Saturday, June 20, 2020

Horite Temples

Alice C. Linsley

The priests of the Horite mounds and the Sethite mounds served the same king and worshiped the same God. The temples they built were aligned to the rising sun.

The Shaltout and Belmonte 2005 survey of the orientation of ancient temples in Upper Egypt (Nubia) and Lower Egypt listed the azimuths of axes of symmetry in nearly every temple in the region, including more than 100 entries. They also listed the declinations of astronomical bodies that would be visible at rising or setting along the axes of symmetry. They found a strong cluster of these at declination = −24º, which was the position of the sun at the winter solstice at the time.

They also found a preponderance of axes oriented toward the southeast (azimuth 115º−120º, depending upon latitude), indicating alignment with the rising sun. This is not surprising since the sun was the emblem of the High God for the ancient Nilotes. The priests at the oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship at Nekhen offered invocations to the High God and his son at dawn.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Horite temples were square with a "holy of holies" at the heart of the larger square. Such sacred spaces have been found at Petra, at Shechem, and near the Amman airport. This temple near the Amman airport was 6.50 meters wide (almost exactly 7 yards) and surrounded by a narrow corridor that was broken into six rooms of equal size. At the very center of the most sacred space was a round stone platform that either served as the pedestal of a stone pillar or as the base of an altar.

Horite Hebrew temples and shrines were located at water sources such as wells or along major rivers like the Nile. Cisterns have been found in many of the ancient temples. Solomon's temple had a cistern that held over 66,000 gallons of water (250 cubic meters). Moses was told to meet the king early in the morning when he went down to the Nile for prayer.

In prehistoric times, regional shrine settlements attracted people from surrounding areas. These settlements were administrated by a "deified ruler" and caste of ruler-priests. The prehistoric shrine settlements were build around a central shrine or temple. There was a stone pillar (bnbn) or an east-facing obelisk. Archaeologists have found large mace heads at these temples.

Typically, the interior floor of the Horite temple was paved and the walls were made of hewn stones. In the Horite temples along the Nile there were many pillars rather than stone walls. The temple at Onn (Heliopolis) is an example. Iunu means "place of pillars."

However, evidence of stone pillars have been found at the temples in Amman and Shechem also. These served both as support for a roof and, in the case of the central area, a symbol of the strength of the Creator who inseminates the earth and by whom all life is generated. Likely the Apostle Paul had this tradition in mind when he wrote to Timothy that the Church of the living God is a pillar (I Tim. 3:15). Pillars in the temple also represented the righteous ones of God. Exodus 24:4 speaks of the twelve pillars in God's house as the twelve tribes upon which God has inscribed the holy Name.

In ancient Egypt such pillars were called bnbn, related to the word wbn, a reference to the rising (swelling) of the morning sun. Bnbn have been found from Nigeria to India. Below is a photo of a bnbn found in Lejja, Nigeria.

Sacred pillars represent the connection between heaven and earth (cf. ladder in Jacob's dream; the Church as pillar). In Horite temples these sometimes stood in the center of an outer courtyard. The foundation stone was about 2 feet 3 inches in diameter (70 centimeters) and the base of the pillar that rested on the stone pier was about 1 foot 4 inches (40 centimeters) in diameter. These smaller pillars were anointed, as Hindus anoint the lingam, an erect stone symbolizing the power of the Deity to generate life. Genesis 28:18 suggests this practice among Abraham's people: "Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it."

In 1931, a structure with the characteristics of Horite temples was discovered by Gabriel Welter on the shoulder of Mount Gerizim at the site of ancient Shechem. That square temple also had a central holy space with a stone podium that possibly served as an altar. This temple was destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze Age. The central space of the Gerizim temple was about twice as large as the central space in the temple excavated near the airport in Amman in 1955.

Solomon's Temple

Solomon's temple in Jerusalem was built on the pattern of the older Horite temples under the direction of Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 9:11, II Chronicles 2:3). King Hiram and David had a common Horite ancestry, as analysis of the royal names indicates. Hiram I of Tyre also had sent skilled artisans to help David build a palace in Jerusalem.

Variants of the name Hiram include Horam and Harum, and all are related to the names 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."

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 and Hathor-Meri as the mother of the "seed" of God, Horus. The temple of Hathor at Timna was oriented to the rising sun at the winter solstice. This temple was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mount Timna by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University.

The entrance to Solomon's temple was flanked by twin pillars dedicated to his Horite Hebrew ancestors Jachin and Boaz. Jachin was Solomon's maternal great grandfather and Boaz was his paternal great grandfather.

David and Solomon were of the Horite Hebrew lines that can be traced from Genesis 4 and 5 to Joseph who married Mary, the daughter of the priest Joachim. Mary was "Miriam Daughter of Joachim Son of Pa-ntr (Joachim's mother) Priest of Nathan's clan of Bethlehem."

Long before the Pharaohs ruled Egypt the Horites were designated as royal priests. A tera-ntr refers to a priest. Th image above was found in Egypt by Flinders Petrie. It shows a Sethite temple priest among the Nilotic Annu and he is given the title of tera-neter, meaning priest devoted to God.

Related reading: Horite MoundsTemple GuildsOrientations of Nilo-Saharan Monuments; The High PlacesSacred Mountains and Pillars; Prehistoric Shrine Settlement in the Judean Shepalah

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