Thursday, October 28, 2010

Moses's Wives and Brothers

Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy structure of Moses' family reveals the distinctive pattern of the Horite ruler-priest caste.

Moses had two wives. His Kushite wife was his half-sister, as was Sarah to Abraham. The pattern of Moses's family is identical to that of the rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5 and 11 and to that of Abraham's father Terah and Samuel's father Elkanah. One of the sons of Korah the Younger (Ishar's son) was named Elkanah. This is the name of the prophet Samuel's father who also had two wives. Samuel's family was also Horite.

It appears that all of these great men of Genesis and Exodus were Horites. Many are designated as divinely appointed rulers by the Y in their names, a solar cradle.

Alice C. Linsley

Moses’ father was Amram. He had two wives, following the pattern of his forefathers who were Horite priest-scribes. By Jochebed he had Moses, Aaron and presumably Miriam. Exodus 6:20 indicates that Jochebed was probably his sister. They had the same father, but different mothers. Her name is also spelled Jacquebeth and refers to the African homeland, probably ancient Kush. The Horites were ethnically Kushite.

Amram's relationship to Jochebed parallels Abraham's relationship to Sarah. Both were first wives, married at a young age. The ruler's second wife was usually a patrilineal cousin or niece. Such was the case with Amram's second wife Ishar and Abraham's second wife, Keturah. This pattern is characteristic of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Horite ruler-priests.

Ishar is a woman's name, derived from the Hebrew isha, meaning "woman." Women are sometimes listed as "sons" in Genesis and Exodus if the ruling line is traced through them, which is the case with Ishar (Ex 6), and Anah and Oholibamah (Gen. 36). The last two women are Horites of Edom, of the house of "Seir the Horite."

Likewise, Ishar was a descendant of Seir the Horite. She was either Amram's half-sister or his patrilineal cousin (as was Keturah to Abraham). Ishar was the mother of Korah the Younger (Num. 26:59), who she named after her father Korah the Elder. Korah the Younger is the one who opposed Moses' authority.

Exodus 6:17 lists Ishar and Amram in the same generation. These were Kohath's children by two different wives. A characteristic of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite ruler-priests is that they had two wives.
According to Numbers 26, Korah's claim to be the ruler-priest was supported by the Hanochites (descendants of Ha'nock, the first born son of Jacob's firstborn son Reuben). As the first born son of the cousin/niece bride Korah was to rule the territory of his maternal grandfather.

Korah's descendants are praised in 1 Chronicles 26. Here the Chronicler classifies them with the gatekeepers of Obed-Edom. Obed was the name of David's grandfather and Edom is the traditional homeland of the Horites. Petra, the capital of Edom, reflects Horite architecture.

The Pattern of Two Wives

Following the custom of his Horite forefathers, Moses had two wives. The first wife would have been a half-sister, the wife of Moses' youth. It is likely that he married her while in Egypt. She is said to be Kushite (Numbers 12) and for some reason Moses' siblings didn't approve of the marriage, although the marriage was probably arranged by Amram. The Horites originated in ancient Kush so Moses' marriage to a Kushite isn't surprising.

Zipporah, Moses' cousin bride, is mentioned in Exodus 2:15-16 and in Exodus 18:1-6. Moses met her while she at a well where she was drawing water for her father’s flocks. Priests were also shepherds who maintained shrines near wells, springs or other bodies of water. Zipporah was the daughter of "the priest of Midian". In other words, her father was a descendant of Abraham by Keturah who bore him a son named Midian.

Moses’ Kushite wife is not named, but she was likely a woman of high rank as the Kushites were part of, if not the majority of, the ruling classes in Egypt. We are told nothing about where Moses met her but she is likely his half-sister, if he married acording to the pattern of his Horite people. That would make her the sister of Korah. The first wife was the half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and the second wife was the patrilineal cousin (as was Keturah to Abraham). Moses likely had children in Egypt by his first wife before he fled to Jethro and married Zipporah.

The criticism of Moses' marriage to the first wife is related in this passage: “When they were in Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married: “He married a Kushite woman!” They said, “Has the Lord God spoken only through Moses? Has God not spoken through us as well?” (Numbers 11:35-12:2)

We don’t know why Aaron and Miriam criticized Moses for marrying the Kushite woman, but it is was not racially motivated since all these people were descendants of Noah by Kush (Ham's son) and Aram (Shem's son) since the two lines intermarried. Likely, Moses’ siblings were angry that he asserted authority over Aaron, his older brother, by marrying Korah's sister and then marrying a Midiante wife. His marriage to Korah's sister strengthened the alliance with the Kushites and his marriage to Zipporah strengthened the alliance to the Midianites. This led to the formation of a powerful alliance of peoples related by blood and marriage and strengthened Moses' position as ruler.

In order for Moses to rule, he had to have two wives. This pattern of rulers having two wives is first found in Genesis 4 which mentions Lamech and his two wives. It continues through the generations with Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and as we have seen with Moses. [3] This also explains Abraham's urgency to fetch a cousin wife for Isaac so that Isaac could rule after Abraham's death. This suggests that we should look in the biblical text for clues as to who Isaac's first wife would have been. We know that she would have been a half-sister, since Rebecca was the cousin bride. Likely, Isaac's first wife was a daughter of Yishbak, another son of Abraham by Keturah.

Here we find the 3-son pattern with Yishmael, Yishbak and Yitzak.  It is like other 3-son tribal units that we have seen: Uz, Buz and Huz; Og, Magog and Gog. The pattern corresponds to the 3-son Kushite rulers Sheba-qo, Shebit-qo and Ta-Har-qo. Here we find the Meroitic honorary suffix qo. The first two names are linguistically equivalent to the biblical name Sheba, an ancestor of Abraham and his cousin-wife Keturah. Ta-Har-qo is a Horus name.

The Youngest Son Rules

Isaac was the younger of the 3 first-born sons and he was chosen to rule over Abraham's territory after Abraham's death. The theme of the youngest son as ruler runs throughout the Bible. However, he never rules without objection from his siblings who express jealousy such as Miriam and Aaron. Cain’s jealousy of his younger brother overturns his natural affection to the point that he commits fratercide. Likewise, the jealousy of Joseph’s older brothers overturned their affection and they sold him into slavery. Neither was David, the youngest of the 12 sons of Jesse, treated well by his brothers. They left him to tend the flock while they returned home to feast with the Prophet Samuel. We have an allusion to this in the opening of the Song of Songs, which says that beloved’s skin is as dark "as the tents of Kedar" because he was made to work in the sun by his older brothers.

Zipporah and the Flint Knife

There is a strange story about Zipporah circumcising Moses’ son using a flint knife. As far as we know women didn’t circumcise males. This would have been a violation of the gender role distinctions practiced among Abraham's people. Women circumcised females and men circumcised males. This has led some to wonder if perhaps Moses was uncircumcised and Zipporah circumcised him in an urgent situation, but the Egyptians practiced male circumcision and Moses would not have been permitted to appear before Pharaoh had he been uncircumcised.[4]  Besides, the text specifically says that Zipporah circumcised her son.

“On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD met him and tried to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.” (Exodus 4:24-26)

Here we see Zipporah acting as a priest in applying the blood of the son to save her (uncircumcised = ritually impure) husband. This is the only written record of a woman involved with male circumcision and Zipporah clearly was not happy to be put in that situation. In her cultural context performing an act reserved for men would have diminished her femininity. She sacrificed an aspect of her womanhood in performing this act to save her husband.

Related reading: Were the Shasu Related to Moses?; The Nubian Context of YHWHThe Horite Ancestry of Jesus ChristThe Ethnicity of Abraham and DavidThe Genesis Record of Horite RuleWho Were the Horites?; Lamech Segment AnalysisAbraham's Nephews and Nieces; The Eyes of Horus Speak of Jesus; Abraham and Job: Horite Rulers; God's African Ancestors; Moses and Abraham: Different Origins of Israel?


1. The name “Korah” means shaved head. This was the custom for priests in Egypt preparing for their terms of service in the temples. See Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2007, p.37.

2. Many of the rulers in Genesis and Exodus met their wives at wells. That is because they married the daughters of priests who tended shrines where there were either natural springs or wells.

3. All of these royal priests married two wives and maintained them in separate households on a north-south axis. These settlements marked the north and southern boundaries of the ruler’s territory along the water system he controlled. The pattern of ruler-priests having 2 wives continues throughout the Bible. Elkanah is a later example, with his two wives Hannah and Penninah.

4. Circumcision was a sign of purity among the Egyptians and none who were uncircumcised were permitted to appear before Pharaoh. Circumcision applied to females also. Read about Pharaonic circumcision here.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Amram's marriage pattern to two wives indicates that he was a Horite ruler. The Horites were a caste of ruler-priests who were well respected by the Egyptians. These devotees of HR (Hor/Horus) were often raised in and around the royal palaces.

Moses name means "drawn-out" and suggests that he was not raised to be Amram's successor. He was likely raised to be a warrior who drew out his sword. This would explain the swiftness with which he killed a man and his success in defending Jethro's daughters at the well against a gang of attackers.

Moses himself did not regard himself to be "powerful in speech" and that is why he pleaded with GOD to allow Aaron to speak for him.

Jay Mackley said...

Josephus in "Antiquities of the Jews" (Book 2, chapter 10) gives us the answer and the background information on Moses's Ethiopian wife (when Moses was a prince of Egypt, before his prophetic call): "However, while Moses was uneasy at the army's lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battle,) this accident happened: - Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses as he led the army near the walls, and fought with great courage; and admiring the subtility of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptians' success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty, and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great achievements, she fell deeply in love with him; and upon the prevalency of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him about their marriage. He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife; and that when he had once taken possession of the city, he would not break his oath to her. No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately; and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Jay. That's an interesting story. Moses' Ethiopian/Kushite wife was certainly a royal daughter. However, as Zipporah was Moses' cousin bride, the Kushite bride would have been Moses' half-sister, a daughter of Amram. This was the Horite marriage pattern and was a sacred aspect of their life.

Perhaps Am-ram (Ruler of the People) was called Tharbis or Harbis? Har-bis is likely a cognate of Anu-bis. Anubis is one of the 4 canopic jar figures that represent Horus, the deity f the Horites.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying your blog here. As I was reading through this entry, I noted a reference to Exodus 6:20 in which you state that Moses's father Amram married his sister, Yocheved. I looked at this verse and found that Amram's wife, Yocheved was indeed his FATHER'S sister:
"Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses."
Was this some sort of oversight? I say this not to start a fight, but just to add to the discourse of your blog here.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Leviticus 18:12 forbids this arrangement. "Do not have sexual relations with your father's sister; she is your father's close relative."

It is possible that the Biblical writer supposed that the Levitical code did not apply to Moses' father, as it developed after Moses. However, most of the Levitical laws have precedents among the Horite purity and marriage laws.

It would be highly irregular for Amram to marry his father's sister. The Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern was very regulated. Further, this information does not fit all the other data given about Amram.

the striped rose said...

I am confused about the wife Ishar. I see Izhar listed as a son of Kohath Ex. 6:17 and the parent of Korah. Is she listed and I missing her?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Striped Rose, Ishar is a woman's name, derived from the Hebrew Isha, meaning "woman." Women are sometimes listed as "sons" in Genesis and Exodus if the ruling line is traced through them, which is the case with Ishar (Ex 6), and Anah and Oholibamah (Gen. 36). The last two women are Horites of Edom, of the house of "Seir the Horite."

Note that Ex. 6:17 lists Ishar and Amram in the same generation. These were Kohath's children by two different wives. This is characteristic of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite ruler-priests, that they had two wives.

Note that one of the sons of Korah the Younger (Ishar's son) was named Elkanah. This is the name of the prophet Samuel's father who also had two wives. Samuel's family was also Horite. See this:

Best wishes to you!

Lisa said...

Isn't it true that Moses had a third wife? The Kenite wife is mentioned in Judges 1:16 and also Judges 4:11 where actually Moses' father-in-law is mentioned and this person doesn't fit his other two wives' fathers.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Why do you think there are 3 wives, Lisa? The Kenite wife is Zipporah. Her father was Jethro the Kenite. She was Moses' cousin wife. Moses' half-sister wife would have been the Kushite wife, taken at a fairly young age while still living in Egypt. The Kushites were the first to unite the Upper and Lower Nile Valley and the earliest Egyptian dynasties were ethnically Kushite.

Sinttu ja James said...

If Moses Married the Kushite before the Midianite (Zipporah) then surely Pharaoh would have known of his heritage and who his enslaved family was? If Moses was indeed drawn from the water by Pharaoh's sister and raised by her, yes we know that his mother ended up nursing him so maybe???, but then he was driven out of Egypt and came to Midian before the Exodus. The first mention of the Ethiopian wife is long after the Exodus. Is it possible that Moses righted a wrong, and took a half-sister wife, AFTER his cousin-wife, which perhaps was the reason for his sister and brother's objection? Or do you believe Pharaoh knew of his heritage and allowed the marriage, but then why would his siblings object?