Saturday, August 25, 2018

Moses the Horite Hebrew Priest

Alice C. Linsley

The Horite Hebrew were a caste of royal priests who served at the most prestigious shrines and temples of the ancient world. In some ancient texts they are called Abru (Akkadian), 'Apiru or Habiru, which is rendered "Hebrew" in English Bibles.

The term Horite takes many forms: Hor, Hur, Horonaim, Horoni, Horowitz, and Hori. Hori was the son of Lotan son of Seir whose descendants were the "lords of the Horites in the land of Seir" (Gen. 36:20-29 and 1 Chronicles 1:38-42). Lot, Lotan, and Nimlot are Egyptian titles. Nimlot C was the High Priest of Amun at Thebes during the latter part of the reign of his father Osorkon II. Horite Hebrew does not refer to the ethnicity of the people, but to their caste.

A variant spelling of Horite is Horim, which is what Jews call their ancestors.

According to Strabo, Moses was educated at Heliopolis (Strabo, 17:1) as a priest under his personal name Osorsiph. This was the name given at birth and was preceded by the title "Son of Ra", written with the hieroglyph of a duck (za), a homonym for the word meaning "son" (za). With this hieroglyph there appears an image of the sun, the emblem of the Creator and his son.

Manetho reports that Moses was born at Heliopolis B.C. 1738 (Josephus, Ap. 1:26; 2:2). Heliopolis was a shrine of such great prestige that the great pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Abusir were aligned to the obelisk of Heliopolis.

The Harris papyrus speaks of the 'apriu of Ra at Heliopolis, the shrine of the Sun. Joseph married into this royal priest line when he married Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On (Heliopolis). This appears to be evidence of endogamy within the Hebrew clans.

The people who lived at On called it Iunu, which means "place of pillars." There were many pillars bearing inscriptions to the high king, prayers to the Creator and to his son. Some pillars depicted great victories in war, the details of treaties, and dedications. It was common for pillars to be inscribed in memory of righteous ancestors, as stained glass windows in churches are dedicated to "pillars" of the congregation. The entrance pillars of Solomon's temple were called Boaz and Joktan. Boaz was Solomon's holy ancestor on his father's side and Joktan was a holy ancestor on his mother's side.

The priests of Heliopolis were known for their meticulous devotion to the Creator (Ra/Ani) and his son (Horus/Enki), and for their sobriety and purity of life. 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.”

The Habiru priest purified himself before he entered the temple. His purification involved fasting, abstinence from sexual relations and alcohol, ritual bathing, and an intense period of prayer. Korah, Moses' half-brother, also was a priest according to Numbers 16:17,18. His name means "shaved one." Habiru priests shaved their heads and bodies as part of the purification ritual (Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2007, p.37).

Heliopolis was conceived as the sacred center of the primeval ocean, called Nun. The many pillars of the temple symbolized the connection between the waters below and the waters above (Gen. 1:7). Numbers 11:28 says that Joshua was the "son of Nun" suggesting that he belonged to a Horite Hebrew clan associated with On.

The marriage pattern of the Horite Hebrew

As with other Horite Hebrew (Lamech, Terah, Abraham, Amram, Jacob, Elkanah), Moses had two wives. Moses' first wife may have been named Tharbis. She is designated a "Kushite" in Numbers 12:1. However, that is a general term that applied to many groups of Nilotes. His second wife was a cousin named Zipporah. Zipporah was the daughter of the Midianite priest Jethro. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham by his cousin wife Keturah. Again, we have evidence of endogamy within the Hebrew clans.

Moses was a kinsman of the Horite Hebrew ruler, Seir (Gen. 36). Seir ruled over what had been Abraham's territory in ancient Edom (called "Idumea" by the Greeks). Amram's cousin wife, Ishar had a son named Korah (Numbers 26:59). That son was named after his maternal grandfather Korah the Elder.

Abraham's territory was in ancient Edom, or what the Greeks called Idumea, meaning "land of red people." It extended on a north-south axis between the settlements of his two wives. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah resided in Beersheba. His territory extended on an east-west axis between Ein-Gedi and Gerar. These places are shown on the map below.

Kings ruled in Edom long before there were any kings in Israel. "These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before a king ruled the children of Israel." (Gen. 36:1)

This brief sketch of Moses the Horite Hebrew priest is supported by the biblical data. A different view of Moses is found in the work of the Deuteronomist Historian who is responsible for the book of Exodus (written c. 600 BC).

Many of the incongruities surrounding the person of Moses are contextual; posing a contrast between the earlier context of the Horite Hebrew of Heliopolis and the latter context of the Deuteronomist whose narrative provides Israel with a revisionist history. 

In Exodus, God self-reveals on the "high places" or the tops of sacred mountains.Yet the Deuteronomist seeks the destruction of all high places, insisting that worship should be centralized at the Jerusalem temple. 

Rather than representing a priesthood that extends deep into antiquity, the Deuteronomist poses Moses as the founder of a new people and Aaron as the founder of the Jewish priesthood.

The Deuteronomist would have us believe that only priests living is Israel are the rightful heirs of the Messianic Faith of the Hebrew, yet Horite Hebrew priests had dispersed into Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, and Crete long before the time of Moses.

The Deuteronomist stresses rejection of images that were regarded as sacred among the Horite Hebrew, in particular the solar symbolism of the Proto-Gospel. 

The Deuteronomist advocates exclusive devotion to the God called Yahweh (YHWH), though the Horite Hebrew knew God by many names: Ra, Ani, El, Yah, Adonai, El Elyon, etc.

The Deuteronomist requires strict obedience to Moses and THE prophet of YHWH and yet most of the religious laws attributed to Moses have a precedent in more ancient laws of the Nilotic priests among whom we find the practices of circumcision, animal sacrifice, and ritual purity before the time of Moses.

The Deuteronomist writes from the context of the Neo-Babylonian Period (700-300 BC), long after the time of Moses, and his perspective does not align well with the historical, archaeological, linguistic, and anthropological data concerning Moses and his Horite Hebrew ancestors.

Some interpreters believe that the disparate narratives reflect a conflict between priestly families. However, Moses's family is descended from Abraham's family and their marriage and ascendancy customs are exactly the same. Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Moses's family reveals the distinctive pattern of the Horite Hebrew ruler-priest caste. Moses is the half-brother of the ruler-priest Korah, a descendant of the Horite ruler, Seir of Edom, and the Horite Hebrew clans practiced endogamy. All are related in some way.

There is great continuity in Genesis and Exodus on the level of kinship patterns, and perhaps the greatest contribution of Biblical Anthropology (the science) is the identification of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew. The Messianic Faith began with them and they are the main source behind the Old and New Testaments. The continuity of the Bible exists thanks to their steadfast adherence to the sacred Tradition of their ancestors. They believed they had a responsibility to preserve that Tradition. As it says in Proverbs 8:33, "Listen to my instruction and become wise. Don't change the order."

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