blood. He was a descendant of the Horite rulers to whom God first made the promise of the divine Son who would crush the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). 

David was a descendant of the Horite rulers of Edom, one of whom was Abraham. Abraham's territory extended on a north-south axis between Hebron and Beersheba, and on an east-west axis between Engedi and Gerar. Note that both Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) are in Idumea. Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in the region the Greeks called Idumea.

Hebron was called Kiriath-Arba. This suggests that this territory belonged to the Ar clans. Genesis 10 speaks of the Ar rulers of Tyre and Arvad. There 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. The late Dr. Catherine Acholonu connected the Ar of Canaan to the Aro of Nigeria. She wrote, "In Nigeria the caste under reference is the Ar/Aro caste of Igbo Eri priest-kings, who were highly militarized in their philosophy."

The Saharan Sara

The Sara constitute the largest people group in Chad. They make up to 30% of Chad's population. About a sixth of them are Christians and live in southern Chad. The Sara people include the Ngambaye, Mbaye, and Goulaye.

Sara society is organized by patrilineal descent from a common male ancestor. There is a 3-clan confederation such as characterizes Abraham's people. The qir ka are the eastern Sara, the qin ka are those living in central Chad, and the qel ka are the western groups. The Sara appear to be the descendants of an earlier 3-tribe confederation of warriors and kingdom builders. According to legend, there were giants among them. Were these the elohiym (deified rulers) who comprised the divine council spoken of in Genesis?

In ancient Chad and other parts of the green Sahara lived the Ariwa. They called their queen "Saraunia" and the word Sara is related to the word Daura. The Daura people preceded the Ariwa who are their grandsons. The Ar clans were known for keeping commercial records, and for their skill in metal and stone work. Jesus' kinsman Joseph was of the Ar line of Matthew. That is why he was called Joseph Ar-Mathea. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and an expert in mining and tomb construction. It was from Joseph's personal tomb that Jesus Christ rose and was received with great rejoicing and wonder as the Living Lord.


DManA said...

When, and why did the Israelites abandon the Horite rulers pattern in favor of the Judges?

Alice Linsley said...

They didn't abandon the pattern. To be a high ranked member of the Sanhedrin, a man had to prove his ancestry to be of the Horite priest lines.

Deborah and Huldah were female judges in Israel and of the Horite priestly lines. However, women never served as priests.

When it came to male rulers, they sometimes served as priests and judges, but not so for women. The offices of priest, judge, and ruler were not always distinct offices. Kain, Noah, Job, Abraham and Jacob built altars to offer sacrifices in the role of ruler-priests.

When it comes to the book of Judges, we find a fascinating tension between the old ways of local shrines and the Deuteronomist Historian's insistence on centralization of worship in Jerusalem.

DManA said...

Certainly the pattern was broken when Saul was made king. No?

Alice Linsley said...

Saul was NOT God's choice. He was a political appointee. Ever looked into Saul's background? His family were long-time residents of Gibeah where homosex, rape, and sexual assault was common. The men of Gibeah were murdered by their own kinsmen. Later this act weighed heavy on the consciences of the Hebrew leaders and they eased their consciences by selecting Saul to be their king, against Samuel's wise counsel.

Samuel's father was Elkanah, a Horite priest. He had two wives: Hannah and Penninah.

DManA said...

1 Samuel 9:17
When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”

It seems there was something of a revolt. People did not want Samuel's sons to rule. Samuel went along with it so he must have at least tacitly agreed with them about his sons.

Samuel warned the people how bad it was going to be living under a king.

Alice Linsley said...

At this time there were many shrine towns and each had its own ruler. The people were to have only YHWH as their king. Jerusalem was under the Jebusites. They also knew this name for God - Yah. David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite. Threshing floors were sacred places. See this:

Samuel's father ruled in Ramah, a sacred shrine. Ramah has a long association with prophets; Samuel being one of the greatest. Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who judged from her tamar (date nut palm). Her tree was between “Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim." (Judges 4:4-6) Ramah and Bethel are often linked in Scripture. Beth-el means "House of God" and designates a shrine.

In the Masoretic Text, Samuel's city is called hara-matatyim zophim. (The Anchor Bible Commentary on I Samuel by P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., p. 51) This means that Samuel's father was a priest of the Horite line of Matthew (or Mattai/Mattan/Mathea). Hara-matatyim is also the priestly line of Joseph of Ar-mathea, one of Jesus' relatives, and the member of the Sanhedrin who requested Jesus' body for burial. This is also the line of the Virgin Mary.

DManA said...

That threshing flow always baffled me. It's on top of a mountain. Why would people drag grain to the top of the mountain to thresh.

Also, how far away is the nearest grain fields?

J Eppinga said...

I don't know about those mountains. They might be what we called back in Montana, 'foothills.' On the mountains I knew, there was a lot of wind. Perhaps the threshing floor was built on the mountain to take advantage of the wind for blowing off the chaff in the separation process. (?)

Alice Linsley said...

Exactly, Jay!

These are the high windy places. The places of sacred encounters in the Bible. Not mountain peaks, necessarily.

The Horites were known to prefer the "hill country" (Gen. 14:6), but they grew their grain in the valleys below. The threshing floors were near where they lived and stored their grain.

J Eppinga said...

That makes sense.

There is almost a spiritual quality to mountains, that is barely described by the Suessism, 'wonderful-awful.'

DManA said...

How powerful were the Horite rulers? Were they absolute dictators in their territory or something less?

Alice Linsley said...

The Horites pattern of rule was remarkable in so many ways. There was a hierarchy of authority. The highest ranked were the first born sons of the half-sister wives. Men like Isaac. The first born son of the patrilineal cousin bride exercised influence as a prime minister in his maternal grandfather's territory. His authority was not as great at the chief ruler, however, who would have been the first born son of his grandfather's half-sister wife.

Sons who were not the first born were sent away and expected to establish their own kingdoms by cunning, battle, with the Lord's help. Abraham is one of these sent-away sons.

The pattern of sending away sons to establish themselves in other regions is what drove the expansion out of the Nile Valley. The Horites spread their worldview and religious beliefs/practices very widely in the ancient world. No single ruler was that great, but as a caste of warrior-priests they left a lasting imprint from the Nile Valley to the Indus Valley and to Southern China.

J Eppinga said...

RE: "No single ruler was that great,"
In that case, I take it that the quality of living for the Rank and File within any given Horite fiefdom was much better than it would have been under a "great" ruler somewhere else.
I keep wondering a few things about the Horites...
1) Isn't the whole, marry your half-sister thing, ill-advised from a genetic point of view? Particularly if it's done for successive generations? I mean, what happens to people in that one line characterized by everyone having exactly three grandparents? I won't say, 'ew,' but um, Ew.
2) Does the sent-son thing impact other cultures? There is a striking similarity between this and how my father's family (very old-school, mainland European) handled inheritance. They didn't leave the sent-sons high-and dry - they prepared them very well for life. But the firstborn was given a LOT.
At the same time, it is my understanding that some Europeans don't do this - that they pick out a child that they believe will succeed and bequeath the lion's share of their estate to that child. The rest might be left high and dry (particularly if they are n'r-do-wells), or they might not be.
3) Esau's progeny become wise. This surprises me, since Esau did something not only unwise, but that demonstrates a complete lack of faith. If the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, might we infer from Edom's considerable wisdom that Esau became wise in his middle-age? I mean, some of us learn from other's mistakes, and some learn by making mistakes.
4) Are the descendants of Horites self-aware enough to recognize their long separated kinsman, when they brush up against them? Does this happen before the Internet Age? Or has it always been like two ships passing in the night for them?
5) When does a Horite line, for all practical intents and purposes, either cease to exist or become such an abstraction that it may be considered not to exist? I don't believe that genetic-death is the only means for this to occur, particularly when societies are mobile (or nomadic). There seems to be a point when the comprehensiveness of the invitation list to a family reunion, reaches saturation. Three or four generations might be mainstays, but not fifty. Capice?

J Eppinga said...

(Forgot one)

6) Statistically, there is a 50/50 chance that a child will be born male. Yet, with a system that encourages multiple wives, statistically .. there should be a group of men left, 'odd man out.'

How did the typical Horite patriarch handle these sorts of situations?

Alice Linsley said...

This is before the time of empires.

The Horite lines are the priestly divisions of Israel and they continued to practice endogamy up to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. After that time, their way of life was disrupted, but among the members of the Sanhedrin who relocated to Jamnia, the practice continued.

The first bride was a half-sister. The man and his half-sister had the same father, but different mothers. There is some evidence that this close breeding led to eye problems and abnormalities in limbs, but the genetic pool appears to have been wide enough that this was not a chronic problem. These folks were experts in animal husbandry and understood a great deal about breeding. Given that marriages were arranged, it seems likely that second wives were chosen with such concerns in mind.

The practice of sending away sons is found among peoples of Europe, especially those in the R1b haplogroup.

There are two named Esau in the Bible. Both are associated with the Horites of Edom. Edom is named as an ancient seat of wisdom in Jeremiah 49. See this:

Esau is Isa, a variant of the name Yeshua/Jesus. Arabic-speaking Muslims refer to Jesus as ʿĪsā, while Arabic-speaking Christians refer to Jesus as Yasūʿ (يسوع).

Esau forgives his brother Jacob who stole his birthright. He greets him with joy upon his return from Paddan-Aram, just as the Father received back his prodigal son.

Islam and Judaism bolster their narratives in such a way that the historical, linguistic, and genetic kinship of the Joktanite/Kedarite clans and the Habiru/Hebrew clans is obfuscated. It is hoped that Biblical Anthropology can clarify their kinship with some precision.

DManA said...

----- since Esau did something not only unwise, but that demonstrates a complete lack of faith. ------

Are you talking about trading trading his birthright for a bowl of soup?

It was such an outrageous demand by Jacob that I wonder if Esau didn't consider it a serious offer.

Their father didn't recognize the "transaction" since on his death bed he thought he was blessing Esau.