Discover an astonishing truth that has been concealed for centuries and is now unveiled at last! This book tells the story of the first people known to history to have worshiped Yahweh (Jehovah) as the one God, a tribe of Kenite Arabs called the Rechabites. Recent archeological evidence has convinced historians and Bible scholars that it was these Kenites, an Arab tribe that pre-dates Abraham and Ishmael, who were the first to call upon God by the name of "Yahweh," or Jehovah, and to worship him as the one true God. It was they who introduced the Israelites to the worship of Yahweh God. Jabez, who has been popularized through his short prayer found in the book of Chronicles in the Holy Bible, has a unique connection with these Rechabites. Jeremiah called the Rechabites a people blessed by God, and used the example of the faithfulness of this gentile (meaning non-Jewish) people to condemn the great lack of faith in God found among the Israelites. These Rechabites are still wandering the deserts of the Middle East to this very day. They are still devoted to Yahweh and bear on their bodies the emblem of their tribe. This symbol they have bore since their beginning as a people. Like Paul they bear on their bodies "the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Galatians 6:17). They have worn this stigma from time immemorial. Now let us unravel the secrets of the Prayer of Jabez, decode its hidden meaning and unlock the mystery of the lost and forgotten identity of Jabez and reveal the true purpose of his prayer.
The Kenites are a lost tribe that worshiped God as Yahweh, earlier than and independently of the Hebrews. Kenites are not Canaanites, but they did live in the Holy Land before the time of Abraham.
This book is an introduction to what is called the "Kenite Hypothesis" and its supporting evidence. It explores the Pre-Israelite Arabic origins of Yahwistic Monotheism. It is meant to accompany the "youtube" video series "The Jabez Code." A more in depth and exhaustive treatment will be presented in a forthcoming volume.
The Prayer of Jabez Phenomenon
And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called is name Jabez saying, "Because I bare him with Sorrow." And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh, that thou would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me [other translations read, "that I do no harm."]." And God granted him that which he requested.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
David Wilkinson's book "The Prayer of Jabez" has sold over nine million copies. This book spawned a phenomenon with "Prayer of Jabez" devotionals, journals, coffee mugs, calendars, key-chains, posters, videos, T-shirts, posters, songs and even novels. This obscure biblical prayer has become a very important prayer recently with many people studying it, reciting it, popularizing it and even commercializing it. With all this commercialization and publicity it is amazing that the basic facts about who Jabez was are totally missed-even by David Wilkinson! When studying the prayer of Jabez, and it's significance the first question that must be asked in this quest is "Who was Jabez?" The Bible plainly states who Jabez is to the careful reader of the Bible, but most authors and speakers (including Bruce Wilkinson) have completely missed it. Several books have been written on the prayer of Jabez, including study guides and even lengthy video sermon series. Even novelizations of the life of Jabez have been written based on this solitary verse from the Bible. This is amazing for such a short and obscure passage of scripture! Certain ministers have complained about how the prayer of Jabez was being reduced to crass commercialization and how the Prayer of Jabez phenomenon was a "Christian fad." There have even been books written attacking teachings based upon the prayer of Jabez. This prayer is inspired scripture but despite this fact certain religious leaders began criticizing the interest in and fascination with prayer of Jabez that many Christians have had. Some pastors and teachers were concerned that many were praying the prayer of Jabez as a mantra or as a type of magical spell or they had concerns that the Jabez prayer was being used as a lucky charm. The answer to this debate is for the Christian is to "rightly divide the word of truth." We need to carefully study and interpret the prayer of Jabez so that we can properly understand it and properly apply it. Let us look at where Jabez makes his appearance which is in a genealogy in the First Book of Chronicles. The Holy Bible is a masterpiece of literature and contains many dynamic stories and moving passages, such as what we find in the historical narratives and in the Book of Psalms. However, the first twelve chapters of Chronicles is a long list of names and makes very difficult, dull and monotonous reading. However, it is here that Jabez makes his appearance.
Insight from the Prayer of Jabez
In Bible times names often had a meaning. For instance, Abraham means "Father of Many Nations" and Isaac means "Laughter." It was important to have a good name and your given name was thought to reflect your character and nature. We have the idea in our culture of "living up" to a name. Jacob, his name meaning "supplanter" or "trickster" "lived down" to his name for many years of his life. Throughout his youth his life was characterized by tricking and deceiving other people until late in life when God changed his named to Israel. The mother of Jabez named her son "Jabez" which is related to the Hebrew word for "pain" which is "ozeb." She had a very difficult delivery of the child. Jabez was stuck with the name "Pain." He decided that he didn't want to be a pain. Another interesting fact about Jabez was that he was an honorable man in the midst of dishonorable men. Instead of fitting in with the crowd he decided to stand apart from it. Jabez prayed to God and God heard and answered his prayer. As James the Brother of Jesus wrote in his epistle, "The fervent and effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
When studying the prayer of Jabez, and its significance the first question that must be asked in this quest is "Who was Jabez?" The Bible plainly states who Jabez is to the careful reader of the Bible, but most authors and speakers (including Bruce Wilkenson) have completely missed it. Jabez is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:9 as being "more honorable than his brethren." This is how the verse begins here with the first mention of Jabez, which is inserted among one of the genealogies of the Israelite tribe of Judah. However, it is not written exactly from whom Jabez is descended from, nor who his parents were. Its one of those occurrences in the Word of God where we read and then think, "What is this passage doing here between all of these other verses?" Usually, when this happens in the Bible it is because the Lord wants us to sharpen up and pay careful attention, because He is trying to show us something much deeper and very important. Now, look carefully at the passage. Just who 'begat' Jabez, and who did Jabez beget? It isn't there is it? You will discover that even many Bible scholars go ahead and assume that Jabez is a part of the 1 Chronicles 4 genealogy, but it just isn't clear, is it? (In this instance Jabez reminds us of Melchizedek, who is also not given a genealogy in the Old Testament either. The writer of Hebrew describes Melchizedek as "without father or mother…" and depicts him as symbolic of Christ (Hebrews 7:3). Melchizedek was a gentile priest of the Most High God to whom Abraham offered tithes and offerings in Genesis 14:18-20.) If Jabez isn't an Israelite then why is his name listed in the genealogy? This is a genealogy of the tribes of Israel. Jabez appears in the genealogical table as a "consequent without a precedent." It should be noted that Jabez's name is not connected to anyone in the genealogy in which his name is found. He is not a son of anyone in the genealogy nor is he the father of any one listed in the genealogy. His name suddenly appears with no connection to the family tree.
It is assumed that Jabez was a descendant of Judah by many just because of this special prayer he said to "the God of Israel," and because the Lord did grant it. Jabez did indeed truly seek our Heavenly Father's blessings by calling upon His holy name. What is the deeper message of the Scriptures here then? The careful reader of the Bible will see that Jabez was not of the Israelite tribe of Judah, but of the "house of Rechab." Jabez was a Kenite, which means a "Son of Kain." Jabez was not a Hebrew, nor was he an Israelite. Jabez was not Jewish at all, he was a gentile. This is also affirmed by the traditional Jewish, or rabbinical, understanding of this passage. The Rabbis teach that Jabez was not a Jew. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia Jabez is an "Eponym of a clan of the Kenite family of the Rechabites." According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, "Jabez was prominent, particularly after the Exile, among those Kenite clans that embraced Judaism." (This is incorrect. It isn't that the Kenites embraced Judaism. The fact is the Israelites adopted the worship of the Kenite God, Yahweh, as we shall see. Be that as it may, Jewish tradition acknowledges that Jabez was a gentile.) The Jewish Encyclopedia also that these Kenites became scribes and teachers of the Law.
Rabbinical tradition identifies Jabez with Othniel the Kenezite, who is one of the Judges describes in the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. Jewish tradition describes Othniel as the head of the bet ha-midrash (a religious school) after the death of Moses (Tem. 16a; Targum to 1 Chronicles ii, 55, iv. 9). Hence the vow of Jabez was understood to refer to his school house; "If thou wilt bless me with children, and give me many disciples and associates" (Tem. l.c.: Sanhedrin 106a). According to the legends told by rabbis, "The whole tribe Jethro, the Kenites as well as the Rechabites, left their habitations near Jericho and went to Jabez to learn the Torah from him." (Mek., Yithro. Amalek, ii; Sifre, Num. 78) (I believe that there is no reason to identify Jabez with Othniel, besides the fact that Othniel and Caleb were both Kenizites, a tribe closely related to the Kenites, who also allied with Israel. Once again, the point that should not be missed is that the Rabbis recognized that Jabez was not Jewish.) In the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch Jabez is mentioned together with Jeremiah and Gedaliah as among the righteous leaders of the people at the time of the destruction of the temple (Baruch 5:5). In Rabbinical lore Jabez is one of the deathless, or immortals, frequently mentioned in tradition.
We should consult the Prayer of Jabez in other ancient versions of scripture. The Greek Septuagint (sometimes known as the LXX) is one of the oldest translations of the Old Testament into any language. It was translated in Alexandria in Egypt for the famous library there but also to meet the religious needs of Egypt's large Jewish population. The Septuagint became the Bible of the early church and is extensively quoted from in the New Testament. In the Septuagint the Jabez prayer reads as follows:
And the progeny of the brother of Rechab, the son of Jarin...Igabes [Greek for Jabez] was more famous than his brethren, and his mother called his name Igabes, saying, "I have born as a sorrowful one." And Igabes called on the God of Israel, saying "O that you wouldest indeed bless me, and enlarge my coasts [meaning 'borders'], and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou would make me know that thou wilt not grieve me. And God granted to him all that he asked. 1 Paralipomenon IV:9-10
Variant forms of the Jabez prayer are also found in the Aramaic Targum. The Targums are translations of the Old Testament into the Aramaic language. (The Aramaic Translations called the Targums are not literal translations but are interpretive translations that expand on the text and incorporate supplemental ancient Jewish oral traditions into it. In the Targums we find additional biographical information about Jabez.) From the Aramaic Targum we see Jabez depicted as a pious, caring and selfless man, deeply interested in the behalf of himself and his family, and we see him as a benevolent man, laboring for the welfare of others, and especially for the religious instruction of youth. He founded schools in which the young and rising generation who were taught useful knowledge, particularly the knowledge of God. He had disciples who distinguished himself in their zeal for the worship of God, and in their patience in listening to the instruction of their teachers and in their piety and bringing forth of the fruits of the spirit. The spirit of prophecy and prayer and supplication came upon them. Jabez did not do these things merely as a duty owed to God and his fellows but from the abundance of his generous and loving heart. God blessed Jabez with material things which he took and used towards the blessing of others by devoting them to the service of God and so he was blessed. On this he was more honorable than his brethren, though he was of the same stock and lineage as they. He had neither nobility of birth (especially as a non-Jew), nor was he distinguished by titles, in all respects he would be regarded as common. But why was he more honorable than they? The Scriptures say because he prayed. He prayed, he served his maker, and he lived to do good among men. Because of this he received the honor that comes from God. We would do well to imitate this worthy Kenite and be a partaker of his blessings. Jabez didn't horde up wealth for himself and live an extravagant and comfortable life. He used his wealth to serve God and to help others.
The Land of Jabez
"The Sophrite clans living at Jabez, the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, the Sucathites. These are Kenites who came from Hammath; their descendants are the House of Rechab" (1Chronciles 2:55) (Gary Nolen translated 1 Chronicles 2:54-55 as "the squatters around Jabez; the singers; the musicians; and hut dwellers. These are the descendants of Cain who came from [Hammath] the founder of the Rechabite movement.")
If Jabez isn't an Israelite then why is his name listed in the genealogy? It should be noted that Jabez's name is not connected to anyone in the genealogy in which his name is found. He is not a son of anyone in the genealogy nor is he the father of any one listed in the genealogy. His name suddenly appears with no connection to the family tree. Why is this? To find the answer let us look into the text. What does Jabez pray for? He prays for land or "real estate." He prays that his physical territory may be extended. Where is his name in the genealogy? It is in the "descendants of Judah"-but he isn't of the tribe of Judah-he is a Kenite. His name is mentioned in the genealogy of the tribe of Judah because his Kenite descendants settled in the territory that had been allocated to the tribe of Judah. The Book of Judges states that Kenites settled in the territory of Judah. In the first chapter of Judges it also discusses Kenites accompanying the Israelites in the conquest of the Promised Land and settling in the land with the Israelites, specifically in the region of the tribe of Judah, all though they migrated all over the Holy Land.
Later on we discover that Jabez is a toponym, the name of a place. More specifically Jabez is an eponym. An eponym is a place that is named after an important person such as Washington, Austin or Houston. For example Washington is named after General George Washington and Houston is named after President Sam Houston of the Republic of Texas. The land of Jabez was named after the man Jabez. Of course this is common, with names like Houston, Austin and Washington being the names of places that were named after certain individuals.
The land of Jabez was named after the man Jabez. He is mentioned here because we are reading in Chronicles about the geographical dispersion of Israelite tribes (in this case Judah) and have come to tribes living in the region of Jabez, and thus his story of the person the place is named after is given. Jabez is mentioned earlier in 1 Chronicles 2:55, which is also part of the genealogy of Judah. Here the families of Israel are recounted, and then we read "and the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and the Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the House of Rechab." (V 55). The families of scribes living at Jabez, were Kenites from the House of Rechab (once again the names are added to the end of the genealogy with no connection to it). (As the Kenites were scribes of Yahweh, the probably played a part in the composing of the Bible. (According to the "Documentary Hypothesis" various ancient texts were put together to form the Torah especially, but also certain parts of the rest of the Bible. The documents include J, the Yahwistic source, E, the "Elohiem" source, P the priestly source and D the Deuteronomy source. Some scholars have postulated that there may also be a K document, a Kenite source as well.)) Jabez prays to the God of Israel whose name is Yahweh. Here we find that Jabez, and his people were worshipers of Yahweh, that they were in fact scribes of Yahweh, but they were neither Israelites nor were they Jews (from Judah) and they were not Hebrews at all. They were Kenites. Kenites were Gentiles and Arabs and were not Jewish at all. Scripture shows that Jabez wasn't even a descendant of Abraham. Jabez and his people, the Rechabites, were Gentiles. Jabez was a Kenite and belonged to the clan of the Rechabites. Therefore Hemath, father of the house of Rechab, was a Kenite, through whom certain families, including the Rechabites, came. Each family took up the position of scribes in the service of the Lord. (Hammath, or Hemath, was perhaps a region from which Kenites had come.) Jabez prayed for territory. God answered his prayer. The land given to Jabez in answer to his prayer was called the land of Jabez. The family of Jabez became scribes unto the Lord. Jabez and his family belonged to an Arabic tribe that was called the Kenite tribe. Jabez was mentioned here because the place where his land is situated came up in the listing of families, tribes, clans and regions in the land of Israel. It should be noted that in the Bible when genealogies are given, names of nations, tribes, cities, towns (such as Bethlehem for instance) and villages are listed among the names of descendants. The Kenite land of Jabez was in the territory of Judah. This is clarified in 1 Chronicles 2:55. Although Jabez was in the region of Judah, the people who settled there were Kenites.
The people who lived at Jabez, the descendants of the man Jabez, were of the Rechabite clan of the Kenite Arabs. Even the respected Bible reference, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, describes "the Kenite encampment at Jabez." The Anchor Bible Dictionary states that the Kenites migrated to Jabez. This indicates that Jabez was a nomad that found a place to settle his migrating people. In the Greek version of the Old Testament we also find the genealogy of the Rechabites listed almost immediately after the prayer of Jabez. In the Greek version, 1 Chronicles 4:12 states, "These were the men of Recab." So we see a connection between 1 Chronicles 2:54, which describes Kenites of the House of Rechab who lived at Jabez and the Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-12, which is immediately followed by a Rechabite family tree in 1 Chronicles 4:11-12.
The Name Yahweh
Jabez called out to the God of Israel, whose name is Yahweh. Yahweh is God's "personal" name. Jabez and his people, the Kenites and the Rechabites, have a special connection to the name of God, Yahweh. The Jewish people will not dare utter the name Yahweh-they believe it is too holy to be spoken aloud. When reading from the Bible they often substitute "Adonai" meaning "Lord" for the name Yahweh. In most English translations this tradition is also followed. Instead of a literal translation from the original Hebrew, most translations of the Holy Bible into English will substitute the word LORD in all capital letters for the name YHWH. When Bibles speak of "the LORD" usually it is the word YHWH in the original Hebrew.
The name YHWH is used 6,828 times in the Old Testament. Moses taught the people that they were not to use the name of the Lord in vain (Exodus 20:7). During the Old Testament era the ancient Israelites often spoke the name Yahweh. We know this from the text of the Old Testament and also from archeological discoveries such as the Lachish and Arad ostraca. Sometime between the close of the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus the Jewish people began interpreting the commandment not to use the name of Yahweh in vain to mean never to utter the name of the Lord. The practice developed of only the High Priest speaking the Holy Name during the Day of Atonement ceremonies. Due to this practice the correct pronunciation of the name of the Lord was forgotten. Scholars use "Yahweh" but this is only a scholarly convention and is absolutely not the correct pronunciation. At the time of Jesus, speaking the name of Yahweh aloud was considered a grave offense, even blasphemy. If someone reading the Scriptures came across the name of Yahweh and accidentally spoke it aloud, that person would be permanently exiled from the Dead Sea Scrolls Community. The name of Yahweh is not used in the New Testament. It was the practice of Jesus and the Apostle not to speak the name of God aloud as was the custom of their surrounding culture. Since the correct pronunciation was lost YHWH is sometimes called the Tetragrammaton, meaning the "Four Letters." (The letters "yod," "hey," "vav," "hey" in the Hebrew.) We do not know how YHWH was pronounced. Earlier Bible scholars approximated the pronunciation with the pronunciation "Jehovah." A current scholarly convention is to pronounce it "Yahweh" but this is most definitely a mispronunciation. Richard Elliot Friedman noted, "I…share a caution against being too sure of our scholarly reconstruction, which I received from a Hassidic rabbi who sat in on my class one day. After the lesson I asked him if he was offended by my saying the name out loud in the class, and he said; "It's okay. You don't know that you're pronouncing it right." That dramatizes the situation. And this situation strikes me as a noteworthy development in Judaism and Christianity from the perspective of the hiding of the face of God. Even when the motive was to treat the name of God with reverence, as being too holy to be said aloud, the ironic result was that people forgot what their God's name was" (The Hidden Face of God p. 139). (It is interesting that Jeremiah warned the Israelites that, due to their sins, God would punish them by causing them to forget his Holy Name. Jeremiah 44:26 states, "I have sworn by My name, "says the Lord, "that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah.") Now, with the Sacred Name having been discovered written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics in Nubia we can get a better approximation of how "Yahweh" was originally pronounced. The pronunciation of the name was most likely Yahu or Yahwoh (Or perhaps, Yahoo-wah). Hebrew inscriptions found in Israel and Aramaic papyri found in Elephantine, Egypt also point to the pronunciation Yahoo.
So what does the name Yahweh mean? Some Bible scholars use Genesis 3:13-14 to understand it to mean "I Am."
Moses said to God, "When I come to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh." He continued, "Thus shall you say to the Israelites, 'Ehyeh sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:13-14 (JPS Tanakh Version)
Ehyeh-asher-ehyeh, which translated from the Hebrew means "I AM THAT I AM," is not the same as Yahweh. It does not reflect the "root" of the name Yahweh. It may be an explanation of the name Yahweh-but there is another explanation of the "meaning" of this name, the Hebrew word for "Jealous." Often Yahweh says, "My name is Jealous" (Exodus 34:14) and the word "jealous" is equated with the name Yahweh. The Mari texts contained many Amorite names that contain the word "ya-wi," "yahwi" and other similar forms. These are probably conjugations, causatives, imperfects and jussives meaning "brings into being" or "gives life." This may indicate the actual original meaning of the Divine Name. The Mari texts are referring to a pagan god, Dingir.
Richard Elliot Friedman also noted that Yahweh is a masculine name. He says, "God's name in the Bible, Yahweh, is as masculine a name as Ralph or Richard. The biblical authors regularly identify God with masculine verbs and adjectives. Yahweh is pictured as a father, not a mother; as a husband, not a wife; as a king, not a queen; as a lord, not a lady. And, historically, on occasions when the ancient Israelites lapsed from monotheism, they pictured their God with a female consort. An inscription from Kuntillet Ajrud refers to "Yahweh…and His Asherah." Asherah was a goddess, also known as the queen of heaven. In the biblical text itself, as well, the prophet Jeremiah criticizes the people for worshiping the queen of heaven. The problem in Jeremiah is not that they are worshiping this goddess instead of Yahweh, but rather that they worship her in addition to Him (Jer. 7:2, 18; 44:15-26)" (The Hidden Face of God Page 285). According to Mr. Friedman, if Yahweh were a feminine name it would be "Tahweh."
The Kenite Hypothesis
The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; And I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. Jeremiah 35:1-19 (KJV)
In this passage of Scripture, the Prophet Jeremiah brings Rechabites into the Temple. Non-Israelites were not allowed to enter the Temple. At the time of Jesus, signs were erected in the Temple warning Gentiles not to enter the Temple and telling them that if they did so they would be immediately killed. Paul was arrested and eventually executed under the false accusation of bringing gentiles into the Temple (Acts 21:29-30). And yet we see Jeremiah bringing gentiles into the Temple of Yahweh. What is wrong with this picture? Why are gentiles allowed inside of God's holy temple? Why? Because they are of a much more ancient priesthood that that of the Israelites! The Rechabites are similar to the priesthood of the order of Melchizedek. (Melchizedek was a gentile, a Jebusite, and also a priest of "God Most High" to whom Abraham gave tithes in Genesis 14:19-20. David and his descendents are proclaimed to be "priests forever after the order of Melchizedek" in Psalms 110:4. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, Melchizedek is described as being a symbolic type of Christ (Hebrews 5:5-11, 7:11-25). In Hebrews 6:20 it states that Jesus has "become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (I discuss these issues in my book "Christ the Man.") The Hebrew text of 2 Samuel 8:18 states that "David's sons were priests." 2 Samuel 20: 25-26 states that King David had three priests, two High Priests, Zadok and Abiathar, and a personal priest, a non-Levite priest named Ira the Jairite. This shouldn't be viewed as altogether unusual since Samuel's family were not priests. He came from Ephraim and yet he functioned as a priest.) Chris Maddocks wrote about the Rechabites with a focus on the interesting incident of Jeremiah bringing them into the Temple in an article entitled The Rechabites-An Example of Faithfulness and Separation. In this article he compares and contrasts the faithfulness of the gentile Rechabites with the faithlessness and unbelief of the Israelite Jews. Maddocks says,
The Rechabites, we learn from the Inspired Record, were a branch, or tribe of the Kenites, who served as scribes before the Lord. In 1 Chronicles 2, the families of Israel are recounted: "And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab" (v 55). The father of the house of Rechab then, Hemath, was a Kenite, through whom certain families, including the Rechabites came, each family taking up the position of Scribes in the service of the Lord…
The Kenites, through whom the Rechabites came, were remarkably a Gentile nation, destined for destruction under the promises Yahweh made to Abraham - their land forming part of the territory promised to his seed: "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt, unto the great river, the river Euphrates; the Kenites, and the Kenizites, and the Kadmonites ..." (Gen 15:18,19). And this only adds to the wonder of what we read of in Jeremiah 35, that the Rechabites were from a Gentile people! It was a Gentile family that were held as an example of faithfulness to Israel, in the last days prior to their destruction, and who were given such a glorious promise by Israel's God! So it is, that in these things we have foreshadowed the manner in which through the Jewish rejection of the things of God, in these last days, the hope of Salvation is extended to us, as Gentiles, if we learn to emulate the faith and obedience of the Rechabites.
The Rechabites, who were a clan of the Kenites, are mentioned in several important places in the Bible. The Kenites were a tribe or clan of semi-nomadic metalworkers, whose name is derived from the Aramaic word for "smith." They believed they were the descendants of a man named "Kain." They had lived in the copper-rich districts of the Sinai and Seir. The Bible says that they also lived in the land of Canaan before Abraham arrived in Genesis 15:18-19. Thus they are not the descendants of Abraham at all. The Kenites are Arabs. Although, Ishmael and other sons of Abraham through Keturah, became "fathers" of the Arab peoples, the Kenites are an earlier tribe of Arabs. The Kenite hypothesis is the theory that Yahweh was originally the tribal God of the Kenites and that Moses and Israel acquired the knowledge of Yahweh from Moses' Kenite father-in-law, Jethro. Most Kenites were nomads, although some Kenites did live in cities. Nomads are people who live in tents and whom often move from place to place. Most of the early stories in the Bible are about people who live as nomads. Abraham was a nomad. He lived in tents and moved whenever his cattle needed a new place to graze. Later, when the Israelites settled in the land of Canaan, many of them lived in permanent houses and earned their living as craftsmen or farmers.
We know from archeological discoveries that certain Arab tribes worshiped Yahweh in ancient tribes. When Moses fled from Pharaoh he settled among Yahweh worshiping Arabic tribes. He took a wife, Zipporah, from among them. Jethro, the Father-in-Law of Moses, was a Kenite. This is clearly stated in Judges 1:16. (The Kenites at times dwelt in the land of the Midianites and even among the Amalakites, but were a distinct people from them. The Kenites confederated with the Midianites, but although they joined themselves to the Midianites, they were not descended from Midian.) The Kenites were allies of the Israelites but the Israelites fought against the Midianites and the Amalekites. If Jethro was a Kenite, and the Bible clearly says he was, he may have lived in Midian, but, strictly speaking, he was not a Midianite, because, Midianites were descendants of Abraham and the Kenites were not although certain Kenite tribes may have lived among them and allied themselves with them. According to the Bible, the Kenites were already inhabiting the land of Canaan before Abraham migrated there. Also, on occasion the Midianites fought against the Israelites and vice-versa. In the Scriptures we find that the Israelites and the Kenites were always allied and never fought against each other. This fact is made very clear in Scripture. Prince Moses fled to the land of the Midianites and settled among a tribe of Kenites, worshipers of Yahweh. Later, the Lord would reveal that He, Yahweh, the God of the Kenites, was the same God that was known by his ancestors by the name El Shaddai. This is clearly stated in Scripture in Exodus 6:2. The Lord says to Moses, "I am YHWH. And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob as El Shadday, and I was not know to them by my name, YHWH." The Lord here reveals that He is Yahweh, the God worshiped by the Kenites. Yahweh is his true name although he was worshiped with other titles, such as El Shaddai, by the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
When Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt he met with Jethro the Kenite. Budde notes that Jethro at Sinai "gives expression to his proud joy that his God, Yahweh, the God of the Kenite, has proved himself mightier than all other gods." Jethro led Moses and Aaron in worship, with a sacrifice, offerings and a sacred meal. This was before Aaron was designated to be the high priest and before the law was given. Thus, Moses and Aaron, and even the Lord himself, acknowledged the priesthood of Jethro. A covenant was made between the Israelites and the Kenites at Mount Horeb. Mount Sinai, was, according to the Bible, in the territory of the Kenite priest Jethro and his where the Kenites kept their flocks. Exodus 18:12 states that "Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God." The Kenite Priest of Yahweh, Jethro, here leads Moses and Aaron and all the elders of Israel in worship before Yahweh. Thus, Moses and Aaron recognized the legitimacy of the Rechabite priesthood. It should be noted that Aaron was not consecrated as a priest until ten chapters later, in Exodus 28:1. The Scripture does not present Jethro as an idolater or worshiper of false gods and it does not say that there was ever a time in which Jethro was not a worshiper of Yahweh (although some misinterpret the text in this manner). We also need to consider other evidence- archeological and biblical evidence- going back to Adam and Eve. Thus it seems that the priesthood of the Kenites is older than and superior to that of the Levites and was recognized and acknowledged as such by all the leaders of the tribes of Israel. By allowing Jethro to officiate and to lead the Tribes of Israel in worship, Moses and the leaders of Israel recognized the validity of the Rechabite priesthood. Also, Yahweh Himself accepted and validated this worship. Jethro led all of Israel in sacrificial worship and in a holy communal meal, perhaps similar to the Lord's Supper as practiced by Christians. Jethro gave Moses both religious and legal instruction. In this passage in Exodus, Jethro also counsels Moses concerning the establishment of a court system. The Scripture says, "And it came to pass on the morrow that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, "What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?" And Moses said unto his father in law, "Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws." And Moses' father in law said unto him, "The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God."
Moses' brother-in-law, Hobab, helped the Israelites navigate through the desert. Numbers 10:29-36 (KJV)
And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel [meaning Jethro] the Midianite, Moses' father in law, "We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." And he said unto him, "I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred." And he said, "Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee". And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days' journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp. And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel."
Hobab of the Kenites and Caleb of the closely related Kenizite tribe joined with Moses in the wilderness, guiding, traveling with and providing additional security for the Israelites. The Kenites, and Caleb in particular, also assisted Joshua in the conquest and settlement of the Promised Land. The Rabbis accused Jesus of impiety because his questioning of them about the validity of the Rechabite priesthood in the Toledoth Yeshu. (Toledoth Yeshu is a polemical biography of Jesus that has circulated among the Jewish community for centuries.) In the Toledoth Yeshu it states, "One day Yeshu [Yeshu is Aramaic for Jesus] walked in front of the sages…he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuring debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro." The Toledoth Yeshu is a very hateful attack on Jesus and contains very little useful historical information. However, this incident may be true. Jesus often condemned Israel by comparing them unfavorably against gentile believers. In the synagogue of Nazareth Jesus mentioned the faith of the Lebanese woman who helped Elijah the Prophet and the Syrian General Naaman who was healed of leprosy by Elisha the Prophet (Luke 4:25-28). Jesus also rebuked the Jews for their lack of faith saying the queen of Sheba, in Yemen, would condemn the Israelites on Judgment Day because she sought out and acquired the wisdom of Yahweh from Solomon (Luke 11:31). Jesus also taught that the Assyrians of Nineveh in northern Iraq would also condemn the Jews on the Great Day of Yahweh, because they repented at the preaching of the Prophet Jonah and yet the Israelites refused to believe their King Messiah, the Son of God, despite the miracles he performed (Matthew 12:41).
The Kenite Hypothesis, which is based on clear teachings of the Bible, states that the ancient Hebrews did not know God by the name Yahweh (or Jehovah) until the time of the Exodus. This name is often translated as "the LORD" in Bibles. In the Kenite Hypothesis, it was the Kenites who first worshiped Yahweh. Moses sojourned among the Kenites and among them he received the revelation that the God of the Kenites, Yahweh, was the same God worshiped by his forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by a different name, that of El Shadday, meaning "God Almighty."
Exodus 6:3 God also spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai, but by my name Yahweh I did not make myself known to them."
The text here clearly says that God did not make his name Yahweh known to the Patriarchs. He doesn't say that the Patriarch didn't understand what the name meant-he says they didn't know it at all. (This is a source of confusion to certain people because the name Yahweh appears before this verse and in sections dealing with the Patriarchs. This is because the story of the Patriarchs was written in Hebrew as it was spoken at the time it was written and does not reflect the form of the language as it was spoken by the Patriarchs.) This is also confirmed in Hosea 12:10 says, "I have been Yahweh, your God, since the days in the land of Egypt, I will make you live in tents again as on the day of Meeting. I will speak to the prophets, I will increase the visions and through the prophets I shall speak in parables" (TJB). Note that the Lord says he has been Yahweh their God since the days in the land of Egypt, meaning when Moses revealed the name Yahweh, the God of the Kenites, to the children of Israel, and not in the day of Abraham and the Patriarchs. Abraham did know God but as El-Shaddai and not by the name of Yahweh. (In Hosea 13:10 this is repeated, "Yet I have been Yahweh your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.") Notice when God reminds that he has been their God in Egypt-he says "I will make you live in tents again." This is because the Kenites, who originally worshiped Yahweh, were nomads who lived in tents. (There are other places that also clearly state that until the Exodus, the Israelites did not know God by the name Yahweh or worship him as such. When God appeared to Moses in the incident of the burning bush, he asked Yahweh, Moses asked, "Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?" (Exodus 3:13). According to Joshua, the Hebrews were worshiping other gods when they were in Egypt before Moses appeared unto them (Joshua 2:14-15).)
Other indications that this is true is the fact that no man in the Bible has a Yahwistic name until Joshua. A Yahwistic name is a name with "Yah" in it-a form of the name "Yahweh" embedded in the name. (In Europe, "J" was used for the letter "Y" for a time, which is part of the reason the name YHWH used to be pronounced Jehovah.) Yahwistic names include Jehosophat, Jeremiah, Elijah, Isaiah and many others. (This can be seen in our English version of these Hebrew names. However, in the Hebrew names, the form "Yahoo" is used. Therefore, it is Eli-Yahoo, rather than Elijah, and ect. In archeological discoveries "Yahoo" has been verified to have been commonly used in Hebrew names in ancient times (after the Exodus).) None of the Patriarchs from the time before Moses have the name "Yahweh" in their names-because they didn't know the name Yahweh. Joshua is the first man with a Yahwistic name and "Joshua" isn't his original name-he was renamed by Moses. As it says in Numbers 13:16, "And Moses changed the name of Hoshea the son of Nun to Joshua."
Many scholars have accepted the Kenite Hypothesis, for instance in "The Oxford Dictionary of the Biblical World" Lawrence E. Stager writes,
Nearly a century ago the historian Eduard Meyer traced the origin of Yahwism to the Midianites and to one of their subgroups, the Kenites. Recent archaeological discoveries in northern Arabia and elsewhere have revived and revised the "Midianite/Kenite" hypothesis, most elegantly expressed in the writings of the biblical scholar Frank M. Cross. A biography of Moses, the founder of Yahwism, cannot be written from the biblical legends that surround him. But several details in his saga, especially concerning the Midianites, seem to be early and authentic…The traditions of benign relations between the Midianites and the Moses group reflect the period prior to 1100 BC, that is, before the era of Gideon and Abimelech, when the camel-riding and –raiding Midianites become the archenemies of the Israelites (Judges 6). The Midianites, like the Kenites, the Amalekites, and the Ishmaelites, disappear from biblical history by the tenth century BC. It strains credulity to think that traditions about Moses, the great lawgiver and hero who married the daughter of the priest of Midian, were created during or after these hostilities…In one tradition Moses' father-in-law is identified with the Kenites (Judges 1:16), whose descendents dwell among the Amalekites in the northern Negeb near Arad (1 Samuel 15:5-6). Moshe Kochavi has plausibly suggested that the main Amalekite center was located at Tel Masos. Apparently the Kenites and the Amalekites were part of the large confederation of Midianites, who in the twelfth century BC were still on friendly terms with the Israelites. Genealogical traditions identified Kenites with Cain (qayyan means "metal smith" in Aramaic) and Tubal-cain "who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools" (Geneses 4:22). The date and distribution of "Midianite painted pottery," also called "Hijaz painted pottery," corroborates and clarifies some of the Midiantie traditions adumbrated above. The key site is a large urban oasis known today as Qurayyah in northwestern Arabia, in the heartland of ancient Midian.
The Kenites were followers of Yahweh long before the Israelites followed Yahweh. The Kenites knew and worshiped Yahweh independently of and earlier than the Hebrews.
Yahweh Came From Seir
Yahweh came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, Deut. 33:1-2 (KJV)
The earliest record we have of the name "Yahweh," which is the name sometimes pronounced as "Jehovah," is in an ancient Egyptian temple at Soleb in Nubia. The name Yahweh is in these inscriptions a toponym (meaning "place-name") and is associated with the region of Seir. The Egyptians were referring to a tribe of Arabs, nomadic Bedouin Arabs that were called "Shashu" by the Egyptians. (The Shasu Arabs described as being "of Yahweh" by the Egyptians are probably the Kenite, Rechabites and some Midianites. Apparently, the Kenites were an Arabic class below the Bedouin, called the Salubba, which means, the crossed ones, for the mark of the tribe, a cross, which is tattooed onto their foreheads and is the tribal mark of the Kenites.) The earliest reference we have of Yahweh is in an Egyptian monument describing the lands that neighbor Egypt. One of these lands is called "Yahweh of Bedouin-Land." These Arabs who lived in this region near Seir were worshipers of Yahweh and they were not Israelites, in fact they worshiped God by the name of Yahweh earlier than and independently of the Israelites. The Rechabites knew God by his holy name, Yahweh, as did their primitive Kenite ancestors. The Israelites did not know God as Yahweh, until Moses revealed this Name to them, after he sojourned among the Yahweh-worshiping Kenites among who he settled when he fled from Pharaoh because he had killed an Egyptian. Worship of "El Shaddai" as Yahweh came to the Israelites through the mediation of the Kenites. If Moses delivered the Israelites from under slavery during the reign of Ramses, as most biblical scholars believe (and how it is portrayed in most movies about the Exodus, such as "The Ten Commandments" and "The Prince of Egypt") then Shusu Arabs worshiped Yahweh centuries earlier. Shasu worshiped Yahweh before the reign of the Eighteenth-dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC). (The Exodus is believed by the majority of Biblical scholars to have taken place at the end of the Late Bronze Age around the time of Ramesses II (Circa 1279-1213 BC).) In one of the inscriptions Amenhotep boasts of his domination over foreigners including the Shashu. Shashu is the ancient Egyptian word for an Arab Bedouin Nomad. We have two Egyptian texts, one from the 14th century and the other from the 13th Century BC. The earlier text mentions "Yahu [referring to Yahweh] in the land of the Shasu." In these texts Yahweh is neither connected with the Israelites, nor is his worship centrally located in the land of Canaan. In the second text written under Ramses II (but being a copy of a much older list), Yahu is mentioned in connection with Seir. In these texts it is "Yahu in the land of Shoshu," which is situated in Edom and Midian. Yahu is presented here as a toponym, a place-name. This is because the people of this region worshiped Yahweh. This land, the land of Seir and Teman, was the land of the Yahweh worshiping Kenite Arabs in ancient times. By the 14h Century BC, before the worship of Yahweh had reached Israel, groups of Nomadic Arabs, the Kenite Rechabites, worshiped Yahweh in the land of Edom and Midian. According to The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, "If Yahwism did indeed originate with Midianites or Kenites-and the evidence seems to point in that direction-it may have been brought to Transjordan and central Palestine by traders along the caravan routes from the south to the east."
(In the Old Testament the name of Yahweh is found some 6,000 times. In times past this name has been mistranslated Jehovah. Ancient Hebrew used only consonants and not vowels and the Jewish people began to avoid speaking aloud the name Yahweh out of fear they may unintentionally take the name of Yahweh in vain and break one of the Ten Commandments. They began the custom of speaking of God through circumlocutions such as Ha-Shem, meaning the Name, or Adonai, meaning the Lord. So the exact pronunciation of the name of the Yahweh was lost. Ancient Hebrew had no vowels and so the name Yahweh was written YHWH. This is called the Tetragrammaton, which means "Four Letters." The exact pronunciation of YHWH is unknown. For convenience many scholars use Yahweh but it could have been pronounced Yahu, Yahoo or Yahowah.)
In various passages of Scriptures in the Old Testament, Yahweh is spoken of as having come from Seir and Teman. This seems to be explaining that Yahweh was worshiped of old by the Kenites in Seir and in Teman, regions to the South and South-east of the Holy Land. Most scholars identify the mountains of Petra in Jordan as the "Mount Seir" mountain range. (Specifically, most scholars believe that Jebel esh-Shera east of the Arabah is "Mount Seir.") The Edomites, who were closely related to the Israelites, lived in Seir. (Often in the Bible "Seir" is used to mean Edom and the Edomites. However, Seir is also a place not just a people. The Kenites most likely lived in Seir and migrated throughout that region before the Edomites existed as a people.) Worship of Yahweh was brought from these regions, the regions of Seir and Teman, to the Hebrew people in the land of Canaan. This is affirmed in several passages in the Holy Bible, including the "Song of Moses."
And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, "The LORD (YHWH) came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them." Deut. 33:1-2 (KJV)
The Prophetess Deborah, whom, like Moses, also allied herself with the Kenites, also describes Yahwoh as coming from Seir-the place where the Kenites worshiped Yahwoh in time immemorial.
Judges 5:1-9 (KJV)
Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye Yahweh for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Yahweh God of Israel. Yahweh, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the Yahweh God of Israel. In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael…Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed…
Both Shamgar and Jael were non-Israelite. This hymn of praise is about Jael the Kenite. Later the Prophet Habakkuk also mentions that of old Yahweh was associated with Teman in Habakkuk 3:2-4:
O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Habakkuk 3:2-4 (KJV)
Why does Yahweh come from Seir and Teman? Because it was in these ancient lands that He was worshiped of old by the Kenite Arabs! Here in these passages the Israelites remembered that the Kenites worshiped Yahweh in these regions in ancient times. The Song of Deborah, which praises the Kenites, also says that Yahweh, the God of Israel, dawned from Seir. Note, Yahweh is referred to as "the God of Israel" in the prayer of Jabez.
In Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times Donald Redford describes the archeological evidence. "Shasu [literally meaning "a people who move on foot" which is the ancient Egyptian term for Bedouin Arab] are found in Egyptian texts from the 18th Dynasty through the Third Intermediate Period. They most frequently occur in generalizing toponym lists where the context helps little in pinpointing their location. But lists from Soleb [in Nubia] and Amarah ultimately of fifteenth century [B.C.] origin [circa 17th/18th Dynasty] suggest an original concentration of Shashu settlements lay in the southern Transjordan in the plains of Moab and southern Edom. Here a group of six names is identified as in 'the land of the Shashu' and these include Se'ir (i.e. Edom), Laban (probably Libona, south of Amman), Sam'ath (cf. the Shim'ethites, a clan of the Kenites: 1 Chron. 2:55), Wrbr (probably the Wady Hasa) [Yhw and Pysps]. Elsewhere in the texts of the 19th and 20th Dynasties, the consistent linking of Shashu with Edom and the Araba (Timna) places the identifications on the earlier lists beyond doubt." Redford continues, "The localization of the 'Land of the Shasu' in the mountainous districts of Se'ir…. has an interesting consequence for one name in the mentioned lists from Soleb and Amarah-'Yhw (in) the land of the Shasu.' For half a century it has been generally admitted that we have here the Tetragrammaton, the name of the Israelite god, 'Yahweh'; and if be the case, as it undoubtedly is, the passage constitutes a most precious indication of the whereabouts during the late fifteenth century BC of an enclave revering this god…Numerous passages in the later Biblical tradition…depict Yahweh 'coming forth from Se'ir' and originating in Edom." Also, ancient graffiti at Kuntillet Ajrud mentions "Yahweh of Teman" These Shasu/Bedouin were the Kenites. Scriptures mention Yahweh "dawning" from Seir. This is an admission here that before the Israelites existed as a people God was known and worshiped by the name Yahweh by the Kenite Arab. (The earliest appearance of the name "Yahweh" is at Soleb. The earliest appearance of the name Yahweh we have in Hebrew is the King Mesha of Moab inscription. Note that the Sam'ath-a clan of the Kenites, are mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions, as related to the Shasu and that the Shasu of Yahweh are mentioned in the Ancient Egyptian Temple inscriptions at Soleb and Amara West in the Sudan.)
Lars Eric Axelson The Lord Rose Up From Seir: Studies in the History and Traditions of the Negev and Southern Judah (Alqvist & Wiksell International, 1987) describes these important archeological discoveries that confirm that Yahweh was worshiped in ancient times by the Arabs in the region of Seir, Teman and Midian.
The historical fact which is reflected in the epiphanic poems of the OT which we have dealt with above is that in pre-Israelite times YHWH was worshiped throughout a sizable area on both sides of the Wadi el-Arabah. Among the tribes which worshiped this God were at least some of the Shasu bedoiuns, with whom we are familiar through attestations in Egyptian texts. Already these groups will most likely have associated YHWH with a mountain of God. At a much later date the traditions of YHWH's residence in the south and of the mountain of the God located there were recorded in North Israelite poetry and in pilgrimages from Israel to the mountain in questions. An extensive historical evolution which took place over a long period of time above all in Judah and Jerusalem had helped to obscure or transform the contents of these traditions by the classical period of official, normative Yahwism.
The Shasu Bedouins
We shall now proceed to examine the extra-Biblical materials which provide the most obvious parallels to this worship of YHWH, which in the OT is only just visible. The so-called Shasu Bedouins are most commonly mentioned in Egyptians texts. Two temples in ancient Nubia in the modern Sudan, one of which is from the time of Amenophis III in Soleb, while the other derives from Rameses II and is situated in W. Amarah, we find lists of a number of territories belonging to these Shasu. One of these regions is called Seir, and it is also mentioned together with the Shasu in other inscriptions. Yet another name, which occurs at Soleb and at W. Amarah is t3 shsu yhw, the "land of the Shasu YHW." In this connection Yhw is clearly a toponym, that is, part of the territory belonging to the Shasu Bedouins called Yhw. This toponym seems also to occur in a grace in Thebes dating from the 11th dynasty (close to the 3rd millennium) although in this connection it is not connected with the Shasu, and the orthography is somewhat different; here it seems to designate an area from which various minerals were imported. It is also mentioned a few more times in epigraphical sources.
The question, of course, is, what was the precise significance of the t3 shsu yahw? The Shasu are mentioned in southern Palestine, in Transjordan, and in northern Palestine/Syria. The places or regions mentioned in the list from W. Amarah have recently been held to have been situated in the north Palestinian/Syrian ambit, but the most probable location remains in the area south of Canaan or the southern region of Transjordan. Also the ancient attestation from Thebes suggests a degree of proximity to the Sinai Peninsula.
(In the Bible the word "Shu'aib" is used in connection with Jethro. This word recalls the Egyptian word "shasu.") Benjamin Mazar in his paper, "Yahweh came from Seir" mentions, "Egyptian topographical list of Amenhotep III found in the Temple of Amon at Soleb in Nubia, as well as the list of Ramesses II at Amarah-West, which appear to provide evidence of a possible early worship of Yahweh in these territories. [Both Soleb and Amara West, where the Yahweh inscriptions are found, are located in the Sudan.] This is justified by the fact that the geographic denomination "t: Shusu Yahwu", "the land of the nomads, Yahweh" appears in both documents written in syllabic orthography (the vocalization of this toponymn was proposed by Albright) and what is more important, that this appears along with "t: shusu Seir" and "t shasu Laban," as well as other topographical names. We must take cognizance of the fact that the name of Yahweh appears in the land of the nomads east of Egypt. We must also not the appearance of the areas identified as Seir and Laban, whith which we are familiar not only through biblical sources, but also from other records: Seir from Egyptian documents of the 19th-20th Dynasties and Laban from the topographical list of Shishak I and the annals of Sargon II of Assyria. They lend support to the supposition that the worship of Yahweh existed there already in the time of Amenhoteop III, towards the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 14th centuries BC…In the excavations of Arad in the Negev a sanctuary which was maintained during the period of the Judean Monarchy, and which had its inception at an early stage of the Iron Age. It was founded apparently by the Kenite clad Hobab, an ethnic group which had practiced metal working. They formed part of the desert nomads who established strong links with the early Israelites who worshiped Yahweh. They were also linked by marriage with Moses, and this led to the establishment of a shrine at Arad and to its careful maintenance during many centuries." Kenites were nomadic metal smiths. Ancient copper production sites have been discovered in Edom, which is synonymous with Seir. Edom and Seir are mentioned in ancient Egyptian records. Ancient Egyptian records from the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah (c. 1224-1214 BC) describe the "Bedouin tribes of Edom." These tribes probably included the Kenites.
So what were Seir and Teman? They were holy places dedicated to Yahweh, much the same as Horeb (or Sinai) which was in the same vicinity. These were places of worship and pilgrimage. It should be remembered that Moses requested Pharaoh that he allow the Israelites to go on a religious festival in the desert. Moses didn't initially request that Pharaoh release all his Hebrew slaves. His original request was, "the God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go three days' journey into the desert and sacrifice to the LORD our God" (Exodus 5:3). Moses initially requested only that the Israelites be allowed to go on a religious pilgrimage into the desert to a place where pilgrimages were made to worship Yahweh by other (non-Hebrew) people that worshiped Yahweh, namely the Kenites. Yahweh was known and worshiped at Seir, Teman and Sinai. This is referred to in the Soleb Temple inscriptions. Yahweh was worshiped in ancient times at Seir but later He was also came to be worshiped at Jerusalem as well. In "Wilderness Wanderings: Ethnographic Lessons from Modern Bedouin" by Ze'ev Meshel (BAR Vol 34 No 4) the author notes,
"Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness," Moses tells Pharaoh in God's name (Exodus 5:1). If we understand it as is, the purpose of this request was to deceive Pharaoh and to conceal their intention to travel to their real destination: the land of Canaan. But Pharaoh and his advisors are not naïve. They are not stupid. They "buy" this request to go into the desert because this "excuse" has a background in reality. It probably reflects the custom of pilgrimages to tombs, sacred places and mountains, a common custom among nomads. The Biblical words translated as "hold a feast to me in the wilderness" should be understood as "make a pilgrimage to me in the wilderness." Even today this custom, called Zu'ara ("visit, pilgrimage") is observed among the Sinai Bedouin, who make pilgrimage to their sheikhs' tombs; some of these are tribal, whereas others are holy to all the tribes.
The Israelites were to visit Yahweh at his holy place at Sinai in the Kenite tribal regions of Seir, Teman and Sinai. The Pharaoh of the Exodus may not have personally known who Yahweh was. However, Egyptian records at Soleb show that ancient Egyptians were familiar with Yahweh and that they knew of the Holy Places in the desert where Arab tribes worshiped Yahweh centuries before the Exodus. This explains how Pharaoh and the Egyptians understood Moses' request take his people on a religious pilgrimage to the holy places of Yahweh in the desert. (When Pharaoh says "I know not Yahweh" (Exodus 5:2) it may not have meant he wasn't aware of whom Yahweh was. We know from archeological evidence that his scribes and advisors were indeed aware of Yahweh because records of this fact have survived. It may have been a way of his showing contempt towards Yahweh. Pharaoh viewed himself as a god. The Egyptian people and their priests also looked upon Pharaoh as the incarnation of the falcon/solar god Horus. His words perhaps could have meant "I do not recognize Yahweh to be a god." Perhaps he was not recognizing Yahweh as on par with the gods of Egypt, to which pantheon Pharaoh belonged. He was also refusing to submit to the will of Yahweh and refusing to recognize Yahweh's authority. Jesus uses "I never knew you" to mean "I utterly reject you" in his parables. It can't literally mean "I don't know who you are" because God, who is speaking in these parables, is all-knowing and the parables do imply familiarity (Matthew 25:11). This is especially seen in Matthew 7:23 when Jesus states "I never knew you" and then he describes their past actions saying "you…practice lawlessness." Pharaoh's words should be understood as a familiar eastern figure of speech that we find Jesus using in these parables. When Pharaoh said "I know not Yahweh" he probably isn't saying he isn't aware of who Yahweh is but instead is literally saying, "I refuse to recognize Yahweh and refuse to submit to his authority" Also, the Exodus can be viewed as a struggle between Yahweh and the gods of Egypt. Each plague was directed against an Egyptian god. For example, the Nile was a god. In the first plague the Nile turns to blood. The Sun was the god Ra to the Egyptians. In one plague the Sun is darkened. Lastly, Pharaoh was a god and his son was smitten dead. The story of the Exodus is the story of Yahweh conquering the false gods of Egypt.)
Job also seems to be connected to the Rechabites. In the Septuagint we find additional information about Job.
This man is described in the Syriac [meaning Aramaic] book as living in the land of Ausis [Uz], on the borders of Idumea and Arabia: and his name before was Jobab; and having taken an Arabian wife, he begot a son whose name was Ennon. And he himself was the son of his father Zare, one of the sons of Esau, and of his mother Bosorrha, so that he was the fifth from Abraam. And these were the kings who reigned in Edom, which country he also ruled over: first, Balac, the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dennaba: but after Balac, Jobab, who is called Job: and after him Asom, who was governor out of the country of Theaman [meaning Teman]: and after him Adad, the son of Barad, who destroyed Madiam in the plain of Moab; and the name of his city was Gehaim. And his friends who came to him were Eliphaz, of the children of Esau, king of the Thaemanites [or Temanites], Baldad, sovereign of the Sauchaeands, Sophar king of the Minaeans.
In the Book of Lamentations in the Bible, Uz is also identified with Edom. Scripture says, "rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, You who dwell in the land of Us" (Lamentations 4:21). So we see that Job is an Arabian king who lives in the land of Edom. Like Jabez, Job is a gentile, or non-Israelite, The Old Testament says people of this region were renown for their wisdom. One of Job's friends is Eliphaz of Teman. As we have seen the Scripture states that Yahweh comes from Teman. Job's friend Eliphaz also is the most mystical of Job's companions in that he sees visions and has encounters with the spirit world (Job 4:15-16). In Genesis 36: 10, Eliphaz appears in connection with Teman, "These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz, son of Esau's wife Adah…The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz." v. 15 The following are the clans of Esau's descendants. The descendants of Eliphaz, Esau's first-born: the clans of Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz. v. 31 The following are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Israelites. Bela son of Beor, became king in Edom…When Bela died, Jobab, son of Zereh, from Bozrah, succeeded him as king." According to the Jerusalem Bible the cities from whence Job's friends came are "three towns situated in Idumaean and Arab territory. Edom and "the East," cf. 1:3+, were regarded by the Israelites as the homeland of the sages 1 Kings 5:10-11; 10:1-3, Pr. 30:1, 31:1, Jr. 49:7; Ob. 8; Baruch 3:22-23)". There were definitely Yahweh worshipers in Seir and Edom. (The Edomites seemed to have worshiped a god named Qos, which means bow (as in a bow and arrow). Not much is known about this god, but perhaps Qos was a title for Yahweh and the Edomites worshiped Yahweh by the name Qos. In the Noah story the rainbow is described as the "bow of Yahweh" in Genesis 9:12.)
Shasu (or Bedouin) of Yahweh bas relief from the Temple of Soleb.
The Temple of Soleb
So, what is a Kenite and what is a Rechabite and why does it matter? Robert Graves described them as "tented Rechabites, or Kenites, a Canaanite tribe with whom the Jews had been allied since the days of Moses" From Biblical and extra-biblical accounts and archeological discoveries we know that they were (or are) an Arabian tribe which worshiped Yahweh earlier than and independently of the Hebrews. Certain Bible scholars and theologians believe that the Kenites introduced the Israelites to the worship of Jehovah (now, pronounced Yahweh). This does seem to be indicated by the Bible. Before we explore this subject fully we must deal with the fact that the Kenites are Arabs, but they were not descended from Abraham or Ishmael as we see in Scripture where God says to Abraham, "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates; the Kenites, the Kenizites and the Kadmonites…" (Genesis 15:18-19). In fact, the Kenites predate Abraham and Ishmael. Stade described the Kenites as a lowly tribe of nomadic Bedouin, or as the "Kenite Bedouin tribe." The Kenites are spoken of as dwelling in the land of Canaan before Abraham arrived there. The earliest mention of the word "Arab" in the Hebrew text is in Exodus 12:37-38, which can be translated, "The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 men on foot, besides children. A multitude of Arabs also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds." The word in Hebrew here, A-R-B, or Arab, is usually translated at this text as "mixed multitude" in most translations. This verse seems to be describing allied Arab tribes, the Kenites and the Kenizzites, uniting with the Israelites after their departure from Egypt. (The next time Arabs are mentioned in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 17:11 where Arabs give gifts of sheep and goats to King Jehoshaphat. This reminds us of the wise men of the east who gave gifts to the child Jesus. One of their gifts was myrrh, which comes from Arabia and is one of the indications that the Magi were Arabs (Matthew 2:11). Isaiah 60:6 seems to be a prophecy of the coming of the Maji to Jesus and describes them as Arabs, saying, "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of Yahweh.") The Bible describes three important Kenites Arabs joining and allying themselves with Israel in the wilderness, Jethro the Kenite, as a judicial advisor (Exodus 18), Hobab, the son of Jethro, as a navigator (Numbers 10:29-32) and Caleb the Kenizzite as warrior and general (Joshua 14:6-15). Caleb represented the tribe of Judah when he was one of the 12 spies that surveyed the Holy Land (Number 13:6) and he encouraged the people to take the land (Numbers 13:30, 14:6-10) but elsewhere he is clearly described as being a Kenizzite, not an Israelite. Caleb the Kenizite is described as a man who "wholly followed Yahweh" (Numbers 32:12, Joshua 14:6,14) and is called Yahweh's servant in Numbers 14:24). Caleb's fighting during the conquest of the Holy Land is described in Joshua 14:6-14, 15:13-19. Caleb's name means "dog." Some Bible scholars believe this refers to the Arabian family group or tribe he belonged to (the "tribe of dog"). Today, Moslem Arabs view dogs as "unclean." This is due to the fact that Mohammed was afraid of dogs and Mohammed has a powerful influence on Moslems today. Among the Bedouins (who are not the most observant Moslems and even Mohammed conceded this fact) and the Salubba, their hunting dogs are highly valued. Arabian Horses are a very famous breed. The Bedouin Arabian dog, the Saluki, is an important breed as well. The Saluki is the oldest known breed of dog. Its history can be traced back almost 7,000 years. Ancient depictions of this breed of dog have been found in archeological ruins in Iraq and Egypt. Genetic studies have confirmed the antiquity of Salukis and have shown them to be one of the earliest breed of dogs to diverge from wolves. They are also the fastest dogs, faster than greyhounds. They can run 48 miles an hour. Bedouin and Salubba value their Saluki so much they allow them to sleep with them inside their tents. Perhaps Caleb was named after his tribe's use of the Saluki hunting dog. The Book of Judges describes the Kenizzites (Judges 1:13) and the Kenites (Judges 1:16) settlement in the Promised Land along with the Israelites. When Joshua took the land, he built and altar to Yahweh at Mount Ebal. The Bible, says, afterwards, we "read all the words of the law, the blessings and curses…There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua did not read before all the congregation of Israel, with the women and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them" (Joshua 8:34-35). (These "strangers" were the Kenites and Kenizzites.) So, we see that the Kenites were present at the formal blessing and consecration of the Israelites in their land.
There is a great deal of disinformation about Arabs and their origins given out from pulpits across America based on a misreading and a misunderstanding of Sacred Scripture. Many Arab's hearts have been closed to the Gospel due to hateful statements made against the Arab people as a race that comes from pulpits of Christian churches all across America. I believe it is a sin to preach racial and ethnic hatred against people from the pulpits in the name of Jesus Christ. I am not speaking of challenging teachings of Islam or Islamic beliefs. Where Islam contradicts scriptures and Christian beliefs or basic moral values and justice, the preacher ought to speak on these issues. When Islamic radicals persecute Christians or commit violent acts these crimes need to be exposed and condemned. However, to preach hatred towards a race of people and towards people for whom Jesus Christ loved so much that he suffered, bled and died for them upon the cross is a sin. Christians in America tend to demonize Arabs. This attitude is neither Biblical nor Christian.
Hatred of Arabs is often preached in sermons attacking Abraham for begetting the Arabic people. Here is a "Getting ahead of God" or "Abraham's Sin" sermon synopsis. This sermon is preached countless times across the country every week. It goes like this, "Abraham didn't trust God. God told him that he was to have a son. Instead of doing things God's way Abraham did things his own way. He listened to his wife and sinned by sleeping with her maid. The product of this union are those miserable, no-good stinking Arabic people. Because Abraham tried to get ahead of God he unleashed these no-good Arabs on the world and we have to put up with them and endure the terrible consequences of his sin-the existence of the vile Arabic people." Archeological evidence shows that is was a common, accepted and legal practice to have a heir through the wife's maid if the wife was barren. The Bible does not describe this relationship as a sin. Polygamy was permissible in the Law of Moses and in the Hebrew culture before that time period. I have never heard a sermon preached against Jacob who engaged in the same practice with both of his wives' servants. The reason that Jacob isn't preached against for having sex with his wives' slave girls is that the children he begat through these sexual acts became the Patriarchs of Israelite tribes. Abraham's child with Hagar, Ishmael, became a father of Arabic tribes. Because many pastors hate Arabs, they attack Abraham. Many pastors don't know the Bible well enough to know that Abraham fathered other Arabic tribes though another woman. After Sarah died, Abraham took another wife, an Arab woman named Keturah, probably a Kenite. Through her he fathered other Arab tribes (Genesis 25:1-6). There is nothing wrong or sinful with remarrying after being widowed and these children were not born in sin. For that matter, neither was Ishmael. It is important to note that Ishmael was not a Muslim. Islam was invented by Mohammed over two thousand years after the death of Ishmael. Ishmael is in no way responsible for the violence and wars perpetrated by his supposed descendant. (And Mohammad may not have been an Ishmaelite Arab. It he wasn't then we wasn't a descendent of Abraham.) How is it that Ishmael and Abraham are to be held responsible for the actions of a man born thousands of years after their lifetimes? Ishmael was not a Muslim and has absolutely no connection with Islam. I believe that almost every church I have been to I have heard anti-Semitism, I mean hatred for Arabs, preached from the pulpit. (Arabs are Semitic, thus hatred of Arabs is anti-Semitism.) This means we hate Arabs and wish they were never born despite the fact that a large minority of Arabs are Christian and have been from earliest times. F.F. Bruce has effectively argued that when the Bible says Paul went to Arabia it means he went to preach to the Arabs at Petra (Galatians 1:17, 2 Corinthians 11:31-32. Aretas was the king of Petra). Arabs were present on the day of Pentecost which was the birthday of the church (Acts 2:11). This means that the Arabs were among the first gentiles to hear the Gospel and respond to it and were the first gentiles to whom Paul the Apostle directed his outreach. Are we to hate all Arabs and have anger towards Abraham because one of his supposed descendents was Mohammed? Ishmael is not presented as an evil person in the Scriptures and he was not Muslim. In the Old Testament polygamy was legal. Why is it that there is so much hatred and anger directed against Abraham for taking his wife's servant as a wife but none at Jacob who did the same thing-twice? The reason for this is that many Christians are racists and hate their Arab brothers but they love Jewish people (who don't believe in Jesus). True Christians should love the Jews and their Arab brothers. So when Abraham has a child that is an Arab we preach against him practically every Sunday and yet we see no evil in the similar actions of Jacob, because his children became Israelite tribes. The anger should be directed at God, rather than Abraham, for not only did God create and bless Ishmael, he also rescued him from certain death, twice! (See Genesis 17:1-16, Genesis 21:9-21). The Arab people viewed Mohammed as a false prophet and resisted him. Unfortunately, he was able to conquer his Arab enemies and to force himself upon the Arab people. When Mohammed died, many Arabs celebrated his death and then revolted against Islam. (Moslems call this the "War of the Apostasy.") Arab women and prophetesses resisted Mohammed during his lifetime and led armies against the Moslems after his death. Fatima Mernissi wrote of this in Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society, saying that after the death of the so-called "prophet" Mohammed "in June 632, a broad movement of apostasy swept the Arabian peninsula, and the tribes refused to pay taxes to the Prophet's successor, the first caliph, Abu Bakr. The movement was severely repressed and ended one year later, after fierce battles between Islam and its opponents. One of the movements of apostasy was led by a group of women who celebrated the death of the Prophet is a joyful atmosphere. The even is recorded in Ibn Habib al-Baghdadi's Kitab al-Muhabbar, "There were in Hadramaut six women, of Kinda and Hadramaut, who desired the death of the Prophet of God; they therefore [on hearing the news of the death of Muhammed] dyed their hands with henna and played on the tambourine. To them came out the harlots of Hadramaut and did likewise so that some twenty-odd women joined the six." Arabs, and especially Arab women, resisted the emergence of Islam and viewed it as opposed to the traditional Arab way of life. (Especially since Arab women were free before Islam came and robbed them of their status.)
Could you imagine how it would feel to be an Arab Christian, either born into a Christian Arab family or a convert from Islam, sitting in church and to hear racist hatred preached against you coming from the pulpit because of your family origin? Really, how is it different from what was heard from pulpits in Nazi Germany besides the racist hatred being incited was against the Jew and not the Arab? (The story of the conception of Ishmael is found in Genesis 16:3-4. It should be noted that the story of Ishmael comes immediately after the story of God making a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. This is because, through the birth of Ishmael, God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham to make him the father of "many" nations-and not just one Jewish nation. The unborn Ishmael is rescued and blessed in Genesis 16:11-12. Later, in Genesis 17:20 God says, "As for Ishmael, I have heard you, I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous…" Note, God blesses, and does not curse Ishmael. God rescues Ishmael a second time and blesses him a third time in Genesis 21:18. Ishmael and Isaac come together to bury their father Abraham in Genesis 25:9.) Beside this fact, although Ishmael was not the son of the Covenant God blessed him. Ishmael was not cursed by God. In fact God had so much love and compassion for Ishmael that he saved him from perishing in the desert twice. If God hated Ishmael so much and Ishmael and all his children are somehow innately evil, why did God miraculously save him, twice? Why did God bless him and promise him greatness? Ishmael reverenced his father Abraham and buried him. When God blessed Ishmael he said he would be a "wild ass of a man." To us, this seems like an insult, but to the ancient near eastern mindset this was a great compliment. I can prove his from scripture. Look at Job 39:5-12. This meant that he would be fierce and independent. Ishmael would be a free man. With the desert as his home no empire or kingdom would subjugate him. (Saying he is a "wild ass" of a man in ancient times would be the equivalent of describing a man as a "wild stallion" today.) According to the Bible Jesus came into the world to save all mankind. God loves all people. God loves Arabs and Jesus died on the cross for them. To preach hatred towards a specific race of people, whether it be the Jewish people, black people (or in the case of the racist preacher Jeremiah Wright, white people) or Arabs is a great sin and a defilement of the Gospel. Racist hatred offends God and grieves the Holy Spirit. Neither the Old nor the New Testament teaches this anti-Arab racism and we need to stop it. Certain "Christian" speakers who hate Arabs, for polemical reasons try to identify Arabs as Edomites, and thus enemies of God and the Jewish people. But this is inconsistent. Are Arabs descended from Ishmael or are thy from Isaac's son, Esau? (Esau was also known as Edom.) Through the genealogies in the Bible it does seem that the Edomites did have connections with earlier Arabian tribes. However, the Edomites were a distinct tribe. Before the time of Jesus, the Edomites converted to Judaism. King Herod was an Edomite. He was descended from Esau and yet before his time the Edomites had converted to Judaism. The historical record indicates that the Edomites, were a distinct people who converted to Judaism and were incorporated into Israel. If, for the sake of argument, the Edomites were indeed the Arab people the Bible clearly states that their territory was to be honored by the Israelites in Deuteronomy 2:2-6. God commanded the Israelites not to hate the Edomites in Deuteronomy 23:7, "You shall not abhor and Edomite for he is your brother." It is wrong to interpret the Bible to teach racial hatred of Arabs. These things these people say are merely interpretations. The Bible never says that Ishmael or Edom were the fathers of all Arab people. These are ideas that are not in the Bible but that people read into the Bible.
In Understanding the Arab World Louis Behjat Hamada lists the three different types of Arabs: the Joktanites, the Ishmaelites and the Keturahites. According to the Book of Genesis, Eber had two sons, Peleg, from whom Abraham was descended, and Joktan from whom various tribes of Arabs were descended, which include Sheba and Ophir. The Kenites are Arabs but were not descended from Ishmael. The Kenite Arabs lived in the land of Canaan before Abraham arrived there. As we see with the Kenites, the Joktanites, Sheba and Ophir, not all Arabs are descended from Abraham. (Eber, Peleg, Joktan, Sheba and Ophir are Arabian tribes that existed before Abraham was born. The Arabian tribes that existed before Abraham are listed in Genesis 10:21-32.) Sheba is from where Solomon's friend the "Queen of Sheba" came (1 Kings 10). Opir is from where the Israelites would acquire gold. The Joktanites are non-Abrahamaic Arabs. There are two main tribal divisions of Arabs who are descended from Abraham. The first are the Ishmaelites. Christians tirelessly preach about how Abraham sinned and brought trouble on the world by having Ishmael through his concubine Hagar. These hateful words are very hurtful to Arab Christians and Arab Moslems who hear them. (And they often do.) Many Moslems have been curious about what Christians believe and have listened to various preachers only to hear the preachers preach from the pulpit "I hate Arabs so much I wish they were never born!" Shouting out passionately that you hate a certain race of people and wished that they were never born isn't a great way to win people to the Lord is it? Of course, these hateful words are very hurtful and close their hearts to the Christian Gospel. Then, the Arabs tell other Arabs and their children how that Christians hate them and why they do, which is because of their family descent. Thus a door for reaching people for Christ is effectively slammed shut. In the Bible, Abraham prays for Ishmael and God pronounced a blessing upon Ishmael. Why do Christians hate a people blessed by God? Later, after the death of Sarah, Abraham took a second wife a woman named Keturah, and through her fathered six Arabian tribes. Here we have six major Arab tribes descended from Abraham but not through Hagar or Ishmael. These sons were born to a legitimate and monogamous wife who was not a concubine. There is no indication that there was any sin on the part of Abraham or Keturah in their marriage and in their having these children. Nevertheless, many Christians passionately hate these children of Abraham. God loves all mankind and commands us to love. I don't know why churches all across America frequently preach racial hatred against Arabs. I have no doubt that every Evangelical Christian who regularly attends church and listens to sermons has heard many sermons preached against the terrible sin of Abraham in bringing Arabs into being. I have heard and read hundreds of preachers preach hatred against Arabs in thousands of sermons. I don't understand why we hold Abraham and Ishmael responsible for the sins of one of their descendants who lived over a thousand years after they died. Ishmael was not a Muslim. It seems from the Bible that Ishmael was a godly, good and valiant man and there is no reason to believe otherwise. Ishmael has absolutely no connection with the Islamic religion and had nothing at all to do with it. Holding Ishmael responsible for the acts (or crimes) of Mohammed and his followers equates to holding all Jews responsible for the actions of Judas Iscariot and Caiaphas. According to the book of Acts, Arabs were present at the day of Pentecost. Many heard the Gospel preached and believed and took the good news back to their lands. Bible scholars who study the life of Paul believe that he preached the Gospel in Arabia. Paul also founded the church of Malta. The Maltese are Arabs and their country is one of the most devoutly Christian nations in the world. The Aramaic Christians shared the loving message of Jesus with Arabs and many tribes converted to faith in the Son of God. After the Islamic conquest, these devout Christians resisted conversion away from the only true religion. Radical Muslems tortured them, even forcing some to cannibalize themselves, and yet they refused to deny their only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who saved them with his blood upon the cross of Golgotha. He alone is the Son of God and Son of Man, the only savior of all men. After the time of Mohammed, several Arabic tribes that were Christian long before Mohammed invented his religion, were pressured to convert to Islam and yet they resisted. Certain Arab Christians endured terrible persecution and torture. Ian Gillman and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit describe an ordeal of persecution that Arab Christians suffered under in their book Christians in Asia Before 1500:
At this time, however, persecution began. Muhammad, the governor of Mesopotamia, sent for Mu'adh, the chief of Taghlib, and persecuted him to make him turn Muslim. As he refused, he cast him into a pit of mud. Then he brought him out and flogged him, and, as he would not be persuaded, he had him killed. It continued in the next reign. Walid, the caliph, said to Sham'ala, the chief of Taghlib, "As you are a chief of the Arabs you shame them all by worshipping the cross; obey my wish and turn Muslim." He replied, "How so? I am chief of Taghlib and I fear lest I become a cause of destruction to them all, if I and they cease to believe in Christ." When Walid heard this he gave an order, and they dragged him away on his face. The caliph swore to him that if he did not turn Muslim he would make him eat this own flesh. This did not move him. Flesh was cut from his bones, roasted, and thrust into his mouth. As he endured this he was blinded. He lived, and the wounds could be seen on his body." (88)
I do not understand why so many Christians have such a deep, passionate, and burning hatred towards a group of people they don't know and don't know anything about, their Arab brothers, who have endured and still endure such terrible persecution. We must differentiate between Islam, a false religion, and the Arab people, who are people Jesus Christ loves and who he died for. (While many pastors preach against all Arab people, I doubt many of these haters have the depth of faith of one of the objects of their hatred, Sham'ala, an Arab Christian.)
Many people are fearful of Arabs. This is due to the efforts of rich Islamic militants who incite hatred and acts of violence against Christians and Jews. The main culprits are the Saudi Arabians who belong to the violent and hateful Wahibi cult. The region of the Middle East endures ruin and the lives of many Arab young men are destroyed due to massive brainwashing that is financed by Saudi Petro-dollars. However, we can actually learn a lot about the Scriptures and daily life in Bible times through the desert Arabs in the Middle East. In the July/August 2008 edition of Biblical Archeological Review Ze'ev Meshel wrote an article entitled "Sinai Bedouin as Bible Teachers" which notes, "Bedouin tribes herd goats and sheep in the Sinai wilderness; they slaughter a goat for the spring sacrifice and smear its blood as protection; they eat unleavened bread baked quickly on open coals; and they celebrate an autumn festival that includes living in the desert in booths made of palm trees. Sound familiar? Present-day nomadic practices not only echo but also inform the Biblical stories about Israel's wandering in the desert."
Who Are the Kenites?
The Kenites appear at every major period of Israel's history from the story of Cain and Abel, to the founding of civilization during the antediluvian period, at Mount Sinai and during the wanderings in the wilderness, during the conquest of the Holy Land and the period of the judges, in the period of the Kings (especially of King Jehu), before the Babylonian Captivity (with Jeremiah), and during the return from exile. According to a church father, the Kenites supported the apostles of Jesus Christ. Kenites have three distinctive traits, a zeal for Yahweh, an alienation from the soil and nomadism, and alienation from the cult and cultic functions (which included animal sacrifices).
Nomadism was the curse of Cain, the Shemites [Semites] inherited this lifestyle.
T.E. Lawrence, the famous "Lawrence of Arabia" says in his book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" of the Semites, "We see them wandering, every year moving a little further north or a little further east as chance has sent them down one or other of the well-roads of the wilderness, till finally this pressure drives them from the desert again into the sown, with the like unwillingness of their first shrinking experiment in nomad life. This was the circulation which kept vigour in the Semitic body. There were few, if indeed there was a single northern Semite, whose ancestors had not at some dark age passed through the desert. The mark of nomadism, that most deep and biting social discipline, was on each of them in his degree." (37). The Kenites were a people who were "wanderers among the nations." This nomadism was the mark of Cain. Cain was the firstborn son of Man (which is the meaning of the name "Adam").
The Bible says that after the Conquest of the Promised Land "The sons of the Kenite, the in-law of Moses" went up from Jericho and settled in the region of Arad (Judges 1:16). The Kenites were more zealous for Yahweh than the Israelites. Cain and his descendants were at times overzealous for Yahweh. However, the Kenites, as a nomadic people and as a non-Hebrew people, were not given a tribal allotment of land. King Saul recognized that an alliance existed between Israel and the Kenites. When he went to war against the Amalekites King Saul was very careful not to attack the Kenites.
And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 1 Samuel 15:6 (KJV)
David describes the Kenites as living in the Negev, "the Negev of the Kenites" in 1 Samuel 27:10. David favored the Kenites and divided his spoils of war with them (1 Samuel 30:29).
And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord; To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir, And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa, And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites, And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chor-ashan, and to them which were in Athach, And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt. 1 Samuel 30:26-31 (KJV)
(David also reflects certain Kenite characteristics. He was a shepherd, he was a musician and he was zealous for the Lord. Like, Moses and other people with Kenite connections, he is also guilty of murder. Moses murdered an Egyptian who was tormenting a Hebrew and David arranged to have Uriah the Hittite murdered.)
Jeremiah the prophet had a close relationship with the Kenites, In fact it was Jeremiah that invited them inside the temple. An entire chapter of Jeremiah is devoted to the Rechabite clan of Kenites. Many of the prophets show Kenite sympathies, including opposition to animal sacrifice, which went all the way back to their ancestor, Cain.
After the time of Jeremiah, when the Israelites returned from exile that he had prophesied and began to rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem, the Rechabites helped in this endeavor. Each noble family of the Jews was assigned a gate to rebuild. Probably because they were despised as gentiles, the Rechabites were relegated to the "Dung" (meaning "excrement") gate. Nehemiah 3:14 mentions how that Malchijah the Rechabite, who was the leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the gate of refuse, built it and hung its doors with its bolt and bars. The Rechabites joyfully transformed the manure gate and under them it became the "Cheesemakers" gate and later was called the Gate of the Essenes. The word Essene comes from the Aramaic word "Chasya" which means "holy." The word "Essene" was a label given to a wide variety of puritanical and devout Jewish sect. There probably was a direct relationship between the Rechabites and certain of the Essenes. As a token of the esteem with which many Jews viewed the Rechabites as gentiles they were assigned the area of filth in Jerusalem, but under the Rechabites it was transformed to a place set aside for holiness and a place frequented by those who were most devout and zealous for Yahweh. Perhaps in a way it was appropriate since the Rechabites were a people dedicated to purification and doing away with un-cleanliness. Kenites were primarily (but not universally) a nomadic people, they were traveling metal-workers and they believed themselves to be the descendents of a man named Kain.
(In this bas relief we see Jehu, the Yahwistic reformer king of Israel who allied himself with Jonadab the Rechabite, bowing before the Assyrian king.)
He saw the Kenites and, taking up his theme, he said;
Though your nest be set among the cliffs,
Yet shall Kain be consumed,
When Asshur takes you captive.
Numbers 24:23-22 (JPS Tanakh Version)
The Kenites apparently believed themselves to be descended from the firstborn human being-Cain. The Bible clearly states that the Kenites were descended from Cain in Numbers 24:21-22. To throw Bible readers off of the trail and to confuse them, Bible translators in this verse spell Cain differently, in an effort to deceive the Bible student, and spell it Kain rather than Cain. Gary Noth has stated, "Perhaps the names are different in English [although they are the same in Hebrew] because the translators of the Old Testament want to avoid a connection between the evil Cain and the Kenites, who are presented positively in the Old Testament." (When you look at the "eponymous heroes of the tribes," Cain, the ancestor of the Kenites, seems to stand out as having a disparaging origin. However, on further reflection, all the tribal ancestors have rather disparaging stories. Judah, the patriarch of the tribe of Judah, visited a prostitute, who was his own daughter-in-law. Reuben seduced and slept with his fathers wife. Joseph unwisely offended his brothers. All of the other patriarchs tried to kill their brother and lied to their father and sold their brother into slavery. The history of other tribal leaders is given as well and this includes Edom, Ishmael and Lot.) Here is a rare case of a passage regarding Cain and the Kenites being translated accurately;
And he saw the Kenites, and he took up his pronouncement and said:
Your residence is strong,
And set your nest in a cliff.
But Cain will be for burning
How long will Asshur hold you prisoner?
(The Bible with Sources Revealed by Richard Elliot Friedman)
(Numbers 24:21-22, "the Rock" or "cliff" is perhaps Sela in Edom, or Seir. The Jerusalem Bible notes a "play on words: qen, 'nest and qyn , 'Kain' (the latter here is a textual restoration demanded by the rhythm.) The Kenites were nomads (cf. 1 Ch 2:55 where they appear as brethren of the Rechabites) intimately associated with Midian (cf. Nb 10:29 and Jg 1:16) they were driven back by the Edomites (the Beor of v. 22 appears to be the Edomite king of Gn 36:32) but penetrated as far as Amalekite territory, Jg 1:16, 1 Sam 15:4-6, cf 27:10 and 30:29, and even as far as the Esdraelon plain, Jg. 4:11, 17; 5:24. There is evidently a connection between Kain and Kenaz: Kenaz was the father of Othniel who was brother (nephew?) of 'Caleb the Kennizite' (who according to other passages was of Judah), Nb 32:12, Jos 14:6, 14, 15:17; Jg. 1:13; 3:9-11, 1 Chron 3:13. In Gen 15:19 the Kenizzites are listed between the Kenites and Kodmonites (the 'sons of the East' of Gn 29:1, Jg. 6:3; etc) in Gn 36:11-12 Kenaz is described as grandson of Esau and half-brother of Amalek-which suggests they were neighbors rather than blood-relations." The Kenizzites were probably an offshoot or sub-clan of the Kenites. Kenites and Kenizzites were most likely the same peoples.)
There is a connection between the name of God, Yahweh, and the name Cain. The name Cain in Hebrew (and in the related Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Arabic) can have many meanings. These meanings include "acquired," "jealous," "a dirge," "metal-smith" and "spear" or "shaft." In the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 34 it says "Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14). Here in Hebrew it states that God's name is Cain and apparently the name Yahweh in this passage related to the Hebrew word for "crave" that is found in Proverbs 10:3. In Hebrew it says "Yahweh, whose name is Caina." The Hebrew word for "crave" is "Awah." (Interestingly, in modern Arabic Yahweh is pronounced "Yahwah.") The word Awah means to desire or to incline to or to desire for oneself. This word is translated desire or crave and is found in Proverb 13:4, 24:1, 1 Samuel 2:16, 2 Samuel 3:21, Psalm 132:13-14, Isaiah 26:9, Micah 7:1 and many other verses. The Kenites joined with the Hebrews during their sojourn in the wilderness. They accompanied them into the Promised Land. When the Kenites settled in the Holy Land they named certain of their towns after their namesake, Cain. There is the town of Kinah (Joshua 15:22) and the city of "Kain" (Joshua 15:57). (Certain Bible translators of the Bible try to obscure the identity of Cain and his descendants by translating Cain as "Kain" and Cainites as "Kenites.") Another connection between the name Yahweh and Cain is seen at the birth of Cain. Eve says, "I have gotten a man from Yahweh." Literally, the Hebrew says "et" (the Hebrew marker of the definite direct object) "Yahweh." This could be translated "I have gotten a man, namely Yahweh." This is an obscure verse-in fact some scholars have tried to argue that Eve is ascribing Cain's paternity to Yahweh! It seems that she is praising and glorifying God for the gift of a child. Whatever it means, we definitely see a connection between the name Yahweh and the name Cain. In Aramaic the name Cain means "smith." In Genesis 14:19, 22 Yahweh is described as "God most high, creator" which in Hebrew is Caina meaning "smith" of heaven and earth. Here again we see a connection between Cain and the name of God. The Anchor Bible Dictionary describes "Cain… [as] a prime culture hero, an almost Promethean figure in the development of the civilized arts. Cain is the first human horticulturalist, and therefore he author of the first technological advance…Kenites pioneer the arts of city building, tent dwelling, herding, music, metal work as well as agriculture…the accursed yet protected Kenites mediate the blessings of civilization to all mankind."
Due to the heinous nature of Cain's sin, that of fratricide, people are not able to fully understand Cain and his significance. Cain is probably the most misunderstood character in the Bible. There are other characters in the Bible who are guilty of murders and yet are regarded as mighty men of God-men such as Moses, David and Saint Paul. Cain was punished with nomadism as a penalty for murdering his brother-later, Levi was given the same curse for murdering his brother-in-law, Shechem (Genesis 34, 49:5-7). Despite this crime, Levi's tribe became priests-and apparently, the Kenites were priests of Yahweh as well. In fact, later the Levites became dedicated to God as priests through the act of killing their brothers-in the incident of the Golden Calf.
So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for Yahweh, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, "This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says; "Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other each killing his brother and friend and neighbor." The Levites did as Moses commanded, ad that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to Yahweh today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he had blessed you this day. Exodus 32:26-29.
Phineas also became a priest, devoted to God, through the killing of a brother Israelite (Numbers 25:6-13). Cain had an ongoing relationship with Yahweh. Even after the murder of his brother, Yahweh spoke to Cain and even put his mark of protection upon him. John Romer in Testament: The Bible and History makes an interesting and controversial opinion about the nature of Cain's killing of Abel and of the importance of Cain. He says, "The subtle dialectic of natural force and civilization appears in Genesis in the stories of Adam's family. Eve's two children are the founders of pastoral and urban society; Abel, the herdsman and hunter, lives in the West, Cain, the farmer, to the east of Eden with the sunrise and renewal. And both of them live in the Mesopotamian landscape of Tiamat. Cain, the first man to live apart from God, has his offerings rejected by Jehovah. But it is Cain who builds the first city and, when he murders his blameless brother, Jehovah does not punish him but marks him so that all will see that he is divinely protected. Cain's killing of Abel is a sacrifice that Jehovah accepts. Cain the murderer, the founder of cities, is the founder of civilization."
It was Cain, not Abel, who initiated worship. Cain was marked by his jealous overzealousness for Yahweh's affection. Cain killed his brother in a jealous rage due to his desires to have preeminence with Yahweh. According to Gary Noth, "Both before and after his fratricide, Cain is in relationship with Yahweh, and they are in direct dialogue with each other. Cain brings his gift directly to Yahweh, a role that later becomes that of the priest. Although Yahweh does not have regard for Cain's gift, Yahweh tells Cain that if he does well, his gift will be accepted. Rather than following Yahweh's advice and attempting to do well, Cain resorts to fratricide in his zeal for preeminence with Yahweh. Even after Cain's fratricide, the relationship between Cain and Yahweh continues. Yahweh places his protective mark on Cain to indicate that if anyone injures Cain in the future, that person will be punished seven-fold."
It is also to be noted that Cain's offering isn't rejected because it was a grain offering. (Certain Bible students incorrectly assume that God demanded animal sacrifice since the time that Adam and Eve were expulsed from the Garden of Eden. God clothed Adam and Eve when they were put out of the garden. God slaughtered an animal and clothed Adam and Eve with the animal skin. There is no indication from the text that this was the institution of animal sacrifice. This interpretation is unwarranted. Despite what certain Calvinist theologians claim Adam was not cursed by God at the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The so-called "Fall of Man" is an unbiblical term and an unbiblical concept. The idea of the Fall of Man is derived not from Scripture but from Manichean Gnosticism. Adam was not cursed but Cain was. God curses the earth and not Adam in the expulsion from Eden story. Read the text of the Bible carefully. Yahweh pronounced that Cain was cursed but doesn't directly curse him. I believe that mankind is fallen, sinful and in need of redemption through Jesus Christ. However, I believe that certain Augustinian-Calvinistic teachings are false. This includes the idea that after eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (or "the Tree of Understanding Right from Wrong") that mankind is now "totally depraved." There is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ. But the idea that all men don't know right from wrong and can only do good deeds through selfish or evil motives or the Calvinistic idea that God hates Mankind and the Calvinistic teaching that Jesus Christ did not die for the sins of all mankind are false, unscriptural and must be rejected.) There is no indication in scripture that God demanded blood sacrifice at the time of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden or later during the time of Cain. In Deuteronomy 26:2 God commands his people to bring offerings of the first-fruits of the ground. How could Cain's sacrifice have been unacceptable because it wasn't a blood sacrifice when later God commanded grain offerings? In fact, in the Torah, Yahweh accepts a grain offering as an atonement for sin (Leviticus 5:11-13). Ronald Allen and Gordon Borror clarify this common scriptural misunderstanding in Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel;
God actively seeks true worshipers. This was not a new truth in the ministry of our Lord. It has always been so. From the earliest recorded acts of worship in human history we are confronted with this fact. Genesis 4 describes the offerings of Cain and Abel. Some readers have assumed that Abel's offering was accepted by God because his offering involved the blood of the firstlings of the flock, whereas the offering of Cain, lacking blood, was unacceptable. It is more likely, however, that Abel's offering was accepted by God because of his heart attitude. Cain's offering of grain or produce was certainly appropriate for a tiller of the ground (see, e.g., Leviticus 2:1, 23: 9-14, for later legislation on grain and first fruit offerings). There must have been an attitudinal difference between the brothers that caused God to delight in the one and not in the other. The writer of Hebrews explains: By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4) It was by his faith that Abel pleased God. We assume that Cain lacked the faith of his brother. Further, we may observe that God "had regard for Abel and his offering" (Genesis 4:4c). It was not the offering alone, but Abel as well that pleased the Lord. Similarly we read, "but for Cain and his offering He had no regard" (v. 5a).
(Why was Cain's offering rejected? It is possible it was because at that time the soil was cursed and Cain had brought the fruit of the soil. God did not curse Adam and Eve. The Augustinian Doctrine of "Original Sin" has no basis in the Old Testament, especially not in the Genesis account.) God cursed the soil for their disobedience. (The curse upon the soil was removed after the flood of Noah.) There are strong similarities between the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the story of Cain and Abel. Yahweh asks Adam, "Where are you?" He asks Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" Yahweh asks the identical question to Cain's mother and to Cain, "What have you done?" God tells the mother of Cain, "Unto your husband shall be your desire and he shall rule over you?" and he says to Cain, "Unto you shall be his desire, and you shall rule over him." As punishment for disobedience Adam was condemned to "serve the soil" which was Cain's occupation initially.
The question remains, "If the Kenites are the descendants of Cain, how did they survive the flood?" There are different possible answers to the questions. Liberals would argue that perhaps the story of Cain isn't placed in the Biblical account when it occurred. Moderates would argue that perhaps the flood wasn't a global flood but was a local flood. A possible answer is found in the fact that the genealogy of Cain ends with a woman, Naamah. (The Kenites seem to be almost matriarchal.) Perhaps she married Shem and chose one of their children to continue the family line. The Kenite people are characterized by strong and independent women. The intermingling of the line of Cain and the line of Seth is evident by the repetition of similar names in both genealogies. Rabbinic tradition does state that Namaah was the wife of Noah. Perhaps, if this tradition is correct, her son Shem was chosen to carry on the tradition of nomadism inherited from her forefather Cain. The Rabbis teach that a descendent of Cain, Naamah the wife of Noah, survived the flood.)
In the Bible, Cain is depicted as committing a heinous act, that of murdering his brother. (According to the Bible, the first human being to die, died by being murdered.) Despite this fact, the Kenites are not depicted in a negative light. Many people have misinterpreted the Scriptures as to say that the Kenites were evil. The Mormon church taught that black Africans were the descendants of Cain and the "Mark of Cain" and sign of God's displeasure upon this race, is their black skin. This is incorrect and I will discuss what the Mark of Cain really is below. The sign of Cain is a sign of God's favor, grace and protection upon Cain and his descendents.
According to the Bible, Cain is responsible for two great technological leaps of mankind, the founding of agriculture and the building of the first city. (Cain is the "father" of both nomads and city dwellers. Kenites include nomads and some city dwellers. ) The early Kenites also made advances in culture through music and inventing musical instruments. They probably served as nomadic entertainers and traveling musicians. Cain and his immediate descendents are responsible for bringing about great human progress. Characteristics of Cain that are also seen in his descendents, zealousness for Yahweh, propensity to violence, and nomadism.
(The story of Cain and the history of its interpretation is explored in How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now by James L. Kugel pages 58-68.)
The Children of Cain
Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, and strengthen with your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left; and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited…Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work…No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of Yahweh, and their righteousness is from me." Says Yahweh. (Isaiah 54:2-3; 16-17).
Cain's descendants brought about great advances and the beginnings of human civilization. Jabal was the father of "those who live in tents and have livestock." Jubal was the father of "all who play the lyre and the pipe." (Some Kenites were Carnies.) Tubal-Cain "made all kinds of bronze and iron tools." Tubal-Cain, Cain means metal smith, "tubal" is a land were metals were mined. Instead of Tubal-Cain it could be translated as Tubal the Smith or Tubal the Kenite. Some Kenites were vengeful, despite this trait, they were responsible for founding nomadism, music, and metal. According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary, the Kenites were a "non-Israelite group" and "itinerant smiths." The Semitic root word "qyn" "can form the basis for the words "to forge" or "a metal-worker" is a root having to do with artisanship." The name Tubal-Cain is related to the land of Tabul, which is today located in Turkey. According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary, "Tabal was a renowned center of metallurgy in Cappadocia. The Anchor Bible Dictionary also shows that the Kenites were Arabs. The name "Cain" is attested in ancient times among the Arabian Nabateans, were it is attested as a personal name. It was also ("with the performative aleph") a Sabean clan name. "Qyn" denotes the occupations of the tribe "tinkerers/songsters." Another root of Cain, qynh, denotes a song of lament. This also has a parallel in Arabic.
In The Kenites, The Midianites, and the Rechabite as Marginal Mediators in Ancient Israelite tradition Paula M. McNutt states,
The Kenites, Midianites, and Rechabites are portrayed in biblical tradition as peoples who were loyal to Yahwism, but nevertheless marginal to Israelite society. …some members of these groups may have been artisans or metal-smiths. Artisans and metal-smiths in traditional African and Middle Eastern societies tend to form marginal groups that are regarded with ambivalence by the dominates social groups with which they were associated, as seems to be the case in the biblical portrayals of the Kenites, Midianites, and echabites…metalworking appears to be somewhat mysterious and magical, and therefore is considered dangerous. Because of their knowledge and power associated with facilitating transformation, smiths are at once respected and feared. ..Several passages in the Hebrew Bible point to the important contributions smiths and artisans made to society (e.g. 2 Kings 24:14, 14, Jer 24:1, 29:2, Sirach 38:24-32). The fact that they are numbered among those of high status who were carried off into captivity by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:14, 16, Jer 24:1, 29:2) suggests that by the sixth century BCE they were highly regarded. In Sirach 38: 24-34 artisans and smiths are acknowledged as individuals whose sills are necessary for the maintenance of social stability and the stability of the "fabric of the world." The Kenites are portrayed as a people who were staunch supporters of both Israel and Yahwism but never fully incorporated into Israelites society. On the basis of biblical references, their geographic origin is normally identified as southeast of Judah on the border with Edom. But if they were actually closely related to or a part of the Midianite group, it could have been further to the south and east. Biblical scholars have tended to argue that they were associated with activities that required moving among different geographical locations (which doesn't necessarily militate against their having had a "home-base" in some specific area), either as caravaneers- or as nomadic or semi-nomadic itinerant metal-smiths.
Cain's portrayal in the Genesis myth provides an important clue for understanding how the Kenites, and smiths and artisans in general, may have been regarded in ancient Israel. He is one of the most ambivalent figures in the Hebrew Bible, the "culture hero" who is ultimately responsible for introducing to humankind some of the primary elements of civilizations thought he activities of his descendants. In the Genesis 4 genealogy, he is portrayed as a marginal and ambivalent figure in a number of aspects; he is a murderer, who is nevertheless protected by God (Gen 4:15), and agriculturalist for whom the earth will bear no fruit (Gen. 4:12-13), a marginal wanderer who dwells in the land of Nod ("wandering," Genesis 4:16) As the ancestor of both city-dwellers (Enoch) and tent-dwellers (Jabal), he is socially marginal (Genesis 4:17, 20). His other descendants, a metal worker (Tubal-Cain) and a musician (Jubal), introduce to culture both arts and technology (Genesis 4:17-22) and represent categories of persons who would be equally welcomed among nomads and settled agriculturalists.
The Kenites and the Kenazites were closely related and confederated tribes. Both were metal-smiths and both allied themselves with the tribe of Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness. Both of these tribes were metal-smiths. Archeology of the Bible: Book by Book in the article "The Kenite Metalworkers of the Southern Arabah" refers to the Kenites,
A startling reference in Genesis 4:11 emerges out of the context of the Mesopotamian image of the "beginnings' of mankind when it identifies the Kenites as the traditional "first" metalworkers. This has lead to considerable scholarly theorizing in the past, but recent discoveries in the valley of Timnah, north of Elath, prove that the reference in question is actually grounded in the history of the land of the Bible…The Kenties, apparently a clan of the Midainite settlers in the southern Arabah, made their appearance in the Timnah valley in the fourteenth to twelfth centuries BC, and they had close ties of kinship with the Israelites during the period of their settlement in Transjordan and Southern Canaan. Direct evidence of bronze-and iron-working methods in the Late Bronze Age is provided by excavations in the Timnah Valley. Its vertical white sandstone walls were attacked with stone hammers and the copper nodules picked out in heaps of shattered sandstone. By this method, about twenty kilograms of nodules could be "mined" by one man in a days' work, enough to produce two to four kilograms of copper. "Dressing" or winnowing of copper or iron took place in the saucer-shaped hollows on the slopes next to the actual mining works were many grinding implements were found. The winnowing operation could have utilized the strong north wind prevailing on the horizontal surface or, alternatively, the local inhabitants could have mined the ore and the women and children ground it and sorted the ore from the gangue. The ore was then carried to smelting sites.
Soon after the prayer of Jabez we have a brief genealogy that reads in the Greek Version, "These were the men of Rechab" (1 Chronicles 4:12). The Kenites were craftsmen. In 1 Chronicles 4:14 it reads "Ger Harashim: it was called this because its people were craftsmen." Ger Harashim means "valley of craftsmen." In verse 23 it mentions the potters who lived at Netaim and Gedarin The Talmud identifies "Ha-yozaerim" ("the potters") as the Rechabites, because they observed ("she-nazeru") the commandment of their father (B.B. 91b). Evidently the Talmud had the reading "ha-nozerim" ("diligent observers") instead of "ha-yazerim." This would explain the term "Migdol Nozerim," the habitation of the Rechabites, in contrast with a "fenced city" (2 Kings 17:9, 18:8). The appellation of "Nozerim" or "Nozerites" or "Nazoreans." is perhaps changed from "Nazarites" as indicative of the temperate life of the Rechabites.
In the book of Jesus Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, there is the poem about the craftsman:
The wisdom of the scribe depends on the opportunity of leisure; only the one who has little business can become wise. How can one become wise who handles the plow, and who glories in the shaft of a goad, who drives oxen and is occupied with their work, and whose talk is about bulls? He sets his heart on plowing furrows, and he is careful about fodder for the heifers. So it is with every artisan and master artisan who labors by night as well as by day; those who cut the signets of seals. Each is diligent in making a great variety; they set their heart on painting a lifelike image. And they are careful to finish their work. So it is with the smith, sitting by the anvil, intent on his iron-work; the breath of the fire melts his flesh, and he struggles with the heat of the furnace; the sound of the hammer deafens his ears, and his eyes are on the pattern of the object. He sets his heart on finishing his handiwork, and he is careful to complete its decoration. So it is with the potter sitting at his work and turning the wheel with his feet; he is always deeply concerned over his products, and he produces them in quantity. He molds the clay with his arm and makes it pliable with his feet; he sets his heart to finish the glazing, and he takes care in firing the kiln. All these rely on their hands, and all are skillful in their own work. Without them no city can be inhabited, and wherever they live, they will not go hungry. Yet they are not sought out for the council of the people, not do they attain eminence in the public assembly. They do not sit in the judge's seat, nor do they understand the decisions of the courts; they cannot expound discipline or judgment, and they are not found among the rulers. But they maintain the fabric of the world, and their concern is for the exercise of their trade. (Sirach 38:24-34, NRSV).
(The pipes are bellows used to increase the heat of the fire.)
Starting with the Eve mother of Cain, we see powerful and independent women among the Kenite people. Eve is the first person in the Bible to call upon God by his sacred name Yahweh. She speaks this name over her newborn son, Cain.
Adah was the wife of Lamech the Kenite. Three women appear in the Kenite genealogy in Genesis 4. Adah was the mother of Jabal, the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. Her other son was Jubal the musician, who "was the father of all those who play the harp and flute"
Zillah was the other wife of the polygamous Lamech the Kenite. Her son, Tubal-Cain was a metal-smith, which is what his name means. He "forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron."
Naamah Zillah also had a daughter, Naamah the Kenite. It is possible that she married Shem. (According to Rabbinic tradition, Namaah the Kenite was the wife of Noah.)
Keturah was the third wife of Abraham. He may have taken her as wife after the death of Sarah, but it is possible that he married her earlier. Through Keturah, Abraham fathered the Arabian tribes of Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. So Abraham had eight sons in all (including Ishmael, his son by Hagar, Isaac, his son by Sarah with the six sons he had with Keturah).
Rahab the Harlot, Gary Nolan argues that the Kenite tribe of Rechab may be named after their ancestress, Rahab the Harlot. Rehab the Harlot is most likely the "eponymous ancestress" of the Rechabite clan of the Kenites. He believes that the aetiology of the Rechabites is found in Joshua 6:22. (A similar story of the naming of a nationality is found in the story of the Ammonites, found in Genesis 19:37.) The book of Joshua said that the people of Rechab are "alive unto this day." This means there were a people of Rehab that were known to the Israelites, this seems to have been the Rechabites. (The spelling is a little different, but so is "Ben-Ammi" and the Ammonites.) Gary Nolan notes, "If, however, Rehab is a Kenite, it would help account for the choice of Rehab's house by the spies. They seem to know who she is, where she lives, and what her profession is…The harlot's behavior is also remarkable, for she receives the spies knowing who they are, hides them. Collaborates closely with them, helps them escape, and compromises herself hopelessly with regard to her fellow citizens. Her services go far beyond what is expected of a prostitute. If Rehab and her family were Kenites, and therefore, kinsmen of Moses' Kenite in-laws, the behavior of the spies and of Rehab is more readily understandable." Rechab also often invokes the name of Yahwoh.
(Jochabed, the mother of Moses, may possibly have a Yahwistic name (Exodus 6:20). If she does she is the only person before Joshua with the name Yahweh embedded in her name. As I mentioned, no man has a Yahwistic name until Joshua. After Hoshua is given the Yahwistic name "Joshua" this set the precedent and afterwards many men have Yahwistic names. Gary Nolan argued that perhaps Jochaved was a Kenite and that Moses fled from Pharoah to his Kenite relations. Perhaps, she was re-named, in the same manner as was Joshua, whose original name was Hoshua. She may have been renamed by the scribes in the same manner Mephibosheth and Ishbosheth were (2 Samuel 4:1 and2 Samuel 9:6). Mephibosheth was in actuality Meribaal but the Hebrew scribes replaced the original name "baal" with "bosheth." Baal means "husband" in Hebrew. It also means Lord and became the title of a very popular and abdominal Canaanite god. The Hebrew scribes replaced "Baal," meaning "Lord" and the false god "Baal," with "Bosheth" meaning "Shame." Whatever the case may be, Moses definitely married into the Kenites when he married Zipporah.)
Zipporah-possibly a priestess of Yahweh.(Her name means "a bird.") This is the wife of Moses and mother of Gershem and Eliezer. She may also be Abraham's "Cushite" wife. She was a Kenite from Cushan (Habakkuk 3:7). She may have bad a darker complexion than most Israelites but she probably was not African. In Biblical Archeology Review July/August 2006 p. 50-51 "Circumcision: Who did it, who didn't and why" by Philip J. King describes the incident of Zipporah circumcising the son of Moses;
In a mysterious, not to say mystical, episode in which Moses' wife Zipporah uses a flint to circumcise their son and then touches Moses' feet (regalim, a euphemism for the genitals) with the foreskin, Zipporah declares "Truly you are a bridegroom of blood (hatan-damin) to me." She then adds "A bridegroom of blood because of circumcision (hatan damin lammulot)" (Exodus 4:25-26).
In Egypt circumcision was ordinarily a puberty rite. This also appears to be the case with other ancient ethnic groups who circumcised. Among the Israelites, however, the male child is circumcised when he is eight days old (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). As a puberty rite, circumcision appears to be "regarded as that which makes a man fit for normal sexual life; it is an initiation to marriage." In Arabic hatana means "to circumcise." The words for "bridegroom," "son-in-law" and "father-in-law" are all derivatives of htn. In the story of Shechem's rape of Dinah (Genesis 34:14-17), the circumcision is prenuptial, thus making a connection with marriage. In two other Biblical stories, circumcision is also connected to the rite of marriage. For the bride-price (mohar) for Saul's daughter Michal, David is to pay his father-in-law a hundred Philistine foreskins (1 Samuel 18:25).
Speaking of Zipporah, Frank Moore Cross notes, "Moses is closely associated with Midian, the ancient southern league in which the Kenites were an important element. The priest of Midian provided Moses with a wife, apparently a priestess in her own right."
Bithiah. This was the daughter of Pharaoh was rescued the infant Moses and adopted him. Apparently she accompanied her son into exile and also married into the Kenites. She changed her name to "Bithiah" which means "Daughter of Yahweh." According to 1 Chronicles 4:16-18, Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, married Mered, the brother of Jethro, who was also called Jether. The article "Pharaoh's Daughter and the Kenites" notes that Mered also took a Jewish wife, "Mered presumably took his (no doubt younger) Judaite wife after the Kenites joined themselves to Israel at Sinai/Horeb, by which time Pharaoh's daughter may well have died, though not necessarily so. If this fragment of genealogy is indeed a Kenite one, it is significant that it appears among the genealogies of Jabez the Kenties (vv. 9, 10: cf 2:55) and the Kenite men of Rechab (4:11, 12, LXX). The insertion of Jethro's descent immediately after Caleb's emphasizes the Kenite-Kenezite connection (vv. 13-17). Bithiah was the adoptive mother of Moses. Later she bore Mered the Kenite, Miriam (named after Moses' sister), Shammai and Ishbah. Mered's Jewish wife bore Jekuthiel who is connected with a Kenite city mentioned in Joshua 15:56, 57. In the Hebrew, Jekuthiel's descendent Zanoah becomes the name of a city near the Kenite city of Cain. However the Greek version of this verse in Joshua reads "Zanoah Ha Kain" which is a transliteration of the Hebrew Zanoah the Kenite.
Achsah She boldly demanded water rights from her father Caleb. (She was married to Othniel the Kenizite, whom, according to Jewish tradition, is Jabez. She gets a very terse greeting from her father when they met, "What's up with you" or "What do you want" (Joshua 15:13-19, Judges 1:12-16). (Sometimes it is translated that she "nagged" him.) Caleb, her father, strictly speaking is not of the tribe of Judah. It says in scripture that he was "given a portion among the people of Judah" (Joshua 15:13).
The Mother of Jabez As is typical in Kenite genealogies we have Jabez's mother described but not his father. The Kenites seem almost matriarchal.
Jael (Her name means "Mountain Goat." This reminds us of the Kenite home as being described as being in the cliffs in Numbers.) She is described as the wife of Heber the Kenite. However, this could also be translated as "a woman of the community of the Kenites." As the Kenites were at peace with the King of Hazor this shows that the Kenites had a very extensive migratory range meaning that they may have migrated all the way to Hammath in Syria. Jael is clearly described as being a Bedouin Arab woman (Judges 4). The phrase, "wife of Heber the Kenite" could perhaps be translated as "a woman of the community of the Kenites."
Abigail the widow of Nabal, from Kenite land, who showed favor and kindness to the renegade David (1 Samuel 25).
Ahinoam of Jezreel. David's other Kenite wife was Ahinoam the Jezreelite (1 Samuel 25:43). Among the Kenites, the mother played a dominant role. This is seen in Joab, the nephew of David, who is described as the "son of Zeruiah" and whose father is not named. Of course, if David is a Kenite, so is his nephew Joab, who, through engaging in a blood feud, manifest certain Kenite traits.
Rizpah was the courtesan of King Saul. Her name means "hot stone" or "coal" like those of her desert home. Her father's name indicates that he practiced falconry, or hawking. She may have Hivite and Edomite lineage but as "Yahweh came from Seir" we know that the Kenites migrated and worshiped Yahweh in the region of Edom.
Nehushta the wife of King Josiah and a queen mother (2 Kings 24:8). She was named after the Serpent of Moses which had a special significance for the Kenites.
Until the coming of Mohammed, there were very strong and independent women among the Arabs. Thus we have Queen Zenobia of Palmyra who fought against the Roman Empire and the Biblical Queen of Sheba. Mohammed changed the status of women in Arab society. For this reason women fought against Mohammed. Many Arab women celebrated his death. Arab women, including prophetesses, led the Arabs against the Moslems during the so-called "War of the Apostasy," which was part of the unfortunately failed Arabic resistance to the Islamic religion.
The Nomadic Ideal
The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will stand. Proverbs 14:11 (HCSB)
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him in the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country And truly, if they had been mindful of that country, that is, an heavenly: wherefor God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city…[these] who faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy, they wandered in the deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a crowd of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrew 11)
According to the Jerusalem Bible, "Hosea, like Amos before him (Amos 5:25) thinks of Israel's journey through the desert as a time of spiritual idyll…Israel was then childlike (Hosea 11:1-4), knowing nothing o f pagan gods, and loyal to Yahweh whose presence was manifest in the cloud, Hos. 2:16-17: Jer 2:2-3." In Hosea 2:16 Yahweh says to his bride, "I am going to lure her and lead her out into the wilderness and speak to her heart…I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love. I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness and you will come to know Yahweh." Jeremiah speaks of the wandering in the wilderness saying, "I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, following me in the desert, in a land unsown" (Jeremiah 2:2-3 NAB). In Hosea, Yahweh also says, "I have been Yahweh your God since the land of Egypt. I shall make you dwell in tents again" (Hosea 12:9).
We also see the Nomadic Ideal exemplified by the Rechabite tribe of the Kenites. Jonadab codified the ancient Kenite traditions into a code of law for his descendents and followers. The Law of Jonadab was "Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads." The Rechabites, in their nomadic ideal and in their opposition to animal sacrifices, seem to have a strong influence on the prophets. Roland de Vaux Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions
The Ideal which the Prophets exalted, but never put into practice, was actually carried out by a group of extremists, the Rekabites. We know them chiefly through Jeremias. To give an object lesion to the people, the prophet invited the members of Rekab's family to the Temple, and offered them a drink of wine. They refused it, saying that their ancestor Yonadab, son of Rekab, had given them this command: 'Neither you nor your sons shall ever drink wine, and you must not build houses, or sow seed, or plant vines, or own property. On the contrary, you are to dwell in tents all the your life, so that you days will be long in the land where you live as aliens (gerim.)" This age-old fidelity to the commands of their ancestor is held up as an example of the Jews who do not obey the word of Yahweh (Jr. 35). It is interesting to compare this passage with a remark of Jerome of Cardia about the Nabateans at the close of the fourth century B.C. "It is a law among them not to sow corn or to plant fruit-trees, not to drink wine or to build a house; whoever does so is punished with death" (cited in Diodorus Siculus XIX, 94). In these two passages, so curiously alike, we have the essential contrast between the nomadic life and the life of a settled farmer. The Rekabites had chosen to live far away from urban civilization, and only the exceptional circumstances account for their presence in Jerusalem; they had taken refuge there to escape from the Chaldeans (Jer. 35:11). Normally they lived as nomads, unattached to the land. But the same time they were fervent worshipers of Yahweh: all the Rekabite names we know are Yahwistic names (Jer. 35:3). Jeremais holds them up as examples, and Yahweh promises them his blessing (jr. 35:19). Like nomads, they are organized as a clan; they are the Benai Rekab and from the Beth Rekad, but they also constitute a religious sect, and their ancestor Yonadab is a religious legislator.
This Yonadab ben Rekab is known to us for his part in Jehu's revolution (2 Kings 10:15-24). Jehu, on his way to exterminate the cult of Baal at Samaria, takes Yonadab with him to witness his 'zeal for Yahweh' (v. 16). Yonadab, then, must have been a convinced Yahwist, and his uncompromising faith must have been known to all. This incident allows us to date the origin of the Rekabites about 840 B.C., and according to Jeremias, they were still faithful to thee same way of life 250 years later. (E. Ray Moore and Gail Pinchkney Moore have written "The Promise of Jonadab: Building a Christian Legacy in a Time of Cultural Decline" centered around the history of Jonadab.)
King Solomon's Mines and the Tabernacle of Timna
Amazingly, a Midianite tabernacle has been discovered by archeologist in a region called Timna, the supposed site of "King Solomon's Mines" and the "Pillars of Solomon." Biblical Archeology Book by Book describes the discovery.
Recent excavations have been conducted by Y. Aharoni and B. Rothenberg at the Egyptian copper mining center in the Timnah valley, some eighteen to twenty miles north of Elath. Egyptian pharaohs from the days of Seti I to Rameses IV and V (fourteenth to twelfth centuries BC) had maintained there large-scale primitive copper smelting facilities. They were manned by the indigenous Amalekites of the southern Negev, as well as the Midianites and Kenties of the Arabah and Midian. The Kenites, it will be remembered, possessed metallurgical traditions going back to prebiblical times as recorded in Genesis 4:22. The Egyptians had erected at Timnah a sanctuary to the goddess Hathor, "The Lady of the Turquoise," who was also worshiped at the mines of Serabit el Khadim in Sinai, also worked by Semitic laborers. This temple was destroyed, then rebuilt between the fourteenth and twelfth centuries BC. The actual maintenance of Egyptian mining enterprises is further attested by the papyrus Harris I, dating to the reign of Ramese III. Thousands of artifacts in clay or metal, of both local, probably Midianite, and Egyptian provenance, attest to the expansion and vitality of the Midianite culture, stemming from sedentary and semi sedentary centers southeast of Elath and extending to the threshold of Arabia in the northern Hedjaz. They represent a witness to the history of the days roughly corresponding to periods of Exodus and the wandering of disparate Hebrew clans in the semiarid areas south of Canaan and Transjordan. They bespeak some cultural and social interrelations between the Midianites and Kenites and the early Hebrews. They serve to authenticate the tradition of the relationship between Jethro, the Midianite priest, and Moses, his son-in-law. Toward the end of the twelfth century, the temple the Egyptians had rebuilt was destroyed, apparently by earthquake. Shortly thereafter all evidence of the former cult was displaced by the Midianites who kept up exploitation of the mines. The excavations show that the shrine was roofed with a tent, presumably as a desert sanctuary, and its holy of holies contained a copper snake with a gilded head as a votive object. The other radical change in the character of the shrine was the erection of a row of masseboth of stelae facing the inner sanctuary and an offering bench built against the sanctuary wall. The votive snake was found in the holiest spot of the sanctuary, and numerous other copper votive artifacts and decorated pottery attributed to the Midiantite phase of the cult were found in the sanctuary.
These discoveries strongly confirm the interrelationships between early Israel and the Midianites-Kenites (cf. Exod. 18:12-17). The votive snake of the desert sanctuary of Timnah may furnish an actual background for the tradition of the serpent Nehustan of Numbers 21:9. The excavations may cast some light on the nature of Moses' tent-sanctuary and lend support to those scholars who have proposed that the cult of the invisible El or Yahweh of the Exodus period, who tented among his people and whose proper dwelling was a tent, may have been of Midianite-Kenite origin. Regardless of the theological implications raised by the discoveries, it is clear that they provide a cultural and historico-geographical background of facts and data related to the obscure phases of the wilderness narratives.
Additional information is provided in Werner Keller's The Bible As History
Moses does what Sinuhe had done before him. He flees eastward to get out of Egyptian territory. [The story of Sinuhe is an ancient Egyptian story similar to the story of Moses. In it, an Egyptian official fled Egypt and settled among the Semitic people.] Since Canaan is occupied by Egypt, Moses chooses for his exile the mountains of Midian east of the gulf of Aqabah, with which he had a remote connection. Ketura had been Abraham's second wife, after Sarah's death (Genesis 25:1). One of her sons is called Midian. The tribe of Midian is often called Kenites in the Old Testament (Numbers 24:21). The name means "belonging to the coppersmiths" –Qain in Arabic, Qainaya in Aramaic-a smith. This designation connects up with the presence of metal in the neighborhood of the tribal territory. The mountain ranges east of the Gulf of Aqaba are rich in copper, as the investigations of Nelson Glueck of America have indicated.
Surprisingly enough quite recently we have had archeological confirmation of two occurrences in the Biblical account of the journey through the desert which nobody would have expected in this connection. In spite of all the planning and systematic work, chance nevertheless has its part to play in archeology and chance does not always pay any attention to what the scholars expect! In this case it enabled the Israeli archeologist Benn Rothenberg to discover a "serpent of brass" and a tabernacle in the copper mine area of Tina (Wadi el-Arabah).
The "serpent of brass" is a serpent idol to which magical powers were attributed (Number 21:9). It is reported that there was a similar idol in the temple at Jerusalem which was not removed until it was broken in pieces by King Hiskia (Hezekiah) of Judah, who reigned around 700 B.C. (2 Kings 18:4). The serpent idol naturally reminds us of the Sumerian serpent staff on a vase dedicated to the god of life Ningizidda. It reminds us, too, of the Aesculapius's staff of a latter phase of Classical Antiquity as well as of the numerous serpents of Ancient Egypt. Already at the beginning of this century a German scholar, H. Gressmann, had asserted that the "brazen serpent" in the Bible must have been taken over from the Midianites with whom the Israelites were in contact during the journey through the desert. According to the Bible, the Midianites were descended from Abraham's wife Keturah (Genesis 25;2-6) and Reul (or Jethro), a priest of the Midianites, who was the father-in-law, advisor and co-celebrant "before the Lord" (Ex 2:16, 3:1, 18:1ff) of Moses. The Israelites are supposed to owe the strange cult of the brazen serpent to Reuel. It is not without a touch of dramatic effect that we note that it was an archeological site showing signs of Midianite occupation that Beno Rothenberg found an idol in the form of a brazen serpent five inches in length and partly decorated with gold. As though this sensational confirmation of an important part of the Biblical accounts of the journey through the desert, which have been the object of so much discussion, were not enough, this small bronze serpent was found in the Holy of Holies of a tabernacle! That really was the crowning point of Rothenberg's discoveries, for the unearthing of a tabernacle was something of extraordinary importance, as ever since the nineteenth century Biblical scholars of the most varied persuasions had expressed doubts concerning the existence of the tabernacle about which the Bible has much to say (Es. 25-31 and 35-39). It is true that some critics had fallen silent when a very small, transportable tabernacle was discovered on a relief on the Bel Temple at Palmyra (Tadmor). At any rate the possibility of the existence of a tabernacle was no longer completely excluded, although the details of the Biblical descriptions of tabernacles were still considered to be a back projection onto the periods of the wandering in the desert conditions in the Temple at Jerusalem. In any case, the nomads' shrine on the relief at Palmyra was extremely small and strictly speaking it is rather a representation of the Ark of the Covenant than of the Tabernacle which contained the Holy Ark. The Midianite tabernacle unearthed by Rothenberg is quite different. Its measurements bring it much closer to the tabernacle described in the Bible. It was found on the site of an older, Egyptian place of worship dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The Midianites who, following the Egyptians, were mining copper on their own accord at Timna, converted this place of worship into a shrine of their own religion and covered it with an awning of which Rothenberg found not only the holes into which the post had been rammed at an angle but even some remains of the material.
Of course, details of the interior lay-out and arrangement of the Biblical tabernacles still remain to be clarified. Thus, for example, the altar for burnt offerings is supposed to have been equipped with brass fittings and a grate of network of brass" (Exodus 27:1-8), but at a very much later date not even King Solomon had at his disposal craftsmen who could carry out such work. He was obliged to request them from King Hiram of Tyre (2 Chronicles 2:6 and 12f). The horns of this altar in the tabernacle, as they are called (Ex 27:2, 30:2f) did not appear, according to the archeological find in Israel, until the beginning of the time of the kings, that is to say not until the Temple had been built. It is only in connection with the time of the kings (cf. 1 Kings 1:50f; Ps 118 (117); Jeremiah 17:1; Amos 3:14) that the Bible mentions them again. Whatever the truth of the matter, after Rothenberg's discovery, there is now in principle nothing to prevent us from supposing that a quite an early date Israel possessed a tabernacle and that it was more or less like that described in the Bible.
In "Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography" Reverend Bruce Chilton describes certain angels of God, "Seraphim-not the pink cherubs of Renaissance art, but enormous, burning multi-winged snakes-thundered in praise of God (Isaiah 6:1-5). These were but a few of the ten thousand spirits and angels that served the heavenly King, the "hosts," "multitudes," or "armies" who stand at God's behest-a pantheon of fearsome, irresistible might (Deuteronomy 33:2). God's Spirit-with all its potential to create and destroy-could be revealed by any of these creatures as they descended into the human world." It is hard for us today to view Seraphim as the ancient Hebrews did-as being serpentine angels. The HarperCollins Study Bible also confirms that the seraphs were snake-like in appearance noting, "Seraphs, winged cobras (14:29, 30:6) often represented in Egyptian art, in association with Syro-Phoenician thrones, and on Israelite seals with wings outstretched to protect the deity. Covered their faces. Here they must protect themselves from the glory of God."
Man is made in the image of God-but the ancients believed animals also bore the image of the divine. Seraphs were angelic beings, in the form of serpents that were guardians of God. (This is also seen in Cherubim, angelic beings that scholars have determined to be sphinxes, with the components of body parts of lions, birds and men. Seraphs are seen in Egyptian crowns of the pharaohs, with "Wadget"-as the guardians of the Pharaoh and of temples. Wadget was the Egyptian serpent god. The serpents are also seen in other ancient Egyptian decorative motifs. Their role was guardians of the deity.
We often think of snakes as being evil-since the serpent was involves with the temptation of Eve at the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). This "evil" symbolism is indeed used in Scripture, however, snakes are not universally viewed as evil in the Bible. Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents-and yet as gentle as doves" (Matthew 11:3). We also find snakes in the Kingdom of God in Isaiah 11:8-9. Moses turned in staff into a snake-and in this instance the snake was a symbol of God's power. We know that "seraph" means snake because it is the same Hebrew word used for serpent in the instance of the Serpent of Brass that Moses made.
...the people grew restive on the journey, and the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why did you make us leave Egypt to die in the wilderness: There is no bread and no water, and we have come to loathe this miserable food." The LORD sent seraph serpents against the people. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede with the LORD to take away the serpents from us!" And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a seraph figure and mount it on a standard. And if anyone who is bitten looks at it, he shall recover." Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, he would look at the copper serpent and recover. Numbers 21:4-9 JPS Tanakh Version)
The word "seraph" is used for serpent in two other Bible passages. This includes Isaiah 14:29, which says, "For out of the serpent's roots will come forth a viper, and its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent." Of course, the Hebrew word for "fiery flying serpent" is "seraph." The other passage of scripture is Isaiah 30:6 which says, "The "Beasts of the Negev" Pronouncement. Through a land of distress and hardship, of lion and roaring king-beast, of viper and flying seraph, they convey their wealth on the backs of asses, their treasures on camels' humps"(JPS). In 2 Kings 18:4 Hezekiah destroys the bronze serpent which became an idol but was a decoration and historical monument. Certain priests may have opposed the Kenites. Perhaps it was to destroy their power and influence that Hezekiah destroyed the Brass Serpent. Speaking of the brazen serpent, the scripture says that King Hezekiah, "removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan" (NKJV). Now the word in Hebrew "Nehushtan" could be translated as with "Bronze Thing" or "serpent" from the Hebrew word Nahash.
The serpent is also a symbol of healing and the medical profession. The Staff of Asclepius is the Greek symbol of a snake on a pole similar to the one made by Moses. Apparently, both are symbols of healing. (The Staff of Asclepius and that of Moses is one snake on a wooden staff. Many hospitals and medical establishment use the Caduceus of Mercury as their symbol instead. This Staff of Mercury was a symbol used by merchants, thieves and crooks. Unlike the Staff if Asclepius it has two snakes and the staff has wings. It is connected to the legend of Ophiuchus, who was able to change his sex from male to female. The Caduceus is perhaps an appropriate symbol of America's medical establishment.) In the Ancient Near East, serpents were seen as sacred creatures. Ancient authorities do explain the veneration of snakes in their cultures. A passage about serpent worship follows in which it is not clear what part is from Sanchuniathon and what part from Philo of Byblus:
The nature then of the dragon and of serpents Tauthus [the Egyptian god Thoth) himself regarded as divine, and so again after him did the Phoenicians and Egyptians: for this animal was declared by him to be of all reptiles most full of breath, and fiery. In consequence of which it also exerts an unsurpassable swiftness by means of its breath, without feet and hands or any other of the external members by which the other animals make their movements. It also exhibits forms of various shapes, and in its progress makes spiral leaps as swift as it chooses. It is also most long-lived, and its nature is to put off its old skin, and so not only to grow young again, but also to assume a larger growth; and after it has fulfilled its appointed measure of age, it is self-consumed, in like manner as Tauthus himself has set down in his sacred books: for which reason this animal has also been adopted in temples and in mystic rites.
Sanchuniathon is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. These few fragments comprise the most extended literary source concerning Phoenician religion in either Greek or Latin. Phoenician sources, along with all of Phoenician literature, were lost with the parchment on which they were habitually written. All our knowledge of Sanchuniathon and his work comes from Eusebius's Praeparatio Evangelica, (I. chs ix-x) which contains some information about him along with the only surviving excerpts from his writing, as summarized and quoted from his supposed translator, Philo of Byblos. Eusebius also quotes the neo-Platonist writer Porphyry as stating that Sanchuniathon of Berytus (Beirut) wrote the truest history about the Jews because he obtained records from "Hierombalus" ("Jerubbaal"? or "Hiram'baal" ?) priest of the god Ieuo (Yahweh). Philo of Byblos (or Herennius Philon; c. 64-141 CE) was an antiquarian writer of grammatical, lexical and historical works in Greek. He is chiefly known for his Phoenician history assembled from the writings of Sanchuniathon. Philo was born in the first century. He lived into the reign of Hadrian, of which he wrote a history, now lost. His name "Herennius" suggests that he was a client of the consul suffectus Herennius Severus, through whom Philo could have achieved the status of a Roman citizen. Philo wrote a dictionary of synonyms, a collection of scientific writers and their works organized by category, a catalogue of cities with their famous citizens, and a Vita of the Emperor Hadrian. Some of his work is known to us by titles only; others have survived in fragmentary quotes in Christian authors.
We should think of symbolism of the serpent as similar to the symbolism of a lion in the Bible. Is the lion a symbol of God or of the Devil? It depends on context because we actually find both. The Bible says that Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Then Jesus is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelations 5:5). The serpent being lifted up by Moses is a recurring theme in the Gospel of John. Jesus told Nicodemas, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:13-14). The Serpent was lifted up, the Son of Man is lifted up (John 8:28, 12:32). Jesus said, "If I am lifted up I will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 8:32). Jesus, a symbol of healing (spiritual and physical) and redemption-as a snake (because of rejuvenation-a snake is reborn as it sheds its skin). Using the "evil" metaphor-the "Good"-he who knew no sin, that is Jesus, became sin-on the cross-identifying himself with crime-dying as a criminal, to save mankind (2 Corinthians :21).
(Symbolism of the serpent is explored in The Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized by James H. Charlesworth.)
The Brass Serpent found in the Timna Tabernacle.
Moses and the Brazen Serpent
The Kenite Temple at Arad
"The descendants of Hobab, of the sons of Cain, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms [Jericho] into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negev near Arad. Then they went and settled with the Amalekites." Judges 1:16
A temple to Yahweh has been discovered at Arad, which according to the Bible was Kenite territory in the Biblical age. This temple was probably originally a tent shrine to Yahweh established by the Kenites. Later, King Solomon re-built the Arad temple. The ruins of this temple that are still standing are those of the Arad temple built by Solomon. Hezekiah destroyed the temple of Yahweh at Arad when he centralized worship in Jerusalem. We know that this Arad temple was a temple to Yahwoh because it is described as such on the Hebrew and Aramaic ostraca that have been excavated at the site. Archeology of the Bible: Book by Book describes this remarkable discovery.
One of the outstanding contributions was the discovery of an ancient temple at Arad in southern Israel. It stood on the grounds of an Israelite citadel and was the first Israelite sanctuary to be uncovered in an excavation. It is oriented westward, and its layout and contents recall, in many respects, Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. It shows an even more striking resemblance to the biblical description of the Tabernacle in the desert…and consists of a main hall from which three steps lead up to the debir (Holy of Holies), at whose entrance were found two incense alters. A small bamah (high place) and a massebah (stone stele) stood in the center of the Holy of Holies. In the outer courtyard stood an altar for burnt offerings: a square of five cubits (that is, approximately seven and a half feet on each side) conforming to the measurements of the Tabernacle altar in Exodus 27:1 and built of earth and un-hewn field stones (Exodus 20:24-25). Other features of the sanctuary also bore a close resemblance to the biblical description of Solomon's sanctuary. But the early history of this high place and temple is even more intriguing because Arad had been settled before the days of the monarchy by a Kenite clan akin to the Midianites and descended from Hobab the priest, a member of the same family as Jethro, Moses' father-in-law (Jug. 1:16). The Kenites built a high place and altar on the highest point overlooking the plateau of Arad. In the days of Solomon (tenth century BC) or shortly afterwards, a temple was built in this strategic center (Greater Arad), over the early Kenite high place…Several high places had existed in Israel before and during the days of the Judean Monarchy, but this one may have been destroyed by King Hezekiah (eighth century BC) or more likely by Josiah, who concentrated the religious ritual in Jerusalem in the seventh century BC as described in 2 Kings 22…[a] significant rich trove of ostraca [was] found there….
Jeremiah and the Rechabites
Jeremiah used the Gentile tribe of the Rechabites, who were Kenites, to condemn Israel. While the Jewish people were supposedly God's "Chosen People" they would not obey or honor God. However, the Rechabite clan of the Kenites did honor God and obey him. (Rechabite refers to a sub-clan of the Kenites, thus all Rechabites are Kenites but not all Kenites are Rechabites.)
And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the Lord. The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
And this adds to the wonder of what we read of in Jeremiah 35, that the Rechabites were from a Gentile people and was a Gentile family that were held as an example of faithfulness to Israel, in the last days prior to the destruction, and were given a glorious promise by Israel's God. So that in these things have foreshadowed the manner in which through the Jewish rejection of the things of God, in these days, the hope of Salvation is extended to us, as Gentiles, if we learn to emulate the faith and obedience of the Rechabites. The Kenites were displaced as priests by the Levites. Gary Nolan argues that the story of Cain and Abel was used to explain why the Kenites no longer served as priests. They were being punished for the sin of their ancestor by being excluded from the former position that they held as priests of Yahweh. In fact they were the genuine and original worshipers of Yahweh.) Nolan felt that when Cain says, "I shall be removed from Your face" it was referring to the time when Kenites would lose their role as serving as priests, which was often described as "standing before the face" of the Lord. Nolan felt that the Kenites were restored to the priesthood by the prophecy of Jeremiah, when Yahweh spoke through him and said that the Kenites, "shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever."
(Two interesting archeological discoveries have been made relating to this passage in Jeremiah. One is a stamp seal with the name Jaazaniah, in Hebrew "Ya'azan-yahu" the other is a depiction of the Yahweh worshiping Israelite King Jehu on the "Black Obelisk" of the Assyrian King Shalmanser III that was built and erected in 841 BC.)
From the Jewish perspective, the Rechabites were what is called "ger" (or "gerim" for the plural) or "resident aliens." In Psalm 39:12 David says, "Hear my prayer, O Yahweh, Listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were." The New International Version Archeological Study Bible, notes here that "the terms "alien" and "stranger" indicate a class of non-Israelites, who were permitted to reside among God's people within the promised land but who had no inheritance there. These resident aliens could experience a degree of social interaction with the native inhabitants but enjoyed few rights. David drew upon their experience as an analogy to the kind of painful barriers sin had erected between himself and God." Although the Kenites were the native inhabitants of the land, as gentiles and non-Israelites, they were treated as foreigners. (However, it is possible that David may have had some Kenite relatives.)
The Rechabites at Jeremiah's time remembered back to Jonadab the Rechabite who had given them their law-code. Jonadab was a real crusader. He fought for Yahweh under the sign of the cross, about 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus. (The tribal sign of the Rechabites is a cross. Rechabites tattooed this emblem on their foreheads.) His story is connected with that of the Israelite King Jehu. Yahwoh had told Elijah that He had chosen Jehu, who was a devoted servant of Yahweh, to be king of Israel. King Jehu formed an alliance with the Rechabites to purge the land of Israel of Baal worship. The leader of the Rechabite community at that time was Jehonadab, who is also known as Jonadab.
And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they made him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah. 2 Kings 10:15-17 (KJV)
Although Jehu was devoted to the worship of Yahweh and he opposed Baal worship, he chose to allow statues of the golden calves to remain standing. Also, he is rebuked in scripture for his excessive shedding of blood that he shed during his purges ( in the Book of Hosea). F.F. Bruce in Israel and the Nations: The History of Israel from the Exodus to the Fall of the Second Temple describes the alliance between Jehu and the Rechabites:
Jehu …made his way to Samaria claiming to be a religious reformer. His claim was strengthened by securing the co-operation of Jonadab the Rechabite, leader of a very strict puritanical group. (This group related to other Yahweh worshipers in much the same way as Islamic fundamentalists relate to other Muslims.) These Rechabites had not abandoned the desert way of life to become farmers in Canaan, as other Israelites had done at the time of the settlement. They continued to live in tents, they sowed no seed, planted no vineyards and drank no wine. In fact, they abstained from everything that had the remotest connection with the Canaanite fertility –cults, and above all they detested Baal-worship. (41)
(I don't think it is fair to compare Rechabites with Islamic fundamentalist. However, after studying the Koran and the life of Mohammed it is obvious that what we describe as "Moslem fundamentalists" are Moslems who are faithful to the historic teachings of Mohammed, the Koran and what has been Islamic practice for 13 centuries.)
A Psalm in the Bible not only alludes to the Kenites but is attributed to them. The Greek version of the Old Testament calls Psalm 71 (there numbered as Psalm 70 in the Greek) "a Psalm sung by the sons of Jonadab." According to this ancient testimony, Psalm 70 was the Song of the Rechabites, and probably composed by them.
O Yahweh, I have hoped in thee: let me never be put to shame.
In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me: incline Thine ear to me, and save me. Be to me a protecting God, and a strong hold to save me: for thou art my fortress and my refuge. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the sinner, from the hand of the transgressor and the unjust man, for thou art my hope from my youth. On thee have I been stayed from the womb: from the belly of my mother thou art my protector: of thee is my praise continually. I am became as it were a wonder to many; but thou art my strong helper. Let my mouth be filled with praise, that I may hymn thy glory, and thy majesty all the day. Cast me not off at the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. For mine enemies have spoken against me; and they that lay wait for my soul have taken counsel together, saying, God has forsaken him: persecute ye and take him; for there is none to deliver him. O God, go not far from me, O my God draw nigh to my help. Let those that plot against my soul be ashamed and utterly fail: let those that seek my hurt be clothed with shame and dishonour. But I will hope continually, and will praise thee more and more. My mouth shall declare thy righteousness openly, and thy salvation all the day; for I am not acquainted with the affairs of men. I will go on in the might of the Lord: O Lord, I will make mention of they righteousness only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and until now will I declare they wonders; even until I am old and advanced in years. O God, forsake me not; until I have declared Thine arm to all the generation that is to come: even thy power and thy righteousness, O God, up to the highest heavens, even the mighty works which thou hast done: O God, who is like to thee?
What afflictions many and sore hast thou shewed me! Yet thou didst turn and quicken me, and broughtest me again from the depths of the earth. Thou didst multiply thy righteousness, and did turn and comfort me, and broughtest me again out of the depths of the earth. I will also therefore give thanks to thee, O God , because of thy truth, on an instrument of psalmody: I will sing psalms to thee on the harp, O Holy One of Israel. My lips shall rejoice when I sing to thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed,. Moreover also my tongue shall dwell all the day upon thy righteousness; when they shall be ashamed and confounded that seek my hurt.
"My Name is Great Among the Gentiles"
"For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says Yahweh Saboath" (Malachi 1:11). The next verse says, "But you" meaning the Israelites "have profaned it" (Malachi 1:12).
Frank Frick in "The Rechabites Reconsidered" suggests that the Hammath that the Kenites came from was the city of Hammath north of Damascus. (This city is now called Hama and is famous for its waterwheels.) Recently archeological evidence has come to support this premise. Hammath was ruled by an Aramaic king named Yahweh-Bidi (or Yahu-Bihdi). This pagan, non-Israelite, non-Hebrew king had a Yahwistic name! Sadly, Yahweh-Bidi was executed by the Assyrians for rebellion. He was executed by being skinned alive. (In the Bible, we find Hammathites with Yahwistic names. In 2 Samuel 8:9 King Toi of Hammath formed an alliance with David. The Scripture says, "Now when Toi king of Hammath heard that David had defeated all the army of Hadadezer, Toi sent Joram his son to King David." (Note that in Joram, the Jo in Joram being from the name Yahweh, is a Yahwistic name. Joram is from Hammath and is not Israelite.) Joram was sent to David to "greet and bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and had defeated him; for Hadadezerhad been at war with Toi. And Joram brought him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze. King David also dedicated these to the Lord. So reads 2 Samuel 8:9-11.) It is possible that Hammath was within the migratory range of the Kenites. Bedouin with their herds can transverse about 25 to 30 miles a day. Most years they migrated around 770 miles between winter grazing and summer watering places. It should be noted that Heber the Kenite was allied with Hazor which is far north of where the Kenites were typically though of as dwelling. Yahu-Bihdi was a governor of Hamath appointed by the Assyrian government. He declared himself king of Hamath in 720 BC and led a revolt which was promptly suppressed. Yahu-Bihdi himself was flayed alive. His revolt occurred roughly shortly after the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by Sargon II (722 – 705 BC) and roughly simultaneously with revolts in Babylon as well as in Arpad, Damascus and elsewhere in the Levant. His name, with the component Yahu, suggests that he may have been a worshipper of Yahweh. Following his defeat, many residents of Hamath were deported to Samaria by the Assyrians, where they became one of the component groups of the Samaritan people. Hamath itself was destroyed after the siege, but had been rebuilt by the 400's BC. Yahu-Bihdi was not the only non-Israelite King with the name "Yahweh" in his name. There was also Azriyau. A fragmentary text describes a rebellion against Assyria led by a certain Azriyau king of Hatarikka-Luhuti in the area of Hamath in the year 738 BC. The identity of Azriyau is uncertain, although his name is almost certainly Yahwistic. This can be determined by the theophoric element - Yahu - the name of the God of Israel. Azriyau led a rebellion against Tiglath-Pileser III (745-728 BC.) His revolt failed and he was captured, and the area was reorganized as an Assyrian province. Both of these kings were most likely Kenites. The Bible says that the Kenites came from Hammath at 1 Chronicles 2:55. Why do the find the Kenites who are associated with the land of Seir in the southern region of the land of Israel and perhaps as far north as Hammath? Max Weber explains this when he discusses "the existence and considerable importance of this itinerant shepherd stratum has been ascertained for all epochs of Palestinian history. Today this pattern is also found among camel breeders who drive their herds from east Jordan for stubble and fallow in Galilee. The appearance of itinerant camel breeders however, was not typical. The classical representatives of the small stock breeders in early Palestinian antiquity were the Rechabites, a brotherhood which must have transversed almost the entire land from north to south. They were Kenites, a tribe which bordered, on the one side, on the Amalekites of the southern desert and occasionally federated with them. On the other hand, reference is made in the Song of Deborah to this tribe in the north. The basic pasture-region of the Rechabites, in Jeremiah's time, lay, apparently, in the Judaic mountains, whence in danger of war they brought their herds behind the walls of Jerusalem. Two and one-half centuries earlier, during Jehu's revolution in the northern kingdom, they were of decisive assistance. They were small stock breeders. Like the Bedouins, they disdained houses and fixed settlement, shunned fixed agriculture and drank no wine (Jer. 35). Their way of life was viewed by them as a heavenly commandment laid upon them by the founder of the organization, the prophet of Yahweh, Jonadab ben Rechab. Other bands of small stock breeders wandered as far as the Rechabites…In addition to the pure type of itinerant stockbreeder, as represented by the Rechabites, there were, naturally, numerous transitional forms. Often too, itinerant shepherds engaged in some more or less unsteady agriculture for their own needs. The transition to the settled peasant status was thus fluid. Only they could not appropriate all of the land, as land was primarily grazing ground and their property was centered in livestock. The slow movement of their small stock restricted their mobility in comparison to the Bedouins hence they were exposed to the latter's depredations. Against the Bedouins they were the natural allies of the settled peasants who were even more exposed to such depredations than the stockbreeders…Cain, the tattooed Bedouin, was held in contrast to the shepherd Abel as cursed to eternal unrest. Besides this, there were to be found occasional alliances of cattle breeders (the Kenites) with the Bedouins, and identification with the Edomites was strong. Naturally, the transition from Bedouin-hood to quasi-nomadic stock-breeding was particularly fluid, and combinations of different kinds of cattle appeared, among the patriarchs, as for example, with Job, who is represented as owner of sheep, asses, cows, and camels, as dwelling in a house and drinking wine. The descendants of Cain, who is first considered to be a desert Bedouin, the Kenites, were recognized, in historical times, as an especially God-fearing, cattle-breeding tribe. The genealogy of Genesis shows this" (p. 38-39).
In many scriptures God speaks of certain gentile peoples as being His people in a similar manner that the Jews are his "chosen people." The remnant of the Aramaic people were be like the glory of the children of Israel, says the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 17:3). The LORD of Hosts shall bless, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyrian the word of My hands, and Israel my inheritance" Isaiah 19:25. Are you not as Ethiopians unto me? O people of Israel? Says the Lord" (Amos 9:7). Psalm 87:4 "I will record Rechab and Babylonia among those we acknowledge me."
Interesting archeological discoveries confirm that Yahweh was known and worshiped by gentiles. A coin from Gaza has been discovered bearing the name Yahu and even a depiction of Yahweh sitting upon his throne. The silver coin is dated to the early fourth century BC. An Egyptian Scroll contains hymns of praise to Yahweh. Gentiles, Kenites and others knew and worshiped Yahweh. In Sebastian Brock's The Hidden Pearl: The Ancient Aramaic Heritage he mentions the discovery of a papyrus found in Thebes in Egypt and dating from 139 to 112 BC. Although it is written in the Egyptian Demotic alphabet the scroll is in Aramaic. Interestingly, it is a pagan Aramaic counterpart to Psalm 22 from the Holy Bible. While it invokes Adonay and El (a word meaning "god") it also appeals to "Yah our God" (Pages 92-193). A Roman name for one of their chief deities "Jove," king of the gods, sounds very similar to Jehovah. Jupiter means "Jove-father" or "O Father Sky-god." (In Hebrew "J" is usually "Y" and "V" is sometimes "W." So, Jove could be Yowe, which sounds like Yahweh in Hebrew.)
Ancient "Yahweh" Coin from Gaza
The Tabernacles and Temples of Yahweh
Bible students are very familiar with the "Tabernacle of the Wilderness." After the Exodus, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years before they entered into the Promised Land. At this time they worshiped Yahweh in a mobile sanctuary. This tent of worship was called the Tabernacle. Gary Nolan states, "When Yahweh initially becomes the God of Israel, he continues as a nomadic god whose home is a tent (2 Sam. 7:6). It seems that the Israelites used three different Tabernacles in the course of their history. The first Tabernacle was the "Tent of Meeting." The second Tabernacle was the Tabernacle. The third tabernacle was the Tabernacle of David. The Tent of Meeting is described in Exodus 33:7.
And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
This Tent of Meeting was outside the camp, far off from the camp. Scholars surmise that it may have been a domed tent. Open to everyone-the entire "mixed multitude." No animal sacrifices were offered in this Tabernacle (Jeremiah 7:22-23). (The Tent of Meeting that was outside the camp is probably also mentioned in Numbers 12:1-8.)
A second tabernacle was erected. This was placed in the middle of the camp. This tabernacle, confusingly, was also known as the tent of meeting but it was also known as the Tabernacle of Moses or the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It is possible that both tabernacles co-existed for a time. In this tabernacle animal sacrifices were initiated. The description of the Tabernacle is given in Exodus 26. Its building is described in Exodus 36-40. This Tabernacle was surrounded with a wall of curtains that created a courtyard. It had an inner sanctuary and the Inner Sanctum (the most holy place or "Holy of Holies"). Unlike the Tent of Meeting, only priests were allowed to enter into the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was moved to Shiloh. Or perhaps another "tent-shrine" was erected at Shiloh. This building was probably similar to the sanctuary that has been discovered at Timna. This shrine is described in 2 Samuel 1:9 as the Temple (Hebrew "Heykal") of Yahweh.
The third Tabernacle was the Tabernacle of David. This was the tabernacle of praise. It is described in 2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 15:16, 16:1-4. David is described as the "Sweet Psalmist of Israel" in 2 Samuel 23:1. The Tabernacle of David was characterized by singing, playing musical instruments, dancing, worship-not the slaughtering of animals (Psalm 100:4). Amos 6:5 mentions David inventing musical instruments. 1 Chronicles 23:5, David describes "musical instruments which I made for giving praise." So it seems that this temple worship was an innovation by David. (The Kenites were the first, according to Genesis, to create musical instruments. In this manner, David is like a Kenite.) In the Counsel of Jerusalem, James the Brother of Jesus described the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David. James said,
Simeon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: "After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins and I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things." Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God…" Acts 15:13-18 (quoting Amos 9:11).
In A Short Catechism of the Tabernacle of David, Bob Johnston states, "The Tabernacle of David is the name given to the tent that King David set up on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant. It was the center of a new order of joyful worship which stood in sharp contrast to the solemn worship of Moses' Tabernacle. Instead of the sacrifices of animals, the sacrifices offered at David's Tabernacle were the sacrifices of praise, joy and thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2,100:4, 141:2). The Tabernacle of David is a type of the worship of the Church. Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant by His death on the cross (Hebrews 1:3, 7:27, 9:12, 9:24-28). The sacrifices of the Church, the New Covenant priesthood, are the sacrifices of praise, joy and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:9). In addition to the worship of the Church, the Tabernacle of David points to the proclamation and authority of Christ through His Church, thus foreshadowing the priestly, kingly and prophetic ministries of the Church (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 19:10, Acts 2:17, 1 Corinthians 14:1,3-5, 24-25, 29, 39)… The establishment of David's Tabernacle is described in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13-16. From these passages we see that David prepared a place for the Ark (1 Chr. 15:1), the Levites sanctified themselves for their ministry (1 Chr. 15:14) which was to carry the Ark and minister to the Lord (1 Chr. 15:2). All Israel joined in the procession (1 Chr. 15:3) which was marked by by joyful instrumental and vocal music (1 Chr. 15:16-21 ) and dancing (2 Sam. 6:14, 1 Chr. 15:29). Despite all of this, the celebration was not without its detractors (2 Sam. 6:16, 1 Chr. 15:29). The majority of the Psalms were originally sung as prophetic songs in David's Tabernacle. They account in detail the expressions of worship offered by the Israelites before the Ark of the Covenant. In addition, they describe the full range of human emotions revealed in the presence of God, from deepest despair to highest joy. The righteous kings of Israel that followed David reestablished Davidic worship within the context of Temple worship. These revivals of Davidic worship paved the way for spiritual renewal and military victory. These times of revival and victory were under Solomon (2 Chr. 5-7) - 101 B.C., Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20) - 896 B.C., Joash (2 Chr. 23-24) - 835 B.c., Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29-30) - 726 B.C., Josiah (2 Chr. 35) - 623 B.C., Ezra (Ezra 3:10-13) - 536 B.C. and Nehemiah (Neh. 12:28-47) - 446 B.C. The Old Testament prophecies that specifically mention the Tabernacle of David are Isaiah 16:5 and Amos 9:11-12. There are numerous additional prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah and His kingdom that refer to Zion, the mountain of the Lord, the glory of the Lord and other images that are obvious references to the Tabernacle of David. See especially Isaiah 2:2-5, Isaiah 9:2-7, Isaiah 35, Isaiah 40:1-5, Isaiah 60:1-3, Isaiah 61, Isaiah 62, Jeremiah 33:10-22, Micah 4:1-2, and Haggai 2:6-7. The New Testament contains many quotes by Jesus and the Apostles of passages from the Psalms and Prophets. Several of these quotes contain prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah to reign on David's throne. In speaking of the incarnation, John writes that Jesus tabernacled among us (John 1:14). The Church is referred to as the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16, Eph. 2:19-22). The Tabernacle of David is specifically mentioned in Acts 15:16-17 as being fulfilled by the Church. Scriptures referring to Davidic worship are not limited to the Old Testament. The New Testament tells us to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16), to sing in the spirit (1 Cor. 14:15), to lift holy hands in prayer (1 Tim. 2:8) and to offer to God the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). The book of Revelation records scene after scene of heavenly worship that includes shouting (Rev. 19:1), "Hallelujahs" (Rev. 19:7), singing the new song (Rev. 5:9), and bowing (Rev. 4:10)."
As there were various tabernacles there were also various Temples of Yahweh. Shiloh is described at times as being a "temple." It may have been a structure with tent components. The most famous was Solomon's Temple which was built with the aide of the Phoenicians. Solomon also built a temple of Yahweh at Arad, probably on the site of an old Kenite tabernacle. Later the Samaritans built a temple to Yahweh at Mount Gerizem in their opposition to the Jewish people. This Temple to Yahweh was destroyed by the Romans. The Samaritans still worship and perform animal sacrifices on Mount Gerizem. Isaiah states in Isaiah 19:19, "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at is border. It will be a sign and witness to the LORD almighty in the land of Egypt." Some Bible scholars have interpreted this prophecy to be about the Temples of Yahweh built in Egypt. There were two, one in Elephantine in southern Egypt and the other in Leontopolis. The Temple of Yahweh in Elephantine was built by a community of Jewish people who settled in Egypt. The temple was later destroyed by Egyptian priests of the god Khnum. A horde of Aramaic documents was found in Elephentine which included correspondence with the priest in Jerusalem, instructions concerning the observation of the Passover and legal archives. In these documents Yahweh is referred to as Yahu. The Temple of Yahweh at Leontolopis was built by a Jewish High Priest who fled to Egypt. This is described by F.F.Bruce in Israel and the Nations, "Onias, as the eldest son of Onias III, was rightful high priest of Jerusalem, but his claims had been ignored in favor of Lysias's nominee Alcimus. He therefore went to Egypt and obtained permission from Ptolemy VI to build a Jewish temple at Leontopolis, on the pattern of the Jerusalem temple. There the same rituals as in the Jerusalem temple were instituted, and there the legitimate Zadokite high priesthood was continued by Onias IV and his successors for two hundred and thirty years." This view is also found among the early Jewish Christians called the Ebionites. The book of Isaiah concludes with a word discouraging the re-building of a temple in Jerusalem. In Jewish Christianity Scheops says, "This idea that the construction of a stone temple perverted the Mosiac religion, because God desired nothing but the portable tabernacle for the wandering people of God, apparently had an apocryphal survival in nomadic circles-from the Rechabites through the Essenes to the Ebionites. In the statement of Stephen of Acts (Acts 7:11-50) this hostility toward the Solomonic Temple and its cult broke out anew."
Beginning with Cain, the Kenites show an opposition to the act of sacrificing of animals. (It should be noted that the Bible says that Yahweh was pleased with Abel's sacrifice but it doesn't say he was pleased with it because it involved slaughtering animal. It was probably the spirit with which Abel offered the sacrifice that pleased Yahwoh.) Many prophets, such as Hosea, Amos and Jeremiah, show Kenite influence. Through these and other prophets, Yahweh spoke against animal sacrifices. Jesus invoked Hosea saying that God desires "mercy and not sacrifice" and cleansed the temple of animals about to be slaughtered and then stated that the Temple was intended to be a house of prayer, not sacrifice (Mark 12:17).
Opposition to Animal Sacrifices in the Old Testament
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13, 12:7)
For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, Thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)
Thus says Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel, "Add your burnt offering to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burn offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, "Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, and it may be well with you." Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, dialing rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse that their fathers. (Jeremiah 7:21-26)
"I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver me, and you shall glorify Me." (Psalm 50:9-15)
With what shall I come before Yahweh, and bow myself before the High God: Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)
"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?," Says Yahweh. "I have had enough of burnt offering of rams and the fat of red cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood." (Isaiah 1:12-15).
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings, I will not accept them; and the offering of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away form me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Did you bring to me sacrifices and offering the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sakkuth, your king, and Saiwan your star-god, your images, which you made for yourselves; therefore I will take you into exile beyond Damascus, says Yahweh, whose name is the God of hosts. (Amos 5:25-27)
Thus says Yahweh, "Heaven is My throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says Yahweh. "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word. He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog's neck; He who offers a grain offering , as if he offers swine's blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in abominations, so will I choose their delusions; and brings their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not near, But they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight. (Isaiah 66:1-4).
(I explore the issues of Tabernacles and Temples and animal sacrifice in my books The Ascents of James and Christ the Man. The Ascents of James contains literature of the ancient Judeo-Christians called the Ebionites. They believed that God intended for there not to be animal sacrifices but allowed the Israelites to continue this practice after the Golden Calf incident.)
James preached a gospel of inclusion. (This means including all people and not being "inclusive" of sinful practices.) Jesus liberated the animals from the temple-because God desires the sacrifice of praise-not the blood of animals (John 2:13-22, Matthew 21;12-13, mark 11:15-17 and Luke 19:45-46). The last book of the Bible, the Revelation, describes the final consummation in the relationship between God and man. It says, "Behold, the
Tabernacle of God is now with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them, and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:2-4). (Revelations also states that in the New Jerusalem there is no Temple (Apocalypse 21:22).)
James the Just and the Rechabites
According to the Bible and the early church fathers, after Jesus ascended into Heaven, his brother, called James (meaning Jacob) the Just or James of Jerusalem, led the church.
According to the Gospel of Thomas Christ himself appointed James to lead the church.[The Gospel of Thomas is an ancient source and may have certain authentic traditions although the form in which he Gospel of Thomas has come down to us is corrupted with heretical ideas.] Thomas Verse 12, "The Disciples said to Jesus, "We are aware that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus said to them, "No matter where you come it is to James the Just you shall go, for whose sake heaven and earth have come to exist."" This verse doesn't tell us whether Christ commissioned James during his public ministry or after the resurrection. Either way his authority is unquestioned. (The latter part of the Thomas saying is a primitive Jewish idiom used to praise those of virtuous character.) In Galatians, Paul describes the church being led by the 'pillars' James, Cephas and John. Here James is given precedence over Peter (Cephas). At the Counsel of Jerusalem James decision was final and not subject to debate. "James answered, saying, 'men and brethren, listen to me…I judge that we should not trouble those from among the gentiles who are turning to God…" (Acts 15:13-21). We know that James was extremely "Torah-observant". He was a devotee of the Mosaic Law, which he described as "The Perfect Law of Liberty" (James 1:25). However he decreed
Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved.
Gentiles should avoid pagan worship so much as to avoid food that was consecrated to false gods.
Gentiles must not commit sexual immorality.
Gentiles must not eat meat from animals that were strangled and keep from eating blood.
When Paul came to Jerusalem bringing his offering for the "poor" (Ebion) among the Saints of Jerusalem, he reported to James (Acts 21:18-19). James instructed Paul to participate in worship at the Temple. Paul met with James after his conversion (Galatians 1:19). James was very Torah Observant and Christian Jews who were "Zealous for the Law" surrounded him (Acts 21:20). Cephas (Peter) was intimidated by these people (Galatians 2:11-12). The other "Brothers of Our Lord" [Joseph, Judah and Simeon] also had a special function in the Church as apostles and missionaries. Like Cephas (Peter) they were married (1 Corinthians 9:5). This verse implies that James was married as well. When Cephas (Peter) was freed from prison by the angel he instructed Rhonda to tell James and the other Brothers that he was safe (Acts 12:17).
Ancient historical sources have come down to us describing the martyrdom of James the Brother of Jesus, which occurred in 62 AD. Josephus was a contemporary of St. Paul who wrote two important histories of the period of the New Testament. In his works he mentions John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and James the Brother of Jesus. His writings include Antiquities of the Jews and War of the Jews. He presents us with one of the most important accounts of the martyrdom of James the Just. Josephus was probably an eye-witness of these events since it is known that he was in Jerusalem when these events transpired. Josephus, although not a Christian, was opposed to the persecution and murder of James. He says,
Ananus ..was a bold man in his temper and very insolent…he though he now had a proper opportunity…and he brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa] desiring to send to Ananus that he should act no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified;
Felix had died and the new Roman governor was in route. Ananus became high priest and there was no one there to check his power. He had an opportunity to pursue his personal vendetta against James and the other Christian Jews. The new high priest had James murdered before he was authorized to hold office. The people were outraged and this led to the high priest being deposed. Other apostles were probably also martyred at this time. James popularity among the people is proven by their rising up against the high priest after he had James put to death. Eusebius quotes another saying of Josephus, "Some held that these calamities happened to the Jews to avenge Jacob (James) the Just, who was the brother of Jesus called Christ, and who at this time the judges had executed, although he was a man distinguished for his justice." Many early Christian Jews and non-Christian Jews believed that the temple was destroyed because James intercession was ceased by his murder. The early Church historian, Eusebius also wrote about the martyrdom of James. He quoted from an earlier historical source, that of Hegesippis, who was a Christian Jew. Interestingly enough, in Hegesippus's account the Kenites are present at the murder of James and they try to intervene in order to save him.
Hegesippus also, who flourished nearest the days of the apostles, in the fifth book of his commentaries gives the most accurate account of him, thus: "But James, the brother of the Lord, who, as there were many of this name, was surnamed the Just by all, from the days of our Lord until now, received the government of the church with the apostles. This apostle was consecrated from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor fermented liquers, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came upon his head, her never anointed [himself] with oil, and never used a [Roman public] bath. He alone was allowed to worship the sanctuary. He never wore woolen, but linen garments. He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of the peoples; so that is knees became as hard as a camel's, in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God. And indeed, on account of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God. And indeed, on account of his exceeding great piety, he was called the Just, and Oblias (or Zaddick and Ozleam) which signifies justice and protection of the people; as the prophets declare concerning him. Some of the seven sects, therefore, of the people, mentioned by me above in my Commentaries, asked him what was the door to Jesus? And he answered them, "that he was the Saviour." From which, some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the aforesaid heresies did not believe either a resurrection, or that he was coming to give to every one according to his works; as many however, as did believe did so on account of James. And there were many therefore of the rulers that believed, there arose a tumult among the Jews, Scribes, and Pharisees, saying that there was danger, that the people would now expect Jesus as the Messiah. They came therefore together, and said to James, "We entreat thee, restrain the people, who are led astray after Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that are coming to the feast of Passover rightly concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we and all the people bear thee testimony that thou art just, and thou respectest not persons. Persuade therefore the people not to be led astray by Jesus, for we and all the people have great confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon a wing of the temple. That thou mayest be conspicuous on high, and thy words may be easily heard by all the people; for all the tribes have come together on account of the Passover, with some of the Gentiles also The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees, therefore placed James upon a wing of the temple, and cried out to him, "O thou Just man, whom we ought all to believe, since the people are led astray after Jesus that was crucified, declare to us what is the door to Jesus that was crucified." And he answered with a loud voice, "Why do you ask me respecting Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens, on the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come in the clouds of heaven." And as many were confirmed, and glorified in this testimony of James and said, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" These same priests and Pharisees said to one another, "We have done badly in affording such testimony to Jesus, but let us go up and cast him down, that they may dread to believe in him." And they cried out, "Oh, oh, the Just one himself is deceived." And they fulfilled that which is written in Isaiah , "Let us take away the Just, because he is offensive to us; whereof they shall eat the fruit of their doings."
Going up therefore, they cast down the just man, saying to one another, "Let us stone James the Just." And they began to stone him, as he did not die immediately when cast down; but turning round, he knelt down saying, "I entreat thee, O Lord God and Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Thus they were stoning him, when one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, a son of the Rechabites, spoken of by Jeremiah, the prophet, cried out saying, "Cease, what are you doing? The Just One is praying for you." And one of the Jews, a fuller, beat out the brains of the Just with the club that he used to beat out clothes. Thus he suffered martyrdom, and they buried him on the spot where his tombstone is still remaining, by the temple. He became a faithful witness, both to the Jews and the Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. Immediately after this, Vespasian invaded and took Judea."
Why did the Rechabites support James? It may have been because James identified himself with the poor and that James was a champion of the poor and oppressed. The Sadducean Religious establishment was a small group of closely related priests who ran the temple and enriched themselves by exploiting the people. Some scholars believe that one of the motives the priest had in murdering James was that he was a champion of the poor and especially of poor priests. While the priestly family fatten themselves off of the people's offerings many Levites were starving. The high priests seized and confiscated for themselves tithes that were to go towards the support of impoverished priests. Their corrupt practices enraged the people so much that some priests met violent ends. Many priests because they didn't have connections were not allowed to serve in the temple, or like Zacharias the father of John, were allowed only to function in the temple once in their entire life, if their name came up on the roll. Many priests waited their whole lives for an opportunity to worship in the temple and were never allowed to. Jesus opposed the high priests corrupt practices when he cleansed the temple. [Although Jesus had strong words against the Pharisees He had much more in common with them than with the Sadducean Priestly establishment.] Not all priests were Sadducees but all the Sadducees were wealthy priests. Certain Bible scholars consider Jesus a Pharisee. (Jesus didn't belong to any sect of Judaism, although he held some views in common with some of them.) Paul still considered himself a Pharisee years after his conversion (Acts 23:6).There are also interesting similarities between early Christianity and the Essenes, or the Qumran community. Either way both the Pharisees and the early Christian Jews opposed the beliefs and corrupt practices of the Sadducees. James probably did oppose these evil practices of the high priest, the way his brother had. James also focuses on the needs of the poor in his epistle (James 2:3-4, 15-16; Galatians2:10). One of James's titles (according to the most ancient sources) was Oblias, which is from a Hebrew word meaning "Bulwark of the People." Jesus and James along with the Rechabites taught in living a simple life and shunning wealth, waste and extravagance. Ironically, certain people are attempting to use the Kenite, Jabez prayer, to promote the false "prosperity" gospel.
The Mark of Cain
"…the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." (Genesis 4:15)
In the ancient Hebrew alphabet, a "mark" was the letter "tau" which was shaped like a cross. The Hebrew word for "mark" that is used in the story of Hebrew is the word "oat." It means "letter" or "sign" and is the same word that is used to describe circumcision as the "sign" of the Covenant. The Mark of Cain, was the Kenites sign of their devotion to Yahweh. The Kenites/Rechabites were known to have tattooed the "mark of Cain" or a cross on their foreheads. Rechabites were found and photographed in the desert region of Syria, Jordan and Iraq in the 1950s. (Later, God gave a command not to get tattoos. This commandment is found in Leviticus 19:28. The commandment applied to the Israelites, not the Kenites.) The Hebrew word used in the Cain narrative, describing the mark of Cain, means "sign" and is the same word that is used to describe circumcision as a "sign" of the covenant. The mark of Cain served the same purpose. It identified the Kenites as the descendants of Cain and as a sign of their dedication to Yahweh. Cain received the cross as a sign of God's mercy to him that was entirely undeserved. So we see that at the very beginning of human history the Cross was the sign of God's salvation. The 'mark of Cain" is not a brand of shame but a protecting sign: it indicates that Cain is a member of a clan that will exact blood for blood. Genesis 4:15 could be translated, "Whoever kills a Kenite will suffer a sevenfold vengeance." Gary Noth notes, "Even after this crime, Yahweh does not reject Cain but places his protective mark on Cain." The mark is a cross, even in some Jewish traditions, it is believed that the Jews marked their doorposts with the blood of the Passover Lamb with the sign of the cross in the story of the Exodus. Cain became his brother's keeper. The mark of Cain insured that his descendents would be the Go-el, the Avenger of the Blood, for all their fellow Kenites. Yahweh is Cain's avenger and protector and he is Job's avenger as well (Job 19:25).
Many people should be familiar with a religious emblem or mark, being put on the forehead. Hindus often have observed this practice especially Hindu girls who are often marked with such a symbol. Usually the dot on their forehead is symbolic of the god or goddess the child was devoted to (for special blessing and protection) as a child. The dot is a symbol of this dedication. For a blessing. In a similar manner the Kenites were marked with a "tau" upon their forehead and a symbol that they were dedicated to Yahweh. Tattoos are still to be found upon Bedouin and Salubba Arabs that live in the desert. Still today many Bedouin girls and women tattoo their faces and hands. A dye made from the henna plant is used on the palms of the hands. There are two other passages that deal with the mark of a cross being put upon peoples foreheads. Ezekiel 9:3-11 and Revelation 7:3 and 9:4. The seal or mark of God is the cross. So we se that at the very beginning of human history the cross was the sign of God's salvation. The Israelite King Jehu allied himself with Jehonadab whom he recognized as a Kenite. Gary Nolan states, "Jehu, however, may have known that Jehonadab was a Kenite Rechabite and that the Kenites have a history of zeal for Yahweh that goes back to Cain. If Jehonadab has the Kenite sign of the "mark of Cain" on his forehead when he meets Jehu, Jehu could easily identify him as a Kenite." Gary Nolan wrote, "The sign of Cain is a sign of protection, a sign of Yahweh, and its bearer is under the protection of Yahweh." By this sign, Yahweh binds men to himself and also himself to men. Stade said, "The God under whose protection the tribe of the Kenites were and whose cult they followed was Yahweh and the sign of Cain is thus a sign of Yahweh and the bearer is under the protection of Yahweh." The mark identifies the Kenites with Yahweh.The mark of the Kenites is not a disgrace but a sign of divine protection. Yahweh is Cain's, and his Kenite descendants, avenger of the blood. (Job, probably a Kenite himself, called Yahweh his Avenger of the Blood.) The Avenger of Blood or "Go-el Ha Dem" is discussed in Numbers 35:19, Deuteronomy 19:6, 12, Joshua 20:3-5. Joab is the only avenger of the blood described in the Bible and he had Kenite roots (2 Samuel 3:26-30). He is identified by Zeruiah his mother, which reflects the matriarchal tendencies of the Kenites. The mark of Cain shows that the tribe of Cain practice blood vengeance. Anyone who murders a Kenite will be executed by his brother Kenites. We see here a direct reversal of the theme of the murder of a brother. Now it is every Kenties duty to avenge his brother Kenties in the Kenite/Rechabite brotherhood. "Am I my brothers keeper?," Cain asks. With the mark of Cain, Yahweh says, "yes."
The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist features a photograph of the Rechabites that was taken some time around the year 1930. Under the photograph it reads, "The Sleb, a tribe of wandering craftsmen of Syria and Arabia, so called from the mark of the cross (slib) on their forehead: descendants of the Rekhabites and Qenites of the Old Testament." Eisler says that their name is derived from the Arabic word for cross saleeb "from the fact that this class of itinerant craftsmen wore on their foreheads the mark +, the famous 'sign of Qain" (=the smith)…The cross-mark of the Sleb is known to the rabbis of the third century." Robert Graves also discussed the Mark of Cain in his book King Jesus, "The Tau-cross, which is T-shaped, was tattooed as a…caste-mark on the brows of the clansmen…As a caste-mark it is still to be seen among the Kenites tribesmen…and appears in sacred literature in two…senses: in Genesis as the brand of Cain the murderer-the eponymous ancestor of the Kenites-and in Ezekiel as the divine mark set on the brows of al just men as a sign to distinguish them from sinners in the day of Jehovah's vengeance."
Apparently, those who affiliated with the Kenites, such as the guilds of prophets, received the mark of Cain. 1 Kings 20:38, "then the prophet departed, and waited for the king along the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes…then he quickly took the bandage away from his eyes. Then the king recognized him as one of the prophets." Harper Collins Study Bible note, "The bandage is sometimes thought to have covered a distinctive mark on the forehead of prophetic guild members." Moses' face too, was disfigured after an encounter with Yahweh, as was Cain's (Exodus 34:29-30). A Mark is discussed in Exodus 13:9, 16, Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18. Here the Scriptures say that "a mark on your hand, frontlets between your eyes" shall be a remembrance of Yahweh, his mighty acts and his law. In other scriptures we find that the Mark is discussed in 2 Kings 2:23, 1 Kings 20:37-41, Ezekiel 9:4-8, Zechariah 13:4-6. In Leviticus there is a commandment forbidding tattoos or markings (Leviticus 19:28), but there are exceptions, such as marking a slave- Exodus 21:6, Deuteronomy 15:17 and the tribal emblem of the Kenites, a tattoo of a cross on the forehead. (I personally don't advocate the use of tattoos.)
In a very interesting passage in Ezekiel, God decrees judgment upon the people. However, God will spare the righteous remnant. God sends an angel to put a mark upon the ones to be spared. The "mark" is the letter "tau" in the Hebrew alphabet. This letter in the original Hebrew alphabet was shaped like a cross. So, here in this passage of Scripture God places the sign of the cross upon the people he will show mercy and not judgment. This story is found in Ezekiel chapter 9.
The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, chapter 9:
He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. 3And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.
The Forehead Mark of the Kenites
The Son of Man
In the Gospels Jesus seems to have Kenite connections beginning in the Gospel of John, in which it states that Jesus "tented" among mankind. "The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us" (John 1:14). Like a nomad, Jesus is homeless, and has "no place to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20). Like the Kenites, Jesus was a craftsman. The people of Nazareth knew him as "the carpenter" (Mark 6:3). (Certain Greek scholars believe that the Greek word "Tekton," means more than just carpenter but means a builder and could also have included stone masons.) The Jewish people called the Rechabite craftsmen the Nazoreans, a word that is different from the word "Nazarene" and which is used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus is described as the Nazarene, meaning "one from the town of Nazareth" but he is also called the Nazorean, which is a title used for the Rechabites and the name of the priesthood of the Aramaic followers of John the Baptists, called the Mandaeans. (While I was in Iraq, we would often employ Iraqis on our base. Carpenters were considered skilled laborers and craftsmen and were paid more money than the common Iraqi day laborer.)
Like the Kenites Jesus showed an opposition to sacrifice, he liberated the animals that were to be slaughtered in the Temple. Jesus preached against the temple (John 2:13-17) and predicted its destruction (Matthew 24:2). Jesus, quoting the prophets in their opposition to the sacrificial system, stated that the Temple to be a place of prayer-not sacrifice (Luke 19:46, quoting Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11). Jesus quoted Isaiah in saying that the Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations, and not just the Jewish people. Jesus' disciples, including Stephen the first martyr, preached against the Temple and praised the Tabernacle (Acts 7:30-51).
God had promised to woo his people back into the wilderness. The place to meet God was not the temple but the wilderness with John the Baptist, who was the voice of God. John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3. Cleansing of sin was in the water baptism of repentance of John not in the slaughtering of sheep, goats and bulls. Like John, Jesus was often to be found out in the wilderness and crowds came to him there. People came to listen to Jesus in the wilderness and there, like Moses, he miraculously fed them with supernatural bread (Mark 6:30-42). With John the Baptist and Jesus there was a return to the wilderness.
Other similarities between Jesus and the Rechabites exist. Jesus like the Rechabites, blessed and identified himself with the poor. Jesus rejected materialism and greed and embraced a life of poverty and simplicity. A similarity can also be seen between the Kenite Jabez prayer and the Our Father of Jesus. "Keep me from evil that I may do no harm" and "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."
Jesus bears some similarities to Cain. Jesus called himself the "Son of Man" over 80 times in the Gospels. In Hebrew "Son of Man" is "Ben Adam" meaning "Son of Adam." (The name "Adam" means "Man.") Cain was the Son of Adam. Cain was the first human being to be born, since Adam was created from the dust and Eve was created out of the body of Adam. Jesus is often spoken of as the "First Born." Cain was the "firstborn of all mankind." Jesus, like Cain, has a name linked to Yahweh. In Hebrew, Yeshua means "Yahweh is Salvation." Jesus is often thought of as the "Second Adam," but in a way, he is also a new Son of Man, a new firstborn of mankind, in a sense, a second Cain. And on top of this Jesus was of dual Kenite and Israelite descent. Jesus is called in the Gospel, the Nazorean, a title that the Jewish rabbis had given to the Rechabites. This may have been because they identified him as a part of the Kenites.
Interestingly, the genealogy of Jesus, like that of Cain, has several women included in his lineage. In Jesus' case it is Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah. All these women were non-Jewish. (Bathsheba may have been Jewish but she was identified with her Hittite gentile husband.) David, Jesus' ancestor, has many Kenite characteristics. In fact, according to North, "David is in fact portrayed as a Kenite." Of course the Kenites were renown for their music. Nolan says,
The interest in music which both David's and Cain's descendants share is North's starting point. In Genesis 4, the descendants of Cain are mentioned in connection with music in two ways. First, Cain's descendant Lamech is noted in Gen. 4:23-24 "for a song which he composed…" This is uniformly singled out by critics as the earliest surviving sample of Israelite rhapsody. Second, Lamech's son Jubal is "the father of all who play the harp and organ" (Gen. 4:211). In Chronicles, the descendants of Cain again are mentioned in connection with music. In 1 Chronicles 2:54-55, the list of Salma's descendants begins with "the inhabitants of Bethlehem" and concludes with "The squatters around Jabez, the singers; the musicians; and hut dwellers. These are the descendants of Cain who came from Hammath the founder of the Rechabite movement." North notes the reference to musicians in this verse and concludes, "to Bethlehem is here attached not its greatest son David, but the line of Cain and its musicians. Later in 15:16, 16:5, 25:1 the introduction of music into Israel's worship is credited to David. The interest in music that is shared by David's and Cain's descendants is the basis of North's argument that David is a Kenite.
Like the Kenite Jubal, David played the harp. Like other Kenties David is zealous for Yahweh. David's zeal for Yahweh is unequaled in the Old Testament. Cain's descendant Jabal is "the father of those who live in tents and have livestock" (Genesis 4:20). David, as well, begins his career as a shepherd and is known throughout all of his live as having been a shepherd. There is another way in which he is similar to other Kenites, and that is through his taking of a human life. As Nolan says,
Beginning with their eponymous ancestor Cain, the Kenites throughout their history are associated with taking human life. Cain murders his brother to gain pre-eminence with Yahweh (Genesis 4:8). Moses, who is related to the Kenites by marriage, murders and Egyptian (Exodus 2;11-15). Jael, the wife of Hebrew the Kentie, kills an enemy of Israel with a tent peg (Judges 4:11-24). Jehonadab the Rechabite is invited by king Jehu to witness the extermination of the remnants of Ahab's dynasty and the adherents of Baal (2 Kigns 10:15-27). The murder which David commits is then another example of the taking of human life by a Kenite.
The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew links Jesus to the Kenites and the Rechabites through the marriage of Rahab and Salma. Salma is the key to Jesus' Kenite roots. The connection with Salma and the Kenites is only specifically stated in the genealogy of Matthew where it states Salma married Rahab (possibly of the Rechabites).
Jesus, like the Kenites, was a craftsman. Robert Eiser explored the possible Kenite origins of Jesus in his book The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist:
There is a highly remarkable rabbinic gloss on I Chronicles 4:25 (4:14-15), a passage concerning 'the potters…who dwell in the plantations and enclosures beside the king; in the work of his service dwell they there." Those workmen of the royal potteries are mentioned in the books of Chronciles, along with the carpenters… of the valley of carpenters and other craftsmen of the tribe, in the pedigree of the Rekhabites and Qenites, which has been transmitted in a very corrupt form and will be treated at length elsewhere. One these workmen the Talmud writes: "These potters are the descendants of Jonabad the son of Rekhab, who kept (nsr) the oath of their Father, viz. to drink no wine, to lay out no vineyard, nor to till the soil, nor to build houses to dwell in them.
It appears, then, that the so-called Rekhabites, the 'caravaners' or 'wayfaring people,' i.e. the various itinerant craftsmen, were also know as Noserim [the Nazarenes or Nazoreans], and that this 'keeping' and 'guarding' of secrets and special uses referred in the first instance to the preservation of technical or magical 'knowledge' i.e. the craftsman's secretes and the tricks of his trade, such as the special usages, customs, and taboos still in vogue today among the modern gypsies of the desert, the so-called Sleb or 'crossed ones.'
A number of facts are thereby at once explained. There is first the striking fact, never to my knowledge understood, that the Mesopotamian mandaia [Mandaeans] or gnostikoi, the nasoraia or 'keeper' of secrets, are without exception craftsmen, in particular carpenters, boat-builders, smiths, locksmiths, gold-and silver-smiths, and eventually shopkeepers, all of which professions are found in the pedigrees of Rekhabites and Qenites. Again, these people abstain from wine-a prohibition the more striking because the vine, as the tree of life, plays a great part in mandaic writings-and, during the consecration of priests, dwelling reed-tents. "The modern Sleb, who 'are good joiners and carpenters, who make for their customers wooden frames for the pack-saddles of their beasts of burden, pulleys for their wells, wooden vessels and the like. To their medical sill the Carmelite father St. Elie has devoted a whole section of his monograph. 'On their rounds they treat both men and cattle, by surgery, cauterizing, and anointing." A parallel may be found in the Old Testament, where a genealogy of the Rekhabites expressly mentions Beth Refa, the "tribe of the Healer," as a subdivision of these vagrants.
[It is a] well-attested fact that he [Jesus] belonged to the class of carpenters, to those Qenite and Rekhabite 'wayfaring people' from the 'valley of the carpenters." But this fact in no way excludes a descent, more or less established, from some one of those obscure members of the Davidic clan of the post-exilic period who are named at the end of the genealogy. The Qainite genealogies show that it was well known that it was just among those homeless vagabonds that one might expect to find fugitives and 'sons of Jared,' persons who had 'come down in the world." It was proverbial that even women of noble birth, deserted or divorced by their husbands, sought shelter with these roving folk: "As people are wont to say, "A descendant of princes and sovereigns she associated with carpenter."' But there were doubtless also men of noble birth among the Rekhabites. According to the Jahvist's genealogy of the Qainites, Qain the 'smith' or smelter of metal begat Hanuckh, i.e. the 'initiate,' and he 'Irad the 'fugitive," i.e. the ejected and hunted one who goes about with the nomads and fugitives. In the parallel genealogy of the Priestly Document…, Qenan the 'smith' begats Mahal-le'El the 'circumciser for God,' or 'operator,' the itinerant surgeon for man and beast, carrying on the same trade as today, and he Jared, the man who has 'come done' in the world.
If the genealogy of Jesus in Luke iii. 37 is expressly cried back to this 'Jared son of Mahal-el'El, son of Qainan,' member of the tribe of the Qainites or itinerant craftsmen, we should compare this with the rabbinical tradition that the Messiah 'will not come from the great sons of Jacob, but from his fallen children….: God says, To the humblest and smallest of the sons of Jacob will I bring the sinful kingdom (i.e. the Roman Empire) into subjection.'
In these circumstances, easily to be explained from a sociological point of view, there is no reason whatever to question a tradition of Davidic descent current in a particular Rekhabite or Qainite tribe of carpenters…That the Jewish itinerant craftsmen of that day should have included 'reduced' noblemen in their ranks is not surprising, and that these would be the very people to preserve the tradition of their descent is just what one would expect. As to this the fact that however doubtful the details of this tragic fate remain, in spite of all researches, Zerubabel, the Davidite, who rebuilt the temple, certainly came to and unfortunate end, and it is natural that his downfall should have involved his relations, or at least a goodly number of them, in misery and obscurity.
Again, we have to note the fact, frequently emphasized since the time of Grotius, that the genealogy of David in Matthew's Gospel expressly names the two notorious harlots Tamar and Rahab, and calls attention to Solomon's being the offspring of David's adulterous marriage with 'her of Uriah.' This can serve but one object, namely, as a retort to the Jewish slander upon Jesus, whom his adversaries called 'the son of the harlot.' For it thus indicated that the opprobrious term must consistently be applied also to the greatest of the Jewish kings. The slander need not in its origin have had any connection with the story of the miraculous conception. It can be sufficiently explained by the evil reputation of the daughter of 'wayfaring people' who, like the itinerant women of the Sleb, the Nwar, or other gipsy –like vagabonds o f the deserts of today, were dancers and players and therefore regarded as prostitutes, quite capable of attracting and 'degrading' men of the highest ancestry.
Jesus was an Israelite but he may also possibly share Kenite ancestry. David's genealogy is connected to the Kenites in Matthew 1:5 and 1 Chronicles 2:54-55. David's Kenite ancestors are on his mother's side, as Salma married Rahab and 1 Chronicles mentions Kenite tribes living in the vicinity of Bethlehem which is called the "City of David."
The Rechabites Today
God promised that there would always be a Rechabite to stand before him. If this is so where are the Rechabites today? For a long time they were lost. There is a legend in a book entitled "History of the Rechabites." This book was probably composed in Hebrew or Aramaic. It has come down to us in a Greek edition. Its original author is thought to be Jewish. It was written in either the first or second century. Craig A. Evans in Non-canonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation describes its contents in the following manner,
The book is a story of a righteous man named Zosimus whose request to visit the abode of the "Blessed Ones" is finally granted. He is transported over the ocean to an island that resembles Paradise where the Blessed Ones live. They identify themselves as the Rechabites who left Jerusalem in the time of Jeremiah (Jer 35) and describe to the visitor the secrets of death and soul ascent.
So, according to this account, the Rechabites still live on a secret utopian island that is hidden away. This is obviously mythological.
There are Jewish traditions about the Rechabites. The Rabbis were at odds about how a Gentile tribe, unrelated even to Abraham could be allowed to come into the temple precincts and even officiate as priests in the inner courts. Their explanation was that perhaps the Rechabites had taken Levite women as wives and thus married into the priestly tribes. Other Rabbis say the Rechabites married their daughters to priests and had grandchildren in the priesthood. (Yal. Jer. 323) In reality the priesthood of the Rechabites is older than that of the Levites and the sons of Aaron and it similar to the priesthood of the order of Melchizedek. R. Jonathan interpreted God's promise to the Rechabite that they "shall not lack a man to stand before me forever" to mean that they shall become scribes and members of the Sanhedrin. R. Jonathan's view became the accepted view as the Rechabites became scribes (1 Chronicles 2:55) and sat with the Sanhedrin in the granite chamber ("lishkat ha-gazit," perhaps the same chamber as the chamber of Hanan) of the temple. The names of the subdivided families, the Tirathites, the Shemeathites and the Suchathites are appellations indicating their learning and (in the case of the last-named) their custom of living in tents (Mek., Yitro,, ii. 60b; Sifre, Num. 78, Sota 11a) R. Nathan remarked that Gods covenant with the Rechabites was superior to the covenant with David, inasmuch as David's covenant was conditional (Ps cxxxii 12) while that with the Rechabites was without reservation (Mek., l.c.) The appointed time for the service of the Rechabites in the Temple was the 7th of Ab (Ta'an. Iv 5). After the destruction of Herod's Temple, traces of the Rechabites are found in the pedigree of R. Jose b. Halafta, the author of "Seder 'Olam" who claimed to be a direct descendent of Jehonadab Ben Rechab (Gen. R. xcviii. 13).
On the other hand, there have been "Rechabite sightings" by many explorers and travelers in the Middle East. One of these sightings was by Benjamin of Tudela, who was in a way a 'Jewish Marco Polo.' Max Weber says, "In the Middle Ages still, Benjamin of Tudela claimed to have encountered [the Rechabites] in the Babylonian desert. Around 1160 Benjamin of Tudela encountered the Rechabites during his travels. He said, "Twenty-one days journey from Babylon, through the desert of Sheba, or Al-Yemen, from which Mesopotamia lies in a northerly direction, are the abodes of…the Rechabites." He describes them as "an independent tribe. The extent of their land is sixteen days' journey among the northern mountains. They have large and fortified cities, with the capital city of Tema. Their nasi [prince] is Rabbi Hanan. The Rechabites make marauding expeditions in distant lands with their allies, the Arabs, who live in the wilderness in tents. The neighboring countries fear the [Rechabites], some of whom cultivate the land, raise cattle, and contribute tithes for the men learned in the Law, for the poor of Palestine, and for the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, who, except on Sabbaths and holy days, neither eat meat nor drink wine, and who dress in black and live in caves." And other travelers thought even to find traces of them in the nineteenth century near Mecca. Also, the strictly Yahwistic Kenite tribe, to which the Rechabites belonged, seems to have based its cohesion on religion. For Stade has made it at least very probable that the "sign of Cain," that is to say the tribal tattoo of the Kenites was no mere tribal badge, but rather a primary sign of the cult community" (79).
Rami Sajdi wrote about the modern descendants of the Kenites in his article "The Mystery of the Lost Shamans." These Bedouin aren't even fully aware of their own identity but it is declared by their trade and the mark of their trade, the cross they tattoo upon their foreheads. The reason for this is that customs and traditions have become garbled and confused with the passing of centuries.
Among the nomadic tribes of the Arab Peninsula is a peculiar tribe who are the most knowledgeable of the Peninsula's deserts, oases, wadis, hills, and mountains, as well as its animals and plants. This tribe, called Al Sulaba, are the most widespread in those parts, and the most capable of crossing these arid plains. Some Bedouins call them Al Sulban (meaning the crosses) or Al Khlawiyah (a name derived from khala, meaning wilderness, implying a comparison so pariah dogs). Despite their prodigious abilities, the tribe is humble, small in numbers, weak in strength, low in status, and of modest ancestral origins. In fact its origins are not known among Arabs (to say which is, in Arab culture, a gross insult).
The tribe has no tribal territory…or a country in the desert of which it dwells. Its branches spread from the Syrian desert in the north (around Palmyra) to Mosul and the south-eastern desert in Iraq, to Najd and the extreme south west of Hijaz in contemporary Saudi Arabia, and in Dahna beyond Kuwait…
Suleiman Al-Bustani, who published a lecture in Al-Muqtataf, in which he divided nomads into three categories: Bedouins, semi-Bedouins, and the Bedouins of Bedouins. The Sulaba he put in the third category.
Al-Bustani tried to develop a theory of why this Arab tribe venerates the cross and tattoos their forehead with the sign of the cross. He forwarded "the theory that they descended from the Crusaders (Al-Salibiyeen in Arabic), after the Mameluks had defeated and dispersed them. Al-Bustani made a second and more extensive reference to Al-Sulaba in the 11th volume of Da'erat Al Ma'aref, an encyclopedia published by Butris Al-Bustani in 191. In this text he defends the theory that they descend from the Crusaders." Certain explorers have postulated that the Sulaba are secretly Christian.
Unlike other desert dwellers….they bear no grudge to anyone, and they are not treacherous. Instead of indulging tribal wars and raids, they live by hunting and raising donkeys.
Their Customs and Traditions
Al Sulaba themselves claim that their name derives from the word salb (meaning rigid or tough), which they hold to be an indication that they are the first of the Arabs. They also claim to be God's chosen people, although all other Arabs hold them in extreme contempt.
Among their peculiar customs in weddings and circumcision is to erect a wooden cross covered with red cloth and decorated with feathers, which symbolizes an invitation to the tent of the person celebrating. On these occasions young men and women form two lines opposite each other, and they dance around the cross, coming close to each other till they almost touch, and men are allowed to kiss the shoulders of women in course of the dance.
Al Sulaba only intermarry among themselves, by agreement between the bride and groom, after the consent of the parents. No Bedouin would deign to marry a woman from this tribe, though many admit that Al Sulaba women are the prettiest in the desert.
In funerals and in prayer, they also have different customs from other Bedoins. They perform their pilgrimage not to Mecca, but to Harran in Iraq. Some of their men keep holy scripts similar to the Old Testament, written in Chaldean or Assyrian.
They revere the northern star which they call Jah [this is Yah or Yahweh] since it is the constant reference point that guides travelers. They also revere another star in the Capricorn. To show their reverence they stand erect facing the star, with their arms outstretched, so that the body resembles a cross.
Al Sulaba are master hunters, particularly deer which they hunt for food and for its skin which they wear. But they supplement this diet with dates, locust, and virtually anything else they can find.
In The Bedouin by Felicity Lancaster, the Salubba are described,
There are other nomadic groups in the desert. The Salubba are probably descended from an earlier desert people. These other groups have special skills like blacksmithing, metalworking and repairing, and trading.
Only Salubba families stayed in the inner desert all year. With their small donkey herds, they could use shallow wells. The Bedouin have been herding camels since about 1000 B.C. Before that, the desert was inhabited by people with donkeys. Camels, like donkeys, can survive in the inner desert During the midsummer, the only people left in the inner desert are the Salubba who can survive because their herds are small-and so need little water and also because the Salubba have a great knowledge of the desert. The Bedouin moved to oases or to villages for the summer.
The Jordan Travelers home page describes the Salubba as well.
There are also "ancestor less" vassal tribes living under the protection of certain "noble" Arab tribes who make a living by serving them as blacksmiths, tinkers, artisans and entertainers. The Salubba are one such special client tribe of tinkers and trackers who exist as separate families attached to other tribes. They are at the bottom of the Bedouin social scale, mending pots, making saddles, acting as guides and as entertainers. The Salubba have only a rudimentary knowledge of Islam. They are monogamous and their women are relatively free. They have a non-Semitic appearance and traces of foreign roots in their Arabic. Some think they are descendants of Crusaders (their name means little cross, and they use a cross as their brand mark). Others think they are Gypsies, and some see them as descendants of aboriginal Arabian stock.
The Salubba are endangered by the intolerant Wahibi cult of Saudi Arabia. This cult was founded to wipe out traditional modes of worship of God that were practiced by the Salubba and certain Bedouin tribes. The Wahibi cult has acquired oil wealth and had grown in power and now represents a serious threat to all mankind.
In the 1800s there was a "temperance" society that called itself the Independent Order of the Rechabites. The Nazarite order is very similar to the "order" of the Kenites and particularly to the Rechabite order, especially in the abstinence from alcohol. The Rechabites, the Nazarites and the Levites all abstained from alcohol. The Nazarite order is described in Numbers chapter 6. The most famous Nazarite is the strongman, Samson. However, other Nazarites include Samuel, James the Just and Paul the Apostle (Judges 13. 1 Samuel 1:22. In Acts 18:18, Paul shaves his head at the end of his taking of a Nazarite vow. Early Church tradition states that James the Brother of Jesus was a Nazarite.)
It is a tendency among many Evangelical Christians in the United States of America to idolize Jews and some make of the Jewish people a false idol. Certain televangelists teach that Jews go to Heaven by virtue of being Jews. According to these televangelists Jews do not need to repent of their sins, believe in Jesus or live godly lives. In these teachings, Jews are saved by being born into a Jewish family. Much of this obsession with a Jewish identity comes from the idea of the Jews being the "Chosen People." But the fact is that the Jewish people do not have a monopoly on God and never did. The Kenites worshiped Yahweh as God centuries before the Hebrews did and they, in fact, introduced the Hebrews to the worship of the LORD. (We should love and bless the Jewish people as we love and bless all peoples. And we should also remember the words of John the Baptist at Matthew 3:9.) There is a nomadic people who, while not related at all to the Rechabites, have a way of life similar to that of the Rechabites in many ways, this is the Gypsies. Gypsies call themselves the Roma. The Gypsies migrated to Europe from northern India, their homeland, around the year 1300 A.D. The nomadic lifestyle fostered various skills such as metalworking, trading, and entertaining. It also fostered the offering of less reputable services such as prostitution and fortune telling. Also, certain Gypsies would cheat people and skip out of town before they could be caught. This, and the fact that they were foreigners, with different features, speech, clothing and culture led to them being a despised people. (The Bible speaks of such nomadic people and their "tents of wickedness" in Psalms 84:10.) Life on the road minimized the risk of cultural or moral "pollution" through too much contact with non-Gypsies. So, to this day many people despise the Gypsies. One day a Christian shared the Gospel of Jesus to a Gypsy woman. She opened up the Bible and showed here that God loves every person individually, no matter what race, culture, or ethnicity they belong to, God loves every human being. The Gypsy woman was amazed that God loved her, a Gypsy, personally. God's love for Mankind is for each and every person and not just a mass of humanity nor is His love reserved only for one particular people-group. This woman learned that she could have a relationship with God as Father if she wanted to. She also learned, that although she was of a downtrodden and hated race, she was very important to someone. Jesus Christ loved her and died on the cross for her. The revelation that in God's view all people are the same gave her confidence in herself and changed her life. Jesus used the inclusive title for himself "the Son of Man" most often and not the "Son of Abraham," "Son of Israel," or "Son of David." Jesus came for all mankind. He is the Son of Mankind. The Old Testament prophet Malachi asked, "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another…?" (Malachi 2:10). Paul the Apostle asks, "Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes of the Gentiles will justify the circumcised by faith and he uncircumcised by faith" (Romans 9:29).
The Salubba: The Kenites of Today
The Seal of the Rechabite Temperance
Scholars who early on argued for the Kenite hypothesis, before substanciating archeological evidence was discovered includes Karl Budde, B. Stade and Wilhelm Vischer. The Kenite Hypothesis was proposed by Ghillany, and afterward independently by Tiele, and then was more fully developed by Stade and Budde, and is accepted by many Biblical scholars, in light of recent archeological discoveries. Supporters include Guthe, Wildeboer, H.P. Smith and Barton among many other Bible scholars and theologians.
Andre Lemaire The Birth of Monotheism: The Rise and Disappearance of Yahwism (Biblical Archeological Society, 2007)
Gary Nolan "The Role of the Kenites in Israel's History" (Doctoral Thesis, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)
Chris Maddocks The Rechabites: An Example of Faithfulness and Separation (The Christadelphian Waymark)
Deborah Hurn "Kenezites and Kenties" The Testimony September 2005
Deborah Hurn "The Daughters of Keturah" The Testimony, March 2006
Paula M. McNutt The Kenites, The Midianites, and the Rechabites and marginal Mediators in Ancient Israel Tradition
Robert Eisler's The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (Lincoln Macveagh, The Dial Press, New York, 1929)
Robert Graves King Jesus (first published 1945) Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 1, 1981)
Rami Sajdi Al Sulaba: The Mystery of the Lost Shamans 25-11-1996
Thomas E. Levy Journey to the Copper Age: Archeology in the Holy Land (San Diego Museum of Man, 2007)
Thomas E. Levy and Mohammed Najjar Edom and Copper: The Emergence of Ancient Israel's Rival Biblical Archeological Review (July/August 2006)
Beno Rothenberg The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna (Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 1988)
Raphael Giveon Les Bedouins Shosou des Documents Egyptiens (Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1971)
Lars Eric Axelsson The Lord Rose Up From Seir: Studies in the History and Traditions of the Negev and Southern Judah Almqvist & Wiksell International 1987)
Robert North, "The Cain Music," Journal of Biblical Literature 83 (1964): 377
Karl Budde The Religion of Israel to the Exile (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1899)
Keith Akers The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity (Lantern Books, New York 2000)
Hans-Joachim Schoeps Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church (Fortress press, Philadelphia 1969)
James H. Charlesworth The Good & Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2010)
The false so-called "Prosperity Gospel" is debunked in "Through the Needle's Eye: An Impossible Journey Made Possible by God" by David S. Kirkwood (Ethnos Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2006) www.shepherdserve.org A powerful book and testimony.
Michael D. Coogan The Oxford History of the Biblical World Oxford University Press, USA (June 7, 2001)
John Romer Testament (Available in book and on DVD)
James L. Kugel How to Read the Bible (Free Press, New York, NY 2007)
E. Ray Moore and Gail Pinckney Moore The Promise of Jonadab: Building a Christian Family Legacy in a Time of Cultural Decline (Ambassador International, Greenville, North Carolina, 2010)
T.E. Lawrence The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (originally published in 1922) Wilder Publications (January 20, 2011)
Karl Van Der Toorn Ed. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Revised 2nd edition (May 30, 1999)
Resources on Islam
While there are some Arab Christian particularly in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, unfortunately Islam has come to dominate Arabic culture. This book is about the Kenite Arabs. The following books are accurate descriptions of the religion of Mohammed.
Serge Trifkovic The Sword of the Prophet: Islam: History, Theology, Impact on the World (Regina Orthodox Press 2002)
An Abridged Koran: Readable and Understandable published by the Center for the Study of Political Islam
Nonie Darwish Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror (Sentinel, New York 2006)
Walid Shoebat Why I Left Jihad
Two documentary films are very helpful. These are Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West (see www.obsessionthemovie.com) and Islam: What the West Needs to Know
About the Author
Rev. Stephen Andrew Missick is the author of The Assyrian Church in the Mongol Empire, Mar Thoma: The Apostolic Foundation of the Assyrian Church in India, and Socotra: The Mysterious Island of the Church of the East which were published in the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies (Volume XIII, No. 2, 1999, Volume XIV, No. 2, 2000 and Volume XVI No. 1, 2002). He is the author of The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic: Discovering the Semitic Roots of Christianity and Mary of Magdala: Magdalene, the Forgotten Aramaic Prophetess of Christianity and Treasures of the Language of Jesus: The Aramaic Source of Christ's Teachings. He is an ordained minister of the gospel. Rev. Missick has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and has lived among the Coptic Christians in Egypt and Aramaic Christians in Syria. He also served as a soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2004. While serving as in Iraq he learned Aramaic from native speaking Iraqi Assyrian Christians. Rev. Missick has also written articles on the history of Assyrian Christianity for the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies.
Contact Stephen A. Missick at PO Box 882 Shepherd TX 77371 A monthly newsletter, The Aramaic Herald, is available free of charge. DVDs and Gospel tracts with an Aramaic focus are also available from the above address. Rev. Missick has several short video teachings and presentations at www.youtube.com/aramaic12 and a blog at www.aramaicherald.blogspot.com.