[b-hebrew] Dan (was "Where Was Jacob's Ladder?)
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Nov 12 09:35:31 EST 2007
1. Academic studies have documented that "Dan" was a well-known name in
Syria and Lebanon in the mid-2nd millennium BCE. Here is a snippet of the
review by James. D. Muhly in "Journal of the American Oriental Society", Vol. 85,
No. 4 (1965), reviewing the book-length treatment of this very subject in
Michael C. Astour's book "Hellenosemitica, an Ethnic and Cultural Study in West
Semitic Impact on Mycenean Greece":
"The explanation for these Semitic elements [of influence on Mycenean
Greece] rests upon the Danuna, investigated in the first section of the book. They
represent a West Semitic tribe whose name is to be analyzed as dan-u/ana.
The name is to be found in the Biblical tribe of Dan, in the name of the
Ugaritic sage Danel [in western Syria in the 14th and 13th centuries BCE], in the
El-Amarna da-nu-na [in mid-14th century BCE Egypt], the danym of Phoenician
inscriptions, the so-called 'Denyen' of the Egyptian descriptions of Rameses
III, and the Homeric Danoi. This West Semitic tribe also probably composed
the Hyksos invaders of Egypt, and their migration from Egypt to the Argolid in
Greece, which took place sometime between 1550 and 1450, forms the historical
background for the Greek legend involving the fifty sons of Aigyptos and the
fifty daughters of Danaos."
I do not necessarily agree that the Danuna were connected to the Hyksos.
But it is clear that the name "Dan" was well known in the context of Lebanon
and Syria in the mid-2nd millennium BCE.
2. "Dan" is referred to at Genesis 14: 14. Genesis 14: 15 then refers to
Damascus. So the geographical area of Syria and Lebanon fits perfectly,
historically, for "Dan".
3. In the very same sentence, Genesis 14: 14, the author of the Patriarchal
narratives uses a word never used elsewhere in the Bible, and which is not
attested in secular history after the 15th century BCE: "chânîykîm". So the
historical time period is exactly right as well: the 15th and 14th
4. The number 318 in Genesis 14: 14 is redolent of the secular history of
the mid-14th century BCE and of no other historical epoch. Both Amarna Letter
EA 287 (see Wm. Moran's footnote 18), and Genesis 14: 14, are talking about
exactly 318 good men being mustered out of southeastern Canaan for the good
cause of the first historical monotheist.
5. Academic scholars agree that one of the names of the four attacking
rulers in chapter 14 of Genesis is a bona fide Hittite kingly name that was well
known in the 14th century BCE. Only in the mid-14th century BCE were the
Hittites a realistic threat to invade Canaan. As such, the Hittites were of
real concern to the Hebrews only once in history: in the mid-14th century BCE.
(Likewise, Rebekah's heartfelt invective against the Hittites in the last
sentence of chapter 27 of Genesis makes historical sense only in the context of
the mid-14th century BCE, when the Hittites were, for a very brief moment in
time, a bona fide threat to invade Canaan and wipe out the new Hebrews.
Amarna Letter EA 170 reports the presence of 90,000 battle-tested Hittite troops
in the Bekka Valley in eastern Lebanon, immediately north of Canaan proper.)
Genesis 14: 14 is setting forth Abraham's opposition to this historical
Hittite threat. At Genesis 14: 16, Abraham succeeds in rescuing his nephew Lot
and luxury goods (RK$/"rakuwsh") booty from four attacking rulers, one of
whom bears a 14th century BCE Hittite kingly name (which is actually a nickname
for his formal name as the greatest Hittite king in history). Note that
Abraham does not, non-historically, destroy the military forces of the four
attacking rulers. Abraham merely liberates Lot and the RK$/luxury goods.
6. It is hard to imagine how a single sentence of text could be more
historically accurate than Genesis 14: 14.
7. Everything about Genesis 14: 14 fits the secular historical context
perfectly, including the reference to "Dan" (and the number 318, and the word
"chânîykîm", and the opposition to the mid-14th century BCE Hittite threat).
Pinpoint historical accuracy is the hallmark of the Patriarchal narratives.
If we focus on the Hebrew words "chânîykîm" and RK$ at Genesis 14: 14, 16,
we can figure out the historical underpinnings of the Patriarchal narratives.
Those two Hebrew words are key, historical clues to the secular historical
time period of the Patriarchal Age. And "Dan" fits in perfectly as well.
Although Karl W. Randoph's view of Genesis is very different than mine in
most respects, I do agree with him that at Genesis 14: 14, "Dan" probably has
little or nothing to do with either (i) any great-grandson of Abraham, or (ii)
the later Hebrew tribe of Dan.
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