Thursday, August 17, 2017

Afro-Asiatic Influences on the Deuteronomist

Map shows the dispersion of the peoples in Haplogroup R1b. 
Among these are the rulers of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion.

Alice C. Linsley

I receive many questions about articles posted at Just Genesis and Biblical Anthropology. Here is a question that brings into focus the development of the Hebrew canon, or Old Testament.
Alice, I am interested in how Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy were influenced by the Afro-Asiatic Dominion. I can't find discussion of this at either of your blogs. Thanks.
Articles pertaining to this discussion are linked at the bottom of this post under related reading. In this post, I provide definitions of terms and explain how the Deuteronomist Historian is rooted in the religion of the Afro-Asiatic rulers, and where he departs from that religion.

To understand the Afro-Asiatic influences on the Deuteronomist, we must note the incongruities between the contexts of Abraham, the Horite Hebrew in Edom, and the later Deuteronomist whose theological perspective expresses the wounds of the Babylonian captivity.

 "The Afro-Asiatic Dominion"

Archaeogenetics has shown conclusively that a vast dispersion of Proto-Saharan peoples dominated the archaic world. These are in Haplogroup R, traced by Y-chromosome DNA, passed through the fathers. Another term for peoples in this group is "Euroasian" but this is misleading because the point of origin of these peoples is Africa.

The range of the dispersed Proto-Saharans extended from the Benue Trough and Lake Chad, to the Nile Valley, the Indus Valley, Southern Europe, and parts of Asia during the Holocene Wet Period. This represents a late movement of peoples out of Africa; a period of kingdom building by Afro-Asiatic rulers. I have termed this expanse the “Afro-Asiatic Dominion” because the words spoken by these peoples would have roots in the Afro-Asiatic language family. This is the oldest language group.

The Afro-Asiatic Dominion is older than the Axial Age (c. 900-200 BC) and the Vedic Age (c. 1500-500 BC). The rulers of the Dominion were the earliest kingdom builders on earth. These were the builders of huge stone temples such as that found at Göbekli Tepe, the two Ġgantija temples at Gozo in Malta, the stone temple at Baalbek in Lebanon, and the great pillared temples of the Nile.

The term "dominion" is appropriate because these territories were ruled by kingdom builders who shared a common religious tradition and common ancestors. They also had a common conception of divine appointment of rulers by the overshadowing of the sun. The sun was the emblem or symbol of the Creator God. The Deuteronomist points to this in the story of the bronze serpent on Moses's staff. This would have been a coiled serpent, a solar orb. The people were to look to the Creator's symbol for deliverance. The same image is used to represent the authority of bishops appointed to rule in the Church.

Bishop's crozier

The rulers of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion are the rulers of the archaic world (BC 1000-2000). In the book of Genesis they are called the "mighty men of old" and are described as "heroes" and "men of renown." In Genesis 6:2, these rulers were presented as "sons of the gods" (elohiym), which means they ruled after their deified fathers. The deified rulers were believed to ruler by divine appointment, as with Moses. The Deuteronomist seeks to strengthen the authority of Moses in Exodus 22:28: "Thou shalt not revile the gods (elohiym), nor curse the ruler of thy people."

The burial practices of the archaic rulers reflect a common conception of the body and spirit, and the hope for immortality. The destiny of their people was believed to depend on the destiny of their ruler in the next life. Examples include the royal tombs of Alaca Hüyük in Anatolia (Turkey). At Horoztepe, in northern Anatolia, they built royal tombs dating from 2400-2200 BC. These are richly furnished with finely crafted artifacts in bronze, silver, and gold.

The mighty men of old built shrine cities at high elevations, temples, palaces, pyramids, and circles of standing stones. These "high places" were centers of religious ritual. In southern Anatolia, royal stone masons built Catalhoyuk beginning around 7500 BC. The word catal means fork and hoyuk means mound. This settlement was built on two mounds (east and west) and a channel of the Çarşamba River once flowed between them. The houses excavated in Catalhoyuk date between 6800-5700 B.C.

The Deuteronomist encourages the destruction of all high places except Jerusalem. The targets to be destroyed were the bamot. Bamot is the plural form of the word bamah, meaning high or exalted. (The word appears in names like Oholibamah and Obamah.) The Deuteronomist mentions the destruction of Jericho, a pre-pottery Neolithic (PPN) settlement (10,500 to 9,500 BC) whose prestige as a fortified shrine city surpassed that of Jerusalem.

 These peoples maintained settlements at sheltered high places (tamana, kar, or oppidum) near water sources. These were the Sun Cities of the archaic world. At the center of these royal cities were the temple, the palace, housing for priests, and quarters for the royal guard. The temple typically was aligned to the solar arc and was called O'piru, which means "house of the Sun."

The sun temples include those found at Göbekli Tepe and Nekhen. Nekhen (called Hierakonpolis by the Greeks), is the oldest temple known to have association with Abraham's ancestors. The temple was located on the Nile, making it easy for temple officials to weigh and measure shipped cargo, and assess tolls on the vessels that docked there.

The priests who served at the ancient shrine cities were called 'apiru, ha'piru or Ha'biru. The English word Hebrew is a variant of Ha'biru. Abraham is called "Hebrew" (Ha'biru) in Genesis 14:13. The Harris papyrus speaks of 'apriu of Re at Heliopolis, the shrine of the Sun. Plato, who studied under a Horite priest at Memphis for thirteen years, wrote "Tell me of the God of On, which was, is and shall be."

Revising biblical history

The Deuteronomist is the final editorial hand on the Old Testament, especially Genesis through First and Second Kings. In these books there is a tendency to religious extremism expressed in willingness to commit genocide and iconoclasm. YHWH alone is to be worshiped, though the Creator was known by other names among archaic peoples. The people are to live in obedience to the prophet Moses (Deut. 18:18). Moses and the Law are to be the Jew's primary authorities. Jerusalem is to be the sole center of true worship, and authority over all aspects of Jewish life is vested in the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomist revises the history of Abraham's Horite Hebrew people to present a narrative about Moses and the Law that serves to strengthen Jewish identity.The focus is shifted from the archaic rulers and their hope of a Righteous Ruler who would be conceived by divine overshadowing, to the Jerusalem cult. The Deuteronomist seeks centralized worship at the Jerusalem temple, and the reshaping of the Passover and Tabernacles into national observances. He promotes the power of the religious rulers in Jerusalem, and Israel’s rightful possession of the land. This is the beginning of political Zionism.

The Deuteronomist makes reference to the things of old, such as the tabernacle at Shiloh and the Ark of the Covenant, but there is no evidence that the Deuteronomist has first hand experience of these things. In his narrative, anthropologically significant details are entirely lacking. The editorial work of the Deuteronomist is from a much later time, the Neo-Babylonian Period (c. 700-300 BC). 

The Deuteronomist writes from a context that is about 1500 years after the time of Abraham. This perspective does not align with the historical, archaeological, linguistic, and anthropological data concerning Abraham. It ignores his R1b cattle-herding ancestors who lived 4500 years ago in central Africa. The result is a disconnection between the Deuteronomist's portrait of Abraham and the earlier portrait of Abraham as a Horite Hebrew (Habiru) whose ruler-priest ancestors are named in Genesis 4 and 5. Among them are many righteous men: Methuselah, Enoch and Noah.

The Deuteronomist would have us believe that Abraham's ancestors did not worship the true God. Against all the evidence, he asserts in Joshua 24:2: “In olden times, your forefathers – Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods.” This simply is not true. Terah and his father Nahor were Horite Hebrew rulers who acknowledged the supreme Creator God whose symbol was the sun. Moses is one of their descendants, and the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Moses's family is identical to that of Abraham's father and grandfather.

A central theme of the Deuteronomist is that God abandons Israel because He is angry. He allows His chosen ones to fall before their enemies and to be taken as captives. The Deuteronomist seeks to explain why God would allow his appointed people to be carried into exile. The explanation given is the moral failure of the people and their leaders. Moses's half-brother Korah was a priest who, according to the Deuteronomist, died in the wilderness after he challenged Moses's authority. Moses's other brother was Aaron, also a priest. The Deuteronomist would have us believe that Aaron too failed in righteousness when he created an image of the divine calf overshadowed by the sun, a Messianic reference among Abraham's cattle-herding Nilotic ancestors.

The Deuteronomist urges the smashing of images: "... thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire." (Deuteronomy 7:5) Rulers who comply are praised. In the ancient world, the horse was associated with the sun and the Creator. During his reform, Josiah banned horses as a religious symbol. II Kings 23:11 reports that "He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun at the entrance to the House of the Lord."

Biblical rulers who did not kill their enemies and did no smash images are presented a moral failures who bring divine wrath upon their people. For the Deuteronomist that wrath is concretely expressed in the harsh treatment the Jews received at the hands of their Babylonian captors.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Theotokos and Weaving

Orthodox icon shows Mary, the Mother of God, weaving purple thread

Alice C. Linsley

Long before Christianity a connection existed between Hathor, the mother of God's son, and weaving. Hathor was the patroness of weavers. On ancient monuments of the Nile she is shown giving gifts of clothing. In spell 486 of the Coffin Texts, she receives a dress specially woven for her. This is the tribute of weavers who venerated her. The spell is entitled: “Weaving the Dress for Hathor.” In return, the weavers sought the protection and intercession of the mother of the Creator's son.

For the Horite Hebrew (Habiru) this image of Hathor would have held special significance. They were devotees of the Creator and his son, Horus, and they lived in expectation of the Righteous Ruler who would overcome death, leading his people to immortality.

The earliest Messianic reference in the Bible is Genesis 3:15. It concerns the Mother and the Son. She shall bring forth the Seed of God who will crush the serpent's head. Note this was expressed in the Pyramid Texts about 1000 years before the Psalms were written.

"Horus has shattered (tbb, crushed) the mouth of the serpent with the sole of his foot (tbw)" - Pyramid Texts, Utterance 388 (681)

In the Coffin Texts, Hathor is also given a role in defeating the serpent (spells 370, 375, and 378).

The connection of Mother and Son is also expressed in how both are pierced. Jesus was pierced in his side and Mary in her heart.

The Horite Hebrew of Edom

Seir of Edom is designated as "Seir the Horite" in Genesis 36. Many of the greatest rulers of the Bible have Edomite blood. Among them are Abraham, David and Herod the Great. Genesis 36:31 speaks to the antiquity of the Edomite rulers: "These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the children of Israel.” 

Edom was Abraham’s territory. As a Horite Hebrew ruler he maintained two wives in separate settlements on a north-south axis. Sarah resided in Hebron, and Keturah, his second wife, resided in the area of Beersheba. His wives’ settlements, with their royal guards, servants, handmaids, flocks and slaves, constituted the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham’s territory. This territory was entirely in the land of Edom, south of Judah.

The data of Genesis indicates that Abraham controlled the territory from the wells of Gerar, where he formed a treaty with the local chief, to the waters of Engedi. In other words, Abraham’s territory was ancient Edom. The Greeks called this region Idumea, meaning "land of red people." Both Esau and David are described as red.

The Ark rested in the house of Obed-Edom in the region of Jaar, the Weaver

Israel’s first king was Saul, from Gibeah. He was a “son” of Benjamin. Ben-jamin means “son of the south” and likely refers to the land of Edom. As a sign of Saul’s royal status, the Ark with the symbols of Moses, was placed in Gibeah. After David became king, the ark was brought "from the house of Abinadab, that was in Gibeah” to Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:1-12). However, for three months the Ark rested in David’s hometown of Bethlehem in the house of Obed-Edom. The designation of Obed-Edom is significant. It traces David’s lineage by his father’s line and his mother’s line. Obed was David’s paternal grandfather. His mother was Edomite.

The Ark was guarded by the priests of Bethlehem until David was able to have it moved to "the city of David," a 12-acre ridge south of the Temple Mount (II Sam. 5:9). Psalm 132:1-7 makes it clear that David had the Ark moved from Gibeah to Bethlehem, a Horite settlement (I Chronicles 4:4; 1 Chronicles 2:54).
O Lord, remember in David's favor
his extreme self-denial,
how he swore to the Lord,
vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
'I will not enter my house,
nor will I mount my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes,
or slumber to my eyelids
until I find a place for the Lord,
an abode [mishkanot- footstool] for the Mighty One of Jacob.'
We heard it was in Ephrath [Ephratha - Bethlehem]
we came upon it in the region of Jaar the Weaver. (Hebrew Study Bible, p. 424)
II Samuel 21:19 states that Jaar was from Bethlehem. 

Iconographic evidence from the Christian Era

The connection between the Mother of God and weaving is found in non-canonical books as well as in canonical books. Chapter 9 of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew describes how Mary and the other virgins were spinning thread in the Temple compound. Carrying a pitcher, Mary went out to a fountain where the angel said to her, "Blessed art thou, Mary; for in thy womb thou hast prepared an habitation for the Lord." The next day the angel appears to her again while she is spinning. The Annunciation at the fountain is depicted on this 13th-century fresco in Croatia.

A 4th-century sarcophagus in Sicily has a panel that appears to convey the Annunciation at a fountain. This is likely the earliest context of the Annunciation, and it aligns with Christian iconographical and the Biblical data. In the Biblical narrative, royal brides are met at wells and fountains.

In the West, some early images show seated Mary spinning purple thread or with the thread in a basket. Examples include a 5th-century mosaic in Rome and a textile fragment from the 8th or 9th century. 

Horus was conceived when Hathor was overshadowed by the Sun. Likewise, in Luke 1:35, we read how Gabriel told Mary, "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." It appears that Messianic expectation is much older than Judaism. Indeed, Christianity is the only true Messianic Faith on earth today. Judaism rejects Jesus as Messiah, and the Quran denies that God has a Son.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Serpent on Moses's Staff

Alice C. Linsley

The serpent in the Bible is a neutral symbol. In some references the serpent is an enemy to be trampled under foot (Gen. 3:15). In other references the serpent is to be lifted up (Num. 21 :4-9). The serpent in Eden is said to be wiser than all the other creatures and it tempts the woman to transgress. Jesus urges his disciples to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as lambs.

How can a single entity have two apparently opposite qualities, both good and evil? It is a mystery. Yet it is as real as a mobius strip, and as mysterious as the Biblical merisms of good-evil, night-day and male-female.

mobius strip

The Michelangelo painting above is found in the Sistine Chapel. The bodies poisoned by the snakes occupy the right side, and spread toward the center. The survivors on the left have their their eyes and arms posed imploringly toward the salvific image of the bronze serpent. The way the serpent wraps around the staff is an innovation based on the Greco-Roman portrayal of the rod of Asclepius, a symbol of healing. The staff with the bronze serpent held by Moses would have been a coiled bronze disk. It would have reflected the sun's brilliance.

Bone box of the high priest Joseph Caiaphas

The solar imagery that pertained to the Creator took various forms, as shown in these 2000-year bullae from Celtic Spain. The 6-prong solar rosette on the top right is the merkaba that appears on the ossuaries of the Hebrew ruler-priests, such as the one shown above.

The bronze serpent on the staff of Moses would have resembled the solar image at the bottom right.

Some have cited the narrative of Moses raising the bronze serpent as an example of serpent worship (ophiolatry). While there is evidence that the serpent was venerated as a sacred animal 70,000 years ago, the Biblical writers deny that Moses tolerated any form of idolatry. The story in Numbers is better understood as the elevation of a symbol of the Creator. The coiled bronze serpent is a solar symbol and the sun was the emblem of the Creator among Abraham's Horite Hebrew people. In other words, the Israelites were urged to look to their Creator for salvation.

The coiled serpent in the hand of a ruler represents the ruler's appointment by God. It is analogous to the sun cradled in the long horns of the bull. Hathor, the mother of Horus, was divinely appointed to conceive the Creator's son when she was overshadowed by the sun, the emblem of the Creator. This is signified by her solar headdress. The coiled serpent conveyed the same idea. Moses was the ruler of the people and the people were to look to him as the Creator's representative.

The coiled serpent can also be found associated with rulers among the Celts. The spiral shape of the coiled serpent is the most widespread image carved on the dolmen of ancient Celtic rulers. This association with rulers appears to have persisted in England until the early 1590's.

This detail from a 400-year-old painting of Elizabeth I shows her grasping a coiled serpent. The coiled serpent is a symbol of the divine appointment of a ruler.

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was painted by an unknown artist in the 1580s or early 1590s. The serpent was painted over as a bouquet of flowers, but with the passing of time and the deterioration of the painted surface the serpent has reappeared.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Number Symbolism in the Bible

Alice C. Linsley

Most numbers in the Bible are symbolic and not to be taken literally. The account in Numbers of over 600,000 men of arms, plus women, children, and flocks leaving Egypt is hyperbole. This would be estimated at a population of between 1 million to 2.5 million persons. Indeed, the number 600,000 is highly symbolic. The 6 comes immediately before 7 and 7 symbolized fulfillment or perfection. There are 5 lunar cycles; the ancients didn’t have a zero/zed. The five lunar cycles total 60 (5 X 12 cycles). Add 60 and 6 = 66 men of arms, probably accompanying a group of between 200 and 500.

Keep in mind that the highly polished Exodus narrative was told long after the time of Joseph. In Joseph’s time the Hebrew chiefs moved back and forth between Egypt and Canaan rather freely. Judah's tryst with Tamar is an example.

The number 40 appears in narratives in both the Old and New Testaments. It has a Nilotic context, as the Nile flood lasted forty days. The number 40 does not appear in books that have a Babylonian context, such as Esther and Daniel.

Sometimes numbers are avoided entirely because the writer did not know the exact figure. Here is an example from Exodus 18:12: Jethro (Yitro) offered a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God and “Aaron and all the elders of Israel came and ate with Moses' father-in-law in the presence of God." The phrase “all the elders” is vague because the writer did not know the number of elders. He could as easily have said 70 elders, 40 elders or 12 elders. Or, had he written 23 or 71, it would reflect knowledge of the number of men appointed as elders in the Sanhedrin.

John’s Revelation speaks of 24 elders in 19:4 and 12 foundations to the New Jerusalem. The text tells us that the foundation stones represent the 12 apostles. Are we to take this literally? It is clear that the meaning pertains to how the New Jerusalem is founded upon the Apostles or the Apostolic Witness.

In Revelation we read about 7 churches, 7 seals, and 7 bowls. Most readers recognize the connection between the number 7 and divine acts of creation, remembering the 7 days of Genesis 1. The Masoretic text of Genesis 5 assigns Lamech the Younger 777 years. He was Noah’s father. However, the Septuagint assigns Lamech the Younger 753 years, and the Samaritan Pentateuch assigns him only 653 years.

In his extraordinary Commentary on Genesis (Volume 1), Umberto Cassuto wrote, "What is the cause of the divergences between the three texts, and which recension has preserved the original figures? Much has been written on this subject, and the answer remains in dispute" (p. 265). Cassuto believed that the original figures are preserved in the Masoretic chronology. Those are the numbers I will use here to demonstrate how numbers are sometimes used in Scripture to show patterns.

Cain murdered his brother and tried to hide his crime from God. Cain deserved to die, yet God showed him grace by sparing his life. Cain was marked with a protective sign and was banished. Reflecting on this grace shown to his ancestor, Lamech the Elder brags to his wives and challenges God to show him greater grace than was shown to Cain (7). He claims a greater measure of grace (77). Lamech the Younger, son of Methuselah (Genesis 5) is assigned even greater grace because he is said to have lived 777 years. This Lamech is the son of Methuselah and his cousin bride Naamah, and he is the father of righteous Noah.

Regarding the ages of men named in Genesis, St. Jerome notes: "I am reviewing carefully the places in Scripture where I might find old age mentioned for the first time. Adam lived for 930 years, yet he is not called an old man. Methuselah's life was 969 years, and he is not called an old man. I am coming down all the way to the flood, and after the flood for almost three thousand years, and I find no one who has been called old. Abraham is the first, and certainly he was much younger than Methuselah." (Homilies on the Psalms 21)

Jerome's observation is significant. Those who lived before the flood are not old because the numbers assigned to them are symbolic.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Burial Practices of the Rulers of Old

Alice C. Linsley

The burial practices and funerary imagery of the ancient rulers expresses hope for immortality and bodily resurrection. Job, a Horite Hebrew, wanted those who came after him to know that he believed in a Redeemer. He wanted it set in stone. "Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron stylus and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see..." (Job 19:24-26)

Likewise, Ezekiel was to prophesy, saying "Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

Unlike the religions that seek to escape the material world, Christianity and Judaism value the body and believe it is not to be destroyed beyond the processes that are natural to death. Jews do not cremate. The early Christians did not cremate. Both Jews and Christians practice primary and sometimes secondary burial. It is common for Christian monastic communities to gather the bones of the deceased monks for secondary burial in a charnel house. Here are the skulls of monks who lived at St.Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

None of the ancient rulers in the R1b haplogroup were cremated. All their stone tumuli represent secondary burial. This involved gathering the ruler's bones and placing them in the tumulus. The primary burial was underground and was covered with stones. Here is an image of a primary and secondary burial site (Bronze Age) found near Hamburg, Germany.

Cremation was not the practice among the Hebrew ruler-priests. They practiced secondary burial. The bones were placed in ossuary boxes. Researchers from Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv universities confirmed the authenticity of an ancient ossuary that was plundered from a tomb in the Valley of Elah (where David defeated the Philistine warrior Goliath).

The 2,000-year-old ossuary belonged to a daughter of the Caiaphas family of priests. It is marked with the 6 pointed star associated with the Horite ruling caste, and an Aramaic inscription that says, “Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests of Ma’aziah from Beth Imri.” The inscription dates to the time of the Second Temple. Here is a photo of Miriam's ossuary.

The six prong star symbolizes the rising sun and the hope of resurrection. It is also found on the ossuary of Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest (below).

The image is called mer-ka-ba, a word of ancient Egyptian origin. Merkaba means "love of the body and spirit." In the worldview of the R1b peoples, immortality required that the body and spirit be together to avoid the "second death." Therefore, great precautions were taken in the burial of the ruler, so that the body and spirit did not became separated. This is why the bodies of the Egyptian rulers were mummified. The R1b rulers buried in the Tarum Valley in China were also mummified.

The merkaba appears on tomb stones in many parts of the world where the R1b peoples lived. The motif is found on this grave stone at Banais, Israel, near the source of the Jordan River.

The merkaba appears on artifacts throughout the regions populated by R1b peoples. It symbolizes the rising of the Sun, the emblem of the Creator among the R1b peoples. The same image is seen on some of these carvings from the oppida (a "high place") of the Castro culture in Galicia, Spain.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Ancient Tumuli of Nobles

Stones mark burial ground at Ulan Tolgoi in Mongolia

Alice C. Linsley

From the dawn of human existence stone has been a primary material, and humans have refined techniques for working stone on both a small and large scale. The oldest known stone tools date to about 800,000 years. These were found in South Africa. Similar stone tools have also been found on Crete. These date to about 130,000 years.

Beginning about 10,000 years ago, we find huge stone structures. Some served ceremonial purposes involving observation of the heavens and others were used for the burial of high status persons. These stone tombs are called tumuli or dolmens. In the Breton language the word dolmen means table of stones or stone table.

In 1870, Conrad Engelhardt (1825-1881), a Danish archaeologist, wrote,
"Megalith graves extend in one almost unbroken chain from the Gulf of Riga along the south coast of the Baltic and the North Sea, through Scandinavia and Britain, along the eastern shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the southern shores of the Mediterranean as far as Tripoli; also in scattered groups covering Palestine, Syria, Seleucia, Tartary and Persia as far as India, where they again appear in large numbers. They are on the whole confined to the coastal stretches, to the lowlands and the river valleys. Considered as a whole, they are all of identical ground plan and mode of construction, and their monumental character appears to have originated in one and the same culture."

A spectacular example of a dolmen in Brittany is La Roche aux Fees or Fairy Rock. It dates to between 3000 and 4800 BC. The builders of this huge structure were skilled stone masons. They were attached to nobles in the R1b haplogroup. People in this group had dispersed throughout much of the ancient world by 10,000 years ago.
"Fairy Rock" tumulus in Brittany 

Tumuli have been found across a wide range of Europe and the Near East. Some have been found in Korea, China, and Japan. The geographical range of these communal graves corresponds to the range of dispersion of R1b peoples. The Nilotic Anu moved into Korea and Northern Japan, and it is likely that the 2000 year Ur-David mummy found in China is in the R1b genetic group also.

According to tradition, the ruler-priest Joseph Arimathea went to Cornwall in connection with mining operations there. Because mining and tomb construction involve the same skills, these were the work of a select group. Along the Nile, priests were involved in the construction of the royal tombs. From the time of the earliest pharaohs, mining and tomb construction were the work of priests.

Some of the oldest examples of stone work have been found in the areas inhabited by the R1b peoples. This includes the 100,000 to 130,000 year old stone hand axes found on Crete.

Early stone tools include sharp-edged flakes, flake fragments, and cobbles dated to between 2.5 and 2.6 million years. These were discovered at three sites along the Gona River in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Similar stone tools, known as Oldowan, have been found at Omo in southern Ethiopia, at Lokalalei in northern Kenya, and at Hadar, five miles east of the Gona River study area.

It appears that the dispersed R1b rulers are to be credited with building stone monuments and tombs wherever they moved. This is called "diffusion" of a culture trait or artifact.

One of the early proponents of the theory of diffusion was Oscar Montelius (1843-1921) of Sweden. In 1894, he expressed his belief that the form of the megalithic graves corresponds to the "tholos tombs" of Greece, Malta, the Balearic Islands and Asia Minor. However, there is a significant difference. The tholos tombs have a beehive shape (called girna in Malta). The stones are laid in horizontal courses and this structure was used for housing and sheep cotes. The beehive structure represents a more common architecture and should be considered apart from the stone tombs constructed for communal burial of high status families.

Sheep cote in Zanuta, West Bank
Photo: Emil Salman
Some of the beehive tombs contained objects of Egyptian origin dating between 3700 and 2500 years. The evidence of Nilotic influences was noted by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937) and William James Perry (1868-1949), both of whom concluded in their books that the stone working practices of the ancient Near East and European civilizations seem to have originated among the ancient Nilotes. They noted that the stone tumuli found in Brittany and elsewhere resemble the stone mastabas of the earlier Pharaohs in Sudan and the rock-cut tombs of Egyptian nobility.

Today we have reason, by virtue of molecular genetics, linguistics, and archaeological discoveries, to suspect that peoples had spread out of Africa long before Egypt was a kingdom. Among them were stone workers of considerable expertise. It appears that they moved northward, following the current of the Nile and continued on to Crete and Malta. Thomas Strasser and his team found hundreds of tools of African origin on Crete dating to between 100,000 and 130,000 years.

These are identical to hand axes fashioned in Africa about 800,000 years ago. The image (right) is of such a stone tool found at Kathu in South Africa. Similar stone tools have been found on the Iranian plateaus. Ancient African artifacts also have been found in China. There is considerable material evidence of prehistoric movements out of the Central Africa and the Nile Valley. DNA studies of Haplogroup R1B indicate settlements outside of Africa 10,000 years ago. Molecular genetics confirms the movement. R1b-M73 dispersed both to the West, reaching Spain and to the East, reaching China.

Related reading: Sun Cities of the Ancient World; Genesis and the Stone Age; Stone Work of the Ancient World; Sheep Cotes as Sacred Spaces; The Tool Makers of Kathu; Megalithic Culture in Indonesia by W.J. Perry; Primary and Secondary Burial of the Rulers of Old

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Facts and Theories About the Philistines

Alice C. Linsley

The Philistines were the 12th century B.C. peoples whose principal cities were Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. A famous citizen of Gath was Goliath, who David defeated in the valley of Elah. Gath sat on the border between Judah and Philistia in Gaza. The people of Gath would have been glad to take possession of the fertile Elah Valley. Philistine control of the valley also would have given them access to the interior of Judah.

Archaeologists call this Iron Age I population "the Sea Peoples" and there is little doubt that they, like the Egyptians, were adept at seafaring. The Philistines dominated the agriculturally rich coastal strip from Gaza in the south to Tell Qasile in the north, near modern Tel Aviv.

According to Genesis 10:14, the Philistines were related to the Nilotic Mizraim clans and the descendants of the Casluchim and the Caphtorim. Deuteronomy 2:23 claims that the Avvim lived in villages of Gaza before the Caphtorim came from Caphtor (Crete?) and displaced them or intermarried with them.

Scholars are uncertain about the original location of Caphtor, but R. A. Stewart Macalister’s excavations at Gezer suggest that they may have come from Crete. The artistic work found by Macalister at Gezer reflects the Minoan style. That peoples from Africa had migrated to Crete thousands of years before has been shown by Thomas Strasser. He and his team found hundreds of tools of African origin on Crete dating to between 100,000 and 130,000 years.

The Avvim of Gaza may be the descendants of the Natufians who inhabited this region between 15,000 and 9,000 years ago. Dorothy Garrod coined the term "Natufian" based on her excavations at Shuqba cave in the western Judean Mountains.The Natufians populated parts of Western Egypt (Fayoum Oasis), the area of Mount Carmel, and parts of Syria. They built the original settlement at Jericho. Confirmed Natufian settlements in Gaza are shown on the map below.

A map of the Levant with Natufian regions across present-day Israel, Palestine, and a long arm extending into Lebanon and Syria

The Natufian physiology indicates a Mediterranean type with some features typical of Nubians. (See Marcellin Boule, Henri Vallois, and René Verneau, Les Grottes Palaeolithiques de Beni Séghoual, pp. 212-214.)

British Archaeologist, Graeme Barker, notes "the similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary."

Harvard Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, Ofer Bar-Yosef, notes that microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points, as well as the parthenocarpic figs found in Natufian territory, originated in the Sudan.

Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, Christopher Ehret, notes that the intensive use of plants among the Natufians was first found in Africa, as a precursor to the development of farming in the Fertile Crescent.

Portraits of captured Philistines on the walls of the Madinet Habu temple
A Philistine prisoner is shown with his hands bound. 

The Egyptian-Philistine Connection

At the time of King Saul and David, Gezer was under Egyptian political control and cultural influence. The Philistines had a long standing relationship with the rulers of Egypt. This explains Exodus 13:17, which states: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

The main coastal route northward from Egypt is called "the road/way through the Philistines' land" in Exodus 13.17. The Egyptians had fortified settlements at many locations along the major trade routes. During the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2200–1500 BC) as much as 70% of the population of Canaan lived in these fortified towns. Examples include Tell el-‘Ajjul and Gezer with its gate, tower, and protected water system. These high places were under the control of Egypt from about 2000 to 1178 BC. They were stops along the major routes from Egypt to Syria and the Orontes. The Egyptians build one of their most remote fortification at Meroe on the Orontes in Modern Turkey.

One route, the Horus Way, was the southern section of the Way of the Sea (derek hayyam) mentioned in Isaiah 9:1. This road joined the Nile Valley to the area that came to be occupied by the Philistines. There were numerous Egyptian fortifications along the Horus Way and it appears that Philistines served in the garrisons of these fortifications. The American archaeologist William F. Albright believed that "The Philistines were evidently settled in the Coastal Plain by permission of the Pharaoh, as becomes clear from his [Ramesses III's] inscriptions [at Medinet Habu]." (William F. Albright, The Excavation of Tell Beir Mirsim in Palestine, vol. 1: The Pottery of the First Three Campaigns, Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 12 (New Haven, CT: ASOR, 1932), p. 58.)

After about 1000 BC, Israel's power and status had increased, overshadowing the power of the Philistines. The new king of Israel was Solomon, David's son. He married the daughter of the king of Egypt. The pharaoh took Gezer and gave it as a wedding dowry to King Solomon (1 Kings 9:16).

Saul had been chosen in hopes that he would strengthen Israel against the Philistines, but that did not happen. When the young man David proved to be the greater warrior, Saul turned against David. David fled for his life and grew strong in his reliance on the LORD.

Israel and Philistia meet for battle

I Samuel 17:19-51 tells the story of the confrontation between the forces of King Saul and the Philistines in the valley of Elah. The Philistine champion in this encounter was Goliath. According to the Biblical account, Goliath cursed the true God and made fun of David and his Hebrew people.

Elah refers to the Valley of the Terebinth (Emek HaElah in Hebrew: עמק האלה‎). Terebinth trees (Pistacia atlantica) and oaks grew in the place where the Israelite army camped.

To enter the territory of Judah, the Philistines had to come through the Elah Valley. It is likely that they had in their sights the fortified city at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Elah Valley, discovered by Yosef Garfinkel, and excavated under his direction from 2007 to 2013. The city is dated between 1050 and 915 BC and sat on the summit of a hill that borders the Elah Valley on the north. This is on the main road from the coastal plain of Philistia to Jerusalem.

Another city in the area is Adullam. It was on an elevated site and near the well-traveled route which later became a Roman road through the Elah Valley. Judah’s friend, Hirah, was from Adullam. While Judah was visiting Hiram, arrangements were made for Judah to take his second wife. If Judah followed the marriage pattern of his Horim, this bride would have been Judah’s patrilineal cousin. The Hebrew text shows evidence of emendation. This bride is said to be a daughter of Shua, but it is more likely that Shua was one of Hirah's daughters because Shua is a woman's name. An earlier Shua is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 7:32 as the daughter of Eber. She lived seven generations before Judah.

King David sought refuge in the area of Adullam after being expelled from Gath by King Achish. David hid from Saul in a cave near Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1). David’s father, Jesse, came to him there. Jesse was in danger also, so David sought refuge for his family in Moab. “David brought them before the king of Moab; and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the stronghold.” (1 Sam. 22:4). This appears to be a case of calling on the aid of kin. Jesse was a descendant of Boaz and his Moabite wife, Ruth.