Friday, August 5, 2011

Was the "Land of Nod" Enoch's Territory?

Alice C. Linsley

Analysis of the genealogical data in Genesis 4 and 5 reveals that Cain and his brother Seth married the daughters of a chief named Enoch. This is the reason for the similarity, indeed the linguistic equivalence of their firstborn sons' names: Enoch/Enosh. The names are the Hebraicized form of the African word anochie, which refers to an heir to the throne. Enoch was a royal title.

The land to which Cain went is called Nod, which is intended to mean "wandering."  Here we have a play on words. The words Nod נוד and Nok נוך are almost identical. This was recognized in 1984 by the Nigerian philologist Modupe Oduyoye. Oduyoye saw a connection between Cain and the ancient metal workers of Nok in the Jos Plateau of Nigeria. (The Sons of the Gods and the Daughters of Men: An Afro-Asiatic Interpretation of Genesis 1-11, NY, Orbis Books, 1984, p. 21.) They appear to be relatives of the metal-working Sudanese Beja.

The evidence suggests that Cain's father-in-law Enoch lived in what is today northeastern Nigeria. Not surprisingly there are places in Nigeria that reference both Kain and Nok.  Kano is a major city and Nok is both a preshistoric site and a recognized cultural sphere of influence. The Nok civilization is dated to about 1200 years ago but has earlier antecedents as evidenced by discoveries in an "increasingly larger area" of Nok influence that includes the Middle Niger Valley and the Lower Benue Valley.

Nod (נוד) is an etymological etiology intended to explain the apparent peripatetic lifestyle of Cain and his metal-working descendants, the Kenites. This sort of play on words is typical of rabbinic writings and suggests that this a later interpretation. It might have been inserted to suggest that Cain's descendants were without territory, but a deeper look reveals that they were associated with rulers over territories from west central Africa to Central Asia.  They worked for influential rulers in the days when the Sahara was much wetter between 8000 and 4500 years ago. At various periods water systems connected the Nile and Central Africa and these river routes were their trade routes.

This places Cain close to Bor'No (Land of Noah) in the region of Lake Chad. This is where Noah probably lived between B.C. 2415-2490 when the Sahara experienced a wet period (Karl W. Butzer 1966). Cain and Seth would have lived between 200 and 300 years before Noah. Noah was a descendant of Seth and Cain, since the lines of Seth and Cain exclusively intermarried. The rulers of their lines are listed in the Genesis 4 and 5 King Lists.

"And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden." (Genesis 4:16)
Walls of Eredo in Nigeria
The western boundary of the Jebusites
According to Genesis, the Land of Nod is located "to the east of Eden" and Cain went there when he was banished after murdering his brother. The Hebrew “nod” means "wandering". Indeed, Cain worried that he would become a wanderer without a homeland of his own, but this did not happen. Instead, Cain married the daughter of a powerful ruler named Enoch (Nok) and built a settlement significant enough to be remembered as a “city” (Gen. 4:17). Cain named that settlement after his son, Enoch. The African equivalent of Enoch is Nok and possibly Nakht. Nakht means powerful in Egyptian (nkht - ruler of the horizon) and applied to rulers such as Pepi-Nakht-Heqaib. In Hebrew this takes the form of the name Hanok or Hanoch, which was the name given to the first-born son of Jacob's first-born son. It appears that the designated heir might be Hanok. The name is connected to the Nok civilization which predates the Chaldeans by 4000 years.

Analysis of the kinship pattern of Abraham’s people, reveals that Kenite chiefs maintained two wives in separate households on a north-south axis. One of Cain’s wives was the daughter of the chief of Nok. She named their first-born son Enoch/Nok, after her father, according to the cousin bride's naming prerogative. Cain's brother, Seth, married another daughter of Nok. Seth's first-born son was named Enosh, which is linguistically equivalent to Enoch/Nok/Nakht. So Genesis tells us that Cain and Seth married into a noble house of metal workers and craftsmen who controlled a territory in northern Nigeria and the region known as Bor-No. Bor-No is the only place on the surface of the earth that claims to be Noah's homeland.

Since Genesis tells us that Cain came to Nok from the west, it is possible to speculate that Cain came to from the region identified with the palace city of Sheba on the Atlantic coast of Nigeria. The photo above was taken of that site, called Eredo. It is the largest ancient monument ever found in Africa with a 72-foot high wall running for 100 miles. If indeed this city is associated with the people of Sheba, the claim that Cain came to Nok from the west was some material support. Sheba was a royal name among Abraham's ancestors. (For more on Eredo go here.)

In Genesis 4:17 we are told that Cain built a city and named it after his son, Enoch. Enoch and Nok are linguistically equivalent names. Directly north of Nok is another settlement associated with Cain, the modern city of Kano. (Cain is spelled with a K in Hebrew.) Before a man could become a chief over a territory he had first to take a second wife. The wives lived in separate households on a north-south axis. One wife resided at the northern boundary of the chief's territory and the other wife resided at the southern boundary. So it is possible to speculate that Cain had two wives. One was the daughter of Enoch, a princess bride. The other was likely his half sister, though she is not mentioned in Scripture.

Nok figurine
Kano and Nok are on a north-south axis, suggesting that Cain's territory may have extended between these two cities which he would have controlled. Likewise, Abraham's two wives lived in separate households on a north-south axis. Sarah resided in Hebron, and Keturah lived in Beersheba, to the south. Terah, Abraham's father, had the same pattern. One wife lived in Haran and the other in Ur, to the south. Terah would have controlled commerce between these two points.

Nok's people originated in the Nile region and his line intermarried with the Nubian rulers who conquered Egypt. Since the ruler-priests among Abraham's people were devotees of Horus whose totem was the falcon or hawk owl, we might consider the ancient Egyptian word for owl m-l-k (See Gabor Takacs, Etymological Dictionary of Egyptian, p. 1). The association of the falcon or hawk owl with Horus is the likely source of the Semitic malk or melek, meaning king. In Hausa, a Chadic language, the words horni and hanu are related. This suggests a possible connection between Horus and Hanoch (Dictionary of Hausa, p. 19).

The etymology of Old Testament names has been interpreted by the rabbis and through the Hebrew language, but Abraham's ancestors lived before Hebrew emerged as a distinct language. Abraham and his ancestors spoke a Nilotic/Kushitic language closer to languages in the Northern Arabic group which included Dedanite, Safaitic and Thamudic B,C and D.

The Jebusites Unveiled

The Jebusites have living descendants whose culture, religious beliefs and kinship pattern can be studied today. This is true of many of the peoples mentioned in the Old Testament. Yet reading some Christian writers one has the impression that there is no anthropological or historical evidence that any of these peoples lived. Let us consider the Jebusites, a people with ancient roots in Africa. This again highlights the value of an anthropological approach to the Bible.

The Jebusites were a Nilotic people originally. Some migrated westward along the connected water systems of central western Africa and settled at the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers in Nigeria. Here their rulers controlled the major water ways at the conjunction of the rivers and the Atlantic near modern Lagos. This was documented as recently as 1892 in the New York Times. The New York Times reported on the Jebu control of the water ways of the Port of Lagos. The king of the Jebu levied taxes on all products carried through his territory. This is consistent with the biblical information concerning Abraham’s ruler-priest ancestors who controlled water systems in Nigeria (where Jebu still reside), Canaan and Mesopotamia.

The Jebu also moved eastward into the land of Canaan where Melchizedek, the ruler-prist of Salem (Jerusalem) lived in Abraham's time (Gen. 14:18). Jerusalem was a Jebusite city when David took control of the oldest and highest areas. This is why Abraham payed tribute to Melchizedek and received a blessing from the great ruler-priest (Gen. 14:18-20).

The ancient rulers who controlled water systems in Africa, Arabia and Mesopotamian were Horites and ethnically Kushite. They were devotees of Horus, son of his father Re and his virgin mother Hathor. They spread their religious beliefs along the water systems from ancient Kush to Mesopotamia and beyond. This began about 10,000 years ago when there was a great Kushite migration and the Sahara was much wetter.

Dr. Christopher Ehret explains how the climate caused the movement of three groups of people. He writes, "The initial warming of climate in the Bølling-Allerød interstadial, 12,700-10,900 BCE, brought increased rainfall and warmer conditions in many African regions. Three sets of peoples, speaking languages of the three language families that predominate across the continent today, probably began their early expansions in this period. Nilo-Saharan peoples spread out in the areas around and east of the middle Nile River in what is today the country of Sudan. Peoples of a second family, Niger-Kordofanian, spread across an emerging east-west belt of savanna vegetation from the eastern Sudan to the western Atlantic coast of Africa. In the same era, communities speaking languages of the Erythraic branch of the Afrasian (Afroasiatic) family expanded beyond their origin areas in the Horn of Africa, northward to modern-day Egypt. (History in Africa 3-4)

The Jebusites are classified in the second group, as are the Ashante of Ghana. Asha-nte means “People of Asha” or “People of God.” (Asha, Azu, Asa, and Ashai are words for God in the ancient Afro-Asiatic languages.) The western boundary of the Jebu is marked by a 1000 year old rampart that is 70 feet high and 100 miles long. The British archaeologist Patrick Darling is credited with drawing world attention to the discovery of the Eredo system of walls. He reports, "We are not linking what we found to a city, but to a vast kingdom boundary rampart."

The Eredo walls and ditches are located to the south-west of the Jebu town of Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state in southwest Nigeria. This is the largest single pre-colonial monument in Africa. Local people link the Eredo boundary walls to Bilikisu Sungbo, another name for Sheba, according to Dr Patrick Darling. This discovery confirms the biblical genealogical data that links the clans of Sheba and Jebu.

Today the Jebu (Ijebu) are classified as Yoruba, but the term 'Yoruba' applied only after the Eighteenth Century. The Jebu identify themselves as distinct from other Yoruba peoples and are divided into two groups, the Nago-Jebu and the Ketu-Jebu. These are the biblical Jebusites.

Abraham’s second wife belonged to the Ketu division of the Jebusites as evidenced by her name Ketu-rah. She lived at the well shrine of Sheba (Beersheba). Her name means “the Ketu of Ra” and tells us that she and her people were devotees of the Triad Ra (father), Horus (son) and Hathor (the virgin mother of Horus). Hathor means “the Pure Mother of Hor.”

From study of the Jebu living today we discover that a kingdom is established when the ruler-apparent marries a second wife. This explains Abraham's urgency to fetch a cousin bride for Isaac before his death. Following the marriage and ascendency pattern of the rulers of his people, Isaac would have already had a half-sister wife in Beersheba.

Study of the living Jebusites enables us to trace the origin of certain enthronement practices, such as the use of palm fronds. The two Jebu in Nigeria have two divisions: Jebu Remu and Jebu Ode. The supreme ruler of both is called "awujali” and he is installed with palm branches.

Jude Adebo Adeleye Ogunade writes in his memoir about growing up Ijebu. He was warned not to touch the leaves of the Igi-Ose tree, because as his Mama Eleni explained: “That tree is the tree whose leaves are used to install Chiefs and Kings of Ijebu and as your grandfather was a custodian of the rites of chieftaincy and kingship you must not play with its leaves.” It is interesting that this plant has been found to be a blood purifier. (The University of Oxford, 1937 Institute Paper, no. 7 on Medicinal Plants; reference HA1k).

Fresh palm tree fronds are used ceremonially at the installation of chiefs and kings and are used to decorate places of worship. The association of palm trees (tamars) with rulers and prophets was common among Abraham's people. Deborah sat under a palm tree as a judge and a prophet in Israel.

When the people used palm fronds to greet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, they greeted him as one to be enthroned. To this very day, the Jebusites use fresh palm fronds when greeting and installing a ruler or a high priest. This supplies the information we need as Christians to better understand who Jesus Christ is. He is our King and our Great High Priest.