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The archetypal "wicked twins" were of course Set and Thoth (Levi and Simeon, respectively). These two figures were venerated in many traditions (individually or collectively as the Gemini twins), but as the main instigators in the killing of Osiris they were vilified. Set/Seth was obliged to accept Horus the Younger as his successor. Thoth had an heir named Semerkhet (Shem), however neither the natural line of Horus the Younger nor Semerkhet continued. Instead the line of Peribsen (Japheth/Put) took over the Great Throne.
In the Persian study it was shown that Alexander the Great was considered heir of the Simeon (2nd son of the Great King) and Ptolemy was heir of the Levi (3rd son). In Herodian times, the pattern was crossed. Jesus/Aristobulus III was heir of Herod's third son, also called Aristobulus. Paul/Alexander was heir of Herod's second son, also called Alexander.
But, where did the tradition of twin Messiahs coming from the twin dynastic lines of Simeon and Levi come from?
The basic pattern is set forth in the Biblical story of Judah and Tamar. Judah had two sons named Er ("watchful") and Onan ("strong"). He married the oldest of the two to Tamar (a name symbolizing the heiress), but Er was wicked and "the Lord" killed him. Next Tamar was married to Onan, but he refused to sire sons for his dead brother, so "the Lord" killed him also. Judah had yet another son Shelah, but withheld Tamar from him and ultimately produced twin sons, Perez and Zerah, through Tamar himself! When the twins were born they were all tangled up. One of the twins reached out his hand, and the scarlet thread (of kingship) was tied around the wrist. He however pulled it back and the other twin was actually born first. The fates of the twins were bound up together, and consistent with the story, their typecasting was also deliberately mixed up/crossed (as with Jesus and Paul in New Testament times).
Note: In Egyptian Myth, Set was infamous for spilling his sperm and for being tricked by Horus the Younger into eating it.
Archetypal Judah (Horus the Elder) had two leading sons, Ham (Horus the Younger) and Japheth/Put (Peribsen) who doubled as heir of the Joseph line among the gods. Ham was initially the greater, but Japheth produced the twin heirs Mizraim and Cush. Cush in turn was father of the Great King Nimrod. A precedent was then set for natural sons of Judah to carry on the dynastic lines of other princes. Ham and Japheth functioned as an archetypal "Perez and Zerah". Mizraim and Cush were something of a second "Perez and Zerah" set.
In the Egyptian Old Kingdom, during the reign of Khufu, the pattern is repeated. The heiress (Hetepheres) becomes the wife of Kawab, who died (or was killed) before producing a son. The heiress then marries DjedefRe, who similarly died or was killed without a male offspring (although a daughter, also called Hetepheres, was evidently born). Two additional heirs however emerge as joint heirs of Khufu, one is Chephren (Ephron/Ephraim/Perez) and the other is Menkare/Sekhemkare (Zerah). The typecasting of this pair is as a fourth son (Judah) and fifth son (Issachar/Shechem). In essence, fourth and fifth sons have replaced second and third sons.
After this (according to the Westcar Papyrus) another set of heirs was produced by princess "Redjedet", a name that relates to Djedefre/Redjedef, and more specifically identifies her as the daughter of Djedefre who is known from inscriptions as Hetepheres B, Neferhetepes, and Khentkaues mother of the first rulers of the 5th Dynasty of Egypt (and for a time ruler in her own right). Two of the three sons of Khentkaues stand out as another "Perez and Zerah" pair. These are Kakai/Keku the "dark one" and Sahure "the kicker/breacher" and "light one". The Hebrew Zerah means "light/white". Perez/Phares, "breach", makes for a word play on the mother's/grandmother's name Hetepheres.
Not all Judah figures were able to have twin sons, much less twin sons through a younger princess that was most likely also their own daughter. The next definite instance is found in the 12th Dynasty. Pharaoh Senusret was considered the "fourth son" (Judah type) of his predecessor Amenemhet. Senusret, called Machir/Makir in certain Old Testament accounts, sired Peresh and Sheresh on the heiress (also his daughter) named Maacah (a name indicating something stronger than a youthful heiress, a God's Wife/Maatkare).
In the Egyptian 18th Dynasty there was yet another instance of this particular form of incest by a Judah king. The Perez/Peresh and Zerah/Sheresh of that time were the brothers Thutmose II and Senenmut (as discussed extensively in the on-line book).
The next pair of Judah twins are found in the 19th Dynasty. In Greek Myth these are given a distinctive name, the Diosuri ("Sons of Thunder"). Individually, these "Sons of Thunder" were called Castor and Pollux/Polydeuces. Castor is a Judah type name and Polydeuces is an Issachar type name, which fits the general form, as in the early dynastic pair of Mizraim/Belus (Pollux) and Cush (Castor). In the end, there could only be one successor to the Judah/Horus line, the other becoming an effective Issachar/Osiris. The Dioscuri however were remembered by the Greeks as being exceptionally loyal to one another and quick to come to the other's defense, even though murderously antagonistic toward twin cousins Idas and Lynceus.
Thunder was associated with the high (composite) god Zeus and with the specific god Adad/Horus the Elder (Judah). Thunder was also associated with sexual reproduction, and especially outside the normal marital bond. Concerning the inbred royal family, heirs were produced for a brother as often as by a brother, as often by the family Godfather (or by his direction) as not.
The prominent "Levi" prince of the early 19th Dynasty was Khaemwaset third son of Ramses the Great. He paid homage to his ancestor (and role model) Kawab of the Old Kingdom by restoring one of his statues. The two older brothers of Khaemwaset were Prince Ramses (a.k.a. Paser) and Amen-hir-khepeshef (a.k.a. Osorkon III and Alara). Khaemwaset's leading son was Hori/Kashta, who was apparently the historical Castor of Greek recollection. The mother of Hori/Kashta was the famous Nefertari, God's Wife of Amun, and also mother of Amen-hir-khepeshef. This other leading son of hers was perhaps wedged into the twin role of Pollux/Polydeuces.
Alexander the Great sacrificed to the Dioscuri in a time of trouble. He was in fact designated as one of the Dioscuri twins of his generation. Traditionally, the younger Dioscuri twin became king (or crown prince, the appointed successor) first, but the older was the one considered more likely to found a lasting dynasty. (For example, Japheth supplanted Ham; Cush supplanted Mizraim; Menkare/Mycineros supplanted Khafre/Chephren, Kakai supplanted Sahure. However, the line of Sahure may have resurfaced to found the 6th Dynasty.) Regardless, the odds were against Alexander founding a dynasty like David's, and he was sweating it.
The same could have been later said for Jesus and Paul. Jesus, the Herodian Aristobulus III, was not even born to Berenice the wife of Herod's third son Aristobulus. He had to be grafted onto the Aristobulus/Levi line by adoption of Herod of Chalcis, who was a son of Berenice. Neither Jesus nor Paul had been fathered by a Judah figure within the Herodian family. Their true father had been Antipater the eldest son of Herod. It was Herod himself that claimed the Judah/David typecasting. (He also claimed to be a Solomon, even as Artaxerxes II Memnon father of Alexander the Great had claimed both Judah and Solomon roles.) However, at the end of his reign Herod was incapable of producing twin sons by an heiress daughter (or apparently anybody else), therefore he directed Antipater to produce the desired princes for him.
The Dioscuri in Greek Myth were only one set of twins. There was another rival pair, Idas and Lynceus, with which they struggled. In the Gospels, there is also a second pair of twins, and they are actually the ones explicitly referred to as the Dioscuri ("Sons of Thunder"). These are of course James and John the sons of Zebedee (Sabinus and Vespatian the sons of Germanicus), and who arguably had a greater pedigree within the Julio-Claudian/Herodian family. The earlier Greek Dioscuri came to blows with their rivals. There was certainly strife in the New Testament replay, but it seems to have stopped short of murder, at least between these particular four dynastic contenders. A proliferation of princes motivated both sets to maintain an uneasy alliance against other deadly rivals.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.