[b-hebrew] Four Beasts in Daniel

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Sep 13 09:25:06 EDT 2006

Dear Yitzhak,

>Geza Vermes' translation of the DSS has a lengthy introduction where
>he identifies Kittim of Dan 11:30 as the Romans:
>  ...  But from the second century BCE, Jewish writers also used
>  'Kittim' to denote the greatest world power of the day.  In 1
>  Maccabees (1:1, 8:5), they are Greeks; Alexander the Great and
>  Perseus are called kings of the 'Kittim'.  In Daniel 11:30 on the
>  other hand, the 'Kittim' are Romans;  it was the ambassador of the
>  Roman senate, [Popilius] Laenas, brought to Alexandria by 'ships of
>  Kittim', who instructed the 'king of the North', the Selecuid monarch
>  Antiochus Epiphanes, to withdraw at once from Egypt.  The term
>  'Romans' is substituted for 'Kittim' already in the old Greek or
>  Septuagint version of Daniel 11:30.  None of these texts is critical
>  of the 'Kittim'.  They are seen as the ruling force of the time, but not
>  as hostile to Israel.  In fact, in Daniel they humiliate the enemy of
>  the Jews. (4th ed, p. 33)
>There are various problems with Vermes' treatment.  He first
>(before this quote) notes how Josephus refers to the maritime people
>as "Kittim".  Then he goes back to the 2nd century BCE to use it to
>refer to the ruling power of the day.  Then in Daniel it is Romans,
>while 1 Maccabees it is still Greeks.  So how is it the ruling power
>of the day if we both agree that Daniel was authored before 1
>Maccabees?  I find the following suggestion much more persuasive:
>I note that "cyym ktym" is a problematic pair of words.  If it meant to
>say "ships of ktym" it should have said "cyy ktym".  As it stands now,
>and in view of the above suggestion, we can suggest that this is the
>result of haplography: "cyym mktym" -> "cyym ktym".  Also, perhaps
>this was further complicated by the identification in Roman times of
>"ktym" with the Romans and the understanding that this does indeed
>refer to Popilius.  Since the ships were known to not have departed from
>Rome, "cyym mktym" appeared wrong to a later editor.

HH: Thanks for the information. My reaction is that this suggestion from 
the Orion list, that the term refers to a layover in Greek Delos that 
the Roman ships had, cannot overthrow the authority of the ancients. It 
would also seem to be a strange way to write. If the ships were full of 
Romans, why would you describe them as Greek, unless the term could bear 
both senses? That is what seems more likely. "Kittim" seems to be a 
plural formation and probably referred to a large geographic area. The 
Jews in very ancient times may not have had much to do with these people 
or this part of the world.

HH: The phrase in Dan 11:30 does not have to be problematic. The term 
KTTYM first occurs in Genesis 10, which is a genealogy of people and 
includes many other terms with an -YM ending. Although the NIV does not 
treat Gen 10:4 this way, in Gen 10:13-14 it treats these  -YM-ending 
names as true plurals:

Gen. 10:13 Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, 
Gen. 10:14 Pathrusites, Casluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and 

HH: Also, it treats a number of subsequent Gentilic (-Y endings) names 
as plurals:

Gen. 10:16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites,
Gen. 10:17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites,
Gen. 10:18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite 
clans scattered

HH: So it is possible that both "Dodanim" and "Kittim" were originally 
plural names. However, the variant "Rhodanim" refers to Rhodians, 
according to ISBE, which thinks that the people of Rhodes (Rhodians) are 
the true referent for  "Dodanim." The LXX translates the term as RODANIM 
at both Gen 10:4 and 1 Chron 1:7. If this is the case, then at Dan 11:30 
there could be apposition: "ships, Kittites, will come."

Harold Holmyard


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list