Thursday, April 23, 2015

Swimming and Diving: Activities of Archaic Communities

This is the third in a series on daily life among archaic peoples. The first in the series is on threshing and the second is on keeping sheep.

Alice C. Linsley

There is very little mention of swimming in the Hebrew Bible. This has led to speculation that the Hebrews did not like water or that they were not skilled swimmers. The early Hebrews/Habiru lived along the Nile and would have developed a healthy respect for the currents, crocodiles, and other hazards of the region.

Jeremiah 16:16 suggests that diving was done to hunt for things under the water.

"Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen," declares the Lord, "and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks."

The fishermen are hunters, a reference to the successive invaders of Judea (Amos 4:2; Habbakuk 1:14,15). The Hebrew word to dive is לִצְלוֹל and although this word does not appear in the Jeremiah passage, diving to hunt is suggested (Dictionary of the Holy Bible, Augustin Calmet, p. 435).

An Egyptian clay seal dated between 9000 and 4000 BC shows four people swimming. Below is a photo of a 10,000-year-old rock painting of people swimming. This was found in the Cave of Swimmers near Wadi Sura in southwestern Egypt. These pictures show swimmers using the breaststroke or the doggy paddle,

The Nilotic Habiru were seafaring and many of them would have been able to swim. Further, heroes among ancient peoples were expected to be fearless in combat and in river crossings. Stories were told of heroic warriors swimming across rivers. Horatius (named for Horus) was wounded in battle at a bridge over the Tiber. Hearing a shout from the other bank that the bridge was torn down, he "leaped with his arms into the river and swimming across ... he emerged upon the shore without having lost any of his arms." Livy records that Horatius committed himself to the Tiber, praying, "Tiberinus, holy father, I pray thee to receive into thy propitious stream these arms and this thy warrior."  Nilotic peoples thought of the Nile in a similar way.\

Diving to hunt

Swimming and diving in the ancient world was a routine part of daily life for peoples who lived along the major water systems and the seacoasts. They were foragers and their way of life continues among sea dwellers in places like the Philippines, Australia and Borneo.

Diver in the Philippines

Badjao diver
Photo: Braidmade Films

The Badjao are sea dwellers who have lived off the northeast coast of Borneo for more than 200 years. They have no nationality. They are aquatic nomads who live in boats and earn their living as highly skilled divers. Badjao divers walk along the seafloor hunting for fish and pearls. They can descend as deep as 100 feet (30 meters). They train their children to swim and dive from an early age.

Related reading: The Land of WaWat; Boats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans; Boat Petroglyphs in Egypt's Central Eastern Desert

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Red Heifer

Alice C. Linsley

The Biblical priesthood appears to have originated among the peoples of the Nile Valley when the green Sahara was able to sustain herds of long horned cattle. Cattle were first domesticated in the Upper Nile Valley about 15,000 years ago. The term for cow nag (Wolog, Fulani), nagge (Hausa), ning (Angas, Ankwe) and ninge (Susu) corresponds to the Egyptian ng.

The words edom, odum and adam are derived from the same root dm and originally referred to the red clay that washed down to the Upper Nile from the Ethiopian highlands. These soils have a cambic B horizon. Chromic cambisols have a strong red brown color. Abraham's Horite people were known to have a distinctive red skin tone. Esau and David are described as red. As a descendant of these red ancestors, Jesus likely had a red skin tone.

Red and black Nubian cattle herders

This is the original context from which the priesthood spread into southern Europe, India, and the ancient Near East. The red Nubians, some of whom were Abraham's ancestors, believed that life is in the blood. In their creation stories, the first man was made from the red soil of the Upper Nile. He is Adam or Ha-dam, meaning "the Blood." Blood was not only the substance of life, it was also the substance by which the people received cleansing through the ministry of their priests. This is why the red calf was the preferred sacrifice for purity.

Aaron created the Golden Calf, a representation of Horus, the divine "son" of the Creator. The image incorporated the sun and would have been a representation of the divine overshadowing or appointment of the Calf of God. Below is picture of what it would have looked like.

The calf is suggestive of Horus as a child. Horus' anthropomorphic form is either as a adult male or more usually as a boy wearing the sidelock typical of royal Egyptian youth. Horus as a boy is often shown on cippi dominating crocodiles and serpents. Consider this in light of the Woman, the Child, and the Dragon in Revelation 12.

Consider the red heifer (Numbers 19:9) that stands as a perpetual sacrifice. The red heifer is sacrificed and burned outside the camp and the ashes used for "water of lustration."  Lustration means to purify by a propitiatory offering or other sacred ceremony. After the completion of the Second Temple, the ashes of the red heifer were available for people who came to the temple. At the entrance to the Women's Court, there was a stone vessel called the kelal which held ashes of the red heifer. The ashes were mixed with water and used for purification ceremonies.

The association of blood and purity

The Hebrew root meaning pure is thr and it corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm word for clean: toro, and to the Tamil word for holy: tiru. All are related to the proto-Dravidian word fro blood: tor. The sacrificing priesthood was found among all these peoples.

The color red represented blood and life among the ancient Nilotes. The Horite priests regarded the red heifer as a representation of Horus, the "son" of the Creator, born miraculously of Hathor. She is shown with cow horns cradling the sun. This indicates overshadowing by the Creator, whose emblem was the Sun. Hathor's totem was the cow and she is shown in Nilotic shrines holding her infant in a stable. Hathor and Horus are expressions of the earliest Messianic expectation among Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.

The perpetual sacrifice of the red heifer is older than the Levitical priesthood. It pertains to Abraham's Nilo-Saharan cattle-herding ancestors and speaks of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-14)

Unfortunately, there are Christians who fail to recognize that Jesus' crucifixion and glorious resurrection have fulfilled all the archetypes of the Old Testament. The Reverend Clyde Lott, a Pentecostal cattle breeder from Mississippi, is breeding red heifers to export to Israel to establish a breeding line of red heifers in the hope that this will prepare the way for the construction of the Third Temple and ultimately the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sheep Cotes as Sacred Spaces

Alice C. Linsley

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

In the ancient world, dry stack sheep cotes served as housing for the shepherd. This is reflected in the King James Version of Judges 5:16: "Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart." 2 Samuel 7:8 also describes the sheep cote as a dwelling place (naveh).

Naveh also refers to a temple or a local shrine. Kar-nak and Kar-nevo refer to a place of sacred rituals. Terah's wife was the daughter of a shrine priest designated "Karnevo" in Jasher 7:50: "Terah took a wife and her name was Amsalai, the daughter of Karnevo..."

Sheep cotes similar to the one shown above are found in many parts of Europe and are called by different names: tholos, girna, caciara, and keyl. The last word, found in Wales, is provocatively similar to the Altaic kyr ayil, meaning a "sheep village,"or "the get-away to which the ram (krios) leads the sheep."

The dry stack sheep cotes pictured below are common in Ireland, Wales, Serbia and Croatia, all lands inhabited by haplogroup R1b populations.

This dry stack tholos in Abruzzo, Italy serves as a home and a sheep cote.

Shepherds used sheep cotes as shelters for many centuries. In archaic times, these structures served as seasonal housing for the shepherd and his family as they moved their livestock between higher summer elevations and lower winter pastures. More recently, sheep herders maintain permanent homes in valleys and only a few men move with their flocks to the seasonal sheep cotes.
A girna in Mellieha, Malta
The Horite ruler-priests maintained sheep in Judah and Edom. They lived in the hill country and their flocks grazed in the valleys. David would have been familiar with this way of life. In 2 Samuel 7:8, we read about David's divine appointment: "This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel." David's life was one of contrasts. He knew the physical hardships of the shepherd and the luxurious life of the high king. However, the Bible does not present this contrast.  Instead, we are told that David was taken from the sheep cote to the temple, and this is very instructive.  Sheep cotes, like threshing floors, served as sacred places in the ancient world. 
This sheep cote in Anatolia served as a place of worship.

The traditional sheep cote had a ziggurat shape (Mesopotamia) or the shape of a bnbn (the Nile Valley). The term "benben" is derived from the root bn, meaning to "swell forth" because the sacred pillar was regarded as a symbol of the Creator's power to give life. Benben have been found from Nigeria to India. Below is a photo of a benben in Lejja, Nigeria. It has the characteristic narrow opening of sheep cotes.

The shearing of sheep was surrounded by religious ceremony. Sheep shearing and shrines are associated in Genesis 38.

After a long time Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. It was told to Tamar, "Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep."

Sheep shearing sometimes involved animal sacrifice and feasting on a large scale, as is evident in 2 Samuel 13:23-25.

Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had shearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. Absalom came to the king and said, "Behold now, your servant has shearers; please let the king and his servants go with your servant." But the king said to Absalom, "No, my son, we should not all go, for we will be burdensome to you." Although he urged him, he would not go, but blessed him.

Related reading: Shepherd Priests; Stone Work of the Ancient World; Threshing Floors and Solar Symbols

Friday, April 10, 2015

Threshing Floors and Solar Symbols

Alice C. Linsley

This ancient Sun circle was used as a threshing floor.

In the ancient world, daily activities like cooking, sowing, harvesting, and threshing grain had religious significance. Threshing floors were associated with the Sun and with solar cycles.

Threshing floors were sacred places at high level elevations where the wind could carry away the chaff. Araunah, a Jebusite ruler, sold David a threshing floor upon which David constructed an altar. These were places of worship in the ancient world.

These high windy places are often where sacred encounters occur in the Bible. They are not usually mountain peaks, but highlands or hill country. The Horites were known to prefer the "hill country" (Gen. 14:6), but they grew their grain in the valleys below. The threshing floors were near where they lived and stored their grain.

Threshing floors were used to determine times and seasons. A center post served to cast a shadow, on the same principle as a sundial. The sowing and harvesting of grain reflects a widespread veneration of the Sun, which was regarded as the emblem of the Creator among many peoples.

The most common solar symbol was the 6-prong rosette which is found to this day on Irish Maslin bread (shown above). Some Maslin loaves are decorated with an oak leaf on top. Maslin bread is the oldest known bread eaten by the Celts. It was the bread of common folks, containing a blend of wheat and rye flours. The rosette is a solar symbol.

On this traditional Serbia cake (shown right) the solar rosette is surrounded by oak leaves. Hesus (fulfilling the primitive Horus archetype) was crucified on an oak tree. The hope of his third-day resurrection was enacted by the sowing of grain in the fields. In antiquity, this annual ritual was overseen by Horite priests who led the people in procession to the fields, much as Anglican priests officiate at Rogation Day ceremonies in late May.

Anglican priest blessing the fields in Hever, Kent

Among the Horites, the seed that was sown spoke of the long-expected Righteous Ruler who would trample the serpent under his feet (Gen. 3:15). Jesus referred to himself as the "Seed" when he foretold his death in Jerusalem. He explained to his disciples, "Unless a seed fall into the ground and die, it cannot give life." (John 12:24)

The Apostle Paul makes a reference to the Seed also. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ… And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:16, 29)

The rosette on the Maslin bread and the Serbian cake resembles the solar symbol found on the tombs and ossuaries of Hebrew Horites. The Horite priests were devotees of Horus who was regarded as the "son" of the Creator.

Tomb at Banais, Israel
Ossuary of Miriam, daughter of the priest Yeshua

The oak of Genesis 12 is called terebinth, believed to be related to the pistachio (Pistacia terebinthus). In the original telling, it is likely that the meaning was "tree of the daughter of Terah," that is, the tree of the priest's daughter. The Arabic word bint (بنت) means "daughter of" and tera is an archaic word for priest.

Rebecca's nurse, Deborah, was buried at Bethel under a tree known as the “Oak of Weeping" or the allon-bachuth (Gen. 35:8). Although allon is often translated "oak" the word can refer to any large tree. Here it probably refers to a sycamore fig. The sycamore fig was associated with Hathor, the mother of Horus, and graves were often placed beneath sycamore fig trees.

Hathor was said to conceive by the overshadowing of the Sun and she is shown on ancient monuments wearing the solar cradle: long cow horns in which the Sun rests as a sign of divine appointment. She was the patroness of the Horite metal workers of Edom.

Hebrews 4:2 states that the message concerning the risen Lord was preached to the Apostles' ancestors. From this we may assume that Abraham and Moses shared the faith of their ancestors to whom God first revealed the "Proto-Gospel" concerning the Seed of God who would be born of the Horite ruler-priest lines. He was expected to pass through death to life and lead his people from the grave to eternal life. He is often called "the Bread of Life."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hanged on a Tree

In Genesis 2:9 the Tree of Life is described a being at the center of the garden. The tree marked the sacred center. The Church Fathers understood Genesis 2:9 to be an allusion to the Cross, which is called a “tree” in Scripture.

The New Testament uses the word "tree" five times in reference to Christ's death on a cross. The references are found in Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13 and 1 Peter 2:24.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us," wrote Paul, "for it is written: `Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).

Paul was quoting a phrase found in Deuteronomy 21:23: If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree, you must not leave the body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is a curse of God. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Torah's prescribed form of execution by stoning for certain offenses, such as blasphemy and idolatry. After being stoned to death, the person's body was hung on a tree to show the individual was under God's curse. To the Jews, hanging on a tree had become a metaphor for an apostate, a blasphemer or a person deemed under God's curse. That's exactly how the Jews viewed Jesus (John 5:18; 10:33; Matthew 26:63-65).

But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.…" (Acts 5:29-31)

The Israeli scholar Yigal Yadin, who deciphered and published the Temple Scroll some years ago, found that the Temple Scroll gave a different interpretation of these verses from Deuteronomy:

If a man informs against his people, delivers his people up to a foreign nation and betrays his people, you shall hang him on the tree so that he dies. On the word of two and three witnesses shall he be put to death, and they shall hang him on the tree.

If a man commits a crime punishable by death, and he defects into the midst of the nations and curses his people, the children of Israel, you shall hang him also on the tree so that he dies. And their bodies shall not remain upon the tree, but you shall bury them the same day, for those who hang on the tree are accursed by God and men, you must not defile the land which I give you as an inheritance.(Temple Scroll 64:6-13).

Jesus' crucifixion and burial conformed to the laws of Israel. He became a curse for us that we might be freed from the curse of old. He became the Tree of Life for us that we might partake of Him and and not die the second death. He died and was buried on the same day. He was buried in the stone tomb of his kinsman, Joseph of Ar-Mathea, a high ranked member of the Sanhedrin and a priest. He rose on the third day, trampled down death by His death, leading captives to immortality. Blessed be His Name. Blessed be the tree marked by His precious blood.

Related reading: Who is Jesus?Trees in Genesis; Jesus in Genesis: God With Us; The Red Heifer

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Interview with Christopher Ehret

Dr. Christopher Ehret

Christopher Ehret, UCLA
Interviewed by World History Connected Co-editor Tom Laichas

Editor's note: Apart from the Nile Valley, Ethiopia, and the Bantu migration, African history before 1000 CE hardly appears in world history classrooms and texts. Most of us assume that there simply isn't enough documentary or archaeological evidence to say anything about social and technological change.

Christopher Ehret wants to change that. Among the most innovative and provocative scholars working in African history, Ehret has made a career of studying the development of African languages, teasing from the linguistic history evidence for ancient social, economic, technological, and religious development. Ehret acknowledges that some readers may have trouble "getting comfortable with language evidence."1 The effort is worth the trouble. Languages "contain immense vocabulary resources that express and name the full range of cultural, economic, and environmental information available to their speakers."

Want to know when a particular people first domesticated animals? Take a look at their vocabulary for breeding and raising the animals. Look for similar vocabulary in languages spoken by related groups. If you can determine how long it has been since all these groups shared a common language, you may be on your way to dating the origins of stock raising. This is not easy work; it means applying a fine-grained knowledge of linguistic structure, while avoiding coincidental or misleading relationships. One test of the work is how well it predicts later archaeological discoveries. By that measure, Ehret has done well.

The Africa Ehret reveals cannot be described as unchanging or peripheral to world history. Among his most exciting ideas is that of an "African classical age," from about 1000 BCE to about 300 CE. During this period, he argues, peoples from four language families ­ Khoisan (sometimes known as Khoi-San and best known for the "clicks" in their languages), Afrasan (a.k.a., Afrasian or Afro-Asiatic), Nilo-Saharans and Niger-Congo peoples—encountered one another in the African Great Lakes region and along the eastern Rift Valley. That encounter helps account for the southward expansion of Bantu-speaking Niger-Congo communities, who adopted cattle-raising from Nilo-Saharan groups and independently worked iron. Recently, Ehret summarized much of this work in The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800.2

Read the interview here.

Christopher Ehret has been a valuable resource for Biblical Anthropology. His linguistic research resembles the detective work of Biblical anthropologists. Linguistically, the language of Nimrod's kingdom - Akkadian - has close affinity to the languages of the ancient Nile Valley, as has been demonstrated by Ehret's research. Ehret also recognizes that cattle were domesticated in Sudan as early as 9000 year ago. These cattle-herding Proto-Saharan or Saharo-Nubian peoples were among Abraham's ancestors. Messianic expectation originated with these peoples.

Dr. Ehret has written: "The linguistic, genetic, and archaeological evidence combine in locating the origins of this [Afrasian] family far south in Africa, in Eritrea or Ethiopia, and not at all in Asia. A complex array of lexical evidence confirms that the proto-Afrasian society belonged to the pre-agricultural eras of human history." (History of Africa, p.4)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lyre Music from 1400 BC

The oldest known melody dates to about 1400 B.C., and is performed by Michael Levy on solo lyre. This music dates to the time of the reign of Thutmose IV who inherited from his father, Amenhotep II, a vast empire that stretched from Nubia to Syria.

This piece was discovered in the 1950's in Ugarit, Syria. It was interpreted by Dr. Richard Dumbrill. Dr. Dumbrill wrote a book entitled The Archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East.

There were 29 musical texts found in the ruins of the palace at Ugarit, all dating to 1400 B.C.  The numbers given to the musical texts are to categorize the texts. Though this is believed to be the oldest hymn, it is labled "Hurrian Hymn Number 6."

The Hurrians were the northern Horites who lived in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley (Idumarez). The southern Horites lived in Edom (Idumea), south of Judah. However they were related peoples. Moses's brother-in-law was named Hur. I Chronicles 4:4 names Hur as the first born of Ephrathath and the "father" of Bethlehem. 

The word "Horite" takes many forms: Khar, Hur, Horonaim, Horoni, Horowitz, Horim, and Hori. Hori was the son of Lotan son of Seir whose descendants were the "lords of the Horites in the land of Seir" (Edom) according to Genesis 36:20-29 and 1 Chronicles 1:38-42.

(Lot, Lotan, and Nimlot are Egyptian titles. Nimlot C was the High Priest of Amun at Thebes during the latter part of the reign of his father Osorkon II.)

In the ancient world Horite priests were known for their purity and devotion to the High God whose emblem was the Sun. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”

Related reading: Moses's Horite Family; Samuel's Horite Family; Abraham and Job: Horite Rulers