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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dark Sky and Howling Wind

Bronze bull head

Alice C. Linsley

The Peshitta is a version of the entire Bible read by Syrian Christians.  This is the Bible that St. Ephrem the Syrian knew. In the Peshitta, Genesis 8:4 says that Noah's Ark landed in the “mountains of Quardu.” Quardu is an Akkadian word formed of kur - land of /controlled by + - hill, and the term refers to warlike hill people, like the Scythians. (See The Origin of Kurds, p. 77.)  

(Note the similarity to the Arabic Đū Shará (ذو شرى‎) which means "Lord/King of the Mountain.")

These people of Quardu are related to or associated with the Jats of Punjab and the Gutians (bull people). The horns of the bull were a solar cradle that indicated divine appointment by overshadowing. Images of Hathor, the mother of Horus, show her overshadowed by the Sun resting in the long horns of a bull. Divine appointment of the Horite Hebrew ruler was indicated by the solar cradle Y at the beginning of the ruler's name: Yishmael, Yitzak, Yacob, Yeshua, etc. and by the ili/itti suffix in the Akkadian and Nilotic languages. Akkadian is the language of Nimrud's territory and he was a Kushite kingdom builder (Gen. 10:8).

The rulers of Quardu (Kardu) are known to have had red hair, like the Horites of the hill country of Edom. Esau, the Red, lived in the hill country of Seir the Horite (Gen. 36). Archaic populations lived along the ridges in rock shelters (kar or kur) and later in fortified shrine cities called "high places" in the Bible. These mountain peoples were in the R1b Haplogroup, the same genetic group as Noah and his sons.

The dark red spot in Central Africa is Noah's homeland.
This is the region of Lake Chad.

The Peshitta appears to have preserved the connection between the R1b peoples who had dispersed into Turkey and Iran. This represents the eastern tradition of the older African account of Noah, a ruler in the region of Lake Chad.

There appears to be traces of the older account in Arabic also. The identification of Noah's Ark with Ararat probably represents a misreading of the Arabic word herarat - حرار  - which means vehemence.  Har-arat, better translated, would mean Mountain of Vehemence. This fits the story of divine wrath expressed in extensive catastrophic flooding.

Noah's ark is often linked to Armenia, but Armenia is likely a corruption of Har Meni, Mount Meni. This coupled with the data of the Genesis king lists and the DNA studies supports the theory that   Noah lived in central Africa. One of his grandsons was Kush, the father of Nimrod, the sent-away kingdom builder (Gen. 10:8). Another red spot on the map above shows the homeland of Kush in the Upper Nile.

There is the parallel between har-meni and har-arat. The conjunction "meni" in the Afro-Asiatic languages means "then, after that" and may refer to a time after the flood's devastation or to continuing turbulence in nature. Har-meni (mountain of "then, after that") and Har-arat (mountain of vehemence) convey the concept of a prolonged and intense encounter with God's visible power.

The word "meni" appears only once in the Bible, in Isaiah 65:11, where it is paralleled with the word gad, meaning good fortune. This suggests a connection between meni and encounters with God on mountain tops because where the word gad appears there is often a contextual reference to sacrifice offered on mountains. We recall that Noah offered burnt sacrifice on the mountain in thanksgiving for his deliverance (Gen. 8:20) and that God established a covenant with Noah and his descendants.

The Gikuyu of East Africa tell this story of the experience of their first parents, Gikuyu and Mumbi:

There was wind and rain. And there was also thunder and terrible lightening. The earth and the forest around Mount Kerinyaga shook. The animals in the forest whom the Creator had recently put there were afraid. There was no sunlight. This went on for many days so that the whole land was in darkness. Because the animals could not move, they sat and moaned with the wind. The plants and trees remained dumb. 
It was, our elders tell us, all dead except for the thunder, a violence that seemed to strangle life. It was this dark night whose depth you could not measure, not you nor I can conceive of its solid blackness, which would not let the sun pierce through it. 
But in the darkness, at the foot of Mount Kerinyaga, a tree rose. At first it was a small tree and it grew up, finding a way even through the darkness. It wanted to reach the light and the sun. This tree had Life. It went up, sending forth the rich warmth of a blossoming tree - you know, a holy tree in the dark night of thunder and moaning. This was Mukuyu, God's tree. 
Now you know that at the beginning of things there was only one man (Gikuyu) and one woman (Mumbi). It was under this Mukuyu that He first put them. And immediately the sun rose and the dark night melted away. The sun shone with a warmth that gave life and activity to all things. The wind and the lightening and thunder stopped. The animals stopped moaning and moved, giving homage to the Creator and to Gikuyu and Mumbi. And the Creator, who is also called Murungu, took Gikuyu and Mumbi from his holy mountain to the country of the ridges near Siriana and there stood them on a big ridge.

I'm reminded of Abraham's encounter on a wild and windy mountain where salvation through the promised Son was revealed to him. William H. Willimon wrote: "The sky darkens, the wind howls and a young man walks up another Moriah, driven by a God who demands everything and who stops at nothing. He carries a cross on his back rather than sticks for a fire, but like Abraham, he is obedient to a wild and restless God who is determined to have his way with us, no matter what the cost."

Related reading: Africa in the Days of NoahPeaks and Valleys; Sacred Mountains and PillarsThe Animals on Noah's Ark; The Historicity of Noah's Flood; What Abraham Discovered on Mt. Moriah

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew (Part 3)

All rights reserved. If you borrow, please cite this page. This information represents 35 years of research.

Alice C. Linsley

Patriarchy is often held up as an explanation for why no women served as priests among the biblical Hebrew. Why should this matter? It matters because it isn't true. It matters because this is the basis of Dr. William Witt's argument for the ordination of women. He served as a consultant to the ACNA task force that studied the question of women's ordination for five years. Dr. Witt's argument is that women were not priests because of patriarchy and Anglicans should correct that injustice by permitting women to be ordained.

Anglicans who push for women's ordination on the basis of this argument should check the facts. Anthropologically, the social structure of the biblical Hebrew is much more complex than generally presented in feminist literature and gender studies. Examination of the biblical data reveals that the Hebrew social structure is not characterized by these 6 conditions of absolute patriarchy:

1. descent is traced through the paternal line only (This is addressed in Part 2.)
2. inheritance rights come through the father's lineage only
3. right to rule is vested with males only
4. patrilocal residence; that is the bride lives with the groom's clan/family
5. governed by a council of all males
6. ultimate authority rests with a male figure such as a patriarch, chief or king.

Anthropologists never have found an absolute patriarchy or an absolute matriarchy. In an absolute matriarchy, the six conditions would be vested with the ruling females (matriarchs).

Today we investigate whether the Hebrew social structure reflects the second condition: patrilineal right of inheritance.

In an absolute patriarchy only men inherit property and the right to rule territories. It is often said that the rights of inheritance of the biblical Hebrew follow primogeniture, but that is not accurate. The inheritance laws among the biblical Hebrew are more complex because the ruler had two first born sons. Provision was made for both sons to receive an inheritance. Additionally, grants were made to the sent-away sons of concubines. Daughters could petition to receive inheritance. By levirate marriage a widow was able to preserve her deceased husband's holdings for his son. In an extremely archaic practice, inheritance rights were attached to whoever had possession of the clan ancestor figurines. Let's now look at each of these situations.

The right of primogeniture for the principal wife's first born son

The rights of primogeniture applied only to the first-born son of the first wife (the half-sister). This son assumed the rule of his father's territory and control of all property. Because of the Hebrew had a double unilineal descent pattern, his wives and their servants were responsible for flocks, herds, tents, and other moveable property. The story of Jacob is interesting in that he was a servant of Laban and as such, he shared responsibility for his wives' flocks and herds (Gen 30). 

If the sister wife does not produce a son to be the patriarch's heir, the man could appoint the first born son of a concubine to be his heir. Sarah being infertile, Abraham appointed Eliezer, the son the concubine Masek.

To better understand the right to rule among the biblical Hebrew, we should should separate the right to rule from the question of inheritance. However, the two are related in the case of the first born son of the first bride, the half-sister wife. Her son ruled in the place of his father and inherited his father's territory. Abraham's proper heir was Isaac, the son of Sarah, Abraham's half-sister.

It is curious that Isaac's first wife is not mentioned in Genesis. The first born son of this wife would have been Isaac's proper heir. Esau is the first born of Isaac's cousin bride and as such, he was not Isaac's proper heir. He was a chief in Edom, but it does not appear that he ruled all of Edom in Isaac's place.

If Isaac followed the pattern of his Horite Hebrew ancestors, he had a wife before he married Rebekah. She would have been his half-sister. Abraham's urgency to fetch Isaac a cousin wife was so that Isaac would have the two wives necessary for Isaac to rule Abraham's territory upon his death.

The Messianic expectation concerning The Bridegroom coming for his bride and taking His eternal throne is foreshadowed in the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew ruler-priests.

Sent-away sons

Inheritance grants were given to the sons of concubines. Abraham gave grants to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from the territory of his proper heir, Isaac (Gen. 25:6). The heroes of the Bible are men who left their homes and relied on God for provision of their own territories: Cain, Nimrod, Abraham, Moses, David... the Son of God, Jesus Messiah.

The practice of sending away sons drove the expansion of the Horite Hebrew into new territories. Before dying, the sent-way chiefs arranged for the transfer of property to their sons. The right of rule was bestowed on the first born son the principal wife. The principal wife was usually the first wife, the bride of the man's youth, and also a half-sister, as was Sarah to Abraham.

Women could petition to inherit property

Zelophehad's five daughters were Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. According to Numbers 27 they inherited property after petitioning Moses to render a judgement on this dispute. The dispute is connected to Moses's half-brother Korah who challenged Moses's authority, and pertains to a land holding of Manasseh. In the Book of Chronicles, Zelophehad (Tzelofhad) is listed as a son of Manasseh whose land holdings were in Egypt.

Zelophehad's daughters argued that the name of their deceased father would be lost among his people were they not to inherit. However, Zelophehad's name would be perpetuated through one of his daughters. Were she to marry a patrilineal cousin, she would name her first born son Zelophehad, after her father, according to the cousin-bride's naming prerogative. Sons did not perpetuate the father's name among the biblical Hebrew.

Moses granted the five daughters' petition to inherit their father's holding, and we read this law: "If a man dies without a son, then the inheritance shall pass to his daughter." (Num 27:8)

This account comes from the Deuteronomist, a source dating to the later Neo-Babylonian period (c.700-300 BC). The purpose is to explain the assignment of tribal holdings in the Promised Land. However, as this story comes before the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land, where was Zelophehad's holding? The clan of Manasseh had deep roots in Egypt. It is possible that Zelophehad's holding was in Egypt, but this does not serve the Deuteronomist's narrative. He would have us believe that all the Hebrew people left Egypt, never to return there.

According to Shammai Feldman's "Biblical motives and sources" in "Journal of Near Eastern Studies" 22 (1962), this narrative is a fiction created to illustrate laws of inheritance. To express this another way: "This section of the chapter is a good example of a law embedded in a narrative, or a narrative created for the sake of a law." (The Schocken Bible, p. 796)

Many scholars regard the account of Zelophehad's daughters as an example of accretions added to an earlier source. This would explain the contextual incongruities. Though scholars note problems with the story of Zelophehad's daughters, it is almost certain that the daughters of Hebrew rulers had the right to petition to inherit property. Ancient documents from Mesopotamia, Syria, and the Nile Valley attest to the fact that women could inherit property, even when there was a proper male heir (Hebrew Study Bible, p. 338).

Levirate marriage and inheritance rights

Levirate marriage is extremely ancient practice in which the widow of the deceased brother marries one of his brothers. Levirate marriage is practiced by societies with a strong clan and caste structures in which exogamous marriage is forbidden. The practice is found among the cattle-herding Nuer and Dinka of the Nile. It also is found among the Igbo of southeastern Nigeria, and in the Punjab-Haryana region of Pakistan, and among peoples of Central Asia such as the Saka and Kushan. It appears that the rulers of these regions were served by Horite Hebrew ruler-priests.

In the Punjab-Haryana region, if the levir (dewar) refused to redeem his brother's widow, she would spit in his presence and remove one of his sandals. Subsequently, the people of the town would refer to him as "the one without a shoe".

This sheds light on the redemption of Ruth and the transfer of her husband's inheritance at the city gate of Bethlehem.
Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel. (Ruth 4:7)
In Genesis 23:10, we read that Abraham settled the purchase of a burial cave at the city gate; (literally, in the presence of "all who came in at the gate of his city.")

Rights of inheritance through levirate marriage could be declined. This sometimes happened if acceptance of the widow as a wife endangered the inheritance or ruler status of the levir's own heir. This appears to be the case with the man who was first in line to redeem Ruth. Judah also refused to fulfill the levirate law when he denied Tamar and later recognized that, "She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn't give her to my son Shelah." (Gen. 38:26)


Hurrian/Horite law placed importance on the possession of the teraphim (Heb. תְּרָפִים). This is usually rendered "household gods" in Bibles, but these were ancestor figurines. One was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in 1986. This was a rare showing of a figurine from the Chalcolithic Period, showing holes around the circumference of the head.

During the Chalcolithic Period, the Horite Hebrew were involved in the mining of copper and the fabrication of copper artifacts in Israel, Southern Europe, Spain, and England. Hathor was the patroness of metal workers. Her name means the "tabernacle of Horus," the son of the God. A temple dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timnah by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University. Timnah is the site of some of world's oldest copper mines. The mines were worked almost continuously until the Roman Period.

The teraphim that Rachel hid in her camel bags were figurines of Terah and his principal wife. Hundreds of these figurines have been found in Israel. Many have been found in David's Zion. There were holes around the top of the heads of the figurines. The hair of Terah and the hair of his wife were woven through these holes. Possession of these ancestor figurines represented a claim to inheritance.

When Jacob proposed a plan to escape from servitude to Laban, his two wives were quick to support him, saying: "Are we still likely to inherit anything form our father's estate? Does he not think of us as outsiders now?" (Gen. 31:14) Laban sons had became jealous of Jacob, saying, "Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father; it is at our father's expense that he has acquired all this wealth." (Gen. 31:1) Clearly, Jacob's wealth was that of his wives, their servants and their flocks and herds. He had no inheritance coming from Isaac or from Laban. That is why Rachel stole the ancestor figurines.

In Part 4, we will explore the right to rule among the biblical Hebrew, and we will discover that the pattern does not fit that of an absolute patriarchy.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew (Part 2)

All rights reserved. If you borrow, please cite this page. This information represents 35 years of research.

Alice C. Linsley

Patriarchy is often held up as an explanation for why no women served as priests among the Hebrew. The argument assumes that the social structure of the biblical Hebrew was patriarchal, following the lead of feminism and gender studies. Anglicans who push for women's ordination on the basis of this argument should check the facts. Anthropologically, social structures are much more complex than generally presented in feminist literature. This is evident when we examine the biblical data to see if the Hebrew social structure is characterized minimally by the 6 conditions listed below.

In the most general sense, patriarchy refers to rule by men. However, this rule takes various forms. A pure patriarchy would have these conditions:
1. descent is traced through the paternal line only
2. inheritance rights come through the father's lineage only
3. right to rule is vested with males only
4. patrilocal residence; that is the bride lives with the groom's clan/family
5. governed by a council of all males
6. ultimate authority rests with a male figure such as a patriarch, chief or king.
Anthropologists never have found an absolute patriarchy or an absolute matriarchy. In an absolute matriarchy, the six conditions would be vested with the ruling females (matriarchs).

Today we will investigate whether the Hebrew social structure reflects the first condition: patrilineal descent.

Descent patterns of the biblical Hebrew

A pure patriarchy would trace descent through the paternal line only. This is not a characteristic of the biblical Hebrew. Instead, they had a pattern of double descent. One expression of this is the twin entrance pillars of Solomon's temple. They are named Boaz and Jachin and the pillars commemorate Solomon's righteous ancestors on his maternal and paternal sides. Boaz was Solomon's great great grandfather on his father's side and Jachin was his great great grandfather on Bathsheba's side.

Jachin (Yachin/Yaqtan/Joktan) is the name of Keturah's father and her first-born son. The cousin bride named her first born son after her father. Keturah is Abraham's cousin. She resided in Beer-Sheba, the well of Sheba (not the well of seven). One of his Jachin's descendants is Bath-Sheba, Solomon's mother.

The biblical Hebrew had a double unilineal descent pattern. This pattern pertains to more than ancestry. The Hebrew descent pattern also reflects the rights and responsibilities of the matriarch and the patriarch.

In a double unilineal descent pattern, both the patrilineage and the matrilineage are recognized and honored, but in different ways. The full names of ruler-priests often included the names of their mothers. Among the Horite Hebrew, ntjr designated God or the divinely appointed king. The Virgin Mary's father was Joachim, Son of Pntjr (Pa-netjer). Pntjr is the name of Joachim’s mother. It is a matronym. Evidence for this as a female name is found in archaeology. A limestone stela (1539-1291 BC) bearing the names of Pekhty-nisu and his wife, Pa-netjer, is on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

In the Hebrew double unilineal descent pattern the inheritance of land, the right to rule, and claim to wells pertained to the patriarch, while responsibility for movable objects such as tents, herds, and flocks pertained to the matriarch. In the ancient Hebrew culture, as in the Bedouin culture today, the family tent was owned by the wife. This is the pattern described in Scripture.

The patriarchs dug wells, defended wells, formed treaties over wells, and restored wells that collapsed or were vandalized. The east-west axis of Abraham's territory likely extended between the waters of Engedi to the wells he dug in Gerar.

Sarah's residence in Hebron was fitting the wife of a wealthy ruler. Hebron was a fortified city in Abraham's time. These stairs and walls are 4500 years old. Archaeologists believe the stairs led to Hebron's gate.

However, Sarah's herdsmen would have lived in tents that they moved, as needed, to new pasturage. Her shepherds stayed in stone sheep cotes. These had a beehive shape and were considered sacred places. 2 Samuel 7:8 describes the sheep cote as a dwelling place (naveh).

Stone sheep cote in Zanuta, West Bank
Photo: Emil Salman

The Hebrew pattern of double descent is also evident in the cousin bride's naming prerogative. Patrilineal cousin wives named their first born sons after their fathers. This is reflected throughout the Bible, beginning with Genesis 4 and 5 where we note that Lamech's daughter, Naamah, married Methuselah, her cousin, and named their first born son after her father.

Namaah belonged to the household of Methuselah, but her first born son belonged to the household of her father, after whom the son was named. Lamech the Younger served as a high ranking official in the territory of his maternal grandfather. This pattern is a characteristic of the Horite Hebrew ruler-priest caste. It explains why there are two men named Lamech, two named Nahor, two named Joktan (Jachin/Yaqtan), two named Esau, and two named Korah.

In the pattern of double unilineal descent there is a symmetrical division of responsibilities between the matriarchs and the patriarchs. The book of Ruth alludes to this. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their "mother's house" so that they can prepare to remarry and have families (Ruth 1). The mother's house is responsible for wedding preparations and setting up new households. 

Contrast this to the story of Judah and Tamar (Gen. 38). Judah's sons who were married to Tamar die one after the other. He refuses to fulfill the law of levirate marriage by providing Tamar another son to marry. Judah tells Tamar to return to her "father's house" which was to relinquish his responsibility to her father. The father's house negotiated the terms of marriage and if the father did not give the woman to be married, she remained in his house.

In Part 3, we explore the Hebrew pattern of inheritance, one of the most complex areas of investigation. We will discover that the pattern does not fit that of an absolute patriarchy.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew

All rights reserved. If you borrow, please cite this page. This information represents about 35 years of research.

Alice C. Linsley

It has been argued that the social structure of the biblical Hebrew was patriarchal and oppressed women. In a January 2014 Oxford Biblical Studies online paper, patriarchy is blamed for abortion. Yet, ironically, it is mainly feminists who insist that abortion is a woman's right.

The article goes on to say, "the picture given in the Hebrew scriptures of society in Iron Age Israel is likewise patriarchal: the biblical legal codes are addressed to males throughout and conceive of men alone as the legal actors, even at one point listing women alongside house, oxen, asses, and servants as men’s property (Exod 20:17). In addition, the sign of the covenant between God and Israel of which the laws are supposedly an expression is male circumcision (Gen 17:9–11), which excludes women."

This cherry picking approach to Scripture creates distortion. Women were essential to the ruler's establishment of a territory, and they were considered part of his territorial property. Each ruler-priest had two wives living in separate settlements at the northern and southern boundaries of their territories. Without these wives, there was no way to build his kingdom and maintain his territorial boundaries. To cite an example, Abraham's territory extended between Sarah in Hebron and Keturah in Beersheba. The wives' separate settlements were on a north-south axis.

The Hebrew were a caste of ruler-priests. In the ancient world they were known for their sexual purity, sobriety, wisdom, technical skills, and devotion to the Creator. They are one of the oldest known royal priest castes, if not the oldest. We know this from archaeological finds at temples dating to 4000 BC. Everything I am about to explain pertains to rulers and priests, not to ordinary people.

Many mistakenly think that the Hebrew priesthood began with Aaron. The priesthood of Aaron and the Levite clan are not the first priests, but their service follows the practice of their Hebrew ancestors. They served at the temples and shrines in rotation after a period of ritual purification and fasting. It was common for them to shave their bodies.

Habiru (Hebrew) priests are known from ancient documents and archaeological discoveries going back to at least 3800 BC. Melchizedek was the ruler-priest of Salem (Jerusalem) and his ministry to Abraham (Gen 14) represents a long-standing custom of ritual purification following combat. Analysis of the biblical kinship pattern of the Hebrew ruler-priests suggests that Melchizedek was the maternal uncle of Abraham's second wife, Keturah.

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."

Moses's entire family were Horite Habiru priests.They are descendants of Seir, the Horite ruler of Edom (Gen. 36). Aaron and Korah were his brothers. Korah means "shaved one" and refers to a priest. Here is a diagram of Amram's Hebrew clan. Also note that Anah, a female, is listed in the lineage as a chief.

The patriarchal system

Patriarchy is given as an explanation for why there were no female priests among the Hebrew. This is a false picture of the biblical Hebrew and one which should be corrected. Using the anthropological definition of patriarchy, I will expose that falsehood.

The term "patriarchy" is one of the most abused anthropological terms. In feminist and gender studies, patriarchy refers to the universal oppression of females in male-dominated societies. This is not a scientific definition. It is an ideological definition, and one which lacks empirical support.

In the most general sense, patriarchy refers to rule by men. However, this rule takes various forms. A pure patriarchy would have these conditions:
1. descent is traced through the paternal line only
2. inheritance rights come through the father's lineage only
3. right to rule is vested with males only
4. patrilocal residence; that is the bride lives with the groom's clan/family
5. governed by a council of all males
6. ultimate authority rests with a male figure such as a patriarch, a chief or a king.
It should be noted that anthropologists never have found an absolute patriarchy. Neither have they found an absolute matriarchy.  In an absolute matriarchy, the six conditions would be vested with the ruling females (matriarchs).

Image result for Image of the Hebrew ruler priest
A tera or terah is a priest. The priest carries a staff, sign of his ruler status.

Anthropologically, social structures are much more complex than generally presented in feminist literature. This is evident when we examine the biblical data to see if the Hebrew social structure is characterized by the 6 conditions listed above.

In Part 2 we investigate whether the Hebrew social structure traces descent through the paternal line only. We will discover patterns that largely have been ignored by feminists and Bible scholars.

Related reading: The Social Structure of the Biblical Hebrew (Part 3); Who Were the Horites?; Samuel's Horite Family; Abraham's Authority and Ancient Law Codes; Abraham's Ancestral Faith; The Priesthood in England

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Abraham's Ancestral Faith

Alice C. Linsley

Ur and Harran are cities in Mesopotamia. Abraham's father Terah was a ruler-priest with holdings in both cities. This is why Abraham is associated with both locations. One of Terah's wives lived in Ur and the other lived in Harran. The normal arrangements for priests of Terah's Horite Hebrew caste was to maintain two wives in separate settlements on a north-south axis. The pattern is first found in Genesis 4 and 5 with Lamech. Abraham's marriages reflect this pattern also. His first wife, Sarah, resided in Hebron at the northern boundary of ancient Edom (Idumea), and this second wife, Keturah, lived in Beersheba, at the southern boundary of Edom. These settlements marked the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory.

Terah died in Harran and Nahor inherited his holdings. From Harran, Abraham departed to Canaan as a sent-away son. He settled in the region of Edom where the Horite ruler-priests had long been established. Some of their kings are listed in Genesis 36. This is the clan of Seir, the Horite.

When we first meet Abraham he is living in Ur in southern Mesopotamia (Sumer). This is because he is a descendant of Nimrod, the Kushite kingdom builder. Genesis 10:8 states that Kush begat Nimrod. The ruler-priests of antiquity were known as 'apiru or ha'piru or ha'biru. The words piru and biru refer to a house of worship. They became widely dispersed in the service of the "mighty men of old" who established kingdoms from Central Africa to India. Terah and Abraham were Ha'biru, which is rendered Hebrew in English Bibles.

The Royal Shrine City of Ur

Some scholars speculate that the Genesis narrative is mistaken about Abraham being in Ur. Joshua J. Mark writes in the Ancient History Encyclopedia that some scholars "believe that Abraham’s home was further north in Mesopotamia in a place called Ura, near the city of Harran, and that the writers of the biblical narrative in the Book of Genesis confused the two." However, there is no reason to doubt the Genesis account. It aligns perfectly with what we know about the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew ruler-priests. Terah's territory (his priestly cure) extended between Harran in the north and Ur in the south along the Tigris river.

There were many locations called Ur or Er. This term simply designates a shrine city built at a high elevation. These were royal cities with a central temple and palace. Some shrine cities are known as Eridu and Eredo. These words are related to the Magyar word erdő, meaning forest. The earliest shrine cities were built in virgin forests. Eridu is a Sumerian place name and Eredo is a Nigerian place name.

The Ur mentioned in Genesis is in modern Iraq. It was a Sumerian settlement as early as 5000 BC, and it was continually inhabited until 450 BC. Ur's location on the Persian Gulf helped it to grow into a thriving port by 3000 BC. Due to the silting of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, biblical Ur is now much further inland than it was in Abraham's time. The same thing happened with Nekhen, an ancient Horite shrine city on the Nile. Today the ruins of Nekhen are found far from the Nile.

In 1922, Sir Leonard Wooley excavated a burial complex in Ur and discovered royal tombs. Among the royal names found on grave artifacts was the name Mesannepadda, a First Dynasty king, also known through the Sumerian King List. As Abraham's father was a high ranking ruler-priest his ancestors are likewise remembered in the Genesis King Lists.

Mesopotamia was ruled by Sargon of Akkad between 2334-2218 BC. His territory is sometimes called "Kish" a variant of the word Kush. The script of his empire is called Akkadian. Sargon the Great claimed to have been conceived when his mother was overshadowed by the Sun while praying in the east-facing O'piru, or sun temple. Archaic rulers were believed to be appointed to rule if they could prove virginal conception by solar overshadowing. They thought of the Sun as the emblem of the Creator who ruled over all the earth. Solar overshadowing indicated persons divinely appointed to rule (deified sons of God).

The Harris papyrus speaks of the 'apriu of Re at the shrine city of Heliopolis (biblical On). Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On. In Hebrew, Joseph's name is Yosef. It has the initial Canaanite Y, a solar symbol. Many of the Horite Hebrew have the Canaanite Y in their names. In ancient images the Y is a headdress of bull horns in which the solar orb is cradled. Consider these Hebrew names: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak; Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yosef (Jospeh); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse) and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

She who conceives the Son of God
is foreshadowed in images found among Abraham's Kushite ancestors.

According to legend, Sargon was born in Azu-piranu, meaning House of God. God has many names in the archaic world. One was Azu (Akkadian). Variant spellings include Asa in Chadic, Asha in Kushitic, and Ashai in Hebrew. In Nehemiah 11:13, we read of a Jerusalem priest named Am-ashai.

Some speculate that Sargon is biblical Nimrod, Abraham's ancestor. The terms sar and gon both refer to a king. Sargon likely means "most high king" or "king of kings." Sargon's Akkadian name was Šarru-kīnu, which is usually translated “the true king.”

Whether Nimrod is Sargon or not, the prestigious caste of ruler-priests who served in his Akkadian empire appear to have shared the notion of kingship as divine appointment by overshadowing. We find among them early expressions the Messianic expectation/hope concerning a righteous ruler who would be conceived virginally by his mother through divine overshadowing.

Christians believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of that ancient hope. We believe Jesus is the incarnate Son of God who was conceived exactly as expected. When the Virgin Mary asked how she would conceive, seeing she "knew" no man, the angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 2)

Related reading: Who Were the Kushites?The Pattern of Two WivesEdom and the HoritesWhy Nekhen is Anthropologically Significant; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y

Thursday, September 21, 2017

All Christians are Ministers; Few are Priests

Alice C. Linsley

Most Christians denominations have a ceremony by which the clergy are ordained to their sacred office. Depending of the denomination's polity, the understanding of the relationships of clergy to bishop and clergy to laity will vary. Among Protestants, the tradition of the priesthood has ceased as they adhere to Martin Luther's innovation of the "priesthood of all believers." The tradition of the priest as a sacramental office is maintained among Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Episcopalians.

As an Anglican, I have noticed that my parish priest is expected to performed many roles that should be done by lay persons. He is to visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the needy, visit in the homes, prepare sermons, oversee vestry meetings, counsel those preparing for matrimony, attend clergy conferences, submit parochial reports, and on Sunday stand at the altar in the one role that none but the priest can perform: celebrate the Holy Eucharist.

I understand that parish priests needs also to be a pastor, but the priesthood is a sacramental ministry and priests should not be so overly burdened that the sacramental ministry to which they are appointed suffers. The Apostles were so conscious of their sacred obligation to preach the Gospel that they appointed deacons to attend to other necessary tasks.

So where are the workers who give relief to the apostles in today's parishes? Where are the other appointed ministers of which St. Paul speaks? Where are the prophets, teachers and healers? Or do we dismiss this part of Paul’s teaching? I don’t think that we can do that. Here is why.

In the Hindu RigVeda (1000 B.C.) and in the Laws of Manu (about 250 B.C.) four castes are elaborated as the primeval divine creation. Today so many sub-castes exist under these four that it is difficult for a Hindu to know who is one’s equal or one superior. This is why most Hindus are not concerned with what to believe as with who they may marry, what they may eat, and with whom they may eat. Hindus believe that this caste system represents the divine body. The Rig Veda says:

His mouth became the Brahman. (Priest class)
His arms became the Kshatriya. (Warrior and ruler class)
His thighs are the Vaisya. (Artisans and farmer class)
The Sudra was produced from his feet. (Poor untouchables)

This view of sacred appointments is not unique to Hinduism. It was a common belief in the ancient world, but one which Americans find difficult to understand. Our's is an egalitarian society in which people choose the work they do and often change jobs several times. We also choose who we marry. Not so in the ancient world! Archaic societies were strictly stratified and it was virtually impossible to escape one's place. One married within one's caste and inherited one's line of work.

St. Paul assumes this stratification to be part of God's design and tells people in the new churches to obey the authorities, to render service as unto Christ, and to do their job. Paul is often criticized for not speaking against the institution of slavery, but that would not have made sense in his context. Slaves and indentured servants worked in many castes, as God appointed. Many slaves were very well off. Paul regarded himself as a "slave" of Jesus Christ, but his caste was as a Jewish tentmaker.

St. Paul also explained that the Church is the mystical Body of Christ and each of us a part of His Body. His analogy of arms and legs, with Christ as the head, draws on an old tradition. The Church is the Body of Christ, a new creation ushered in by the Messianic age. This new creation has a different order of laborers appointed by God. In First Corinthians 12:27-30, Paul explains, “Now Christ’s body is yourselves, each of you with a part in the whole. And those whom God has appointed in the Church are…

First – apostles
Second – prophets
Third – teachers
Fourth – workers of miracles and so on

It seems that a healthy congregation should have apostles, prophets, teachers and workers of miracles, healers, exorcists, etc. And although we are not limited to one line of work, the work to which God appoints us should be clear in our minds and of first priority. Also, apostles should be held in the highest regard by everyone in the Church.

Imagine what might happen were everyone in the Church to embrace their appointment as the sacred calling that it is!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Discern the Spirits and Pray for the ACNA

Alice C. Linsley

The ordination of women priests among Anglicans is an expression of much confusion. The elements of confusion go well beyond gender confusion. We find disordered thinking touching on the Trinity, the relationship of Scripture and Tradition, and the infusion of Pentecostalism. The 3-streams fallacy that Anglicanism is catholic, reformed, and charismatic is a serious deviation from the Anglican Way. A background in anthropology leads to my suspicion that this Pentecostal influence is simply "Christian" shamanism. It contributes to the notions of progressive revelation and the mutability of God.

This wider theological confusion made it very difficult for the bishops to correct or discipline errant bishops like James Pike, William Swing and John Spong. Even before their time, the Anglican Way was derailed in the Church of England by modernism and occultism. This is reflected in the 1938 publication of Doctrine in the Church of England, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. This is the report of the Commission on Christian Doctrine appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1922. It is the closest thing to an Anglican statement of doctrine in modern times, but note the title: Doctrine in the Church of England, not Doctrine of the Church of England. The report reveals the considerable division within Anglicanism on central points of Christian doctrine. 

Add to that the willingness of some Church of England and American clergy to dabble in the occult, and you have a dreary picture indeed. 

In 1937, Archbishop William Cosmo Gordon Lang established a committee “to discuss the relationship, if any, between spiritualism and the traditional teachings of the Anglican Church.” Although Archbishop Lang took a strong moral tone toward the failure of duty of Edward VIII in abdicating the throne, he opened the question of spiritualism by forming the committee. One of the committee members was Evelyn Underhill, who later withdrew, stating that she was “very strongly opposed to spiritualism... especially to any tendency on the part of the Church to recognize or encourage it.”

The committee delivered its report in 1939, but its findings were not made public until 1979. A similar delay took place with the 1922 publication "Doctrine in the Church of England" which was not published until 1938. As Mammana notes, "The “Conclusions of the Majority” reveal a shocking discovery of inherent value in spiritualist practices. One paragraph merits quotation without comment:

"It is often held that the practice of Spiritualism is dangerous to the mental balance, as well as to the spiritual condition, of those who take part in it, and it is clearly true that there are cases where it has become obsessional in character. But it is very difficult to judge in these cases whether the uncritical and unwise type of temperament which does undoubtedly show itself in certain spiritualists is a result or a cause of their addiction to these practices. Psychologically it is probable that persons in a condition of mental disturbance, or lack of balance, would very naturally use the obvious opportunities afforded by Spiritualism as a means of expressing the repressed emotions which have caused their disorder. This indeed is true of Christianity itself, which frequently becomes an outlet, not only for cranks, but for persons who are definitely of unstable mentality."

The committee closed with the recommendation of a sort of ecumenism between the Church of England and the spiritualist movement: “It is in our opinion important that representatives of the Church should keep in touch with groups of intelligent persons who believe in Spiritualism.”

Much of this confusion is due to the failure of seminaries. Abandonment of the Fathers, the Scriptures, and the received Messianic Tradition leads to degradation of the Anglican Way. The ACNA will either stand with the Fathers, the Scriptures, and the received Tradition on the question of women priests, or it will continue to stray from those authorities. Women are fully capable. That is not the issue. They are not called to this divine ordinance.

In conversations with younger clergy and present seminarians, I find a yearning for more intellectual integrity, deeper learning of Scripture, and greater discernment of Truth. They love the Anglican Way because they recognize the potential for a richer experience of the Body of Christ. Perhaps they will help recover some of the ground lost to the devil.