Friday, September 23, 2016

The Rooster in Biblical Symbolism

The rooster, also known as a cockerel or cock, is a male gallinaceous bird, usually a male chicken. In Christian tradition, the rooster symbolizes a sinner's acceptance of divine pardon through Jesus Christ. 

Roosters are often found in tombs. Two red roosters appear with a cross over the center of the arch in the Christian "Tomb of the Cocks" in Beit Jibrin, located 13 miles northwest of Hebron.

The rooster appears in the catacombs of Rome. Below is an example. This 3rd-century fresco of Jesus Christ was found in the Catacomb of Callixtus. It portrays Jesus as the Good Shepherd and there is a rooster at his feet.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples that they will all fall away from Him because of the events that would lead up to His death. Immediately, “Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.” (Matthew 26:33–35)

Peter did indeed deny any relationship to Jesus three times. “Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69–75)

Peter was a broken man who repented and experienced grace. The message is powerful: God's pardon extends to sinners who repent. Repentance often is expressed in emotional distress, in a broken spirit. The account of Peter’s denial of Christ and the rooster crowing is recorded in all four gospels.

In De Ordine, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, described the rooster as follows: "in every motion of these animals unendowed with reason there was nothing ungraceful since, of course, another higher reason was guiding everything they did."

The Khasi people believe sacrifice a rooster as a substitute for man, because they believe that the cock when sacrificed "bears the sins of the man."

A similar idea is found in Judaism. The Hebrew word gever means both "man" and "rooster" so punishment of the rooster can be substituted for that of a person who deserves punishment. Kapparot is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur. First, selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job 33:23-24 are recited; then a rooster (for a male) or a hen (for a female) is held above the person's head and swung in a circle three times, while the following is spoken: "This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace."

In the Yoruba creation story the rooster serves the Creator by scratching out the dirt to form the dry land. The rooster might be seen as a Christ symbol since Christians believe that all things were made through Christ.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

The rooster is an archaic symbol. Before the birth of Jesus Christ, the rooster was associated with the sun, the symbol of the Creator, because it crows before dawn. In this sense, the rooster was a solar symbol, and consistent with the received tradition of Abraham's ancestors, it portrayed the Creator as have masculine attributes.

At Sun shrines in Japan roosters freely roam the grounds.

The association of the rooster with light may explain why some clay oil lamps had rooster images. This oil lamp with a rooster was found in North Africa and dates to the 3rd century A.D.

Many churches in Europe have a rooster on top of their steeples. This is true for both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. For Roman Catholics the rooster symbolizes Saint Peter, who is regarded as the first Pope.

Daviot Parish Church in Scotland

It is common to see carved roosters on the top of wooden churches in Norway. Most of the older churches in the Netherlands have weather vanes that are golden roosters. The golden rooster is said to be a symbol of Jesus Christ who breaks the power of the darkness, brings forgiveness of sins, and announces a new day by the power of His resurrection.

Some churches use the rooster as their logo. The image to the right is the logo for a church in Manhattan.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What are Bullae?

Clay (terracotta) seals called "bullae" were used to secure official documents from the Stone Age through the Roman Period. Here are some examples dating from the 1st century B.C. through the 2 century A.D.

Clay seals were used to secure documents by the personal authority of an official or a king. These seals were created by the impression of a signet on a lump of clay. A rolled papyrus or parchment document was tied with a cord and the cord was sealed with the piece of clay bearing the impression.

Sometimes the clay seals have the imprint of the maker's fingers and fibers from the papyrus cords that were wrapped around the documents.

In 2014 a 10-year-old Russian boy found a 3000 year seal while sifting through dirt at Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The limestone seal bears the image of an animal, likely the totem of the family to which it belonged.

The seal dates to the early Iron Age, the time of the Jebusite occupation of Jerusalem (Jebus/Yehu) and King David's reign (10th century B.C.). The Temple Mount and the royal compound were constructed during David's later years and during the reign of his son, Solomon.

Related reading: 3000 Year Temple Seal; Yahu Seals; Purity Seal from Herod's Temple; What We Learn From King Ahaz's Seal

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

3000 Year Temple Seal

In 2014, Matvei Tcepliaev, a 10-year-old Russian tourist, volunteered to sift through dirt at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and found this 3000 year seal. The limestone seal bears the image of an animal, likely the totem of the family to which it belonged.

The seal dates to the early Iron Age, the time of the Jebusite occupation of Jerusalem (Jebus/Yehu) and King David's reign (10th century B.C.). The Temple Mount and the royal compound were constructed during David's later years and during the reign of his son, Solomon.

Ancient clay seals (called bullae) were used to secure documents by the personal authority of an official or a king. These seals were created by the impression of a signet on a lump of clay. A rolled papyrus or parchment document was tied with a cord and the cord was sealed with the piece of clay bearing the impression.

Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the project, explained that this discovery is significant because it originated from the Temple Mount itself. Only one other Iron Age II seal of this peculiar style has been found in Jerusalem. It was found by archaeologist Eilat Mazar in the Ophel, the area between the City of David and the Temple Mount.

1 Chronicles 27:3 says that King Jotham “did much building on the wall of the Ophel” in the mid-8th century B.C., and the site’s history stretches back well before this construction. The root of the word ophel is OP and pertains to a complex of interrelated ideas: seeing (optic); armed guards (opiltes); walled towns (oppida), and sun shrines (O'piru) served by a priest caste known in the ancient world as Ha'piru, Ha'biru (Hebrew) and 'Apiru.

The Sifting Project at Jerusalem Temple Mount is run by Bar-Ilan University and the City of David Foundation. Tourists are invited to help comb through the 400 truckloads of dirt dumped in a valley outside the Old City of Jerusalem in 1999 by the Islamic trust.

Matvei Tcepliaev holding the 3000 year seal

Volunteers have also discovered hundreds of 10th century B.C. pottery sherds and a rare bronze arrowhead believed to be from the same period.

Read more here.

Related reading: Yahu Seals; Proto-Saharan Pottery MarksPurity Seal From Herod's Temple; What We Learn From King Ahaz's Seal; A List of Seal Impressions and Ostracon

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Sun and Moon as a Binary Set

God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  Genesis 1:16

Alice C. Linsley

The sun and the moon were considered a binary set among Abraham's ancestors. That means that the ancient Ha'biru (Hebrew) thought of the sun and the moon as entities that naturally belong together, as male and female belong together. The sun and the moon also were regarded as ruling over their separate by connected dominions of day and night.

Some peoples of the ancient world thought of the sun and the moon as the eyes of the Creator who dwelt "on high" or in the heavens. The sun was regarded as the Creator's right eye and the moon was the left eye. The right eye was said to be have better vision than the left eye.

The sun was associated with masculine virtues. This is because it is the stronger and the greater light (Genesis 1:16). It was believed that the sun's rays are like seeds that fall to earth and cause plants to grow. In other words, the sun was said to inseminate the earth.

The moon was associated with feminine virtues because it is the sun's companion, as the wife is to her husband. It is the smaller and weaker light in the sky. Because the moon affects water, tides, and body fluids in a repeating cycle there is a natural association of the moon with the periodicity of the female's menstrual cycle. Many ancient peoples associated pregnancy with the moon.The moon influences the female's monthly cycle which is why menstruation is called le moment de la lune ("the time of the moon") in French. The moon also stimulates female lactation.

The sun was the viewed as superior in size and strength to the moon. Likewise, the male rulers of ancient Kush and Egypt appeared with skin darkened by the Sun as a sign of masculine strength and authority.  However, their queens appeared in public with their skin covered in white powder (see image below).

Among Abraham's ancestors the sun was honored as the Creator's symbol or emblem. They conceived of God as the Great Chief who daily makes his circuit between the two wives dawn (eastern horizon) and dust (western horizon). This is why none of the rulers listed in Genesis placed their wives on an east-west axis, except for the Lamech who posed himself as God's equal. Bible scholar Theodore Gaster noted this belief. He explained that the names of Lamech's two wives, Ada and Tzillah, refer to dawn and dust (The Schocken Bible, Vol. 1, p. 28).

Archaic Shell Technology

Alice C. Linsley
Oldest known symbolic engraving

Archaic humans were producing abstract symbols much earlier than originally thought. This shell found on Java in the late 1800's was carved half a million years ago by archaic humans. The zigzag pattern is like that found on stone carvings in Africa. The pattern appears on the 77,000 year old red ochre stone (below) found in the Blombos Cave in South Africa.

Ostrich eggshells were used by prehistoric peoples to carry water from place to place, like canteens. Ostrich eggs were also used as perfume containers. These eggshell vessels were decorated, as is seen on these fragments of 65,000 year ostrich egg shells (below).

The decorated ostrich egg shells (left) come from a sample of 270 engraved eggshell fragments, mostly excavated at Diepkloof Rock Shelter in South Africa. They display two standard design patterns, according to a team led by archaeologist Pierre-Jean Texier of the University of Bordeaux in Talence, France.

In the Oriental Museum there are examples of ostrich eggs which have been decorated over their entire surfaces.

Decorated eggshells were placed in the graves of children in Sudan and Nubia. Painted ostrich eggs were placed by grieving parents in the graves of their children. These eggs represented the hope of eternal life or immortality. At Naqada, a decorated ostrich egg replaced the owner's missing head. This egg is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The painted ostrich egg shown below dates to the 7th century BC and was found on the island of Cyprus.

Credit: De Agostini Picture Library 
The discovery of small perforated sea shells in Morocco is evidence of bead adornments dating to 82,000 years ago. Shells were used to produce necklaces. The 82,000 year old shell beads were unearthed in the Cave of Pigeons in Taforalt, in north-east Morocco. The cache consisted of 13 shells belonging to the species Nassarius gibbosulus. Some of shell beads are still covered with red ocher.

Red ocher was used in burial and many of the oldest shell necklaces have been found at grave sites. The perforated shells below are thought to be the oldest in the world.

(Credit: Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico / 2007)

Credit: Christopher Henshilwood
Similar shell beads (shown above) were unearthed from Still Bay at Blombos Cave in South Africa. These date to about 75,000 year ago. Caves or rock shelters served as the temporary residences of prehistoric peoples as they moved from place to place. These also served as places of burial. 

Such rock shelters have been found in the Judean hills near Bethlehem. Human habitation in the area of Bethlehem between (100,000-10,000 BC) is well-attested along the north side of Wadi Khareitun where there are three caves: Iraq al-Ahmar, Umm Qal’a, and Umm Qatafa. These caves were in a wooded landscape overlooking a river. At Umm Qatafa archaeologists found the earliest evidence of the domestic use of fire in Palestine. In these caves archaeologists also found clay vessels decorated with red paint, ropes, reed mats, leather, wood artifacts, flint implements, stone grinding and pounding tools, and necklaces made of bone and shell.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Pillars of Solomon's Temple

Alice C. Linsley

Many features of Solomon's Temple as it is described in the Bible reflect very ancient temple building practices among his ruler-priest ancestors. Temples were constructed by rulers and reflected a tradition of "royal" architecture. Shrine rooms held altars, libation vessels, and standing stones. The standing stones may have been dedicated to righteous ancestors.

Massive pillars are another feature of the royal architecture. The temple at On was constructed with many pillars or columns. The people who lived there called the shrine city iunu, meaning "place of pillars" or "pillared place of the Annu." The Annu were the early builders of Biblical On.

Joseph married the daughter of the priest of On (Genesis 41:50). In Jerome's Latin Bible On is called Heliopoleos which in the Greek language is Heliopolis, meaning "City of the Sun."

Solomon's temple in Jerusalem was built under the direction of King Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 9:11, II Chronicles 2:3). King Hiram and David, and Solomon were kinsmen. They had some ancestors in common. as analysis of the royal names indicates. King Hiram sent skilled artisans to help David build a palace in Jerusalem. Probably some of the same builders helped with the construction of Solomon's Temple.

The construction of temples was mainly under the supervision of royal priests. In the ancient world they were known as 'Apiru, Ha'piru, or Ha'biru. The English variant of Ha'biru is the word Hebrew.

Many of the Habiru were devotees of the Creator and his son Horus. Variants of the name Horus are found among many Hebrew priests and rulers. These include Hiram, Horam, Harum, Hur, Hor and Harun (Aaron). According to Midrash, Hur was Moses’ brother-in-law. Hur’s grandson was one of the builders of the Tabernacle. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur as the "father" of Bethlehem, also called "the city of David."

These ruler-priests are therefore known as "Horites" and one of their territories was the land of Edom, where Abraham settled. The Horite rulers of Edom are listed in Genesis 36.

Solomon's temple was arranged on an east-west axis as was typical of most Horite temples. The Horites regarded the Sun as the symbol of the Creator. That is why the shrine city of On is also known as Heliopolis, meaning "City of the Sun."

In the Horite Hebrew religion it was believed that a virgin from their people would conceive the "Son" of God or the "Seed" of the Creator (Genesis 3:15.) This would happen when the young woman was "overshadowed" by the Sun. The archetype of the Virgin Mary among the Horite Hebrew was Hathor-Meri, the mother of Horus. She is shown in ancient images with the Sun over her head (shown above).

A shrine dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timna in Israel by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University. Hathor was the patroness of metal workers.

Another feature of Solomon's temple that reflected ancient Horite practice was the naming of pillars in memory of famous ancestors, especially ancestors who were known for living righteous lives. The entrance to Solomon's temple was flanked by twin pillars dedicated to his righteous ancestors Jochin and Boaz. Boaz married Ruth who gave birth of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.

David and Solomon were of the ruler-priest lines that can be traced from before the time of Abraham to Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive by being overshadowed. When Mary asked the Angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" Gabriel explained, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore the Holy One which shall be born of thee shall be called the "Son of God." (Luke 1:34, 35)

Mary was the daughter of the shepherd-priest Joachim. Variant spellings of Joachim include Jachin, Jochin, and Joktan. Abraham's first born son was named Joktan.

Related reading: Sacred Mountains and PillarsThe Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; Abraham's Habiru Ancestors; Edom and the Horites

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Antiquity of the Edomite Rulers

Alice C. Linsley

Note that both Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) are in Idumea or ancient Edom. Abraham's territory extended on a north-south axis between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in the region the Greeks called Idumea. Idumea means "land of red people" and Esau is described in Genesis has having a distinctive red skin tone, typical of the Edomite rulers. The words Edom and Adam both relate to the word dam/dm - blood, and signify the color red.

Even the hills of Edom appear red due to the iron deposits. Deuteronomy 8:9 describes Edom in these words: "A land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper."

Edom was ruled by Horite kings. Seir the Horite is listed in Genesis 36 as one of the Edomite kings. He was a contemporary of Esau the Elder.

In this diagram of the Edomite rulers listed in Genesis 36 we see that there were two chiefs named Esau. Esau the Elder married Adah. Esau the Younger married Oholibamah.

Jeremiah refers to Edom and Teman of Edom as seats of wisdom. The prophet writes: Concerning Edom: This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Is there no longer wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed? (Jeremiah 49:7)

The wisdom to which Jeremiah refers is that of the Horite ruler-priests who were renown in the ancient world for their wisdom and skill at metal work. The Horites were a caste of royal priests and sages who were devotees of Ra, Horus and Hathor. Hathor was the patroness of metal workers. The word "Horite" is the English variant of the word Horim, the term Jews use when speaking of their ancestors.

Timna or Tema plays an important role in early Biblical history. Known by Arabs as Taima, this water source lies about 70 miles north-east of Dedan. During the Chalcolithic Period, Kushite artisans lived here in subterranean dwellings carved out of the limestone with metal tools. The Bible refers to these cave-dwellers as Dedanites. Dedan, Tema and Buz comprized a Horite confederation. Rock drawings from the 13 century BC have been found at Timna.

Timna is the site of 6,000 years old mines. The oldest mines were worked almost continuously until the Roman Period. There are ancient rock carvings showing warriors in chariots, holding axes and shields. A temple dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timna by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University.

The Chalcolithic metal works at Timna were found at the Wadi Nehushtan in the foothills along the western fringe of the southern Arabah Valley. The smelting works, slag and flints at this site were found to be identical to those discovered near Beersheba where Abraham spent much of his time. The metal workers of Timna and the metal workers of Beersheba were kin and the patroness of their mining operations was Hathor, the mother of Horus, who the Horite venerated. Hathor's temple there dates to 1318-1304 BC. In the temple courtyard there was a workshop for casting copper figurines as votive offerings.

In his book Timna, Rothenberg concluded that the peoples living in the area were "partners not only in the work but in the worship of Hathor." (Timna, p. 183)

The wisdom of the Horites extended to medicine, astronomy, commerce, navigation, natural sciences, metal work, stone work, architecture, and writing. They were wise men, prophets and scribes. The term "Nabatean" is derived from the name Naba or Nabu, the guardian of scribes and prophets. The cult of Nabu was introduced into Mesopotamia and Babylon by the Kushites. Some Kushite kings bore the name Nabu, as with Nabu-shum-libur, an early Kushite king in Babylon, and Nabu-aplu-iddina. The Hebrew word nabi, meaning prophet is related.

Genesis 36 speaks to the antiquity of the Edomite rulers
"These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the children of Israel. Bela, the son of Beor, reigned in Edom. The name of his city was Dinhabah. Bela died, and Jobab, the son of Zerah of Bozrah, reigned in his place. Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. Husham died, and Hadad, the son of Bedad, who struck Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. The name of his city was Avith. Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place."
An archaeological survey in the early 2000's, led by Dr. Thomas E. Levy, yielded early dates than had usually be assigned to the Edomite culture. The team uncovered scarabs, ceramics, metal arrowheads, hammers, and grinding stones and found slag heaps.

Edom had a large copper ore zone with industrial scale copper production. Radiocarbon analysis of charred wood, grain and fruit in several sediment layers revealed two major phases of copper processing, first in the 12th and 11th centuries, and later in the 10th and 9th BC.

Evidence was found of the construction of fortifications and over 100 building complexes. Khirbat en-Nahas is 30 miles north of Petra in Jordan. Khirbat en-Nahas means "ruins of copper" in Arabic. Nahash means serpent in Hebrew. As an adjective it means shining bright, like burnished copper. Khirbat en-Nahas was one of the first ancient occupation sites in the Edomite lowlands to be investigated. The ruins spread over 24 acres, and the fortifications enclose an area 240 by 240 feet. 

Dr. Levy stated, "Only a complex society such as a paramount chiefdom or primitive kingdom would have the organizational know-how to produce copper metal on such an industrial scale." 

Nabatean warriors on camels
The 400-acre Edomite complex at Petra reflects Horite beliefs. At Petra we find the same pillared architecture of the Horite shrines of the Nile. The first ruler of Petra, Obodas, took his name from the Edo/Edomite name for ruler which is Oba.

The linguist Helene Longpre points out that Demotic Egyptian (7th-5th century BC) and Nabatean Aramaic most closely correspond to Meroitic or Old Nubian. (Longpre, "Investigation of the Ancient Meroitic Writing System", Rhode Island College, 1999.) 

The mysterious Shasu were related to the Horites of Edom and according to monument inscriptions in Nubia, they called upon the God YHWH.  Lists of place names in Nubian temples of Soleb and Amara West record six toponyms located in “the land of Shasu.” A monument of Ramesses II claims that he “has plundered the Shasu-land, captured the mountain of Seir” in Edom; a 19th Dynasty letter mentions “the Shasu-tribes of Edom” and Ramesses III declares that he has “destroyed the Seirites among the tribes of the Shasu.” Clearly, the Egyptians regarded the Shasu as a prominent part of the Edomite population which is described in Genesis 36.