Friday, May 19, 2023

Symbols of Authority Among the Early Hebrew


The WaS scepter is one of the oldest symbols associated with royalty and divine appointment.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Among the early Hebrew the authority of the ruler, both male and female, was derived from the High God. They saw themselves as divinely appointed to represent the High God on earth which also meant that they were to govern according to sacred law.

Symbols of royal Hebrew authority appear on ancient images. These include crowns, flails, staffs, arks, horns, the Falcon of Horus, feathers, and the solar orb overshadowing a ruler or chief.

Among the early Hebrew the symbol of male authority was the rod or staff, and the symbol of female authority was the spindle. (See K. Veenhof and P. Sanders onthe spindle in Prov. 31:9 and 2 Sam. 3:29.)

A title for royal ladies who served at Bronze Age water shrines was rabitu. Ra-bitu is from the Akkadian words for water (raatu) and house/shrine (biitu). The emblem of the rabitu was the spindle. In the Ugaritic story of Elimelek, the queen mother holds the title "rabitu" and her emblem is the spindle. Some images of the Virgin Mary show her holding a spindle, as in the image below.

Lions often appear on ancient royal steles. Even today they appear on the heraldry of noble and royal houses. The lion is the totem of the clan of Judah, a son of the Hebrew ruler Jacob, and a lion appears on the coat of arms of Jerusalem.

The Ark was a symbol of royal authority derived from YHWH. That is why it rested for a time in Gibeah, Saul's hometown. After David became king, he brought the ark from the house of Abinadab, that was in Gibeah to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:1-12). For three months the Ark rested in Bethlehem, David’s hometown, in the house of Obed-Edom.

Feathers represent the authority to judge, measure, or weight. The feather was the early hieroglyph for Y, and the symbol appears in the names of these early Hebrew rulers: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak (Ishbak); Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yehuda (Judah); Yosef (Joseph); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse), Yonah (Jonah), Yeroboam (Jeroboam), Yosedech (Josedech), and his son Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus) who wore the double crown (Zech. 6:11).

The idea of God's presence "between the horns" predates Judaism. It is evident in the name Yesu which is clearly related to the name Yeshua (Jesus). Yesu is comprised of the following hieroglyphs:

Source: Bill Manley, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, 2012, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London

The feather (letter Y) stands for one who judges, measures, or weights. The next symbol represents horns. The third symbol is the sedge plant which represents a king, and finally the falcon, the totem of Horus, the patron of kings.

Derived Authority, Attributed Authority, and Achieved Authority

The biblical Hebrew recognized three types of authority: derived, attributed, and achieved. The deification of rulers required derived and attributed streams of authority. Because the ruler was seen as God's representative on earth and the one to enforce divine law, his authority was derived from God.

If the ruler proved over time to be just or righteous in his actions and decrees, the priests would attribute deification. This was noted by the SR designation in the ruler's epithet and or royal name. The historical ruler Osiris was deified as is evident in his name O-SiR. Among the Sumerians and Akkadians SR designated a king (šarrum) and a queen (šarratum).

The reigns of rulers were judged after death and the righteous were often deified. Deification or apotheosis was an expression of the flamboyant honor shown to royal masters by their servants. 

In the Hebrew ruler-priest caste those appointed to govern received authority by the imposition of priestly hands. Numbers 27:22-23 suggests that the practice was well established before the time of Moses the Hebrew. "Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses." 

In the Hebrew context, the imposition of hands by a priest involved the passage of authority. This is evident also in Deuteronomy 34:9 - "Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him..."

There was succession of authority by the laying on of hands, a practice that continues in those Christian churches which uphold "Apostolic succession" and ordination practices that align with those known to the Jewish followers of Jesus.

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