Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Mighty Men of Old

Was this biblical Eden?

Alice C. Linsley

The rulers of the archaic world were apparently related and dispersed across a vast region that extended from central Africa to Mesopotamia, Crete, and Anatolia. These rulers are called "the mighty men of old" in Genesis 6:4. They are described as heroes and men of renown. They constructed temples, palaces, fortified shrine cities ("high places"), and pyramids.

The "mighty men of old" were a caste of rulers who spread across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion, establishing kingdoms for themselves. They were served by royal warriors, priests, and sages. In ancient texts the ruler-priest caste is known 'Apiru or Habiru (Hebrew), from the Akkadian word Abru, meaning priest.

They ruler-priests are associated with the number seven. This explains the connection to the Nilo-Saharan word for seven: abiriyo.

Among the Habiru there were many peoples, including the Shasu, the Annu, and the Anakim. The last two words are related. Anak and his people the Anakim dwelt in the region of Hebron, where Sarah resided. They are associated with the Nephilim (Num. 13:33), with the Raphaim (Deut. 2:10) and with the Calebites (Josh.15:13). According to a later biblical source, Caleb drove the Anakim out of the region, but there is evidence that they remained in Canaan after the time of Caleb. 

Other related peoples are the Zumim and the Emim. Amongthese populations there were priest dedicated to God Father and God Son. They were called "Horites." Shrine cities, such as Hazor, were governed by Habiru, so the attempts of Joshua and Caleb to take these settlements indicates a power struggle between kinsmen rather than strangers.

The Anakim and the Nephilim are linked to the giants, the "sons" of God, and the "powerful ones of old" in Genesis 6:1-4. The word npyl (nephil) in Aramaic means giant or great one and is equivalent to nfy in Arabic, meaning hunter. It is said concerning Nimrod that he was a mighty hunter or a mighty man before the Lord.

The clue to understanding Genesis 6 is the word gibbor-iym (powerful ones). This passage is speaking about ancient rulers who were regarded as the "sons of the gods" or deified kings (elohiym). The gibbor-iym, also designated elohiym (deified rulers), comprise the divine council spoken of in Genesis. This is a common theme in Africa, especially among the Buganda of Uganda, the Yoruba, the ancient Kushites and the ancient Egyptians. The idea spread across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion.

Anak's father was Arba. Hebron was called Kiriath-Arba. This suggests that he belonged to a larger group known as the Ar clans. They were royal scribes. Dr. Catherine Acholonu connects the Ar of Canaan to the Aro of Nigeria. She writes, "In Nigeria the caste under reference is the Ar/Aro caste of Igbo Eri priest-kings, who were highly militarized in their philosophy."

Genesis 10 speaks of the Ar who controlled the Red Sea and the Mediterranean kingdoms of Tyre and Arvad. This appears to be a 3-clan confederation, consisting of Ar, Arvd and Arkt. The last two clans are called “Arvadites” and “Arkites” in Genesis 10:15-18.

Apparently, the Anakim were taller than the general Canaanite population and probably wore necklaces. Some believe that the term anak comes from the root 'nq (anaq) which means necklace. The word appears in the Song of Solomon 4:9 and Judges 8:26. As a verb, anaq means to serve as a necklace (Ps. 73:6) or figuratively to bestow riches upon someone (Deut. 15:14). Hebrew scholars take the word Anak to be a reference to "people with necklaces" or 'long-necked people."

It is more likely, however, that the term anak is of Nilotic origin. Among the Nilotic Bisa, a small population of people who conform to the older ways, light skin cattle are called ├ínaku, which means "to bleach in the sun." This is probably the origin of the Biblical term Anakim for Abraham’s Ainu ancestors who had a lighter skin. The singular form of the word is ├ínak. (Eric Ten Raa’s The Couth and the Uncouth: Ethnic, Social, and Linguistic Divisions among the Sandawe of Central Tanzania, p. 148)

Excavations in the region of Edom in Jordan have turned up graves containing necklaces. The Edomite shrine city of Petra reflects the pillared architecture of the Horite shrines of the Nile, and Obodas, the first ruler of Petra, took his name from the Edo/Edomite name for ruler which is Oba. Linguist Helene Longpre notes that Demotic Egyptian (7th-5th BC) and Nabatean Aramaic closely correspond to Meroitic or Old Nubian. (Longpre, "Investigation of the Ancient Meroitic Writing System", Rhode Island College, 1999.)

Lists of place names in the Nubian temples of Soleb and Amara West record six toponyms located in “the land of Shasu.” One of the six is found on a monument of Ramesses II that claims he “has plundered the Shasu-land, captured the mountain of Seir” in Edom; a 19th Dynasty letter mentions “the Shasu-tribes of Edom”; Ramesses III declares that he has “destroyed the Seirites among the tribes of the Shasu.” The Egyptians regarded the Shasu as a prominent part of the Edomite population. (Read more here.)

Social organization of the Anakim

The Anakim were organized into three-clan confederations as were many other groups living in Canaan. The three Anakim clans were named for the three highest ranked sons of Anak whose names are Sheshai (Shasu), Ahiman and Talmai (Josh.15:14).

Three-clan Horite confederations included Uz, Huz and Buz and Magog Og and Gog.

Other three-clan confederations listed in Scripture include:

Cain  Abel  Seth (Gen. 4-5)
Ham  Japeth  Shem (Gen. 5-9)
Og  Gog  Magog (Gen. 10; Nu. 21:33)
Haran  Nahor  Abraham (Gen. 11-12)
Ishmael/Yishmael  Joktan/Yaqtan  Isaac/Yitzak (Gen. 16, 21, 25)
Shelah  Perez  Zerah (Nu. 26:20)
Jeush  Jalam  Korah (Gen. 36: 4-18)
Korah  Moses  Aaron (Ex. and Nu.)
Dedan  Tema  Buz (Jer. 25)

In Canaan, the 3-clan Jebusite confederation consisted of Sheba, Jebu and Joktan.

Among the Sara of Chad, Sudan and Somalia the confederation is comprised of the qir ka, the qin ka, and the qel ka. The Sara are descendants of the Sao, an earlier three-clan confederation of warriors and kingdom builders. According to legend, there were giants among them. This connects the Anakim to Sara, Abraham's half-sister wife, who lived in Hebron.

Martin Noth, in his seminal work "The Scheme of the Twelve Tribes of Israel" (1930), showed that the twelve tribes of Israel did not exist prior to the covenant assembly at Shechem described in the book of Joshua. It appears that the older pattern of social organization involved three clans.

Related reading: Righteous Rulers and the ResurrectionThe Tumuli of the Rulers of Old; Burial Practices of the Rulers of OldEnoch: Angelic Being or Deified Ruler?;  Three-Clan Confederations to Twelve-Clan Confederations; The Nubian Context of YHWHBoats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans; Kushite Kings and the Kingdom of God

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