Friday, May 13, 2022

Abraham the Hebrew


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The first person to be explicitly designated as “Hebrew” in the Bible is Abraham and a detailed study of Abraham reveals a great deal about the biblical Hebrew and their authority.

Abraham’s Hebrew ancestors lived in the Nile Valley, Canaan, and Mesopotamia. They were a ruler-priest caste that dispersed widely in the service of the early kingdom builders such as Nimrod.

Beginning in chapter 11, Abraham becomes the focal point of Genesis. We are told that he was Hebrew, and he was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold (Gen. 13:2). His high social status is evident in the personal audiences he had with Pharoah and King Abimelech. Melchizedek, the priest-king of Jerusalem, ministered to Abraham after battle. This involved ritual cleansing from blood. The Hittites (descendants of Heth the Hebrew) recognized Abraham as a "great prince" among them. Abraham’s personal guard consisted of at least 318 warriors trained in his household.

Genesis 13 states that Abraham left Egypt and moved into the Negev (the "south"), a region known for mining and metal work. Abraham had kin living there among the Kenites, Cain’s descendants. It probably was at this time that he married Keturah of the clan of Sheba. She established their southern settlement at Beersheba (the Well of Sheba). From there Abraham moved north to the region of Bethel and Ai. Eventually, Sarah established her settlement at Hebron. The wives' settlements marked the southern and northern boundaries of Abraham's territory. Bethel and Ai are shown on this map. Hebron and Beersheba are also shown, farther south.


As with the earlier Hebrew ruler-priests Abraham had two wives. The wives' settlements marked the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory. Abraham's father Terah also had two wives. One wife was the mother of Sarah, and the other wife was the mother of Abraham. Keturah was Abraham's patrilineal cousin and the wife of his later years. By his two wives, Abraham had 7 sons and an unknown number of daughters.

Hebrew sons who were not the firstborn of the half-sister (principal) wife or the firstborn of the cousin (second) wife were sent away. Genesis 25:6 explains that before he died Abraham "made grants" to his other sons and then sent them away from his proper heir Isaac. This feature of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the early Hebrew drove their expansion out of Africa. The territories of some of the early kingdom builders were large. However, by Abraham's time the size of the territories of the sent-away sons was relatively small. 

When Abraham's father died in Harran, Nahor took control of Terah's territory and Abraham became a sent-away son. After some wandering, he established himself in a territory that extended on a north-south axis between Hebron and Beersheba, a distance of 27 miles/43 kilometers, and on an east-west axis between Ein Gedi and Gerar, a distance of 94 miles/152 kilometers. His authority in this territory was absolute and governed by a tradition of sacred law.

The biblical data surrounding Abraham presents a ruler who was heir to a long-standing priestly tradition. Though Abraham is claimed by many Semitic peoples as their common ancestor, that priestly tradition is largely ignored.

Competing Narratives

Abraham’s Hebrew identity is blunted by efforts to make him acceptable to various religious ideologies. For Jews, Abraham is problematic because he was not Jewish. This explains in part why Jews have made Moses the more important figure of their history. However, this is no remedy since the biblical data reveals that Moses and his family were not Jewish either. Moses and Abraham belonged to the same caste of ruler-priests as is evident in analysis of their common marriage and ascendency pattern.

It is problematic for Jews that the two key figures of their history were not Jews, but it is even more disturbing that both Abraham and Moses believed in God Father and God Son.

Muslims view Abraham as a great prophet. However, as Mohammed is viewed as the last or “seal” of the prophets his greatness eclipses that of Abraham and Moses. The Quran acknowledges that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. In this respect, Muslims are closer to the Messianic Faith than the Jews who deny the virginal conception of Jesus.

The Jews that Mohammed knew in Yathrib (Medina) apparently were not well informed about their genealogical connection to the Arabian Horites. Either they failed to demonstrate a common ancestry, or they did not know of it. By Mohammed’s time, Jews had embraced the Talmudic myths that support the prevalent Jewish ideology. Sadly, neither Jews nor Arabs have a good portrait of their “father” Abraham.

Though Christians acknowledge Abraham as a model of justifying faith we hardly know him better. Nor do we recognize that Messianic expectation originated among Abraham’s Nilotic ancestors. The parallels between creedal Christianity and the ancient Horus myth are so striking that cynics claim that Christianity is a copy-cat religion. In this they are mistaken. The Christ of Christianity is the perfect fulfillment of the early Hebrew expectation of the coming of the Son of God in the flesh to save sinners and to restore Paradise. The belief was preserved by the Horite and Sethite clans who intermarried. Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus are biological descendants of those clans, as is evident in analysis of the kinship data of the Bible. This suggests a continuous family/caste tradition that is overlooked by the average reader, proving Thomas Paine’s observation that "The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed."

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Natufian Culture

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Over a million years ago elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, water buffaloes and lions roamed the Judean Hills around Jerusalem. Remains of some of these animals have been found in Bethlehem, less than 5 miles from Jerusalem. The bones date to between 1.4-1.8 million years. The butchered remains of some of these animals are the earliest signs of humans living near Jerusalem.

A small Natufian sculpture (the Ain Sakhri Lovers) representing sexual intercourse was found in a cave near Bethlehem. The artifact dates to 9,000 years. Bethlehem has a long association with the biblical Horite Hebrew. Hur is said to be a "father" of Bethlehem. Salmon, a son of Hur (Hor), is called a "father of Bethlehem" in 1 Chronicles 2:54. 

Natufian territory
The British archaeologist Dorothy Gerrod coined the term "Natufian" while studying remains from the Shuqba cave at Wadi an-Natuf in Palestine. The term is derived from the place, but Natufian ceramics and stonework have been found in many locations ranging from Turkey to the Sinai.

The Natufians are an early biblical population. Their area included parts of Western Egypt (Fayoum Oasis), Palestine (especially around Mount Carmel), Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon between 15,000 and 9,000 years ago. Natufian territory is in the heartland of biblical Eden which extended from the Upper Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, according to Genesis 2:10-14.

When the Natufians lived in the Levant it received sufficient precipitation to sustain crops and orchards. Their diet consisted of meat, plants and fruits. They cultivated cereals which they harvested with sickle blades. Sickle blades are present at many sites within the Natufian heartland.

During the African Humid Period, the whole region from the Nile to the Jordan was wetter. There were abundant wadis, salt marshes, and swamps. This explains the abundance of tortoise shells found at Natufian burial sites.

The Natufians were baking bread 14,500 years ago. The bread was made from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, and tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative. These were ground into flour and baked in round fire pits made from flat basalt stones located in the middle of huts.

The Natufians practiced the ritual removal of teeth, a trait of Nilotic peoples. Among the Nilotic Luo initiation involves the removal of six front teeth using the tip of a spear. This practice, called naak persists in some Luo clans, especially in Africanized Churches in Luoland, such as the Legio Maria sect. The Luo recognize “Kar-nak” to mean place of rituals.

British Archaeologist, Graeme Barker, notes "the similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary."[1]

Harvard Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, Ofer Bar-Yosef, notes that microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points, as well as the parthenocarpic figs found in Natufian territory, originated in the Sudan.[2]

It appears that the Natufians were originally a Nilotic people. This is further suggested by the fact that Natufian physiology indicates a Mediterranean type with negroid affinities. (See Marcellin Boule, Henri Vallois, and René Verneau, Les Grottes Palaeolithiques de Beni Séghoual, pp. 212—214.) [3]

Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, Christopher Ehret, notes that the intensive use of plants among the Natufians was first found in Africa, as a precursor to the development of farming in the Fertile Crescent.[4]

Is there a relationship between the Natufians and the early Hebrew?

Bethlehem is associated with the Horite Hebrew in I Chronicles 4:4 which names Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." Rahab of Jericho was the wife of Salmon, the son of Hur (Horite). Salmon is called the "father of Bethlehem" in 1 Chronicles 2:54. Rahab was the grandmother of Boaz who married Ruth. Salmon is a Horite name associated with Bethlehem in 1 Chronicles 2:51.

The Horite Hebrew were a caste of ruler-priests who were devotees of Horus and his mother Hathor. The oldest known Horite shrine city is Nekhen on the Nile and dates to 4000 B.C. The votive offerings there are ten times larger than those found elsewhere, attesting to the prestige of the shrine.

The prominence of the Horites is attested in Genesis 36 which gives the ruling line of Seir the Horite Hebrew. These people have been recognized as Abraham's kin, and the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horites of Seir is identical to the pattern of Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.

Decorated ostrich-egg vessels and ostrich shell beads have been found at Natufian sites and burial grounds. In ancient Kush, painted ostrich eggs were placed in the graves of children, symbolizing the hope of life after death.

Archaeologists working at Hilazon Tachtit, near the Sea of Galilee, believe that a Natufian woman buried there was a shaman. Here is the pertinent section of their report:

The goods accompanying the burial are also typical of shaman burials. Tortoises, cow tails, eagle wings, and fur-bearing animals continue to play important symbolic and shamanistic roles in the spiritual arena of human cultures worldwide today [e.g., (28)]. It seems that the woman in the Natufian burial was perceived as being in a close relationship with these animal spirits. Shamans are universally recorded cross-culturally, in hunter gatherer groups and small-scale agricultural societies (25). Nevertheless, they have rarely been documented in the archaeological record [but see (29)], and none have been reported from the Paleolithic of Southwest Asia. Perhaps, it is not surprising if clear evidence for a shaman comes from the Natufian, as the profound social and economic changes associated with the transition to agriculture [the Neolithization process (6)] surfaced during the Natufian and undoubtedly entailed equally substantial ideological changes (30, 31, 32). Whether the changes in the spiritual outlook preceded and triggered the economic changes (33) or vice versa, an inseparable interplay is clearly observed between ideological and socioeconomic change across the forager-to-farmer transition. The unique grave at Hilazon Tachtit Cave provides us with rare concrete evidence for those processes in their initial stages at the termination of the Paleolithic on the eve of the Neolithic transformation. (From here.)

The report assumes that the buried women held a shamanic worldview but makes no specific connections to shamanic practices. Shamanic practice involves mediation between the spirits of dead ancestors and the community. However, ancestor veneration, fetishes, and burial of animals also characterizes burials among populations that had priests. The offices of priest and shaman represent distinct and contradictory worldviews. Communication with spirits is a common practice among shamans. That practice was forbidden to priests, whose role was to mediate between the community and the Creator God.

If the Natufians moved into Galilee from the Nile Valley, it is likely that they had priests since that office originates in the Nile region. The practices associated with the priesthood of the ancient Hebrew include animal sacrifice, circumcision, concern about ritual purity, sacred moral codes, etc. 

It is interesting to note that the animals buried with the Natufian woman are mentioned in the book of Job and the genealogical information in the Bible reveals that Job was a Horite Hebrew. This woman's burial indicates that she was of high rank among her people. However, we should not assume that she was a shaman when the symbolism of the animals found in her grave is easily explained in the context of the religious beliefs of the Upper Nile. These animals were sacred to the ancient Nubians and Kushites who had priests, not shamans.

The two birds, which appear to be released from the woman's hand, likely represent the binary worldview of Abraham's ancestors and remind us of the two birds released by Noah. The leopard’s skin designated royalty and was worn over the shoulders by Kushite and Nilo-Saharan ruler-priests, with the paws crossed over the breast. The cow was the totem of the celestial mother who was called Hathor, the mother of Horus. Hathor's veneration spread throughout the ancient world with the dispersion of the Horite and Sethite Hebrew priests, her devotees.

Related reading: Natufian Burial Site in Galilee; World's Oldest Bread Found in Jordan; Shamanic Practice and the Priesthood; Boats and Cows of the Proto-Saharans


1. Barker G, Transitions to farming and pastoralism in North Africa, in Bellwood P, Renfrew C (2002), Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis, pp. 151–161.

2. Bar-Yosef  O., Pleistocene connections between Africa and South West Asia: an archaeological perspective. The African Archaeological Review; Chapter 5, pp. 29-38; Kislev ME, Hartmann A, Bar-Yosef O, Early domesticated fig in the Jordan Valley. Nature 312:1372–1374.

3. The French School of Anthropology developed under the influence of Paul Broca. Boule studied the Peking Man fossils. Henri Vallois served as Chair of the Museum of Natural History in Paris from 1960 to 1967, and René Verneau studied paleolithic rock paintings in North Africa.

4. Ehret (2002) The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia

Saturday, March 26, 2022

An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 11

Alice C. Linsley

In this series we have tracked the eastward movement of the early Hebrew out of Africa and demonstrated that the themes and customs found in Genesis chapters 1-11 are consistent with what is known about the early populations of the Green Sahara, the Nile Valley, and Canaan. 

Genesis 11:2 states that some of Abraham's ancestors migrated from the east to the Tigris-Euphrates basin. Clearly, the early Hebrew were widely dispersed before Abraham's time. However, we first meet Abraham in Mesopotamia because that is where his Kushite ancestor Nimrod established his kingdom.

Chapter 11 provides a transition to the subsequent focus on Abraham the Hebrew who left Mesopotamia for the land of Canaan. He came from the east and eventually established himself in a territory that extended between Hebron to Beersheba.

Genesis 11:10-32 provides a list of some of the Hebrew ruler-priests who descended from both Shem and Ham, though only Shem is mentioned in Genesis 11:10. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried as did their ancestral lines of Cain and Seth. Though Asshur is not named in Genesis 11, he is listed as a son of Shem in Genesis 10:21. The diagram shows how Abraham is a descendant of both Ham and Shem. 

Note that there are two named Asshur: Asshur the Elder and Asshur the Younger. Here we have further evidence of the cousin bride’s naming prerogative. The pattern is evident also in the naming of Terah's son Nahor after his maternal grandfather, Nahor the Elder. Some of the descendants of Nahor the Younger are listed in Genesis 22:20-24.

Nahor the Younger ruled over Terah's territory in Mesopotamia after Terah died in Harran. Abraham became a sent-away son whose marriage to Keturah of the royal house of Sheba helped him to become a ruler in ancient Edom.

Linguistic diversity is expressed in the different names for the High God and His Son.

After the flood, God resorts to scattering humans by confusing their languages, as if by magic. Suddenly, there are many languages and the words that once were understood by all are now incomprehensible to many.

The focus on the tower in Shinar, presumably a ziggurat (Akkadian: zaqâru, "to rise high") indicates a Neo-Babylonian source. The principal ziggurat of Babylon was called “En-temen-An-ki” which means "Royal foundation of [the High God] An on earth". Among the Hebrew of Mesopotamia, God Father was called Ani/Anu and his son was Enki, meaning “Lord over the earth.” Among the Nilotic Hebrew God Father was called Ra and his son was called Horus from the ancient Egyptian HR, meaning "Most High One". Hebrew royal priests were associated with the prestigious temples of both Ani/Ra and Enki/Horus. The Hebrew believed in God Father and God Son and they were devotees of Hathor, the mother of Horus.

Explanation of Linguistic Diversity

Genesis 10 attempts to explain ethnic diversity and the dispersion of ancient populations. Genesis 11 offers an explanation of the diversity of languages that emerged from a common earlier language (Gen. 11:1). Though this account is far from scientific, linguists recognize that many of the populations named in Genesis 10 shared common consonant roots (radicals).

The great civilizations and peoples of the ancient world reflect advancements in technology, astronomy, architecture, and warfare. Written and spoken communication between the peoples facilitated trade and the exchange of ideas. Royal scribes were versed in multiple scripts (sipru) and Akkadian cuneiform was in use throughout the Ancient Near East. 

Akkadian, the oldest known Semitic language, appears to be a linguistic bridge between some of the older Afroasiatic languages and the Indo-European languages.

The Indian scholar Malati J. Shendge has concluded that the language of the Harappans of the Indus Valley was Akkadian. The Indian linguist Ajay Pratap Singh explains, "Comparisons of Akkadian and Sanskrit words yielded at least 400 words in both languages with comparable phonetic and semantic similarities. Thus Sanskrit has, in fact, descended from Akkadian."

The Bible scholar, E.A. Speiser, found that names taken to be Indo-European were often labeled "Hurrian" only to be identified eventually as Akkadian. E.A. Speiser called attention to Hurrian/Horite personal names associated with Shechem and with other areas whose inhabitants the Bible calls Hivites. Genesis 34:2 specifies Shechem as a Hivite or Horite settlement. He noted the juxtaposition of the Hurrian Jebusites and the Hivites in various biblical references and he concluded that “Hivite” was a biblical term for Horite/Hurrian. Speiser supported his identification of the biblical Hivites with the Horite/Hurrians by reference to Genesis 36:2 and 36:20, where the terms Hivite and Horite are used interchangeably. In Genesis 36:2, Zibeon is called a Hivite, and in Genesis 36:20 Zibeon is identified as a Horite descendent of Seir. 

Other examples of the interchange of the terms Hivite and Horite may be found by comparing the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. The Septuagint reads "Horites" for the "Hivite" of the Masoretic Text in Genesis 34:2 and Joshua 9:7.

There was no Hurrian or Horite language. The widely dispersed Horites employed the languages of the people among whom they lived. Thus, scholars today use terms like Hurro-Akkadian, Hurro-Urartian, and Canaano-Akkadian.

Related reading: The Marriage and Ascendancy Pattern of the Biblical HebrewRoyal Sons and Their Maternal UnclesThe Hebrew Hierarchy of Sons; Our African Ancestors; An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 10

Thursday, March 24, 2022

An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 10


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The author of Genesis 10 connects the populations of his time period to the three sons of Noah. He proposes how Earth came to be repopulated after a worldwide flood (Gen. 10:32). Though a naïve conception of human history and diversity, this early ethnography is remarkable. E.A. Speiser described the Table of Nations “as a pioneering effort among the ethnographic attempts of the ancient world.” (The Anchor Bible Commentary on Genesis, p. 71.)

The names listed in Genesis 10 represent ethnicities, city-states, kingdoms, and regional populations. The populations may generally be classified as Nilotic, Arabian, Mesopotamian, Eurasian, and Levantine. The table artificially lists seventy populations. However, none of the populations are identified as castes and the ancient world had many castes: tanners, metalworkers, priests, etc.

It is assumed that Eber (Gen. 10:21-3) is the eponymous father of the Hebrew people. This represents an attempt to narrow the scope of the narrative, as is done later with Jacob who is identified as the eponymous father of the Israelites. It is clear, however, that there were many Hebrew clans other than Jacob's clan.

The English word “Hebrew” is derived from the ancient Akkadian word for priest abru, and the ruler-priest caste was called Abrutu. Variant spellings include Habiru, Hapiru, and ‘Apiru. There is no reason to dismiss Noah and his sons as Hebrew. Genesis 4-11 chronicles the Hebrew caste’s dispersion out of Africa in the service of kingdom builders and high kings. Hebrew were living in Africa, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Southern Europe before the time of Abraham. There is evidence that some Hebrew settled in the Indus Valley, and that their influence extended as far east as present-day Cambodia. Horite symbolism has been found at Angkor Wat. "Anghor Wat" refers to the settlement or temple complex dedicated to Horus. Ankh-Hor means "May Horus Live!" or "Life to Horus!"

This Anghor Wat relief depicts Ra's solar boat with Horus perched as a falcon on the mast.

The Indian archaeologist B. B. Lal contends that several megalithic sites of ancient Nubians resemble the cemeteries of early Dravidians found all over Western India. The similarities extend from the subterranean structures found near them to the identical earthenware ring-stands used by the Dravidians and Nubians to hold pots.

The connection between the riverine civilizations of the Nile Valley and the Indus Valley is indicated by comparing the Nilotic and Indus pottery inscriptions in which 17 figures are virtually identical.

The Hebrew Movement Out of Africa  

Genesis chapter 10 continues the theme of an eastward movement out of Africa. Adam and Eve went east. Cain went east, and now we read about the dispersion of Noah’s descendants into areas outside of Africa. This aligns with genetic studies of peoples coming out of Africa through the Middle East, a staging area for the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, and the region where the earliest known kingdoms were established. This is especially evident in the case of the Kushite kingdom builder Nimrod (Gen. 10: 8-12).

Nimrod is also spelled Nimrudj or Nimrwd. In 2010, the 4400-year tomb of a purification priest named Rudj-ka or Rwd-Ka was found at Giza. It dates to between 2465 and 2323 B.C. His high status is evident in the quality of his stone tomb. He served Pharaoh Khafre who ruled from 2520 to 2494 B.C., before the time of Abraham. The ancient Egyptian word rwd/rudj means ball, sphere, or the Earth.

Likewise, the name “Lot” is found among the Libyan rulers of the Nile: Takelot I (885–872 B.C.) and Takelot II (860-835 B.C.), and at least two were called Nimlot. An inscription on the statue of Nimlot B describes him as “Nimlot true of voice,” meaning justified. The ancient Egyptian is Maa Kheru (mꜣꜥ ḫrw), a typical epithet applied to the righteous deceased who Horus presents to the Heavenly Father.

Nimrod, a son of Kush, built a kingdom in Mesopotamia. He is the connection between the Proto-Saharan ruler Noah and Abraham. We first meet Abraham in Mesopotamia because he is a descendant of Nimrod.

A Genetic Mosaic

After the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) population movements created a striking genetic mosaic with distinct sex-based genetic differentiation. Y-DNA traces genetic inheritance through the paternal line and mitochondrial (mt) DNA traces genetic inheritance through the maternal line. Were it possible to study DNA from the different peoples listed in Genesis 10, we would find that the majority could be classified in Y-DNA Haplogroups R1a, R1b, and J, and mtDNA Ls, M, N, H, and R.

Genetic studies have established a connection between some populations of Genesis 10 and some populations of Noah’s homeland in the region of Lake Chad. This map shows the range of Y-DNA R1b peoples in red. However, the dispersion of the R1b populations took place long before the time of Noah and was complete by 40,000 years ago.

Towers Were Used for Astronomical Observations

Although the Tower of Babel story does not specifically mention astronomy, commentators on Genesis 10 often introduce speculation about astrology, an occult practice. This is based on a false belief that the science of sidereal astronomy had not yet developed. However, astronomy was familiar to the Nilotic Hebrew, as noted by Plato who studied under a Nilotic priest for 13 years. Plato claimed that the Africans had been tracking the heavens for 10,000 years. He knew about Earth's Great Year, also called the "Platonic Year." This is the duration of time that it takes for Earth to complete the cycle of axial precession (approximately 25,000 years). This precession was known to Plato who defined the "perfect year" as the return of the celestial bodies (planets) and the diurnal rotation of the fixed stars to their original positions.

In 241 B.C., the priest Manetho reported that Nilotes had been “star-gazing” as early as 40,000 years ago. By 4245 BC, the priests of the Upper Nile had established a calendar based on the appearance of the star Sirius and had been tracking this star for thousands of years, connecting it to seasonal changes affecting the Nile Valley. Doubtless, the Hebrew priests living in Mesopotamia were recognized for their astronomical observations from fortified high places and towers.

Related reading: An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 9; Noah's Sons and Their Descendants; Haplogroups of Interest to Biblical Anthropologists; Was Akkadian the Language of the Indus Valley Civilization?; Our African Ancestors

Monday, March 21, 2022

An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 9

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The Covenant with Noah

Genesis chapter 9 reiterates the terms of the covenant stated in chapter 6. God blessed Noah and his sons and established his covenant with them and with their descendants. In chapter 9 we find an additional element: a promise that never again will all flesh be destroyed by inundation. The rainbow is the sign of that promise.

In chapter 9 we find an explicit prohibition against consuming blood. Adam and Eve were not to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and Noah and his early Hebrew people are not to eat flesh with the blood in it (Gen. 9:4-6). This echoes the prohibition of Leviticus 17:10-12: “If anyone from the house of Israel or a foreigner living among them eats any blood, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for your souls upon the altar; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore, I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner living among you eat blood.’”

Some writers (Leon Kass, Yoram Hazony) have suggested that the purpose of Genesis 1-11 is to present a general theory of human nature. However, the matter of blood which both purifies and pollutes has not be explored sufficiently in connection to the early Hebrew. The antecedents of blood anxiety and blood as a symbol of life extend back to a time long before Noah. For at least 100,000 years humans buried their loved ones in red ocher, a symbolic blood covering. The hope for life after death had long been attached to blood and blood symbolism.

Noah, a Drunken Father

Noah is described as a tiller of the ground and a grower of grape vines. This describes a neolithic ruler, not a paleolithic hunter-gatherer.

In the ancient world, wine was consumed mainly by rulers, and it was used by priests in religious rituals. It was offered by kings as a "drink offering" to the High God, and it was consumed at feasts that involved the ratification of treaties. The High God was believed to be the Witness to these treaties. In a Ugaritic text, the God El became drunk at such a feast and had to be carried home by his sons. Here we find a parallel to the story of Noah's drunken state and his sons' attempt to "cover" for him. However, in the Genesis 9 account, Noah became drunk and cursed one of his descendants, negating the covenant of blessing on his descendants (Gen. 9:20-25).

The curse falls on Canaan. This narrative suggesting sexual perversion is imposed by a later anti-Canaanite source. Shem is blessed and Canaan is to be his slave. The source of this account fails to recognize that the lines of Ham and Shem intermarried so that the curse on Ham’s descendants necessarily falls also on Shem’s descendants.

The outcomes of Noah's and Lot's drunken stupors were not good. Genesis presents criticism of excessive wine consumption as this was considered improper for Hebrew ruler-priests. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis [biblical On] never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”

Abraham's Territory  

Another covenant is established with Abraham in Genesis chapter 17. This covenant becomes the basis for later Zionist claims. The narrative that informs Jewish identity as historically connected to the Land of Israel (“Eretz Israel”) begins with the calling of Abraham who is portrayed as the first Jew. However, the Bible designates Abraham as Hebrew, and the biblical evidence indicates that Abraham’s early Hebrew ancestors came out of Africa. By Abraham’s time they were dispersed among many ethnicities and living in city-states and kingdoms, some of which are named in Genesis chapter 10.

Abraham's north-south territorial boundaries were marked by his wives' settlements. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah resided in Beersheba. His water rights appear to have extended on an east-west axis from Ein Gedi to Gerar.

Note that both Hebron (Sarah's settlement) and Beersheba (Keturah's settlement) are in Idumea/Edom. Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and in Greek was called Idumea, meaning "land of red people." The region was called Adamu in ancient Egyptian, a reference to the color of blood.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 8


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Genesis 8 states that Noah had cattle, and during Noah's time cattle were often transported by boats. Petroglyphs of prehistoric reed boats carrying cattle have been found in the eastern desert of Egypt. The various types: sickle, incurved sickle, square, incurved square, and flared are shown above.

Grave goods from the Naqada period have the same images as are found on these petroglyphs which leads archeologists to conclude that many of these petroglyphs can be dated to the Naqada period (4500-3100 B.C.)

The black mahogany Dufuna dugout (shown below) was found in 1987 in Yobe State (Nigeria) buried 16 feet under clays and sands which alternating sequence showed evidence of deposition in standing and flowing water. The dugout is 8000 years old. By comparison, Egypt's oldest boat is 5000 years old. 

Peter Breunig (University of Frankfurt) specializes in African archaeology. He has written this description of the Dufuna boat: “The bow and stern are both carefully worked to points, giving the boat a notably more elegant form”, compared to “the dugout made of conifer wood from Pesse in the Netherlands, whose blunt ends and thick sides seem crude”.

Judging by stylistic sophistication, Breunig reasons that, “It is highly probable that the Dufuna boat does not represent the beginning of a tradition, but had already undergone a long development, and that the origins of water transport in Africa lie even further back in time.”

Dufuna canoe being excavated in Yobe State, Nigeria.


Where did the Ark land?

The Genesis accounts of Noah's flood do not specify a mountain and may not refer to Armenia. That idea is based on a supposition that the word Ararat corresponds to Urartu, the Assyrian name for a ninth century B.C. kingdom in the region of Lake Van.

This view is based on what Josephus wrote in “Antiquities of the Jews” which was cited by Jerome:

“…the ark rested on the top of a certain mountain in Armenia ... However, the Armenians call this place, αποβατηριον 'The Place of Descent'; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day. Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berossus. For when he is describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: "It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets for the averting of mischiefs."  (I.3.5-6, translated by William Whiston, 1737)

Berossus was a Babylonian historian and priest (330–250 B.C.) who would have been familiar with ancient flood accounts. Since the early settlements were by major waterways stories of inundations are found among the early civilizations.

Citing late sources such as Berossus, Hieronymus the Egyptian, Mnaseas, and Nicolaus of Damascus, Josephus claimed that the "ark rested on the top of a certain mountain in Armenia, . . . over Minyas, called Baris."

Though Armenia is not mentioned in the Genesis flood account, some claim to have found remnants of Noah’s ark on a mountain in Armenia. Given that the ark was constructed of bundles of reeds, finding it after 6000 years in the damp seasonal changes of the Ararat Mountains is extremely unlikely.

Given the African context of the material in Genesis chapters 1-6 and the fact that Lake Chad is called the “Lake of Noah” by the local people, it is reasonable to consider alternative theories.

Theory 1: The term ararat (Tiberian Hebrew: hārê 'Ǎrārāṭ) is related to the Somali/East African word harada, meaning lakeside. According to this theory, Noah's ark is associated with a lake, not a mountain. Jerome introduced the idea of Armenia in his Vulgate translation of the Greek Bible. He translated Genesis 8:4 to read: requievitque arca . . . super montes Armeniae ("and the ark rested . . . on the mountains of Armenia.")

Theory 2: The mountain is a metaphor for the new creation. Throughout the Bible God interacts with people at moments that mark new beginnings. Abraham finds provision and assurance on Mount Moriah. Moses’s meeting with God in the fiery bush on Mount Horeb involves his appointment to bring the people out of Egypt. The people of Israel receive the law when Moses meets with God on Mount Sinai. Jesus’s transfiguration on the mountain signals the coming of the eternal kingdom.

The word ararat is formed from the triradical RRT in which the T symbolizes a mountain. The reduplicated R symbolizes a high-ranking ruler, or the High God. This archaic symbolism is preserved in the Ugaritic creation story of the twin mountains are indicated by the sign T. The mountains Trgzz and Trmg emerged from a universal ocean and held up the firmament at the beginning of creation.

Noah’s ark comes to rest on a high mountain and there he builds an altar upon which he offers clean birds and clean animal in blood sacrifice to the High God (Gen. 8:20). This fits the overall theme of Noah’s flood as the beginning of a new world and a new covenant.

The motif of mountains as the connection between God and Man, between Heaven and Earth is found in many religious texts. In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna says, "Among the mountains, I am Meru", that is, the spinal cord of the world. The Vishnu Purana (c.200 B.C.) speaks of seven peaked continents ringed by seven oceans. This cosmology was a mirror image of the seven celestial planets/bowls, following the ancient belief "as in the Heavens, so on Earth."

Given the physics of flood drainage, it is unlikely that a reed ship would come to rest at a high elevation as the waters recede. Stream flows vary depending on the contour and size of the channels, but the draining waters carry floating debris to the lower elevations. Therefore, it would be natural for the Ark to come to rest near a river or lakeside of lower elevation. This also seems to support the mountain as metaphor for a connection between the Creator and Noah as a new Adam.

Theory 3: Place names are conflated or confused due to the passage of many millennia. In his 1874 monograph “Anacalypsis: An Inquiry into the Origins of Languages, Nations and Religions” Godfrey Higgins noted that Ar’menia could mean "mount of Meru… that is, Ar or Er-Meni-ia, the country of mount Meru or Meni." 

Josephus quoted Nicolas of Damascus, where he wrote in his ninety-sixth book: "There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved."

The word meni appears only twice in the Bible. In Isaiah 65:11 it is paralleled with the word gad, meaning good fortune. There appears to be a connection between meni and sacrifices at high places because the word gad appears in a context of sacrifices on mountains. Perhaps Noah’s burnt offering was on a mountain or elevated place called Meni.

A variant spelling of Meni appears in Jeremiah 51:27 where God calls on the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz to attack Babylon. Here we note that Ararat and Minni/Meni are regarded distinct regions or ethnicities. Ashkenaz is listed as an ethnicity in Genesis chapter 10.

Theory 4: Noah’s ark landed in Nigeria. This possibility appears more likely when we note the correspondence between place names (toponyms) in Mesopotamia and Nigeria.

Eridu is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia. The place name corresponds to Eridu/Eredo in Ogun State of Nigeria.

The Sumerian name for Eridu was Nun ki. Nun also is a place name in Nigeria. The Nun River flows through Rivers State.

Nimrod, a son of Kush, is said to have established a city in Mesopotamia called Erek/Erech. This corresponds to the place names Uruk and Urik in Nigeria.

The Mesopotamian city of Akkad is also known as Akkade or Agade and corresponds to the city of Agade in the Cross River region of Nigeria.

The biblical place name Meni/Minni corresponds to Minni/Minna, the capital of Niger State in Nigeria. Archaeological finds confirm human habitation here beginning as early as 47,000 years ago. Minna is at a low elevation and bounded on the south by the Niger River. The main tributary of the Niger River is the Benue River. Benue means "land of Noah."

The city of Minna is 588 miles (946 km) from Lake Chad, but that distance would have been less in Noah’s time when Lake Chad extended farther to the west. The blue area shows the area of Mega Chad. The green is the present area of the Lake. The Niger River flows from Lake Chad southwest toward Minna.


Theory 5: These 6 rivers flow into Lake Chad: Hadejira, Jama'are, Yobe, Komadogu Gana, Ngadda, and Yedseram. These are on the southwestern side of the Lake Basin. As the flood waters receded, ships on those rivers would have moved closer to Lake Chad. Some would have come to ground at lakeside (hadara).

Monday, March 14, 2022

An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 7


3500 B.C. Nilotic pottery showing a reed ship.

Alice C. Linsley

In the Genesis 7 narrative Noah is told to bring seven pairs of “clean” animals onto the ark. This reflects the priestly concern for ritual purity and differs from the Genesis 6 account in which Noah is told to bring one pair of each animal onto the ship. However, the archaeological evidence suggests that Noah was not concerned with ritual purity. His concern appears to have been the preservation of the animals in his royal zoo.

Proto-Saharan rulers such as Noah kept ménageries of prized bulls, hippos, elephants, baboons, and wildcats. The account of Noah saving animals aligns well with the archaeological and anthropological evidence.

The oldest known ménagerie (c.3500 B.C.) was discovered at Nekhen where rulers provided burials for their animals. The animals exhumed in the city’s elite cemetery received similar mortuary treatment as humans. These animals had been well tended, as evidenced by bone fractures that would have required medical care to heal properly. Nekhen has more animal burials than any early Nile Valley urban center.

It is believed that the rulers kept exotic animals as symbols of their power and wealth. Syrian bears were brought to Egypt during the 5th Dynasty. Athenaios of Naucratis reports that a white bear was housed by Ptolemy II in his private zoo at Alexandria. At his royal estate in Nubia, Akhenaten kept lions in domed buildings, antelopes in pens, and cattle in an enclosure made of sticks and branches. 

Only eight humans were on the ark. The source of this account would have us believe that Noah had only one wife, and each of his sons had only one wife. This is not consistent with the evidence of early Hebrew rulers with two wives.

The waters are said to have covered all the high mountains, destroying all living beings except the creatures on the ark. This reflects the Deuteronomist Historian’s belief that God destroyed all the unrighteous and ritually unclean. This source is from the Neo-Babylonian Period (700-530 B.C.), 3000 years after the time of the historical Noah. 

The biblical Noah is patterned after ancient accounts of righteous heroes who alone are saved in a time of divine judgment on their people. Those include the Gilgamesh Epic in which the hero Utnapishtim sends out birds and offers animal sacrifice which the “gods smelt” as a sweet savor (cf. Gen. 8: 6-21). Utnapishtim’s ship lands on a mountain called Ni'mush, which means "the serpent." In ancient Near Eastern cultures the serpent was a symbol of life, health, and immortality. Here we find a trace of this belief. Archaeological evidence and ancient literary texts indicate that a snake staff, such as the one held by Moses in the wilderness, was associated with healers and healer-priests.

In the “Eridu Genesis” (c.1600 B.C.) the High God An and his son punish the regional Near Eastern population by bringing a destructive flood. Enki helps the ruler-priest Ziusudra to escape.