Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who Were the Levites?

Nubian priest of the Nilotic Ainu. Abraham's father was also Tera, meaning priest

Alice C. Linsley

The Levites have a bloody heritage. According to Exodus 32, they are rewarded with priestly rights for killing thousands of their kinsmen and according to Genesis 49, they are accursed and punished for their treacherous attack on Shechem. They were adept at killing and probably were trained warriors.

Levi's descendants intermarried with other Ha'biru clans and were dispersed throughout the ancient shrine cities where they offered sacrifices. After the 7th century B.C. they are closely associated with the royal court of Jerusalem and the centralization of sacrifice at the Temple. Clearly, the Levites are portrayed quite differently depending on the period and the social context of the writer.

Source critics attribute the diverse portrayals to different sources D (Deuteronomist), J (Jahwist) and P (Priestly). Here are the reasons given by each source for the priestly prerogative being assigned to the Levites:

D = investiture as priests is commanded by YHWY

J = priestly duties are assigned as a result of Levites killing their own people (Ex. 32:26-29)

P = Installation of Levites as priests part of the instructions given at Sinai and they are set apart as redemption for the first born (Lev. 3: 11-13)

The Levites and the Ha'biru

Traditionally, the term "Levite" refers to a descendant of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and to the "tribe"of Levi. These were in the service of the sanctuary, in various orders. According to Leviticus and Numbers the house of Aaron alone constituted the priesthood, and the remainder of the Levites performed the more menial duties. However, Aaron's father was a priest as was Aaron's half-brother Korah. They were heirs to an ancient received priestly tradition among the Ha'biru (Hebrew).

This is the general conception of the Levites, but it does take into consideration the question of their antecedents. Practices associated with the Levites - priestly ritual, circumcision, animal sacrifice, and the Holy Name YHWY - existed among Abraham's Horim or Horite ancestors.

The "book of the Levites" (Leviticus) comes from the Greek Leuitikon biblion. Because the Greek Septuagint was available before the Hebrew Old Testament (Masoretic Text) we do well to investigate the word Leuitikon. Note that the Greek word has as its root "leu" as in Leummim (Gen. 25:3).  It appears that Leummim is a variant of Levites. Leu is likely a Nilotic word. Abraham's ancestors were Nilo-Saharans and Saharo-Nubians.

Before the time of Moses, some of Abraham's descendants were priests associated with the Afro-Arabian Dedanites. Genesis 10:7 tell us that Dedan the Elder was a grandson of Kush by his son Ramah. Ramah was Nimrod's brother. Ramah is Samuel's home, and his father Elkanah was a Horite. Ramah settled in the region to the southeast of Dedan while Nimrod built a kingdom in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley.

During the time of the Judges there is virtually no mention of the Levites. According to accounts in Samuel and Kings, they served as priests under David and Solomon, yet so did David's sons (II Sam. 8:18). According to accounts in Samuel and Kings the Levites were not the only men to exercise the priestly functions. The prophet Samuel, whose father was a Horite priest, offer sacrifices (I Sam. 9:13).

David's sons offered sacrifices. They are called "priests" in II Samuel. David town of Bethlehem was a Horite shrine where the ark once rested. It is specifically associated with the Horites in I Chronicles 4:4 which names Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem."

In my view, the assertion by later writers that God appointed the Levites exclusively to exercise priestly function represents an attempt to distance Israel's history from the history of their Ha'biru (Hebrew) ancestors who were a caste of royal priests.

Related reading: Samuel's Horite Family; The Afro-Arabian Dedanites; Moses' Wives and Brothers; The Nubian Context of YHWY; The Nile-Japan Ainu Connection; Etymology of the Word Horite; The Royal Priest Lines of Matthew; Destruction of the Temple: Rabbinic Interpretations; Why Women Were Never Priests

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thomas Headland is Not an Oxymoron

Dr. Headland lecturing on kinship in 1995

Thomas Headland is a Senior Anthropology Consultant with SIL International, in Dallas, Texas. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Hawaii. He has published twelve books and over 100 scholarly articles. His latest articles were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 12, 2011, (second author Harry Greene) and in Science on March 11, 2011 (lead author Kim Hill).

He is the world’s expert on indigenous hunter-gatherer populations in the Philippines.

Headland's major publication, compiled with his wife Janet Headland, was published online in version 2.0 in January, 2011. Titled Agta Demographic Database: Chronicle of a Hunter-Gatherer Community in Transition, it contains a mammoth 4,000-page population chronicle of all members of an Agta Negrito people in the Philippines. In addition, data tables are available that can be downloaded without charge. This compilation is based on the Headlands' more than 48 years of demographic research on the Agta people, and they consider the sharing of these data their most significant contribution to science.

Headland's specialties are hunter-gatherer societies, tropical forest human ecology, and Philippine Negritos. From 1962 to 1986 he and his wife, Janet Headland, served under SIL in the Philippines, where their three children were born and raised. Janet collaborates with Tom in all of his research. Janet and Tom continue to make field research trips among the Agta Negritos in the Philippines including trips in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.

Dr. Headland has been an elected Fellow of the American Anthropological Association since 1993. He has loved anthropology passionately since a child. While anthropologists and some Christians see him as an oxymoron, he claims he has never had a minute of conflict between his love of anthropology and his Christian faith.

Dr. Headland was asked to investigate charges of professional misconduct by a prominent anthropologist who had been particularly vocal in opposition to missionary work in general and the Summer Institute of Linguistics in particular. One charge involved the introduction of smallpox to an indigenous Amazon population. Tom’s investigation showed the smallpox had been introduced through a child of missionaries rather than by the anthropologists. Tom’s integrity in clearing the name of his vocal critic earned him respect from many secular anthropologists. Tom stressed the importance of quality and integrity as professional scientists in our calling as Christians in science. More details on Tom’s work can be found on his website.

Related reading: Dr. Charles Kraft, Why Few Christians Are Cultural Anthropologists; Talking on Facebook About Biblical Anthropology; Biblical Anthropologists Discuss Darwin

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Goats: In Memory of Ellen and Gordon Hatcher

Alice C. Linsley

Cashmere goat
My last living aunt, Ellen Hatcher, died in December at the age of 97. I was not able to attend her memorial at Berkeley Friends Church on January 18, but I purchased a goat through Heifer International in her memory.

Aunt Ellen was fond of goats and her veterinarian husband certainly treated many of them in his years of practice. They were Quaker relief workers who served in Arkansas, Bolivia, Honduras and Cambodia. Ellen and Gordon Hatcher loved animals and they loved people. This brief piece on goats is dedicated to their memory.

Goats and Antiquity

The oldest goat fossils fossils date to about 1.8 million years old and are held at the Archaeological Museum of Cartagena in Spain. Other ancient goat fossils were found at in Ganj Dareh which was part of the ancient water system of the Tigris-Euphrates.

In the ancient world goats were kept for milk, meat, their hides and for religious sacrifice. Goat milk was regarded as a symbol of life. The ancient Hebrew were forbidden to boil a kid in its mother's goat because this blurred the distinction between life and death.

Irish goat
The Nubian goat is one of the oldest known species of goat. It has been herded by Nilotic peoples for thousands of years. It is characterized by the long drooping (lop) ears, as also found in the Zaraibi of Egypt and Sinai. Similar type of goats are heavily represented in the atlas region of north Africa, western Mediterranean region as well as in Syria, Iraq and India. The occasional occurrence of homonymous screw-like horns in Zaraibi bucks suggests that this goat type evolved from the screw-horned goats common throughout the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. The breed is believed to have originated in the Upper Nile Valley and is the progenitor of the Anglo-Nubian goat of the United Kingdom.

Nubian goat

Breeds are classified according to their primary use, though there are several breeds which are multi-purpose. They are raised for their fiber, meat, dairy products and skin. Dairy goats are some of the oldest defined animal breeds for which breed standards and production records have been kept.

Goat Milk

Goat milk is more easily tolerated by children than cow's milk. An estimated 20 to 50 percent of all infants tested with cow's milk protein intolerance reacted adversely to soy proteins (Lothe et al., 1982), yet 40 percent tolerated goat milk proteins (Brenneman, 1978; Zeman, 1982).

Swedish studies have shown that cow milk was a major cause of colic in 12 to 30 percent formula-fed, less than 3-month-old infants (Lothe et al., 1982). In breast-fed infants, colic was related to the mother's consumption of cow milk (Baldo, 1984; Cant et al., 1985; Host et al., 1988). In older infants, the incidence of cow milk protein intolerance was approximately 20 percent (Nestle, 1987).

Goat milk fat normally has 35 percent of medium chain fatty acids (C6-C14) compared to cow milk fat 17 percent. Three are named after goats: Caproic (C6), caprylic (C8), capric (C10), totaling 15 percent in goat milk fat vs. only 5 percent in cow milk fat (See Table 1 here).

Capric, caprylic and other medium chain fatty acids are used to treat malabsorption syndrome, intestinal disorders, coronary diseases, pre-mature infant nutrition, cystic fibrosis, and gallstones. They provide energy and lower, inhibit and dissolve cholesterol deposits (Schwabe et al., 1964; Greenberger and Skillman, 1969; Kalser, 1971; Tantibhedhyangkul and Hashim, 1975, 1978).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gobekli Tepe's T-Shaped Pillars

Alice C. Linsley

Pre-Pottery Neolithic Site

Göbekli Tepe predates the oldest temple known to have been built by Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors in Sudan at Nekhen by about 3000 years.

It predates the Great Pyramids of Giza by about 7000 years. It is the oldest known temple or shrine, and it remains shrouded in mystery.

Göbekli Tepe is classified as a Pre-Pottery Neolithic site (PPN). It is designated PPNA (ca 10,500 to 9,500 BC) which puts it in the same class as Jericho, Netiv Hagdud, Nahul Oren, Gesher, Dhar', Jerf al Ahmar, Chogha Golan and Abu Hureyra.

This site is located in what is today Turkey. The "land between the rivers" was an ancient crossroads for peoples migrating between the Nile Valley and the Near East.

Göbekli figures
Credit: National Geographic

Nate Ramsayer has made an excellent case for his view that the monolithic stone pillars are totems of individual people. As he states, "This interpretation fits well with the emerging concept of social stratification that can be seen in Anatolia during the PPN at sites like Çayönü and Neval Çori."

Nilotic craftsmen moved into the Tigris-Euphrates region and then into Anatolia. They were called the Nes and their animal totem was the serpent. The word Nes is associated with the rulers of the Nile. In ancient Egypt Nesu biti referred to the ruler of a united Upper and Lower Nile.

It is thought that the Hittites introduced iron work to Anatolia, but the term "Hittite" is an anachronism. They called themselves Nes, or Nus (Nuzi), and their language was called Nesli. They were Afro-Asiatic metal workers and the root of their original name is NS, a symbol for the serpent.

Abraham interacted with the Hittite clans of Het who are listed in Genesis 10. HT is the Hebrew and Arabic root for copper - nahas-het. Nahash means serpent. As an adjective it means shining bright, like burnished copper. The clans of HeT were Bronze Age copper smiths who ranged from Timnah to Anatolia. The serpent image was sacred for them, just as it was for Moses and the people of Israel in the wilderness.

T-shaped Pillars

One of the mysteries that archaeologists and anthropologist hope to unravel surrounds the T-shaped monoliths that stand at the perimeter of the sacred mounds at Göbekli Tepe, of which there are about 20. The pattern resembles Stone Hedge with rings of pillars. At the center are twin pillars. The twin pillars and most of the pillars at the periphery are carved to form bas-reliefs of various animals, anthropomorphic figures, and human-animal creatures.

The vulture, scorpion, horse and lion are found on the stone pillars and they appear to correspond to constellations at a time when Thuban was the pole star. These creatures are commonly found on African images, which suggests that the structure at Gobekli Tepe may have been influenced by priests whose origins were in Africa. The vulture is an important totem among the ancient Nubians.

T-shaped pillar 

The earliest pillars are the biggest and most sophisticated in construction and artistry. The later pillars are smaller, less intricate in design and mounted with less precision.

The T-shaped pillars represent human beings, probably rulers, high ranked priests, or the heads of clans. It may be that clan leaders intended to have stone pillars with the clan's animal totem as a display of wealth or power. Or it may be that the 16-ton limestone pillars represent deified rulers who were venerated as ancestors. Each pillar served as the ruler's presence, by which he also represented his clan, before the Deity.

They were transported from the quarry using hundreds of beasts of burden, but those animals do not appear on the stones. The animals carved on the stone pillars include bull, crane, ostrich, vulture, lion, serpent and crocodile, all animals sacred to Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.

Another mystery surrounds the twin pillars at the center of the shrine. They are superior in quality to the perimeter stones. Tatiana V. Kornienko (Cult Buildings of Northern Mesopotamia) sees the placement of pairs of stones as an important aspect of early cosmology:

The worship of pairs of central objects in ancient sanctuaries or temples is a characteristic feature of a number of early Near Eastern cultures. Such symbolism represents the binary basis and dualism of people’s mythological perception of natural phenomena.

(Note that Kornienko fails to make a distinction between the binary and dualistic worldviews, a distinction that needs to be clarified to correctly trace origins and antecedents.)

Related reading: The Ostrich in Biblical Symbolism; Megalithic Totemism of the Individual: A new Analysis of Gobekli Tepe's Monumental Pillars; Ethics and Religious Practices of the Afro-Asiatics

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mother and Son Pierced: Image of Intimacy

But he was pierced [sti] for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yes, a sword shall pierce [τρύπημα στο- puncture] your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:34,35).

Alice C. Linsley

An exploration of the theme of being pierced reveals the spiritual and emotional connection between Mary and Jesus. On the cross, His side was pierced, and at His Presentation in the Temple the aged priest Simeon told Mary that her mother's heart would be pierced by sorrow.

The oldest Hebrew copy of the Psalms from the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to the century before Christ reads the verb in this verse as ka’aru. The Hebrew ka'aru may be related to the Saravati/Meluhha word tavar, meaning to bore a hole. So the meaning is not to bruise (a more superficial wound), but to pierce.

The term is a lexeme that relates to the metal workers and leather workers (tahash) who bore holes in their materials. They are called karmaara, a word related to the Hindi lohakara, meaning smith. Here we find a linguistic connection to the Hebrew word ka-aru. The word is of Nilotic origin. Among the Luo of the Upper Nile ka-Aru means "the place of the one who pierces."

These craftsmen were sea-faring merchants and who moved out of the Nile Valley in a rather militant fashion and founded the maritime civilization of Southern India (Sarasvati civilization). What we seem to have here is language related to the tools of trade of the ancient Horite metal workers. These were the ancestors of Jesus and Mary.

Egyptian boring a hole

In Isaiah 1:6 the King James Version has the word "bruises" using chabbarah. Chabbarah is linguistically related to the Luo chaddho, meaning to cut out, to pluck out, or to bruise the skin. A wound of this type is called chaddhoreh in Luo.
In Isaiah 53:5, "He was bruised [dakha'] for our iniquities" repeats the use of dakah/daqah in Isaiah 28:28. But the piercing of Mother and Son is a different word and the difference is significant.

In the ancient Egyptian the verb to pierce/kill is an interesting reduplication: bbbb, suggesting a set that is intimately related. (Reduplication serves to enhance the meaning.) There is an Egyptian story that treats this in the context of the struggle between Horus and Seth. Horus agreed to do battle, but his mother Hathor-Meri fell to the ground and wept, fearing that her son would be killed. In combat, both Horus and Seth fell into the depths of the Nile and the battle raged for days. The mother's heart suffered bitterly until she could no longer stand by without acting. She made a harpoon from twine and copper and threw the weapon into the water. The harpoon struck her son's side. He surfaced and roared, "Mother! Thy spear hath pierced me!"

Abraham's ancestors who mined copper at Timnah regarded Hathor as their patroness. A temple dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timnah by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University.

The relationship between Mary and her divine Son was and is intimate. The piercing correspondence expresses one aspect of that intimacy. Jesus wants us to honor his blessed mother. Mary wants us to honor and worship the Son of God.

Related reading: Who is Jesus?; The Virgin Mary's Horite Ancestry; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; The Ancient Afro-Asiatic Metal Workers; Is Hebrew an African Language?; The Afro-Asiatic Dominion

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Africa Chesterton Never Knew

By G.K. Chesterton

A sleepy people, without priests or kings,
Dreamed here, men say, to drive us to the sea:
O let us drive ourselves! For it is free
And smells of honour and of English things.
How came we brawling by these bitter springs,
We of the North?—two kindly nations—we?
Though the dice rattles and the clear coin rings,
Here is no place for living men to be.
Leave them the gold that worked and whined for it,
Let them that have no nation anywhere
Be native here, and fat and full of bread;
But we, whose sins were human, we will quit
The land of blood, and leave these vultures there,
Noiselessly happy, feeding on the dead.

Alice C. Linsley

I am a great fan of the work of G.K. Chesterton and a member of the Louisville Chesterton Society. Each month we meet to discuss another of Chesterton's memorable writings. The conversation is often lively. We admire Chesterton's intellect and commitment to the received tradition or the "faith once delivered" to the saints, yet we also recognize his weaknesses and prejudices, for which he makes no apologies.

Chesterton reflects his time and ethnicity. He lived before the major discoveries in anthropology that would have enhanced his 1908 portrayal of archaic man in Orthodoxy and he shared the typical British disdain for the inhabitants of that "dark continent" Africa. In his poem Lepanto, he contrasts the light of Europe with the "death-light of Africa" and speaks of how the struggle against darkness is to be expected in this life. His poem Africa reflects his view of the Boer War fought between the British Empire and the two South African Boer republics. Chesterton considered this a war of British imperial expansion motivated by greed for gold and diamonds and he did not support it.

Chesterton's opposition to imperialism (he opposed Hitler for the same reason) is commendable, but his opening line - A sleepy people, without priests or kings - is regrettable. It presents an inaccurate picture of the origins of the very priesthood that Chesterton regarded as essential to Christianity.

Africa was never without priests and kings. It is the point of origin of the oldest known priesthood and the oldest known line of rulers. Africa is the urheimat of all the practices associated with the ruler-priests of ancient Israel, the Habiru (Hebrew). Among the Habiru were the Shasu whose name for the Creator was YHWH. They were Nubians. The Christian priesthood emerges from the priesthood of the Horites, that ancient caste of ruler-priests who anticipated the coming the Seed of Ra by the overshadowing of one of their virgins

Biblical Anthropology has served to uncover what has been hidden behind racist interpretations of the Bible for too long. Today Africa is recognized as the cradle of modern humans, the crucible from which the linguistic diversity of modern languages came forth; the land where men were first circumcised and animals first sacrificed to cover sins.

Almighty God, who didst grant to thy servant Gilbert the gift of a ready tongue and pen, and didst endue him with zeal to use the same in thy service: Mercifully grant to each of us, that we may well and truly answer anyone who asks of us a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reza Aslan Missed the Son of God

Alice C. Linsley

Reza Aslan's book Zealot has received a great deal of media attention and no small amount of criticism from both Jewish and Christian scholars. He claims to have studied the question of Jesus' identity for two decades, yet he knows virtually nothing about Jesus' ancestry, the priestly division that resided at Nazareth, and another in Bethlehem of Jesus' birth.

Alsan writes (p. 26) that there is no reference to Nazareth in written records before third century AD. However, Nazareth was the home of the eighteenth priestly division of Happizzez (hapi·TSETS, of Egyptian etymology) and that division had been there for many centuries. In 1962 excavators discovered in the ruins of a Caesarea synagogue a piece of a list of the twenty-four priestly divisions. This third-century AD marble fragment is inscribed with the names of the places where four of the divisions resided, including Nazareth. As the priestly divisions existed before the Jerusalem temple, it is likely that Nazareth was not the obscure settlement that Aslan depicts.

Nazareth is on an ancient trade route that goes north from Egypt through Galilee. In Roman times it was called the "Via Maris" but the route was traveled for many centuries before the Roman presence in Palestine. Another ancient road went from Nazareth to Jerusalem and 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.

Aslan is not a Christian, though he claims in the Introduction to have become a Christian at a youth church camp. Church camp Christianity seems to be all Aslan knows of the person and mission of Jesus.

What does Aslan conclude concerning Jesus and his sense of mission? He concludes that Jesus was an illiterate Galilean peasant who zealously sought to depose the Roman governor of Palestine and become the King of Israel. He portrays Jesus as merely another Galilean zealot, on the order of Judas the Galilean and his sons Jacob and Simon, and his grandson Menahem, all of whom were crucified. His logic seems to be that all these zealots were Galileans and Jesus was a Galilean. Therefore Jesus must be a zealot. Here we have a syllogistic fallacy.

He notes that Jesus was a woodworker, tekton (τέκτων), and writes, "The Romans used the term tekton as slang for any uneducated or illiterate peasant, and Jesus was very likely both" (p. 34). Tekton actually refers to craftsmen in general, for which Galilee was well known, having been under the governance of the kings of Tyre. The population of Galilee was well know for its craftsmanship. It was to their ancestors that David turned for help in the construction of his palace, and Solomon sought their assistance in the construction of the first temple in Jerusalem. The term does not suggest that Jesus was uneducated, illiterate or unskilled. In fact, the wood working caste to which Jesus' earthly father belonged was very ancient and highly respected. It was a Horite caste called adhara (Arabic, meaning "pure ones"). Two especially famous wood workers are mentioned in the Hindu Paranas: Pranadhara and Rajyadhara.

He claims, without evidence, that the majority of people in Palestine regarded Jesus as merely another trickster and exorcist (p. 102). He states that Jesus' parables about the kingdom of God are obfuscations (p. 125). His portrayal of Jesus does not align with the Gospels and with the earliest New Testament writings, Paul's epistles.

The Gospels and Paul’s writings draw on the received tradition concerning Messiah (Christ) as the Son or Seed of God (Gen. 3:15). This was the tradition that they received from Abraham and his Nilo-Saharan ancestors who believed that the Seed of the Creator would be born of a woman of their Horite ruler-priest lines by the overshadowing of the Creator. This was the teaching of the Horim (Horites), the righteous elders, who are called "Houris" in the Qur'an.

Aslan appears to know little about the origins of Messianic expectation and how the Gospel of Mark links that question to the royal house of Tyre. In fact he mentions Tyre only once in the book (p. 128) and in this reference he reveals his ignorance of the Bible. He claims that although the disciples "approached the prosperous ports of Tyre and Sidon, they have refrained from actually entering either."  Acts 21 explicitly states that Paul and his fellow disciples entered Tyre where they met with Jesus' disciples and remained with them for seven days. Aslan attempts to portray Paul as a coward who sought to avoid the Roman authorities. However, Acts 21 tells another tale. It was the disciples in Tyre, who filled with the Holy Spirit, warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul was determined to meet with James and all the elders (Acts 21:18).

Aslam seems unaware of anthropological studies that identify the origin of Messianic expectation among Abraham’s Nilo-Saharan ancestors. He never mentions the Nile or Jesus' Horite ancestry. It was there that we encounter the first belief in deified rulers, an idea that the Greeks and Romans borrowed from the ancient Egyptians. Jesus' Horite ancestors expected a deified ruler, the "Son" of God, to be born of their ruler-priests lines, which Jesus was. Aslan asserts (page 237) that the designation of Jesus as “Son of God” at the end of Mark's Gospel was a redaction and implies that this view is inconsistent with Mark's portrayal of Jesus as the Messiah. Yet it is Mark who explicitly states that Jesus' true identity was recognized in Tyre when he visited there.

Study of Jesus' Horite ancestry and the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern found in the Bible verifies certain historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth. First, he was born of the priest lines that can be traced back to Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors. Second, his priest caste were known to be shepherds, and third, he was of royal blood going back to Eden. As a descendant of David, he had royal blood that can be traced through the Horite kings of Tyre. This is a very ancient lineage. God told Ezekiel to "raise a lament over the king of Tyre and say to him: Thus says the Lord God: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and flawless beauty. You were in Eden, in the Garden of God; every precious stone was your adornment... and gold beautifully wrought for you, mined for you, prepared the day you were created." (Ezekiel 28:11-18)

When we describe Jesus as the "Good Shepherd" or "our Great High Priest" or "the King of Kings" we are not speaking figuratively. He was all of these and more. He was and is the Son of God, and as the Immortal Mortal, the Ancient of Days, he remains these forever.