Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Three-Clan Confederations of the Bible

4000 year Egyptian rope coils
made using three strands 
Alice C. Linsley

There are many three-clan confederations in the Bible. In I Chronicles some are identified with the "priestly caste" responsible for mixing fragrant ointment (I Chronicles 9:30). In I Chronicles 9 we find that Jeiel of Gibeon had three sons: Abdon, Mikloth, and Ner. Ner was King Saul's paternal grandfather.

There is great strength in the cooperation of three clans that share a common ancestry. Consider rope physics, something well known to the biblical Hebrew.  Three-clan confederations were kinship based. The loyalty of 3-brother patrilinage made them strong confederations. The Anakim, for example, were organized into three-clan confederations. The three Anakim clans were named for the three highest ranked sons of Anak. Their names are Sheshai (Shasu), Ahiman and Talmai (Josh.15:14). The Shasu were devotees of YHWH before the time of Moses.

The twelve-tribe organization found in the Old Testament appears to have developed from the earlier three-clan confederations of the Habiru/Hebrew.

In his seminal work "The Scheme of the Twelve Tribes of Israel" (1930), Martin Noth showed that the Twelve Tribes of Israel did not exist prior to the covenant assembly at Shechem described in the book of Joshua. The Joshua passage shares with the Deuteronomist Historian a common concern with idolatry and the centralization of worship in Jerusalem. Yet, both place the covenant at Shechem at the location where God appeared to Abraham in Three Persons (Gen. 18). Here in reference to the Godhead, the number three speaks of oneness or unity. Likely, the twelve-clan confederation is a linking of four three-clan sets, and a natural development as the Hebrew populations grew and needed additional layers of organization for defense and for self-governance.

The introduction of this twelve-tribe theme is late and reflects the twelve lunar phases. The twelve-tribe organization relates to the month in which the various divisions of Hebrew warriors were to perform their service to the King. This is evident in Chronicles 27:1-15:

1 As for the sons of Israel by their number, the heads of the paternal houses and the chiefs of the thousands and of the hundreds and their officers that were ministering to the king in every matter of the divisions of those that came in and that went out month by month for all the months of the year, each division was 24,000.

2 Over the first division of the first month there was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel, and in his division there were 24,000.

3 Some of the sons of Perez the head of all the chiefs of the service groups were for the first month.
4 And over the division of the second month there was Dodai the Ahohite with his division, and Mikloth was the leader, and in his division there were 24,000.

5 The chief of the 3rd service group for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the chief priest, and in his division there were 24,000.

6 This Benaiah was a mighty man of the 30 and over the 30; and [over] his division there was Ammizabad his son.

7 The 4th for the 4th month was Asahel, Joab's brother, and Zebadiah his son after him, and in his division there were 24,000.

8 The 5th chief for the 5th month was Shamhuth the Izrahite, and in his division there were 24,000.

9 The 6th for the 6th month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, and in his division there were 24,000.

10 The 7th for the 7th month was Helez the Pelonite of the sons of Ephraim, and in his division there were 24,000.

11 The 8th for the 8th month was Sibbecai the Hushathite of the Zerahites, and in his division there were 24,000.

12 The 9th for the 9th month was Abi-ezer the Anathothite of the Benjaminites, and in his division there were 24,000.

13 The 10th for the 10th month was Maharai the Netophathite of the Zerahites, and in his division there were 24,000.

14 The 11th for the 11th month was Benaiah the Pirathonite of the sons of Ephraim, and in his division there were 24,000.

15 The 12th for the 12th month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel, and in his division there were 24,000

The older three-clan confederations likewise served for mutual defense and the provision of priestly and levitical service in Jerusalem. This organization was based on the kinship of three sons. This is evident in 1 Chronicles 23:6-26:

6 David separated the Levites into divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

7 Belonging to the Gershonites: Ladan and Shimei.

8 The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the first, Zetham and Joel—three in all.

9 The sons of Shimei: Shelomoth, Haziel and Haran—three in all.

These were the heads of the families of Ladan.

10 And the sons of Shimei: Jahath, Ziza, Jeush and Beriah.

These were the sons of Shimei—four in all.

11 Jahath was the first and Ziza the second, but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons; so they were counted as one family with one assignment.

12 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel—four in all.

13 The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses [Korah is not listed as he died in the wilderness.]

Aaron was set apart, he and his descendants forever, to consecrate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices before the Lord, to minister before him and to pronounce blessings in his name forever. 

14 The sons of Moses the man of God were counted as part of the tribe of Levi.

15 The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer.

16 The descendants of Gershom: Shubael was the first.

17 The descendants of Eliezer: Rehabiah was the first. Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very numerous.

18 The sons of Izhar: Shelomith was the first.

19 The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third and Jekameam the fourth.

20 The sons of Uzziel: Micah the first and Ishiah the second.

21 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.

The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish.

22 Eleazar died without having sons: he had only daughters. Their cousins, the sons of Kish, married them.

23 The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder and Jerimoth—three in all.

24 These were the descendants of Levi by their families—the heads of families as they were registered under their names and counted individually, that is, the workers twenty years old or more who served in the temple of the Lord. 

25 For David had said, “Since the Lord, the God of Israel, has granted rest to his people and has come to dwell in Jerusalem forever, 

26 the Levites no longer need to carry the tabernacle or any of the articles used in its service.”

The organization of patriarchal lines into tribes of twelve sons or chiefs does not always hold up under close investigation because the lines of the brothers intermarried. The lines of Cain and Seth intermarried. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried. The lines of Abraham and Nahor intermarried as Isaac's wife was his patrilineal cousin or niece who was fetched from Nahor's family in Padan-Aram. 

We see the twelve-tribe organization in Genesis 22:20-24: Nahor, Abraham's older brother, was the progenitor of twelve Aramean tribes through his twelve sons, of whom eight were born to him by Milcah and four by Reumah.

Likewise, there are twelve clans ascribed to Ishmael in Genesis 25:13-16. Ishmael, Abraham's son by an Egyptian concubine, was the progenitor of twelve Nilo-Nabatean tribes: "Nebajoth; Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations."

Jacob, a son of Isaac, was the progenitor of twelve Israelite tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebuln, Dan, Naphati, Gad, Asshur, Joseph and Ben-Jamin. There is discrepancy on the number of Israelite tribes. Some count Dinah's line and some count Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manassah.

Also there is an attempt to organize Esau into a twelve-tribe confederation in Genesis 36:40, but only eleven chiefs are listed, and two are women: Anah and Oholibamah. Genesis 36:24 lists Anah as a ‘son’ of Zibeon and her daughter Oholibamah is listed as an Edomite chief in Genesis 36:41. The attempt fails also because there are two named Esau. Esau the Elder was the father of Eliphaz. Esau the Younger had two wives. Basemath who bore Reuel, and Oholibamah who bore Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah (Genesis 36:1-9). These were the people of Seir, the Horite. They were Horite clans. Their organization appears to be that of three-clans, not twelve-tribes.

There is more evidence in the Bible for the three-clan organization than for the twelve-tribe organization. Often the rulers' names begin with Y, a solar cradle indicating divine appointment. Abraham's sons Yitzak (Isaac), Yishbak (Ishbak) and Yishmael (Ishmael) are an example. Here are some of the three-clan confederations listed in Scripture:

Cain Abel Seth (Gen. 4-5)
Ham Japheth Shem (Gen. 5-9)
Uz, Huz and Buz (Gen. 22; Gen. 36:28)
Magog Og and Gog (Gen. 10 and Nu. 21:33)
Haran Nahor Abraham (Gen. 11-12)
Yishmael Yaqtan Yitzak (Gen. 16, 21, and 25)
Jeush Jalam Korah (Gen. 36: 4-18)
Jimnah, Jishvah and Jishvi (Gen. 46:17)
Korah Moses Aaron (Ex. and Nu.)
Dedan Tema Buz (Jeremiah 25)

The Jebusite confederation is Yoruba, Egba and Ketu. In Canaan, the three-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-tribe confederation of warriors and kingdom builders. According to legend, there were "giants" (Anakim/Anakh) among them. Some of the Anakh made their way to Southern Europe and even the British Isles.

Three-clan confederations in British Isles

About 64% of modern European men (that 2 out of 3) are descended from three Bronze Age males, possible brothers. That is the finding of a research team from the University of Leicester. Did these three males produced an enormous number of children or does this research confirm the existence of a 3-clan patrilineal confederation which practiced endogamy? If the latter is the case, this is confirmation of the kinship pattern of Abraham's ancestors in the R1b peoples who arrived in ancient Britain and Ireland.

In the ancient world, the R1b Annu/Ainu/Anakh dispersed widely. They built their shrines near water on mountains or elevated places. This was true along the Nile, in the Baltic region, in Southern China, Northern Japan and Okinawa, and in Cornwall. The Cornish fortress of Tintagel or Trevena is an example. In Cornish, it is called Tre war Venydh, meaning "village on a mountain."

The Ravenna Cosmography, compiled around 700 AD from Roman material 300 years older, lists a route running westward into Cornwall. On this route is a place then called Duro-cornovio. The Latin Duro-cornovio corresponds to the British Celtic duno-Cornouio-n, which means "fortress of the Cornish people." However, the original name for Cornwall was Kernow, which is related to the words Karnak and Karnevo. Kar is a archaic root that refers to a circular place of ritual. Kar-nak refers to the rite of teeth removal among the ancient Nilotes.

The words duno [Duno-Cornouio-n] and duro [Duro-cornovio] are related to the Ana'kh word dar, which refers to a citadel or a fortress. The Aramaic word for fortress is derived from dar, and the Arabic word dayr means monastery.

The Annu/Ainu/Anakh were known as masters of stone monuments, tombs and mining operations. They built sacred circles in reverence to the Sun, the emblem of the Creator. Ki-kar refers to a circle as in Exodus 25:11: ki-kar za-hav ta-hor, meaning "circle of pure gold." In the Anchor Bible Commentary on Genesis, E.A. Speiser recognizes that kikar refers to a circle.

A motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, called a triskele, is carved into the rock near the main entrance of Newgrange in Ireland. Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.) during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and Great Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside.


Mwana Wa Mukango said...

There is power in the number three, it was on the third day that the earth was exposed during creation, the one who was anointed as man' help was third, earth, man, woman. And a woman's pregnancy has three segments called trimester. Just like man was created on the sixth day, so can a baby survive outside the mothers womb in the sixth month. We know a lot of the Lord Jesus and the number three. At 30 he started the ministry, it lasted 3 years, on the third day he rose. An African stool always had three legs. But most interesting is the cooking fire. It always has three stones to hold the pot in place. The tabernacle had three places, court yard, holy place and most holy place. Oh there is a lot about THREE.

Alice C. Linsley said...

John points to the Three Witnesses: "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." (I John 5:5-8)

J Eppinga said...

A three-legged stool is the most economical stool that can stand. A five-legged stool has the benefit of standing if one leg is broken, but is not economical like the three-legged stool.

One could make the argument that the efficiency of the three-legged stool, 'just is.' We see interesting things with transcendental numbers 'e' and 'pi'. We see them where we don't intuitively expect to see them. An atheist and a Christian see different things about naturally occurring numbers. Maybe there is no ground to be won there.

On the other side of things .. I confess I am fascinated with the anthropology of the number three. Might there be a "God-shaped" aspect of our anthropology, that we tend to impose on things around us?

What might Robert Kuhn say? :)

Alice C. Linsley said...

Regardless of one's worldview, there is a natural progression that all people recognize:

1 2 3

Daddy Mommy Baby

Two points and a third make a continuous line or triangulation

In what is probably the oldest known system of symbolic communication 1 and 2 would apply to fixed observable entities that are binary opposites, allowing for mutual understanding. This is suggested by comparison of the spelling sign language systems for the deaf used worldwide. In the Chinese spelling system, the first letter (corresponding to the first letter of the Chinese alphabet) positions the fingers closed and the thumb upward and the second letter (corresponding to the second letter of the Chinese alphabet) has the fingers upward and the thumb closed, the exact opposite. Here we have an example of the A-B or 1-2 binary sequence. These are the same first two signs in the Canadian and American sign language systems. Regardless of the alphabet, the first two letters are opposites. They represent the most fundamental sequence and from them there necessarily following others.

Almost universally in sign languages, the index finger represents an individual person. In Japanese signing, two index fingers held up with the palms facing represent two people facing each other. Slowing bending the fingers toward each other makes the sign of two persons bowing to each other in the typical Japanese greeting. These examples are given to show that there is a universal logic to the first and second positions in the various sign languages for the deaf. The universal application of the binary sequence, whether it be letters (A-B) or numbers (1-2), suggests an inherent logic common to all human communications. Greater complexity emerges from the binary set.

Blood, water and the Holy Spirit. There is a mystery here worthy of contemplation.

The three who bridge the old covenant and the New were those who recognized Jesus's true identity right away: Simeon, Anna and John the Baptist. They are the three witnesses to the Kingdom's appearing on Earth. The ruler-priest Simeon represents the Blood, the prophetess Anna represents the Spirit, and John the Forerunner represents the Water. As in Heaven, so on Earth. "This is He who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and these three agree as one." (1 John 5:6-8)

DManA said...

And yet 7 is the perfect number, the number of God.

J Eppinga said...

Just an observation (maybe it's nothing)..

The number 7 (base 10) is the same as the number 111 (base 2).

One and One and One contained within a single number.

DManA said...

I have read the Sumerians and Babylonians used base 60. I've never heard about a people who used base 9 before.

Alice C. Linsley said...

1-9 is a complete cycle. The 0 initiates a new cycle. It was likely a solar symbol. In this case, 10 begins a new cycle.