[b-hebrew] "Dan" in Ezekiel 27: 19

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Dec 27 17:06:32 EST 2007

Karl W. Randolph:
Ezekiel 27: 19 says that the island city-state of Sur/Tyre in southern 
Lebanon traded with “Dan” (or “Vedan”) and with “Javan”.
1.  The “Dan” or “Vedan” at Ezekiel 27: 19 is traditionally associated with 
“Aden” in Arabia, I believe.  But that is not necessarily correct.  “Dan”/“
Vedan” is linked with “Javan” in the text, and “Javan” is viewed as being 
Greece.  To me, northern Canaan, or Lebanon, or Syria might be more logical 
pairings with a reference to Greece for the trading partners of Sur/Tyre than 
would be Arabia. 
2.  The questions of how ancient the name “Dan” might be, and where this “Dan
” might be located, may take us all the way back to the 14th century BCE, and 
may involve some connection of “Dan” to Sur/Tyre.
3.  You wrote:  “Background to this verse [Ezekiel 27: 19]: this is part of a 
list of trading countries with Tyre.  Judah and Israel have already been 
mentioned as providers mainly of agricultural goods, in verse 17.”
(a)  In the Hebrew Bible (with the possible exception of Genesis), what Greek 
and English speakers call “Tyre” is spelled either tsade-resh or 
tsade-vav-resh.  That is CR or CWR here.  In ancient times, the tsade was probably 
pronounced S or SS, vs. the modern pronunciation of TS, so the ancient sound may 
have been SUR.  If so, sin-vav-resh, which is found at Genesis 20: 1 (as 
previously discussed on a different thread), could have been an alternate spelling for 
this same locale.  BDB sees one of the meanings of tsade-vav-resh as being “
rocky wall”, and sin-vav-resh means “wall”, so the meanings seem similar.  
Importantly, this place is “Sur” in Arabic, and “Surru” in the Amarna Letters.  
So I will refer to this island city-state in southern Lebanon as “Sur/Tyre”. 
 (In my view, the Greek mispronunciation “Tyre” is misleading.)
(b)  Here is the text of Ezekiel 27: 17 that you reference:
“Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy [Sur’s/Tyre’s] traffickers;  
they traded for thy merchandise wheat of Minnith, and balsam, and honey, and 
oil, and balm.”
That means that the Hebrews sold agricultural products to Sur/Tyre.
(c)  Consider also I Kings 5: 25:
“And Solomon gave Hiram [of Sur/Tyre in trade] twenty thousand measures of 
wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of beaten oil”.  
That likewise means that the Hebrews sold agricultural products to Sur/Tyre.
(d)  The island city-state of Sur/Tyre was unique in the ancient world, in 
that while it was rich, it had to import all its food.  The one place where a 
Hebrew might sell a bumper crop, at sky-high prices, was Sur/Tyre.  For that 
reason, Sur/Tyre was far more important to the early Hebrews than is usually 
recognized.  Ezekiel 27: 17 and I Kings 5: 25 are but the tip of the iceberg in 
that regard, in my opinion.
4.  In 14th century BCE Ugarit, located on the west coast of Syria, “Daner” 
was a prominent name.  “Dan” could be viewed as being a shortened form of the 
truly ancient name “Daner”.
5.  Both Sur/Tyre and Ugarit were rich trading states in the mid-14th century 
BCE.  There are plenty of connections between Sur/Tyre and Ugarit.  Although 
Ugarit lasted only about 200 years or so, Sur/Tyre remained unbowed and rich 
until Alexander the Great built the causeway that destroyed Sur/Tyre’s previous 
invulnerability to attack. 
6.  In short, there are plenty of ancient connections of the name “Dan” to 
northern Canaan, Lebanon and Syria.  The name seems redolent of that general 
7.  Some form of the name “Dan” was probably associated with the general 
area of northern Canaan, Lebanon and Syria prior to the time that the Hebrew 
tribe of Dan became associated with northern Canaan.  The city originally called “
Laish” or  "Lasha" or “Leshem” or “Lais” or “Lesem” or “Lus” or “Luz”, 
which is located directly east of Sur/Tyre on the upper Jordan River, was later 
called “Dan” by the Hebrews.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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