Monday, March 7, 2022

An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 5


Circles represent females.

Alice C. Linsley

To understand the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the early Hebrew we must read the king lists of Genesis chapters 4 and 5 side-by-side. An analysis of the kinship data reveals that the ruler-priest lines of Cain and Seth intermarried (endogamy). 

The left side of the diagram above is based on the data in Genesis 4. The right side is based on the data in Genesis 5 where we are told that Methuselah’s son was named Lamech. Lamech the Younger is named for his maternal grandfather, Lamech the Elder. Clearly, the lines of Cain and Seth intermarried. (This is shown in greater detail in "An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 4.")

Seth/Set and his brother Cain had separate territories. Cain descendants are associated with Canaan while Seth's descendants are associated with the Nile Valley and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. 

The Sethites ranged from the Upper Nile Valley (Nubia) to the land of Canaan. The ancient Egyptians referred to a man of the Nubian Desert as An-ti Set. They called the dwellers in the Eastern Desert of Egypt An-tiu Sett, according to the archaeologist E. A. Wallis Budge. Budge claims in his Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (1920) that the An-tiu Sett lived as far north as the land of Canaan. This is not surprising because Seth’s descendants living in Canaan would have intermarried with Cain’s descendants living in Canaan.

Eve’s son Cain left his homeland and settled “east of Eden” (Gen. 4:16-26), probably on the east side of the Red Sea. That would be the land of Canaan where Cain’s metal-working descendants lived. They are known as the “Kenites.” The names Cain, Canaan, Kenan, and Kenite are linguistically equivalent.

One of Cain’s daughters married her cousin Enosh and named their firstborn son Kenan, after her father. This is an example of the cousin bride’s naming prerogative, a feature of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the early Hebrew.

The descendants of Cain/Kenan are called "Kenites" (Gen. 15:18–21; Ex. 3:1; Num. 24:20; Judg. 1:16; Judg. 4:11). The word Kenite is related to the name Cain/Kain and to the Hebrew word for the land of Canaan, which is כנען, pronounced kena'an. Cain's descendants lived "east of Eden" (Gen. 4:15). In this context, Eden apparently relates to the Nile Valley where the Sethites lived.

The earliest representation of Seth is found on a carved ivory comb from Naqada I (c.4500-3500 BC), and he also appears on the Scorpion mace head. As with Osiris, Seth was a human whose followers elevated him to a deity (deification). Seth is associated with an ancient settlement in Upper Nile Valley, the town of Nubt near modern Tukh.

Legend holds that the historical Seth was red-haired and that his descendants with red hair identified with him. (Set, the archetypal enemy of Horus is often shown as a red hippopotamus on ancient Nilotic monuments.) At Nekhen, the oldest known site of Hebrew worship (c.4500 BC), a redheaded man was found in Burial no. 79. He had long wavy natural red hair and a full beard. Seti I who reigned from 1294–1279 BC also had red hair. I Chronicles 1:50 mentions Matred, the Egyptian bride of an Edomite ruler. Her name is related to Menmaatre, the throne name of Seti I.

The historical Adam is named for the ground – adamah – from which he was formed. It is likely that this refers to red soil. The Genesis 5:3 description of Seth being in the likeness and image of Adam suggests that Seth was red also. Whether is indicates a red skin tone typical of some Nubians, or red hair, or both, is uncertain. The trait of redness is found among the descendants of Seth and Cain, specifically Esau (Gen. 25:25) and David (1 Sam. 16:12).

Ta-Seti means the "Land of Seth” and the Sethite warriors were acclaimed as highly skilled archers. Sethite priests served at shrines and temples along the Upper Nile. In the Ancient Pyramid Texts these are described as Sethite “Mounds” and the Sethite and Horite mounds were under the authority of the same high king and served the same high God whose son was called Horus. The Sethite and Horite Hebrew represent a moiety system. They were one people divided into two ritual groups. They maintained separate shrines and temple complexes along the Nile.

This tile found by Flinders Petrie shows a Sethite priest of a temple of the Anu people. Tera-neter refers to a priest. Abraham’s father was Terah, a Hebrew priest. Note that the priest holds a staff as a sign of his authority.

Many early figures of the Bible come to life when we understand their social structure. The distinctive features of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Hebrew ruler-priests such as two wives and the cousin bride’s naming prerogative are found as early as Genesis 4 and 5 and among the descendants of Cain and Seth, including Terah, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Amram, Moses, Elkanah, David, Ashur, and Joash.

Related reading: The Sethites and the Red HippoHebrew Rulers with Two Wives; The Cousin Bride's Naming Prerogative, An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 1; An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 2; An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 3; An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 4; Royal Sons and Their Maternal Uncles; The Hebrew Hierarch of Sons; Ancient Words for Priests

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