Saturday, February 25, 2017

Facebook Group Discusses Genesis

Learn to read the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology and you will never read it the same way again.

The book of Genesis is one of the topics being discussed at a new Facebook group, The Bible and Anthropology. This international forum shares ideas, insights, discoveries, images, and documents that help the members gain a deeper understanding of the Bible through application of cultural anthropology. Anthropology degrees are not a prerequisite for participation!

Consider joining the group. Share what you experience where you live and how the experience relates to Scripture. Help advance the scientific field of Biblical Anthropology. The objective is to share and learn from each other.

Related reading: Support Biblical Anthropology ResearchWhy Biblical Anthropology?; Haplogroups of Interest to Biblical Anthropologists; Biblical Anthropology, the Science...not speculative theology; Using the Bible to Test Hypotheses; Contextual Incongruities in Genesis

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Yes, Abraham Had Camels

Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and set out, taking with him all the bounty of his master; and he made his way to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor.  (Genesis 24:10)

Alice C. Linsley

Some maintain that the mention of camels in Genesis 24 is an anachronism because camels were not domesticated at the time Abraham lived. However, camels are listed as domesticated animals in a Sumerian Lexical Text from Ugarit (1950-1600 B.C.) and reference to camel’s milk appears in another Old Babylonian text. Pierre Montet found a 2nd millennium stone container in the form of a camel in Egypt. Parrot uncovered a picture of the hindquarters of a camel on a jar at Mari (2000 B.C.) and found camel bones dating from about 2400 B.C.

Many images of camels appear on rock art in Saudi Arabia. Among the thousands of camel figures carved in rocks throughout the Arabian Peninsula, the ones at Jubbah are believed to be the oldest. They date back to the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 4000 years.

In August 2008, a very old camel jawbone was unearthed in Syria. According to Heba al-Sakhel, head of the Syrian National Museum, the fossil is one million years old.

Paleontologists have evidence that members of the camel family thrived in North America about 40 million years ago. The American Arctic camel, which went extinct at the end of the last ice age, once roamed alongside woolly mammoths, dire wolves, sabertooths, and giant ground sloths.

During the Pliocene warm period, 3 million years ago, camels ranged more widely. Mummified camel bones have been found as far north as Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Tundra.

Camels developed into distinct species before the Ice Age and moved westward across Alaska into western Asia. The two kinds of camels known today likely emerged in Asia. Smaller members of the camel family include alpacas, guanacos, llamas, and vicunas.

Today wild camels still roam parts of Mongolia. Though wild herds no longer are found in Arabia, there would have been wild Arabian camels in Abraham's day. Camels are milked at a camel dairy in Dubai and the vitamin C rich milk is being exported to Europe.

Beja of Sudan with their camels

The total worldwide population of camels is thought to be about 18 million. The camel population is divided into 2 categories: approximately 16 million Dromedary (1 hump) and 2 million Bactrian (2 humps). Hybrids of the two species were once found in Asia. These crossbred camels had one extra-long hump and were larger and stronger than either of their parents.

Camels are the perfect pack animals for treks through deserts and arid regions since they can go up to 12 days without any water. They pick their own leader and always follow the "alpha camel" and they always file in the same order. 

A Dromedary camel's fur is short and protects its body from the heat. The longer fur of the Bactrian camel may grow to about 10 inches (approx. 25 centimetres) on the animal's head, neck, and humps. All camels lose their fur in spring and grow a new coat. Without its fur the camel looks slender but a thick coat of new fur grows by autumn.

We do not know if Abraham's camels were Dromedary or Bactrian, but it is likely that they were Dromedary camels as this is the breed of the Arabian Peninsula. It is interesting that Abraham sent ten camels. The number 1 was a reference to the Creator among Abraham's Horite people. The O was a solar symbol, as was the Canaanite Y (a solar cradle). The number 10 represents a new rising of the sun and the ascendancy of a "son" of God, in this case Yitzak (Isaac). Yitzak's taking of his second wife marked his rising to power. He would rule in Abraham's place over a territory that extended from Hebron to Beersheba. This explains Abraham's urgency that Isaac should have a second wife and that she should be brought back to Canaan (Gen. 24:1-9).

The Kushan likely used Bactrian camels. Domesticated Bactrian camels had spread into southern Russia by 1700 B.C. and were used in Western Siberia by the 10th century B.C.

Camel teams consisting of approximately 70 camels are able to travel between 20 to 25 miles (about 40 kilometres) a day in desert environments. They move at a speed of about 3 miles (5 kilometres) per hour. Teams carry up to 20 tons on their backs. A large bull camel can carry up to 1323 pounds (600 kg) and smaller camels up to 882 pounds (400 kg).

Given this information, we can estimate the weight of the "bounty" carried by Abraham's camels to Padan-Aram. If all ten camels were mature bulls carrying maximum loads, the total weight of the goods delivered would have been about 13,230 pounds or 6000 kilograms.

Related reading:  Archaeology and the Patriarchs; The Beja Metalworkers; Trees in Genesis, Noah's Birds; Arctic Camels Clue to Climate Change?The Pattern of Two Wives; The Latest Challenge to the Bible: Abraham's Camel's an Anachronism; The Arabian Rock Art Heritage

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Noah's Brother

Alice C. Linsley

The Qumran Scroll known as Genesis Apocryphon is a midrash on Genesis. Here we find extra-biblical evidence for the patrilineal endogamous marriage pattern of the ancient Habiru (Hebrew). Noah states in Column 6:
"Then I procured wives for my sons from among the daughters of my brother, and I gave my daughters to the sons of my brother in accordance with the eternal law."

The intermarriage of patrilineal ruler-priest lines is a feature of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Habiru (Hebrew). Noah's clan intermarried with his brother's clan. Presumably both clans resided in adjacent territories in the Lake Chad-Upper Nile region. 

The homeland of Noah and his brother is represented
by the red region in central Africa.

Who was Noah's brother? He was another son of Enoch, the son of Lamech the Younger, the son of Methuselah and Naamah. Naamah is the daughter of Lamech the Elder. Lamech the Elder is a direct descendant of Cain (Genesis 4).

Lamech the Younger (Gen. 5:26), son of Methuselah by his cousin wife, ascended to the throne of Lamech the Elder (Gen. 4:20-22).

This same pattern is found with the brothers Cain and Seth, Ham and Shem, and Korah and Moses.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Review of The New Christian Zionism

I review very few books, but I believe this book is worth reading.

The New Christian Zionism
Gerald R. McDermott, Editor
copyright 2016
IVP Academic, 349 pages

Contributors to the book include Robert Benne, Craig Blaising, Darrell Bock, Mark S. Kinzer, Shadi Khalloul, Gerald R. McDermott, Robert Nicholson, David Rudolph, Mark Tooley, and Joel Willitts.

The writers define the "New Christian Zionism" as a theologically-rooted conviction that Israel has a corporate right to exist "with the same human rights and security guarantees that other nations receive" and that God's plan in the future involves Israel as a national entity and as a body of Jewish followers of Messiah. (p. 308)

Read the review here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Contextual Incongruities in Genesis

Alice C. Linsley

Genesis is a complex and layered narrative. Understanding the material requires unraveling the interwoven elements and paying attention to the textual incongruities. A critical reading avoids imposing a presumed order or interpretation upon the text. To flesh out the narrative we must notice the incongruities and discrepancies, and what Jacques Derrida calls the trace of the subordinated voices.

For example, at the end of the book, Jacob's clan settles in Egypt. The general thrust of the narrative is set up for the story of Moses and the Exodus. Yet the text makes it clear that Jacob's people maintained contact with relatives and friends in Edom. Judah had sexual relations with Tamar in the region of Timnah (Gen. 38:12-30), an area controlled by the Edomites. Tamar sat at the entrance to a Horite shrine there.

The Horite rulers of Edom are listed in Genesis 36. Analysis of their marriage and ascendancy pattern demonstrates that they are the descendants of the rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10 and 11.

Abraham's territory was entirely in the region of Edom. It extended on a north-south axis between Hebron and Beersheba and on an east-west axis between Engedi and Gerar. This region was called Idumea by the Greeks which means "land of red people." We recall that Esau and David are described as having a red skin tone. It is likely that the name Adam is also a reference to a red skin tone. By considering the incongruity of settlement in Egypt and the presence of Jacob's son and kinsmen in Edom, we gain a fuller and more accurate picture of the events that shaped Israel's early history.

Many of the incongruities of Genesis are contextual; posing a contrast between the earlier context of Abraham and the latter context of the Deuteronomist who narrates Israel's history through Moses. The Deuteronomist stresses rejection of images, exclusive devotion to the God Yahweh, and obedience to his prophet Moses (Deut. 18:18; cf. Mark 6:125; Matt. 16:13-20; John 1:21). The Deuteronomist writes from the context of the Neo-Babylonian Period, about 700-300 BC. This is about 1500 years after the time of Abraham.

The Deuteronomist seeks centralized worship at the Jerusalem temple, and the reshaping of the Passover and Tabernacles into national observances. This perspective does not align with the historical, archaeological, linguistic, and anthropological data concerning Abraham. It ignores his R1b cattle-herding ancestors who lived 4500 years ago in central Africa. The result is a disconnection between the Deuteronomist's portrait of Abraham and the earlier portrait of Abraham as a Horite Habiru ruler in Edom whose ancestors are named in Genesis 4 and 5.

Some interpreters believe that the disparate narratives reflect a conflict between priestly families. However, Moses's family is descended from Abraham's family and their marriage and ascendancy customs are exactly the same. Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Moses's family reveals the distinctive pattern of the Horite ruler-priest caste. This should not surprise us since Moses is the half-brother of the ruler-priest Korah, a descendant of the Horite ruler, Seir of Edom. There is greater continuity in Genesis on the level of kinship patterns than is generally recognized.

Digging deeper

The Jewish people view Genesis 15 as the high water mark in the later narrative. Here we read that Abraham received divine protection and promises in a night vision. Abraham's complaint that he had no proper heir is not answered with the promise of Isaac, but instead Abraham is promised offspring as numerous as the stars. God seals this with a covenant on the mountain in which Abraham's sacrifice is consumed as a smoking pot of fire (or a torch?) passes between the severed animals Abraham has set out.

God now tells Abraham, through the agency of Moses, what will happen in the opening chapters of Exodus. Abraham's descendants will be foreigners in Egypt for 400 years, but God will judge Egypt and bring Abraham's offspring out of the land with great wealth. After four generations, Abraham's offspring will return to Canaan.

The Joktanite clans

In reality, many of Abraham's offspring never lived in Canaan. His firstborn son, Joktan, served as a high ranking official in the territory of his maternal grandfather in the region of Beersheba in Edom. The clans of Yisbak and Shuah, other sons of Keturah, are associated with the Euphrates valley. Zimran and Medan are clans in Arabia. Midian is associated with northwestern Arabia. Frank Moore Cross believes the origins of Israel's conception of God is to be found in the region of Midian. Cross argues that archaic biblical poetry locates Yahweh's movements in Edom/Seir/Teman/Midian and that these "are our most reliable evidence for locating Sinai/Horeb, the mountain of God."

As Abraham was a Habiru ruler-priest, his proper heir was the firstborn son of his first wife and half-sister, Sarah. As Sarah was barren, the next in line was the firstborn son of a related concubine. In this case, that was Eliezar, son of Mesek. "Dam-Mesek" means the one born of Mesek or the blood of Mezek. This has been improperly rendered as Damascus.

Isaac assumed governance over Abraham's territory in Edom, which at that time extended from Hebron to Beersheba. As far as the text goes, Isaac never lived in Canaan.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Pondering Divine Epiphanies

O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A blessed Epiphany to the readers of JUST GENESIS.

By 4245 BC, the priests of the Upper Nile had already established a calendar based on the appearance of the star Sirius, known to the ancient Egyptians as the Sothic cycle, which is a span of 1,461 sidereal years (365.25 x 4) in which the heliacal rising once again “syncs up” with the solar calendar. In 3000 BC, the heliacal rising of Sirius and the flooding of the Nile occurred around June 25th, near the summer solstice. This also marked the Egyptian New Year.

Clearly, Nilotes had been tracking this star (and its binary twin) and connecting it to seasonal changes and agriculture for thousands of years. This is verified by the Priest Manetho who reported in his history (241 BC) that Nilotic Africans had been “star-gazing” as early as 40,000 years ago. Plato, who studied in Egypt, claimed that the Africans had been tracking the heavens for 10,000 years.

How the heavens influence patterns on Earth:

Wisdom Seeks to Understand
The Dung Beetle and Heavenly Lights
Jesus: From Lamb to Ram
Solar Imagery of the Proto-Gospel
Christ's Sign in Creation
Religion of the Archaic Rulers
The Sun and the Sacred
The Sun and Moon in Genesis
A Tent for the Sun
Iron Seeds from Heaven
Celestial Symbols that Speak of God
The Swelling of Sun and River Speak of God
Horite Expectation and the Star of Bethlehem
The Celestial Dance Observed by the Magi
A Blessed Epiphany
Ancient African Astronomers
Seven Planets, Seven Bowls