Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Unnamed and Forgotten Hebrew Daughters


Rebecca at the Well, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The canonical Scriptures are a reliable source of information about the early Hebrew ruler-priest caste, their endogamous marriage custom, and the rights and responsibilities of Hebrew women. Because the Hebrew caste resisted innovations, their customs persisted among Abraham’s numerous Hebrew descendants. Some of Abraham's Hebrew ancestors lived in the Nile Valley, some lived in Canaan, and others lived in Mesopotamia and Anatolia. That is why it is possible to speak of Kushite Hebrew, Canaanite Hebrew, and Anatolian Hebrew.

Jacob and Esau were both Hebrew rulers as they were members of the Hebrew ruler-priests caste. A trait of castes is endogamy, the custom of marriage only to members of the caste or blood relatives. Jacob and Esau married Hebrew women, including women of the clan of Seir the Horite Hebrew (Gen. 36), and women of the clan of Nahor the Younger of Paddan-Aram. One of Esau's wives was the daughter of the Hittite Hebrew ruler, Elon. The Hittites were descendants of Heth, a Hebrew ruler listed in Genesis 10:15. Some of his descendants lived in Hebron (Gen. 23:3,7) which was in Abraham's territory.

Hebron and Beersheba were the northern and southern settlements of Abraham's territory.

Abraham's territory extended between Hebron and Beersheba (shown on the map). Both settlements were in ancient Edom. Edom was called "Idumea" by the Greeks. The place names - Edom and Idumea - refer to a land of red people. In Abraham's time, the red people were associated with Nilotic populations before the Bantu arrived in the Nile Valley about 1000 years later.
Some of the practices of the early Hebrew are found in Judaism: circumcision, ritual washing, dietary restrictions, etc. However, the faith of Abraham and his Hebrew ancestors predates the emergence of Judaism by several thousand years, and there were many Hebrew clans other than the clan of Jacob (Israel) which is the focus of the Jewish narrative.

The unnamed or forgotten wives and daughters of the Hebrew ruler-priests are one of the least understood biblical populations. However, the application of kinship analysis clarifies their familial relationships. These were women of high social status who kept the bonds between the Hebrew clans strong. Many were women of strength and courage. Some exercised considerable authority in their time and place as heads of clans, judges, royal officials over water shrines, and queens. The Hebrew daughters of priests at Heliopolis (biblical On) fulfilled their responsibilities to the temple there. They wove vestments, prepared dyes, baked bread, drew water, led the temple women in singing, and played instruments such as the harp, the lute, the lyre, and the sistrum. We may learn about their activities from historical studies, but other than Asenath of On, very little information about these women is given in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Some Hebrew women are named in the canonical texts, but many are not. Lot’s daughters are not named, but they are identified as the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites (Gen. 19:30-38). The Bible provides very little backstory for these Hebrew daughters and no information at all about many other Hebrew daughters. For example, Jacob produced children by four women, yet only one daughter is mentioned, Dinah (Gen. 30). If the sex ratio of about 105 boys to 100 girls has remained consistent throughout the generations, Jacob likely fathered at least six daughters. Some of his daughters would have married men of Esau’s clan because marriage between the clans of two brothers was a common practice among the biblical Hebrew.

Abraham had nine sons by four women, but no daughters are named. This raises a suspicion that certain ancestors have been forgotten on purpose because they do not serve the Jewish narrative of twelve tribes of Israel as Abraham's only descendants. Given the sex ratio, Abraham likely had at least four daughters. One of them would have married her half-sibling, Isaac. She would have been Isaac’s first wife, the bride of his youth just as Sarah was Abraham’s half-sibling and the bride of his youth. Rebekah was Isaac's second wife. That marriage took place shortly before the death of Abraham. Rebekah was to Isaac what Keturah was to Abraham. Both Keturah and Rebekah were second wives, and both were cousin brides. Hebrew men of high status had two wives.

Abraham's rightful heir was Isaac so Abraham took great care to assure that he married according to the custom of the Hebrew rulers. This way Issac's rule was less likely to be challenged.

As Abraham approached his death in Beersheba, Isaac had not taken his second wife, a prerequisite for ascension to his father's throne. As the second wife was usually a patrilineal cousin, Abraham enjoined his servant to seek a wife for Isaac among the women of Paddan-Aram in the territory of Abraham's older brother Nahor. Abraham's servant asks what he is to do if the woman refuses to come back with him to Beersheba. Abraham answered: "If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there." (Gen, 24:8) Isaac was to remain in the territory over which he would rule. As Abraham's proper heir, Isaac was not to leave Abraham's territory in Edom. Abraham was confident that the Lord would ensure the servant's success, and this would not require Isaac to leave the territory over which he was to rule.

Esau's inheritance as Isaac's proper heir was consistent with the marriage and ascendancy pattern of his Hebrew ancestors. Jacob's situation (sent away to serve a maternal uncle) fits the pattern of sons born to cousin brides such as Rebekah. Esau may have been the firstborn son of Isaac's first wife, a daughter of Abraham and Keturah. In other words, Jacob and Esau were probably half-siblings and a later source poses them as twins.

Jacob's two wives and his two concubines follows the pattern of his high-ranking Hebrew ancestors. Abraham also had two wives and two concubines

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Gender Balance of the Hebrew Social Structure

Symbols of authority.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

A close reading of the biblical texts makes it clear that the Hebrew social structure was not characterized by the typical features of a strict patriarchy: descent, inheritance, residence, right to govern/judge, and authority. These are not vested exclusively with Hebrew males.
Descent was traced through both the paternal and maternal lines, especially in the case of the cousin brides who named their firstborn sons after their fathers. This is called "the cousin bride's naming prerogative".

Hebrew women could inherit and some owned property. Daughters received inheritances from their mothers in the form of herds, tents, textiles, sacred objects believed to enhance fertility, jewelry, and servants. Numbers 27:8 makes it clear that daughters could inherit. The law reads: "If a man dies without a son, then the inheritance shall pass to his daughter." Moses judged that Zelophehad's five daughters had a right to inherit their father's property. If a landowner died without a male heir his land was to go to a ranking daughter. If he died without a son or daughter, his property was to go to his brothers.

Residential arrangements depended on the status of the Hebrew couple. Hebrew men who ruled over territories maintained their two wives in geographically separate settlements. Some sons were sent to live with their maternal uncles (avuncular residence). Some sent-away sons established themselves in places where they had no Hebrew kin (neolocal residence). 

Both males and females governed as clan chiefs, judges, and prophets. However, only males served as priests.

Figurine of Hathor found at Hazor in Israel.

The biblical Hebrew recognized three types of authority: derived, attributed, and achieved. Derived authority comes from divine appointment. The veneration of Hathor, an archetype of the Virgin Mary, testifies to the Hebrew recognition of derived authority among the females. Ancient images of Hathor show her with the sun resting over her head, a sign of appointment by the High God whose symbol was the sun. It suggests belief that she conceived the son of God by divine overshadowing as is described in Luke 1:35. The Angel explained to Mary, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."

Divine appointment also was signified by the initial Y in the names of many Hebrew rulers. This solar cradle appears in these Hebrew names: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yachin (Joachin), Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak; Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yosef (Joseph); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse), Yonah (Jonah), Yoel (Joel), and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

Attributed authority came with the offices of king, priest, judge, or prophet. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Parting of Ways: Calvin Robinson's Case


The Rev'd Calvin Robinson

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

A recent brouhaha in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) emerged when a young Anglican priest from Great Britian was asked to address a conference of Anglicans gathered in South Carolina on Saturday, January 20th. 

The priest, Calvin Robinson, is a man of color and he was asked to speak on Critical Theory (CT). He made connections between CT, Marxism, and ideological Feminism and raised a reasonable objection to the application of these ideologies to the question of women priests in the ACNA.

The audience consisted of women priests who were offended. They protested and the conference organizers decided to unseat Fr. Robinson from the summary panel. The Rev'd Jeffrey S. Miller posted this explanation: For the concluding panel discussion of the 2024 Mere Anglicanism Conference, Father Calvin Robinson was pulled from participating not because of his views on women's ordination, but because he failed to address in his plenary presentation the topic that was assigned to him. Father Robinson was not asked to leave the conference, but remained through its conclusion and was paid his full honorarium.

In conversation with some Anglican women who stand on opposing sides of this issue, I realized that many do not understand ideological Feminism. They think that Feminism is about equal rights and equal pay. Because of this, Calvin Robinson's connections did not seem justified. 

Both Marxism and Feminism are based on a false perception of universal struggle between two groups. In Marxism the conflict is between those wealthy who control the means of production (factories) and the natural resources (mines, oil, etc.) and the workers who often have little political clout (this is before the time of unions). Marx wanted the workers of the world to unite and take control of the factories and mines, if necessary, by violent means.

In Feminism, the conflict is between men and women. Feminists argue that men hold all the power, and that patriarchy is a means of oppression of women. They pose this as a universal conflict, but it is not. Anthropologically, it is easy to pop this bubble. Anthropologists have never found a single absolute patriarchy. Social structures are always more gender balanced than the Feminists would have us believe.

That is especially true of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew from whom we receive the core beliefs of the Messianic Faith that we call "Christianity". The Hebrew were a ruler-priest caste which practiced endogamy. That is, marriage partners were members of the caste. The women of the caste were not priests. They were involved in different and equally important work at water shrines where they ministered to women, as inn keepers, and as queen mothers. Many were women of great influence in their social circles. Huldah served as a royal adviser to the king. She lived in Jerusalem with her husband, Shallum, who was in charge of the priestly vestments. The narrative in 2 Kings 22 reveals the high esteem with which she was regarded by the king and the people.

The rulers listed in Genesis were Hebrew and the social structure of the Hebrew ruler-priest caste was unusual for that time in that it exhibited considerable gender balance. There were male and female prophets; male and female clan chiefs, and both male and female ancestors were acknowledged by their descendants, especially if those ancestors were heroic or exercised great authority. Daughters could petition to receive inheritance. If a landowner died without a male heir his property was to go to a ranking daughter (Num. 27:8). In the Hebrew double unilineal descent pattern, both the patrilineage and the matrilineage are recognized and honored, but in different ways.

The gender balance of the Hebrew social structure is evident also in the Bible's narrative couplets, such as the parallel between the blood symbolism of the Passover associated with Moses and the blood symbolism of the scarlet cord associated with Rahab. Consider the two occasions when death passed over. Moses' people were saved when they put the blood of the lamb on the doors. Rahab's household was saved when she hung a scarlet cord from her window.

The abusive behavior of drunken Noah toward his sons has a parallel in the abusive behavior of drunken Lot toward his daughters.

The "mother's house" and the "father's house" had distinct obligations of equal value in the Hebrew social structure.

Both males and females are portrayed positively and negatively in the Bible. Both kill. Both promote lies. Both complain. Abraham complains to God about not having a proper heir. Jonah complains about the repentance of the Ninevites and the heat. Sarah complains about Hagar and Ishmael. Rebekah complains about her daughters-in-law. 

At the presentation of Jesus in the Temple His identity as Messiah is affirmed by the priest Simeon and by the prophetess Anna. 

Jesus restored the widow of Nain's deceased son to his mother (Lk. 7:11-17). Jesus restored Jairus' deceased daughter to her father (Mk. 5:21-43).

A better grasp of what the Bible tells us about male and female roles should be encouraged by the ACNA bishops. Understanding the social structure of the biblical Hebrew and their Jewish descendants has direct bearing on the Church's ecclesiology and theology. (See The First Lords of the Earth: An Anthropological Study.)

It also is necessary that Anglicans be taught Anglican sacramental theology. Anglicans believe that their priests belong to the one universal Church and that the Eucharistic sacrifice is offered not only for those immediately present, but also for the whole Church. This cannot be true where the priest is a woman since she is not recognized as a priest by the universal Church. “Since the Church is universal,” writes Dr. C. B. Moss (1888-1964), “she requires a ministry which is universally recognized.”

In his address to the 1978 Lambeth Conference (July 31), Canon John Macquarrie pointed out that many in the Anglican Communion “conscientiously believe that a woman cannot validly consecrate the Eucharist.” He added, “And who can prove beyond doubt that such persons are mistaken?”

The late Dr. J. I. Packer wrote, “Jesus is the second man, the last Adam, our great high priest and sacrifice, our prophet, priest, and king (not prophetess, priestess, and queen), and he is all this precisely in his maleness. To minimize the maleness shows a degree of failure to grasp the space-time reality and redemptive significance of the incarnation.” (J. I. Packer, “Introduction,” in Man, Woman and Priesthood, ed. James Tolhurst, Gracewing, 1989, p. 13).

On a more personal note, I have observed censorship of conversations about women priests in various groups related to the ACNA. I have been shut out of forums, Facebook groups, Titus One Nine, Stand Firm, and the official ACNA Facebook group, though having studied the question for longer than the ACNA has existed. I feel that I have something of substance to offer to the conversation because I did serve as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

My friend, Fr. Jay Scott Newman, had this to say in 2011 about the inevitable parting of ways:

"... the truce which has been called on the question of women in the priesthood as a condition for bringing into being the new Anglican bodies in North America seems to me more than a bit like the truce over slavery that was required to bring the United States of America into being. But the latter truce could not hold, and neither can the former. Eventually, the disagreement must be sorted out, and that almost certainly means that the battle must be joined. And when that happens, then the great gulf between Evangelicals and Catholics on the nature and number, the origin and efficacy of the sacraments will once again be a church-dividing gulf."

Fr. Newman added:

"The primary category mistake of most Anglicans seems to be a refusal to accept the Principle of Non-Contradiction. For example, either sodomy is a grave sin or the foundation of a sacrament, but it can’t be both. Or, either it is possible that women have the capacity to receive presbyteral and episcopal ordination or they do not, but it can’t be both. Let’s forgot for a moment the authority of Apostolic Tradition which every Catholic must believe is an intrinsic part of the Gospel (no sola Scriptura for us), when a foundational principle of right reason like Non-Contradiction is routinely denied in practice if not in theory, then the only thing left is raw will to power."

Ironically the Mere Anglicanism conference theme was “Speaking the Truth in Love: The Church and the Challenge of the New Morality". What happened to Calvin Robinson is regrettable and a sign of deeper problems within the ACNA.

It is hoped that this incident will make Anglicans more aware of their need to speak the truth in love, to be charitable toward those with whom they disagree, and to be willing to hear what the other has to say even when it makes us uncomfortable or challenges our assumptions.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Think like a biblical anthropologist!


Painted burial linen from a grave in Gebelein, Naqada IIa-b (c. 3600 BC). 
Museo Egizio, Turin.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Readers of this blog are encouraged to become familiar with the data seeking, empirical approach of Biblical Anthropology. Here we dig data out of the 66 canonical books. We read these texts through the lens of anthropology which means we want to know about kinship patterns, social hierarchies, castes, burial practices, sacred symbols, artifacts of biblical populations, and religious beliefs.

Biblical anthropologists consider extra-biblical texts such as the deuterocanonical books and rabbinic interpretations. These texts do contain valuable anthropological and historical information. However, these are not our primary sources.

This discipline is not about promoting private or denominational positions. We do not cherry pick favorite verses and use them to proof-text an argument or theological position. Theology is not the first concern of Biblical Anthropology.

To those steeped in the mindset of "the plain meaning of Scripture" it might sound as if we were promoting strange teachings. There is nothing "plain" about the canonical Scriptures. They are dense, multi-layered, tightly woven, and provocative. They require intense study and close reading with great attention to details. This should be especially true for those who claim Scripture as their first authority (prima scriptura). 

We are heirs to the empiricism of the twentieth century and we can legitimately draw on that heritage when investigating the Scriptures as objectively as possible. We may approach the Bible less polemically than past generations. We can understand difficult passages because of the work of learned Bible scholars, textual criticism, biblical archaeology, biblical anthropology, and the study of biblical languages and biblical populations. Today the available “ordinary means” of understanding the Bible are vastly greater and more diverse than in the past.

Archaeology in the Bible lands is "Biblical Archaeology" and the science of anthropology pertaining to the widely dispersed Biblical populations is "Biblical Anthropology". Biblical anthropology should not be confused with theological anthropology.

Anthropologists are interested in material culture. We want to know what people made, what materials were used, and how they made and used tools. We are curious about the objects they used in daily life. How did they bury their dead? Who were the heroes of the target population? Where did the rulers derive their authority? What culture traits made their population distinctive? How did they organize for war? What did they believe about the creation of the world?

A central task of Biblical Anthropology is to uncover antecedents. Culture traits, ceremonies, rituals, and religious beliefs do not spring suddenly into existence. They develop organically over time from traditions received from the ancestors. Biblical Anthropology provides tested methods and tools to draw back the veil of time, to uncover anthropologically significant data that clarifies precedents, etiology, and earlier contexts. There always is something coming before what is described that helps to explain the events recounted. The deeper we dig, the farther back in time we go. A custom such as burial in red ocher, with a duration of at least 100,000 years, is of particular interest to biblical anthropologists.

David Noel Freedman said: “The Hebrew Bible is the one artifact from antiquity that not only maintained its integrity but continues to have a vital, powerful effect thousands of years later.” 

Both anthropologists and archaeologists turn to the Bible for data and clues. This often has led to wonderful discoveries! Your help is needed to advance the science of Biblical Anthropology. You don't need a degree. You need to think about the Bible as containing "all things necessary for salvation", guidance for gaining wisdom, and the data necessary for understanding the people of faith from whom we received these texts.

Finally, comments at this blog are always welcome and most are approved. Especially welcome are well-considered, well-informed comments that are backed up by data (not opinions) from the Bible.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Can Molecular Models be aligned with Human Morphology?

Evidence of meat consumption 3 million years ago.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The members and followers of the BioLogos Foundation are almost entirely Evangelicals and they have been countering Young Earth Creationists with important data since the organization's founding in 2007. The BioLogos Foundation supports the view that God created the world using evolution of different species as the mechanism. The organization was established by Francis S. Collins who served as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, from 17 August 2009 to 19 December 2021.

In his 2006 book The Language of God, Collins presents his struggle to reconcile Faith and Science. In my view, Collins' personal struggle was the task of meticulously setting aside false interpretations on both sides. Collins believed that scientific discoveries are an "opportunity to worship" and he rejected both Young Earth creationism (YEC) and Intelligent Design (ID). He preferred the term "theistic evolution". However, the BioLogos Foundation instead uses the term "evolutionary creationism", the belief that the diversity of organic life results from mutation, adaptation, recombination, natural selection, and common ancestry. In humans, it is estimated that about 36 recombination events occur per generation, one or two per chromosome.

Most members of the BioLogos believe in common ancestry of apes and humans. They conclude this on the basis of models in molecular genetics, not on the basis of material evidence of human morphology. It seems that Evangelicals who claim the Bible as their authority should not so easily ignore what it asserts about Humans as a special creation. Nor should those who honor science ignore what world renown paleoanthropologists have to say on this matter.

Archaic humans (4 million to 300,000 years ago) walked upright, had opposing thumbs, short fingers, human ankle bones, and human dentition. In humans, the back teeth are larger than the front teeth (not so with apes), and the canines are not pointed. Humans also lack the characteristic diastema, or tooth gap, found in apes.

When Jeremy DeSilva, a British anthropologist, compared the ankle joint, the tibia and the talus fossils of human ancestors ("hominins") between 4.12 million to 1.53 million years old, he discovered that all of the ankle joints resembled those of modern humans rather than those of apes. Chimpanzees flex their ankles 45 degrees from normal resting position. This makes it possible for apes to climb trees with great ease. While walking, humans flex their ankles a maximum of 20 degrees. The human ankle bones are quite distinct from those of apes.

The discovery of a complete fourth metatarsal of A. afarensis at Hadar that shows the deep, flat base and tarsal facets that "imply that its midfoot had no ape-like midtarsal break. These features show that the A. afarensis foot was functionally like that of modern humans." (Carol Ward, William H. Kimbel, Donald C. Johanson, Feb. 2011) The Ward, Kimbel and Johanson study is very interesting. Donald Johanson was the person who announced to the world that Lucy was "ape of the South," or Australopithecus. He has since reconsidered that assessment.

Mary Leakey’s 1979 discoveries in Tanzania added to the evidence that humans walked the earth over 3 million years ago. At Laetoli, about 25 miles south of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Leakey discovered footprints of a man, woman and child created about 3.6 million years ago and preserved under falling ash from the nearby Sadiman volcano. The raised arch and rounded heel of the footprints showed that whoever left these footprints walked as humans today.

Unfortunately, Johanson had already presented Lucy as more ape than human though Mary Leakey would have classified her Laetoli finds as Homo/human. She expressed her regret that “the Laetoli fellow is now doomed to be called Australopithecus afarensis.” (Lucy's muscle reconstruction shows that she walked upright.)

Johanson and Mary Leakey were scheduled to speak at a Nobel Symposium in Sweden in May 1978. The conference honored Mary Leakey, who received a medal from the King of Sweden for her scientific investigations. Mary Leakey received the Golden Linnaean Medal, but also was very embarrassed when Johanson announced the new name - Australopithecus afarensis - for his Afar Triangle finds and included Mary Leakey's 4-million-year-old Laetoli specimen (jawbone LH4) from Tanzania as an exhibit.

Johanson, who was scheduled to speak before Leakey, scooped Mary's speech. Leakey was perturbed that Johanson had named her discoveries, using a nomenclature at odds with what she believed to be the evidence.

The Role of Ego

Ego plays a role in science. This is acknowledged by Dr. John Hawks whose scientific credentials are beyond question. In his article "Arguing about Species: Is It evidence or ego", Hawks wrote:

For some people who follow human evolution news, recognizing “species” is really just about whether you’re a lumper or a splitter. Many people assume that the names of species are about ego, not evidence.

But nature presents us with real challenges, which still cause different scientists to approach the past with different assumptions. Let me give some examples.

Just today, I got notification of a new paper by Walter Neves and colleagues, in which they suggest that Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi are actually South African representatives of Homo habilis. Some people might scoff at this—after all, the Dinaledi fossils are only 236,000–335,000 years old, while the latest-known H. habilis is around 1.6 million. But a young date for some fossils doesn’t bar them from membership in a species with much older fossil representatives. Identity is tested with morphological evidence, not geological age.

Archaic Humans and Modern Humans

Scientific methods of dating are more than adequate when it comes to providing a range of time. However, as more discoveries are made, the ranges can change. For example, generally fossils dating to earlier than 200,000 years ago were regarded as archaic human, though some show features associated with anatomically "modern" humans. 

Hawks noted humans were living in the Lake Turkana-Omo region of East Africa 200,000 years ago. He wrote, "Ancient people were using this area throughout, leaving stone artifacts. It is amazing walking along the exposures, noting the stones that are the marks of ancient human activity. These early modern humans were making fundamentally the same kinds of artifacts that we find across western Eurasia, made by the earliest Neandertals, and across most of the African continent at the same time. There were regional differences in the pattern of toolmaking, but there was a broad technological commonality. This was the cultural background of our ancestors."

There were at least 8 groups of archaic humans about 300,000 years ago. However, the genetic ancestry of modern humans appears to be limited to about 4 of these groups: Homo Erectus, Denisovan, Neanderthal, and Homo Naledi. Archaic human populations were more widely dispersed than is generally recognized.
The genomes of other archaic human ancestors have yet to be sequenced and until that is done, we must not jump to conclusions that are unsubstantiated. This is a daunting task because the recovery of viable DNA from archaic specimens is next to miraculous!

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Jesus Knew He is the Son of God

Jesus' name in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The early Hebrew believed in God Father and God Son and expected the Son of God to appear in the flesh. This is evident in the early texts of the Horite and Sethite Hebrew, some of which date to over 4000 years ago. 

Christianity emerged out of a belief that God made a promise in Eden concerning the Woman who would bring forth the Son of God (Gen. 3:15) and that He has fulfilled that promise in Jesus Christ. The Edenic Promise of Genesis 3:15 foretells how the Woman would bring forth a son who would crush the serpent's head and restore paradise. This early Hebrew expectation was expressed about 1000 years before Psalm 91 in the Pyramid Texts. "Horus has shattered (crushed) the mouth of the serpent with the sole of his foot" (Utterance 388).
A Horite Hebrew song found at the royal complex at Ugarit, speaks of HR (Horus) who descends to the place of the dead "to announce good tidings." The text reads: Hr ešeni timerri duri - "below in the dark netherworld" and has the Hittite phrase Šanizzin ḫalukan ḫalzi - "to announce good tidings". (See Note 2 on page 2012.)

The core beliefs of Christianity concerning the Incarnation by divine overshadowing (Luke 1:35), the Christ's proclamation of good tidings to the dead; the third-day resurrection, and the ascension to the Father can be traced to the beliefs of Abraham and his Hebrew ancestors. This faith predates all the world religions. Christianity's authority is rooted in the great antiquity of its central dogmas which have been preserved by divine oversight and which are found in the canonical Scriptures.

It has been said that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. That claim is false. Jesus never prevaricated about his identity. He claimed his divine Sonship by referring to the Hebrew Scriptures.

Matthew 22:41-46 

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

This passage illustrates what the First Century Jews believed about the Messiah. When Jesus asked the Pharisees what they thought, they replied that Messiah is the son of David. They did not say Messiah (the Christ) is the Son of God because they did not believe that. Jesus, on the other hand, made that claim for himself when he referred to Daniel's vision and to various Psalms.

Daniel chapter 7 describes Daniel's vision of “one like a son of man,” that is, one who is human, yet “coming with the clouds of heaven” as only a Divine One could do. The "son of man" approached the Ancient of Days (Atik Yomin) and was led into his presence (7:13).

Clearly, Jesus identified himself as the fully human and fully divine one whose kingdom has no end. The Pharisees knew the book of Daniel. They recognized what Jesus was saying when he spoke of himself as the "Son of Man".

They also recognized that the citation is from Psalm 110:1 which reads: David says, “The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool'” and they recognized this as a Messianic reference.

Some may have known that this was taken from a text dating to nearly 1000 years before Psalm 110. In the Coffin Texts, we read:
"I am Horus [HR], the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done. I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of 'Red Cloak'." (Passage 148)

Horus is the Greek for the early Horite Hebrew name HR which means "Most High One" in ancient Egyptian. HR was also called the son of the High God. The Father-Son relationship is expressed in the son's recognition of his Father in others. Horus was said to recognize his father in the deceased king. In a text dating to 2200 B.C. we read, "Horus is a soul and he recognizes his Father in you..." (The Pyramid Texts, Utterance 423)

In John 14, Jesus explains to Phillip, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

Luke 20:41–21:4 

Then Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Messiah is the Son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

The Jewish elite were the most highly informed religious leaders of their people. It is difficult to believe that they did not understand what Jesus was claiming about himself. They knew that their Hebrew ancestors believed in God Father and God Son and that they expected the Son of God to appear in the flesh, yet they instructed the people to expect something different. They insisted that Messiah is a descendant of King David, and he would restore Israel's greatness. Their Messiah was too small and a projection of their own pride.

Jesus subdues the Father's enemies so that God's children might live and prosper. This is expressed in Psalm 2:12: "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

John the Forerunner called the Jews to repentance so that they might receive their Messiah. The priest Simeon recognized Jesus as the Messiah and knew that his appearing meant the fall and rising of many in Israel (Luke 2:34). The prophetess Anna also recognized the child Jesus as the Messiah, and she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). These are the three witnesses whose testimony is valid by Jewish law. 1 John 5:8 says: "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

Anna represents the Spirit, John the Forerunner represents the water, and Simeon the priest represents the blood.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Jesus' Ruler-Priest Ancestors


Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth is in Galilee. Nazareth was the home of the eighteenth priestly division, ha·pi·TSETS (Happizzez). Matthew 2 explains that "Nazarene" is derived from the prophecy "He will be called a Nazorean", but this has no source in the Hebrew Bible. The term is from the Akkadian language, the oldest known Semitic language. Na-Zor in Akkadian means "belonging to the Zorites". In 1 Chronicles 2:54, Salma of Judah is called the “father” of the Zorites. 1 Chronicles 2:5 states that Salma is also the "father of Bethlehem". So, the prophecy connects Jesus to both Nazareth and Bethlehem. These are the ancestral settlements of Jesus' Hebrew ancestors.

In 1962 excavators discovered in the ruins of a synagogue at Caesarea a small piece of a list of the twenty-four priestly divisions. This third to fourth-century marble fragment is inscribed with the names of the places where four of the divisions resided, including Nazareth, the residence of Happizzez. Until that discovery there was no record of Nazareth's existence before the sixth century A.D., other than in the New Testament and some Christian literary sources.

Since Jesus grew up in Nazareth, it is not surprising that his closest followers were Galileans. It was to Galilee that Jesus returned after His resurrection. At the Last Supper He informed his disciples: "After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matt. 26:32) This reminds us that Jesus was fully human. He expresses a desire to return home one last time before ascending to the Father.

Luke 2:4 indicates that Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to participate in a census. The Romans kept records of the growth of the Jewish population, and they knew that Jewish identity was (and still is) traced through the mother. Bethlehem was Mary's hometown. Her father, Joachim, was a shepherd-priest of Bethlehem. Mary clearly was of the Hebrew ruler-priest lines. This is acknowledged even by those who hated her, as it is written in the Talmud: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” (Sanhedrin 106a)