Danel

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Ugarit
Duck container Louvre AO14778.jpg
Salhi • Minet el-Beida
Ras Ibn Hani • Royal Palace
Kings
Ammittamru I • Niqmaddu II
Arhalba • Niqmepa
Ammittamru II • Ibiranu
Niqmaddu III • Ammurapi
Culture
Language • Alphabet • Grammar
Baal cycle • Legend of Keret
Danel • Hurrian songs
Baal with Thunderbolt
 
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Ugarit
Duck container Louvre AO14778.jpg
Salhi • Minet el-Beida
Ras Ibn Hani • Royal Palace
Kings
Ammittamru I • Niqmaddu II
Arhalba • Niqmepa
Ammittamru II • Ibiranu
Niqmaddu III • Ammurapi
Culture
Language • Alphabet • Grammar
Baal cycle • Legend of Keret
Danel • Hurrian songs
Baal with Thunderbolt

Danel was a culture hero who appears in an incomplete Ugaritic text of the fourteenth century BCE[1] at Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria, where the name is rendered DN'IL, "El is judge".[2]

Contents

Danel

Tablet bearing part of the Danel epic (Musée du Louvre)

The text in Corpus Tablettes Alphabetiques [CTA] 17–19 is often referred to as the Epic of Aqhat. Danel was depicted as "judging the cause of the widow, adjudicating the case of the fatherless" in the city gate.[3] He passed through trials: his son Aqhat was destroyed but apparently in the missing conclusion was revived or replaced by Danel's patron god, Rp'u, who sits and judges with Hadad and Astarte and is clearly identical to El. "This is significant," John Day remarked[4] "since the Old Testament identifies El with Yahweh and did not have the scruples about so doing which it had with Baal."[5]

The three tablets bearing the story of Danel in about 400 lines break off before the story is completed. Danel, a leader, has no son and engages in an incubation rite; on the seventh day Baal induces the other deities to intercede with El, who takes pity, blesses Danel and grants him a son, Aqhat. Aqhat is presented with a bow by the craftsman deity Kothar-wa-Khasis. The goddess Anat desires the bow and makes several tries unsuccessfully to obtain it, offering even immortality; Aqhat calls her offer spurious, since old age and death are man's common lot. Anat with the consent of El, launches her attendant in the form of a hawk to steal back the bow; however, in the event, the bow is broken and lost in the sea, and Aqhat dies. The bloodshed brings drought to the land and mourning. Aqhat's sister Pagat seeks vengeance, but discovers that the killer she has contracted is the very murderer of her brother. Here the narrative is interrupted. It is generally surmised that in the missing ending, with the help of Danel's patron god, Aqhat's remains are recovered from the eagle that has devoured them.

The text was published and translated in 1936 by Charles Virolleaud[6] and has been extensively analysed since then.[7]

Danel and the Book of Ezekiel

The Book of Ezekiel in three verses (14:14. 14:20, and 28:3) writes "Danel", which according to the Masoretic Text should be read as "Daniel". This notwithstanding, parallels and contrasts with the righteous and wise Danel (without i)[8] of the Book of Ezekiel, placed between Noah and Job[9] and invoked as the very example of righteous judgement,[10] first pointed out by René Dussaud in 1931,[11] have led readers commonly to accept[12] or occasionally to reject[13][14]a degree of identification with Ugaritic Danel of the "Aqhat text", amounting virtually to the same figure.[15] The three figures referred to in Ezekiel 14:14 — "Even if Noah, Danel and Job were in it..." — links the name with two non-Israelites of great antiquity. In Ezekiel 28:3, Danel is one noted for his wisdom in the prophecy addressed to the king of Tyre: "you are indeed wiser than Danel, no secret is hidden from you". The name, "Danel", had a long tradition in Hebrew culture: he is supplied as the father-in-law of Enoch in Jubilees.[16]

Texts in the Ugaritic language may provide an important clue. The Canaanite tongue was discovered by French archaeologists in 1928, and known only from texts found in the lost city of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria.[17] Ugaritic has been used by scholars of the Old Testament to clarify Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed ways in which ancient Israelite culture finds parallels in the neighboring cultures.[17] Ugaritic was "the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform."[18] Literary texts discovered at Ugarit include the Aqhat Epic (or Legend of Danel) — all revealing a Canaanite religion. According to Edward L. Greenstein, a distinguished professor at Bar-Ilan University, Ugaritic texts solved the biblical puzzle of the anachronism of Ezekiel mentioning Daniel at Ezekiel 14:13-16; it is because in both Ugaritic and the Ancient Hebrew texts, it is correctly Danel -- the yod is missing in the originals.[17]

T.E. Gaston argues that there are reasons to doubt the identification of Danel with the Danel of Ezekiel. Firstly, Danel is never described as wise or righteous. Secondly, given he was a Baal-worshiper it is unlikely that a strict Yahwist like Ezekiel would have considered Danel to be righteous. Thirdly, over eight hundred years separate the Aqhat text and the book of Ezekiel, and Danel is not mentioned in any Jewish source in the intervening period.[19]

On the other hand, it is argued that Danel would fit the pattern of being an ancient non-Israelite like Job and Noah. Ezekiel's literary arrangement may also support this position. Yahweh has compared Judah with foreign nations before (Ezekiel 5:7) and the context appears to contain similar comparison in Ezekiel 14:13-19. The hypothetical rebellious country, while a cipher for Israel is not specifically named and could represent any ancient Near Eastern country. Ezekiel's audience is clearly enamored with non-Israelite myths (cf. Tammuz in Ezekiel 8:14), and so they could easily be aware of King Danel's legendary virtues. Thus, Ezekiel's triad, if they were three ancient, righteous, non-Israelite men, would fit the pattern of Yahweh judging Israel to some degree by the nations around them.[20] The connection is more plausible when one considers that Ezekiel alludes to Danel in an oracle against Tyre (Eze. 28), for the cultures of Ugarit and Tyre were both Canaanite.[21] Danel also had a son and like Job, was unable to deliver him from divine harm (cf. Ezekiel 14:20).[22]

Recent uses

The name Danel has been given to one of the craters on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter.

Notes

  1. ^ Made during the reign of Niqmadu III, ca. 1360 BCE (Walton 1994:49).
  2. ^ Virolleaud 1936, et al.
  3. ^ Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 149–51.
  4. ^ Day 1980:177.
  5. ^ "El took his servant, he blessed [Daniel] the man of Rp'u" (CTA 17.135f, in: Day 1980:177).
  6. ^ Virolleaud, "La légende phénicienne de Danel" vol. I of Mission de Ras Shamra, C. F.-A. Schaeffer, ed. (Paris) 1936.
  7. ^ See references section.
  8. ^ NIV footnote on Ezekiel 14:14
  9. ^ Ezekiel xiv.14, 20
  10. ^ Ezekiel xxviii. 3: in an apostrophe to the prince of Tyre, "you are indeed wiser than Daniel".
  11. ^ René Dussaud, "Breves remarques sur les tablettes de Ras Shamra", Syria 12 (1931:77).
  12. ^ (Day 1980).
  13. ^ H.H.P. Dressler, "The identification of the Ugaritic Dnil with the Daniel of Ezekiel", Vetus Testamentum 29 (1979:152–61): "To sum up the Ugaritic material: Dnil is neither king, nor wise, nor righteous, nor able to save his son." (p. 155). Danel not meeting Dressler's definition of kingship, is termed "a village-elder or chief" (p. 153).
  14. ^ Wallace, Daniel B. “Who is Ezekiel’s Daniel” http://bible.org/article/who-ezekiels-daniel
  15. ^ The author of the Book of Daniel, a contemporary of Ezekiel exiled in Babylon, is not concerned here; the common assumption is that "features of the Daniel alluded to by Ezekiel have contributed to the depiction of the hero of the book of Daniel" (Day 1980:174). Christianist readers still assert the identity of the two figures.
  16. ^ Jubilees iv.20, noted by Day 1980:181: Jubilees, which supplies many "missing" names from the Hebrew Bible, was written considerably later than the book of Ezekiel.
  17. ^ a b c Edward L. Greenstein, "Texts from Ugarit Solve Biblical Puzzles," BAR 36:06, Nov/Dec 2010, pp. 48-53, 70. Found at Biblical Archaeology Review website. Accessed October 29, 2010.
  18. ^ Gordon, Cyrus Herzl (1965). The Ancient Near East. W.W. Norton & Company Press. ISBN 0-393-00275-6.  at p.99
  19. ^ T. E. Gaston, Historical Issues in the Book of Daniel, (2009), 10-18.
  20. ^ College Press NIV Commentary on Ezekiel By Brandon Fredenburg, p. 138
  21. ^ Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible By David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, Astrid B. Beck, p. 311
  22. ^ Walther Eichrodt, Ezekiel: A Commentary, trans. Cosslett Quinn, Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1970), p. 189

References

External links