Alice C. Linsley
Totems can be used by anthropologists to trace ancestry, clan affiliations, and marriage ties. Most totems of biblical clans are animals, and to understand their symbolism we must place these animals in their natural habitats of Africa and Arabia.
The totems of the lion and serpent illustrate how connections can be established using the biblical data.
The totem of David’s Bethlehem clan was the lion which appears to have connections to the clan of Nahash. Nahash is the Hebrew word for serpent. Nahash was the father of Shobi, Abigail and Zeruiah, the mother of Joab and Abishai (II Sam. 17:25). David had a sister named Abigail and a wife named Abigail. These may have been the same person. It was the Horite custom to take a half-sister for the first wife and a cousin wife shortly before ascending to the throne. Bethlehem was a Horite settlement where such customs would have been observed. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem."
The close association between the lion totem and the serpent totem suggest that Abigail might have been a patrilineal cousin and the “daughter of Nahash” (II Sam. 17:25). It this is the case, taking Abigail as his wife signaled David's intention to rule.
Abraham's ancestors lived in the wet Sahara and Nile Valley before the unification of Egypt by Menes. By Abraham's day his Horite Hebrew priest caste was closely associated with the rulers of a unified Egypt and the Horite rulers of Edom listed in Genesis 36. This is confirmed by Joseph's marriage to Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On (Heliopolis), an Ainu/Annu shrine city with temples served by Horite Hebrew priests.
The Horites Hebrew/Habiru were devotees of the Creator Ra and the Creator's son HR/Horus. Jews call these ancestors "Horim", derived from the root HR. The worship of Ra and Horus was wide spread in the ancient world. In Mesopotamia the Father was called Ani and the Son was called Enki, but the totemic and solar symbols are fairly consistent for both Mesopotamian and Nilotic rulers.
Horus was the patron of ancient Nilotic rulers for whom it was common to have a Horus name. By this name, it was hoped that the ruler would rise again after death and lead his people to immortality. Jesus' resurrection confirms his identity as the true Divine Son. He leads his people through his death and resurrection to immortality. This is the meaning of the procession language: "When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train... (Psalm 68:18) to which Paul refers in Ephesians 4:8.
Horus is the archetype by which Abraham's people would later recognize Jesus as the "Seed" of the Creator (Gen. 3:15). Jesus spoke of his death using the analogy of a seed or grain that dies and falls to the earth. He said, "I tell you, unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it will only be a seed. If it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24) For more on this, see Righteous Rulers and the Resurrection.
Tracing the origins of Abraham's Horite Hebrew people has been a fascination of mine. They ruled at the Horite shrine city of Nekhen (3,500 BC) and in Egypt at Dendura and Heliopolis, but where did this religious idea - the kernel of Messianic expectation - originate? Genetic, linguistic and archaeological evidence indicates that it originated among the cattle-herding Nilo-Saharan populations of the R1b Haplogroup. This map shows their dispersion.
The Nile Valley and Lake Chad were much wetter during the period known as the African Aqualithic. Archaic communities were sustained by fishing and hunting. However, as the land became more arid, people moved east to the water sources of the Nile and south to the Benue Trough. Climate had an impact of migration, but so did the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the archaic rulers. This drove archaic rulers to move and establish new territories. DNA studies have confirmed the migration of the Nilotic rulers out of Africa. (For more on this, see The Migration of Abraham's Ancestors.)
The early chapters of Genesis provide historically reliable and anthropologically significant information about Abraham's Habiru ancestors. Of special importance are the Genesis king lists. Analysis of the king lists reveals a particular marriage and ascendancy pattern which continues through the Bible to the time of Jesus, a descendant of the Horites.
Totems can be used to trace ancestry, clans, and marriage ties. The rulers of the ancient world were related by marriage and blood. The animal totems of the Israelite clans have received much attention, but there has been little investigation into the antecedents of these totems. For the Biblical Anthropologist this is a potentially productive exploration because it can render clues as to how the clans were related and which lines intermarried. This helps to round out the picture provided by analysis of the genealogical data.
The Dispersion of the Horite Hebrew Priests
The Horite priestly ancestors dispersed in many directions. They spread their religious practices and unique binary worldview across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. This is why roots pertaining to ritual and religion are shared between Afro-Asiatic and Indo-European languages. Horite and Ainu religious artifacts have been found along the Nile, in Arabia, Palestine, Serbia, Anatolia, Nepal, Cambodia, Japan, Northern France, and Finland. Among the archaic populations of these places, for example, there is a common solar symbolism. Marks of their religion are described here and here.
The vulture, scorpion, horse and lion are found on stone glyphs at the Gobekli Tepe site in Turkey which dates to about 9000 B.C. Here 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 this shrine in Turkey was influenced by African religion or possibly established by priests whose origins were in Africa. The vulture is especially interesting as it was a totem among the Nubians.
It may be that the Horites originated in the eastern Sudan, but as a caste of priests were dispersed among the Nilotic, Kushitic and Chadic peoples from the earliest days. Every village and clan needed a priest and the Horite Hebrew priesthood, by virtue of its great antiquity, would have been prized.
Their ancestors may have come from the region of Africa where the Nile originates near the Angolan highlands. This is suggested in the Hunefer Papyrus and the ‘Book of the Coming Forth by the Day and Night.’ These contain records of the origin of the Ancient Egyptians and read, “We came from the beginning of the Nile where the god Hapi dwells, at the foothills of the mountains of the moon” (Yosef ben-Jochanannan and John Hendrik Clarke, 1991, p.5). This land was to the south of ancient Kush and would have included Nubia.
The name Seth (Set) is associated with the Upper Nile in what is today southern Sudan and Nubia. In Egyptian writings this land was called Ta-Seti, meaning "Land of the Bow," referring to the weapon. These people were known as great hunters and warriors, like the Ainu. Khaem-wa-set, the brother of Seti I (1302-1290 B.C.), was the Chief of the bowmen of Kush.
Pharaoh Seti I was likely named for an earlier Seti, probably his maternal grandfather. While it may not be possible to trace him back to Seth of Genesis 5, it is possible to trace Seti's Kushite descendants. Genesis 5 lists the rulers who descended from Seth. The tenth from Seth is Kush, from whom the Kushites take their name.
Nimrod was a Kushite kingdom-builder who ruled in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. By the time of his great great grandsons Peleg and Joktan, a linguistic separation had take place. Joktan and his people were Afro-Arabians, whereas Peleg and his people were Afro-Asiatics. However, they still shared the Horite priesthood and many of the same religious practices.
Kush was one of Ham's sons, but the lines of Ham and Seth intermarried (endogamy). Engodamy is a characteristic of castes. Ham means burnt and refers to the reddish skin tone of Abraham's Ainu ancestors. Abraham means "burnt father." Here again, we have a suggestion that the Horite priesthood was associated with the warrior/hunter/kingdom-building Ainu whose skin tone was red. The Ainu moved far and wide along the water ways and mountain ridges (high places) of the ancient world.
There is no doubt that merchants and priests moved up and down the Nile. In 1904, A.B. Fisher found artifacts in Uganda that reflected Egyptian designs. He wrote, “In the extremely delicate and diverse forms of string and baskets working peculiar to the Batoro tribe, one notices marked similarity to Egyptian design. Among the tribe of the Bakuku is another suggestive point: whilst staying in their vicinity for a period of six weeks, I made a strong effort to collect together a selection of their war-horns, which consist of minute ivory tusks shaved down and scooped out. It was not an easy matter to procure them, as they are regarded as the heirlooms of the family, and have been handed down from ancient times.
Offering, however, high and tempting terms in the shape of goats, I succeeded in procuring six or seven. I then found that each had its own peculiar mark: one resembled most clearly the planet Saturn, another, the Pleiades, others various hieroglyphic designs. Questioning the folk as to the significant meaning of each, they expressed total ignorance beyond that they were intended for ornamentation by their early fathers ….” (A.B. Fisher, 1904, p.250).
Genesis 10:26-29 tells us that Shem’s grandsons were named Joktan, Obal, Ophir. These names are still found among Nilo-Saharan peoples today. Jo-Kano is a clan of the Nilo-Saharan Luo people. Jo means "people" so the Jo-Kano are the people or descendants of Kano or Kain. Ophir is said to be the leader who brought the Luo people to Uganda from the Lower Nile.
Using Totems to Trace Clans
Related clans took planets and animals as their totems. Animal totems can be used to trace descent. The animal totem of the clan of Hamor (one of David’s “great men”) was the wild donkey, the totem of the tribe of Issachar. Hamor was a descendant of Jacob by Leah and was related to the Horites listed in Genesis 36. Genesis 36:24 makes the association between the Horite Anah and the wild donkey.
The Horites of Genesis 36
Animal totems are evident in the names listed in the Genesis 36 diagram. These include Zibeon (the hyena), Aiah (the kite), and Akan (the roe), and Dishan (the gazel). Dishan was the father of Aran (the wild goat). The totem of the clan of Caleb was the dog. 1 Chronicles 2:55 says that Caleb's sons were Kenites. Kenaz was a son of Eliphaz by Timna, daughter of Seir, a Horite ruler-priest. Caleb or Kelev means dog. The Canaan Dog (Kelev) was a symbol of the warrior. The Hebrew word for warrior is Gid'on (Gideon). This allusion to the dog clan is found in Judges 7:4-7.
Other Horite names associated with animal totems include Cheran (the lamb) and Shobal (the young lion). Such a large number of animal names among the Horites suggests a totemic organization of the Horite ruler-priest clans.
The lion was the totem for the clan of Judah. Jacob/Yacob refers to his son Judah as a Gur Aryeh גּוּר אַרְיֵה יְהוּדָה, which means "young lion" (Gen. 49:9). The totem of Shobal's clan was also the lion fierce in it youthful strength (young lion). Shobal was one of the Horite chiefs named in the Genesis 36 king list.
In the ancient world, animal totems served as symbols of planets, stars or constellations. The relationship of these celestial bodies is likely the pattern for the ties between the clans. This is very old and can be traced back to ancient Nubia. Consider the case of the dog-faced baboon (Papio hamadryas) which was brought to Egypt from Nubia and was trained as a pet in noble households. It was associated with the Sun due to its habit of screeching at the first break of dawn. In ancient Egyptian paintings baboons were shown with the solar orb on their heads and sometimes riding in Re’s solar boat.
The baboon is not a totem of the tribes of Israel as this creature was not a native of Arabia. However, the baboon totem was familiar to the Nubian Horites and the baboon appears on one of the canpoic jars that held the organs of the rulers. The baboon was one of the four manifestations of Horus, along with the falcon, the jackal, and the divine Man.
|Baboons on Ra's solar boat facing the scarab. |
All are overshadowed by the Sun, the symbol of the Creator.
Among the Arabian Horites the equivalent totem was probably the lion’s mane shown as the circle of the sun. This suggests that Judah was the central tribe around which the other totems cycled in a progression that paralleled the celestial bodies.
There is a further suggestion of this in Numbers 2 where each "house" is to camp under its "dgl" which certainly doesn't mean banner, but probably means celestial totem.
Here we find evidence of an antecedent to the celestial totems of the tribes of Israel. In Kano, we find animal totems for the Gusii clans. The Abagirango's totem is the leopard (engo); the Ababasi totem is the zebra (enchage); the Abasweta, Abagetutu, Abanyaribari and Abamachoge have the baboon (engoge); and the Abanchari's totem is the hippo (engubo), which corresponded to the constellation Draco. The animal totems often appear on the astronomical ceilings of the tombs of ruling Egyptians such as Senenmut and Seti I.
|Senenmut astronomical ceiling c. 1500-1400 BC|
The connection between cattle horns and Horus' mother Hathor-Meri is shown in the following panel. The Y shape of the horns is a solar cradle and designates divinely appointed rulers among the Horites: Yaqtan (Joktan) who was Abraham's first born son; Yishmael (Ishmael), Yitzak (Isaac), Yocab (Jacob), Yosef (Jospeh), Yetro (Jethro), Yesai (Jesse, Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus), etc. The sun resting on Hathor-Meri symbolizes her insemination by the Sun, by which she conceived Horus. Hathor-Meri is a type of the Virgin Mary who conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Hathor-Meri's totem was the long-horned cow and she is show in Nile shrines holding her offspring in a stable.
Dr. Leser writes as follows:
The ceiling is divided into two sections representing the northern and the southern skies. The southern - upper part shown in the picture above - is decorated with a list of decanal stars, as well as constellations of the southern sky belonging to it like Orion and Sothis (Sopdet). Furthermore, the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus are shown and associated deities who are traveling in small boats over the sky. Thus, the southern ceiling marks the hours of the night.
The northern - lower part - shows constellations of the northern sky with the large bear in the center. The other constellations could not be identified. On the right and left of it there are 8 or 4 circles shown and below them several deities each carrying a sun disk towards the center of the picture. The inscriptions associated with the circles mark the original monthly celebrations in the lunar calendar, whereas the deities mark the original days of the lunar month (after Meyer, 1982).
The astronomical ceiling is divided along its east-west axis by a text band composed of five registers. The central line which is wider than the other four registers bears together the titles of Hatshepsut and some titles as well as the name of Senenmut....."
Note the bull at the top and the baboon at the bottom.
The Egyptian Speos (Temples)
The Egyptian rock cut temple, or speos, was of Nubian origin. The earliest example of which was the cave sanctuary at Sayala, just north of Abu Simbel on the west bank of the Nile River. This site is dated to the period of the Nubian A-Group culture (3700-3250 B.C.E.). This Nubian architecture was adopted by the Egyptians of the New Kingdom whose pharaohs commissioned several temples in Upper Egypt and in Nubia. The paired Northern and Southern Temples at Abu Simbel express the binary sets of male-female/ Sun-Moon/south-north. For more on this, see The Binary Distinctions of the Horites and Horite Hebrew Temples.
Related reading: The Ainu/Annu of On; Boats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans; The Nile-Japan Ainu Connection; Terah's Nubian Ancestors; Totemism in the Old Testament; The A-Group Royal Cemetery at Qustul, Cemetery; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; Using Totems to Trace Ancestry and Marriage Ties; The Kushite-Kushan Connection, Hittite Religion, The Brentford Shard: Chi Rho or Solar Symbol?; The Sub-Saharan DNA of Modern Jews