In the first post in this series, we looked at Chav-ah (Eve), the first woman and the beginning of her matrilocal Mother House, situated East of Eden. Eve gave birth to three named sons: Cain, Abel, and Seth. Cain murdered Abel, his brother. From Cain come the Kenites 1.
The Semitic languages 2 respectively. For those tribes to develop there had to be women’s seed (ovum) which brings us now to the Mothers.
The Mothers: Ad-ah, Zill-ah, and Naam-ah
There are three Mothers in Cain’s patriarchal genealogy and none recorded in Seth’s linage. These three Cainite Mothers, Ad-ah, Zill-ah, and Zillah’s daughter, Naam-ah, stem from Eve’s Mother House. They are very important players in God’s plan for future Israel.
The Cainites (Kenites) play an important role in Israel’s future. Pleas watch for the paper ‘Kenites’ in the near future. We do not encounter women in Seth’s linage until Sarah and her sister Milcah are named after the flood.
The women built up their own Mother Houses in Eve’s matriline: it was ‘in the way of women’ to do so. It was in keeping with the ancient system of kinship and land ownership and land inheritance through the Mother. 3
Matrilineal kinship through women-only
In ancient times, matrilineal kinship through women-only prevailed throughout the earth. In this way individuals related through a common female relative. Husbands and wives had different kinship affiliations. Children were of the same kinship group as their mother. In matrilineal systems, the mother’s brother (maternal uncle to his sister’s children) played a vital role, since a child often inherited from his mother’s brother. 5
When we read Genesis chapters 4 and 5, the children are recorded as Adam’s offspring. These genealogies are overwhelmingly made up of men’s names. In many cases the gender or genuineness of those names cannot be proved.
According to female kinship, the names recorded there are ‘kin’ in the truest sense of the word: all of one Mother’s House. Therefore, listed under their mother’s names they are all of one blood. The Hebrew Scriptures identify these kin as: ‘bone of bone and flesh of flesh’.
We now begin our journey to trace the building of the Mother’s matrilines as they continue through daughters born to them. 6.
To date I have not read any bible commentary on sisters marrying by deciding to take the same man into their tents for the sake of siring children. This is the opposite of the patriarchal record always showing the (proactive) man marrying the (passive) woman. However, there are two instances that cannot be ignored here in early Genesis which shows that this may have been practiced. Here, the sister’s, Adah and Zilpah’s marriage relationship with Lamech appears to reflect that motif 7 to Lamaech shows the first breakaway from the model of one woman and one man in a monogamous relationship. According to patriarchal interpretation, however, they are the first women to suffer the fate of polygamous marriage. This patriarchal interpretation suggests Lamech their husband instigated this polygamous arrangement. But to do so presumes the women were subservient, passive, and passionless. It also advances the idea that the sisters readily left or were stolen from their Mother’s House.
It suits patriarchal interpretation to hypothesise the notion that the sisters were stolen away or willingly left their kin to marry Lamech. In leaving their kin, it then follows that they dwelt in and produced children in a patrilineal household. However, a plain reading of the text does not show that. The women are listed in Eve’s linage under her son, Cain. My argument here challenges the patriarchal interpretation as one of an exogamous marriage and a male instigated polygamous relationship with Lamech as the head of the house.
To interpret as a polygamous relationship fits the patriarchal social model of exogamy resulting in a patrilineal household. It also constitutes violence against women. Rather, the evidence shows that the marriage arrangement of the two sisters with Lamech, all recorded in Chav-ah’s line, through Cain, was an endogamous one. 8
In summarising the above, and just as the patriarchal interpreters do, let’s allow the speculation. That is, it is possible the women entered into an arrangement acceptable to them, that satisfied them. It is entirely possible the sisters were satisfied with just one man to sire their children. Perhaps this was common 9. Certainly, it was paramount to the continuity of the family structure of the Mother’s House that the land was not broken up. (E/n [iii]).
This means, the members of the mother’s house identified themselves as close kin (today we would say, ‘extended maternal side of the family’). This included the mother’s brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Marriage between aunt and nephew is recorded where a woman named Jochebed, a daughter of Levi, the mother of Miriam, Aaron and Moses.
Jochebed married Amram, her nephew, of the same mother’s house and also a Levite. Jochebed is Amram’s aunt (Ex 6:20). Both spring from the unnamed wife of Levi, albeit different generations. This account offers both matrilineal and patrilineal descent from Levites. The general comment on this is it may be in order to magnify the religious credentials of Miraim, Aaron and Moses.
As the kinship units grew, they became households. From these maternal clans formed: (a larger group of sisters and brothers, cousins and distant cousins). Finally groups of rural villages clustered together, spreading and more established.
They only identified as tribes, while all still relating to the one mother, when collectively they united under the name of the one patriarch. This is seen in the instance of internal and external disputes threatened Israel. Internally, Israel’s tribes gathered together under one mother’s house or where an external war threatened they gathered as tribes under one father. Hence those long male genealogies.
Later, in the matter of violence toward women we do find violence accompanied the stealing of mother’s daughters from their land and house. One particular case stands out. That is the unique case of the daughters of Benjamin. 10‘
In the case of external wars outside, the tribes of Israel certainly practiced stealing foreign women. It was impossible to stamp out, Moses had no option but to provide laws to restrain such practice which went against the social order of endogamy.
Further, the endogamous household and kin had no daughters-in-law or sons-in-law. This is a more recent invention of patriarchy to accommodate their social system. 11
WOMEN’S GENEALOGY: CHAV-AH’S LINE
Ad-ah and Zill-ah
The only women named in Eve’s linage are three mothers: Ad-ah, Zill-ah, and Naam-ah. It is accepted generally that two of the women Adah and Zillah were sisters. These two, through Cain, are the first in crucial matters concerning a change in marriage in the early kinship of women. 12
‘And Ad-ah and Zill-ah married Lamech’ (Gen 4: 19) [Paraphrased by Patricia].
AD-AH and her two sons: Jabal and Jubal
Adah gave birth to her first son Jabal. Jabal was the originator of those who dwells in tents and has livestock (a condition characterising the later Kenites (Gen 4: 20).
Tents and Livestock
Tents and Livestock: a condition characterising the later Kenites (other than the Rechabites). Cain himself was sedentary. He built and lived in a city. However, the murderer’s descendants were landless.
Cain’s line: Bedouins
The first bedouins, unlike nomads, who lived in tents only during certain seasons, lived in tents, thus continually moving following their livestock. A famous Kenite Bedouin woman named Jael lived in her tent. 13 When we look at the Kenites as a tribe, however, we will find some others were not nomadic.
The Bedouin way of life, moving with the flocks and living in tents signals a new social order arising out of a need for stock and pastures. It appears their wives accompanied them on their wanderings, but living in their own tents.
On the other hand, Abraham was nomadic. He wandered with his flocks in Beersheba. Sarah did not wander with him. She lived in her tents with her flocks and servants atop Hebron’s plateau and did not move around.
Jubal was the originator of all those who plays the lyre and pipe. (Gen 4: 21). [Paraphrased by Patricia]
Jubal’s maternal aunt was Naam-ah, of whom we learn more about in the next paper. Several Jewish traditions associate Naam-ah with singing, others with teaching. It means Naam-ah had a strong influence on Jubal, her maternal nephew.
Zill-ah and her two children: Tubal-cain (son) and Naam-ah (daughter)
Tubal-Cain was the ‘forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron (Gen 4: 22a , also Ezk 27: 13).
Cutting instrument of brass and iron
A condition characterising the later Kenites. Lamech the father of Tubal-cain appears as if he may have had a strong influence on Tubal-cain, his son. Given his swaggering words, Lamech is associated with violence and murder. 14
The Kenites were important in the spiritual development of early Israel (see my paper ‘Kenites’ published late December 2020). This famous tribe spring from Adah and Zillah’s sons and their unnamed wives (presumably their maternal aunts and / or cousins).
Continued next time … Zillah’s daughter: Naam-ah (Gen 4: 22b).
Hope to meet up next time when we take a closer look at Naam-ah.
Thinking about Adah and Zillah …
We may have read these two women previously and thought of them as used and abused. Yet looking at them in a new light allows hope to shine through.
Have you previously read the bible and thrown it away from you or skipped over certain passages due to patriarchal interpretation as those readings only added to your pain and disappointment in your experience of patriarchal Christianity?
Have you cried out to God for answers and largely due to lack of scriptural evidence your hope was deferred, and you grew sick in heart?
Do you plan to stay in that state now that you have found a new source of hope?
Will you not turn back from your backsliding ways and renew your vows to your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
If so, pray this prayer with me:
Almighty Everlasting Eternal God …
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
I put everything I am, and own, on your altar
I give to you all that I am, all I shall ever be.
Make me as one that serves.
Lead me, show me your will,
Take away anything that is holding me back
from knowing Jesus
the face of the HOLY MYSTERIOUS ONE, the Great I AM, the Almighty God,
Take away that which prevents me from becoming who I am becoming.
I forgive …. Please forgive me.
Please supply my daily needs.
Give me the personal conviction I lack
to live these days in embodied prophetic action
[i] Says Prof. Robertson Smith of Cambridge: ‘In Genesis, marriage is (defined as implying that a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh. This is quite in accordance with what we find in other parts of the patriarchal story. Mr. McLennan has cited the marriages of Jacob, in which Laban plainly has the law on his side in saying that Jacob had no right to carry off his wives and their children; and also the fact that when Abraham seeks a ‘wife for Isaac, his servant thinks that the condition will probably be that Isaac shall come and settle with her people. All these things illustrate in Genesis 2:24 as the primitive type of marriage.’
Bushnell comments: In this case, Abraham would not consent, because Sarah had requested she come to take her place as Chief in her tent in Hebron to continue building her house and also knowing God had expressly called them away from practicing idolatry. Joseph’s children by his Egyptian wife became Israelites only by adoption: and so in Judges 15, Samson’s Philistine wife remains with her people and he visits her there. And we might ask, what does that primitive form of language mean,–‘cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,’ but that he shall become of the same kin as his wife? The same writer says: ‘Mother kinship is the type of kinship, common motherhood the type of kindred unity, which dominates all Semitic speech.’
J.P. Peters, D.D., writing of this same passage in Genesis says: ‘In the relation which man is here represented as holding towards woman, we have, apparently, another of that incidental evidence of the great antiquity of this story. It is not the woman who leaves father and mother and cleaves to the man, but the man who leaves father and mother, and cleaves to his wife. It would seem as though we had a survival of the old matriarchate, that relation of the marriage of which we have an example in the Samson story, where the woman remains with her tribe, or clan, or family, and is visited by the man. The offspring in such a case belongs to the woman’s family, not the man’s’ (Bushnell. Early Hebrew Story, p. 223). Para 57.)
[ii] Katharine C. Bushnell (1856-1946) Free download. “Can’t recommend this book enough”! Patricia https://godswordtowomen.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/gods_word_to_women1.pdf
[iii] The word in its purest form, polygamía, is a ‘state of marriage to many spouses’: the practice of marrying multiple spouses. Patriarchal interpretation only allows for one outcome: When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time. When a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, sociologists call this polyandry. In contrast to polygamy, monogamy is marriage consisting of only two parties.
My research shows polyandry was/ is more prevalent where land fragmentation means dividing up the land between men, thus lessening the bargaining power of blood brothers, the sons of one man/ sons of the man’s chief wife. When we consider my argument that the women-owned the land it is entirely possible sisters of one mother chose to marry only one man and had the siring rights to him.
In beginning, Adam was a murderer bringing death into the world through sin. The Hebrew scriptures show no Israelite murderer owned land. Men are the sons of Adam. The greed for land ownership exhibited by the majority of men and history records it. It still resonates in the male psyche today. This seems to me to echo a fear associated with landlessness. The Creator knew land ownership was/ is critical for women. Today the need has not abated. Below, India is an example.
The crucial point made here is, that although women in India have the legal right to own land, very few actually do as a result of the patriarchal practices which dominate the nation. Up until recently, Indian women have been left out of laws regarding the distribution of public land and were forced to rely on the small possibility of obtaining private land from their families. Inheritance laws that cater to men are one of the key issues behind inequality in land rights.
According to Bina Agarwal, land ownership defines social status and political power in the household and in the village, shaping relationships and creating family dynamics. Therefore, the inheritance of land automatically puts men above women both in the household and in the community. Without political pull in the village, and with limited bargaining powers within the household, women lack the voice to advocate for their own rights.
Another issue with land rights in India is that they leave women completely dependent on the lives of their husbands. A study by Bina Agarwal found that in West Bengal, prosperous families turn destitute when the male head of the household dies, as women are not permitted to take over their husband’s land. Also, due to cultural tradition, the higher the status of the woman, the less likely she is to have any developed skills that would be useful in finding work. These women are forced to beg for food and shelter once their husbands die because they have not been allowed to gain work experience (Kanakalatha Mukund).
Bina Agarwal argues that land ownership significantly decreases the chance of domestic violence against Indian women. Owning property elevates women to a higher status within the household, allowing more equality and bargaining power. In addition, owning property separately from their husbands allowed women an opportunity to escape from abusive relationships. Agarwal concluded that the prospect of a safe shelter outside of the main household decreases the longevity of domestic violence. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3146971?seq=1