More Names for the Patriarchs
© Charles Chandler
With a clear distinction between Hebrews & Israelites, several more pieces, from the Tanakh and from the Talmud, fit into place. First, Eusebius considered Job to be a Patriarch:1:b1:ch2
Add to these Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, include as is right the patriarch Job, and all the rest who lived according to the ideals of these men;
In order to be a Patriarch, one had to be an ancestor of the Israelites, and yet the names of Job's ancestors and descendants are not mentioned, so why did Eusebius include Job? The Talmud has Job as a contemporary of Moses,2:15a important enough to be consulted by the pharaoh, along with Balaam & Jethro, on what to do with the Hebrews.3:28-30 The Patriarch presiding over the 1312-Exodus was Jacob, so "Job" could be just a short form of his name.4:89 Then it makes sense that the lineage of a Patriarch was omitted — the Deuteronomists had to take it out when they shifted Jacob back in time, though the Jewish oral tradition preserved his connection to the 1312-Exodus.
When set in the historical context, the Book of Job has a lot more meaning. Jacob presided over the 1312-Exodus, and assimilated some of the exiles into his territory, converting them to Israelism. But in , after Ramose had passed, the hard-liners on the East Bank pressed westward into Canaan, overwhelming Jacob. Seti I restored law & order in , installing Ehud as the leader, leaving Jacob with nothing. But then "God" (i.e., Ramesses) made it up to him in by granting him land in the Negev and/or Goshen, and Joseph even got the honor of being in charge of the pharaoh's palace. Such events could easily be seen as the inspiration for the Book of Job, who had everything taken away from him, but who was compensated for his losses in the end.
We can also sort out the oddities introduced by the Talmud. In the Torah, Job is a model of unflinching faith, but in the Talmud, he is a Gentile, and little friend to the Hebrews, for he said nothing when Balaam suggested that the first-born of the Hebrews be slain.3:28-30 This only makes sense if we see these as two different perspectives on the same person. To the Egyptian loyalists on the West Bank, Jacob was a fine example of faith in "God" (i.e., the pharaoh), and who was rewarded handsomely in the end, while to the Hebrews on the East Bank, Jacob was a Gentile who did nothing to protect them from Balaam. Thus the Book of Job tells the Israelite version, while the Talmud tells the Hebrew version.
And who was Balaam, son of Beor? This is actually one of the larger curiosities in the Torah. Balaam was a Gentile, and no friend at all to the Hebrews, for it was he who suggested that the first-born of the Hebrews be slain, and later advised the Moabites to entice the Hebrews into immoralities that would cause 24,000 of them to die of the plague.5,6 He wielded great powers in Canaan, for "whoever he blessed was blessed, and whoever he cursed was cursed".7 He was known for his arrogance and avarice, and yet he was a loyal servant of God, who refused to say anything except what God told him. So like Job, Balaam was a fine example of faith in "God", but who cared even less for the Hebrews.
Some scholars believe that Balaam was the same as Bela, also son of Beor, and king of Edom.8 If so, much more can be deduced. If Balaam was the king of Edom, and if Balaam & Job were contemporaries, and if Job was Jacob, then Balaam was the king of Edom during Jacob's time, which would have been Esau.
Several other passages fall easily in line with this identification. First, Balaam's native land was Mitanni,7 the birthplace of Esau's mother & grandmother (i.e., Rebekah & Sarah).
Second, the Talmud says that Balaam, Job, & Jethro were important enough to be consulted by the pharaoh on what to do with the Hebrews.3:28-30 If Job was Jacob, it would make sense that his senior twin would also be in the meeting.
Third, in the Talmud, "Balaam" is spelled "Belo 'Am", meaning "without a share with the people in the world to come".9:19 In other words, he was disenfranchised. The Torah says little about Esau, except that he was tricked out of his birthright by Jacob. "Without a Share" would then be an apt nickname for Esau.
Fourth, the Talmud identifies Balaam's father as Laban the Syrian,9:19-23 Rebecca's brother.10 If Balaam was Esau, his father couldn't have been both Laban the Syrian and Isaac, so the identification here isn't without problems, but it does put Balaam in the same family as the Patriarchs. And Laban's sons were deprived of their birthrights by Jacob,11 just as Esau was. It's possible that this was the closest that the scribes could come to preserving the true identity of Balaam, without invalidating the conventional chronology in the Torah after the Deuteronomic Reform.
Fifth, the characterization of Balaam as arrogant wouldn't preclude his being the hereditary governor of Canaan, and bitterness at being tricked out of it could have even sharpened such an edge. But Balaam showed no arrogance toward God. In fact, he was credited with having a more direct connection to God than all other mortals.12 If "God" is taken to mean the pharaoh, Balaam would have been the senior Egyptian vassal in Canaan at the time, who would have been Esau. Then the "direct connection to God" was political, not messianic — people wanting to know the pharaoh's will would consult Esau, who would then be obligated to say only what the pharaoh had told him.
Sixth, Balaam was later slain for his part in the Heresy of Peor.13 If this was Bela, king of Edom, his successor was Jobab.8 And if we're actually talking about Esau, his successor would have been Jacob, the younger of the twins. So "Jobab" might have been an obfuscation of "Jacob". And the only person who could have slain Esau without starting a war would have been the pharaoh.
There is also a loose correlation, if not an identification, between Balaam and Eglon, king of Moab. The latter was said to have been so obese that when he was slain with a knife that was one cubit long, the entire knife, handle & all, got buried in Eglon's stomach, and the only thing that came out of the wound was the contents of his bowels.14 The servants outside the door just thought that Eglon was relieving himself, and did not enter the room to render assistance, later discovering that Eglon had died of the wound. This rather nonsensical tale is clearly allegorical, but of what? Peor was the location of a rather disgusting ritual involving bowel movements — perhaps the scribes are trying to tell us that Eglon's death was somehow connected to things that happened at Peor. Hence it's possible that both Balaam & Eglon were killed for the same reason — they conspired to get a bunch of Hebrews infected with a disease. The significance is that it puts a date on the Heresy of Peor — shortly thereafter, Eglon was was killed by Ehud, which would be in . (See .) It also enables the speculation that the Hebrews crossing the Jordan in were fleeing from the diseases germinating at Peor.
Thus the two brothers appear to have been Esau/Edom/Balaam/Bela, and Jacob/Job/Jobab/Israel. Of the two, Jacob seems to have favored a compromise, splitting the Atenist camp, while Esau rather wanted to see the Hebrews destroyed outright, and the pharaoh seems to have gone with Jacob's plan. When Esau wouldn't give up, the pharaoh had him killed.
In addition to Balaam & Job, there was one more person in the consultation with the pharaoh: Jethro. This was (supposedly) a Midianite priest, and the father-in-law of Moses.15 Jethro also went by the name of Reuel,16 and some scholars believe that "Jethro" was actually just a title, meaning "his excellency", implying that he was royalty. If so, there is a short list of possible identities. "Reuel" is cognate with "Ra'el", which reminds us of Is-Ra-El (i.e., Jacob), and who certainly was in the ruling family, though we already have Jacob in the consultation with the pharaoh, under the name of Job. Perhaps Jethro/Reuel was Jacob's father Isaac, who would have been 68 years old in . Thus Jacob might have gone by "Israel" to distinguish himself from "Ra'el" his father. There is also a loose connection between Isaac and the Canaanite deity El, in that "Isaac" means "he laughs", and Ugaritic texts in the refer to the benevolent smile of El.17 So the third person at the consultation might have been His Excellency Isaac Ra'el.
As a sidenote, Yahwist passages consistently refer to Moses' father-in-law as Reuel,16,18 while the Elohist passages use the name Jethro.19,20,21 Isaac seems to have preferred the southern provinces of Judah and Philistia,22,23 so perhaps there he was known by his secondary name Ra'el, while in the northern territory, he was known more formally by the title of His Excellency, and his son Jacob went by the name of Israel. It's also possible that Isaac changed his name to Reuel at the same time Jacob's name got changed to Israel, and Isaac didn't survive much longer after that, so there wasn't the time for his new name to come into common usage far from home.
Interestingly, Jethro was the originating ancestor, spiritual founder, and chief prophet of the Druze religion, which is considered an Abrahamic faith, and which incorporates teachings of Akhenaten, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, al-Hakim, and Hamza ibn-'Ali.24:314,25:259 Since Atenism was strongly suppressed and not rediscovered until modern times, its preservation by an esoteric group could have only begun during the Amarna period. If Jethro was a Midianite priest, it would be odd for Druze to be considered an Abrahamic faith, but not so odd if Jethro was Isaac, son of Abraham, and a peer of Akhenaten & Ramose. Isaac might have even preserved some ideas that didn't show up in Judaism. Consider the following.26:46
When carried to its logical conclusion, as in the case of the Druze philosophy, the doctrine of transmigration dispenses altogether with the necessity for paradise and hell and takes the place of a final judgment. [...] Ibn-al-Jawzi states that [this doctrine] appeared first "in the days of the Pharaoh of Moses," which is correct if taken to mean that it was of ultimate Egyptian origin.
Indeed, the doctrine of transmigration isn't in the Mosaic code as preserved in the Torah, so it had to have come from someone else, such as Moses' pharaoh. But which pharaoh would that be? Akhenaten was the only pharaoh to disavow Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. This would have cleared the way for a new idea of the afterlife to take root.
Along the same lines we might note that much later, Jesus answered a pedantic question concerning who would be married to who in the afterlife just with a reference to the Patriarchs.
The fact that he made the point by merely referring to three generations of a family means that we need to know what was unique about them to understand. Since the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob do not specifically address the afterlife, we can then only learn the meaning by looking at what was going on with the faith at that time. If they were contemporaries of Akhenaten, Jesus was referring to the demotion of Osiris. Some scholars believe that Jesus was heavily influenced by the Vedas.27 If so, he might have believed in transmigration, and he might have elaborated on how the Patriarchs did too in the speech quoted by Matthew. But in the , Christian redactors would have trimmed out any explicit mention of transmigration, since they clearly favored the simpler idea of heaven & hell. This would have left us with the quote as it is in Matthew, where Jesus dismissed the significance of the afterlife, but didn't elaborate.
The Hindu influence on the "pharaoh of Moses", on Jethro/Isaac, and perhaps on Jesus, has other implications. So far, the present thesis acknowledges a steady theological progression, from the fusion of Amun & Ra into the all-powerful god of the 18th Dynasty, to the exclusivity of Atenism, and finally, to the abstractions of early Judaism. Thus the failed experiment at Amarna laid the foundation for the successful one in Canaan, even if Egypt went back to the old ways starting with Horemheb. Meanwhile, the Patriarchs have been presented as the archrivals of the Atenists, worshiping a fusion of Isis, Ra, and Elohim as a politically correct alternative to Atenism. But it might not have been quite that simple. The Mitannis worshiped Hindu gods, including Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya.28 Sarah's half-brother Tushratta got his name from the Sanskrit Tvesa-ratha, which means "his chariot charges".29 It's at least possible that Sarah & Abraham were prophets who brought Hindu theology to the court of Amenhotep III,30,31 and that they inspired the kinder, gentler, more rational belief system that evolved into the Amarna Heresy. If so, when the Atenists were exiled to Moab, they weren't introducing Atenism to Canaan — they were a splinter group one step behind the Patriarchs, who left Mitanni for Egypt in , and then settled in Canaan in . By , when Ramose & the Levites first set up camp on the East Bank, Jethro/Isaac had already formed a new group, which would one day be known as the Druze. By , when Horemheb gave Jacob the new name of Israel, the Patriarchal cult might have been well-established, and Horemheb's fusion of Isis, Ra, and Elohim might not have been taken all that seriously. Thus the Israelites on the West Bank, and the Hebrews on the East Bank, might have been more similar than previously considered, if at least part of the inspiration for the whole thing had originated with the Mittanis.
If Isaac was Reuel, this passage gives us yet another version of Jacob's name:
Notice the awkward wording concerning the covenant. In the conventional reading, Moses was an Israelite, while Hobab was a Midianite, and the Promised Land had been promised to Israelites, not Midianites. So why didn't Moses just say that they were setting out for the place that God had granted to the Israelites, and that Hobab should join them? If this was Ramose talking to Jacob, it certainly wouldn't have been said that way, since everybody knew that the land in question was Jacob's inheritance, and not Ramose's. So it had to be worded such that it wasn't clear who had inherited what. Before the obfuscation, it would have read like this:
Now Ramose said to Jacob son of Isaac, Ramose's father-in-law, "We are setting out for the place that Amenhotep III granted to your family. Come with us and we will treat you well, for Horemheb has promised good things to you."
Hobab responded that he would rather return to his homeland.32 But Moses insisted that Hobab stay with them.
Next, we should acknowledge the implications of Reuel being Moses' father-in-law. If this is taken at face value within the present thesis, Isaac gave his daughter's hand in marriage to Ramose. This would have occurred when Ramose first left Amarna, to escape prosecution for killing an Egyptian slave-master, making the date . If the familial alliance persisted, it would have made it all that much more difficult for Ramose to challenge Jacob's authority in North Canaan, since he would have to fight his own brother-in-law. This might have produced a conflict of interest. Perhaps this was the marriage that Aaron & Miriam were criticizing,33 not that Moses married a Cushite, but that he married the daughter of Isaac & Rebekah.
Then there is the curious incident in which "God" was going to kill Moses, which Zipporah prevented by circumcising one of her sons.34 Since circumcision was an Egyptian custom, this was an act of loyalty to the pharaoh, who the Egyptians considered to be a living god. So the pharaoh was going to kill Ramose if he returned to Egypt with his Mitanni wife and uncircumcised sons. All the more curious is that this happened when Moses was (supposedly) returning to Egypt to secure the release of his people, and to lead them to the Promised Land.35 Why did he pack up his wife and kids,36 to go fetch his followers, so that he could lead them back through Midian, and on to the Promised Land from there — why didn't he just leave his wife and kids in Midian while he was on errand in Egypt?
It's possible that the Torah leaves out an important episode. In Manetho's king list (as preserved by Africanus), the pharaoh after Akhenaten and before Tutankhamun was "Rathose", with a tenure of 6 years.37,38 This could have been Ramose sharing co-regency with Smenkhare. So in , when Akhenaten died,36 Ramose packed up his wife & kids, grabbed the staff of God (i.e., the kind that senior officials carried, such as in ), and returned to become co-regent of Egypt. And Zipporah had to circumcise the boy to prove the family's loyalty to Egypt.
That would have been Ramose's first return to Egypt. He would leave again in , when Tutankhamun abandoned Amarna, exiling the high priests to Moab. From there, Ramose would return to Egypt just one more time, in . Horemheb had outlawed Atenism, and there would have been a backlash, which would have demanded Ramose's return to help mitigate, culminating in the 1312-Exodus. The story in Exodus 4 would easily be the description of the reasons for that return to Egypt. The passages specific to Ramose's earlier return, including the mention of him packing up his wife & kids,36 and the part about Zipporah circumcising one of the sons,34 are both Yahwist insertions into an Elohist narrative. So Exodus 4 conflates two returns to Egypt — the Yahwist mention of the return in , and the Elohist account of the return in .
25. Morrison, T.; Conaway, W. A. (2006): Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries. Adams Media ⇧
26. Hitti, P. K. (1924): Origins of the Druze People and Religion: Chapter VI. Dogmas and Precepts. Ams Pr Inc ⇧
27. Graves, K. (1875): The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviours: Christianity Before Christ. Adventures Unlimited Press ⇧
29. Liverani, M. (2014): The Ancient Near East: History, Society and Economy. Routledge ⇧
38. Greenberg, G. (1999): Manetho's Eighteenth Dynasty: Putting the Pieces Back Together. Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt ⇧
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