Monday, April 10, 2017

The Script of Abraham's Territory

Alice C. Linsley

Readers have asked about the language Abraham spoke. Before we can answer that, we must identify Abraham as Hebrew (Habiru) and a Horite ruler. Some Horite rulers are listed in Genesis 36. They ruled over ancient Edom, called "Idumea" by the Greeks.

Abraham's territory was in this region. His territory extended between the settlements of this two wives, Sarah and Keturah. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah in the region of Beersheba to the south. The settlements mark the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory.

The Horites were a caste of royal priests in the service of the ancient kingdom builders (the "mighty men of old"). Horite Hebrew (Habiru) were in Africa, Arabia, India, southern Europe, and other parts of the Levant. Some Horite clans were skilled in medicine and some were known for astronomy. Others made a name for themselves as stone masons or metal workers. Some served as purification priests and some offered sacrifices. Some served as scribes who kept royal accounts of tribute owed and payed. Horite priests served at temples along the water ways. They boarded ships to measure cargo and collect taxes. These royal scribes were well versed in the different scripts of the ruler's realm.

One such script was Akkadian, though this was a relatively archaic script by 2000 BC. Here is a timeline that we need to consider. Note that Akkadian was probably not spoken by Abraham though he or his wise men may have read ancient Akkadian texts. Some languages continue to be read long after they are no longer spoken. Biblical Hebrew and Latin are examples.

B.C. 3800-3000 - Nekhen flourished on the Nile, the oldest known site of Horite worship
B.C. 2490-2415 - Noah, lived in the region of Lake Chad when the Sahara experienced a wet period.
B.C. 2438-2363 - Ham, son of Noah
B.C. 2417-2342 - Kush, son of Ham; father of Nimrod and Ramah
B.C. 2290-2215 - Nimrod, ruler in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley
B.C. 2238-2163 - Arpacshad, son by Asshur's daughter
B.C. 2217-2042 - Salah, likely Arpacshad's son by his sister-wife.
B.C. 2196-2121 - Eber, likely Salah's son by his sister-wife.
B.C. 2175-2100 - Peleg, Eber's son. Peleg's brother was Joktan
B.C. 2154-2079 - Reu
B.C. 2133-2058 - Serug, Reu's son.
B.C. 2112-2037 - Nahor, Serug's son
B.C. 2091-2016 - Terah, Nahor's son
B.C. 2039-1964 - Abraham, Terah's son
B.C. 1987-1912 - Joktan, Abraham's firstborn son by his cousin bride, Keturah.

In Abraham's time (c. 2050) and territory between Hebron and Beersheba, the script used resembled Egyptian hieroglyphics. Many Hebrew letters - dating to about 500 years later - closely resemble the Middle Egyptian signs.

This aligns with Sir Alan H. Gardiner's findings. He concluded in 1916 that the Sinaitic signs were derived from Egyptian Hieroglyphic signs based upon their acrophonic valueGardiner’s research established a relationship between the Sinaitic signs and the North Semitic alphabet. So it appears that the Egyptian signs were the basis of a variety of related scripts used from the Nile to the Tigris-Euphrates valley.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Another Way to Read Scripture

Alice C Linsley

Reading Scripture through the lens of cultural anthropology is rigorous because no assumption can stand untested, and no assertion can be made without data. This approach is distinctly different from the traditional approaches to the Bible termed "exegesis" and "eisegesis."

Exegesis draws meaning out of the text and eisegesis involves reading a personal meaning into the text. This explanation is simplistic, but it expresses the difference between reading the Bible in a scholarly way and reading for personal devotions. Both have a place in the Christian life and there are problems with both approaches. 

Sloppy exegesis leads to misrepresentation of the Biblical material and misguided sermons. Private interpretations should not be proposed as true for the Church, especially if they run counter to Church Tradition and the Scriptures themselves.

We should employ the tools of cultural anthropology to test assumptions and to discover the data that clarifies context. If we seek to understand the Bible rather than use the Bible to support an agenda, we will find the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful. 

I invite you to learn more by visiting The Bible and Anthropology Forum where we practice the reading of Scripture through the lens of cultural anthropology. Learn to read the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology and you will never read it the same way again!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Archaic and Ancient Symbols of Authority

Alice C. Linsley

Royal priests in the archaic world dispersed widely in service of kingdom builders. Images of these priests have been found at the oldest known temples. The images show the priests wearing leopards skins as a sign of their priestly authority. Here are two such images.

Iunmutef priest, Egypt
Priest image found at 
Gobekli Tepe

Iron beads were a symbol of royal and priestly authority and these were worn by priests and warriors. Naqada settlements have yielded decorated pottery, clay figurines and objects made of ivory and iron, as well as alien materials like lapis lazuli, indicating external trade. The civilization advanced due to irrigation, trade, political alliances along kinship lines, and the earliest writing. Here Egyptologist Wainwright discovered meteoritic iron beads, the earliest known artifacts of iron.

The Naqada culture (c. 6000-4000 BC) included the sites of el Badari, Nekhen (Hierakonopolis), Qau, and Gerzeh, where Egyptologist Wainwright discovered meteoritic iron beads, the earliest known artifacts of iron. Stone tools dating to 12,000 years have also been found in the area, revealing a long established human population. The Horite Hebrew shrine city of Nekhen was thriving 5000 years ago. Some paintings found here show figures wearing what appear to be iron beads around their necks.

The ancient Egyptian word for meteroric iron - bja (metal from heaven), and they were metalworkers. Beja corresponds to the Sanskrit word bija, meaning semen or seed. Meteoritic iron was used in the fabrication of iron beads in Nubia about 6000 years ago. These beads may have been perceived as seeds from heaven which brought divine power to the wearer. Meteoritic iron was used in the fabrication of crooks and flails, the symbols of the Egyptian and Kushite pharaohs. These symbols were believed to give the ruler powers from heaven.

The ancient Egyptian rulers accessorized with meteorites. The material was associated with divine power. King Tut's dagger had a tip made of meteoritic iron. The dagger, found in 192, also had a gold sheath.

king-tuts-daggerPhoto: Courtesy Daniela Comelli et al.
Commonly, iron artifacts are found in the graves of rulers. Diane Johnson says, "Iron was very strongly associated with royalty and power." The ancient Egyptians had a hieroglyphic sign for “iron from the sky" by the 13th century BC.

The crook was another symbol of authority. The prehistoric painting below was found in Sudan. It shows warriors carrying crooks and flails.

These are the symbols of Egyptian rulers. Here is an image of King Tut's crook and flail.

Related reading: Iron Seeds From Heaven; Gerzeh: A Prehistoric Egyptian Meteorite; Nilo-Saharan and Saharo-Nubian Populations; The Shrine City of Nekhen

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New FB Group Explores the Bible and Anthropology

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

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

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

Related reading: Support Biblical Anthropology ResearchWhy Biblical Anthropology?Haplogroups of Interest to Biblical AnthropologistsBiblical Anthropology, the Science...not speculative theologyUsing the Bible to Test HypothesesContextual Incongruities in Genesis

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Nubian Moiety

Alice C. Linsley

A moiety is a descent group that coexists with only one other descent group within a society. Each of two groups into which a people is divided has a responsibility to the other group. Moieties are found among the Australian Aborigines, some American Natives, and the red and black Nubians of the Biblical world. Matrilineal moieties traced kinship along the mother's line. Patrilineal moieties trace kinship along the father's line.

Diagram of moieties and their relationship to clans and phratries

A society may be divided into two unilineal descent groups that serve to protect and balance each other. Such groups are called moieties. An example from the ancient world is the moiety of the red and black Nubians.

The red and black Nubians in the image above were captured by the Egyptians. They appear to be people of high tank since they are wearing the leopard skins traditionally worn by rulers, priests and chiefs. The fact that both red and black were taken captive indicates that they fought together against the Egyptians.

The individual's identity within the moiety determines who they may marry. It appears that each group in the ancient Nubian moiety married according to skin tone. Yet the two groups likely claimed descent from a common male ancestor.

Even among the red and black Nubians there was a range of skin tone. These red Nubian warriors are an example. Their wavy black hair and feathers resemble the Nabatean warriors of Petra in Edom. The Edomites were known to have a reddish skin tone. Esau is described as red and hairy in Genesis 25:25.  Also, David is described as having a red skin tone.

Nubian warriors
Moieties usually consist of a few thousand people in each group. The clans within the moieties often function in specialized teams such a metal workers, warriors, tanners and potters. The reciprocal nature of their relationship encourages barter and exchange of services.

The Nubians appear to be in the R1b Haplogroup, which indicates that they are related to Noah and the rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5, ll, 25, and 36. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Canaanite Y and the Phaistos Disk

Phaistos Disk, side B

The Phaistos Disk is about 6 inches in diameter and contains 45 different symbols stamped in a spiral formation on both sides. The disk was discovered in 1908 in an early second millennium B.C. Minoan palace at Phaistos on Crete.

Brent Davis, Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, believes that the lack of other finds like this, apart from the Arkalokhori axe, makes attempts to decipher the disk unreliable. He explains, "Decipherment requires a corpus consisting of thousands and thousands of signs—because only with such a large corpus can we ascertain the meanings of words without guesswork."

In February 2014, Gareth Owens presented a summary of his research with collaborator John Coleman, a phonetics specialist at Oxford University. They claimed to have deciphered more than 90% of the signs on the Phaistos Disk. They concluded that the disk presents a prayer dedicated to a goddess.

The Canaanite Y appears 8 times on the disk. The prevalence of the Y suggests a link to the religious tradition of Hathor, the archetype of the Virgin Mary among Abraham's Horite Habiru ancestors. Hathor wore the horns as a crown symbolizing her appointment by divine overshadowing (cf. Gabriel's explanation to Mary in Luke 1).

The Canaanite Y represents the horns of the bull or the long-horned cow. Stone horns, called "Horns of Consecration" by Sir Arthur Evans, have been found at 7 sites on Crete. Below is a photo of the horns at the central court (north-facing door) at Knossos. Image this as a solar cradle aligned with the solar arc and probably the star Sirius.

Stone horns dating to Middle Minoan III c. 1750-1550 B.C.

The bull horn imagery is found at some of the world's oldest temples in Turkey, such as Catal Huyuk, Göbeklitepe, and Hattusa. The west wall of the Yazilikaya shrine at Hattusa is adorned with a relief of great significance (shown below). It shows the divine appointment of a woman by the overshadowing of the Sun and the divine appointment of a ruler as one who wears the horns as a solar cradle.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Walking Rocks

“… For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.”
—1 Corinthians 10:4

The Bible tells us that the people with Moses  drank “from the spiritual rock that followed them” during their time in the wilderness. But do rocks move?
In 1 Corinthians 10:4 the Apostle Paul recounts how the Israelites survived in the wilderness after their departure from Egypt. He says they “all ate the same spiritual food” and “drank the same spiritual drink.”

Paul knew the tradition of his Horite Hebrew ancestors so well that he recognized Jesus Christ in passages of the Old testament that other people might miss. This is an example. Paul sees Christ as both the rock and the source of water. Christ follows the people through the wilderness as a shepherd follows his flock to make sure that none is lost.

Some think that this narrative about the moving rock is nonsense, but scientists have found "walking" rocks in different parts of the world. Usually these are in desert areas where there is underground water or dried lake beds. The underground water acts as a lubricant that makes things move on the surface when there is geological movement such as an earthquake or a small tremor.

Moving rocks have been found in Death Valley which was once a lake. There is still movement from the ancient lake bed. The first to photograph the moving stones of Death Valley were Richard Norris, a paleobiologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and his cousin James Norris, a research engineer. Their 2013 photos provided proof that rocks move across flat dry dirt under certain conditions. Some rocks weigh more than 600 pounds and they leave "wiggle" trails in the earth like that shown in this photo of a sailing stone in Racetrack Playa.

Here are two of the rounded boulders found in the Atacama Desert in Chile. These boulders fell from the cliffs of distant mountains, likely dislodged during an earthquake.

Watch this video for further explanation.

The same conditions which move stones can move bones also. In July 2013 movement was noted of cattle skeletal remains across the surface of Smith Creek Valley Playa, in central Nevada.

Related reading:  The Atacama Rock Tumbler