Ancient Arab Cattle Cult, Jabal and Genesis

reDuring the last week of April and the first week of May, headlines declared the identification of massive rectangular stone structures scattered across northwest Arabia. A team of six researchers from the University of Western Australia published an article in the review antiquity on April 30, identifying these monumental structures, known as the mustatilles, Arabic for “rectangles” – as part of a prehistoric cattle cult, something that had been widely suspected.

Location of studied mustatils

University of WA | Cambridge University Press | antiquity

Hundreds of narrow rock formations the mustatilles exist in Saudi Arabia, some longer than a football field, others bordering the slopes of a volcano. They have been declared to be the “world’s first large-scale ritualistic monumental landscape … the earliest evidence of cattle worship in the Arabian Peninsula” – dated by excavators to the sixth millennium bce

The rooms and layout are more complex than it looks. Their arrangement suggests a sort of single-line procession to a place inside, where mostly cattle bones were stacked along a post. mastaba Pierre. It was an “apparent ritual deposition of animal horns and cranial elements, especially cattle”, write the authors, which corresponds to “the rock art of the region, with scenes of breeding and hunting of cattle which appear frequently ”. The researchers point to the unusual narrow shape of the the mustatilles and the very low walls – no higher than 0.5 meters – (as well as the construction even on the sides of volcanoes) as evidence of ritual activities rather than as a cattle enclosure.

Mustatils documented by researchers at the University of Washington. Note figure C, mustatils built up the slope of a volcanic cone.

AAKSAU and Royal Commission for AlUla

This “earliest evidence of cattle worship” and the earliest “monumental ritualistic landscape anywhere in the world” quite remarkably points to a particular passage in the Bible – the first clue of established pagan religious worship.

Genesis 4 describes Cain’s genealogy after the eastern expulsion from Eden (Genesis 3:24) and his condemnation to a nomadic life (Genesis 4:16). One of the most important descendants of Cain was Lamech. “And Lamech took two wives from him: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of those who dwelt in tents, and such as cattle ”(verses 19-20; King James Version).

Jabal, the father of the “nomadic shepherds”, as another translation puts it. But there is more to this verse than it seems in English.

Jabal and cattle (by Johann Sadeler, after Marten de Vos, 1583).

Philippe Medhurst

“Of those who have” is in italics, which means it was added by the translators and is not in the original Hebrew. Word tents is ohel: The same word used for the tabernacle and other such ritual establishments, in addition to the ordinary tent. But the invention of the regular “tent” is surely not the meaning of this passage – after all, Jabal was the seventh generation in a well-established lineage of centuries of nomads; even metallurgy was in use at this late stage (verse 22). In addition, the fact that the widest passage is used to emphasize negatively The Lamech line deduces such for the breeding establishments of Jabal. Thus, Genesis 4:20 has been interpreted as the earliest record of idol worship – notably, the worship of cattle.

This is affirmed by the circa 400 this Jewish Midrash Genesis Rabbah (23: 3) and related commentaries, that Jabal was the “first among men to erect temples to idols ”(Legends of the Jews, 1.3.5).

And this emerging phenomenon would literally be explode on the world stage for the next millennia. After all, the infamous Baal of the Bible, the Zeus of the Greek world and the Horus and Ra of the Egyptian world are all cattle-related deities (and are actually all related to each other – more on that here).

The location of the biblical Garden of Eden has long been debated. The two predominant theories focus either on Jerusalem (the Holy Land) or somewhere to the east, around the Turkey-Iran region. Adam and Eve were banished “east” from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3: 23-24) – thus, according to the theory of Jerusalem, they were sent in the direction of Jericho (called by archaeologists the “city oldest in the world ”, due to the remains). This area immediately east of Israel also exhibits the first uncovered evidence of agriculture (see here for details). It would be logical that this eastern land of “Nod”, wandering, to which Cain was banished would be Saudi Arabia. It would also fit with Jabal and Saudi Arabia’s narrative. mustatils. (For more on the location of ancient Eden, read our editor’s article “The Incredible Origins of Ancient Jerusalem”.)


What about the rather confusing placement of several mustatils on the slopes of Arabic volcanic vents? This is another possible connection to Jabal. Cain’s lineage, as described in the Bible, closely matches the deified “Olympians” of later Greek mythology. Cronus parallels Cain – a patron of the harvest (compare Genesis 4: 2-3), who became known for a murderous act of ambush (verse 8). The descendant of Cronos is Zeus, a famous polygamous god who killed Cronos, alongside Lamech (compare Genesis 4:19, 15, 23-24). Through his wives, Zeus fathered a number of “powerful” children, including Hephaestus, Apollo, Hermes and Athena. These four are particularly close correspondences with the four children of Lamech: Tubalcain, Jubal, Naamah and Jabal.

  • Zeus’ son, Hephaestus, says Vulcan in Roman mythology, is the god of forge and metalwork. Tubalcain, the son of Lamech, pronounced in Hebrew Tu-Vulcan, is the father of the forge.
  • Apollo, the son of Zeus, is the god of music, known in particular for his skill with the lyre. Jubal, Lamech’s son, was the patron of music (or rather perversion), renowned for his skill on the lyre (and whose name is linguistically similar).
  • Zeus’ daughter, Athena, is the goddess of weaving, crafts, and war. The Bible gives no details about Naamah, but Jewish tradition identifies her as a weaver.
  • The son of Zeus Hermes is, among others, the god of cattle, sacrifices and sacrificial animals, a connection with the son of Lamech Jabal.
Hephaestus, god of the forge and volcanoes

Ancient Greek tradition continues that as a result of these events a great flood was sent to wipe out all human life except the righteous Deucalion.

What is remarkable, however, is the long-standing association of the Roman Vulcan, Greek Hephaestus – the Tu-Vulcan equivalent – with volcanoes. This is where we get our English word “volcano”. Does this family link help explain why many the mustatilles were positioned on the slopes of Arab volcanoes – the result of the family bond between Tubal-cain and Jabal?

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Are these first ritual Arabs mustatils—The earliest evidence of cattle worship in Arabia, and the earliest evidence of large-scale ritualism in the world (in the most infamous land of “wandering”, nothing less, and associated with volcanoes) – a link to Jabal and Genesis 4?

Perhaps they relate more immediately to Jabal, or perhaps represent a form of post-Flood worship initially initiated by Jabal. Either way, the connections are tantalizing and point to a rapidly growing body of archaeological evidence attesting to an antediluvian world described in the the earlier chapters of the Bible.

To learn more about these many archaeological, archaeobontanic, paleontological, genetic and other discoveries, see the “Related” links below.

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