Friday, May 13, 2022

Abraham the Hebrew


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The first person to be explicitly designated as “Hebrew” in the Bible is Abraham. He lived in the Middle Bronze Age around 2100 to 2000 B.C.  A detailed study of Abraham reveals a great deal about the biblical Hebrew and their authority.

Abraham’s Hebrew ancestors lived in the Nile Valley, Canaan, and Mesopotamia. They were a ruler-priest caste that dispersed widely in the service of the early kingdom builders such as Nimrod.

Beginning in chapter 11, Abraham becomes the focal point of Genesis. We are told that he was Hebrew, and he was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold (Gen. 13:2). His high social status is evident in the personal audiences he had with Pharoah and King Abimelech. Melchizedek, the priest-king of Jerusalem, ministered to Abraham after battle. This involved ritual cleansing from blood. The Hittites (descendants of Heth the Hebrew) recognized Abraham as a "great prince" among them. Abraham’s personal guard consisted of at least 318 warriors trained in his household.

Genesis 13 states that Abraham left Egypt and moved into the Negev (the "south"), a region known for mining and metal work. Abraham had kin living there among the Kenites, Cain’s descendants. It probably was at this time that he married Keturah of the clan of Sheba. She established their southern settlement at Beersheba (the Well of Sheba). From there Abraham moved north to the region of Bethel and Ai. Eventually, Sarah established her settlement at Hebron. The wives' settlements marked the southern and northern boundaries of Abraham's territory. Bethel and Ai are shown on this map. Hebron and Beersheba are also shown, farther south.


As with the earlier Hebrew ruler-priests Abraham had two wives. The wives' settlements marked the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory. Abraham's father Terah also had two wives. One wife was the mother of Sarah, and the other wife was the mother of Abraham. Keturah was Abraham's patrilineal cousin and the wife of his later years. By his two wives, Abraham had 7 sons and an unknown number of daughters.

Hebrew sons who were not the firstborn of the half-sister (principal) wife or the firstborn of the cousin (second) wife were sent away. Genesis 25:6 explains that before he died Abraham "made grants" to his other sons and then sent them away from his proper heir Isaac. This feature of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the early Hebrew drove their expansion out of Africa. The territories of some of the early kingdom builders were large. However, by Abraham's time the size of the territories of the sent-away sons was relatively small. 

When Abraham's father died in Harran, Nahor took control of Terah's territory and Abraham became a sent-away son. After some wandering, he established himself in a territory that extended on a north-south axis between Hebron and Beersheba, a distance of 27 miles/43 kilometers, and on an east-west axis between Ein Gedi and Gerar, a distance of 94 miles/152 kilometers. His authority in this territory was absolute and governed by a tradition of sacred law.

The biblical data surrounding Abraham presents a ruler who was heir to a long-standing priestly tradition. Though Abraham is claimed by many Semitic peoples as their common ancestor, that priestly tradition is largely ignored.

Competing Narratives

Abraham’s Hebrew identity is blunted by efforts to make him acceptable to various religious ideologies. For Jews, Abraham is problematic because he was not Jewish. This explains in part why Jews have made Moses the more important figure of their history. However, this is no remedy since the biblical data reveals that Moses and his family were not Jewish either. Moses and Abraham belonged to the same caste of ruler-priests as is evident in analysis of their common marriage and ascendency pattern.

It is problematic for Jews that the two key figures of their history were not Jews, but it is even more disturbing that both Abraham and Moses believed in God Father and God Son.

Muslims view Abraham as a great prophet. However, as Mohammed is viewed as the last or “seal” of the prophets his greatness eclipses that of Abraham and Moses. The Quran acknowledges that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. In this respect, Muslims are closer to the Messianic Faith than the Jews who deny the virginal conception of Jesus.

The Jews that Mohammed knew in Yathrib (Medina) apparently were not well informed about their genealogical connection to the Arabian Horites. Either they failed to demonstrate a common ancestry, or they did not know of it. By Mohammed’s time, Jews had embraced the Talmudic myths that support the prevalent Jewish ideology. Sadly, neither Jews nor Arabs have a good portrait of their “father” Abraham.

Though Christians acknowledge Abraham as a model of justifying faith we hardly know him better. Nor do we recognize that Messianic expectation originated among Abraham’s Nilotic ancestors. The parallels between creedal Christianity and the ancient Horus myth are so striking that cynics claim that Christianity is a copy-cat religion. In this they are mistaken. The Christ of Christianity is the perfect fulfillment of the early Hebrew expectation of the coming of the Son of God in the flesh to save sinners and to restore Paradise. The belief was preserved by the Horite and Sethite clans who intermarried. Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus are biological descendants of those clans, as is evident in analysis of the kinship data of the Bible. This suggests a continuous family/caste tradition that is overlooked by the average reader, proving Thomas Paine’s observation that "The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed."


Anonymous said...

Wasn’t Heth from the Canaanite’s and was considered a Hamitic and not Hebrew?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Heth was a Hebrew, as were Ham and Shem. Their descendants intermarried. These were rulers who practiced bride exchange to strengthen their ruler-priest caste.

You will find more information under "Related reading" as the bottom of the post. I especially recommend reading this:

Other early Hebrew rulers are listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10, 11, 25 and 36. Their original homeland was the Nile Valley. You will find more information about that here:

If this interests you, you might consider joining the international Facebook group The Bible and Anthropology where scholars discuss these matters.

Anonymous said...

Was not Abraham's mother a Cushite?

Alice C. Linsley said...

She was a descendant of Noah's two sons Ham and Shem, whose lines intermarried (cognatic descent). Cush/Kush was one of Noah's grandsons.