Friday, May 22, 2009

Cousin Bride's Naming Prerogative

Alice C. Linsley

Among Abraham's Horite caste, the bride's naming prerogative pertains only to patrilineal cousin or niece brides. These were the second wifes, taken prior to ascent to the throne. Keturah was Abraham's cousin wife. The ruler-to-be married his first wife at a younger age.  She was a half-sister, as was Sarah to Abraham.

Horite rulers maintained two wives in separate households on a north-south axis. The wives' settlements marked the northern and southern boundaries of the ruler's territory.

As the sister wife had the same father as her husband, there was no need to identify her firstborn with the ruling father. On the other hand, the cousin bride's father would be identified through the naming of her firstborn son after her father. We first see this pattern in Genesis 4 and 5 where Lamech's daughter marries her cousin Methuselah and names their firstborn son Lamech after her father. Keturah's firstborn was named Joktan after her father. Esau the Younger was named after his maternal grandfather, Esau the Elder. The pattern remains consistent throughout Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Chronicles. It is so consistent among that it can be used to trace Jesus' and John the Baptist's Horite ancestry.

The Horites were devotees of Horus who they called "son of God." Horite kings patterned their rule after thei beliefs concerning Horus. Horus was said to have united two land holdings (the Upper and the Lower Nile) which is why one of his titles was Har-pa-Neb-Taui, which means "Horus of the two lands."

Name Changes

Throughout the Bible we find examples of women naming their sons. In the case of Benjamin, Rachel's name choice of 'Ben Oni' was overruled by Jacob (Gen. 35:17-20). Mary was told to give to her Son the name Jesus, which was a common name of that time. Elizabeth also was told to name her son John. Throughout the Bible God assigns names to those called according to His purpose. Jacob was renamed Israel.

Some name changes disguise the ruler's ancestry and in some cases this appears to be intentional.

Right of Primogeniture and Line of Descent

The firstborn son of the sister wife inherited his father's property, territory, authority and legal prerogatives. As the chief had two firstborn sons, provision had was also made for the cousin/niece's firstborn son. The firstborn of the cousin/niece wife ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather, after whom he was named. The firstborn of concubines and the younger sons of wives were usually given gifts and sent away.  This is what Abraham did with all of his sons except Isaac (Gen. 25:5,6).  Many "sent-away sons" became rulers, having established themselves in new regions. One such ruler was Nimrod (Gen. 10) who is known in history as Sargon the Great. This pattern of neo-local residence for most sons is referred to in Genesis 2:24:  "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother..."

Terah's firstborn sons were Haran and Nahor. Haran died in Ur and Nahor ascended to Terah's throne and ruled over Terah's territory between Haran and Ur. This means that Nahor, not Abraham, was the firstborn son of Terah's sister wife. Abraham was led by God to relocate to another region, and Abraham went to where his mother's kin lived in Canaan. This is what Jacob did also.

Among Abraham's Horite people the right of primogeniture was figured through the fathers, but ethnicity or blood line was figured through the mothers. This is evident even today among Jews. One is Jewish only if one's mother is Jewish (or if one has properly converted).

Abram's name doesn't appear anywhere else in the Genesis genealogical lists, but ancient Nilotic peoples, as with African today, took names very seriously.  We can be sure that Abram's name was no coincidence. It was probably a common name in his mother's homeland between Mt. Harun (Mount of Aaron near Petra in Jordan) and Mt. Hor (near Kadesh-barnea).

Related reading:  The Afro-Asiatic Dominion; Who Were the Horites?; Abraham's Canaanite Mother


Jonathan said...

Is there anything in your cousin bride's naming prerogative thesis that helps with daughter's names? For example, would you be able to provide any insight into understanding the significance of the name "Bathsheba," (daughter of ... ?), who appears to us in II Sam. 11:3 with the name we know most familiarly. But in I Chronicles 3:5, the second part of her name is "shua" ? Jonathan

Alice C. Linsley said...

Her name in Hebrew is בת שבע‎, Bat Sheva, which simply means daughter of Sheba. The House of Sheba is a prominent Horite clan. Sheba, along with Peleg and Joktan, was one of the 3 heads of the Horites.

The Samuel passage is closer to Genesis than I Chronicles, which represents a later period. You see this in the way I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor or Horite) as the "father of Bethlehem". In fact, Bethlehem is a place, not a son. Yet the author of I Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement, less than 10 miles from Mt. Hor.

The name 'Bathshua' appears to be influenced by the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint).

The geneologies of Genesis trace only male rulers and the naming of the first-born son after the cousin bride's father was a way to trace royal lineage.

Scott Fairbanks said...

Hi, I stumbled upon this blog many years ago and return from time to time because of your compelling explanations. I find that I want to cite your explanations but all the citations are blog post which don't offer a rigorous defense of the claims. Where can I find a full discussion of this material? I love it and I sense that it goes a long way towards resolving a great deal of the ambiguity felt by my modern mind.

Thank you for your blog and your time!

Alice C. Linsley said...


Feel free to cite my research on the marriage and ascendancy pattern and the social structure of the biblical Hebrew. It is uniquely mine, therefore I don't cite other sources. I use my blogs to teach, and I attempt to make complex material accessible.

You should read the 7-part series on the "Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew." Here is Part 6. It links to the earlier installments.

My method is explained in a 4-part series published at VirtueOnline. Here you will find the final installment in that series.

You also might want to visit the blog Biblical Anthropology. Here is an INDEX of topics published there:

For a more interactive approach, consider joining the Facebook Group The Bible and Anthropology where we discuss these things in greater detail.

Thanks for reading JUST GENESIS.