Friday, March 28, 2014

Edo, Edom, Idu and Idumea

Abraham's territory extended between Hebron and Beersheba.
Idumea means "land of red people".

Alice C. Linsley

One of the ways anthropologists trace the movements of earlier human populations is through place names (toponyms). Linguistically equivalent place names suggest a connection between places that often are a great distance apart. The movement of peoples between Africa and lands to the east and north is suggested by equivalent places names. In Nigeria there is a place called Orissa and in eastern India there is a region called Orissa (now called Odisha).

A prevalent ancient place name is Tamana which means "great place". Dr. Vamos Toth has shown that this toponym is found worldwide, and he considered this evidence for a prehistoric civilization that he called "Tamana". The ancient Tamana sites were settlements at high elevations near permanent water sources. 

The 72-foot vertical ditches of Eredo in the Nigerian rain forest go around the area for 100 miles.

Many ancient place names have the Er or Ur word which refers to a walled settlement (mound) or a fortified high place. Erido and Eredo mean "Ur of the Idu/Edo", or the "settlement of red people". There were two places with this name; one in Mesopotamia and the other in Nigeria. Many ancient place names are designated as fortified settlements: Ur of Chaldees, Urartu, Urkish, and Uruk.

Of particular interest in tracing the movement of early red peoples are the place names Idu/Ido or Edo/Edom, and Idumea. Idu is the name of a fortified settlement in northern Iraq. Edo is a place in Nigeria.

Among the Igbo of Benin, there is a legend about a founding father called Idu. He is said to be the progenitor of the Edo or Idoma. Hence the expression: “Iduh the father of Idoma.” He is said to have begotten 6 sons, each the chief of a royal clan. According to oral tradition, Ananawoogeno begot the children of Igwumale; Olinaogwu begot the people of Ugboju; Idum begot the people of Adoka; Agabi begot the people of Otukpo; Eje begot the people of Oglewu; Ebeibi begot the people of Umogidi in Adoka, and Ode begot the people of Yala. (Read more here.)

The Red People of Edom

Abraham's territory was entirely in the land of Edom which the Greeks called Idumea, meaning "land of read people". (See map above.) Sarah lived in Hebron and Keturah, Abraham's second wife, lived in Beersheba. The wives' separate settlements marked the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory. This was a typical arrangement for high-status Hebrew ruler-priests.

At least two of Abraham's ancestors are identified as red: Adam and Seth. Adam's name is related to the word for blood, dam, and also refers to the color red. Genesis 5:1 describes Seth as being in the image of his father. This is verified by figurines of Seth found at the oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship at Nekhen on the Nile (c.4500 BC). The figurines show Seth as a red hippo.

At least two of Abraham's descendants are also described as red: Esau of Edom (Gen. 26) and King David (1 Sam. 16:12).

Another Interesting Linguistic Connection

There is a connection between these words Obodas, Obito, and Obadiah. Obodas, the first ruler of Petra in Edom, took his title from the Edo name for ruler which is Oba. A Nabataean bronze found in Wādī Mūsā, near Petra mentions a priest and his son and is dedicated to Obodas, the "god" (deified ruler) in Gaia. Gaia was in the mountains east of Petra. The text is dated to the reign of the last Nabataean king, Rabbel II (70–106 AD).

In Japan, "obito" refers to a regional ruler. It is interesting that the earlier name for Tokyo was Edo. Until 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo, the name of the small fishing village that existed on the site for centuries.

According to the Talmud, the prophet Obadiah was from Edom, and said to have been a friend of the Horite ruler Job of the clan of Uz. Genesis 36 lists the descendants of Seir the Horite. One of these clan chiefs was Uz. Among them were two Hebrew rulers named Esau, as shown in the diagram below.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information. I do note the linguistic similarities with the historical/Biblical Idumea and the West African Edo. I note the similarities between Edo monarchs and Egyptian monarchs. There appears to be some relationship of what we understand of Bible names, places, things and history with that of West African names, places, things and history. I appreciate your bringing attention to the kinship patterns we see in the Bible and the cultural link to that of Africans. I would term it Biblical Anthropology.

I understand what this means to some Africans because it appeals to their obsessive inclination to link themselves to the Bible as a way to validate their relevance to world history and to justify their existance since they have no written history of their own, and what they have been made to think of themselves and their history as "savage," "heathen" and "pagan". Such is the affect of missionary induced colonization of the African mind with the Bible.

Though I cannot in absolute terms exclude it, I tend to not use the Bible as a way to validate African history. We Africans have been encouraged to think we need to appeal to the master piece of western epistemology to define how we fit in it. We have totally lost our African mind for an enslaved or colonized one that I call the zapped African mind.

Having a zapped african mind myself, I can appreciated how your research opens up how much the bible reflects many aspects of African peoplehood, history, culture and tradition. For some it begets the notion of our origins being from the biblical names, peoples, places, things and history and for others the bible being evidence of our pre biblical origins that the Jewish narrative in spite of itself put or retained in the hebraic text. ~Sidney Davis

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Sidney, for that thoughtful comment. I fully appreciate the difficult task you describe. Native Americans struggle with this also.

My efforts are to recover antecedents of peoples, religious practices and beliefs using the tools of cultural anthropology. Digging into antecedents is like finding a crossroads with many divergent paths, but all the paths lead back to Africa.

Eyes wide open said...

I read somewhere that King Herod was an Edomite. Is this true?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Eyes wide open,

Herod was of Edomite ancestry and called himself "King of the Jews". His wise men knew that the true King would be born in Bethlehem, a Horite Hebrew settlement. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem".

After David became king, he brought the Ark of the Covenant "from the house of Abinadab, that was in Gibeah” (Saul's hometown) to Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:1-12). However, for three months the ark rested in David’s hometown of Bethlehem in the house of Obed-Edom.