Cain (Qyn) & the Kenite (Qynite) Origin of Judah
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
The Judeans were a tribal federation that originated in Edom as Cainites or the Kenite (Qyn in Hebrew) mining branch of the Midianites. According to the Torah, Deuteronomy 4:20:”But as for you, Yhwh took you and brought you out of the iron smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.”
The Biblical word for iron is barzel which also means ore bearing stone according Job 28:2: “Iron is taken from the ground and copper is molten from the stone.” So, Deut 4:20 is a direct reference to the copper mining operations at Timna and possibly Wadi Faynan or Punon in Biblical texts. Timna and Faynan/Punan are located in the Wadi Arabah or Aravah in Hebrew. This wadi is mentioned 27 times in the Old Testament. Moses spoke to the people in this Wadi according to Deut 1:1. According to Deut 1:7,8 Yhwh gave this mining area to those who followed Moses out of Egypt:
“Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land Yhwh swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.” The Timna copper mines operated under the Egypitans from the 14th to the 12th Centuries BCE. The copper mines at Faynan are more ancient than those at Timna.
Faynan is noted for the largest concentration of copper ore deposits in the southern Levant. They were exploited from the 9th millennium BC onwards. Smelting occurred on a large scale during Early Bronze Age (3600-3300 BC). Based on the amount of slag found, 300-500 metric tons of metal could have been extracted in the 3rd millennium BC. “The ore deposits are part of the same geological formation as those at Timna on the western (Israeli) side of the Wadi Arabah which has been better documented, and where more mines have been identified. However the size of the Faynan mines suggests a more intensive exploitation than at Timna.” So mining operations are mentioned extensively in the Torah as well as the entire TaNaKh. However, the researcher must be very familiar with the cultural history as well as the geography of the area to which the Bible refers in order to find the mining information mentioned in biblical verses.
Genesis 4:16 mentions that this land was also known as Nod which means ‘to sway’ or ‘nwd’ in ancient Egyptian (Gardiners Sign List N35-U19-W24-Z7-D46-Z9-G37) . The land was named after the mining method of suspending miners from swaying ropes into the mines (Job 28:4). Their chief deity was Yah, which was Yhwh’s alternate name according to Psalms 68:4. Yah was another name for Wadd according to the Negev inscription which reads: “Wdd flta, ilyt, aby, yah or “Wadd the seducer, buttock, my father, yah.” Wadd, whose name means love, was the Semitic god of the full moon. Yah or Yhwh, whose name means Yah the snake, appears to have originated as Wadd’s icon snake as that image appears in the topography of the full moon. Yah’s name is written in the Negev inscriptions as a snake’s head with a protruding forked tongue: >—–O. The snake’s head represents the letter ‘Y’ and the tongue represents the letter ‘H’. El’s name is written as a bull’s head and an ox goad in these same inscriptions. The bull’s head represents the letter ‘A’ and the ox goad represents the letter ‘L’.
The Qynites/Kenites mined copper for the Egyptians (Deut 4:20) who knew them as the Shasu of Yhw or the ‘walkers who worship Yhw’. The word ‘shasu’ is a reference to the caravan clans of the Kenites who were also known as the Midianites. The Shasu tribal and religious leader was Mshh (Moses in English) whose name in Arabic would be spelled Mashy (the ‘h’ suffix in Hebrew becomes the ‘y’ suffix in Arabic). The Arabic word ‘mashy’ is a cognate of the Hebrew word ‘mashak’ which means ‘to move along’, ‘to go forward’. Mshh’s name appears to be derived from the Egyptian word m’sw G17-O35-D54 which means carriers, bearers; a reference to the caravan tribes. This word became mashy in Arabic and ‘mashak’ in Hebrew, which in Egyptian, also means means ‘shasu’ or ‘walker’. Although the Qynites originated in the Arabian Peninsula, they traced their origins to Edom, the land of the red earth that produced copper and from whence Yhwh ‘rose up’ (Deut 33:2). They believed that they were also created from this Edomite red earth and so named their ancestor, Adam whose name means ‘red’ or ‘blood’. Edom and Adam are derived from the root ‘adom’ which means ‘red’ in Hebrew.
These early Cainites/Qynites/Kenites (Kenite is another English spelling for Qyn) surmised an association from the copper mining process of extraction, smelting and formation of copper images and their own formation from the same red, copper producing earth. Cain aka Qyn and Qynn was the Semitic god of smiths. Cain/Qyn the smith fashioned the icon image of Yhwh as a snake or nehushtan according to Gen 4:4. The snake was fashioned from the first fruits of the copper mine where Qyn/Cain labored as ‘abd adamah’ or ‘slave of the red land’, i.e., Timna, according to Gen 4:2. He was banished to the the land of Nod/Timna (Gen 4:16) after he murdered his brother Abel and was rejected by Yhwh. Such a copper snake or ‘nehushtan’ was found at the Timna copper mines located in the Negev Desert or ancient Edom where the Egyptians enslaved these Cainites to work the copper mines in the area.
The Biblical conflict between Cain and his brother Abel is an iconic story of the conflict created by the copper mining operations in the Negev. Copper was mined and smelted on site using local brushwood as fuel. The mining operations denuded the area where the Bedouin and caravaneers grazed their goats and camels causing a conflict between the miners and the shepherding Bedouin and camel herders. The conflict is represented in the Cain and Abel saga in which Cain represented the mining interests and Abel represented Bedouin pastoralism as well as the caravaneers in the frankincense trade.
The name Abel is now thought to be derived from the Arabic word, ‘ibl’ which means camels. Abel’s name connects him to caravaneers or the frankincense trade. Other Biblical names as Laban, Isaacs brother-in-law (Gen 28:5),and Keturah, Abraham’s 3rd wife and mother of the caravan tribes (Gen 25:1-4) are also connected to the caravan trade. Laban means ‘frankincense’ in Arabic and Keutrah means ‘camel train’ in Arabic.The Judean authors of this epic favored the Bedouin and caravaneers over the Qynite (Kenite) mining interests because the mines produced the molten idols of the gods that the Judeans condemned in the TaNaKh or Old Testament (Ex 34:17, Lev 19:4 etc.). The Judeans had put their Qynite ancestry and the gods associated with their ancestors behind them. They created a new identity in which they became the descendants of Yhwh instead of their former god of smiths, Qyn/Cain (Isa 63:16).
Besides Cain/Qyn, the Judean ancestors, the Kenites/Qynites, also worshiped other tribal gods, which were particular to their clans. While the chief god was Wadd/Yah, the clan gods included the sons of the smith god, Qyn/Qynn, aka Cain/Cainan, who was the eponymous ancestor of the Qynite/Cainite clans in Edom. These sons of the smith god, Qynn/Qyn, the patriarchal deity of the Qynites/Cainites, are mentioned in Genesis 4. As the Judean genealogy in Genesis 5 indicates, the Judeans authors included their Qynite clan gods into the descendants of Seth (originally an Egyptian god of desert storms) who replaced the slain Abel as Adam’s designated heir (Gen 4:25). Genesis 5:9 specifically mentions Cainan (Qynn in Hebrew) as a descendant of Seth and ancestor of the Judeans. Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech are listed in this genealogy as well.
The Judeans were not only the descendants of Cain/Cainan by birthright, but they were also descendants of the Qynites through a tribal alliance according to Exodus 2:21. This verse depicts the marriage between Zipporah, daughter of the Kenite/Qynite/Cainite tribal Sheikh Jethro (Jethro was a Kenite according to Judges 1:16), and Mshh (Moses), the Shasu sheikh who engineered the great escape from Pharaoh aka the exodus. According to Numbers 21:8,9, Moses was a master smith whom Yhwh ordered to fashion a copper serpent and put it on a pole. This idol then cured the wandering Israelites of snake bites. According to the authors of Exodus 32, Aaron, Moses’ brother, was also a master smith who smelted gold to fashion a molten calf for the Israelites to worship. [(Incidentally, the name Ahrwn or Aaron has no meaning in Hebrew according to Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionary. However, Ahrwn is a name of Egyptian origin and it means ‘belongs to a group of gods’ as either a deity or as a priest in charge of several deities. In addition, according to 1 Sam 30:26-30, the Kenites, aka Qynites and Cainites, were included as a clan of the tribe of Judah along with the other Judean clans residing in the following Judean towns: Bethel, Ramoth Negev, Jattir, Aroer, Sipmoth, Eshtemoa, Rakal, the towns of the Jerahmeelites and Kenites, Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athak and Hebron.
The Torah texts; Exodus, Numbers Leviticus & Deuteronomy, depict Moses as Israel’s first lawgiver. He was a spiritual, political and military leader who oversaw the implementation of the law or Torah. According to Leviticus 8, Moses invested his brother with the office of high priest in perpetuity, which meant that only Aaron’s sons could inherit that same office. So, the Torah portrays the brothers as the principal religious leaders who founded the religion of Yahwism aka Judaism. These same Biblical texts portray this duo as skilled craftsmen in the smithing arts, who fashioned two molten idols; one from copper and the other from gold. The implication is that Judaism began in the Negev copper mines as a cult of copper smiths and miners. This cult may have begun between the 14th and 12th Centuries BCE during the Egyptian occupation of the Negev. The cult developed further under the auspices of the Kenites and Edomites after the Egyptians ceded control of the mines. Although, Moses and Aaron lived long before this cult arose in the Negev, the Judean authors of these texts inducted these 2 religious leaders into their Judean/Qynite ancestry by assigning to them the skills of master smiths who knew how to forge molten idols.
According to the authors of the Torah, both Moses and Aaron were master smiths which indicated that their ancestor was also a smith. Ancient crafts as that of copper production and the fashioning of images were kept secret and taught only to the members of the clan. So, a person skilled in the smithing arts would be a member of the smithing clans or a son of Cain/Qyn. These sons of Cain/Qyn were included in the genealogy of Seth and they were: Cainan (Qynn), Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech.The name Cainan (Qynn) is the Semitic god of smiths. The name Enoch means dedicated and most likely refers to an Edomite town which was built on the proceeds of the mining operations located in Edom. Methuselah means ‘ weapons man’ and is a reference to the god in charge of spears, swords, arrow heads etc.. Lamech means ‘shiny one’ and refers to the color of bright copper.
The names of the Qynite gods and goddesses that were not included as Seth’s offspring in Genesis 5, but are listed in Genesis 4 as the sons of Cain and their wives, are: Irad, Adah, Zillah, Yabal, Yubal, Tubalcain and Mehuyael. Irad was a Qynite town located on the border of the Negev where copper was mined. Adah was the wife of the god Lamech. Her name means ‘tool’ in Arabic and ‘ornament’ in Hebrew. Zillah was also Lamech’s wife. Her name means ‘shaded’ or ‘shadow’ in both Hebrew and Arabic. Zillah also means ‘to become’, ‘to turn into’ in Arabic and might be a reference to forging raw copper into an object or an idol. Yabal means ‘noxious fume’ and is a reference to the stench of the forge. He was the patriarch of the Bedouin. Yubal also means ‘noxious fumes’. He was the inventor of music and Tubal-Cain, which means ‘metal smith’, was the god who instructed the Qynites in the smithing arts. Mehuyael is the most telling of all the names. This god’s name means ‘goat exterminator’ in Arabic. He was the god in charge of eliminating the Bedouin herds so that the brushwood could be used in the smelting process instead of being consumed as fodder by the goats and camels.
All of the sons of Cain were connected to the forge and/or the smithing process except for Mehuyael whose job was to ensure a supply of fuel by eliminating the animal competition for this resource. These tribal deities were the sons of the smith god, Cain/Qyn/Qynn, who built the towns of Enoch and Irad and spawned the patriarchal gods of the Bedouin tribes and the Qynite smithing clans. These clans included the smiths, the music makers, and the artificers in copper who celebrated their Qynite gods with music and idols. These were the tribal gods the Judeans, the descendants of the Qynites, worshiped along with Wadd and his icon snake Yah or Yhwh.
When the Judean authors of Genesis returned from their Babylonian exile into Judea, they were ruled by the Persian Empire. For 200 years they were dominated by the Persians who worshiped Ahura Mazda, a god that was not represented by zoological images. The returning Judeans had grafted the personality of Ahura Mazda onto Yhwh-Elohim who then became imageless and monotheistic. (The making of molten images was banned since the days of King Hezekiah, and this ban was re-enforced under Persian influence.). So, the Judeans, who were now aniconic monotheists, attempted to wipe clean their descent from the mining god, Qyn/Qynn, as well as their history as fashioners and worshipers of molten idols by authoring the Noah drama in which were drowned the whole lot of their Qynite/Cainite ancestors that they knew as the ‘nephilim’ or ‘deceased ones’ (Gen 6:4). The Judean authors of Genesis also drowned the children of other gods besides their own idol worshiping ancestors in this great flood. So, from the Biblical records, the nephilim were the sons of the god Cain/Qyn as well as the children of other deities which belonged to other nations, both Semitic and non-Semitic.
The original Kenite/Qynite religion was forged in the region of the Sinai’s turquoise mines and Edom’s copper mines. The Kenites, who formed this cult, were from the southern border of Judah or Edom. The copper mines were located at Timna which included ancient Edom where was located Mount Seir. The other location for mines was Serabit El Khadim in the Sinai, which was anciently part of the Negev. Inscriptions indicate that Northwest Semites worked the turquoise mines for the Egyptians. The Hebrews recorded their mining history in Deut. 4:20 and 33:2. According to Deut 33:2:“The Lord came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes.” This mining cult included the Levite priestly caste. The word ‘Levite’ derives from the root ‘lwy’ and it means to coil, to twist. The snake god, Yah/Yhwh, was associated with Wadd, or the moon according to the Negev inscriptions. The result was a minor city-state named after the Qynite gods Yh & Wd or Yhwdh (Judah in English). Yhwdh was originally spelled as Yhwd without the ‘h’ suffix according to Joshua 19:45. Yhwd means Yah is Wadd just as Joel (Ywel) means Ya is El. (The Book of Joel is one of the 12 Biblical texts of the minor prophets.).
The first Judean kings were Dwd (David) or ‘Devoted to Wadd’ and his son, Ydydyh (Jedidiah aka Solomon), whose name means ‘beloved of Wadd (who is) Yh’. Wd is the name of the god of the full moon which became associated with love, lust and fertility. ‘Wd’ means love in Arabic. The Hebrew equivalent is ‘dwd’ which means devoted to Wadd or loved. The Judean authors of the Biblical texts wrote these two Judean kings into the Israelite king list as the first kings of a fictionally united Israel & Judea according to 1 & 2 Samuel. They were preceded by the Edomite King Saul whom the Biblical authors drafted into the tribe of Benjamin and made the first king of Israel. According to 1 Sam 9:1, Saul’s father was Qysh (Kish in English), the Hebrew version of Qosh or Qos, the chief god of Edom. Saul was a son of the Edomite god Qysh or Qwsh just as the Hebrews were sons of Yhwh (Isa 63:16 & Deut 32:18). The Qynites or Judeans shared Edom with the Edomites or Idumeans where the Egyptians enslaved them to work the copper mines (Deut 4:20) in the area between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE.
The Yahwist cult included the same accoutrements as the Minean (Dedan in the Bible) cult of Wadd according to Dr. James Montgomery in his book “Arabia & the Bible”. It appears that the Judeans merged the cults of Yhwh and El when they were invaded by the Israelites fleeing the Assyrian conquest of Israel. These Israelites were culturally Canaanites and their chief god was El. This invasion caused a problem. The Israelites worshiped the god of the crescent moon, El, and his icon bull calf while the Judeans worshiped the god of the full moon YHWH and his icon snake, the nehushtan. (YHWH had earlier been conflated with the moon god Wadd whose icon snake or nehushtan was known as Yah which means snake. A remanent of Wadd worship survived in the names of Dwd (David), the Hebrew form of Wadd, and his son Ydyhyh (Jedidiah) whose name means ‘beloved of Wadd/Yh’.). Under Judean influence, Yhwh, once Wadd’s icon snake, or nehushtan became the chief deity and the nehushtan became his icon. This transformation took place when, under Egyptian influence, the name of the Egyptian moon god Iah (pronounced Yah) was substituted for the Minean moon god Wadd. The result of this conflation of the Egyptian word ‘Iah’ with the Semitic word ‘Yah’ was that the name Yah came to mean both moon and snake. The Judeans worshiped Yah/Yahweh as both a moon god (Ex 33) and a snake god (1 K 18:4) until the Persian occupation. At that time, the Judeans identified Yah/Yhwh with the Persian god of good, Ahura Mazda. Yhwh retains the personality of this Persian god today.
It appears that the Judean Kings Hezekiah and Josiah compromised and deliberately merged the Israelite god, El/Elohim and the Judean god Yah. Their decision was most likely based upon a fear that a religious clash between the invading El worshiping Israelites and the native Yhwh worshiping Judeans would cause civil unrest. Thus, the Bible depicts the magical discovery of the Torah scroll, by Josiah’s chief priest, Hilkiah (2 K 22:8). The Judean King Hezekiah, who preceded Josiah, began the reforms when he ejected Yhwh’s icon snake, the nehushtan, from Yhwh’s temple (2 Kings 18:4). Josiah completed the reforms when he ‘found’ the scroll and destroyed the Israelite King Jeroboam’s golden calves (1K 12:28 & 2Ch 34:33) which were icons of the Israelite god El.
The 2 gods were merged into Yhwh-Elohim (‘Lord God’ in the English translations of the Bible) a name that is consistently repeated throughout the TaNaKh or Old Testament. The compromise on the Judean side was distancing themselves from Wadd, the Kenite and Minean god of the full moon. The full moon was associated with the ‘achwr’ or backside of Yhwh and the crescent moon was associated with the horns or head of Bull El aka Toru Ilu. Thus, occurs the confusing depiction of Moses atop Har Sinai (Moon Mountain) viewing the backside of Yhwh (the full moon or Wadd) while Yhwh hid his face (Ex 3:23) and yet he spoke to Yhwh ‘face to face’ according to Ex 33:11. The editors of this tale were obviously trying to merge the two tales in this episode; one featuring Yhwh as the full moon and the other featuring El as the crescent moon. El was the Canaanite god Toru Ilu, whose zoological image was the bull calf. El was the chief god of Israel or northern Canaan.
The results of this merger are seen in the confusion of the El and Yhwh traditions. Yhwh remained the ascendant deity but at the cost of his association with Wadd. It appears that the Judeans were the origin of the Levitical caste headed by the Aaronite priests, the royal Davidic line and the Passover which always began with the sighting of the full moon who was Wadd aka Yahwh or Yh the snake. The Israelites/Samaritans were thrown a bone when El was merged with Yah and Yhwh became Yhwh Elohim. Otherwise, their Canaanite religion was dominated by the cult of Yah and the Aaronite priestly caste.
The TaNaKh or the Old Testament is a compilation of 2 religions; the Canaanite religion of the Israelites and the Qynite religion of the Judeans. The efforts of the Biblical authors to merge these 2 distinct religions with their 2 distinct gods, El & Yah/Yhwh, has resulted in the many contradictions and confusing tales in these texts. The Bible is a fascinating study in the evolution of the Judean/Israelite religion, but as a consistent religious text, it remains a confusion of contradictions as these two religions merged and clashed in the cultural mayhem of Biblical Canaan and Judah.
Eventually, probably after the Babylonian exile, the returning Judeans distanced themselves from the Qynites who were their idol fashioning ancestors. Under Persian domination, Yhwh became identified with the aniconic god, Ahura Mazda and the Judeans officially banned the fashioning of molten idols (Deut 4:23). Yhwh Elohim morphed from a god whose images were a snake (nehushtan) and a bull calf into a god whose image was like that of a man (Gen 9:6). Under Greek and Roman occupation, Yhwh Elohim evolved into Deus Pater (God the Father) who was identified with Zeus Pater and Jupiter whose names also mean god the father. And there he has remained until the present as a Semitic god who lost his identity to Deus Pater (Vedic name Dyaus Pitar), who was originally a Vedic god of Indo-Aryan origin.