Saturday, December 3, 2011

Morkot's Book Might Have Been Stronger

Alice C. Linsley

Mizraim (Egypt) and Kush (Upper Nile/Sudan/Ethiopia) are classed together by the prophets because the Lower and Upper Nile regions were first unified by the Kushite King Meni/Menes around 3000 BC. The first rulers of a unified Nile Valley were Kushites. Robert G. Morkot has written about these early rulers in his book The Black Pharaohs. Their territory is referenced by different names: Nubia, Kush and Ta-Seti, which is the royal title Set or Seth and also refers to the bow which was used by the red Nubians hunters and warriors. They wore feathers around their ankles and closely resembled the warriors of Petra.

There are many connections between the Kushite rulers presented in Morkot's book and the different Nilotic and Proto-Saharan peoples who are mentioned in Genesis. Unfortunately, Morkot did not investigate these Nilotic connections thoroughly.

As an historian, he shows discipline in not venturing from his area of expertise. However, his book would have been stronger had he explored the anthropological and linguistic evidence. He missed many clues that would have made his work more compelling. For example, he might have explored the linguistic connections between Nilotic peoples today and the ancient Kushite rulers. Consider Nefertitti, someone to whom he directs a good deal of attention in a later chapter.

Her name Nefer-itti contains a typical suffix of the Kushite rulers.  As E.A. Speiser noted in his Anchor Bible commentary on Genesis, the suffix is found in the biblical name for Cain, which is Qan-itti. As is evident from the Akkadian, -itti pertains to the king, as in itti šarrim which means "with the king" or "against the king." Akkadian was the language of the empire during Nimrod's time (BC 2290-2215).  Genesis 10 tells us that Nimrod was a Kushite, so it is not surprising to find that Akkadian shares many words with Nilotic languages. Among the Kushite Oromo of Ethiopia and Somalia, itti is attached to names of high ranking individuals. Examples include Kaartuumitti, Finfinneetti and Dimashqitti.

Morkot's book focuses mainly on the 25th Dynasty.  He would have done well to explore earlier dynasties more deeply.  For example, consideration of the 18th Dynasty would have made a stronger case for the long duration of Kushitic dominance in the Nile Valley. Amenhotep III ruled Nubia, Libya, Gaza and Syria in the 18th Dynasty. His 42-foot tall statue was recently excavated in Thebes (modern Luxor) on the west bank of the Nile.

Amenhotep III ruled between about 1382 and 1350 B.C. (roughly 600 years after Abraham's firstborn son, Joktan). His name means "peace of Amen" and indicates a period when the divine name Amen was used in Nubia instead of the name Set/Seti/Seth, which was favored in the Delta. It was during the 18th dynasty that the title 'King's Son of Cush' was first used.

Finally, Morkot would have done well to reference biblical data when doing his research. He dedicates a good deal of his book to the late Kushite rulers Sheba-qo (or Shaba-qo), Tahar-qo and Shebit-qo, but he never makes the linguistic connection to the Meroitic honorary suffix - qo . Once we remove the suffix, we are left with the name Sheba. The Kushite ruler Sheba-qo ruled about 716-702 BC. Earlier Kushite rulers held the royal name Sheba before him. Genesis 10 lists Sheba as an ancestor of Abraham and his cousin-wife Keturah. He was a descendant of Ham and Shem, as the lines of Ham and Shem intermarried exclusively. Sheba-qo’s double crown is shown on the Sheba-qo Stone with parts of his Horus name. Here we have archaeological evidence linking the royal house of Sheba and Abraham’s Horite people.

Related reading:  Enoch: a Royal Title; Cain's Father; Who Were the Kushites?; Kushite Kings and the Kingdom of God

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