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.



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