Monday, May 2, 2016

The Anglican Priesthood in Anthropological Context

Alice C. Linsley

Anglican holy orders include bishop, priest and deacons. Some priests may also be monks. In the Eastern churches these are called "hieromonks" and all bishops in the Eastern Orthodox churches are taken from the ranks of celibate monks. This is one of the differences between Anglican orders and Eastern Orthodox orders. Anglican and Eastern Orthodox orders differ also from Roman Catholic orders on the matter of celibacy. Contrary to the position of the Roman Church, priests of old, that order from which the priesthood of the Church emerged, married and enjoyed sexual relations with their wives. However, they abstained from sex, shaved their bodies, fasted, and entered periods of intense prayer in preparation for their time of service at the temple or shrine. Married Orthodox clergy continue this practice, abstaining from sexual relations with their wives for 24 hours prior to presiding at the Divine Liturgy.

Before the ordination of women priests, Anglican orders were more highly regarded by the hierarchs of both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. This innovation devalued Anglican orders in the view of those churches and continues to be an obstacle to wholeness within catholic Christendom. The innovation reveals confusion about the nature of the priesthood and suggests infidelity to the received tradition of the Apostles which was embraced by the early priests of the Church. The ordination of women as priests is an accommodation to a culture that does not understand blood covenants or the distinction between the blood work of males and females. The contemporary confusion about the distinction between life and death reflects this lack of understanding. (The matter of blood work will be addressed in the last section of this paper.)

The heresy of gender equality

At the outset, the reader should understand that this paper does not advocate either the complementarian view of men and women in the Church or the Roman sacramental arguments against women's ordination. I agree with Dr. William Witt that these arguments are not found in the early Fathers' writings and they are not convincing. Dr. Witt's objection is to innovations in response to cultural changes. That seems to be a vote for holding on to the original pattern which is the male priesthood. My objection to women priests is based on anthropological study of why women were never priests until the 20th century. Ultimately, the question rests on whether the Church has the authority to change received tradition that extends back to Jesus' ancestors named in the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5. Should the Church decide it has such authority, it must recognize that a woman priest also changes our received Christology.

The biblical view of men and women is not complementarian. It is binary and reflects acute observation of reality on the part of the ancients. The assertion that women and male are equal is a heresy. Citing Genesis 1:27 to prove the complementarian position reveals ignorance of the larger pattern in Scripture. In its context this verse makes a distinction between humans and other animals. The phrase "male and female" is a biblical merism that parallels the phrase "God created man in the image of God..." This verse speaks about ontology. It does not speak about equality as that notion is taken today. Today gender equality has become tyranny for Christians who desire to adhere to biblical teaching.

The female form speaks of birth, but is not the source of life. Mary brought forth Jesus, and Jesus honored her, but she is not Christ's equal in divinity or glory. This is consistent with the binary pattern of Scripture in which one entity in the binary set (light-dark, male-female, etc.) is superior in a visible way to the other: the sun is the greater light, the moon the lesser as its light is refulgent. Males are large and stronger than females. The one must be stronger in order to save the weaker. Christ must be overall in order to stoop to save all. Further, this binary feature of the Biblical worldview militates against Asian dualism, a framework in which the blood work of Christ becomes meaningless.

The veneration of Mary expresses the truth that she is unique among women as God-bearer. Her service is to the greater glory of her divine Son just as the Church's service to Christ is as a weaker vessel. The argument that the Church is female and this justifies women priests is illogical and unfounded when we study the biblical pattern.

The Roman argument against women priests

For Martin Luther, the priest stands at the altar in persona christi. This Eucharistic theology was developed in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and reiterated by Paul VI's Inter Insigniores in October 1976 and further clarified by Cardinal Ratzinger in Responsum ad Propositum Dubium in November 1995.

The encyclical Inter Insigniores bears closer examination in its assertion that the canonical documents of the oldest Christian communities preserved the pattern they had received.

The Catholic Church has never felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women. A few heretical sects in the first centuries, especially Gnostic ones, entrusted the exercise of the priestly ministry to women: This innovation was immediately noted and condemned by the Fathers, who considered it as unacceptable in the Church.

It is true that in the writings of the Fathers, one will find the undeniable influence of prejudices unfavourable to woman, but nevertheless, it should be noted that these prejudices had hardly any influences on their pastoral activity, and still less on their spiritual direction. But over and above these considerations inspired by the spirit of the times, one finds expressed -- especially in the canonical documents of the Antiochan and Egyptian traditions -- this essential reason, namely, that by calling only men to the priestly Order and ministry in its true sense, the Church intends to remain faithful to the type of ordained ministry willed by the Lord Jesus Christ and carefully maintained by the Apostles.

Responsum ad Dubium concludes with these words:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of Our ministry of confirming the brethren. We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

In her book The Catholic Priesthood and Women, Catholic laywoman Sara Butler acknowledges that a shift has taken place in Catholic theology as a result of the affirmation of the gender equality. She recognizes that this view undermines traditional arguments against women priests. She acknowledges that the in persona christi argument first appeared in Paul VI's Inter Insigniores.

Anglo-Catholics have embraced the Roman position that the priest acts in persona christi and many Anglicans are unaware of  the Eastern Orthodox position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. Dr. Witt believes that the Orthodox view removes the objection based on gender representation. However, this is not so.  In Eastern Orthodox theology the Church is viewed as the "new Israel" and the figurehead of the new Israel is the male priest, the "father" who offers sacrifice for the family (as did Job) and baptizes and chrismates. Father Georges Florovsky points to this in the following statement:

The first followers of Jesus in the "days of His flesh," were not isolated individuals engaged in their private quest for truth. They were Israelite regular members of an established and instituted Community of the "Chosen People" of God ... Indeed; a "Church" already existed when Jesus began His ministry. It was Israel, the People of the Covenant... The existing Covenant was the constant background of His preaching. The Sermon on the Mount was addressed not to an occasional crowd of accidental listeners, but rather to an "inner circle" of those who were already following Jesus . . . "The Little Flock" that the community which Jesus had gathered around Himself was, in fact, the faithful "Remnant" of Israel, a reconstituted People of God. Each person had to respond individually by an act of personal faith. This personal commitment of faith, however, incorporated the believer into the Community. And this remained forever the pattern of Christian existence: one should believe and confess, and then he is baptized, baptized into the Body. ("Worship and Everyday Life: An Eastern Orthodox View," Studia Patristica, vol. 2 (1963), p. 266.

The Orthodox maintain that God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants were fulfilled through
Christ and His Church. “In Christ, then, the covenant with Israel was fulfilled, transformed, and transcended. After the coming of the Messiah—the Incarnation of God the Son—only those who are ‘built into Christ’ are counted among the people of God. In Christ, the old Israel is superseded by the Christian Church, the new Israel, the body of Christ; the old covenant is completed in the new covenant in and through Jesus Christ” (George Cronk, The Message of the Bible; St. Vladimir Seminary Press; 1982, p. 80).

In other words, those who faithfully believe in Jesus Christ inherit the status that Israel had before it rejected the Messiah. This view is based on a wrong interpretation of Galatians 3:7-9: “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham . . . if you are Christ’s then you are of Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Paul is not speaking of the Church supplanting the faithful of Israel when he calls the followers of Jesus “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). He is reiterating that the pattern of faith and the ground of salvation are the same for all faithful people throughout time. This touches on Paul's understanding of the pleromic nature of the Blood of Jesus. Nor can the Orthodox view of the relation of the Church and Israel be supported by I Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” for here Peter is addressing believing Jews in the diaspora. They were for the most part biological descendants of the ruler-priest caste from which the priesthood of the Church emerged. Martin Luther's generalization of the priesthood to all believers served his purpose by undermining the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, but it also deflects from historical facts concerning the origin and nature of the priesthood.

What is the Priesthood?

Many years of anthropological investigation using Biblical data has convinced me that Messianic expectation is one of the earliest religious beliefs. It is expressed in the burial practices of Abraham's archaic ancestors who believed in bodily resurrection and anticipated the coming of a Righteous Ruler who would overcome death and lead His people to immortality.

From the earliest times, the office of priest and ruler were connected. The ruler-priest stood as the altar as one who intercedes for his people, offering sacrifice according to divinely inspired law. The anticipation of the One who would overcome death, crush the serpent's head under His feet, was fulfilled in only one ruler-priest, Jesus the Messiah.

The Christian priest is to be like Jesus Christ, exemplifying Christ in purity of life and in masculine form. When Anglicans contemplate reception of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist, it is appropriate to see before them a masculine form. Likewise, in contemplation of the Annunciation and Incarnation we would have before us an image or icon of Mary, not a masculine form. To place a female form at the altar unravels the fabric of the Messianic tradition. It tells this story: The ewe who gives birth, and nurtures with her milk, is sacrificed, offering herself for the life of the world. It simply does not work! The ewe is a timid creature who stays with her young and seeks protection from the ram when threatened. She embodies feminine virtues and her self-sacrifice is at odds with the order of creation.

Here is another story told by the female standing at altar: The one who saves is the daughter of God. The divine council agrees to take the life of one who is divinely designed to give life. Now we have a pagan tragedy!

Despite what feminists, politically-correct academics, and rights activists might say, the ministry of priests in the Church developed organically from the Horite priesthood of Abraham's people and was exclusively the work of a select group of men (a ruler-priest caste) whose devotion to the worship of the Creator involved, by today's standards, extreme asceticism and purity of life. That there were priestesses in the Greco-Roman world is irrelevant to the question of women priests in the Church because this practice has no connection to the priesthood known by Jesus Christ and his followers. Failure to make this distinction has led to much confusion and obfuscation.

In the ancient world Horite priests were known for their purity, sobriety and devotion to the High God whose emblem was the Sun. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”

The Horite priests, who are often called Abru or Habiru (Hebrew) in ancient texts, worshiped the Creator when other peoples were worshiping lesser deities. They anticipated the coming of the Seed of God (Gen. 3:15) and believed that He would be born of their ruler-priest bloodlines. That is why the lines of priests intermarried exclusively and why unchaste daughters of priests were burned alive (Lev. 21:9). Sexual impurity was not tolerated.

In the ancient world, only men born into the priestly caste could serve a priests and many of those never did. Some served in sub-castes as warriors, scribes, and metal workers. There was never a question about having a "right" to this work. It was reserved for those who were born into the caste or sub-caste. Among Abraham's ancestors bloodline was traced through the mothers, as is still the case today with Jews. Social status and occupation were traced through the fathers. Jesus' bloodline is traced through his mother. His social status and work as a carpenter came through Joseph's line. Both Mary and Joseph were of the Horite ruler-priests caste and they were cousins.

The Horite Hebrew marriage and ascendancy pattern remained unchanged from the Neolithic period of Genesis 4 and 5 (the lines of Cain and Seth) to the time of Joseph and Mary. The pattern can be traced through the Bible using the anthropological tool of kinship analysis, and it is an impossibility that this pattern could have been written back into the text at a late date.

There were priests among Jesus' first followers. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin and of the Horite ruler-priest caste. Arimathea refers to the Horite line of Matthew or Matthea. This was Jesus' ancestry through both Mary and Joseph. Horite priests expected a Righteous Ruler to defeat death and lead his people to immortality. This is why Horite priests took great precautions in the preparation of the bodies of dead kings. It is likely that Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph, the husband of Mary, were both of the Pharisee persuasion.

Priests were dispersed throughout Palestine. Settlements often took their names from the priestly division that resided there. For example, Nazareth was the home of the eighteenth priestly division, Hapi-tsets (a word of Nilotic origin), so Nazareth is Happizzez in 1 Chronicles 24:15. Nazareth was the home of Joseph who married Jesus' mother. Mary was from Bethlehem. Her full name would have been "Miriam Daughter of Joachim, Son of Pntjr, Priest of Nathan of Bethlehem." From predynastic times among the Egyptian Horites, ntjr designated God or the king. Pntjr is Pa-Netjer, the name of Joachim’s mother. The Horite priests traced descent through both the mother and the father. A limestone stela (1539-1291 B.C.) bearing the names of Pekhty-nisu and his wife Pa-netjer is on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The Ancient Egyptian word nisu (ruler) became nasi in Hebrew and applied to the High Priest who presided over the Sanhedrin.

Through Mary the promise of Genesis 3:15 came to be fulfilled. The Seed of the Woman crushed the serpent's head and death has been overcome. The ancient expectation of a divine royal son who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality was fulfilled.

The connection between Bethlehem and the Horites is alluded to in I Chronicles 4:4, which lists Hur/Hor as the "father of Bethlehem." To this day Jews call their ancestors Horim, which is Horite in English. The ancient Horite priests were devotees of Horus, the son of Ra, the creator. Horus' conception took place by divine overshadowing. He is the pattern by which Jesus would be recognized by Abraham's descendants as the Son of God. When the Virgin Mary asked how she was to have a child since she "knew" no man, "The angel answered her and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the holy child will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

Anglican Orders and the Horite Priesthood

None of the twelve Apostles served as ruler-priests, as far as we know. Originally only priests belonging to prominent families were members of the Sanhedrin (bet din). A "prominent" family was one whose lineages could be traced back to Horite ruler-priests of renown. These members of the Sanhedrin served under the presidency of the high priest much as priests today served under the presidency of their bishop. The high priest bore the title nasi (ruler, king, prince) and retained this even after the presidency was transferred to other hands. Similarly, in Anglican orders there is an understanding that a bishop remains a bishop even after he has stepped down from serving in that office.

The second in charge was a ruler-priest who was called ab bet din (father of the court). The role of the ab bet din appears to have been a combination of the roles of the Bishop's chaplain and the chancellor of the Diocese who serves as the chief legal consultant to the Bishop.

The third century Rabbi Johanan enumerates the qualifications of the members of the Sanhedrin as follows: they must be tall, of imposing appearance, of advanced age, and scholars. They were also required to be adept in the use of foreign languages.

The only followers of Jesus that are known to be members of the Sanhedrin were James the Just, Nicodemus, and Joseph bouleutēs (honorable counselor).  Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, was "waiting for the kingdom of God" according to Mark 15:43. He is designated Joseph Hari-Mathea (not Arimathea), that is, Joseph of the Horite line of Matthew. Apparently, he had business and family connections in the British Isles. Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260–340) may have been referring to this connection in Demonstratio Evangelica when he reports that some of Jesus' earliest disciples "have crossed the Ocean and reached the Isles of Britain." Since a qualification of membership in the Sanhedrin was facility of languages, Joseph would have been able to communicate with the people of Britain.

As a ruler-priest Joseph would have appointed men who were qualified to serve as priests in Britain. Being of advanced age, he would have been older than Jesus and the disciples. This suggests that the priesthood came to Britain very early and is older than generally supposed. It must be nearly as early as the episcopacy of Evodius of Antioch (53–69 A.D.) and the episcopacy of James the Just of Jerusalem (d. 69 A.D.), but would likely precede the episcopacy of Linus of Rome (67-79 AD).

Further, the legend concerning Joseph of Hari-Mathea coming to Britain has basis in science. Horite priests were among the Ainu and genetic studies have confirmed that the Ainu dispersed widely across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Some came to the British Isles and Scandinavia and migrated to Greenland, Labrador and Eastern Canada where they are called "Micmac."

Anthropological studies have shown that the Ainu were among Abraham's Nilotic ancestors. Further, Genesis 41 confirms that Joseph, the son of Jacob, married the daughter of a priest of On (Heliopolis) and On has been identified as an Ainu shrine city.

Received Tradition and Change

The priesthood as a tradition received from Jesus' Horite ancestors and it was a tradition which the Hebrews, and later the Jews, and then Christians preserved without change. The Church does not have the authority to change this tradition any more than it has authority to change the doctrine of Jesus' two natures, or the Eucharistic words of institution. This is the consensus of the Church Fathers, the Council of Nicaea (Canon 19), and the Council of Laodicea (Canon 11), as well as the consensus of the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II spoke ex cathedra on female priests in 1994. Observing that the male priesthood had been "preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and clearly taught by the Magisterium in recent documents," he decreed that the Church has "no authority to confer priestly ordination on women."

In "The Veiling of the Virgins" Tertullian speaks of the sacerdotal life as a "male function," and St John Chrysostom wrote, "When one is required to preside over the Church, and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also” (On the Priesthood).

The Western tendency to innovate is not a new development. Speaking against this tendency, St. Basil the Great wrote, “The dogmas of the Fathers are held in contempt, the Apostolic traditions are disdained, the churches are subject to the novelties of innovators” (Letter 90, To the Most Holy Brethren and Bishops Found in the West).

This willful disregard of Apostolic traditions reached new heights in the Episcopal Church with the unprecedented and politically-motivated decisions to ordain women and non-celibate homosexuals. Again, St. Basil's words well describe the present condition of that body which can scarcely be called a "church." He wrote:

“Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted.  The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit.  The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself” (On the Holy Spirit).

Feminist theologians have pressed the Church to ordain women, seeking to overthrow the wisdom of the Fathers and the Councils in their own brand of "liberation theology." They paint only one portrait; that of universal male oppression of women. They misrepresent the reality of women in the early church and in the Bible. Phoebe, Lydia, Priscilla were ministers in the early church, and more than 90% of the women named in the Bible are the wives and daughters of high ranking ruler-priests and they exercised considerable influences in their communities. Further, in the Eastern Orthodox Church women are highly revered and at least half the icons in a given church are of women saints, martyrs, and a few women who are regarded as "equal to the Apostles," such as Photini (the Woman at the Well), and a central place is given to the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is venerated, as she was by early Christians. Feminists theologians would overthrow any tradition which they regard as misogynistic to advance their agenda. For such as these, St. John Chrysostom has these stern words: “The divine law indeed has excluded women from this ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others.” (De Sacerdotio)  A review of the past 30 years of the Episcopal Church's history makes it fairly easy to identify who the "others" are.

Breaking the Ancient Pattern

It is a historical and anthropological observation that no woman ever served in the office of priest until 1944, at which time Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglicans in Communist China. She later stepped down from serving as a priest. In 1976 the Episcopal Church broke the age-old tradition of the all-male priesthood by vote of General Convention. At that time the "irregular" ordinations of the "Philadelphia Eleven" and the "Washington Four" were made regular. The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the United States was Ellen Marie Barrett (January 1977). She was ordained by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York. Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had served as Integrity's first co-president. Other lesbians had been among the Philadelphia Eleven. In the United States, the ordination of women and gay and lesbian "rights" were intertwined from the beginning, so that today it is difficult to treat these as separate issues. Both have been framed as "equal rights" issues, revealing a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the priesthood.

The faith of Christ, the Son of God, is an unchangeable tradition coming from Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors who were a caste of ruler-priests who, as devotees of Horus, were called "Horites." They came to rule the Nile and many of the major water systems of the ancient world. Josephus calls the descendants of Abraham by Keturah "Horites" and quoting another ancient historian, speaks of them as "conquerors of Egypt and founders of the Assyrian Empire." These Nilo-Saharan ancestors of Abraham did indeed come to rule Egypt where they built remarkable shrine cities at Karnak and Heliopolis (Biblical On).

In "Isis and Osiris" Plutarch remarked that Horite priests burned incense three times a day: frankincense at dawn, myrrh at mid-day, and kyphi at dusk. These were the three most significant points in the Sun's daily journey and high noon was considered the sacred center, a time when there are no shadows (cf. James 1:17).

The distinctive traits of the Horite belief system align remarkable well with key features of catholic faith and practice because Christianity emerged from the belief system of Abraham's Horite people. Consider these beliefs:
  • Male ruler-priests who were mediators between God and the community
  • A binary (versus a dualistic) worldview
  • Blood sacrifice at altars for atonement
  • Expectation of the appearing of the Son of God in the flesh
  • God's will on earth as in heaven, interpreted by morehs or prophets
  • Belief in an eternal and undivided kingdom to be ruled by the Son of God
  • Belief in a Righteous Ruler, the Son of God, who they called Horus, who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality. This last point was a bone of contention between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Jesus' time. 
The priesthood is recognized as an extremely ancient office, and there is but one priesthood, that of Jesus Christ's Horite people. Its point of origin is the Nile Valley at a time when the Sahara was wet (7500 B.C.-3000 B.C). It is quite distinct from the other ancient religious office of the shaman. Both the priest and the shaman are intermediaries, but their worldviews are quite different. Underlying shamanism is the belief that spirits cause imbalance and disharmony in the world. The shaman’s role is to determine which spirits are at work in a given situation and to find ways to appease the spirits. This may or may not involve animal sacrifice.

Underlying the priesthood is belief in a single supreme Spirit to whom humans must give an accounting, especially for the shedding of blood. In this view, one Great Spirit (God) holds the world in balance and it is human actions that cause disharmony. The vast assortment of ancient laws governing priestly ceremonies, sacrifices, and cleansing rituals clarifies the role of the priest as one who offers animal sacrifice according to sacred law. The priest was forbidden to consult the spirits of the ancestors as shamans do in trance states. Had Anglican clergy taken this prohibition seriously the tragedy of Bishop James Pike might have been averted.)

Priests are intermediaries between the Creator and the community, not between the spirits and the community. When sickness, sudden death, or a great calamity such as flooding or plague affects the community, the shaman investigates the cause and seeks to balance benevolent and malevolent energies. When the community served by the priest experiences hardship, deprivation and loss, the priest calls the people to repentance and seeks to restore the community to the peace of God. For the priests of old, this involved blood sacrifice, a work performed exclusively by male priests.

Blood Work

For Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors blood was perceived as having power. Genesis 4:10 describes Abel's shed blood as having power to cry out to God from the ground. Leviticus 17:11 declares that life is in the blood: "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." 

Archaic man had an intuitive anxiety about blood. The sacrificing priesthood likely came into existence the first day that blood was shed and the individual and the community sought relief from blood anxiety and guilt. Abraham's Horite people made a distinction between the blood work of men in killing and the blood work of women in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary opposites of life and death. The blood shed in war, hunting and animal sacrifice fell to warriors, hunters and priests. The blood shed in first intercourse, the monthly cycle, and in childbirth fell to wives and midwives. The two bloods were never to mix or even to be present in the same space. Women did not participate in war, the hunt, and in ritual sacrifices, and they were isolated during menses. Likewise, men were not present at the circumcision of females or in the birthing hut.

The confusion of bloods was not permitted because this blurred the distinction between life and death. Similarly, the Hebrews were commanded never to take the life a young goat by boiling it its mother’s milk, a symbol of life. This clarifies the gravity of abortion, a procedure in which placental blood and water which sustain life become mixed with blood of the fetus being killed. In the Biblical worldview this is utter desecration.

As the priest sacrifices animals on the altar, his blood work requires the taking of life. The blood work of women, on the other hand, pertains to giving life, and the two should never be confused. Another example of the segregation of blood work is seen in the forming of brotherhood pacts among tribal peoples by the intentional mixing of bloods between two men, but never between male and female. The binary distinctions of male and female, and their distinct blood work, are maintained as part of the sacred tradition that Abraham received from his Horim.

Archaic man regarded blood and water as the primal substances of life. For Christians the blood and water that give life to the world are those that flowed from the pierced side of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Though the blood of animals points to the blood of Jesus Christ, His blood was always prevenient and eternally efficacious, as is His grace. This is the meaning of the story of the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22) when understood in the Horite religious context, and it sheds light on the nature of the priesthood.

As Abraham and Isaac ascended Mount Moriah, Isaac asked his father "where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" and Father Abraham answered that God Himself will provide a lamb (seh), but in fact, God provided a ram (ayil). For Abraham the Horite the meaning would have been clear, that God alone provides the one to be offered, in this case clearly not Isaac, though he was of Horite blood and miraculously conceived. The pattern of Horus whereby he rises in the morning as a lamb and dies with the setting sun as a ram speaks of a future fulfillment of the Horite expectation of a deified son who would defeat death and lead his people to immortality. Horus was sometimes shown with a ram's head, signifying mature vitality, having grown in strength from lamb to ram. This image of Horus was found at the Temple of Horus at Edfu, 70 miles south of Luxor. It is an image consistent with the understanding of Horus as the "son" of God, not a daughter; as the divine ram, not a ewe.

Horus shown with falcon head (left) and with ram's head (right) 

When Scripture poses binary opposites such as God-Man, Heaven-Earth, Life-Death, Day-Night, East-West or North-South, it is initiating a pattern of thought that travels between two points. This is a particularly important feature of the Biblical worldview because, as has been observed by anthropologist and philosophers, this binary structure brings complexity of meaning while on the surface the meaning seems obvious. For example, the Sun's daily movement from east and west is evident and can be observed by the position and length of the shadows it casts. On a sunny day the sun's rays are felt most intensely at high noon, the mid-point of the solar arc. This is a time without shadows when we are exposed to the full glory of the Sun.

For Jesus' Horite ancestors the Sun was the emblem of the Creator and his son Horus. The son was called "Horus of the two horizons" (east-west) and "Horus of the two crowns" (north-south, Lower Nile-Upper Nile).  are examples of how meaning is derived by holding two points in view. We see this in the Passover sacrifice at twilight, what is called in Hebrew ben ha-'arbayim, meaning "between the two settings." According to Rabbi Radak, the first "setting" occurs when the sun passes its zenith at noon and the shadows begin to lengthen, and the second "setting" is the actual sunset (p. 55, vol. 2, The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary, "Exodus").

On the eastern horizon Horus is the lamb, young and pure as the new day. On the western horizon, after his sacrifice at the sacred center (the Cross), he is the ram who comes to full strength. The ram's horn (shofar) symbolized the covenant between God and the Hebrews. When it was blown the veil or tehome was lifted, allowing God's Presence to be seen. The ram's horn which lifts the veil refers to Jesus Christ and his blood work by which he makes all things new.

Jesus Christ's blood work cleanses, heals, restores, redeems and justifies. He is both offered sacrifice and offering priest. Every priest from before the time of Abraham to the first priests of the Church are of his order, and there is no other true order of priests. Jesus Christ is the one true Priest of God, and all priests appointed by God and rightly ordained belong to him and are to be like him as an icon is to the spiritual reality which it mirrors.


Jonathan said...

If this strict separate by gender among the kinds of blood work was always so well taught and so faithfully observed ever since ancient times, then wouldn't Zipporah have been breaching the strict rules by circumcising her son? What, then, does the acclamation "You are truly a bridegroom of blood to me!" mean: is this a fine godly affirmation, or a defiant one? And why do Zipporah's words and/or actions appear to have obtained God's imprimatur (or, at least assuaged His wrath) under the circumstances? And what is the meaning of Zipporah getting in one more rejoinder at the end of the episode: "And when He let him alone, she added, "A bridegroom of blood because of the circumcision." (Exodus 4:25, 26)?

Alice C. Linsley said...

That is a mysterious passage and shows evidence of some redaction. However, it is clear that Zipporah was not happy with Moses for putting her in that situation; possibly because it forced her to act in a manly way, something that would have been distasteful to her.

Even today many women dislike having to perform a male role because it feels like it diminishes their femininity.

It is important to see the connection between the ruler and the priest and how Christ is the fulfillment of both Messianic expectation and the perfect Ruler-Priest. See this:

Jonathan said...

Would you see the expression of "bridegroom of blood" as a boast, possibly relating to the assertion of a preferred status by one of the ruler's two wives in a rivalry over against the other? That is to say, if Moses' Cushite wife was really, as you have contended (, of the two wives, the one with the closer blood relation (the first was a half-sister to Moses, born of a different mother; and the Midianite Zipporah, was the patrilineal cousin), then maybe the two wives were constant rivals. Maybe it happened often enough in these circumstances that there was a series of conventional expressions, whereby the "first" wife (the half-sister) went to the claim of "Well, I was the first!" or, "Well, I bore the first son" or "I am the bridegroom of blood" or any similar boast as a way of asserting her prior privileges, whereby leaving the second wife to feel diminished, unless she could express a similar claim in countermeasure. In the circumstances of Zipporah, maybe the counterclaim that served to answer the Cushite wife was "Well, guess what: I assumed the prerogative of circumcising the first born: so, to whom is Moses the real 'bridegroom of blood', me or you?"

Alice C. Linsley said...

The theme of competition between two wives runs throughout the Bible. Examples include Sarah/Keturah, Rachel/Leah and Penninah/Hannah. However, I do not see the "bridegroom of blood" as being significant in that context.

This story seems to be about their first born son and a parallel to the wrath of God shown to the first born of Egypt when the angel of death passed over. Israel is said to God's "first born" and circumcision was to be the sign of the covenant. If Moses neglected to circumcise his own son, there would have been an expectation of God's wrath. That said, this theological allusion is vague and does not fit the narrative well. I suspect it comes from the later Deuteronomist Historian.

The Hebrew phrase in question is Hatam damin. Here is an interesting piece that explores the meaning:

Ron said...

A recent Dreher post brought your work immediately to mind. Read and scroll down to find the phrase "blowing up the binary."

Alice C. Linsley said...


The GLBT activists must refute and attempt to overthrow the biblical worldview which has a binary framework. There is a fundamental difference between God and Man, between male and female, between heaven and earth. The binary feature is seen throughout the order of creation. It is inescapable, and as the Apostle Paul implies, those who insist this is not true reveal a great darkness of mind.

Unknown said...

Hello! Ms Linsley, I just read Women Rulers in Ancient Israel. How could it be that Queen Salome Alexandra completely ruled when men are to be Ruler-Priest? Why would the Horim allow that? This article on Priesthood seems to be contradictory, since women are not to be Priest-Rulers. I'm sure I'm not understanding something. I appreciate you clearing this up for me. Thank you. Anyal

Alice C. Linsley said...

Anyal, not all rulers were also priests. The women who ruled in ancient Israel were "chiefs", judges and prophets, but not priests. See this:

Two women are listed as "chiefs" in Genesis 36: Anah and Oholibamah.

Unknown said...

Good Morning! Thank you, Ms Lindsley, I will go to the article you have given as soon as I'm able.
This morning in meditation after prayer the Holy SPIRIT put in my heart "...MY People's Blood". I have the ellipses because there was something before that which I'm not remembering or maybe it was after "MY", praying I receive what it was again. I'm not clear about what that means but in time I will be shown I'm sure of that:).
After meditation and in praising-prayer to GOD I asked to understand how a woman of living blood could rule Israel? It came to me that she was no longer in child-barring years and the men were not living true. I decided to look online to know something of this woman. The article I found did let me know that she had grown sons, she took the throne after the death of her husband. That is as far as I've gotten since I have an appointment to get to. So I do not yet know what is meant by the men are not true, but she was obviously no longer in child-bearing years. I'm thinking these years for a lady has significance as what she can achieve socially. However, I do not know if the other Rulers where past child-bearing as well. Likely the article you gave me will make mention of that.
Before I go could you tell me the best translation for reading Genesis, please? Thank you.
May the Blessings of GOD'S Holy SPIRIT fill you in every moment of this day!! Anyal