Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who Were the Levites?


Nubian priest of the Nilotic Ainu. Abraham's father was also Tera, meaning priest


Alice C. Linsley

The Levites have a bloody heritage. According to Exodus 32, they are rewarded with priestly rights for killing thousands of their kinsmen and according to Genesis 49, they are accursed and punished for their treacherous attack on Shechem. They were adept at killing and probably were trained warriors.

Levi's descendants intermarried with other Ha'biru clans and were dispersed throughout the ancient shrine cities where they offered sacrifices. After the 7th century B.C. they are closely associated with the royal court of Jerusalem and the centralization of sacrifice at the Temple. Clearly, the Levites are portrayed quite differently depending on the period and the social context of the writer.

Source critics attribute the diverse portrayals to different sources D (Deuteronomist), J (Jahwist) and P (Priestly). Here are the reasons given by each source for the priestly prerogative being assigned to the Levites:

D = investiture as priests is commanded by YHWY

J = priestly duties are assigned as a result of Levites killing their own people (Ex. 32:26-29)

P = Installation of Levites as priests part of the instructions given at Sinai and they are set apart as redemption for the first born (Lev. 3: 11-13)


The Levites and the Ha'biru

Traditionally, the term "Levite" refers to a descendant of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and to the "tribe"of Levi. These were in the service of the sanctuary, in various orders. According to Leviticus and Numbers the house of Aaron alone constituted the priesthood, and the remainder of the Levites performed the more menial duties. However, Aaron's father was a priest as was Aaron's half-brother Korah. They were heirs to an ancient received priestly tradition among the Ha'biru (Hebrew).

This is the general conception of the Levites, but it does take into consideration the question of their antecedents. Practices associated with the Levites - priestly ritual, circumcision, animal sacrifice, and the Holy Name YHWY - existed among Abraham's Horim or Horite ancestors.

The "book of the Levites" (Leviticus) comes from the Greek Leuitikon biblion. Because the Greek Septuagint was available before the Hebrew Old Testament (Masoretic Text) we do well to investigate the word Leuitikon. Note that the Greek word has as its root "leu" as in Leummim (Gen. 25:3).  It appears that Leummim is a variant of Levites. Leu is likely a Nilotic word. Abraham's ancestors were Nilo-Saharans and Saharo-Nubians.

Before the time of Moses, some of Abraham's descendants were priests associated with the Afro-Arabian Dedanites. Genesis 10:7 tell us that Dedan the Elder was a grandson of Kush by his son Ramah. Ramah was Nimrod's brother. Ramah is Samuel's home, and his father Elkanah was a Horite. Ramah settled in the region to the southeast of Dedan while Nimrod built a kingdom in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley.

During the time of the Judges there is virtually no mention of the Levites. According to accounts in Samuel and Kings, they served as priests under David and Solomon, yet so did David's sons (II Sam. 8:18). According to accounts in Samuel and Kings the Levites were not the only men to exercise the priestly functions. The prophet Samuel, whose father was a Horite priest, offer sacrifices (I Sam. 9:13).

David's sons offered sacrifices. They are called "priests" in II Samuel. David town of Bethlehem was a Horite shrine where the ark once rested. It is specifically associated with the Horites in I Chronicles 4:4 which names Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem."

In my view, the assertion by later writers that God appointed the Levites exclusively to exercise priestly function represents an attempt to distance Israel's history from the history of their Ha'biru (Hebrew) ancestors who were a caste of royal priests.


Related reading: Samuel's Horite Family; The Afro-Arabian Dedanites; Moses' Wives and Brothers; The Nubian Context of YHWY; The Nile-Japan Ainu Connection; Etymology of the Word Horite; The Royal Priest Lines of Matthew; Destruction of the Temple: Rabbinic Interpretations; Why Women Were Never Priests


10 comments:

  1. Hi Alice
    Do you think that during the time that the descendants of Jacob (all twelve "tribes), when they were in Egypt (before Moses), did they have a tendency to intermarry or marry out of the established "Abrahamic" covenant?
    I have been studying and teaching the old testament in Sunday school, and I just have an impression, that even though Moses was on a "rescue" mission of sorts, I don't think that all of the "Hebrews" were victims so to speak, but that many did not practice the faith of their fathers. What do you think?

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  2. Ramona,

    The marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horites is already evident in analysis of the Nilo-Saharan rulers Cain and his brother Seth (Gen. 4 and 5 king lists). They married cousins who named their first born sons Enoch/Enosh, a royal name, The Abrahamic covenant did not yet exist. However, there is evidence that the Edenic Promise of a Woman who would bring forth the Seed of God who would crush the serpent's head did already exist.

    Moses' father had the same Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern as Cain and Seth, proof that he was their direct descendant. See this:

    http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/04/moses-two-wives.html

    There were many more Horites than just the descendants of Jacob/Yacob. So not all the Ha'biru (Hebrew) were in Egypt. Even some of these Jacob's family moved in and out of Egypt. Judah's sons had a wife (Tamar) in the land of Canaan.

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  3. Hello Alice

    The word Levi is incorrect as you have stated. The real word is most common among different African tribes. Here is the word: LUO

    Investigate and you will see the word used in various places.

    In the Congo they call it Lowa, Loa or Lwa. It is associated with the "one" who is a go between. Their religion is not the same but the similarities both share can not be ignored.
    The Yoruba have a name that is synonymous to the Congo Lwa. Their word is also used within their religion context. The name having such high regard is Babalawo. The prefix "baba" means father.

    Many West African tribe groups originated in the Sudan area then Migrated to the areas they dwell in today.
    What is interesting to me is there in Sudan is a group of people called Luo. The meaning of their name is to "follow". In scriptures Leah said her husband will be attached to her which in reality is - staying close. By him doing so he would have to follow her.

    Here is two tribes that are from them.
    Anuak (Annunaki - these are the ones people are calling aliens)
    look in a "Hebrew" dictionary h6059. Look at Deu15:14 and Ps73:6 I did some research and saw the tribe name Anuak means "he who shares". I have not found any information about the neck or necklace yet. If there is any info it will be cultural.

    Shilluk (Chulo) is another group from Luo. These people name is similar to h7993. Though their name is said to be originally Chulo the name they go by (Shilluk) is derogatory.

    I want to make mention this group. They are not stated as being related to Luo but their name is relevant. The Mararit tribe dwell in Chad (Western Sudan border) I mention them because their name is the same as Marari. There are three main Priestly groups in Luo according to scriptures and Marari is one. Mararit is probably tied to Luo. Their language is also called Aberi or Eberi. This is along the lines of the "Correct" way of saying the word. We say Hebrew. There is no H in the name. The word's letter is called Ayin. It is guttural like a sharp A or accented like in resumé.

    Keep searching and posting. Information is important.

    Tauémyah

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  4. Tauémyah, the connection to the Luo is something I am investigating right now, but you are way ahead of me. :)

    Many of the words in Genesis and Exodus that Biblical scholars have trouble understanding are probably Luo originally. The Akkadian word lamurudu is known to be a reference to the king, but when we connect it back to the Nilotic Luo we gain a clearer meaning: lam is to worship and uru means you. So Lamurudu means something like "Worship thou/you the King."

    Luos refers to the creator as Jacwec or lacwec, the maker of things. Yahweh is clearly a variant. Nya-sa-ye is the Luo name for God, and it is translated something like this: I am Who I am.

    Likewise the Luos, especially the Jopadhola, refer to Eve (Hayah) as Luyah.

    The Babylonian Talmud names Abraham's maternal grandfather as Karnevo. This appears to be a variant of the Nilo-Saharan words Karnak or Karneko. Kar means place and nak refers to the ritual removal of six front teeth, a practice found among the Nilotic Luo and the ancient Natufians. Nak likely referred to rituals in general so that kar-nak would mean a "place of rituals" and these were usually water shrines or temples. One famous "kar-nak" was a Horite temple along the Nile and it may be that Abraham's maternal grandfather was a priest of this temple.

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  5. When Acholi Luos say Lacwec, the Luo Luos say Jachwech, for Creator/ Maker. Jachwech piny gi polo (Creator of earth and heaven)). J,L, Y have interchanged. Thoth/Thuth means a lot of e.g knowledge. Thuth, a millet weevil with an ibis head-like that destroys seeds and grains. Or is that Thoth's head is tha of this weevil. Thuth destrosy the seeds as Levite priests killed their own people. H'ute= houses or temples/ temples of. Ter means rituals, example to do with death among the Luos, where the widow has to be cleansed.

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  6. Thanks, John. This is very helpful information!

    I understand that Luo kings (like Ulei the Great and Ulum) used to marry two wives. do you know if one was a half-sister and the other a cousin or niece?

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  7. I'm from the ANYUAK Tribe & Alice you are correct the word Kar mean a place & the meaning of Nak is to remove Teeth. So, Kar-Nak literally mean a place to remove Teeth & that practice is costumary in our culture, but the ANYUAK only remove the bottom 6 teeth I believe not the top. Very impressive.

    I was also thinking that there are people who are called the Anuak. I can't remember exactly where its but I know its in the OT.Anyway, in my culture if I come to you & say ANAK ,I'm actually sayig I need my teeth remove. A mean I,or Me in ANYUAK & Nak mean removal of teeth, combine A & Nak= Anak.
    I don't know if this make sense. Just curious.

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    Replies
    1. How did you find out what tribe you are from?

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  8. Actually the whole Bible is Luo. Abram, Sara, Abel, Cain, Tera, Lot, Recho. Lem/Lam is prayer Ji is people Jerusalem. Beer means goodness or well Bersheba..old testament words are Luo and have been wondering how

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  9. Water, The context of Abraham's Proto-Saharan cattle-herding ancestors is the Nile Valley. The Luo are a Nilotic group whose history is connected to the Nile River. The names Lot, Nimlot, and Nimrod all originally pertained to the Nile River. John Ogutu points out that NimRod is NamRuodh, meaning the king's vast waters/lake/sea in Luo.

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