Alice C. Linsley
The Jebusites were likely a Nilo-Saharan people who migrated to the region of the Benue Trough when the Sahara began to dry out. What is known about the Jebusites indicates that they migrated into Nigeria where they controlled the major water systems at the conjunction of the Niger and Benue Rivers and at the Atlantic coast near modern Lagos. They also migrated east into the land of Canaan where one of their leading men - Melchizedek - was the ruler-priest of Salem (Jerusalem) in Abraham's time (Gen. 14:18).
The modern day Jebusites are the Ijebu and they live near and have close association with the modern day Edomites who are called "Edo." Both tribes live in Nigeria and Benin. In Canaan the Jebusites had close connections with the Horites of Edom.
The ruler-priests who controlled the ancient water systems that connected West Africa to Mesopotamia were Horites. That is they were devotees of Horus, whose worship along with his father Re and his virign mother Hat-hor, spread along the water systems from ancient Kush to Mesopotamia and beyond. This was 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, p.3-4)
The Jebusites are classified in the second group, as are the Ashante of Ghana. (Asha-nte means "People of Asha." Asha was a name for God; as is Azu in Accadian, Asa in Chadic, and Ashai in Hebrew; a Jerusalem priest was named Am-ashai in Neh. 11:13.)
The Jebu are generally classified as Yoruba, but the term 'Yoruba' applied only after the 18th century. The Jebu identify themselves as distinct from other Yoruba sub-groups by calling themselves Nago-Jebu. The Jebu are also called Ijebu, and in the Bible they are called "Jebusites."
According to African legend, the Yoruba migrated to the Atlantic coast of Nigeria from the east. Some stopped in the region of Lake Chad where they had kin in Bor'no (land of Noah). Their kin were likely the Kanuri tribe (descendants of Kain), which may explain why some Yoruba have tribal marks similar to those of the Kanuri.
New York Times Report Confirms Jebusite Control of Waterways.
In 1892, the New York Times reported on the Jebu tribe, which controlled the water systems 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. This also explains the relationship between Abraham and Melchizedek, a Jebusite ruler priest of Jerusalem, to whom Abraham offered tribute.
The Jebusite 3-Clan Confederations
The Jebusites 3-clan confederation is identical to the 3-clan confederations found among Abraham's horite caste. While there are 2 Jebu provinces, there are 3 brothers: Yoruba, Egba and Ketu. In Genesis we find this 2 kingdoms-3 brothers pattern throughout the book. One brother is often veiled/hidden or more peripheral to the events described. For example, we are told that Noah had 3 sons and Genesis makes it clear that the lines of Ham and Shem intermarried, but the Bible tells us very little about the descendants of Japheth since they appear to have migrated into Europe. Likewise, Abraham had 3 first-born sons: Joktan, Ishmael and Isaac, but we really have to dig into the text for information on Joktan, the firstborn of Keturah, Abraham's second wife.
We also discover from study of the Jebu living today 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 pattern of the rulers of his people, Isaac would have already had a half-sister wife in Beersheba.
The principal ruler of the two Jebu provinces - Jebu Remu and Jebu Ode - is called "awujali." Jebu rulers are 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." (Interestingly, the University of Oxford, Institute Paper, n° 7, (1937) on Medicinal Plants lists this plant as a blood purifier - see reference HA 1k, here).
Fresh palm tree fronds are used ceremonially at the installation of rulers and are used to decorate places of worship. The association of palm trees (tamars) with rulers and prophets is a common among Abraham's people. Deborah sat under a tamar 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. The connection between rulers and trees at sacred centers is found among the tribal peoples of West Africa. Among the Yoruba, fresh palm tree leaves are employed on occasions of installation of a sovereign, and to the office of high priest. (Read more about the palm tree in connection with rulers, prophets and shrines here.)
Related reading: Trees in Genesis; 3-Clan Confederations to 12 Tribes; Abraham's Kushite Ancestors; Who Were the Horites?; Abraham's Firstborn Son; Nimrod was a Kushite Ruler; The Nigerian Jebu