The Hebrew’s leviathan was known in Northern Canaanite texts as the foe of the storm god baal at least as early as the 3,400 years ago. In other mythologies, leviathan is known as:
- Phoenician: lotan
- Greek: ladon
- Ugaritic: lat or elat
- Babalonya: anat, tlamat, tiamat, and chaos
- Caanaite: lotan, lawtan, and lat
In addition, lat, elat, lawtan, and lat have the same meaning, which is goddess. The importance of these meanings is to grasp that this is one example of many handed down and retold myths. The bible is not special and just reuses old stories. This mythic battle of male anthropomorphic god and serpentine goddess emerges indirectly again in the Greek myth of heracles/hercules killing the serpent-dragon ladon, said to be guarding a sacred fruit tree of a goddess. 1, 2, 3
- Anat, virgin goddess of war and strife, sister and putative mate of Ba’al Hadad
- Athirat, “walker of the sea”, Mother Goddess, wife of El (also known as Elat and after the Bronze Age as Asherah)
- Athtart, better known by her Greek name Astarte, assists Anat in the Myth of Ba’al
- Asherah, queen consort of El. Symbolised by Asherah pole, a common sight in ancient Canaan
- Attar, god of the morning star (“son of the morning”) who tried to take the place of the dead Baal and failed. Male counterpart of Athtart.
- Baalat or Baalit, the wife or female counterpart of Baal (also Belili)
- Ba’al Hadad (lit. master of thunder), storm god. Often referred to as Baalshamin.
- Ba’al Hermon, titular local deity of Mount Hermon.
- Baal Hammon, god of fertility and renewer of all energies in the Phoenician colonies of the Western Mediterranean
- Dagon (Dagan) god of crop fertility and grain, father of Ba’al Hadad
- El, also called ‘Il or Elyon (“Most High”), generally considered leader of the pantheon (later conflated with the idiosyncratic god Yahweh)
- Eloh Araphel, God of Darkness and the father of Elyon, and God of Beit-Araphel in Ugaritic but in Latin shares its name with Catholic Purgatorium. He is a forgotten God.
- Eshmun, god, or as Baalat Asclepius, goddess, of healing
- Ishat, goddess of fire. She was slain by Anat.
- Kotharat, goddesses of marriage and pregnancy
- Kothar-wa-Khasis, the skilled god of craftsmanship
- Lotan, the twisting, seven-headed serpent ally of Yam
- Marqod, god of dance
- Melqart, literally “king of the city”, god of Tyre, the underworld and cycle of vegetation in Tyre
- Moloch, putative god of fire
- Mot or Mawat, god of death (not worshiped or given offerings)
- Nikkal-wa-Ib, goddess of orchards and fruit
- Qadeshtu, lit. “Holy One”, putative goddess of love. Also a title of Asherah.
- Resheph, god of plague and of healing
- Shachar and Shalim, twin mountain gods of dawn and dusk, respectively. Shalim was linked to the netherworld via the evening star and associated with peace
- Shamayim, (lit. “Skies”), god of the heavens, paired with Eretz, the land or earth
- Shapash, also transliterated Shapshu, goddess of the sun; sometimes equated with the Mesopotamian sun god Shamash, whose gender is disputed. Some authorities consider Shamash a goddess.
- Sydyk, the god of righteousness or justice, sometimes twinned with Misor, and linked to the planet Jupiter
- Yam (lit. sea-river) the god of the sea and the river, also called Judge Nahar (judge of the river)
- Yarikh, god of the moon and husband of Nikkal
Canaanites believed that following physical death, the npš (usually translated as “soul“) departed from the body to the land of Mot (Death). Bodies were buried with grave goods, and offerings of food and drink were made to the dead to ensure that they would not trouble the living. Dead relatives were venerated and sometimes asked for help. the Canaanite city of Ugarit (destroyed ca. 1200 BC) has revealed a cosmology. Any idea of one is often reconstructed from the much later Phoenician text by Philo of Byblos (c. 64–141 AD), after much Greek and Roman influence in the region. According to the pantheon, known in Ugarit as ‘ilhm (=Elohim) or the children of El, supposedly obtained by Philo of Byblos from Sanchuniathon of Berythus (Beirut) the creator was known as Elion, who was the father of the divinities, and in the Greek sources he was married to Beruth (Beirut = the city). This marriage of the divinity with the city would seem to have Biblical parallels too with the stories of the link between Melqart and Tyre; Chemosh and Moab; Tanit and Baal Hammon in Carthage, Yah and Jerusalem. From the union of El Elyon and his consort were born Uranus and Ge, Greek names for the “Heaven” and the “Earth”. In Canaanite mythology there were twin mountains Targhizizi and Tharumagi which hold the firmament up above the earth-circling ocean, thereby bounding the earth. W. F. Albright, for example, says that El Shaddai is a derivation of a Semitic stem that appears in the Akkadian shadû (“mountain”) and shaddā`û or shaddû`a (“mountain-dweller”), one of the names of Amurru. Philo of Byblos states that Atlas was one of the Elohim, which would clearly fit into the story of El Shaddai as “God of the Mountain(s).” Harriet Lutzky has presented evidence that Shaddai was an attribute of a Semitic goddess, linking the epithet with Hebrew šad “breast” as “the one of the Breast”. The idea of two mountains being associated here as the breasts of the Earth, fits into the Canaanite mythology quite well. The ideas of pairs of mountains seem to be quite common in Canaanite mythology (similar to Horeb and Sinai in the Bible). The late period of this cosmology makes it difficult to tell what influences (Roman, Greek, or Hebrew) may have informed Philo’s writings. In the Baal Cycle mythology, Ba’al Hadad is challenged by and defeats Yam, using two magical weapons (called “Driver” and “Chaser”) made for him by Kothar-wa-Khasis. Afterward, with the help of Athirat and Anat, Ba’al persuades El to allow him a palace. El approves, and the palace is built by Kothar-wa-Khasis. After the palace is constructed, Ba’al gives forth a thunderous roar out of the palace window and challenges Mot. Mot enters through the window and swallows Ba’al, sending him to the Underworld. With no one to give rain, there is a terrible drought in Ba’al’s absence. The other deities, especially El and Anat, are distraught that Ba’al has been taken to the Underworld. Anat goes to the Underworld, attacks Mot with a knife, grinds him up into pieces, and scatters him far and wide. With Mot defeated, Ba’al is able to return and refresh the Earth with rain. Archaeological investigations at the site of Tell el-Safiad have found the remains of donkeys, as well as some sheep and goats in Early Bronze Age layers, dating to 4,900 years ago which were imported from Egypt in order to be sacrificed. One of the sacrificial animals, a complete donkey, was found beneath the foundations of a building, leading to speculation this was a ‘foundation deposit’ placed before the building of a residential house. It is considered virtually impossible to reconstruct a clear picture of Canaanite religious practices. Although child sacrifice was known to surrounding peoples there is no reference to it in ancient Phoenician or Classical texts. The biblical representation of Canaanite religion is always negative. A Canaanite religious practice had a high regard for the duty of children to care for their parents, with sons being held responsible for burying them and arranging for the maintenance of their tombs. Canaanite deities such as Baal were represented by figures which were placed in shrines often on hilltops or ‘high places’ surrounded by groves of trees, such as is condemned in the Hebrew Bible, in Hosea (v 13a) which would probably hold the Asherah pole, and standing stones or pillars. Canaanite religion was influenced by its peripheral position, an intermediary between Egypt and Mesopotamia, whose religions had a growing impact upon Canaanite religion. For example, during the Hyksos period, when chariot-mounted maryannu ruled in Egypt, at their capital city of Avaris, Baal became associated with the Egyptian god Set, and was considered identical – particularly with Set in his form as Sutekh. Iconographically henceforth Baal was shown wearing the crown of Lower Egypt and shown in the Egyptian-like stance, one foot set before the other. Similarly, Athirat (known by her later Hebrew name Asherah), Athtart (known by her later Greek name Astarte), and Anat henceforth were portrayed wearing Hathor-like Egyptian wigs. From the other direction, Jean Bottéro has suggested that Yah of Ebla (a possible precursor of Yam) was equated with the Mesopotamian god Ea during the Akkadian Empire. In the Middle and Late Bronze Age, there are also strong Hurrian and Mitanniteinfluences upon the Canaanite religion. The Hurrian goddess Hebat was worshiped in Jerusalem, and Baal was closely considered equivalent to the Hurrian storm god Teshub and the Hittite storm god, Tarhunt. Canaanite divinities seem to have been almost identical in form and function to the neighboring Arameans to the east, and Baal Hadad and El can be distinguished amongst earlier Amorites, who at the end of the Early Bronze Age invaded Mesopotamia. Carried west by Phoenician sailors, Canaanite religious influences can be seen in Greek mythology, particularly in the tripartite division between the Olympians Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, mirroring the division between Baal, Yam and Mot, and in the story of the Labours of Hercules, mirroring the stories of the Tyrian Melqart, who was often equated with Heracles.
Canaanite religion was strongly influenced by their more powerful and populous neighbors and shows a clear influence of Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious practices. Like other people of the Ancient Near East Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing on veneration of the dead in the form of household gods and goddesses, the Elohim, while acknowledging the existence of other deities such as Baal and El, Asherah and Astarte. Kings also played an important religious role and in certain ceremonies, such as the hieros gamos of the New Year, may have been revered as gods. “At the center of Canaanite religion was royal concern for religious and political legitimacy and the imposition of a divinely ordained legal structure, as well as peasant emphasis on fertility of the crops, flocks, and humans.” 1
Canaan was the name of a large and prosperous country (at times independent, at others a tributary to Egypt) which corresponds roughly to present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel and was also known as Phoenicia. The origin of the name `Canaan’ for the land comes from various ancient texts (among them the Hebrew Bible) and there is no scholarly consensus on precisely where the name originated nor what it was intended to convey about the land. The indigenous people of the land of Canaan worshiped many gods but, chief among them, the goddess Astarte and her consort Baal (considered vegetative/fertility deities who then took on more impressive attributes earlier ascribed to Sumerian gods such as Enlil). Baal Baal (/ˈbeɪəl/), properly Baʿal was a title and honorific meaning “lord” in the Northwest Semitic languages spoken in the Levant during antiquity. God of fertility, weather, rain, wind, lightning, seasons, war, patron of sailors and sea-going merchants, leader of the Rephaim (ancestral spirits) Later views: King of the gods. From its use among people, it came to be applied to gods. Scholars previously associated the theonym with solar cults and with a variety of unrelated patron deities, but inscriptions have shown that the name Baʿal was particularly associated with the storm and fertility godHadad and his local manifestations. The Hebrew Bible, compiled and curated over a span of centuries, includes early use of the term in reference to God (known to them as Yahweh), generic use in reference to various Levantine deities, and finally pointed application towards Hadad, who was decried as a false god. That use was taken over into Christianity and Islam, sometimes under the opprobrious form Beelzebub in demonology. Like EN in Sumerian, the Akkadian bēlu and Northwest Semitic baʿal (as well as its feminine form baʿalah) was used as a title of various deities in the Mesopotamian and Semitic pantheons. Baʿal was also used as a proper name by the third millennium bce, when he appears in a list of deities at Abu Salabikh. Most modern scholarship asserts that this Baʿal—usually distinguished as “The Lord” (הבעל, Ha Baʿal)—was identical with the storm and fertility godHadad; it also appears in the form Baʿal Haddu. Scholars propose that, as the cult of Hadad increased in importance, his true name came to be seen as too holy for any but the high priest to speak aloud and the alias “Lord” (“Baʿal”) was used instead, as “Bel” was used for Marduk and “Adonai” for Yahweh. A minority propose that Baʿal was a native Canaanite deity whose cult was identified with or absorbed aspects of Adad‘s. Regardless of their original relationship, by the 1st millennium bce, the two were distinct: Hadad was worshipped by the Aramaeans and Baʿal by the Phoenicians and other Canaanites. Baʿal is well-attested in surviving inscriptions and was popular in theophoric names throughout the Levant but he is usually mentioned along with other gods, “his own field of action being seldom defined”. Nonetheless, Ugaritic records show him as a weather god, with particular power over lightning, wind, rain, and fertility. The dry summers of the area were explained as Baʿal’s time in the underworld and his return in autumn was said to cause the storms which revived the land. Thus, the worship of Baʿal in Canaan—where he eventually supplanted El as the leader of the gods and patron of kingship—was connected to the regions’ dependence on rainfall for its agriculture, unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which focused on irrigation from their major rivers. Anxiety about the availability of water for crops and trees increased the importance of his cult, which focused attention on his role as a rain god. He was also called upon during battle, showing that he was thought to intervene actively in the world of man, unlike the more aloof El. The Lebanese city of Baalbeck was named after Baal. The Baʿal of Ugarit was the epithet of Hadad but as the time passed, the epithet became the god’s name while Hadad became the epithet. Baʿal was usually said to be the son of Dagan, but appears as one of the sons of El in Ugaritic sources. Both Baʿal and El were associated with the bull in Ugaritic texts, as it symbolized both strength and fertility. The virgin goddess ʿAnat was his sister and sometimes credited with a child through him. He held special enmity against snakes, both on their own and as representatives of Yammu (lit. “Sea”), the Canaanite sea god and river god. He fought the Tannin (Tunnanu), the “Twisted Serpent” (Bṭn ʿqltn), “Litan the Fugitive Serpent” (Ltn Bṭn Brḥ, the Biblical Leviathan), and the “Mighty One with Seven Heads” (Šlyṭ D.šbʿt Rašm). Baʿal’s conflict with Yammu is now generally regarded as the prototype of the vision recorded in the 7th chapter of the Biblical Book of Daniel. As vanquisher of the sea, Baʿal was regarded by the Canaanites and Phoenicians as the patron of sailorsand sea-going merchants. As vanquisher of Mot, the Canaanite death god, he was known as Baʿal Rāpiʾuma (Bʿl Rpu) and regarded as the leader of the Rephaim (Rpum), the ancestral spirits, particularly those of ruling dynasties. From Canaan, worship of Baʿal spread to Egypt by the Middle Kingdom and throughout the Mediterranean following the waves of Phoenician colonization in the early 1st millennium bce. He was described with diverse epithets and, prior to the rediscovery of Ugarit, it was supposed that these referred to distinct local gods. However, as explained by Day, the texts at Ugarit revealed that they were considered “local manifestations of this particular deity, analogous to the local manifestations of the Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic Church.” Baʿal appears about 90 times in the Hebrew Scriptures in reference to various gods. The priests of the Canaanite Baʿal are mentioned numerous times, most prominently in the First Book of Kings. Many scholars believe that this describes Jezebel‘s attempt to introduce the worship of the Baʿal of Tyre, Melqart, to the Israeli capital Samaria in the 9th century bce. Against this, Day argues that Jezebel’s Baʿal was more probably Baʿal Shamem, the Lord of the Heavens, a title most often applied to Hadad, who is also often titled just Ba‘al. The Hebrew Scriptures record an account of a contest between the prophet Elijah and Jezebel’s priests. Both sides offered a sacrifice to their respective gods: Ba’al failed to light his followers’ sacrifice while Yahweh‘s heavenly fire burnt Elijah’s altar to ashes, even after it had been soaked with water. The observers then followed Elijah’s instructions to slay the priests of Baʿal, after which it began to rain, showing Yahweh’s mastery over the weather. Other mentions of the priests of Baʿal describe their burning of incense in prayer and their offering of sacrifice while adorned in special vestments. The title baʿal was a synonym in some contexts of the Hebrew adon (“Lord”) and adonai (“My Lord”) still used as aliases of the Lord of Israel Yahweh. According to some scholars, the early Hebrews did use the names Baʿal (“Lord”) and Baʿali (“My Lord”) in reference to the Lord of Israel, just as Baʿal farther north designated the Lord of Ugarit or Lebanon. This occurred both directly and as the divine element of some Hebrew theophoric names. However, according to others it is not certain that the name Baal was definitely applied to Yahweh in early Israelite history. The component Baal in proper names is mostly applied to worshippers of Baal, or descendants of the worshippers of Baal. Names including the element Baʿal presumably in reference to Yahweh include the judge Gideon (also known as Jerubaʿal, lit. “The Lord Strives”), Saul‘s son Eshbaʿal (“The Lord is Great”), and David‘s son Beeliada (“The Lord Knows”). The name Bealiah (“The Lord is Jah“; “Yahweh is Baʿal”) combined the two. However, John Day states that as far as the names Eshba’al, Meriba’al, and Beeliada (that is Baaliada), are concerned it is not certain whether they simply allude to the Cannanite god Ba’al, or are intended to equate Yahweh with Ba’al, or have no connection to Ba’al. It was the program of Jezebel, in the 9th century bce, to introduce into Israel’s capital city of Samaria her Phoenician worship of Baal as opposed to the worship of Yahweh that made the name anathema to the Israelites. At first the name Baal was used by the Jews for their God without discrimination, but as the struggle between the two religions developed, the name Baal was given up by the Israelites as a thing of shame, and even names like Jerubbaal were changed to Jerubbosheth: Hebrew bosheth means “shame”. Eshbaʿal became Ish-bosheth and Meribaʿal became Mephibosheth, but other possibilities also occurred. Beeliada is mentioned renamed as Eliada and Gideon’s name Jerubaʿal was mentioned intact but glossed as a mockery of the Canaanite god, implying that he strove in vain. Direct use of Baʿali continued at least as late as the time of the prophet Hosea, who reproached the Israelites for doing so. Brad E. Kelle has suggested that references to cultic sexual practices in the worship of Baal, in Hosea 2, are evidence of an historical situation in which Israelites were either giving up Yahweh worship for Baal, or blending the two. Hosea’s references to sexual acts being metaphors for Israelite “apostasy”. Baʿal Zebub (Hebrew: בעל זבוב, lit. “Fly Lord”) occurs in the first chapter of the Second Book of Kings as the supposed name of the Philistine god of Ekron. In it, Ahaziah, king of Israel, is said to have consulted the priests of Baʿal Zebub as to whether he would survive the injuries from his recent fall. The prophet Elijah, incensed at this impiety, then foretold that he would die quickly, raining heavenly fire on the soldiers sent to punish him for doing so. Jewish scholars have interpreted the title of “Lord of the Flies” as the Hebrew way of calling Baʿal a pile of dung and his followers vermin, although others argue for a link to power over causing and curing pestilence and thus suitable for Ahaziah’s question. The Septuagint renders the name as Baälzeboúb (βααλζεβούβ) and as “Baʿal of Flies” (βααλ μυιαν, Baäl muian). Symmachus the Ebionite rendered it as Beëlzeboúl (Βεελζεβούλ), possibly reflecting its original sense. This has been proposed to have been B‘l Zbl, Ugaritic for “Lord of the Home” or “Lord of the Heavens”. Canaanites (Phoenicians) women could and did serve as Priestesses, could own land, enter into contracts and initiate divorce. By the 4,000 years ago Byblos was the great exporter of cedar from Mount Lebannon and of papyrus (the name of the Bible comes from the Greek word Byblos for `Book, a reference to the city which supplied the surrounding nations, especially Egypt, with the papyrus to write on) and Tyre was a great industrial center producing highly sought after purple garments made from the purple dye of Murex shells and the city of Sidon, also engaged in similar trade, was a great center of learning. The Canaanites (Phoenicians) developed the first alphabetic writing system, mathematics, were renowned in the ancient world for their skill in ship building and navigating the seas and have also been cited as the early source or inspiration for the mythology of the Greek gods. The Canaanites sailed across the sea as far away as Spain and as far north as modern-day Cornwall, England, and their cities grew, owing to their prosperous trade, into places of splendor and wealth. According to the biblical narrative in the Book of Exodus, the patriarch Moses lead his people, the Israelites, out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt and toward the `promised land’ of Canaan where their god had promised them they would live in peace in a “land flowing with milk and honey.” The Book of Joshua, following the Exodus narrative, tells of the campaigns of the Israelite General Joshua in the land of Canaan subduing the populace with the help, and by command of, his god (most famously destroying the city of Jericho, which was the oldest city in the region with the greatest cultural legacy). 1, 2
To me, looking at the archeology and genetics it seems the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews where a branch of peoples from turkey dating to around 4,000 years ago somewhere near lake van just under MT Ararat originally and before that to about 20,000 to 30,000 years in Europe as nomadic peoples there is no clear Hebrews/Israelites/Jews linage past that I know of. So, after traveling to the land of Canaan and given about 800 years later by the purposed time of the Exodus narrative from Egypt to the land of Canaan (which was also then seemingly under the control of Egypt) 3,200 years ago they were connected to Canaanites with a history linking them to the Kurds in the north more than any other peoples in the area but by this time they had become so rooted in Canaan they seemed as just simpler Canaanites who seemed to stay congregated to the northern parts of Israel and seemed to hold themselves or where seen as different. Certainly, from house structures to pottery the less opulent less gaudy and did not eat pork but they did seemingly interbreed with Canaanites and basically became Canaanites took their god names and language before their Babylonian exile where they added to what then became the new official language of Hebrews/Israelites/Jews.
For populations of the Jewish diaspora, the genetic composition of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi Jewish populations show a significant amounts of shared Middle Eastern ancestry. According to Behar and colleagues (2010), this is “consistent with the historical formulation theories the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrew and Israelites of the Levant” and “the dispersion of the people of ancient Israel throughout the Old World“ Jews living in the North African, Italian, and Iberian regions show variable frequencies of admixture with the historical non-Jewish host population along the maternal lines. In the case of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews (in particular Moroccan Jews), who are closely related, the source of non-Jewish admixture is mainly southern European. Behar and colleagues have remarked on an especially close relationship between Ashkenazi Jews and modern Italians, particularly Tuscans. A study conducted in 2013 found no evidence of a Khazar origin for Ashkenazi Jews and suggested that “Ashkenazi Jews share the greatest genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations, and among non-Jewish populations, with groups from Europe and the Middle East. Concerning North African Jews, autosomal genetic analysis in 2012 revealed that North African Jews are genetically close to European Jews. This finding “shows that North African Jews date to biblical-era Israel, and are not largely the descendants of natives who converted to Judaism,” In most Jewish populations, these male line ancestors appear to have been mainly Middle Eastern. For example, Ashkenazi Jews share more common paternal lineages with other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than with non-Jewish populations in areas where Jews lived in Eastern Europe, Germany and the French Rhine Valley. This is consistent with Jewish traditions in placing most Jewish paternal origins in the region of the Middle East. A study conducted in 2013 found no evidence of a Khazar origin for Ashkenazi Jews and suggested that “Ashkenazi Jews share the greatest genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations, and among non-Jewish populations, with groups from Europe and the Middle East. No particular similarity of Ashkenazi Jews with populations from the Caucasus is evident, particularly with the populations that most closely represent the Khazar region. In this view, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate would corroborate earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region.” In 2016, together with R. Das, P. Wexler and M. Pirooznia, Elhaik advanced the view that the first Ashkenazi populations to speak the Yiddish language came from areas near four villages in Eastern Turkey along the Silk Road whose names derived from the word “Ashkenaz”, arguing that Iranian, Greek, Turkish, and Slav populations converted on that travel route before moving to Khazaria, where a small-scale conversion took place. In a study of Israeli and Palestinian Muslim Arabs, more than 70% of the Jewish men and 82% of the Arab men whose DNA was studied, had inherited their Y chromosomes from the same paternal ancestors, who lived in the region within the last few thousand years. “Our recent study of high-resolution microsatellite haplotypes demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Jews (70%) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82%) belonged to the same chromosome pool.” In relation to the region of the Fertile Crescent, the same study noted; “In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be much more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors.” Approximately 35% to 43% of Jewish men are in the paternal line known as haplogroup J[Note 1] and its sub-haplogroups. This Haplogroup is particularly present in the Middle East, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa. Fifteen to 30% are in haplogroup E1b1b[Note 2], (or E-M35) and its sub-haplogroups. Among Ashkenazi Jews, Jews of Netherlands seem to have a particular haplogroups distribution since nearly one quarter of them have the Haplogroup R1b1 (R-P25), in particular sub-haplogroup R1b1b2 (R-M269), which is characteristic of Western European populations. Ashkenazi men show low Y-DNA diversity within each major haplogroup, meaning that compared to the size of the modern population, it seems there were once a relatively small number of men having children. This possibly results from a series of founder events and high rates of endogamy within Europe. Despite Ashkenazi Jews representing a recently founded population in Europe, founding effects suggest that they probably derived from a large and diverse ancestral source population in the Middle East, who may have been larger than the source population from which the indigenous Europeans derived. The traditional diaspora language of Ashkenazi Jews is Yiddish (a Germanic languag which incorporates several dialects), with Hebrew used only as a sacred language until relatively recently. The genocidal impact of the Holocaust (the mass murder of approximately six million Jews during World War II) devastated the Ashkenazim and their culture, affecting almost every Jewish family. It is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi Jews composed only three percent of the world’s total Jewish population, while at their peak in 1931 they accounted for 92 percent of the world’s Jews. Immediately prior to the Holocaust, the number of Jews in the world stood at approximately 16.7 million. Statistical figures vary for the contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, ranging from 10 million to 11.2 million. Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, implies that Ashkenazi Jews make up less than 74% of Jews worldwide. Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide. Male lineages: Y-chromosomal DNA, studies revealed that Ashkenazi Jews originate from an ancient (4,000 – 2700 years ago) population of the Middle East who had spread to Europe. Ashkenazic Jews display the homogeneity of a genetic bottleneck, meaning they descend from a larger population whose numbers were greatly reduced but recovered through a few founding individuals. Although the Jewish people, in general, were present across a wide geographical area as described, genetic research done by Gil Atzmon of the Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine suggests “that Ashkenazim branched off from other Jews around the time of the destruction of the reported First Temple, 2,500 years ago … flourished during the Roman Empire but then went through a ‘severe bottleneck’ as they dispersed, reducing a population of several million to just 400 families who left Northern Italy around the year 1000 for Central and eventually Eastern Europe.” A study of haplotypes of the Y-chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al. found that the Y-chromosome of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews contained mutations that are also common among other Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the autochthonous European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East. The proportion of male genetic admixture in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with “relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim,” and a total admixture estimate “very similar to Motulsky’s average estimate of 12.5%.” This supported the finding that “Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors.” A 2001 study by Nebel et al. showed that both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish populations share the same overall paternal Near Eastern ancestries. In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent. The authors also report on Eu 19 (R1a) chromosomes, which are very frequent in Central and Eastern Europeans (54%–60%) at elevated frequency (12.7%) in Ashkenazi Jews. They hypothesized that the differences among Ashkenazim Jews could reflect low-level gene flow from surrounding European populations or genetic drift during isolation. A later 2005 study by Nebel et al., found a similar level of 11.5% of male Ashkenazim belonging to R1a1a (M17+), the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup in Central and Eastern Europeans. Haplogroup R1a (Ancestor Haplogroup R1) originated ca. 22,000 to 25,000 years ago, its subclade M417 (R1a1a1) diversified ca. 5,800 years ago. R1a1a diversified within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region. The place of origin of these subclades plays a role in the debate about the origins of Indo-Europeans. The split of R1a (M420) is computed to ca. 22,000 or 25,000 years ago, which is the time of the last glacial maximum. A large, 2014 study by Peter A. Underhill et al., using 16,244 individuals from over 126 populations from across Eurasia, concluded that there was compelling evidence that “the initial episodes of haplogroup R1a diversification likely occurred in the vicinity of present-day Iran.” Even though R1a occurs as the most frequent Y-chromosome haplogroup among populations speaking a wide variety of languages such as Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Dravidian, Turkic and Finno-Ugric, the question of the origins of R1a1a is relevant to the ongoing debate concerning the urheimat of the Proto-Indo-European people, and may also be relevant to the origins of the Indus Valley Civilisation. R1a shows a strong correlation with Indo-European languages of Southern and Western Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, being most prevalent in Eastern Europe, West Asia, South Asia and Central Asia. Kivisild et al. (2003) have proposed either south or west Asia,[note 2] while Mirabal et al. (2009) see support for both south and central Asia. Other studies suggest Ukrainian, Central Asian and West Asian origins for R1a1a. Ornella Semino et al. (2000) proposed Ukrainian origins, and a postglacial spread of the R1a1 gene during the Late Glacial Maximum, subsequently magnified by the expansion of the Kurgan culture into Europe and eastward. Spencer Wells proposes central Asian origins, suggesting that the distribution and age of R1a1 points to an ancient migration corresponding to the spread by the Kurgan people in their expansion from the Eurasian steppe. According to Pamjav et al. (2012), R1a1a diversified in the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region: Inner and Central Asia is an overlap zone for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93 lineages [which] implies that an early differentiation zone of R1a1-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Central- and Eastern Europe.” Three genetic studies in 2015 haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian steppes, along with the Indo European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo European Languages. David Anthony considers the Yamna culture to be the Indo-European Urheimat. According to Haak et al. (2015), a massive migration from the Yamna culture northwards took place ca. 4,500 years ago, accounting for 75% of the genetic ancestry of the Corded Ware culture, noting that R1a and R1b may have “spread into Europe from the East after 5,000 years ago”. Yet, all their seven Yamna samples belonged to the R1b-M269 subclade, but no R1a1a has been found in their Yamna samples. This raises the question where the R1a1a in the Corded Ware culture came from, if it was not from the Yamna culture. R1a may have migrated from the Anatolian-Iranian area via Central Asia to Eastern Europe, in concreto the Comb Ware culture (6,200 BCE – 4,000 years ago), which was partly absorbed by the Corded Ware culture. R1a1 has been found in samples from the Narva culture, which was part of the Comb Ware culture. Horvath rejects this possible migration route, given the dominance of haplogroup N1c in the Comb Ware culture, and that the Corded ware autosomal DNA is derived from the Yamna culture, and not from the Comb Ware culture. In contrast, Semenov and Bulat do argue for such an origin of R1a1a in the Corded ware culture, noting that several publications point to the presence of R1a1 in the Comb Ware culture. Horvath proposes a migration of R1a from the Anatolian-Iranian area to the Pontic steppe via the Balkan. Horvath notes that Haak et al. (2015) found that part of the Yamna ancestry derived from the Middle East, and that neolithic techniques probably arrived at the Yamna culture from the Balkans. Horvath further notes that in the area of the Rossen culture (6,600–6,300 years ago), which was situated on Germany and predates the Corded Ware culture, an old subclade of R1a, namely L664, can still be found. From these facts Horvath speculates that R1a arrived in the Balkans via Anatolia, and from there spread first north-west to the Rossen culture, and then east from the Cucuteni culture to the Yamna and Afanasevo cultures, despite the absence of R1a from intermediate cultures between the Near East, Anatolia and the Balkans. Mt-DNA “Maternal line” of Ashkenazi Jews In 2004, Behar el al found that approximately 32% of Ashkenazi Jews belong to the mitochondrial Haplogroup K, which points to a genetic bottleneck having taken place some 100 generations prior. Haplogroup K itself is thought to have originated in Western Asia some 12,000 years ago. A 2006 study by Behar et al., Based on high-resolution analysis of Haplogroup K (mtDNA) (with Possible time of origin 26,700 ± 4,300 years ago), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women, or “founder lineages”, likely of mixed European and Middle Eastern origin. They concluded that these founder lineages may have originated in the Middle East in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, and later underwent expansion in Europe. Haplogroup K is believed to have originated in the mid-Upper Paleolithic, between about 30,000 and 22,000 years ago. It is the most common subclade of haplogroup U8b. with an estimated age of c. 12,000 years ago. Approximately 32% of people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are in haplogroup K. This high percentage points to a genetic bottleneck occurring some 100 generations ago. Ashkenazi mtDNA K clusters into three subclades seldom found in non-Jews: K1a1b1a, K1a9, and K2a2a. Thus it is possible to detect three individual female ancestors, who were thought to be from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool, whose descendants lived in Europe. Recent studies suggest these clades originate from Western Europe. Haplogroup K has been found in the remains of three individuals from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Tell Ramad, Syria, dating from c. 6000 BC. The clade was also discovered in skeletons of early farmers in Central Europe dated to around 5500-5300 BC, at percentages that were nearly double the percentage present in modern Europe. Some techniques of farming, together with associated plant and animal breeds, spread into Europe from the Near East. The evidence from ancient DNA suggests that the Neolithic culture spread by human migration. A woman buried some time between 2650 and 2450 BC in a presumed Amorite tomb at Terqa (Tell Ashara), Middle Euphrates Valley, Syria carried Haplogroup K. A lock of hair kept at a reliquary at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte Baume basilica, France, which local tradition holds belonged to the biblical figure Marie-Madeleine, was also assigned to haplogroup K. Ancient DNA sequencing of a capillary bulb bore the K1a1b1a subclade, indicating that she was likely of Pharisian maternal origin. Haplogroup K1 has likewise been observed among specimens at the mainland cemetery in Kulubnarti, Sudan, which date from the Early Christian period (AD 550-800). In 2016, researchers extracted the DNA from the tibia of two individuals separately dated to 7288-6771 BCE and 7605-7529 BCE buried in Theopetra cave, Greece, the oldest known human-made structure, and both individuals were found to belong to mtDNA Haplogroup K1c. Haplogroup K has also been observed among ancient Egyptian mummies excavated at the Abusir el-Meleq archaeological site in Middle Egypt, which date from the Pre-Ptolemaic/late New Kingdom and Roman periods. Fossils excavated at the Late Neolithic site of Kelif el Boroud in Morocco, which have been dated to around 5,000 years ago, have likewise been observed to carry the K1 subclade. Moreover, a maternal line “sister” was found among the Jews of Portugal, North Africa, France, and Italy. They wrote: Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only four women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium… A 2007 study by J. Feder et al. confirmed the hypothesis of the founding of non-European origin among the maternal lines. Their study did not address the geographical origin of Ashkenazim and therefore does not explicitly confirm the origin “Levantine” of these founders. This study revealed a significant divergence in total haplogroup distribution between the Ashkenazi Jewish populations and their European host populations, namely Russians, Poles and Germans. They concluded that, regarding mtDNAs, the differences between Jews and non-Jews are far larger than those observed among the Jewish communities. The study also found that “the differences between the Jewish communities can be overlooked when non-Jews are included in the comparisons.” It supported previous interpretations that, in the direct maternal line, there was “little or no gene flow from the local non-Jewish communities in Poland and Russia to the Jewish communities in these countries.” Considering Ashkenazi Jews, Atzmon (citing Behar above) states that beyond four founder mitochondrial haplogroups of possible Middle Eastern origins which comprise approximately 40% of Ashkenazi Jewish mtDNA, the remainder of the mtDNA falls into other haplogroups, many of European origin. He noted that beyond Ashkenazi Jews, “Evidence for founder females of Middle Eastern origin has been observed in other Jewish populations based on non-overlapping mitochondrial haplotypes with coalescence times >2000 years”. A 2013 study at the University of Huddersfield, led by Professor Martin B. Richards, concluded that 65%-81% of Ashkenazi Mt-DNA is European in origin, including all four founding mothers, and that most of the remaining lineages are also European. The results were published in Nature Communications in October 2013. The team analyzed about 2,500 complete and 28,000 partial Mt-DNA genomes of mostly non-Jews, and 836 partial Mt-DNA genomes of Ashkenazi Jews. The study claims that only 8% of Ashkenazi Mt-DNA could be identified as Middle Eastern in origin, with the origin of the rest being unclear. They wrote: If we allow for the possibility that K1a9 and N1b2 might have a Near Eastern source, then we can estimate the overall fraction of European maternal ancestry at ~65%. Given the strength of the case for even these founders having a European source, however, our best estimate is to assign ~81% of Ashkenazi lineages to a European source, ~8% to the Near East and ~1% further to the east in Asia, with ~10% remaining ambiguous… Thus at least two-thirds and most likely more than four-fifths of Ashkenazi maternal lineages have a European ancestry. Regarding the origin of Ashkenazi admixture, the analyses suggest that “the first major wave of assimilation probably took place in Mediterranean Europe, most likely in Southern Europe, with substantial further assimilation of minor founders in west/central Europe.” According to Richards, who acknowledged past research showing that Ashkenazi Jews’ paternal origins are largely from the Middle East, the most likely explanation is that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Middle Eastern men who moved to Europe, and married local women who they converted to Judaism. The authors found “less evidence for assimilation in Eastern Europe, and almost none for a source in the North Caucasus/Chuvashia, as would be predicted by the Khazar hypothesis.” The study was criticized by geneticist Doron Behar, who stated that while the Mt-DNA of Ashkenazi Jews is of mixed Middle Eastern and European origins, the deepest maternal roots of Ashkenazi Jews are not European. Harry Ostrer said Richards’ study seemed reasonable, and corresponded to the known facts of Jewish history. Karl Skorecki of the Rambam Health Care Campus stated that there were serious flaws of phylogenetic analysis. Both Behar and Skorecki claim that the Mt-DNA used in the study did not represent the full spectrum of mitochondrial diversity. Eran Elhaik, a geneticist at the University of Sheffield, argues that the evidence ruled out a Near Eastern origin for many Ashkenazi mitochondrial lineages but he challenged the conclusion that a Khazarian contribution is absent. David B. Goldstein, the Duke University geneticist who first found similarities between the founding mothers of Ashkenazi Jewry and European populations, said that, although Richards’ analysis was well-done and ‘could be right,’ the estimate that 80% of Ashkenazi Jewish Mt-DNA is European was not statistically justified given the random rise and fall of mitochondrial DNA lineages. Geneticist Antonio Torroni of the University of Pavia found the conclusions very convincing, adding that recent studies of cell nucleus DNA also show “a very close similarity between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians”. In addition, this data was consistent with historians who have suggested that “many women converted to Judaism across Mediterranean Europe during the so-called Hellenistic period between about 2,300 and 2,030 years ago” Diaspora communities were established in Rome and in Southern Europe centuries before the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE (1,947 years ago. A 2014 study by Fernandez et al. found that Ashkenazi Jews display a frequency of haplogroup K which suggests ancient Middle Eastern origins, stating that this observation clearly contradicts the results of the study led by Richards which suggested a predominantly European origin for the Ashkenazi community’s maternal line. However, the authors also state that definitively answering the question of whether this group was of Jewish origin rather than the result of a Neolithic migration to Europe would require the genotyping of the complete mtDNA in ancient Near Eastern populations. On the study by Richards: According to that work the majority of the Ashkenazi mtDNA lineages can be assigned to three major founders within haplogroup K (31% of their total lineages): K1a1b1a, K1a9 and K2a2. The absence of characteristic mutations within the control region in the PPNB K-haplotypes allow discarding them as members of either sub-clades K1a1b1a or K2a2, both representing a 79% of total Ashkenazi K lineages. However, without a high-resolution typing of the mtDNA coding region it cannot be excluded that the PPNB K lineages belong to the third sub-cluster K1a9 (20% of Askhenazi K lineages). Moreover, in the light of the evidence presented here of a loss of lineages in the Near East since Neolithic times, the absence of Ashkenazi mtDNA founder clades in the Near East should not be taken as a definitive argument for its absence in the past. The genotyping of the complete mtDNA in ancient Near Eastern populations would be required to fully answer this question and it will undoubtedly add resolution to the patterns detected in modern populations in this and other studies. A 2013 study at the University of Huddersfield, led by Professor Martin B. Richards, concluded that 65%-81% of Ashkenazi Mt-DNA is European in origin, including all four founding mothers, and that most of the remaining lineages are also European. The results were published in Nature Communications in October 2013. The team analyzed about 2,500 complete and 28,000 partial Mt-DNA genomes of mostly non-Jews, and 836 partial Mt-DNA genomes of Ashkenazi Jews. The study claims that only 8% of Ashkenazi Mt-DNA could be identified as Middle Eastern in origin, with the origin of the rest being unclear. The Mountain Jews showed a striking maternal founding event, with 58.6% of their total mtDNA genetic variation tracing back to one woman from the Levant. Mountain Jews or Caucasus Jews also known as Juhuro, Juvuro, Juhuri, Juwuri, Juhurim, Kavkazi Jews or Gorsky Jews (Azerbaijani: Dağ Yəhudiləri, Hebrew: יהודי קווקז Yehudey Kavkaz or יהודי ההרים Yehudey he-Harim, Russian: Горские евреи, translit. Gorskie Yevrey) are Jews of the eastern and northern Caucasus, mainly Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. They are the descendants of Persian Jews from Iran. The Mountain Jews community became established in Ancient Persia, from the 5th century AD onwards; their language, called Judeo-Tat, is an ancient Southwest Iranian language which integrates many elements of Ancient Hebrew. It is believed that they had reached Persia from Ancient Israel as early as the 8th century BCE. They continued to migrate east, settling in mountainous areas of the Caucasus. The Mountain Jews survived numerous historical vicissitudes by settling in extremely remote and mountainous areas. An autosomal DNA study carried out in 2010 by Atzmon et al. examined the origin of Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Turkish, Greek, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi Jewish communities. The study compared these Jewish groups with 1043 unrelated individuals from 52 worldwide populations. To further examine the relationship between Jewish communities and European populations, 2407 European subjects were assigned and divided into 10 groups based on geographic region of their origin. This study confirmed previous findings of shared Middle Eastern origin of the above Jewish groups and found that “the genetic connections between the Jewish populations became evident from the frequent IBD across these Jewish groups (63% of all shared segments). Jewish populations shared more and longer segments with one another than with non-Jewish populations, highlighting the commonality of Jewish origin. In 2011, Moorjani et al. detected 3%–5% sub-Saharan African ancestry in all eight of the diverse Jewish populations (Ashkenazi Jews, Syrian Jews, Iranian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Greek Jews, Turkish Jews, Italian Jews) that they analyzed. The timing of this African admixture among all Jewish populations was identical The exact date was not determined, but it was estimated to have taken place between 1,600–3,400 years ago. Although African admixture was determined among South Europeans and Near Eastern population too, this admixture was found to be younger compared to the Jewish populations. This findings the authors explained as evidence regarding common origin of these 8 main Jewish groups. “It is intriguing that the Mizrahi Irani and Iraqi Jews—who are thought to descend at least in part from Jews who were exiled to Babylon about 2,600 years ago share the signal of African admixture. A parsimonious explanation for these observations is that they reflect a history in which many of the Jewish groups descend from a common ancestral population which was itself admixed with Africans, prior to the beginning of the Jewish diaspora that occurred in 8th to 6th century BC” the authors concludes. Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews were found to have diverged from each other approximately 2,500 years in the past, approximately the time of the Babylonian exile. The studies also reconfirmed the results of previous studies which found that North African Jews were more closely related to each other and to European and Middle Eastern Jews than to their non-Jewish host populations. The Moroccan/Algerian, Djerban/Tunisian and Libyan subgroups of North African Jewry were found to demonstrate varying levels of Middle Eastern (40-42%), European (37-39%) and North African ancestry (20-21%), with Moroccan and Algerian Jews tending to be genetically closer to Europeans than Djerban Jews. The study found that Yemenite, Ethiopian, and Georgian Jews formed their own distinctive, genetically linked clusters. In particular, Yemenite Jews, who had been previously been believed to have lived in isolation, were found to have genetic connections to their host population, suggesting some conversion of local Arabs to Judaism had taken place. The also study found that Syrian Jews share more genetic commonality with Ashkenazi Jews than with other Middle Eastern Jewish populations. Many genetic studies have demonstrated that most of the various Jewish ethnic divisions and Druze, Palestinians, Bedouin, Lebanese and other Levantines cluster near one another genetically. Many studies have found that Jews and Palestinians are closer to each other than the Palestinians or European Jews are to non-Jewish Europeans or Africans. They also found substantial genetic overlap between Israeli and Palestinian Arabs and Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. A small but statistically significant difference was found in the Y-chromosomal haplogroup distributions of Sephardic Jews and Palestinians, but no significant differences were found between Ashkenazi Jews and Palestinians nor between the two Jewish communities, However, a highly distinct cluster was found in Palestinian haplotypes. 32% of the 143 Arab Y-chromosomes studied belonged to this “I&P Arab clade”, which contained only one non-Arab chromosome, that of a Sephardic Jew. This could possibly be attributed to the geographical isolation of the Jews or to the immigration of Arab tribes in the first millennium. The Druze people, a “genetic sanctuary” for the diversity of the Near East in antiquity, have been found in genetic studies to be the closest to Jews of the populations in the Levant. Lebanese also cluster closely with Jewish ethnic groups, closer than Syrians and Palestinians, according to a 2010 study by Behar et al. The single archeogenetic study of the southern Levant (Salamon et al., 2010) explored mtDNA haplogroups of Chalcolithic period from a cave in the Judean Desert. The prevailing mtDNA haplogroups were those in U3a, H and H6 haplogroup. “U3 is quite frequent in contemporary mtDNA from Near Eastern and Levantine samples suggesting some temporal continuity in mtDNA haplogroups from as far back as the Chalcolithic Era (circa 6,500-6,000 years ago). In addition, the authors found that the U3a and H6 haplotypes from the ancient DNA samples were present in a broad range of contemporary Jewish populations”. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
The Jericho Conquest lie?
11,000 – 3,400 Years Ago – Tell es-Sultan “Jericho” (Israel), found a site in the West Bank 864 feet below sea level with layers upon layers of ruins built over the ruins of the previous layers of older ruins. Jericho lies deep in this Jordan Rift Valley. The valley was formed by a fault, or crack, along the boundary between the African and Arabian tectonic plates. Because of the fault between these two plates, the land dropped 3,000 feet. Reliable water supply was a critical factor in Jericho’s development. Jericho had natural defenses and a favorable location. But its most significant environmental advantage was its access to reliable water supplies. Water was essential for survival in the harsh desert. Access to water explains the city’s origin and long history. Jericho is located in an oasis. It is supplied by an amazingly dependable underground water supply known as the Ain es-Sultan. In the Bible it’s known as Elisha’s spring. The biblical story tells of the prophet Elisha healing these waters. This natural spring has apparently never dried up during the 14,000 years humans have lived there. More than 1,000 gallons of fresh water bubble up from the source every minute. Early farmers quickly took advantage of it. They worked out a system of irrigation canals to send this precious resource to the surrounding fertile farmland. This “Jericho” site’s name originally referred to “City of the Moon” seemingly related to the Semitic word yerah, meaning moon. There is a possibility that the moon connection goes what back in time and one possibility could reference how some of the earliest cultures in the area worshipped a moon goddess that could have connected to menstruation, the seasons and fertility. Alternatively, we find a gender change has happened at some point as in the early Canaanite religion, where the male moon-deity was now a male god of the moon, “yerach,” later changed to baal. Pre-Jericho is believed to have been connected to or developed from a nearby site called Ein es-Sultan Spring also known as Ain Sultan Camp or Tell es-Sultan. By around 12,000 years ago, foragers had migrated to most parts of this region. In some areas, there was simply not enough room for them all to settle. Each group had to survive on smaller and smaller pieces of land. These communities found themselves in what has been called the “trap of sedentism.” Moreover, around 12,000 years ago at Ein es-Sultan Spring Natufian nomadic hunter-gatherer groups started to use the spring as a common camp site which was later turned into a more permanent occupation around 11,500 years ago and Tell es-Sultan became settled around 9,800 years ago. But we need to remember that the Natufian peoples begain living in the western Fertile Crescent (present-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria) just over 14,000 years ago so its culture had a long time to develop its religious expressions and beliefs. Between 11,000 and 10,000 years ago, a new transition to agriculture ways of life and technologies began to appear gaving humans through farming a new access to more food and energy, thus began to multiply more rapidly and live in larger communities. One of the most significant steps in the early stages of that process was the emergence of large settlements like Jericho. To understand the history of Jericho, we must examine the role of climate change in encouraging humans to transition to farming. Natural reasons allowed some villages to continue to grow until they became towns and cities. There are many examples of villages that grew quite large. The reasons why are not always clear. Some may have been important religious centers. Others had access to a critical resource, such as a reliable water supply. Still, others became important trade centers. Jericho has been sustainable because it benefited from several of these advantages. Most importantly, it has a very favorable environment. These nomadic Natufian groups would, of course, be carrying, spreading and transferring religious/ritualistic thinking, behaving, as well as related artifacts. Around 10,500 years ago, the people at Jericho, like others in the region, shift from foraging to farming Jericho and grew rapidly. Between around 10,350 to 9,350 years ago, the village of Jericho evolved into a town that was home to about 3,000 farmers living without any obvious evidence of town planning. While the sites earliest remains date back to the Natufian period but was not associated with a great stone wall dubbed the Wall of Jericho” which was a part of a relatively fortified town that was also supported by a massive round tower until around 10,000 years ago. The oldest occupation at Jericho involved sedentary hunter-gatherers and the first walls and tower were built around 10,000 years ago. (the first wall date to around 10,000 years ago was at least 4 m (13 feet) high, 1.8 m (6 feet) thick at the base, built of stacked stones later, a large ditch or moat was cut into the rock outside the wall, 9 m (30 feet) wide. The Wall and the Tower of Jericho seem to be more that the first assumed creation for fortification and/or defensive reasons, even possibly indicating that violence and conflict. But was there rilly such violence and conflict that it needed massive walls and a monumental tower? It seems that even if safety was an important use for the tower it also has to have had a ritualistic use as well. Of note is the sheer collective effort for the tower alone which must have taken 11,000 working days to erect it to the 28-ft. stone structure in a conical in shape that it became, which shows it was indeed important at some of the earliest times of Jericho’s history. To reference this seeming ritualistic use of the Tower, one only has to look at how the Tower of Jericho is seemingly aligned with the summer solstice as well as perhaps had a ritual or religious use, even if only for part-time ceremonial use and maybe even could have been a social symbol of communal or regional power, possibly all of the above. There does seem to be good evidence of their and presumably religious transfer with this wide spread trade maybe even somewhat established trade networks with friendly Nabors with obsidian, from as far away as Ciftlik, in eastern Turkey and green obsidian from unknown source. It seems that skull worship in Jericho goes back still farther, into the around 10,000 years ago. Around 9,220 to 7,850 years ago a new burial custom developed the presumably religious/ritual plastering of human skull and attaching this behavior as part of the skull cult found across the Near East, such as at Ain Ghazal in northwest Jordan, Beisamoun in northern Israel, Jericho in the West Bank Israel, Kfar Hahoresh in northern Israel, Tell Aswad in southern Syria, and Tell Ramad in southwest Syria. It appears that even some of the presumably best remodeled plastered skulls are not too realistic, almost to where one would wonder if they are truly meant to fully represent individual darning life. and may have rather been meant to show the person’s body after wards darning their death, like a death mask. In fact, we can presume that because the remodeled plastered skulls utilized a red brown coloring with the aims of likely represented a religious ritual reason I presume it could reference the transformation from life to the current stage of physical death and believed spirits transfer to the afterlife or it could be an attempt to add the color of life, as if a totem to the beloved ancestor, seemingly very like, the same concept as in Ancient Egypt, possibly from similar motivational sorces. Some skulls from a group of skulls had evidence of an artificial skull deformation, where found in the defensive tower of Jericho. An interesting factor is evident in how a majority of the skulls at Jericho seem to be of a type similar to a robust Mediterranean type with some Alpine features. The plastered skulls dated to between around 10,000 to 8,000 years ago differs from earlier periods, where now sedentary people had agriculture and the idea of gods likely spread thereafter as well as the obvious religious transfer and blending during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated plants and animals thus gods as well believe to add in such new survival tactics. These new sedentary ways somewhat improved the assurance of ready food when times were good but just as often this life added new limits unfamiliar to people that lived before because before when times when got bad in an area they simply moved on but not for land fixed the trials and troubles could not be escaped. Therefore, these early sedentary peoples presumably believed that the only way they had to control their situation was worshiping some great spirit (i.e. seemingly goddesses then gods) that could assist them from their being land locked to one place or space, thus heightened resource vulnerability. Thus, resource vulnerability (adds fear motivation in the gods creation), so the sedentary people more than their hunter gathers counter parts would tend to feel more trapped to the whims of the spirits and ancestors to guide them and one can see that if one did rituals and times went good they would presumably believe it was this being worshiped that they believed played a part in the good fortune. Such as how belief in say a thunderstorm god/goddess which is thought to bring rains for thinks like grains for bread and grasses for livestock, thus the fear of survival probably motivated the conception of gods which were likely born from the animistic idea of spirits (gods are a kind of super spirit), a totemistic belief in guardian spirits (gods are often quite similar to believed guardian spirits and more strongly personified the shamanistic guardian spirits to gods keeping intact the belief a special religious person believed to have access to, and influence in, the believed otherworld of benevolent and malevolent spirits now accompanied with specific deities. While some pagans may have been monotheistic or henotheistic (worship of a single goddess/god yet not denying a possible existence of other deities) most pagan religions express elements that are or could be preserved as in boding a seeming worldview that is pantheistic, polytheistic, shamanistic, totemistic and/or animistic. These early paganistic believers being fairly new polytheistic believers where most likely utilizing trances, singing and dances as accompanying ritual practices thought honor and appease these guardian spirit gods. Also, quite interestingly some skulls are thought to not be indigenous to Jericho, which had a population that likely ranged from 200 to 3,000 people. However, according to answersingenesis.org, the upper city population would have been about 1,200 with a further unspecified amount of people also proposed to have been living on the embankment between the upper and lower city walls. Moreover, there is also skull evidence that sees somewhat out of range of the other specimens appearing somewhat unexpected for the time and region. Some skulls at Jericho are not local and instead appear to possibly be related to Catal Hoyuk in Turkey, which could demonstrate deep cultural ties and likewise a possible strong religious transfer as well. More evidence of religious practices having some variation such as how there seems to be some deformation of skulls in two cases in two different places. First there was one of the plastered skulls at Tell Ramad that was slightly deformed and the second one at Beisamoun, which is very much enlarged in transversal direction. The 9,500-year-old Jericho Skull of a 40-something man with a broken nose with a cranieum packed with soil and covered with plaster to replicate individual facial features. Sea shells are used to represent the deceased’s eyes. The Jericho Skull is one of seven plastered and ornamented Neolithic skulls excavated by archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in 1953 at the site of Tell es-Sultan. more than 50 such ornamented skulls have been discovered in Neolithic sites from the Middle East to central Turkey. While researchers generally agree that the objects represent an early form of ancestor worship, very little is known about who was chosen to be immortalized in plaster thousands of years ago, and why. Therefore, it is evident that cultural, sacred, and social ties between sites may be inferred from the resemblance in their funerary practices characterized by an overall similar material culture, although specific localized variations can be identified. 9,220 to 7,850 years ago cult involving the preservation of human skulls, with facial features reconstructed from plaster and eyes set with shells in some cases. Later there was a further development of religious expression thith the totemistic preserving human skulls and placing shells in their eye sockets. Later farming communities became more socially complex and better organized. The exhibition of religious/ritualistic thinking, behaving at Jericho could possibly be expressed in the ritual figurines and seeming sacred statues, bodies buried beneath houses and plastered and painted skulls seemingly to resemble a face which could be evidence of ancestor worship around 9,000 years ago. Furthermore, it is possible that some skulls seem to likely have been utilized in the homes on something like an altar, along with presumable evidence of what could be religious shrines, seeming sacred statues, and circles of skulls facing inwards. All of this is seemingly obvious exhibition of religious/ritualistic thinking, behaving likely some kind of evolving shamanism/paganism and certainly part of the skull cult. Moreover, there appears to be other artificially deformed skulls, such as flattening was found in the defensive tower of Jericho. Plastered masks parts of the face were replaced by a plaster mask generally consisting of two principal layers an inner one, using a red ochre color and an outer one, originally finished with a more brownish color. The position of the skulls seems to suggested that they could have originally at times been placed in someone’s home or some other presumed sacred place.Furthermore, there seems to be possible skull cult evidence could be a skull painted with red ochre from Tell Abu Hureyra in Syria, and a skull decorated with red and black from Ain Ghazal. Moreover, these remodeled plastered skulls seem to have been somewhat of a unique cultural tradition occurring within a relatively limited period of time directly but also may have lived on or inspired some other forms of ancestor worship with the human head acting like a sacred totem. The other finds possible skull cult evidence, from Tell Ramad and Beisamoun seem to be chronological furthering the idea of religious transfer. Incidentally, Jericho was reoccupied several centuries later, but by a different culture, after 9,000 to 8,000 years ago culturally different from earlier. Rectangular houses, rather than round, with plastered floors, and many other differences similar to houses at Jarmo and ‘Ain Ghazal. But they continued the apparent veneration of ancestor’s bodies buried headless in floors of houses skulls were decorated with plastered faces and buried in caches. 8,800 years ago, perhaps represents the work of an invading people who absorbed the original inhabitants into their dominant culture. Artifacts dating from this period include ten plastered human skulls, painted so as to reconstitute the individuals’ features. and it is thought that they were kept in people’s homes while the bodies were buried. interpreted one building as a shrine. It contained a niche in the wall. A chipped pillar of volcanic stone that was found nearby might have fit into this niche. The dead were buried under the floors or in the rubble fill of abandoned buildings. There are several collective burials. Not all the skeletons are completely articulated, which may point to a time of exposure before burial. A skull cache contained seven skulls. The jaws were removed and the faces covered with plaster; cowries were used as eyes. A total of ten skulls were found. Modelled skulls were found in Tell Ramad and Beisamoun as well. Around 8,000 years ago there appears to have been a severe general decline in population throughout the Levant at this time due to a drier climate change. Only about 7,000 years ago did Jericho show the influences of developments that had been taking place in the north, where an ever-increasing number of villages had appeared, still Neolithic but marked by the use of pottery. Around 6,000 years ago it is believed volcanic eruptions likely happened in Yemen as well as why this region and not the well-known Anatolian obsidian sources are a very likely the source of an abundance of obsidian artefacts found as from Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia both confirming long-distance Afro-Arabian obsidian trade. A demonstration of this trade and transfer is how there was found obsidian from Anatolia and from Jericho we find cowrie shells at Catal Hoyuk in Turkey, green stones from Jordan, turquoise from Sinai, shells from Red Sea, and since Jericho is near Dead Sea sources and resources could also have been a likely trade as well. The largest constructed in 4,600 years ago. A succession of settlements followed from 4500 years ago onward. Jericho was continually occupied into the Middle Bronze Age; it was destroyed in the Late Bronze, after which it no longer served as an urban centre. The city was surrounded by extensive defensive walls strengthened with rectangular towers, and possessed an extensive cemetery with vertical shaft-tombs and underground burial chambers; the elaborate funeral offerings in some of these may reflect the emergence of local kings. From around 4,000 years ago salt trading routes appeared connecting salt-rich provinces to salt-starved ones and as always there is the likelihood of idea transition as well as religious transfer, which would presumably have been a common traded product moving back and forth from distant places. Moreover, do to how far off shells and other minerals or artifacts from distant sources being found at Jericho as well as moving out from there makes it possible Jericho may have itself sent out its items destined for trade to other places. By around 4,000 years ago organized caravan trad carrying goods across a large distance and mostly likely spreading religious transfer as well as likely gathering religious ideas along the way. Jericho was a small prominent city of the Canaan region, reaching its greatest extent in the period from around 3,700 to 3,550 years ago. It seems to have reflected the greater urbanization in the area at that time, and has been linked to the rise of the Maryannu, a class of chariot-using aristocrats linked to the rise of the Mitannite state to the north. Bronze-Age Jericho fell in the around 3,600 years ago at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the calibrated carbon remains from its City-IV destruction dates to around to 3,617–3,530 years ago. Notably this carbon dating c. 3,573 years ago confirmed the accuracy of the stratigraphical dating around 3,550 years ago by Kenyon. Beginning around 3,500 to 2,000 years ago developing societies in Western Asia, the Mediterranean, China and the Indian subcontinent develop major long-distance trade routes. At Jericho around 3,400 years ago here was evidence of an only small settlement with erosion and destruction. The oldest Jericho inhabitants where sedentary hunter-gatherers but were not as isolated as one may assume. it is evident that there had to be some kind and to some amount or another sociocultural and religious ties between sites may be inferred from the resemblance in their funerary practices characterized by an overall similar material culture, although specific localized variations can be identified. Almost 10 feet deep burials show considerable variability in richness some have no grave goods, others have stone bowls and dentalium shells suggesting some social ranking some of the rich burials are of children suggesting that social rank may have been acquired by birth, rather than achieved. if the wall and tower imply a new degree of leadership and concentration of surplus, why do the burials look more egalitarian than before? Some hints of religious ritual and complex ideas about the dead greenstone amulets (or charms, or votive offerings, or ??) special treatment of heads of some dead bodies buried in pits below the floors of houses sometimes with the head removed skulls were collected and left in carefully arranged groups placed in holes in walls, buried below house floors, or buried below structures that might be storage bins one example has several skulls in a circle, all looking inward another has three groups of three, all looking in the same direction below one possible storage bin was the burial of a complete infant, plus several infant skulls with the neck vertebrae this indicates that the heads were removed while there was still soft tissue on the body, rather than being taken from old burials where the bones would not be attached to each other. Now the bible famous Wall of Jericho as described in the Book of Joshua with the assumed hypothetical dated to around 3,400 years ago. “Fall of the walls of Jericho”? The biblical story refers to the town of Jericho as it was thousands of years later as Wenke says, the story might be based on an earthquake; the region is tectonically active but this ages wall and tower show no signs of earthquake damage and they were probably completely underground and long forgotten by biblical times. So lets adress the biblical reference referring to the Wall of Jericho. The site of Jericho “the walls of the city fell when Joshua and his men marched around them blowing horns” Joshua 6:1-27 the first book of the Deuteronomistic history, the story of Israel from the conquest of Canaan to the Babylonian exile. It has been subjected that composed by authors or editors. The apparent setting of Joshua would sem to refferences around 3,300 years ago; this was a time of widespread city-destruction, but with a few exceptions (Hazor, Lachish) the destroyed cities are not the ones the Bible associates with Joshua, and the ones it does associate with him show little or no sign of even being occupied at the time. Almost all scholars agree that the book of Joshua holds little historical value for early Israel and most likely reflects a much later period. Although Rabbinic tradition holds that the book was written by Joshua, it is probable that it was written by multiple authors and editors far removed from the times it depicts. The earliest parts of the book are possibly chapters 2–11, the story of the conquest; these chapters were later incorporated into an early form of Joshua written late in the reign of king Josiah (reigned 2,640–2,609 years ago), but the book was not completed until after the fall of Jerusalem to the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 2,586 years ago, and possibly not until after the return from the Babylonian exile in 2,539 years ago. Joshua “carries out a systematic campaign against the civilians of Canaan — men, women and children — that amounts to genocide.” In doing this he is carrying out herem as commanded by Yahweh in Deuteronomy 20:17: “You shall not leave alive anything that breathes”. The purpose is to drive out and dispossess the Canaanites, with the implication that there are to be no treaties with the enemy, no mercy, and no intermarriage. “The extermination of the nations glorifies Yahweh as a warrior and promotes Israel’s claim to the land,” while their continued survival “explores the themes of disobedience and penalty and looks forward to the story told in Judges and Kings.” The divine call for massacre at Jericho and elsewhere can be explained in terms of cultural norms and theology (a measure to ensure Israel’s purity as well as the fulfillment of God’s promise), but Patrick D. Miller in his commentary on Deuteronomy remarks, “there is no real way to make such reports palatable to the hearts and minds of contemporary readers and believers.” Some of the parallels with Moses can be seen in the following, and not exhaustive, list: Joshua sent spies to scout out the land near Jericho (2:1), just as Moses sent spies from the wilderness to scout out the Promised Land (Num. 13; Deut. 1:19–25). Joshua led the Israelites out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, crossing the Jordan River as if on dry ground (3:16), just as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea, which they crossed as if on dry land (Ex. 14:22). After crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites celebrated the Passover (5:10–12) just as they did immediately before the Exodus (Exodus 12). Joshua’s vision of the “commander of Yahweh’s army” (5:13–15) is reminiscent of the divine revelation to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:1–6). Joshua successfully intercedes on behalf of the Israelites when Yahweh is angry for their failure to fully observe the “ban” (herem), just as Moses frequently persuaded God not to punish the people (Ex. 32:11–14, Num. 11:2, 14:13–19). Joshua and the Israelites were able to defeat the people at Ai because Joshua followed the divine instruction to extend his sword (Josh 8:18), just as the people were able to defeat the Amalekites as long as Moses extended his hand that held “the staff of God” (Ex. 17:8–13). Joshua is “old, advanced in years (13:1) at the time when the Israelites can begin to settle on the promised land, just as Moses was old when he died having seen, but not entered, the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:7). Joshua served as the mediator of the renewed covenant between Yahweh and Israel at Shechem (8:30–35; 24), just as Moses was the mediator of Yahweh’s covenant with the people at Mount Sinai/Mount Horeb. Before his death, Joshua delivered a farewell address to the Israelites (23–24), just as Moses had delivered his farewell address (Deuteronomy 32–33). Moses lived to be 120 (Deuteronomy 34:7) and Joshua lived to be 110 (Joshua 24:29). 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
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