Monday, March 18, 2024

The Ruler's Staff Between His Feet


King Ashurnasirpal II holding the royal staff. 
From Nimrud, Iraq (865-860 BC), British Museum

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

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.)

The biblical Hebrew rulers held staffs as a sign of their authority. This tile found by Flinders Petrie shows a Sethite priest of a temple of the Nilotic Anu people. Tera-neter refers to a priest. The priest holds a staff as a sign of his authority.

When standing, the ruler firmly held the staff in an upright position. When seated on a throne, the staff was held between the ruler’s feet. This extremely ancient custom is attested in Genesis 49:10 - "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [Messiah] come: And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be." 

This is the fourth foreshadowing of Messiah in the Book of Genesis. (The four Messianic allusions are Gen. 3:15; Gen. 4:1; Gen. 22, and Gen. 49:10).

This photograph of Mindanao Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram (seated at center) with his chiefs shows them holding knob sticks as a sign of their rank. The photo also shows a US Army officer and some visiting Muslims. (Photo taken c. 1899-1901; credit Jose Bulang.)

Horned altar found at Beersheba (c. 1000 BC).

The ideas of God's apophatic presence "between the horns" of the altar, and God's overshadowing presence between the bull horns worn by Horus' mother predate Judaism. 

The horn and the staff are found in an early reference to the name Yesu (Jesu), a name clearly related to the name Yeshua or Jesus. Yesu is comprised of the following hieroglyphs:

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

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's staff, and finally the falcon, the totem of Horus, the patron of kings.

Related reading: Symbols of Authority Among the Biblical Hebrew; The Serpent on Moses' Staff

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