Monday, September 17, 2018

The Aaronic Blessing Speaks of the Gospel

Alice C. Linsley
I enjoy reading the work of Jeff Benner of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center. Image: logo

Jeff understands how the Hebrew language works and the concrete nature of Hebrew vocabulary. That is why he connects the abstract ideas in the Aaronic Blessing to the concrete images that would likely stand behind them. Here is Benner's understanding of the Priestly blessing.

A Hebraic interpretation of the Aaronic Blessing

With the Hebraic understanding of each of these Hebrew words, we can better understand the true meaning of the Aaronic blessing as it was understood by the Ancient Hebrews.

YHWH will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection.

YHWH will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order and he will give you comfort and sustenance.

YHWH will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete.

When we probe this translation we discover the Gospel.

Does God kneel before us? Yes! Jesus knelt to wash the feet of His disciples.

John 13:3-5
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Does God shine forth with the wholeness of His being? Yes. Jesus tells us that those who see Him, see the Father.

John 14:7-9
If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.

Does God provide all we need to be whole? Yes. Consider Psalm 38:9 -"O Lord, my every desire is before You; my groaning is not hidden from You." Matthew 6:8 says, "your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Jeff Benner's translation is helpful because it connects YWHW to the Gospel of Jesus Messiah, the Son of God. His explanations are wonderful also. However, I have reservations about Jeff's idea in this paragraph:

The Hebrews were a nomadic people raising livestock. It would not be uncommon for a shepherd to be out with his flock, away from the camp, over the night. In order to protect the flock, the shepherd would construct a corral of thorn bushes. The shepherd would then guard over the flock and the corral would be a hedge of protection around them. The Hebrew word for a thorn is שמיר (shamiyr, Strong's #8068) and derived from the verb שמר(shamar, Strong's #8104), which literally means to guard and protect and is the word used in the Aaronic blessing.

I appreciate what Jeff wrote about the thorn enclosures, and I am sure that these were used for temporary stays. However, strictly speaking, the Hebrew were not nomadic. They were a caste of ruler-priests who kept herds for the sacrifice. This means that some of them, usually the younger men, worked as shepherds. It was their practice to move livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer. This is called transhumance. It does not preclude control of a territory as Abraham and other Horite Hebrew clearly did.

They had their own grazing areas in which they had constructed bee-hive shape stone cotes like the one shown here.

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

2 Samuel 7:8 describes the sheep cote as a dwelling place (naveh). Naveh also refers to a temple or a local shrine, so it is evident that the image here is of a more permanent structure than an enclosure of thorns bushes.

Now we have a better understanding of Jesus' words in John 10:9-15.
Jesus said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." 

Note where the shepherd is standing in this image of a stone sheep cote or "tholos" in Abruzzo, Italy.

The man is standing is where the shepherd often sleeps. He becomes the door that guards the way to the sheep. YHWH guards us as one who stands in the doorway. Jesus claims to embody that reality.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Moses the Horite Hebrew Priest

Alice C. Linsley

The Horite Hebrew were a caste of royal priests who served at the most prestigious shrines and temples of the ancient world. In some ancient texts they are called 'Apiru or Habiru, which is rendered "Hebrew" in English Bibles.

The term Horite takes many forms: Khar, Gur, Hur, Horonaim, Horoni, Horowitz, and Hori. Hori was the son of Lotan son of Seir whose descendants were the "lords of the Horites in the land of Seir" (Gen. 36:20-29 and 1 Chronicles 1:38-42). Lot, Lotan, and Nim-Lot 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. Horite does not refer to the ethnicity of the people, but to their caste.

A variant spelling of Horite is Horim, which is what Jews call their ancestors.

According to Strabo, Moses was educated at Heliopolis (Strabo, 17:1) as a priest under his personal name Osorsiph. This was the name given at birth and was preceded by the title "Son of Ra", written with the hieroglyph of a duck (za), a homonym for the word meaning "son" (za). With this hieroglyph there appears an image of the sun, the emblem of the Creator and his son.

Manetho reports that Moses was born at Heliopolis B.C. 1738 (Josephus, Ap. 1:26; 2:2). Heliopolis was a shrine of such great prestige that the great pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Abusir were aligned to the obelisk of Heliopolis.

The Harris papyrus speaks of the 'apriu of Ra at Heliopolis, the shrine of the Sun. Joseph married into this royal priest line when he married Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On (Heliopolis). This appears to be evidence of endogamy within the Hebrew clans.

The people who lived at On called it Iunu, which means "place of pillars." There were many pillars bearing inscriptions to the high king, prayers to the Creator and to his son. Some pillars depicted great victories in war, the details of treaties, and dedications. It was common for pillars to be inscribed in memory of righteous ancestors, as stained glass windows in churches are dedicated to "pillars" of the congregation. The entrance pillars of Solomon's temple were called Boaz and Joktan. Boaz was Solomon's holy ancestor on his father's side and Joktan was a holy ancestor on his mother's side.

The priests of Heliopolis were known for their meticulous devotion to the Creator (Ra/Ani) and his son (Horus/Enki), and for their sobriety and purity of life. 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.”

The Habiru priest purified himself before he entered the temple. His purification involved fasting, abstinence from sexual relations and alcohol, ritual bathing, and an intense period of prayer. Korah, Moses' half-brother, also was a priest according to Numbers 16:17,18. His name means "shaved one." Habiru priests shaved their heads and bodies as part of the purification ritual (Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2007, p.37).

Heliopolis was conceived as the sacred center of the primeval ocean, called Nun. The many pillars of the temple symbolized the connection between the waters below and the waters above (Gen. 1:7). Numbers 11:28 says that Joshua was the "son of Nun" suggesting that he belonged to a Horite Hebrew clan associated with On.

The marriage pattern of the Horite Hebrew

As with other Horite Hebrew (Lamech, Terah, Abraham, Amram, Jacob, Elkanah), Moses had two wives. Moses' first wife may have been named Tharbis. She is designated a "Kushite" in Numbers 12:1. However, that is a general term that applied to many groups of Nilotes. His second wife was a cousin named Zipporah. Zipporah was the daughter of the Midianite priest Jethro. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham by his cousin wife Keturah. Again, we have evidence of endogamy within the Hebrew clans.

Moses was a kinsman of the Horite Hebrew ruler, Seir (Gen. 36). Seir ruled over what had been Abraham's territory in ancient Edom.

Abraham's territory was in ancient Edom, or what the Greeks called Idumea, meaning "land of red people." It extended on a north-south axis between the settlements of his two wives. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah resided in Beersheba. His territory extended on an east-west axis between Ein-Gedi and Gerar. These places are shown on the map below.

Kings ruled in Edom long before there were any kings in Israel. "These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before a king ruled the children of Israel." (Gen. 36:1)

This brief sketch of Moses the Horite Hebrew priest is supported by the biblical data. A different view of Moses is found in the work of the Deuteronomist Historian who is responsible for the book of Exodus (written c. 600 BC).

Many of the incongruities surrounding the person of Moses are contextual; posing a contrast between the earlier context of the Horite Hebrew of Heliopolis and the latter context of the Deuteronomist whose narrative provides Israel with a revisionist history. 

In Exodus, God self-reveals on the "high places" or the tops of sacred mountains.Yet the Deuteronomist seeks the destruction of all high places, insisting that worship should be centralized at the Jerusalem temple. 

Rather than representing a priesthood that extends deep into antiquity, the Deuteronomist poses Moses as the founder of a new people and Aaron as the founder of the Jewish priesthood.

The Deuteronomist would have us believe that only priests living is Israel are the rightful heirs of the Messianic Faith of the Hebrew, yet Horite Hebrew priests had dispersed into Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, and Crete long before the time of Moses.

The Deuteronomist stresses rejection of images that were regarded as sacred among the Horite Hebrew, in particular the solar symbolism of the Proto-Gospel. 

The Deuteronomist advocates exclusive devotion to the God called Yahweh, though the Horite Hebrew knew God by many names: Ra, Ani, El, Yah, Adonai, El Elyon, etc.

The Deuteronomist requires strict obedience to Moses and THE prophet of YHWH and yet most of the religious laws attributed to Moses have a precedent in more ancient laws of the Nilotic priests among whom we find the practices of circumcision, animal sacrifice, and ritual purity before the time of Moses.

The Deuteronomist writes from the context of the Neo-Babylonian Period (700-300 BC), long after the time of Moses, and his perspective does not align well with the historical, archaeological, linguistic, and anthropological data concerning Moses and his Horite Hebrew ancestors.

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 Hebrew ruler-priest caste. Moses is the half-brother of the ruler-priest Korah, a descendant of the Horite ruler, Seir of Edom, and the Horite Hebrew clans practiced endogamy. All are related in some way.

There is great continuity in Genesis and Exodus on the level of kinship patterns, and perhaps the greatest contribution of Biblical Anthropology (the science) is the identification of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew. The Messianic Faith began with them and they are the main source behind the Old and New Testaments. The continuity of the Bible exists thanks to their steadfast adherence to the sacred Tradition of their ancestors. They believed they had a responsibility to preserve that Tradition. As it says in Proverbs 8:33, "Listen to my instruction and become wise. Don't change the order."

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Was the Virgin Mary a Dedicated Royal Woman?

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) was an English bishop who oversaw the translation of the King James Version of the Bible, also known as the Authorized Version.

Alice C. Linsley

The Virgin Mary is a topic that stirs controversy between Protestants and churches that "venerate" or honor her: Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and eastern churches in communion with Rome. Among the latter, Mary is acclaimed the"Mother of God" - Theotokos in Greek - in recognition of the divinity of her son Jesus. She is unique among women in that her son is the Son of the Father and the Messiah by whom salvation has come into the world.

Given the holy nature of the conception by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and the centrality of the Incarnation in the Gospel, it is important to be careful in our language. We are speaking of holy matters concerning a woman who is described in the Bible as "blessed among women" by virtue of her appointment and consent to become the mother of the long-awaited Messiah.

Also, when speaking of Mary it is necessary to acknowledge that not every assertion about her can be substantiated by Scripture and the ancient Tradition that stands behind the Scriptures. The Scriptures present the whole of what we need to know about the Messianic Faith that we call "Christianity." The belief that a virgin should conceive the "Seed" of God (Gen. 3:15) by divine overshadowing (Luke 1) has roots so deep in antiquity that we must acknowledge a sacred Tradition existing before the Bible. Biblical Anthropology entails empirical investigation of that Tradition and the antecedents of Christianity.

A proper handling of the topic requires separate consideration of each belief about Mary to evaluate how it aligns with the data of Scripture and the Messianic Tradition. The assertions to be considered include the "perpetual virginity"of Mary; the "immaculate conception" of Mary; the sinless nature of Mary, the Assumption of Mary, and the Dormition of Mary.

The Substance of Various Claims

The perpetual virginity of Mary is attested by the early prayers of the Church in which she is said to be of "uncorrupt virginity" and is acclaimed "holy and undefiled." St. Ambrose of Milan, who is considered the "father" of the Western Church, uses the term "Ever-Virgin" and Athanasius uses the term Aeiparthenos, meaning ever-virgin: “Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary." (Against the Arians)

To speak of Mary as "undefiled virgin" has little to do with sex. It is about her status as a dedicated virgin, the daughter of a priest. Joseph recognized her consecration to the Temple and did not have sexual relations with her. Mary was not expected to produce an heir for Joseph since he already had one by his first wife. Joseph's heir would have been among the "brothers" of Jesus mentioned in Matthew. Jerome calls them "cousins" which is also accurate. The terms "cousin" and "brother" are sometimes interchangeable because of the marriage and kinship pattern of the Hebrew ruler-priests who practiced clan endogamy.

The Church Fathers Irenaeus, John Chrysostom, Augustine, and Jerome held the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, as did the Reformers Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Zwingli and Wesley. The rejection of this teaching became widespread after the Reformers died. That said, most Protestants are able to accept the belief of the universal Church that Mary is the virgin mother of Jesus Messiah, who is also God, being one with the Father.

We encounter division and controversy when we come to late innovations such as the immaculate conception of Mary by which she is made to be without sin. This doctrine was not held by the Fathers and is not substantiated in Scripture or the Messianic Tradition. The notion of Mary's immaculate conception and sinless nature is attributed to the ninth century Abbot of Corvey, Paschasius Radbertus. By the 1300's it had become part of the Marian devotion throughout Europe.

Division also arises around the question of Mary's Assumption. This is an extremely recent assertion and without the warrant of Scripture and Tradition. The Assumption of Mary was made dogma by the Roman Catholic Church in 1950, when Pope Pius XII defined it ex cathedra in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. According to this belief, Mary did not die, but was taken directly to Heaven.

The Orthodox churches, on the other hand, believe that Mary fell asleep in the Lord and that she reposed in a tomb near the Mount of Olives. The Church of the Sepulcher of Mary was built over the burial site believed to be that of the Virgin. The location of the Tomb is across the Kidron Valley from St Stephen’s Gate in the Old City walls of Jerusalem, just before Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount of Olives. Some believe this cannot be the location of her burial because the tomb is empty. However, that is to be expected, as the ruler-priest clans practiced secondary burial. Her bones would have been collected in an ossuary box and placed elsewhere. Here is a photo of the 2000 year ossuary of Miriam, the royal daughter of the High Priest Caiaphas. It is marked with the 6-prong solar symbol associated with the Hebrew ruling caste. The Aramaic inscription says, “Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests of Ma’aziah from Beth Imri.”

It is certain that Mary was of the ruler-priest class because even the Jews who hated her admit this. Sanhedrin 106a says: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.”

The Bible and Mary's Virginity

Biblical Anthropology has much to contribute to a better understanding of Mary's virginity. Taking a deeper look we find that virginity in Mary's case refers to her role as a priest's daughter who was dedicated to the temple, much as Hannah dedicated Samuel to the temple.

In ancient times dedicated virgins led the people in singing. They played the timbrel and danced. There was a celibacy requirement for royal daughters dedicated to the temples and shrines. Temple virgins are described in the Old Testament as women who "watch [or wait] (צָבָא) at the door of the tabernacle.” In Exodus 38:8, we read that the laver of copper and its stand of copper were made “from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting” (Hebrew Study Bible, p. 197).

Temple virgins performed many necessary tasks such as weaving. The connection between the the Virgin Mary and weaving is found in non-canonical books as well as in canonical books. Chapter 9 of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew describes how Mary and the other virgins were spinning thread in the Temple compound. Carrying a pitcher, Mary went out to a fountain where the angel said to her, "Blessed art thou, Mary; for in thy womb thou hast prepared an habitation for the Lord." The next day the angel appeared to her again while she is spinning. This icon shows Mary, the Mother of God, weaving purple thread.

Matthew 13:55-56 is often cited as evidence that Mary was not a virgin.
"Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
The terms "cousin" and "brother" are sometimes interchangeable because of the marriage and kinship pattern of the Hebrew ruler-priests who practiced clan endogamy. In Hebrews, Lot is called the "brother" (adelphos) of Abraham, but in fact Lot was Abraham's nephew, the son of Abraham's brother Haran who died in Ur.

Jesus is the Seed of the Father, who crushes the Serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). However, the passage from Matthew refers to the doubts of the Jews. They did not believe Jesus to be the Son of God, and they knew these were close kin since Mary and Joseph have common ruler-priest ancestors.

As Joseph's second wife Mary was not expected to produce an heir for Joseph. Further, Joseph would have understood that Mary was consecrated to God, being a temple virgin. He also was aware through angelic intervention that she was to bring forth the long-awaited Messiah.
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged in marriage to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with Child through the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 1:18)
Joseph became her spouse protector rather than he sexual partner. As a righteous man, he did not presume to take that which rightfully belonged to God. Therefore, Mary remained a virgin both by virtue of her dedicated status and because of Joseph's righteous regard for her.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Sting of Death

Alice C. Linsley

Life and death are a reality from which none can escape. We read of tragic sudden deaths due to automobile accidents. In the nightly news, there are accounts of murders and fatalities in house fires and drownings. In the local newspapers, we find the obituaries of the recently deceased, both young and old.

Most people hope to die well, or at least to have what Emily Dickinson called "a tame death of simplicity." Some make final preparations. Priests arrive to administer extreme unction and the last rites and to comfort those who are left behind. Pastors call to consult the family about memorial services at the church. Funeral services commend the dead to the care of the eternal God and convey hope of immortality to those sitting in the pews.

Throughout the ages, death has been regarded as a natural event. In many societies it is sanitized and hidden, the province of medical practitioners and hospice care givers. In some cultures, people are told to develop a mindfulness of death as a way to detach from the world. In Buddhist and Hindu societies the body is something to be cast off.

Unlike the religions that seek to escape the material world, Christianity and Judaism value the body and believe it is not to be destroyed beyond the processes that are natural to death. Jews do not cremate and traditionally Christians to not cremate as this is seen as an un-natural process of destruction. Both Jews and Christians practice primary and sometimes secondary burial. It is common for Christian monastic communities to gather the bones of the deceased monks for secondary burial in a charnel house.

In the Middle Ages, Europeans were reminded of the reality of death by skulls and crucifixes. Alixe Bovey provides an excellent description of the Medieval preoccupation:

Death was at the centre of life in the Middle Ages in a way that might seem shocking to us today. With high rates of infant mortality, disease, famine, the constant presence of war, and the inability of medicine to deal with common injuries, death was a brutal part of most people's everyday experience. As a result, attitudes towards life were very much shaped by beliefs about death: indeed, according to Christian tradition, the very purpose of life was to prepare for the afterlife by avoiding sin, performing good works, taking part in the sacraments, and keeping to the teachings of the church. Time was measured out in saint's days, which commemorated the days on which the holiest men and women had died. Easter, the holiest feast day in the Christian calendar, celebrated the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The landscape was dominated by parish churches - the centre of the medieval community - and the churchyard was the principal burial site.

Skulls of monks who lived at St.Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai

Robert Hertz, an anthropologist who studied secondary burial rites in Borneo and Indonesia believes that the final transition to the status of ancestor comes when the flesh is gone and only the bones remain. The bones are gathered and placed with the ancestors in a permanent burial site.

This was the practice of the Hebrew ruler-priest caste. When the flesh of the High Priest Caiaphas was gone, his bones were placed in an ossuary and at that point he could be said to be resting in the
bosom of Abraham.

The ossuary box of Caiaphas

In Ezekiel 37, God addresses the dry bones:
Prophesy concerning these bones and tell them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Lord GOD says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh grow upon you and cover you with skin. I will put breath within you so that you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

Hertz saw this transition from buried wet flesh to collected dry bones as a refusal to regard death as irrevocable. He writes, "..the last word must remain with life."

The phrase "life and death" is a merism that expresses all human existence and experience. However, "life and death" also represents a binary set in the Bible and in that context, life is posed as greater than death.

Among people groups who have shamans, the rites of passages from the living to the dead represent transformation and continuity since the shaman is trained to consult the dead through the agency of spirits. This is motivated by grief and by the veneration of the ancestors. The veneration of ancestors is a powerful motivation to focus on the dead. Christian missionaries find the greatest resistance to their Gospel of Life among people for whom this is a sacred trust. The astute will find a way to connect the Messianic message of deliverance from death to the wisdom of the ancestors. This is easier for missionaries who have retained the catholic faith than for Protestants and most Evangelicals.

In the Church, we remember those who have gone before us who are "in Christ" at All Hallows or All Saints. We rejoice that they now "rest in peace" and that their repose is beyond human grasp. Yet we are still one in the Body of Christ and in the Communion of Saints.

Geoffrey Gorer and David Cannadine studied the effects of the catastrophic loss of human life on the battle fields of Europe's great wars. Indeed, in many European countries the grief was so profound that people were desperate to communicate with their lost loved ones and turned to mediums.

With the absence of bodies over which to mourn, this was a time in Britain when there was a significant rise in spiritualism, spiritualist churches, and the practice of holding séances in the hope of having ‘dialogues’ with the dead. In a way, the direction of travel was opposite to that described by Vitebsky for the Sora – whereas the Sora turned away from their dead as active in their lives, British mourners, with the help of spiritualists, actively sought them out. Crucially, the First World War not only changed a nation’s relationship with death but also, for a time at least, its relationship with the dead. (From here.)

In England it was the Anglo-Catholics who were best equipped to resist spiritualism. They retained prayers for the dead, the commemoration of the saints, and the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Because the English Reformers condemned prayers for the dead, the age old practice was of no service in this time of spiritual and pastoral crisis. The Broad churchmen of the Church of England won the day with their liberal theology, but lost the souls whose care they were to make their first priority. The Evangelicals had a more hopeful message, as they believed in the bodily resurrection and "the life of the world to come."

The pastoral crisis has been described in Rene Kollar's book Searching for Raymond: Anglicanism, Spiritualism, and Bereavement Between the Two World Wars. Richard J. Mammana wrote an excellent review of the book which appeared in Touchstone Magazine in April 2002. Mammana sets the stage for the review with this explanation:

Despite the heroic actions of dedicated priests in the trenches, a spiritual vacuum haunted many of the men who returned from the Great War. This vacuum likewise haunted the homes whose hearths they left empty when they died “over there.” Into this void stepped a series of religious fads, loosely based, as all heresies are, on some aspects of the Christian faith bent out of shape. Prominent laymen—among them Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—promoted the idea that spiritualism and Christianity were not by any means at odds, but rather were complementary and even essential to one another. Hungry audiences devoured the deception, and clergymen weak in their own understanding of Christian doctrine willingly adopted the relation as well. 
The first Lambeth Conference after the Great War addressed itself in earnest to the challenges raised by “Some Movements Outside the Church,” including spiritualism, Christian Science, and Theosophy. This conference, the same one that condemned artificial methods of birth control, said that these movements “are clearly shewn to involve serious error” when “tried by the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Cross.” It “urge[d] strongly that a larger place should be given in the teaching of the Church to the explanation of the true grounds of Christian belief in eternal life, and in immortality, and of the true content of belief in the Communion of Saints as involving real fellowship with the departed through the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

The Church of England failed to meet the pastoral need of millions of grieving people because it had lost an essential message:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38, 39)

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.” As Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication of 1936, Archbishop Lang was faced with crisis upon crisis, not the least of which was the popularity of spiritualism. Although Archbishop Lang took a strong moral tone toward the failure of duty of Edward VIII in abdicating the throne, he reopened the question of spiritualism by forming the committee.

The committee delivered its report in 1939, but its findings were not made public until 1979. 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.”

Evelyn Underhill, who had been on the committee, resigned, stating that she was “very strongly opposed to spiritualism... especially to any tendency on the part of the Church to recognize or encourage it.”

Another factor that undermines the Christian hope is individualism, the desire to "plough one’s own social furrow" and to pursue spiritual things independently. The trend is dying as young people seek to be connected and are afraid to be alone. However, their mediator is not a warm-blooded priest or pastor who points them to the hope of immortality. It is an electronic device carried everywhere and pointing to everything. 

In the ancient world, the ruler-priest was regarded as the mediator between God and the community. If God turned His face away from the ruler, the people suffered from want and war. If the ruler found favor with God, the people experienced abundance and peace. The ruler was expected to intercede for his people before God in life and in death. The ruler's resurrection meant that he could lead his people beyond the grave to new life. This is why great pains were taken to insure that the ruler not come into contact with dead bodies, avoid sexual impurity, and be properly preserved after death. The ruler's burial was attended by prayers, sacrifices and a grand procession to the royal tomb.

The New Testament speaks about Jesus as the ruler-priest. He is the firstborn from the grave and by his resurrection He delivers to the Father a "peculiar people." He leads us in royal procession to the Father where we receive heavenly recognition because we belong to Him.

Heavenly recognition for the Hebrew was never an individual prospect. Heavenly recognition came to the people through the righteousness of their ruler-priest. Horite Hebrew rulers took this seriously, some more than others. The best were heavenly minded and the worst were so earthy minded that they shed much blood enlarging their territories. All failed to be the Ruler-Priest who rose from the dead. None has the power to deliver captives from the grave and to lead them to the throne of heaven (Ps. 68:18; Ps. 7:7; Eph. 4:8). That one true Priest and King is Jesus Messiah, the Son of God, who has trampled down death by death.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Monday, July 16, 2018

Copper and Iron

© Daniel Frese/

The image shows piles of copper slag, a waste material in ancient Edom, indicating large-scale royal mining operations there.

Alice C. Linsley

Copper and iron were the first metals to be used in the fabrication of artifacts. Copper beads found in 8,500-year-old graves at Catalhöyük were made by hammering native metal found in nature. Similarly, hammered iron beads have been found at el Gerzah in northern Egypt where 300 graves were discovered in 1911-1912. Tombs 67 and 133 contained a total of nine iron beads. Analysis of the beads indicates that they were formed from surface iron deposited by meteorites. Both tombs are securely dated to Naqada IIC–IIIA, c 3400–3100 BC (Adams, 1990: 25; Stevenson, 2009: 11–31), so the beads predate the emergence of iron smelting by nearly 2000 years, and other known meteoritic iron artifacts by 500 years or more (Yalçın 1999).

Çatalhöyük was a large Neolithic and Chalcolithic (Copper Age) settlement in southern Anatolia (Turkey). Photo Credit: Omar Huftun

Copper is not mentioned in the earliest of the Vedas (Rig-Veda), but it is mentioned in the White Yajurveda and in the last of the Vedas, the Atharva-Veda (composed c. 1000).

The oldest proven smelting remains are in Belovode, Serbia, from around 7,000 years ago. There scientists have identified intentionally-produced copper slag, which has been analytically confirmed as the source for at least 16 heavy copper implements found across the Balkans.

Copper mines were worked at Rudna Glava (Serbia), Aibunar (Bulgaria), and Ross Island (Ireland, 2400 BC).

A copper awl was unearthed in Tel Tsaf, near the Jordan River at Israel's border with Jordan. The area was a village from c. 5100 BC to 4600 BC. The awl was found in the grave of a woman of high rank. She wore a belt made of 1,668 ostrich-egg shell beads and her grave was covered by several large stones. Analysis of the copper indicates that it came from the Caucasus.

The Copper-Cyprus Connection

The term "copper" comes from the Latin word cuprum, referring to the island of Cyprus. Early references to Cypriot copper exports were found in cuneiform tablets from the ancient kingdom of Mari (modern-day Syria) and are dated to the 18th century BC.

Tablets excavated at El Amarna, Egypt provide another significant source of information and describe in great detail the export of copper to Egypt by the kings of Cyprus during the 14th century BC.

The abundance of copper votive figures and statuettes found in mines and temples at the archaeological sites of Kition and Engomi on Cyrpus reflects the significance of copper to the Cypriot economy and religious culture.

Copper Work on the Nile

Copper and gold artifacts appeared in the region between the First and Second Cataracts in graves of the Middle A Group. These are dated from ca. 3600–3300 BC (Killick 2014). 

Around 3,200 B.C. copper balances and weights were used at Nile shrines to determine cargo taxes and for trade.

Copper Work Among the Akkadians

The copper statue show above is from the Akkadian period (2350–2100 BC). This was found in the 1960's near the village of Bassetki in northern Iraq. The Bassetki Statue shows a seated, nude human figure on a round pedestal and was cast of pure copper. The pedestal contains an Akkadian inscription indicating that the statue once stood in the doorway of a palace of the Akkadian ruler Naram-Sin.

Sites of Copper Mining

Copper (Cu) was mined in Cappadocia, Mesopotamia, Media, and Persia.

Copper was called "red" metal versus iron which was called "black" metal.

Archaeologists have found evidence of mining and annealing of copper in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Isle Royale) dating to around 5,000 B.C.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Hittites of Anatolia

The German archaeologist Hugo Winckler was the first to conduct excavations at Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite empire. Thousands of clay tablets from Hattusa’s palace and temple were found, representing eight languages. All the tablets were inscribed in the cuneiform script developed in Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C. Many were written in Akkadian, a Semitic language of international affairs during the Late Bronze Age. Many of the tablets are diplomatic in nature, containing correspondence between Hittite kings and their vassal states.

More than 232 letters of state correspondence have been found at Hattusa. One is a letter from the ruler of Išuwa to the "Chief of the Charioteers." The administrative center of Hattusa had many scribes who were schooled in Akkadian (the script of Nimrod's kingdom).

Recent research connects the Luwian hieroglyphs and the Hittite hieroglyphs. The Luwian writing system is known from quotations in Hittite documents and from ancient scripts found in Crete and Cyprus. Luwian scripts took two forms: (1) Akkadian cuneiform, as with the Hittite scripts found at Hattusa, and (2) Egyptian hieroglyphic.

The Luwian inscriptions from the Yazilikaya site in Turkey are connected to the Hittite religion. Common symbolism involving the Sun, bull horns, stone altars, and fortified temples with pillars, suggest that the religion was related to that of the Hurrians or Horite Hebrew.

This green stone found at Hattusa is believed to be a gift from the Egyptian king with whom the Hatti signed a treaty in BC 1258, was at the center of a Horite shrine. Among the ancient Nilotes green malachite symbolised the hope of resurrection. The land of the blessed dead was described as the "field of malachite." Green stones were associated with Horus, whose animal totem was the falcon. The Book of the Dead speaks of how the deceased will become a falcon "whose wings are of green stone" (chapter 77). The Eye of Horus amulet was made of green stone.

Solar images abound in Hittite culture an the king was referred to as "My Sun". Solar images are found in the royal tombs or on the standards of rulers. One example is the long horns of bulls and deer, such as appear on this bronze standard found at Horoztepe.

The March/April 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review shows a statue found at the principal temple in Hattusa. The mother of the king wears the Sun as a sign of divine appointment. This is a Hittite version of the Nilotic images of Hathor holding Horus on her lap.

An deep history

In southern Anatolia royal stone masons built Catalhoyuk beginning in 7500 BC. (The Turkish words catal means fork and hoyuk means mound.) This was a settlement built on two mounds (east and west) and a channel of the Çarşamba River once flowed between them. The houses excavated in Catalhoyuk date between 6800-5700 B.C. Recent excavations have identified a shrine or small temple on the eastern side. At Horoztepe, in northern Anatolia, they built royal tombs dating from 2400–2200 BC. These are richly furnished with finely crafted artifacts in bronze, gold, and silver.

The kingdom of Hatti was the most powerful Near Eastern kingdom in the late 14th and 13th centuries B.C. The kings of Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria were received in Hattusa's reception hall located in the royal citadel, known as Büyükkale, or “Big Castle”. Vassal rulers came to Hattusa to reaffirm their loyalty and pay tribute to the Hittite king.

In the early second millennium B.C. Hattusa (modern Boğazkale in Turkey) was the seat of a central Anatolian kingdom. In the 18th century B.C., a king named Anitta destroyed the settlement. One of the first Hittite kings, Hattusili I (c. 1650–1620 B.C.), rebuilt the city and the royal complex on a rock outcrop overlooking the lower city.  Excavations reveal the features typical of ancient high places.

1.5-inch-high, 15th-century B.C. gold pendant found at Hattusa

The Hittites were known for high quality metal work, especially silver work. The Ugaritic word for silver - ḥtt - appears in the name of the people and Hittite place names. Ḥatti and Ḥattuša are examples. Hittites scribes often used the word sign for silver in their names.


The Hittite rulers and priests appear to be kin to the Horite Hebrew ruler-priests. These peoples have some common ancestors. That is why Abraham was recognized as a "great prince among us" by the Hittites in Machpelah (Gen. 23:6). The Hittites are designated the "sons" of Heth/Het (Gen. 23:2-11) and one of the clans of Canaan (Gen. 10:15).

The Hittite rulers appear to have been in Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b1a (P297) which predominates in biblical populations associated with the Caucasus, Anatolia, and northern Mesopotamia. R1b1b (M335) has been found primarily in Anatolia and may be the genetic marker of the Saka (Sacae/Saxon). The Hindu text Matsya Purana claims that the Saka (called “Scythians” by the Greeks) ruled the ancient world for 7000 years. Another text, Mahabharata, designates “Sakadvipa” as the “land of the Sakas” in northern India. Assyrian documents speak of the Saka presence between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the time of Sargon (722-705 B.C.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Was the Pattern of the Ark Original?

"The Ark Passes Over the Jordan" by James Tissot

The Ark of the Covenant was a gilded wooden chest with a lid cover. Approximately one year after the Israelites left Egypt, the Ark was fabricated according to the pattern God gave to Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Ark of the Covenant is also called the Ark of Testimony.

Moses, Bezalel (Betzalel) and Oholiab are the names associated with the Ark's construction. Bezalel appears to have been the head craftsmen. His name means "overshadowed by God." He was a Horite Hebrew craftsmen (son of Uri, son of Hur, according to Exodus 31:1).

In reality, the pattern was not entirely original. Arks have been found in East Africa and in the tombs of Egyptian kings. The ark found in King Tut's tomb has a pylon shape whereas the Ark of the Covenant is described as rectangular, like the shape of the Yeha altar found in Tigray, Ethiopia (shown above).

Ark found in the tomb of King Tut. 1922 photograph by Harry Burton (1879-1940).
It has Anubis, one of the four manifestations of Horus, the son of the High God Ra.

The Ark was plated with gold. Four gold rings were attached to its four feet, two on each side. Gold plated wood rods were placed through these rings to carry the Ark. A golden cover, called kapporet, was placed above the Ark. This is often described as the "mercy seat" thought kapporet is likely derived from kaphar, which means to mean cover, or to wipe out, as in cleansing.

The Lemba people of South Africa and Zimbabwe claim that their ancestors carried an ark that they called ngoma lungundu or "voice of God." In 2008, Tudor Parfitt described his research into this claim. He says that the object described by the Lemba has attributes similar to the Ark. It was of similar size, was carried on poles by priests, was not allowed to touch the ground, was revered as a voice of their God, and was used as a weapon of great power, sweeping enemies aside.

In the Book of Exodus the Ark is said to contain the tablets of the Ten Commandments. The author of the Book of Hebrews states that the Ark also contained Aaron’s rod, a jar of manna, and the first Torah scroll as written by Moses. These additional items appear to be from a later Talmudic source. I Kings 8:9 states, "There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses put there at Horeb, where Yahweh made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt."

The Ark of the Covenant moved from place to place, always resting in the place of the divine appointment. It rested in Shiloh. Jeremiah 7:12 makes reference to this first resting place. “Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.”

The place of divine appointment came to be where the king resided. The Ark rested in Gibeah, Saul's hometown. After David became king, he brought the ark "from the house of Abinadab, that was in Gibeah” to Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:1-12). However, for three months the ark rested in David’s hometown of Bethlehem in the house of Obed-Edom.