Esau, Hathor, the Red Heifer & the Conflict in Palestine
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
The biblical story of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau/Edom and Jacob, describes how Esau became the patriarch of the Edomites. According to the Bible, the land of Edom was occupied by a people known as Horites who were descendants of their patriarch, Seir. According to Wikipedia: “Horites or Horim were a people mentioned in the Torah (Genesis 14:6, 36:20, Deuteronomy 2:12) inhabiting areas around Mount Seir which was in Canaan (Gen. 36:2,5). Mt. Seir seems to have been named after one Seir, who the land of the Horites -”the land of Seir” was named after (Genesis 14:6). He was the anscestor of the Horite chiefs listed in Genesis 36:20f.The Horites have been identified with references in Egyptian inscriptions to Khar (formerly translated as Harri), which concern a southern region of Canaan (see The International standard Bible encyclopedia, page 1421. James Orr, 1915.). Despite the widespread influence of the Hurrians, a more northern people, these were probably not the same as the Horites. The first mention of the Horites in the Torah was when they were defeated by a coalition of Eastern kings led by the Kedorlaomer of Elam (a province in modern Iran). These kings had come through the Horite territory to subdue a rebellion by a coalition of other ‘kings’ of peoples whom they had ruled for twelve years, who were living near the Salt Sea (the Dead Sea) and Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14:1-12). Later, according to Genesis 36, the Horites co-existed and inter-married with the family of Esau, grandson of Abraham through Isaac (Genesis 25:21-25). They were eventually brought under the rule of the descendants of Esau, also then known as Edom.
The ancestry of Seir the Horite is not specified. Pre-Edomite Horite chiefs, descendants of Seir, are listed in Gen. 36:20-29 and 1 Chronicles 1:38-42. One of these chiefs, Zibeon, is also described as a Hivite. Esau’s wife Oholibamah was his granddaughter (Oholibamah bat Anah bat Zibeon ben Seir)(Gen. 36:2,24,25). Their three sons all became ‘chiefs,’ although unlike other sons of Esau, they are not called chiefs “in Edom.” (compare Gen. 36:16, 17 with 36:18). This may indicate a transition time in which only certain Horite areas were becoming known as Edom. The chiefs who descended from Esau are listed in Gen 36:40-43. Two of these chiefs would appear to have been female – Timna and Oholibamah. At some time, certain of these leaders rose to the level of ‘kings’ over the other chiefs, and the Horite land became known as Edom rather than the land of Seir. One example of these kings is Jobab, son of Zerah, a son of Esau and his wife Basemath, who was Ishamel’s daughter (Genesis 36:35). Another is a ‘Temanite’, Husham (Genesis 36:34), a descendant of Esau’s son, Teman (Gen. 36:10,11). None of these kings’ sons became kings after their fathers died. Apparently, there was no familial royal line whereby sons of these post-Horite kings succeeded to the throne, but rather, some other system was in place by which kings were either chosen or won the right to rule (Genesis 36:31-29). By the time governance of these peoples had been consolidated under kings instead of chiefs, Horites are no longer mentioned as such. The land of Seir the Horite had become known as Edom.”
The word ‘khry’ or Horite in English is a transliteration of the Egyptian word ‘khry’ [GSL (Gardiner’s Sign List) D2-D21-N1-A1 or D2-D21]. Khry means ‘head man’ or ‘master’. The name Sh3yr or Seir in English seems to be the same as the word sh3yrah in Arabic and it means religious ceremony, rite, cultic practice. The plural is sha3yr and it means places of worship, cultic shrines. Mount Seir was a location for the cultic shrines of both Yhwh and Qos. According to the Wikipedia article entitled Qos: “M. Rose speculates that, prior to Q?s’s advent, Edom worshipped Yahweh—a connection going back the early Egyptian references to YWH in the land of the Shasu.” This is another case of personification of a geographical area into a biblical personage. Edom aka Esau is another example of Hebrew use of personification as a literary device. So, the Horites may have been descendants of the lesser Egyptian officials and soldiers who oversaw and guarded the mining operations in Edom. They either intermarried with the locals or took the local women as concubines. Their offspring retained the Egyptian title ‘khry’ or master, which, of course lost its meaning after the Egyptians left. The Edomites were the people with whom these descendants of the Egyptian overseers (Khry or Horites in English) interbred. The Biblical character Edom is a personification of the Edomites or the locals who eventually became the Judeans.
The sixth king of Edom, Saul Ben Qysh, was the 1st king of Judah. He was from the tribe of Benjamin which means ‘son of the south’ or Edom. Qysh is the dialectical pronunciation of Qwsh who was the chief deity of Edom. By their their own account, the Judeans were preceded by the Edomites. According to Gen 36:1 Esau is Edom. Gen 36 lists the kings of Edom who preceded the Judeans: “These are the kings who ruled the land of Edom before a king ruled the children of Israel. And Bela ben Beor ruled in Edom, and the name of is city was Dinhabah. And Bela died, and Jobab ben Zerah from Bozrah ruled in his place. And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani ruled in his place. And Husham died, and Hadad ben Bedad, who struck Midian in the field of Moab, ruled in his place, and the name of his city was Avith. And Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah ruled in his place. And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth on the river ruled in his place. And Saul died, and Baal-hanan ben Achbor ruled in his place. And Baal-hanan ben Achbor died, and Hadar ruled in is place, and the name of his city was Pau, and his wife’s name was Mehetabel bat Matred bat Mezahab. And these are the names of the clans of Esau by their families, by their places, by their names: clan Timnah, clan Alvah, clan Jetheth, clan Aholibamah, clan Elah, clan Pinon, clan Kenaz, clan Teman, clan Mibzar, clan Magdiel, clan Iram.” Edom, known as ydwma to the Egyptians, was dominated by the Egyptian between 1400 & 1200 BCE. Edom was the location of the copper mines where the Shasu of Yhw, the Egyptian designation for the Bedouin occpants of Edom, were enslave to mine, smelt and forge copper. These Bedouin occupants included the offspring of the the Edomites and Horites thru their patriarchs, Esau and Seir. Seir is also the name of the mountainous region which demarcated the border between Judah and Edom. The religion of these Egyptian enslaved Bedouin was a mixture of ancient Semitic cults as that of Yhwh and the religion of their occupiers, the Egyptians. It is also well known that the Egyptian goddess Hathor was worshiped in the Timna Valley in Edom. According to Wikipedia:
.“Hathor … Egyyptian: hwt-hr, in Greek (her name means) mansion of Horus, is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshiped by royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.”
Seir refers to the mountain in Edom and it is the name of a Horite sheikh which was either personified as Seir or shared the name with this location of cultic shrines.
The word Timna is also derived from an Egyptian word Tnmet X1-N35-M22-M22-N35-X1-O1 which is a reference to the Hathor shrine located at Tmna. Evidently, the ‘m’ and ‘n’ were reversed when the word was written in Hebrew as tmna. Timna was the concubine to Esau’s son, Eliphaz in Gen 25. So, the Hebrews demoted Hathor to a concubine in their scripts.
It is well known that Hathor was worshiped in the Timna Valley as the goddess of the miners who labored in the valley’s copper mines, so it should not surprise anyone that the divinities with whom she was associated as Osiris, would find their way into Biblical texts as names of Biblical characters as Esau/Edom and Seir, the patriarch of the Horites or descendants of the Egyptian overseers of the mining operations. Genesis 25 describes the birth story of Esau and his twin Jacob. According to Gen 25:25: “The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy (s’ar) garment; so they named him Esau (‘asw).” And according to Gen 36:20: “These were the sons of Seir (s’ayr) the Horite (khry), who were living in the region…“ So, the Hebrew authors of Genesis mistakenly thought that the name Esau derived from the word (s’ar) as did the word Seir (s’ayr). According to Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionary 8181, both words derive from the same root meaning ‘hairy’ in Hebrew. However, Esau’s name derives from the Egyptian word sAw (A47 G43) and it means herdsman while Seir is a Semitic word which means places of worship, cultic shrines. Mount Seir was a place to worship Yhwh and then the Edomite god, Qos. The Hebrew word for Horite is ‘khry’, which is comparable to the Egyptian word ‘khry’ which means ‘head man’ or ‘master’. The khry were descendants of the Egyptian overseers and military who managed and guarded the mining operations at Timna where they cohabited with Semitic concubines. Their offspring retained the name of their sires or khry.
Hathor, as has been demonstrated, is directly related to Edom whose name derives from the Hebrew word ‘dm’ which means both blood and red. Esau, aka Edom, was described as covered with red hair (Gen 25:25). Edom, besides being the name of Esau, was the land of the red, copper producing earth. Hathor was the goddess who presided over the copper mining operations from her temple in the Timna Valley in Edom. Hathor was described as a cow goddess who was depicted in 3 forms; as a cow, as a cow headed human and as a woman crowned with horns and a solar disk. In her human form, she was dressed in red or blue with a red sun disk between her horned crown. Hathor was robed in red to indicate her role as the copper goddess and as the goddess of turquoise she was dressed in blue.
Hathor, the patron goddess of miners and minerals, especially copper, gold, turquoise and malachite, was worshiped at Timna between 1400-1200 BCE. She was also a goddess of incense; myrrh was especially important to her. One of the renderings of her name in hieroglyphics is O6-D2-D21-Z5-I12. The hieroglyph for I12 is an erect cobra. At one time, the proto-Judeans (Midianites and Edomites who were miners and caravan merchants) that worked the mines at Timna may have considered her to be the consort of Yhwh. Yhwh’s Hebrew consort was Asherah, a sea goddess, who was represented as a pole near the altars of Yhwh. Hathor’s sacred tree was the sycamore tree. Hathor and Asherah became conflated into the goddess Qetesh who is represented as a goddess holding a snake and wearing Hathor’s signature wig as well as Hathor’s horned sun disc crown. Asherah may have supplanted Hathor/Qetesh as Yhwh’s consort after the Egyptians left the mines. However, Hathor’s symbolic wooden pole seems to have become a symbol of Asherah, that is until Josiah ejected this borrowed pole from the temple. So, the proto Judeans or the Shasw of Yahw worshiped both Yahw, a copper viper, and his consort Qetesh who, like her husband, was a divinity associated with copper and snakes.
Hathor was an important deity to the Timna Valley miners. When the Egyptians left the area, aspects of her worship were adapted into Jewish Levitcal law regarding temple ritual. Hathor was a red cow goddess whom the Jews transformed into the sacred red heifer whose blood and ashes sanctified the temple. According to Numbers 19:2-8:
“This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. 3 Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. 5 While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. 6 The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. 7 After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. 8 The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.”
The sacrifice of a calf without blemish originated in Egypt. According to Herodotus: “The Egyptian priests were very particular about the animals they sacrificed and the ritual slaughter was laid down precisely. The males of the ox kind they consider to belong to Epaphos, and on account of him they test them in the following manner:–If the priest sees one single black hair upon the beast he counts it not clean for sacrifice; and one of the priests who is appointed for the purpose makes investigation of these matters, both when the beast is standing upright and when it is lying on its back, drawing out its tongue moreover, to see if it is clean in respect of the appointed signs, which I shall tell of in another part of the history: he looks also at the hairs of the tail to see if it has them growing in a natural manner; and if it be clean in respect of all these things, he marks it with a piece of papyrus, rolling this round the horns, and then when he has plastered sealing-earth over it he sets upon it the seal of his signet-ring, and after that they take the animal away. But for one who sacrifices a beast not sealed the penalty appointed is death.”
The article further relates that such a calf was offered to Isis in her form as a sacred cow. Cows or heifers were sacred to both Hathor and Isis. According to the Hathor Wikipedia article both Isis and Hathor were the mother of Horus, so the two goddesses were conflated. According to Jewish laws regarding the sacrifice of the red heifer: “According to Mishnah Parah, the presence of two black hairs invalidates a Red Heifer, in addition to the usual requirements of an unblemished animal for sacrifice.”
Furthermore, according to the Wikipedia Hathor article: “Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her.” So, the Egyptians viewed Hathor as the House of Horus. Furthermore, the same article further states: “From the Old Kingdom she was also called Lady of the Sycamore in her capacity as tree deity.” Hathor as a Sycamore tree explains the Asherah poles or ‘groves’ described in Biblical texts.
Asherah originated as an Aegean goddess of the seas but she was represented in Canaan and Judah as a wooden pole located in Yhwh’s temple as well as in various other places of worship. Hathor was worshiped in the Timna Valley as a form of Asherah. When the Egyptians left the copper mines to the locals in 1200 BCE, the Bedouin demolished the cow image, but retained the wooden pole which became the symbol of Asherah in Judah. The Hathor/Asherah poles were destroyed by the Judean king, Josiah. However, her sacred animal, the red heifer, was used to sanctify Yhwh’s temple, so the cult of the goddess remains alive and well to this day. According to the temple institute site:
“In our own times, the commandment of the red heifer takes on more and more significance. For without it, the Divine service of the Holy Temple cannot be resumed. There is a spiritual renaissance today in Israel; after almost 2,000 years, Israel is clearly moving towards the time when the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah – the prophesied Third Temple – will be rebuilt…What does a red heifer have to do with any of this? Perhaps it would be difficult for some to believe that a cow could be so important. But in truth, the fate of the entire world depends on the red heifer. For G-d has ordained that its ashes alone are the single missing ingredient for the reinstatement of Biblical purity – and thereafter, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. And as we will discuss in these pages, the ashes of the red heifer rectifies humanity’s most basic flaw: despair. The despair brought about by the loss of the Temple and the Divine Presence amongst us.”
According to the Wikipedia Hathor article: “The myth states that Ra communicated through Hathor’s third Eye (Maat) and told her that some people in the land were planning to assassinate him. Hathor was so angry that the people she had created would be audacious enough to plan that she became Sekhmet (war goddess of Upper Egypt) to destroy them. Hathor (as Sekhmet) became bloodthirsty and the slaughter was great because she could not be stopped. As the slaughter continued, Ra saw the chaos down below and decided to stop the blood-thirsty Sekhmet. So he poured huge quantities of blood-coloured beer on the ground to trick Sekhmet. She drank so much of it—thinking it to be blood—that she became drunk and returned to her former gentle self as Hathor.” It appears that certain radical Jewish fundamentalist in Palestine want to revive Hathor’s image as the blood thirsty war goddess who will wreak havoc in the name of her husband, Yhwh, with whom she shared the temple in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem temple cult began in Edom in the Timna Valley copper mines as a cult of copper miners. The Biblical authors personified Edom as the character Esau. These same Biblical authors proclaimed Yhwh as their sole deity after they expelled Hathor/Asherah from their temple. Yet, the devotees of the modern day version of this ancient copper mining cult, fully intend to use their ancient Egyptian goddess, Hathor, as a flaming signal signifying their declaration of a holocaust upon the native Palestinians who inhabited the area long before this Egyptian influenced mining cult became the official religion of the land. To further complicate matters are Biblical passages in which the Jewish god Yhwh orders the slaughter of goyim or non Jews. According to 1 Samuel 15:1-3:
Saul said to Samuel:“I am the one the Lord ( Yhwh) sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
And according to 2 Kings 15:17:
16 At that time Menahem (a king of Judah), starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.
The above commands to slaughter innocent non-combatants, including new-borne infants and rip open the wombs of pregnant women, have been carried out the by heads of state of Israel even before Israel became a recognized political entity. Elected prime ministers who participated in this brand of terrorism which included genocidal campaigns against the Palestinians as well systematic ethnic cleansing were:
David Ben-Gurion — #1 — he commanded the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs during the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages in 1948
Levi Eshkol — #2 — he presided over the ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Palestinians
Menachem Begin — #3 — he was the preeminent terrorist in the Middle East who instigated the Deir Yassin massacres … Ben-Gurion and Eshkol managed to surpass him as top terrorists
Ariel Sharon — #4 — a murderous war hawk, he was responsible for massacres at Qibya, Sabra and Shatila
Benjamin Netanyahu— #5 — he was responsible for the deaths and mutilations of thousands of children during Operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge
Yitzhak Shamir — #6 — he had British and Swedish nobles murdered for seeking to have Arabs treated as equals of Jews
Ehud Barak — #7 — a cross-dressing assassin, he participated in death squads that killed women, policemen and a poet known as “The Conscience”
Golda Meir — #8 — she threatened to destroy the world with nukes during a BBC interview and more than once insisted that Palestinians “did not exist” as a people
Shimon Peres — #9 — he aggressively pursued nuclear weapons and succeeded in delivering them
Yitzhak Rabin — #10 — he signed an order for the children of Lydda to be ethnically cleansed “quickly, without attention to age”
Yigal Allon — #11 — he served in Special Night Squads which tortured and killed “without compunction”
Ehud Olmert — #12 — he presided over the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which killed 1,300 people and displaced more than a million others
Moshe Sharett — #13 — he was a staunch proponent of compulsory population transfer (ethnic cleansing)
It is really tragic that an ancient, idolatrous cult can be called upon as an excuse to violate every humane law that expounds human rights, human dignity, freedom and self determination. Hathor, the red heifer, should be buried forever in the red, copper producing earth of Edom.