Followers

Monday, May 23, 2022

Hebrew at the Ancient Sun Cities



Great Hypostyle Hall in the Karnak temple aligned with the Milky Way


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

The early Hebrew served as temple priests, royal scribes, physicians, and royal craftsmen. Their service at the pillared Sun temples was conditioned by a long-standing tradition received from their ancestors and preserved through a hereditary office. The hereditary transmission of their priestly occupations is a clue that the Hebrew were a caste. Their service at royal temple complexes indicates that they were held in high regard by the early rulers and kingdom builders.

The prestigious royal temple complex of Heliopolis (biblical On) had Hebrew (Abru, Hapiru, 'Apiru) priests. The Harris papyrus speaks of the 'Apriu of Re at Heliopolis. Joseph became affiliated with this royal priest line when he married Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On. Heliopolis is mentioned multiple times in the Old Testament. Isaiah 19:18 says that Heliopolis was one of the five cities in Egypt that swore allegiance to the Lord of Hosts.

The earliest civilizations were established along the great rivers: the Nile, the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Orontes, and the Indus. The Hebrew were dispersed throughout these major water systems well before Abraham’s time. The rulers who controlled trade on the great rivers were served by priests at river shrines and temples. Cargo taxes were assessed on ships that navigated these rivers and were collected at the ports of the various royal settlements. Weights and measurements were taken by the assessors. Taxes were levied on grains, oil, livestock, and luxury items such as linen cloth. It was difficult to avoid paying the assessments because a royal city had a twin settlement on the opposite side of the river, creating a maritime blockade. Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) and Nekheb (Elkab) are examples.

Nekhen on the Nile was one of the early Hebrew shrine cities. The temple there is dedicated to Horus. Excavations at Nekhen and Nekheb confirm that these sites had been inhabited permanently from early Predynastic times onwards. In fact, hundreds of ancient settlements existed the length of the Nile Valley. Many are visible as mounds. Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards (1831-1892) noted these during her travels in Egypt. From her ship these appeared as “sand hills” and she reported that there were hundreds of them, some quite large.

The larger settlements had pillared temples built at the higher elevations. The Horite and Sethite mounds are described in the Ancient Pyramid Texts. The temple priests collected tributes and taxes, managed grain distribution, and distributed to the needy. The temples also were places of healing, called “Houses of Life.”

The early Hebrew physicians were highly specialized in their medical practice. Each treated only one disease. They used many remedies: oil, herbs, spices, honey, minerals, vapors, moldy bread, clay, and saliva. The healings performed by Jesus show that he was not limited to curing only one ailment and he was not relying on training such as the Hebrew physician-priests received at the Houses of Life.

The Sun Cities

The early temples were "oriented" to the rising Sun, the emblem of the High God. The Sun represented the early Hebrew understanding of the Creator as the source and sustainer of life. The early solar symbolism of the Nilotic priests is evident in the stone relief (shown below). 

Baboons were observed to chatter at the crack of dawn. The shen mark appears over the heads of the baboons. It is the symbol for eternity. The baboons flank an "Imperishable Star," a symbol of eternity and immortality. The dung beetle was observed to navigate by the light of the Milky Way which the Nilotes regarded as the path to the eternal Father Ra. At the bottom is an image of the sun rays shedding light on the Earth. The sun's radiance represents it life-giving and life-sustaining power. This was a common image on ancient monuments.



The first temples appeared between 10,000 and 3000 BC. However, in ancient times the average person rarely went to the temples. These were the precincts of rulers and priests. When a commoner went to the temple, it was to seek guidance and/or healing from the priests who served as mediators between the High God and the community. Some people would go up to the High Places to celebrate important festivals and feasts. The feasts were established and upheld by the king and his royal priests.

Solemn fasts were also declared by the king's royal priests. Fasts were declared for the death of a king, member of the king's family, or a high royal official. Fasting was also an act of contrition. The ancient Egyptians and Babylonians fasted as a form of penance, and to deflect what they considered to be divine punishment. Famine, impending war, and natural disasters were regarded as signs of God's wrath.

The ancient temples were built at high elevations by kings and were under their protection. These were places of worship of the High God whose name was associated with the king's realm. Royal priests (ruler-priests) serving at the temples were organized into orders or guilds: lectors, musicians, guards, prophets/seers, sacrificing priests, physicians, purification priests, etc.

In the ancient Egyptian and Ugaritic languages, the word "piru" meant house, shrine, or temple. The O'piru were east-facing Sun temples located at the center of royal Sun Cities. The Sun was the emblem of the Creator among the servants of the Sun temples. Contrary to popular opinion, the priests did not worship the Sun.

Various castes worked at the O'piru. These included priests, metalworkers, tanners, stone masons, vintners, and guards and warriors. These occupations were in service to the deity and to the king who built the temple. The king often served as the high priest of the temple. A seated statue that shows Ramses II in the leopard skin of a priest was found at the temple that he built near Cairo. The temple was found in a suburb of Cairo called Ain Shams. Shams is the Arabic word for Sun.

There were many groups of priests in the ancient world. The deity to which the temple was dedicated was the deity the priests served. Most priests recognized a High God, though the High God was called by different names: Re (meaning "Father" in ancient Egyptian), Shamash (related to the word for Sun, the emblem of the High God), YHWH, Anu, El, etc.

The Hebrew priests were devotees of the High God and his son Horus. Their prestige derived from recognition of the caste’s great antiquity and piety. The Hebrew were known for their purity of life, sobriety, and devotion to God Father and God Son.

Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”



Devotion to Hathor

A temple dedicated to Hathor, the mother of Horus, was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timna by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University. The copper mines at Timna were found at the foothills along the western fringe of the southern Arabah Valley. The smelting works, slag, and flints at this site were found to be identical to those discovered near Beersheba where Abraham spent much of his time.

The metal workers of Timna and Beersheba were kin, and the patroness of their mining and smelting operations was Hathor, the mother of Horus. She was venerated by the Horite and Sethite Hebrew. In his book Timna, Rothenberg concluded that the peoples living in the area were "partners not only in the work but in the worship of Hathor." (Timna, p. 183)



Thousands of ancient images show Hathor "overshadowed" by the Sun, the emblem of the High God. This narrative is proto-Gospel, a foretelling of the Virgin Mary who conceived by divine overshadowing. As the Angel Gabriel explained to her: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most-High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1)

The expectation of the early Hebrew that a woman of their ruler-priest caste would bring forth the Son of God is expressed in Genesis 3:15 and fulfilled in the person of the Virgin Mary. The Hebrew chose marriage partners from their ruler-priest families (caste endogamy). It is certain that Mary was of the ruler-priest caste because even those who hated her admit this in the Talmud. “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” (Sanhedrin 106a)




Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Hebrew were a Caste

 


This smith in Niger performs a mock attack with bellows on the house of a man who attempted to do metal work, thus threatening the metal worker's job security. National Geographic, Aug. 1979 (p. 289)

Dr. Alice C. Linsley


Castes are a strict social stratification that made it impossible to change one’s status in the ancient world. Castes were viewed as having been established by God in the beginning. This belief is expressed in the Bhagavad Gita, a first century A.D. Hindu text. Krishna declares that he has become incarnate, and that “The four castes were created by me.” In the Laws of Manu (ca. 250 B.C.) the castes are elaborated as the primeval divine creation. 

In the Rig Veda, dating to about 3000 years ago, four castes are mentioned. The most prestigious are the Brahmans (priestly and intellectual class); then the Kshatriyas (ruler and warrior class); then the Vaisyas (farmers and artisans) and the lowest caste are the Sudras (the “untouchables”). Many sub-castes exist under these, making it difficult to identify one’s equal or one superior.

Today castes are regarded as negative forms of social segregation and discrimination. However, in the ancient world the caste system protected each group's identity and provided job security. Only potters were allowed to make and sell pots. Only tanners were allowed to skin and sell hides. Only priests were allowed to perform sacred temple duties. The later temple guilds reflect the earlier caste organization.


Why the Hebrew are not named in the Table of Nations (Gen. 10)

It has been noted that the Hebrew are not listed among the peoples named in the Genesis 10 ethnography. The most obvious explanation is that the Hebrew were not an ethnic group, but rather a caste. The Table of Nations does not recognize any castes because it comes from a late source and a time when Jews were widely dispersed among the nations.

Some argue that the Hebrew are the descendants of Eber, but that is not the origin of the term Hebrew. The term comes from the ancient Akkadian word for priest - abru, and the Akkadian term for the caste was abrutu. These priests were dispersed in the service of the early kingdom builders such as Nimrod the Kushite.

The earliest Hebrew ruler-priests named in the Bible are listed in Genesis 4 and 5. These are the descendants of Cain and Seth, whose descendants intermarried (endogamy). This diagram shows that Lamech the Elder's daughter married her patrilineal cousin Methuselah and named their first-born son Lamech after her father according to the cousin bride's naming prerogative



The Hebrew ruler-priests married two wives. The cousin bride was usually the second wife, and she often named her first-born son after her father. In the diagram we find Lamech the Elder (Gen. 4), father of Naamah, and Lamech the Younger (Gen.5), son of Naamah. The cousin bride’s naming prerogative makes it possible to trace descent through the maternal line in the Bible.


The Hebrew have all the traits of a caste

Anthropological study of the biblical Hebrew indicates that the early Hebrew were a caste. Their social structure is characterized by these traits of castes: endogamy, membership by birth, hierarchical status, inherited occupation, appearance such as shaved bodies, distinctive clothing, circumcision, and restraints on eating with persons outside the caste.

The term “commensality” refers to the positive social interactions that are associated with people eating together. Communal meals encourage conversation, increase familiarity, and can lead to closer social, familial, and marital relations.

Commensality is discouraged in castes for various reasons. The ancient Egyptian rulers observed restrictions on eating with those regarded as ritually impure (Gen. 43). The practice of not eating with Gentiles continues today among strict Orthodox Jews. The prohibition is meant to discourage social mingling that can lead to marriage outside the caste.

Exceptions were made in diplomatic relations. Hebrew rulers feasted with non-Hebrew rulers to formalize treaties and covenants. The feasts usually took place at sacred high places and were accompanied by animal sacrifice. Scholars have learned much about ancient treaties through the study of the Mari Tablets (Mesopotamia), the Pact of Esarhaddon (Assyrian), the Amarna Texts (Egyptian), and the Egyptian-Hittite Peace Treaty.

Some of these pacts are not between equals. Many represent covenants between high kings and vassals. That is the case with the covenant made by God in Genesis 15. It is the Lord God himself who passes between the animal halves while Abraham beholds this miraculous vision. The LORD reminds Abraham of all his faithfulness to him: "I am the Lord who brought you here from Ur.” (Gen. 15:7) “I am your Shield; your reward shall be very great." (Gen. 15:1)

 

The antiquity of the Hebrew caste

The Hebrew are probably the oldest known caste. They served at shrines, temples, and mortuary sites at least 1000 years before the caste system of India emerged. The Nilotic Hebrew had a moiety system. The Horite and Sethite Hebrew maintained separate shrines and temples. They were one caste organized into two ritual groups.

During the pre-dynastic period and the Old Kingdom (ca. 2575-2130 BC) the Hebrew priests were organized in groups called "phyles." Each phyle served a two-week duration before returning home. The later organization of priests in Israel appears to have developed from the phyle system.

There were twenty-four divisions or “courses” of priests in Israel. These are listed in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18. Each course served in rotation twice a year for a duration of one week. The priests lived in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Israel. When it came time for the division to go up to Jerusalem, the priests left their homes and returned after their term of service. When not functioning as a priest, these individuals went about their normal routines, tending to their various occupations: stone masons, miners, tomb builders, carpenters, potters, tent makers, shepherds, goatherds, farmers, merchants, and smiths.

Two priestly divisions are of special interest: the eight division of Abijah, and the eighteenth division of Happizzez (1 Chron. 24:15). According to Luke 1:39, Abijah lived near Jerusalem in the "hill country” in a city of Judah. Zacharias, the father of John the Forerunner, belonged to the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5-7). Rabbinic literature claims that at age thirty, “John the Immerser” was commissioned as a priest to serve in the same division as his father.

The division of Happizzez was based in Nazareth. This was the division to which Joseph belonged. Joseph, the husband of Mary, was named for his ancestor Joseph, the son of Mattathias (Luke 3:24-25). Mary, the mother of Jesus, was Joseph’s cousin bride. She was of a priestly division also. Her father Joachim was a priest of Nazareth. He married Anna, the daughter of Matthan, a priest of Bethlehem. Matthan had three daughters: Mary, Zoia, and Anna. Mary and Zoia resided in Bethlehem. Zoia was the mother of Elizabeth, and the grandmother of John the Forerunner. Anna miraculously conceived in her old age and gave birth to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Matthan is related to the names Mattatha, Matthat, Mattathias, Mattaniah, Mattai, and Matthew. The name, with its variant spellings, appears five times in Luke’s list of Jesus’ ancestors (Luke 3:23-38). The name derives from the word for “gift.” Mattaniah means “gift of God” and is a name found among priests in I Chronicles 25:3-4. The name also may refer to the giving of wisdom which is “Maat” in ancient Egyptian. A priest named Maath is listed in Luke 3:26.

All these ancestors of Jesus were high-ranking individuals in their communities and heirs to the customs of their ruler-priest forebearers. The earliest of those ancestors are named in the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5. Their historicity has been demonstrated through kinship analysis.


Related reading: Abraham the HebrewHebrew, Israelite, or Jew?; Hebrew Rulers With Two Wives; Horite and Sethite MoundsHebrew at Ancient Sun Cities


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Anxiety and Guilt Over Spilled Blood


9000-year handprints.
Las Cuevas de las Manos on Rio Pinturas, in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. 


Alice C. Linsley


Anthropological and archaeological evidence indicates that early human populations experienced anxiety about bloodshed. They observed that blood loss from injuries could lead to death. Blood was visible when flowing from a wound or during childbirth, so blood was conceived as the substance of life

The shedding of blood appears to have been a moral issue of the first magnitude. Hunters and warriors were responsible for their acts of bloodshed. Blood appeared to animate and taking that vital power from another living creature could bring a curse upon those responsible for the shedding of blood. Doubtless, there was an element of anxiety about blood. Blood anxiety required the ministrations of priests and shamans

Blood anxiety: In every primitive society that has been studied by anthropologists there is a belief that there is power in blood and that this power is potentially dangerous. This anxiety about shed blood is widely diffused, evidence that it is very ancient. The need for relief of blood anxiety and blood guilt is one explanation for the development of the office of priest.

Among the early Hebrew bloodshed that resulted in death brough guilt to the killer. This is expressed in Genesis 4:10-11 where the Lord said to Cain, "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand."

Pontius Pilate, having been warned by his wife, attempted to relieve himself of blood guilt when he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." (Matt. 27:24)

In response, the Jewish rabble-rousers who demanded Jesus' crucifixion declared, "His blood be on us and on our children!" They foolishly accepted guilt for Jesus' blood upon themselves and their children. This testifies to their seared consciences. They disdained their own tradition in which bloodguilt attaches for generations (II Kings 9:26) and can extend to the one's city (Jer. 26:5), nation (Deut. 21:8), and land (Deut. 24:4).

The biblical concept of bloodguilt derives from the belief that deeds generate consequences and that sin, in particular, is a danger to the sinner. The term for bearing bloodguilt damo bo, or damo bero'sho, meant "his blood in him/on his head" (Josh. 2:19; Ezek. 33:5), and in cases of legal execution the formula mot yumat damav bo (Lev. 20:9-16) means that the blood of the guilty remains on his own person and does not attach to his executioners.


Bloodshed: The first moral law

The Bible addresses the shedding of blood from beginning to end. In Genesis, God takes the life of animals to clothe the man and the woman in the hides. God becomes the first tahash (tanner).

Abel's blood cries to God from the ground with an implicit demand for justice.

Genesis 9:4-6 says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in His image did God make man."

In the sacrificial system of the Israelites, atonement for sin requires blood sacrifice. This was the work of the sacrificing priests who themselves had to be purified by ritual washing before and after the sacrifices (Exodus 29).

Among ancient peoples, religious laws governed every aspect of the community’s life. The laws found in Leviticus and in the ancient Vedic Brahmanas are examples. Here we read instructions for how lepers are to be put outside the community and restored to the community after they are healed. Many of the laws govern family relations, forbidding incest and adultery. Others establish rules for the proper treatment of slaves, foreigners, widows, and orphans.

The code of Ur-Nammu from the reign of King Shulgi dates to 2095-2047 BC. It originally held 57 laws which covered family and inheritance law, rights of slaves and laborers, and agricultural and commercial tariffs. This code prescribes compensation for wrongs, as in this example: "If a man knocks out the eye of another man, he shall weigh out one-half a mina of silver." 

Many laws concern purity. It is clear than blood both pollutes and covers pollution through propitiation.

Of special interest is a Hittite ritual for purifying a house where a person has perjured himself, or has shed blood, or someone has made a threat or spoken a curse, or someone having shed blood or having committed perjury has entered, or someone has practiced sorcery, or bloodshed has occurred in the house.

The Hittites were related to the biblical Hebrew. These peoples share common ancestry. Heth was an ancestor of the Hittites (Gen. 10:15). He was one of Ham's grandsons, and the lines of Ham and Shem intermarried (endogamy). The Hittites of Canaan recognized Abraham the Hebrew as a high-ranking kinsman (Gen. 23:5).

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Oldest Known Religion

 


Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917)

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

British anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor proposed that religion evolved in stages from animism to polytheism to monotheism. He attempted to trace this evolution of religion to support his theory. The relationship between "primitive" societies, and "civilized" societies was a key theme in 19th century anthropological literature.

In his two-volume work Primitive Culture (1871) Tylor posed polytheism as an intermediate stage that coincided with the emergence of distinctions of rank: "As chiefs and kings are among men, so are the great gods among the lesser spirits. They differ from the souls and minor spiritual beings which we have as yet chiefly considered, but the difference is rather of rank than of nature" (vol. 2, p. 334).

Animism is the belief that significant animals, plants, rocks, streams and sacred places possess vitality/anima and participate in some way in spiritual experiences. Animistic communities recognize blood as the primary substance of life. Blood was symbolically represented by red ocher and red ocher burials were universal expressions of the hope for life after death.

Polytheistic religions recognize multiple deities, though often one is ranked higher than the others (henotheism). Polytheism describes late Egyptian religion which was highly syncretistic. However, elements of the earlier belief in God Father (Re) and God Son (Horus) remained in Egyptian religion.

Tylor and his contemporaries Herbert Spencer and James Frazer sought to align evolutionary theory with their perceptions of the development of religions. Their writings presented "primitive" populations as intellectually inferior with childish beliefs in magic, and incapable of monotheism. In fact, the data indicates that exactly the opposite is true: the more primitive the population's lifestyle and the more closely connected to the earth for survival, the more likely the population is to believe in a beneficent Creator God.

The dogmatism of early evolutionary anthropologists appears to have blinded them to the evidence that belief in a supreme High God predates polytheism. Long before the early kingdoms rose in the Ancient Near East, populations living in the Upper Nile Valley believed in God Father. 


Andrew Lang (1844-1912)


Against the evolutionary anthropologists stood Andrew Lang, a student of Tylor who contended that the historical evidence reveals that “primitive” peoples tended to monotheism or henotheism. Lang concluded in 1898 that the idea of the Supreme Being, the High God or "All Father" existed among many primitive tribes prior to Western contact. Comparative studies of creation stories confirm this

While studying tribal peoples in northern Nigeria, Dr. Charles Kraft asked a local chief, "What did your people believe about God before the missionaries came?" The old chief told this story:
"Once God and his son lived close to us. They walked, talked, ate, and slept among us. All was well then. There was no thievery or fighting or running off with another man's wife like there is now. But one day God's son ate in the home of a careless woman. She had not cleaned her dishes properly. God's son ate from a dirty dish, got sick, and died. This, of course, made God very angry. He left in a huff and hasn't been heard from since." (Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture, Orbis Books, 1990, p. 153)

The German ethnologist Wilhelm Schmidt (1868–1954) coined the term "Urmonotheism" to speak of the primitive worship of a High God as opposed to a pantheon of gods. In his 12-volume Der Ursprung der Gottesidee (The Origin of the Idea of God), Schmidt argued that the earliest religions were monotheistic or henotheistic with a conception of the High God as dwelling above in the sky or heavens.

When I taught World Religions the required text taught that the oldest known religion is Hinduism. However, the evidence of ancient texts, anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics does not support that assertion. The rudimentary Messianic Faith is expressed in the religion of the Horite and Sethite Hebrew and can be studied in such ancient documents as the Coffin Texts, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and the Pyramid Texts. Many of the Pyramid Texts predate the oldest Hindu texts by at least 1200 years.

Contrary to another popular opinion, monotheism was not invented by Pharaoh Akhenaton and transmitted to the Jews through Moses. Moses was the recipient of a much earlier tradition that should be identified as "Messianic" since it held that God Father had a divine son. 

Winfried Corduan's book In the Beginning: A Fresh Look at the Case for Original Monotheism argues that the evolutionary paradigm held by early secularist anthropologists such as Tylor is spectacularly wrong, and informed anthropologists know it. 

Why is the erroneous theory perpetuated? Probably because the dominance of evolutionary paradigms has not yet passed, and only a few are willing to acknowledge that belief in God Father and God Son is the oldest known religion.




Monday, April 11, 2022

Funerary Rites and the Hope of Resurrection

 

An angelic being holds the Shen sign representing eternal life over the deceased king.


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Some early Hebrew priests were responsible for embalming, funerals, and the maintenance of burial sites. They presided over mortuary rituals and recited prayers to God Father (Ra/Anu) and God Son (Horus/Enki) while wrapping the mummies. Some Hebrew priests were retained to offer daily prayers for deceased members of royal families who maintained elaborate mortuary sites. These priests were paid by a family to perform the daily offerings at the tomb of their departed loved ones. 
 
Examples of these priestly prayers are found in the Pyramid Tests (2400 BC) and the Coffin Texts (2000 BC). These texts speak of the hope of bodily resurrection. A Horite song found at the royal complex at Ugarit, speaks of Horus descending to the place of the dead "to announce good tidings." Horus is described as rising on the third day (The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, Utterance 667).

The Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead are important sources of information about the prayers, beliefs, and funeral practices of the early Nilotic Hebrew and the Mesopotamian Hebrew priests.

Aylward M. Blackman observed that the mouth opening rite was performed on behalf of deceased rulers in Egypt and Babylonia. (See Blackman, A.M., “The Rite of Opening the Mouth”, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 10, No. 1 Ap., 1924, pp. 47-59.)

The Pyramid Texts describe the priestly rituals by which the deceased ruler is purified (lustration texts) by holy water and the censing of the body and tomb. It also describes the mouth opening rite or the splitting apart of the lips of the dead that he might breathe, eat, and speak. Scholars have noted the parallels to Psalm 51. The parallels include:

Ritual washing with special herbs (verses 2 and 7).

Restoration of broken bones (verse 8).

“Lord, open thou my lips" (verse 15). 

Sacrifices (verses 16, 17, and 19).


The earliest textual evidence of belief in bodily resurrection is found in the Nilotic texts of these early Hebrew priests. They recited funeral prayers and performed rituals on behalf of the deceased kings in hope that the king would rise from the dead.

The expectation of a Righteous Ruler who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality has been found to be a widespread and rooted in deep antiquity. It can be traced to the Nilotic belief in bodily resurrection. According to St. Augustine "the Egyptians alone believe in the resurrection, as they carefully preserved their dead bodies." ("Death, burial, and rebirth in the religions of antiquity", Jon Davies, Routledge, 1999, p. 27)

The Egyptian Coffin Texts and Pyramid Texts provide a great deal of information about Horus, the divine son of Ra. In the funerary rite the priest addresses the deceased king, saying: "Horus is a soul and he recognizes his Father in you..." (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 423)

In the Coffin Texts, the king is to be immortal in his flesh, expressed by his eating and drinking. The kmhw bread of Horus which I have eaten" (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 338) is the food of immortality. The Egyptian word km means to bring to an end, to complete, or fulfill, and hw refers to the heavenly temple or mansion of the firmament above. The Akkadian variant is khenfu cakes which are mentioned in the ancient Code of Ani.

It appears that the "kmhw bread of Horus" is what the Church Fathers regard as the one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death.

Concerning himself, Jesus said that "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:53-54).

Egyptologist Louis Vico Žabkar argues that the Nilotic concept of the "ba" is not a part of the person but is the person himself. The idea of a purely immaterial existence was entirely foreign to the Horite and Sethite Hebrew. They were confident that the body and spirit could be united after death and thus the "second death" could be avoided.

The king that rises from the grave leads his people to immortality. Heavenly recognition for the ancient Hebrew was never an individual prospect. Heavenly recognition came to the people through the righteousness of their king and ruler-priests. There was hope that the king would rise on the third day and lead his people to immortality. This processional language appears in reference to the Messiah, who has the power to deliver captives from the grave to the throne of heaven (Ps. 68:18; Ps. 7:7; Eph. 4:8). Paul speaks of Christ leading captives in his royal train.

The extent of the Risen King's reign is vast. In his resurrection body he is to "traverse the Mound of Horus of the Southerners" and "traverse the Mound of Horus of the Northerners." (PT Utterances 536 and 553) 

The Risen King restores his settlements and cities, and opens doors to the Westerners, Easterners, Northerners and Southerners (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 587). He is to "betake himself to the Mansion of Horus which is in the firmament" (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 539).

The Risen King unites the peoples, restores the former state of blessedness, and joins heaven and earth.


Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Canonical Texts on Bad Guys

 

Schottenstein Edition of the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli).


All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, “A vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.” Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. (Psalm 41:7-9)


Gossip and rumors are the work of people who invest in "who's worse than me" thinking. Making someone out as the bad guy gives perverse pleasure to some people. It happens in Bible interpretation also. The Israelites are posed as righteous though they regularly disobeyed and committed evil acts. The Deuteronomist's advocacy of genocide against non-Israelites is reprehensible, yet many attempt to justify it on the basis of the good guy-bad guy fallacy. In reality, both righteous and evil persons are found in every society, community, and population. God's covenant with the Israelites does not permit them to destroy places and images sacred to their Hebrew ancestors, to level settlements of Hebrew clans other than Jacob's, or to commit genocide

Some biblical figures are posed as evil though the biblical data does not support that view. Cain is labeled bad and Abel good. Noah is described as righteous, yet he curses his descendants after falling into a drunken stupor. Ham is labeled bad and Shem good. Esau is the bad guy and Jacob the good guy. The pattern reveals the influence of the Talmud and ignorance of the canonical Scriptures.

The Talmud is the source of many "bad guy" portrayals, some of which enter the New Testament writings. We note that the author of Hebrews cast Esau as "immoral" and "irreligious" in Hebrews 12:16, yet Esau, Isaac's proper heir, is said to be the recipient of blessings in Hebrews 11:20.

A comment posted at the Facebook group The Bible and Anthropology is instructive. Dave Anderson wrote: "Jacob acted horribly in this story. Esau has been out hunting for food for the benefit of his family, his brother has food but refuses to give it to him unless he makes an unconscionable contract. A proposal Esau must have taken for a joke. And defrauding his father with a cheap trick to steal the birthright? And after all that Esau forgave his brother. It's clear to me who the good guy in this story was."

Some New Testament writers were influenced by the Talmud in the way they present certain Old Testament characters: Cain, Esau, Korah, and Balaam are examples. Cain is remembered as a murderer, but Moses and David are not. Esau is posed as wicked though he forgives the deception of Jacob and welcomes him back to Edom. Moses’ half-brother Korah is remembered only for his challenge to Moses’ authority and not for his ritual purity, and Balaam becomes the archetype of a foolish false prophet.

Much of the argument developed by the writer of the book of Hebrews relies on rabbinic thought, not on historical realities. In Hebrew 7:14, the writer recognizes that the Messiah is from the tribe of Judah and a descendant of David, but he seems unaware that both Judah and David are descendants of an ancient caste of ruler-priests. He states that the former priests did not take oaths (Heb. 7:20-28) and yet there are historical documents that attest to oaths of office among the Horite and Sethite Hebrew priests. These oaths of office declared their loyalty to the High King who they served, and such oaths were declared before the high priests of the various royal temple complexes. Temples played an important role in resolving legal and personal disputes. 

In an oath taken before a priest of the Temple of Hathor on Dec. 6, 127 BC, a royal servant Petasatet declared his innocence in the case of cloth theft. An oath was taken as a solemn appeal to divine authority represented by the high king. One type asserts a truth and is by nature a declaration such as that of Petasatet. A second type makes a promise pertaining to future actions. (See John A. Widson, “The Oath in Ancient Egypt”.)
 
The writer of Hebrews admits that many of the religious practices of the early priests are not familiar to him. Of the Ark of the Covenant, the mysterious manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, he explains, “Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” (Heb. 9:5) The primary influence on his thought appears to be the Talmud, the texts that defined Jewish identity by the time of Jesus. The Talmud encourages Jews to place it above the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. Consider this: “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah." (Talmud Erubin 21b) "He who transgresses the words of the scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the law." (Sanhedrin X, 3, f.88b)

Even Jesus' closest disciples had to be shown that Abraham and their Hebrew ancestors believed in God Father and God Son. John explains, “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.” (John 12:16, cf. Luke 18:34) 

The same illumination took place on the road to Emmaus. The disciples said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32)


The Messianic Faith of Abraham is not Judaism

Judaism and the religion of the ancient Hebrews should not be regarded as equivalent since they have different historical contexts. Judaism does not represent the faith of Abraham the Hebrew. Jews recognize that what Abraham believed and what is believed by Jews today are not the same. Rabbi Stephen F. Wise, former Chief Rabbi of the United States, explains: "The return from Babylon and the introduction of the Babylonian Talmud mark the end of Hebrewism and the beginning of Judaism.”

Rabbi Morris Kertzer (American Jewish Committee) has written, “The Talmud is the very foundation of Jewish life. It is taught to Jewish children as soon as they are old enough to read.”

SUNY history professor, Robert Goldberg, writes; “The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live.”

When we set aside the disputations of the rabbis and read the canonical texts objectively, we recognize that all these biblical persons are sinners in need of redemption and forgiveness. In I Samuel 24:4-12 we read that David refused to kill King Saul when he had the opportunity to do so because he would not raise his hand against God's anointed. Yet later, David arranged the death of Uriah, one of his own leading warriors.

David was angry with Saul for hunting him like a criminal because David had served Saul with respect. Though David refused to lay his hand on God's anointed, he saw Saul as his enemy and sought God's aid in bringing about Saul's destruction. David expressed his hatred in Psalm 109. 

C.S. Lewis wrote: "Psalm 109 is as unabashed a hymn of hate as was ever written. The poet has a detailed programme for his enemy which he hopes God will carry out. The enemy is to be placed under a wicked ruler. He is to have 'an accuser' perpetually at his side: whether an evil spirit, a 'Satan', as our Prayer Book version renders it, or merely a human accuser - a spy, an agent provocateur, a member of the secret police (v. 5). If the enemy attempts to have any religious life, this, far from improving his position, must make him even worse: 'let his prayer be turned into sin' (v. 6). And after his death - which had better, please, be early (v. 7) - his widow and children and descendants are to live in unrelieved misery (vv. 8-12).

What makes our blood run cold, even more than the unrestrained vindictiveness, is the writer's untroubled conscience. He has no qualms, scruples, or reservations; no shame. He gives hatred free rein - encourages and spurs it on - in a sort of ghastly innocence. He offers these feelings, just as they are, to God, never doubting that they will be acceptable: turning straight from the maledictions to 'Deal thou with me, O Lord God, according unto thy Name: for sweet is thy mercy' (v. 20)." (C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections)

When we focus on the canonical texts alone, the good guys do not always seem righteous, and the bad guys often appear righteous. There is no cause for spiritual pride, and no justified claim to moral superiority. Before God's righteousness all are filthy beggars. Two days before he died, Martin Luther wrote, “We are beggars, it is true.”




Monday, March 28, 2022

Series on Genesis 1-11

 


This Naqada period pot dates to 3200 B.C.


Genesis 1-11 is full of anthropologically significant data. This series looks at those chapters through the lens of anthropology and presents a detailed picture of Abraham's ancestors. I hope that readers of this blog will enjoy this series. I look forward to reading your comments and addressing your questions.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley


An Anthropologist Looks at Genesis 1

The phrase "In the beginning" is common in African creation stories and songs.

Genesis 2

God created the first parents. Adam and Eve are the founding parents of the early Hebrew caste.


Genesis 3

The serpent as an enemy who is trampled under His feet.


Genesis 4

The first verifiably historical persons in the Bible as shown through kinship analysis.


Genesis 5

Endogamy among the early Hebrew. The lines of Cain and Seth intermarried. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried. The lines of Abraham and Nahor intermarried.


Genesis 6

The Proto-Saharan ruler Noah and his sons.


Genesis 7

Noah saves his royal ménagerie.


Genesis 8

Boats and cows of the Proto-Saharans.


Genesis 9

The father's curse does not negate the Heavenly Father's covenant of blessing.


Genesis 10

An early ethnography with no mention of castes, evidence of a late source.


Genesis 11

The movement of Abraham's ancestors out of Africa. The Hebrew ruler-priest caste spread the rudimentary Messianic Faith wherever they dispersed.


Related reading: Who Were the Horite Hebrew?; Horite and Sethite Mounds