Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Scope of Genesis 1-11

Alice C. Linsley

Most of the oldest material in the Bible is found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. The scope of Genesis extends from the world’s creation, the origin of languages, the multiplication and dispersion of human populations, the early kingdom builders, the construction of fortified cities, to the calling of Abraham, the Hebrew.

Chapters 1-11 of Genesis cover the longest duration of time of any book of the Bible. The book begins with God creating earth, preparing earth for organic life, and creating humans in the divine image. These chapters contain both historical and meta-historical material and the discriminating reader will distinguish between the two. The meta-historical material is open to speculation: What was the Tree of Life? What was the Forbidden Fruit? The historical material leaves a data trail for us to follow. Eden’s location and natural boundaries can be identified. The king lists stand up to strict scientific scrutiny; biblical populations with linguistic affinity can be confirmed, as can Eden’s climate during the African Humid Period.

The first eleven chapters provide the historical-cultural context for Abraham, the “father” of a “multitude” (Gen. 15:5; 22:17,18). Beginning in Chapter 12, Abraham becomes the pivotal figure of the rest of the book and of much of the Old and New Testaments. The substance of Abraham’s faith is the same as the faith of his ancestors. Investigation of that faith suggests that Genesis is less about the creation of everything than it is about the origin of the Messianic Faith.

Genesis is a rich depository of anthropological data about the early kingdom builders who are called “the mighty men of old” and “men of renown” (Gen. 6:4). These rulers are listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10, 11, 25 and 36. The marriage and ascendancy pattern of these rulers drove expansion of the Hebrew ruler-priest caste out of the Nile Valley.

Genesis is a reliable source of information about their movement and helps anthropologists to identify their genetic makeup. Abraham’s ancestors were among the populations that moved out of Africa. Specifically, they were peoples of the widely dispersed Y-DNA Haplogroup R (first map below). These peoples were already dispersed between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago. The population that is later identified as Hebrew was already dispersed by 17,000 years ago (second map below).

The dark red area in Africa is the Benue Trough, the outflow region of Lake Chad, the homeland of Noah, a Proto-Saharan ruler.

The oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship has been identified with Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) on the Nile (4000 BC). That is in the region of the dark green spot in Africa on the map above.

At Nekhen, archaeologists have uncovered stone, ceramic, and metal artifacts and numerous burial sites. The city was dedicated to HR, the Most High One, whose son was called Horus or Enki. Nekhen is often referred to as the City of the Falcon or the Hawk. The falcon was the totem of Horus who is often shown on ancient Nilotic monuments with the body of a man and the head of a falcon. This image of “Golden Horus” was found at Nekhen.

The earlier Nekhen temple consisted of a large oval courtyard surrounded by a mud-plastered reed fence. The courtyard was paved with multiple layers of compressed mud.This temple closely resembles temples depicted on seals from the First Egyptian Dynasty.

A later temple (c.3500 BC) was built within the precincts of the city. The earliest phase of this temple was a circular stone wall surrounding a large mound of sand supported by limestone blocks. Limestone fragments, likely the footings for large pillars, were found within the enclosure. The central shrine consisted of three rooms and four 20-foot high cedar pillars. Cattle, goats, fish and crocodiles were sacrificed in the oval courtyard.

Votive offerings at the Nekhen temple were ten times larger than the normal mace heads and bowls found elsewhere, suggesting that this was a very prestigious shrine.

By 3500 BC, Nekhen had a population estimated at 10,000 inhabitants and was the most important settlement along the Nile. The city stretched for over two miles along the edge of the floodplain and was an important shrine city and commercial center. Metal workers crafted sacred objects of gold and copper. There were stone masons, weavers, beer brewers, and potters. The earliest preserved house (c.3600 BC) was the house of a potter. It was preserved when he accidentally burned it down while firing a load of pots.

Nekhen had a twin city on the opposite side of the Nile. That city was called Nekheb (now Elkab). A Chief Inspector at Nekhen was Horemkhawef, a Horite ruler-priest. The murals in his tomb in Nekhen and those in the tomb of the priest Sobeknakht in Nekheb were painted by the same artist. Hormose, the chief priest of Nekhen, requested material goods from the temple at Nekheb for use at the Nekhen temple.

When the Horite Hebrew moved out of the Nile Valley into Mesopotamia they carried their religious beliefs and practices with them. In Mesopotamia, God Father was called An in Sumerian and Anu in Akkadian. (Akkadian was the language of Nimrod’s territory). God Son was called Enki, and God Spirit was called Enlil. The High God Anu or Râ was regarded as the God over all gods, and his emblem was the sun. That is why solar symbolism is prominent wherever the ruler-priest caste of Horite Hebrew dispersed in the service of kings.

The Genesis material is layered like an onion. It contains myth, legend, king lists, rabbinic glosses, word play, rivalries, and stories preserved by different clans that represent different traditions. The later editorial hands on the book are the onion’s outer layers. These can be pulled away to expose the inner, older layers that reveal the antecedents of religious practices such as circumcision, ritual washing, fasting, animal sacrifice, and worship in east-facing temples. The roots of the Messianic Faith are found in the oldest layers of the material.

Related reading: The Shrine City of NekhenWho Were the Horite Hebrew?; Nekhen News; The Substance of Abraham's Faith; Three Portraits of Adam; The Genesis King Lists

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