Saturday, August 5, 2023

First Lords and Their Authority


Dear Readers,

It has been 40 years coming, but my book The First Lords of the Earth is now available to purchase on Amazon. Options include Kindle, paperback, or hard cover. All are priced to accommodate book lovers on a tight budget.

This book identifies the social structure and religious beliefs of the early Hebrew ruler-priest caste (6200-4000 years ago), their dispersion out of Africa, their territorial expansion, trade routes, and influence on the populations of the Fertile Crescent and Ancient Near East.

The biblical Hebrew recognized three types of authority: derived, attributed, and achieved. Because the ruler was seen as God's earthly representative and the one to enforce divine law, his authority was derived from God.

If the ruler proved over time to be just or righteous in his actions and decrees, the priests would attribute deification. This was noted by the SR designation in the ruler's epithet and or royal name. The historical ruler Osiris was deified as is evident in his name O-SiR. Among the Sumerians and Akkadians SR designated a king (šarrum) and a queen (šarratum).

The early Hebrew rulers were judged after death and the righteous were often deified. Deification or apotheosis was an expression of the flamboyant honor shown to royal masters by their servants. 

Clan chiefs, regional rulers, and high kings achieved authority by victory in combat, great skill in hunting lions, and by living lives of high moral standing. 
Readers of this blog will find the sections on authority and ancient moral codes of special interest. This is an excerpt from Chapter 11 of the book:

The Rights of Kings

In the ancient world, it was understood that a king had the right to control trade through his kingdom and to be treated with honor. Emissaries arrived with gifts. Subjects came before the King with tribute.

In April 1892, the New York Times reported on the refusal of the King of Jebu to allow cargo to pass through his independent country which was the only access to the interior of Africa from Lagos. After an unfriendly meeting between the King and the acting British governor of Lagos, the trade route was closed. The British then formed a treaty with the King of Jebu that included payment of £500 to keep the roads and rivers of his country open. However, the British overstepped in requiring the King to forgo his royal right to assess tolls and taxes on the merchants traveling through his kingdom. Eventually, the treaty was broken. The situation became tense when the King threatened to attack Lagos, then the capital of Nigeria.

In the context of the rights of ancient kings, the £500 would have been regarded as a token of honor. However, to deny the King his right to control commerce through his territory was a tragic misstep on the part of the British. It was a diminishment of the King’s authority. Further, that was taken as disrespect of the High God from whom his authority was derived.

Take freedom or property from the average person and you diminish his humanity. Take away the rights of a king and you have cause for war.

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There is ancient history, anthropology, and Biblical studies wrapped into one fascinating read. I hope you will find it helpful and informative.

Best wishes to you all,

Alice C. Linsley

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