Tree of Life

tags:  Egyptian Semitic pun recommended · symbol   —   by Gerry · Dec 2018 · 2344 words

The Tree of Life in many cultures seems to represent the aristocratic family tree. The Biblical Tree of Life is even literally a “Tree of Families”, because the Hebrew word חיים ḥyym chayim means “lives”, but also “families”.

Biblical Tree of Life

There’s the famous Bible scene where God discovers that Adam & Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, and then adresses his peers to warn that they might also eat from the Tree of Life. The verse states that the Tree of Life bestows eternal life.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

ויאמר יהוה אלהים הן האדם היה כאחד ממנו לדעת טוב ורע ועתה פן ישלח ידו ולקח גם מעץ החיים ואכל וחי לעלם

Genesis 3:22

Tree of Life as “Tree of Families”

If we take a look at the entry in Strong’s Concordance for חי ḥy meaning “alive”, which is explicitly linked to Genesis 3:22 and the Tree of Life, then we find that this word also means “kinsfolk”. This corresponds to Arabic حَىٌّ ḥayyu meaning “a group of families united by vital ties”. This makes the Tree of Life a literal “Tree of Families”, i.e. a family tree. It’s a pun.

II. [חַי] noun [masculine] kinsfolk (Arabic حَىٌّ a group of families united by vital ties RSK 36-40 DrSm 119), plural suffix חַיַּי 1 Samuel 18:18, incorrectly pointed with the interpretation my life RV, but read חַיִּי my kins-folk, We Ki Dr RS SS RVm VB. It is explained by the gloss משׁפחת אבי We (Klo reads אַחַי וּ).

Brown-Driver-Briggs: chay

If we look up the 1 Samuel 18:18 verse, then we find indeed that חי ḥy had been translated as “life” earlier, but is commonly translated as “family” in modern Bible versions. This also makes much more sense in the context, where David seems to comment on 2 families: his own and his father’s.

And David said unto Saul: Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?

KJV 1 Samuel 18:18

But David said to Saul: Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?”

NIV 1 Samuel 18:18

ויאמר דוד אל שאול מי אנכי ומי חיי משפחת אבי בישראל כי אהיה חתן למלך

TNK 1 Samuel 18:18

We may conclude that the famous term חי ḥy chay for “live” also means “family”. We can also see that the spook aristocrats use it as a codeword to refer to their own network of families, which does indeed “live forever”, as stated by God in Genesis 3:22.

Tree of Life as a “Plan to put on a Show”

The Tree of Life may have a secondary, even more spooky meaning: The word חי ḥy chay for “live” puns with the word חוי ḥwy choy for “show”. Miles has found out that many famous historic events are actually a big show, which is constantly enacted by our cryptocratic “leaders”. Since ˁṣ for “tree” also puns with ˁṣh for “plan” & “advice”, the Tree of Life may be part of a parable on why this system was invented.

Aramaic ˁṣ = tree; ˁṣh = plan; ḥy = life; ḥwy = show

עץ ˁṣ : tree; timber, wood — Hebrew (Klein)

עצה ˁṣh : counsel, advice; plan — Hebrew (Klein)

יעץ yˁṣ : to advise, give counsel; advised, gave counsel; he planned; consulted, took counsel; decided — Hebrew (Klein)

חי ḥy : alive, live; lively, active — Hebrew (Klein)

חוי ḥwy : to point; to show, teach, tell — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Evidence for the “show” meaning is that the snake, the pomegranate, Adam & Eve, and possibly the Tree of Knowledge all seem to have pun-meanings related to “showing” & “disguising”. More textual analysis of the Book Genesis is needed here though. In the meantime, have a look at the number 18, which is the Gematria value for chay, and at the same time a hoax marker for “shows” enacted by the spooks.

Assyrian Tree of Life as “Tree of Families”

Another strong hint that the Tree of Life represents a family tree is found in Assyrian depictions.

Criss-crossed branches on Assyrian trees

The strange trees on Assyrian friezes are depicted very specific, and very consistent: They feature nodes and a branching network that criss-crosses and has the outer branches reconnect to each other. That is a defining feature of aristocratic family trees: The family branches reconnect, as descendants intermarry again in later generations, to strengthen aristocratic family ties.

These criss-cross trees are listed on Wikipedia as examples of the Tree of Life.

The Assyrian tree of life was represented by a series of nodes and criss-crossing lines. It was apparently an important religious symbol, often attended to in Assyrian palace reliefs by human or eagle-headed winged genies, or the King, and blessed or fertilized with bucket and cone. Assyriologists have not reached consensus as to the meaning of this symbol. The name “Tree of Life” has been attributed to it by modern scholarship; it is not used in the Assyrian sources. In fact, no textual evidence pertaining to the symbol is known to exist.

Wikipedia: Tree of Life in Ancient Mesopotamia and Urartu

I bet there were textual descriptions, but they have simply be censored out of existence by the aristocrats!

Here’s a good example, a Tree of Life from the Neo-Assyrian Nimrud palace, next to eagle-headed genies and king Ashurnasipal II.

Assyrian Tree of Life with criss-cross branches

Assyrian “Tree of Life” with criss-cross branches, next to eagle-headed genies and king.
(from Nimrud palace, now in British Museum)

The genies are likely puns, for themes that pertain to family & fertility.

You wouldn’t guess it from the Wikipedia article, but the Tree of Life was one of the most prolific themes in Assyrian palaces. I made a list here of the known depictions I found, but it’s far from being complete, because there are simply so many Assyrian Tree of Life depictions:

This is evidence that the maintenance of their family trees was a primary concern to the arictocrats of ancient times, much more important than the well-being of their nations & subjects, which were simply assets to be milked dry.

Tree of Life on Assyrian cylinder seal

Many examples of Assyrian Trees of Life are found on cylinder seals. Since these seals were used abroad by merchants & diplomats to stamp letters, the “Tree of Families” may have become a globally recognized punny symbol.

Assyrian cylinder seal with Tree of Life

Assyrian cylinder seal with “Tree of Life”.
(from Sherif Khan, now in British Museum)

In this first example, the official translation of the cuneiform text is: “Seal of Mushezib-Ninurta, governor, son of Ninurta-Eresh, also governor, son of Samanuha-shar-ilani, also governor.” While nepotism is hidden today, it was official in ancient times. With government posts being inherited over 3 generations, we can see why being grafted on a profitable “Tree of Families” was so important to the aristocrats.

A second example already shows the import of the symbol into a new local language: The text is written in the script that was later termed “Phoenician”, presumably used to write West-Semitic dialects, while Assyrian was an East-Semitic dialect.

Assyrian cylinder seal with Tree of Life

Assyrian cylinder seal with “Tree of Life” and Phoenician inscription.
(from Babylon, now in British Museum)

The inscription reads לפלתחדן lpltḥdn, and with assumed word breaks: ל פלת חדן l plt ḥdn. The word פלת plt is here assumed to be a variant of בעלת bˁlt, “lady”. The phrase would then read “of Lady Haddon”.

The seal is dated 700BC-650BC. I cannot say whether that is correct. In any case it shows that the idea to have a tree symbolize one’s family may have been carried across the globe along trade routes, by aristocratic merchants & diplomats and their agents.

Assyrian tree panels are Biblical tree panels

Interestingly, walls of an entire hall in the Nimrud palace were plastered with endless repetitions of trees and genies. The slabs have been sawed apart by the Western looters, but there are descriptions what the panels had looked like on the palace walls.

Assyrian artists favored symmetrical compositions, the exact correspondence of figures on opposite sides of a real or imaginary dividing line. On both the upper and lower registers of this slab, winged genies strike similar poses on either side of a sacred tree, forming near-mirror images of each other. These scenes were repeated along the walls of the room where the relief once stood.

Brooklyn Museum: Relief with Two Registers

Also note that the museum calls these trees “palm trees”.

Upper register, two winged, human-headed genie wearing horned caps, kneeling and fertilizing a miniature sacred palm; to the left, another conventionalized palm. Lower register, two standing, winged and bird-headed genie, each with cone and bucket fertilizing a sacred palm; to the left another sacred palm tree.

Brooklyn Museum: Relief with Two Registers

And if we now compare that description with Biblical verses about Solomon’s temple, we find that the Biblical temple was decorated with almost the same pattern. It was a widely known symbol.

It was carved with cherubim and palm trees; and a palm tree was between cherub and cherub, and every cherub had two faces,

ועשוי כרובים ותמרים ותמרה בין כרוב לכרוב ושנים פנים לכרוב

Ezekiel 41:18

a man’s face toward the palm tree on one side and a young lion’s face toward the palm tree on the other side; they were carved on all the house all around.

ופני אדם אל התמרה מפו ופני כפיר אל התמרה מפו עשוי אל כל הבית סביב סביב

Ezekiel 41:19

From the ground to above the entrance cherubim and palm trees were carved, as well as on the wall of the nave.

מהארץ עד מעל הפתח הכרובים והתמרים עשוים וקיר ההיכל

Ezekiel 41:20

Egyptian “Trees of Life”

There are also examples of trees used as puns from Ancient Egypt. Unlike the Mesopotamian stylized trees, these puns seem to use specific tree types for specific meanings. However, modern researchers often lump them in with all the other “Trees of Life”.

Egyptian acacia as “Tree of Life”

Curiously, on the Anastasi papyrus of the famous Egyptian Book of the Dead there is an Egyptian tree which is written as a Tree of Children, which is in some cases translated as “Tree of Life”.

Wallis Budge translates this tree a question-marked “shent tree of the children (?)” in his work on the Book of the Dead, first published in 1895.

𓊃𓌬 𓅓𓂻𓀀𓅓𓍱𓈖 𓂧𓏏 𓆮𓈖𓀔𓀀𓁐𓏪

sem - ȧ em śenṭet en χerṭu

I have made my way by the shent tree of the children (?).

Budge, Wallis (2010): The Egyptian Book of the Dead. pg 191

Newer, more esoterically inclined works translate the same passage as “Tree of Life”. You will find it on many alternative-religion websites, with attempted incantations on Youtube.

Sem-a em sentet en kshertu

I have made my way by way of the Tree of Life

Page, Judith (2011): Invoking the Egyptian Gods. pg 61

The Book of the Dead spelling is ambiguous, because the child glyph 𓀔 has no phonogram glyphs which would indicate how it is to be pronounced in this context. Budge transcribed it as χerṭu, today transliterated as ẖrd, which is a common Egyptian word for child. But there are other possibilities.

Interestingly, the same child glyph 𓀔 has a second attested pronunciation as 𓐍𓇋𓇋 ḫy which is very close to Semitic חי ḥy chay, which means “life” & “family”, as we saw above. The Semitic “Tree of Chai” may thus correspond to an Egyptian “Tree of Chai”.

Egyptian ḫy = child

𓐍𓏤𓀔 ḫy : child — Egyptian (TLA)

𓐍𓇋𓇋𓀔 ḫy : child, be a child — Egyptian (AED)

𓐍𓏭𓇋𓇋𓀔𓅪𓀀 ḫy : child, the young — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓐍𓇋𓇋𓀔 ; 𓐍𓏭𓀔 ; 𓐍𓏤𓀔 ; 𓐍𓇋𓇋𓀭 ; 𓐍𓏭𓇋𓇋𓀔𓅪𓀀 khi : boy, child, babe, youth; Coptic ϣⲉ — Egyptian (Budge)

Another possible reading of the child glyph 𓀔 is ms, which means “offspring”.

The name of the tree itself is spelled 𓍱𓈖𓂧𓏏 šnḏ, usually translated as an acacia. It has varying spellings, but all are similar.

Egyptian šnḏ, šnd, šnt = acacia

𓈙𓈖𓆓𓆭 šnḏ : acacia — Egyptian (TLA)

𓍲𓈖𓆓𓏏𓆭 šndt : Nile acacia tree — Egyptian (AED)

𓍲𓈖𓏏𓏭𓆭 šntỉ : acacia, Nile acacia — Egyptian (TLA)

In our context, the acacia could be a pun for “foundation” or a related term. The spellings are all somewhat similar to the different acacia spellings. In any case, the acacia is found in many official titles, indicating it stands for something else.

Egyptian snṯ, snt = foundation; snḏ = seat

𓋴𓈖𓍿𓍰𓈇 snṯ : foundation, ground plan, building plan (of a temple) — Egyptian (TLA)

𓋴𓈖𓍿𓍰 snṯỉ : to found, to create — Egyptian (TLA)

𓍰𓏏𓏏𓈇 sntt : foundation, plan — Egyptian (AED)

𓊃𓈖𓏏𓏭𓍰𓏛 snṯ : to organize, to be organized — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓋴𓇛𓅓𓀼 snḏm : sit, be seated — Egyptian (AED)

While the pun is a little vague, we may conclude that the “founding of descendancy” may have been a concept that was described with the pun-symbol of an acacia tree in Ancient Egypt. The term for “children” or “descendants” may even have sounded similar to the Semitic term chay. The translation of this term as “Tree of Life” is more evidence that the Biblical Tree of Life is a veiled Tree of Families for the aristocracy.

Egyptian ished tree as “Heliopolitan Tree of Life”

There is also another specific Egyptian punny tree, the ished tree tree, which often termed “Tree of Life” or “Heliopolitan Tree of Life”. However, that tree is spelled ỉšd and ỉšt, which does not pun with anything related to “life”, “descendants” or “family”. I therefore think the ished tree was a different pun for the Ancient Egyptians, probably with ỉšt for “possessions”.

tags:  Egyptian Semitic pun recommended · symbol