[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 
centuries BCE. 
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. 
Jim  Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois

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