Monday, July 23, 2012

Samuel's Horite Family

Alice C. Linsley

In the narrative of Samuel's birth we read that his father Elkanah was a Zuphite, meaning he was a descendant of Zuph and lived in Ramathaim-zophim, "the land of Zuph." Ramathaim-zophim is described as "hill country" and it is known that the Horites preferred the high country. Ramathaim is simply Ramah elsewhere in the story of Samuel's family.

Hill country of Edom, ruled by the Horites

Ramah has a long association with prophets; Samuel being one of the greatest. Deborah, “the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet” who judged from her tamar (date nut palm). Her tree was between “Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim." (Judges 4:4-6)

The Horites were a caste of rulers who served as priests, prophets, scribes, warriors and metal workers. They were ethnically Kushite. Ramah was a son of Kush according to Genesis 10:7.

In the Masoretic Text the name of Samuel's city is hara-matatyim zophim. (See The Anchor Bible Commentary on I Samuel by P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., p. 51) This means that Samuel's father was a priest of the line of Matthew (or Mattai/Mattan). Hara-matatyim is the priestly line of Joseph of Hara-mathea, one of Jesus' relatives and the member of the Sanhedrin who requested the Lord's body in order to bury Jesus. Samuel's father and Jesus' mother had common Horite ancestors.

David and his father Jesse were of this Horite lineage also. Matthew's Gospel links Bethlehem and Ramah (Matt. 2:13-23); suggesting that Jesse's territory extended from Bethlehem to Ramah. All of this would have been called "Judah" in Jesse's time. If David's city was the Bethlehem in Galilee, Jesse was indeed a great ruler. This is further supported by the Y solar cradle in his name - Yishai. Many of the great Horite rulers are designated by this symbol of divine appointment: Yismael, Yitzak, Yacob/Yisrael, Yetro, Yisbak, Yaqtan, and Yeshua.

Samuel's Horite ancestry, and his kinship to Jesse, is further supported by the distinctive Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern that they shared. Samuel's father was a priest with two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. It was the custom for Horite ruler-priests to have two wives. One was a half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and the other was a patrilineal cousin or niece (as was Keturah to Abraham).

The first wife was the sister bride, married at a fairly young age. She was the wife of the man's youth. The second wife was taken close to the time of the heir's coming to the throne. The two wives lived in separate households, usually on a north-south axis.

The firstborn son of the sister wife ascended to the throne of his biological father. So Isaac ruled over Abraham's territory. The firstborn son of the cousin/niece wife ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather, after whom he was named. Abraham's cousin wife was Keturah. Her firstborn son was Joktan (Yaqtan). Joktan the Younger ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather, Joktan the elder, the progenitor of the Joktanite clans of Arabia. This pattern of two wives and the cousin bride's naming prerogative, makes it possible to trace the Horite line of descent from Genesis 4 to Jesus, the Son of God.

Samuel dwelt in Ramah. This suggests that he ascended to the throne of his father. This means that his mother Hannah was Elkanah's half-sister wife, as the rabbis attest. Peninnah would have been Elkanah's cousin or niece wife. Her first born son ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather, not as the high priest but as a vassal to the high priest with a land holding in the territory of his maternal grandfather.

I Sam.1:4 states that when Elkanah offered a sacrifice, it was his custom to give portions to Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. We do not know how many children Peninnah had, but we are told that after Hannah gave birth to Samuel, she had two more sons and two daughters.

If Samuel followed the marriage and ascendancy pattern of his Horim, he married one of Peninnah's daughters at a fairly early age. Nazirites did marry, as is evident from the story of Samson.

Here is a diagram showing Samuel's Horite family.

Related reading: God's African AncestorsPetra Reflects Horite Beliefs; The Etymology of the Word Horite; Who Were the Horites?; The Genesis Record of Horite Rule; The Judges Samuel, Deborah and Huldah


  1. Hello, Alice. I wonder if you could answer two questions I have regarding the marriage pattern you outline. First, I'm wondering what would happen in cases where the right of ascendancy to his father's throne of the first-born son of a man by his half-sister wife, conflicted with the right of ascendancy to that same throne by the man's grandson, the first-born son of his daughter with her cousin/uncle husband?

    The second question I have is how to square these two types of marriage (which, according to the Bible, did happen, so I'm not really challenging your theory -- I'm challenging what apparently really did occur) with Leviticus 18:9;11.

    Thank you,

  2. Susan, If I understand your first question, you want to know which man has priority in ascendancy: the grandson by the ruler's daughter (a cousin bride) or the firstborn son of the half-sister wife. The firstborn son of the half-sister wife ascends to the throne of his biological father. The Horite rulers maintain various settlements within their territories. The grandson (named by his mother after her father) would receive as settlement within that territory and serve the Chief. Both would be regarded as rulers within that territory, but the jurisdiction and the authority of the grandson was subordinate to that of the firstborn son of the half-sister wife.

    Not all Horite men had two wives, only those who ruled over territories. The second wife essential to control of the territory as the wives lived in separate households on a north-south axis (usually) and their settlements helped to secure those boundaries.

    As to the second question concerning Lev. 18:9. This appears to pertain to full-blooded sisters, not half-sisters. This prohibition is reflected in the Horite marriage structure.

  3. Thank you very much, Alice. Yes, you did understand my first question perfectly, and fully answered what I was wondering about. Thanks again. As to the second question, I guess I'll have to look into it further. It didn't sound to me as if either verse 9 or verse 11 were referring to full-blooded sisters, but rather half-sisters, just by the wording. But I don't know that for certain; it's just how it appeared to me. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. I enjoy reading your website. Susan


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