Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David

Was this the house in Nazareth where Jesus grew up?

Alice C. Linsley

Nazareth was the home of Jesus, a descendant of King David. There appears to have been a connection between the clans of Nazareth and the clans of Bethlehem. In Jesus' day, both towns were small and essentially comprised of one family. These kinsmen had common Horite Hebrew ancestry. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." No priestly division was assigned to Bethlehem by King David because his sons served as the rulers over all the priestly divisions (2 Sam. 8:18).

Nazareth sat in a basin. It was described as a flower or a shell protected all around by hills. A caravan route connected Nazareth and Jerusalem. To the south of Nazareth, a road led to Egypt. This would have been the route that Joseph traveled with Mary and Jesus on their return from Egypt.

Archaeological findings in Nazareth include an ancient wine press, terraced hillsides used as vineyards, an irrigation system, and three watchtowers in the fields. These date to Jesus' time. Perhaps these were in Jesus' mind when He told the parables of the sower, the wheat and the tares, and the vineyard workers.

Archaeologists working in Nazareth also have identified a first-century house that has been regarded as the place where Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph. The house is cut into a rocky hillside and built out from the hill with mortar-and-stone walls. It was first uncovered in the 1880s, but it wasn't until 2006 that archaeologists dated the house to the first century. The Horite Hebrew ruler-priests were famous for their monumental stone work. They were responsible for building the tombs of rulers, so this house would have been a rather humble home in comparison.

Nazareth of Galilee was of less concern to Herod than Bethlehem. Herod knew that the Messiah's birthplace was prophesied to be Bethlehem, David's city, and that the eternal kingdom was to be that of David's lineage. His slaughter of the baby boys in Bethlehem was to eliminate this future king who posed a threat to Herod's dynasty. Herod was born in Idumea or Edom around 74 B.C. He knew that Messiah's appearing would change everything because his Edomite ancestors were the Horite Hebrew of Edom (Gen. 36). They expected Messiah to be born of a virgin of their Horite Hebrew ruler-priests lines. Some of those priests resided in Bethlehem, and some in Nazareth.

Nazareth was on an ancient trade route that went north from Egypt through Galilee. It was called the "Via Maris" in Roman times, but the route was traveled for many centuries before the Roman presence in Palestine. Another ancient road went from Nazareth to Jerusalem. It was along this road that the priests of Nazareth traveled to the temple to perform their sacred duties when it was their appointed time of service.

In 1962, excavators discovered in the ruins of a Caesarea synagogue a small 3rd to 4th century marble fragment with a list of the twenty-four priestly divisions. This list names the places where four of the divisions resided, including Nazareth, the home of the eighteenth priestly division, hapiTSETS (Happizzez). Until the discovery of this fragment, there was no extra-biblical record of Nazareth's existence before the sixth century A.D, and no identification of a priestly division at that town.

According to 1 Chronicles 24:15, the eighteenth priestly division was called hapiTSETS (Happizzez). The name is related to the ancient Egyptian word for the life-sustaining Nile, Hapi. Many claim that the word Nazareth is related to the Hebrew word for branch, but it is more likely that Nazareth is related to the Ge'z rwt, meaning king, and the Nilotic Shilluk word reth, also referring to a king. According to Strong's Hebrew Concordance: 5145. נֵ֫זֶר (nezer) refers to consecration or a crown. Melchi, a name that appears twice in the Virgin Mary's ancestry, means "my image" in Amharic, a language spoken in the Upper Nile.

The Apostle Peter performed a miracle in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Acts 3:6). The phrases "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Jesus, Son of David" apparently became synonymous in the minds of people who had heard about Jesus. When the blind beggar Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was near him, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Houses in Iron Age Beersheba

Photo: The Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University/Courtesy Ze’ev Herzog.

Iron Age settlements excavated in Judah and Edom reveal that the houses were oriented to the rising sun. This is what Avraham Faust, Professor of Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, noticed in his excavation at Beersheba, the southern boundary of Abraham's territory in Edom.

Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah resided in Beersheba to the south. This was his territory about 1000 years before the Iron Age (c.1200-550 BC).

The Iron Age settlement at Beersheba demonstrates its ancient residents preferred their houses oriented to the east. Of the houses excavated at the site only one in 29 doorways was built facing west. Avraham Faust argues that Israelite cosmology is responsible for this pattern. However, the pattern is found among other peoples in settlements that are even older. The sun was a sacred symbol for many ancient peoples among whom the Hebrew were living. It represented the Creator who was known by many names: Ra, Anu, Asu, YHWH, El, etc.

Both Edomite and Midianite pottery have been discovered at Beersheba. A four-horned brazen altar identical in structural to the altar used later by the Israelites was uncovered in 1973. This discovery was made by a team under the direction of Yohanan Aharoni and Ze'ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University. The team first encountered an ancient storage wall that contained the stones of the altar. Three of the stones still had large horns projecting from them, but the horn of the fourth stone had been broken off. Yet still another stone had the carved image of a serpent, probably indicating Kenite construction. The stones, which had been incorporated into a wall, were reassembled to assume their former shape and dated to the time of the Patriarchs. The altar may have been destroyed during Hezekiah’s attempts to eradicate all shrines outside Jerusalem.

Beersheba had strategic importance because it was the largest settlement in the Negev. It guarded the trade routes between Mesopotamia and Egypt and between the Nile Delta and Southern Arabia. Its fortifications in the late Iron Age were impressive and included a moat that encircled the city and a steeply-sloped earthen rampart. Beyond the rampart the city was surrounded by thick stone walls. The gate was a chambered type, and inside the gate archaeologists found an incense altar at the high place, just as described in II Kings 23:8.

The miners of this region venerated Hathor, the mother of Horus, called the "son" of God.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Biblical Anthropology is the Work of Christians

Alice C. Linsley

The science of Biblical Anthropology is primarily the work of Christians. In part, this is because Christians regard the Bible as the primary authority in matters pertaining to salvation. It has also been noted that Christianity has a tradition of reasoned inquiry. Ian Hutchinson, a world-renown plasma scientist at MIT, did a study of Christians in science and found that about 60% of the pioneers in the physical sciences were Christians. My own research suggests that the figure is closer to 70%.

Obviously, Jews study the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and many Jews have made contributions in the sciences. Yet none have contributed directly to the advancement of Biblical Anthropology. In fact, some have been hostile to the findings of Biblical Anthropology. This is because the hard data does not support their narrative of Abraham as the first Jew, and Judaism as his religion.

Jews are less than enthusiastic about Biblical Anthropology because the ancestral faith confirmed by Biblical Anthropology is not the faith of Judaism. Honest rabbis admit this. Rabbi Stephen F. Wise, former Chief Rabbi of the United States, answers this question in part. He wrote: "The return from Babylon and the introduction of the Babylonian Talmud mark the end of Hebrewism and the beginning of Judaism.”

For Jews the Bible is less important than the Talmud. The Talmud encourages them to place it above the authority of the Scriptures. Consider this: “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah." (Talmud Erubin 21b)

Consider this from a SUNY professor, Robert Goldberg, who explains; “The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live.” Christians are advancing the field of biblical anthropology because we take the biblical texts seriously and we regard them as truthful.

Biblical Anthropology provides the unique and exciting opportunity to explore biblical data through the lens of anthropology. This hasn't been done in the seminaries so pastors are largely unaware of the findings in Biblical Anthropology. In fact, when they hear "biblical anthropology" they think of the theological discussion of human nature as it is presented in the Bible. Our task is to think more scientifically than theologically. We want to read the biblical texts very carefully, paying close attention to information that helps us to better understand the religious practices and social structures of biblical peoples.

I recommend not reading the Scripture through the lens of rabbinic writings. By 90 AD the rabbis were so hardened against the Messianic Faith that they worked to disguise the evidence of Jesus' Messianic identity by willfully misinterpreting scriptural references to Messiah. This often took the form of applying Messianic passages to Israel as God's anointed people.

Another means of misleading people concerning Jesus' identity was to elevate the Law over the Prophets. Judaism maintains that the Major and Minor Prophets are subordinate to the Law of Moses on the basis of Malachi 3:22, which reads: “Remember the Torah of Moses, my servant, which I commanded him at Horeb for all of Israel – its decrees and statutes.”

Maimonides quoted this verse in the Mishneh Torah as a proof that prophets are not to be interpreted as bringing new teaching, but should be understood as warning people not to trespass Torah. This is a mistaken view since critical scholarship has demonstrated that the Torah and the Prophets "are separate corpora originating in the same time period" (The Jewish Study Bible, p. 1144).

Jesus' Messianic identity is obfuscated further by the rabbinic elevation of the Talmud over the Torah. Jews believe that the Talmud contains truth of greater authority than the Bible. The Talmud itself encourages readers to place it above the authority of the Old Testament. We read this explicit instruction: “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah." (Talmud Erubin 21b)

SUNY history professor, Robert Goldberg, writes; “The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live.”

Note that the Talmud is not studied for information about Messiah. In fact, it is generally anti-Jesus in tone. It says that Messiah is Yeshu, the son of Joseph, yet it claims in Sanhedrin 43a that Jesus (Yeshu) the Nazarene was executed because he practiced sorcery. Sanhedrin 106a says Jesus' mother was a whore: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.”

The Talmud teaches that Jesus Christ was illegitimate and was conceived during menstruation; that he had the soul of Esau; that he was a fool, a conjurer, a seducer; that he was crucified, buried in hell and set up as an idol ever since by his followers.

Finally, to steer their people from the truth concerning Jesus Messiah, the rabbis elevate their own doctrines over the “doctrine of the Lord." In the tract Babha Metsia, fol. 33a, we read: "Those who devote themselves to reading the Bible exercise a certain virtue, but not very much; those who study the Mischnah exercise virtue for which they will receive a reward; those, however, who take upon themselves to study the Gemarah exercise the highest virtue."

Likewise in the tract Sopherim XV, 7, fol. 13b: "The Sacred Scriptures is like water, the Mischnah wine, and the Gemarah aromatic wine."

The following is a well-known opinion in the writings of the Rabbis: "My son, give heed to the words of the scribes rather than to the words of the law."

The tract Sanhedrin X, 3, f.88b says: "He who transgresses the words of the scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the law."

Is it any wonder then that it is Christians, rather than Jews, who have pioneered the science of Biblical Anthropology? Science requires empirical evidence and the evidence of Scripture, archaeology, linguistics, anthropology and genetics supports the claim that Jesus is the Messiah.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Akkadian Lexicon

This fragment of a tablet from Nimrud contains a list of synonyms.
It gives Malku as a synonym for Šarru.
(British Museum ND 5434.)
Alice C. Linsley

This partial list of Akkadian words will be helpful to biblical anthropologists. These words should be compared to words in ancient Egyptian, Old Arabic, Hungarian (Magyar), and Bulgarian (Thracian).

Akkadian is an inflected language with grammatical cases. It is a Semitic language with grammatical features similar to those found in Classical Arabic, and as with all Semitic languages, Akkadian words are built on consonantal roots. Most Akkadian roots are tri-consonantal. Some roots are composed of four consonants (four radicals). Between and around these radicals there are various infixes, suffixes and prefixes.

Akkadian has three numbers (singular, dual and plural) and three cases (nominative, accusative and genitive). However, the dual number is largely confined to natural pairs (eyes, ears, etc.) or binary sets. This appears to reflect a very archaic pattern. Adjectives are never found in the dual. In the dual and plural, the accusative and genitive are merged into a single oblique case.

abal - without
abaru - lead (metal)
abatu - to flee from, to run away; also to completely destroy
abnu - stone
abum - father
abdu - servant, slave
abru - priest
abrutu - priesthood, a caste of priests
adikanna - time
ammeni - why
amtu - handmaid
ana - to, for, after, approximately
anaku - the royal I  (compare ancient Egyptian anochi - I)
Anu/Anum - the High God whose son is called Enki.
arbu - fugitive, runaway
arhu - month
assatu (Variants: assutu/issutu) - principal wife
assatu awili - veiled principal wife (in public)
ayyu - which?
azu - physician priest (Sargon was born in Azu-pir-Anu - house of divine healing/temple)

ba - water
babum - gate, door
bantu - mother
bel - lord of
birûtu - human (clean, pure)
bit durani - fortress (bit tuklati - stronghold)
burumitu - sky blue; lapis lazuli

Da-odu - David (Corresponds to the Yoruba Daw-odu.)
dahh-ubu - gold (also hurusam)
dannum/danim - strong, powerful
daris - for ever
darutu - long life
datu - law, decreee
dû - hill

ebar - beyond, the other side of
ebebu - to be clean
Edinu - Eden
edû - flow, spring
eka - where?
ekallim - palace (place where deity resides?)
eli - up, over
ellum - ritually pure
em - wherever
Enki - the son of the Creator God Anu
erbe/arba - four
erebu/erbum - sunset, time of setting sun
eridu - home away from home
erimtu - baked brick
ersetu - Earth (also ki or gi)
ersu - bed (related to resû, Akkadian word for riverbed, channel.)
esirtu - concubine

gam - also
gārû - opponent in war
guruvash - servant (related to karauash - servant)
garru/garrum - a box
girginakku (Variant: garginakku) - a box for written tablets
gisnu - bed (also ersu or isersu)
gud - powerful bull (also a solar symbol)

haddu - joyful
ḫāpiru - human being
harrani - road (also yol?)
hirtu (Variants: hiratu/histu) - wife
hubullu - debt, obligation
hurusam - gold  (Hur/Horus + sam refering to the sun.)
hush - reddish

Idiqlat - Tigris
ilum - deity
im - rib (also ti)
immu - day
ina - in, on, out, through, under
isḫu - human, physical body (male)
ištēn (M); ištāt (F) - one (cardinal number)
itti - with, also

kabattu - liver
kalab - dog
kan - blood
kanu - convict
karmu - ruin
kiprat arba - four regions/four peoples (related to Kirat Arba, archaic name for Hebron.) 
kisallu - court
kulturi/kultari - dwellings, habitations
kur - land owned (related to kur/kar - rock shelter or fortified high place)
kurtum - territory

letu - cheek
lemnu - bad
lū - or

maklu - burnt offering (Variant: maqlu)
malku - ruler-priest (Synonym: Šarru)
mannu - who?
māru - son (māru rabu - eldest son)
martum - daughter
maṣṣarum - guards
matum - country
mīnū - what?
mittu - mace

nabu - prophet, seer
nagasu - roam  (naga - snake, Azag - the Great Serpent, one shining like metal - zag)
nanna - moon
nesû - (1) distant; from far, exotic; (3) to withdraw; to depart from, abandon; to remove; (3) to deport (people); to make recede/repel

parzillu - iron
pid - box, chest or arc
purkullu - stone cutter

qannu - horn
qannuntu - curly haired (F)
qaštu - bow (with arrow)
qātu - hand

rabum - great
rapšum - wide
resû - river bed, branch of river

sag - head
šamû - heaven
samsum - sun
sandu - red
šarratum - queen
šarrum - king
šattu - year
sebet babi - seven gates
šepum - foot; šepān - feet
sibbu - serpent
šinā (M); šittā (F) - two (cardinal number)
siparru - copper
sisu - horse
sittu - rest
šumeru - Sumerian
tamtu - sea
tiamatu - ocean, abyss

u - and
ud - fire
ul - high, elevated (sky)
utu - sun power, divine overshadowing, high noon (Similar to Aker in ancient Egyptian.)
ummum - mother

wasabu - sit  (Possibly related to the seated harwa, a healer-priest, called "wabau" in Egyptian.)
wasu - small

zag - shining, like copper
zeru - seed

Related reading: Ancient Egyptian Lexicon, Hungarian Lexicon; The Sumerian Language

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hungarian Lexicon

Listen to spoken Hungarian

Alice C. Linsley

The Hungarian language is classified by linguists in the Uralic family. This means that Hungarian words have affinity to words in related Uralic languages: Estonian, Finnish, Lappish, Mordvin and Samoyed. It is related to ancient Scythian or Saka. There are also words that show the influence of classical Latin, and in more recent centuries, German.

The Hungarian alphabet is similar to the English, but there are extra vowels: á, é, í, ó, ö, ő, ú, ü, ű; and extra consonants: cs, gy, ly, ny, ty, sz, zs.

Hungarian is largely phonetic. Once you master the sound values of the alphabet, you will be able to read Hungarian texts. The values are always the same, making it easier to master Hungarian pronunciation.

As with Greek, Latin and Russian, it has cases: genitive, dative, instrumental, etc. Here is an explanation of how words change case.

The language shows causation in the verb semantics

People who have studied Latin, French of Spanish will be familiar with verb conjugation. This is done in Hungarian also. Hungarian also has reflexive pronouns.

What follows is a limited Lexicon of old Hungarian words. The * indicates words with an explanation in the NOTES.

The Hungarian/Magyar Lexicon

áldás - blessing

barlang - cave, grotto, den
betegség - sickness, illness, disease
*bíró - judge

dal - song
dél/deli - shine, brightness, splendour

*Ég - heaven
egész - whole
egy - one
erdő - forest (variant of Eredo and Eridu.)
*eskű - oath

fal - wall  (Körfal refers to a circular fortification.)
fej - head
fény - light
folyó - river (also pojo)

gyula - war chief

hab - water (also viz)
hadak ura (hadúr, hodúr) - warlord, military commander
hajnal - dawn
hajó - ship
hamu - ashes
hely - place
hegység - mountain
hold - moon
hon - home

jár - to walk
jász (gyász) - mourning
jó - good

kályha - fire, stove, brashier
kan - male
kar - arm
keleti - eastern
kende (also kündü) - deified ruler
kés - knife
kéz - hand
kis - little, small
kör - circle (also év)
körpad - round mound
kürt - horn
kuruzslók - healers
kű - stone

lé - liquid (also té)
lék - leak
ló - horse

*mag - seed (mg root also expresses great and kinship)
*Makar (Magor, Magar) - archaic name for the Creator, whose emblem was the Sun
mat - country
méh - bee
mező - field
mocsar - swamp
mocsok - dirt, soil

nap - sun (also means day.)
nap kör - sun circle, circular threshing floor
nedű - liquid
nő - woman
nyit - to open

óg - exalted, elevated, a ruler
őr - guardian, sentry, watchman
öreg - old
örök - eternal
orom - high place, mountain peak
ős - ancestor
ősember - cave-dwelling ancestor
os haza - original house, main house
ősz - grey (used to describe hair)

piros - red (used to describe inanimate objects)

saj - river
sár - shine
sarok - corner
száj - mouth
szem - eye

táltos - shaman, wise man, healer
tehén - cow
túr - to dig

váj - to carve
*vér - blood (related to the Latin vir, meaning man)
vörös - red (used to describe animate objects)
viz - water


*The old Hungarian world for judge is bíró. This is likely related to the words biru and piru, which pertain to places of sacrifice.

*There is a clear relationship between these words Ég - heaven, egész - whole, and egy - one.

*The word erdő (forest) is a cognate to Eridu (Sumerian place name) and Eredo (Nigerian place name).

*The Hungarian word for oath is eskű, and is related to the word kű, meaning stone. Stone were erected to mark the places where oaths were pledged.

*Mag means seed, son, and can refer to a brother. The biblical word Magog is likely Mag-Og (Magóg), meaning the seed of Og, a ruler. Mag is related to the Sanskrit mah, meaning great. The word Magi refers to ruler-priests. They were mathematicians, astronomers and the builders of the first cities, known as high places. According to Clement of Alexandria, "Egypt is the mother-land of the Magi". It appears that among the biblical peoples there was a 3-clan royal confederation of Og, Gog and Magog.

*Makar (also Magor) is the High God. Kar refers to a mountain. The high God was believed to make appearances on the tops of mountains, as this was the sacred spatial center between earth and heaven.

*The Hungarian word for man and blood is vér. This parallels the Hebrew adamah (Adam), which refers to man and is derived from the word dam, meaning blood.

Dr. Tibor Baráth believes the word "Celtic" is derived from the Magyar word keleti, meaning eastern.

The ancient Hungarian “sun-houses” were round huts. Some had a bee hive shape.

The Old Hungarian script, called rovás, is a runic script written from right to left.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Physician Priests of Antiquity

Alice C. Linsley

The earliest medical texts are found among the ancient Nilotes. These include the Ebers Papyrus, the Hearst Medical Papyrus, and the Edwin Smith papyrus, the world's oldest known surgical document (c. 1600 BC). These texts, most of them based on older texts dating possibly from 3000 B.C., are comparatively free of the magician’s approach to treating illness. Priests were the first to practice medicine at "Houses of Life" or temples along the Nile.

Only members of the elite strata of society learned and practiced medicine. One of the earliest known medical practitioners was Eanach (Enoch). He served the Pharaoh as his priest-physician, a wab sxmt (wab sekhmet). Eanach lived around 3000 BC, and is said to have "healed the pharaoh's nostrils." Likely, this means that he performed a healing ritual that involved placing the cross-like Ankh against the Pharaoh's nose and offering prayers for his healing.

The wab sekhmet appears to be a distinct role from the non-priest healer called a wabau. It may be that the wabau was a shaman. The priest and the shaman represent different approaches to healing. The priest is forbidden to consult spirits in a drug-induced state. The shaman believes that disease and illness happens when the spirits have been offended. He or she will enter a trace state to discover the cause of the disease and how the spirits are to be appeased.

It is also possible that the wabau was a priest of lesser rank who served the common people, rather than the nobility. More research is required to gain a better understanding of the different types of healers, but it is known that the physicians specialized in one part of the body: head, stomach, heart,etc.

"The study of medicine with them was divided between specialists; each physician attending to one kind of illness only. Every place possessed several doctors; some for diseases of the eyes, others for the head, or the teeth, or the stomach, or for internal diseases." (Diodorus Siculus, i. 91)

The Mesopotamian physicians learned their skills from the priest caste that moved into the Tigris-Euphrates from ancient Kush (Gen. 10). The Akkadian word for a physician priest is azu. Sargon was born in Azu-pir-Anu, a house of divine healing/temple of Anu, the High God. The physician priest sat beside the sick person. This suggests that the Akkadian word wasabu - sit,  is related to the Egyptian word wabau, a healer-priest. In ancient Egyptian images the harwa, Horite priest, was often shown seated.

Another high ranking wab sekhmet was Imhotep (2600 BC), the High Priest of Heliopolis (biblical On) and royal vizier. He was so famous that after his death he was venerated as a god (deified). His skill as a physician became legendary. The Greeks linked Imhotep to Asklepius around whom a cult of healing grew. The rod of Asklepius is a snake-entwined staff and the symbol of modern medicine. Some consider it to be like the rod Moses held up in the wilderness for the healing of the snake-bitten Israelites. However, the serpent on Moses's rod was a solar image. It had a coiled shape like that on the bishop's crozier below.

Egyptian physician-priests advanced medicine by keeping written records of which treatments worked and which did not. One such record book is the Ebers Papyrus, written about 1500 BC. One of the remedies described in this papyrus is medicinal clay made from red and yellow ochre. The Ebers papyrus has a treatment for asthma. The patient was to sit over a mixture of herbs heated on a brick and inhale the fumes.

Surgical procedures are described in the Edwin Smith papyrus, the world's oldest known surgical document (c. 1600 BC). It is written in the hieratic script and gives detailed descriptions of anatomy, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of forty-eight types of medical problems. It describes closing wounds with sutures, preventing and curing infection with honey and moldy bread (both known to contain antibiotics), application of raw meat to stop bleeding, and treatment of head and spinal cord injuries.

Ancient Egyptian doctors used copper to sterilize water and wounds around 2,400 BC.They also used herbs and minerals medicinally. They mixed the substances with honey, wine, or beer. Some medicines were worked into dough balls to form pills.They used ointments for wounds, and treated chest complaints by getting the patient to inhale steam infused with essential oils.

Water and oil were two substances commonly used by healers. The idea of sacred pools can be traced to the priest-physicians of the Nile Valley. The sick came to them at the Nile shrines and temples. Water was used to cleanse wounds, ease strained muscles, and for ritual healing of the inner being. Oil was used to prevent infection, treat dry skin, and for anointing the sick with prayers for healing.

The tradition of healing by the priest is an ancient one. It is a holistic approach that seeks the health of body and soul. In the English village the curate was a clergyman who had pastoral responsibility for the welfare of the people in his parish or his cure. The word "curate" is derived from the Latin words curatus and is related to the Latin cura which refers to the clergyman's care for his flock.The Latin verb curare means to take care of, to cure or heal.

The first hospitals in the West were founded when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. In Byzantium, there had been monastic centers for healing. Toward the end of the early Middle Ages, Benedictine monks founded hospitals which served the monks and people living in the area of the monastery. Hospitals also were needed to care for those who were sick and wounded due to the hardships of the crusades. The Hospitaller Knights specialized in this.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why Zipporah Circumcised Her Son

Alice C. Linsley

Exodus 4:24-26 is one of the most difficult passages of the Old Testament.
Thus saith the LORD.... And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, "Surely a bloody husband art thou to me." So he let him go: then she said, "A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision." (Exodus 4:22-26)

Many Bible scholars believe that this puzzling story is an episode from a larger narrative. It is mysterious because of its brevity and lack of context. We are told only that this happens on the journey back to Egypt and at night.
3200 BC flint knife 
from al-Badari

There is no explanation as to God's motive. Was Moses to pay for killing another man with his own life? Why would God want Moses to die when He has given Moses clear directions about what he is to say to Pharaoh when he arrives back in Egypt?

What is the significance of all this talk of first born sons? Israel as God's firstborn appears to parallel the firstborn of Egypt, but was the child circumcised by Zipporah Moses's first born son?

In what sense is Israel God's firstborn. Surely this is not a statement about the primacy of birth, since Israel, that is, Jacob, was not Isaac's first born. Is it a reference to the great antiquity of the Hebrew priesthood?

Note that Moses is not named in the passage.When Zipporah circumcised her son what did she touch with the bloody foreskin? The pronouns do not make it clear. Did she touch the legs of her son or the legs of her husband? Is the word "legs" a euphemism for genitals? Scholars have debated this for years.

Zipporah appears to accuse Moses. What is the substance of her accusation, and is she angry with him? Normally, Hebrew babies are circumcised on the eighth day. Did Moses delay his son's circumcision for some reason?

What is the significance of the word hatan for bridegroom? Does this word provide greater insight into the mysterious text?

Some of the difficulty of this passage can be cleared away when we remember that Moses was a Horite Hebrew and his marriages followed the pattern of his father and his ancestral Horim. The Horite Hebrew chiefs had two wives. The first was the wife of the man's youth and was a half-sister. Moses's first wife was his half-sister and she is referred to as his "Kushite" bride. The second wife was usually a patrilineal cousin and this wife was taken close to the time when the man would become a chief.

Zipporah was Moses's second wife; his cousin bride. Presumably, the son who Zipporah circumcised was their first born. If this is the case, Zipporah performed the rite that would have been performed by her father, the priest of Midian. This is because the first born son of the cousin bride belonged to the household of his maternal grandfather. This is a feature of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's people.

Zipporah's father was a Horite Hebrew priest who ruled in the region of Midian.The land of Midian was named for one of Abraham's sons, born to Abraham's cousin wife, Keturah (Gen. 25). To explore the account given in Exodus 4:24 we need to understand the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew chiefs.

As Moses and Zipporah were by now too far away from Jethro for Jethro to perform the circumcision, it was done by Zipporah. The daughters of priests performed circumcisions, but only on females. It is called "Pharaonic circumcision" and pertained only to the wives and daughters of high-ranking Kushite priests. The Bible does not say much about this, but there is extra-biblical evidence for female circumcision among the Nilotic rulers. This is not to be confused with what is termed today "female genital mutilation."

In November 1982, Canadian anthropologist Janice Boddy's fascinating essay on Pharaonic circumcision appeared in American Ethnologist. The essay was titled "Womb as Oasis: The symbolic context of Pharaonic circumcision in rural Northern Sudan" (Vol.9, pgs. 682-698). Here Boddy sets forth her research on Pharaonic circumcision among the people of Sudan. She found that the practice of female circumcision parallels male circumcision. It expresses recognition that humans are created male or female. This binary distinction is one of the more important binary distinctions found in the Bible.

Boddy explains (p. 688): 
"In this society women do not achieve social recognition by becoming like men, but by becoming less like men physically, sexually, and socially. Male as well as female circumcision rites stress this complementarity. Through their own operation, performed at roughly the same age as when girls are circumcised (between five and ten years), boys become less like women: while the female reproductive organs are covered, that of the male is uncovered. Circumcision, then, accomplishes the social definition of a child's sex by removing physical characteristics deemed appropriate to his or her opposite: the clitoris and other external genitalia, in the case of females, the prepuce of the penis, in the case of males." 

Herodotus (BC 485-425) wrote concerning the origin of circumcision:
"Egyptians and the Ethiopians have practiced circumcision since time immemorial. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves admit that they learnt the practice from the Egyptians, while the Syrians in the river Thermodon and the Pathenoise region and their neighbours the Macrons say they learnt it recently from the Colchidians. These are the only races which practice circumcision, and it is observable that they do it in the same way with the Egyptians."

Among the ancient Nilotic peoples, and especially among the ruler-priests, circumcision was a blood rite. Blood was regarded as the substance of life and shed blood was a protection or a covering.  The tent that covered the Tabernacle was made of the hides of rams dyed red to symbolize the blood covering (Exodus 26:14)Purification was made by the ashes of a red heifer (Numbers 19:9). This stands as a "perpetual sacrifice" for Israel and points to the Son of God who was sacrificed outside the city. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts in Egypt signaled divine protection for all in that house. Likewise, the scarlet cord let down from Rahab's window symbolized blood protection. She and her household were spared when the Israelites entered the city.

This brings us to the term hatan.  The word has multiple related meanings. It means husband. Moses was both Zipporah's husband and her covering. We recall how in seeking Boaz's protection, Ruth asked him to cover her with the hem of his robe. This is a very ancient custom which is observed in many cultures. In the Akkadian, hatan means protection. However, in Arabic hatan (or khatin) refers to circumcision (Hebrew Study Bible, pp. 113-114).

It is possible that Zipporah claimed concerning her husband: "You are protected by blood" (Sarna, N., The JPS Torah Commentary on Exodus, Jewish Publication Society, 1991, p. 26).

It is significant that the blood that protects is the blood of the Son. Let those who have ears to hear, hear the message of our Messianic Faith.