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Tablet bearing part of the Danel epic, Musée du Louvre

Danel , father of Aqhat, 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]

Tale of Aqhat

The text in Corpus Tablettes Alphabétiques [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 was likely considered to be the equivalent of El.

The text was published and translated in 1936 by Charles Virolleaud[4] and has been extensively analysed since then.[5]

Danel and the Book of Ezekiel

Three verses in the Book of Ezekiel (14:14, 14:20, and 28:3) refer to DN?L which, according to the Masoretic Text, should be read as "Daniel". This notwithstanding, parallels and contrasts with Danel (without i)[6] of the Book of Ezekiel, placed between Noah and Job[7] and invoked as the very example of righteous judgement,[8] first pointed out by René Dussaud in 1931,[9] have led readers commonly to accept [10] or occasionally to reject [11][12] a degree of identification with Ugaritic Danel of the "Aqhat text", amounting virtually to the same figure.[13] 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.[14]

Texts in the Ugaritic language, a Canaanite tongue, may provide an important clue. The language was discovered by French archaeologists in 1928 and known only from texts found in the lost city of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria.[15] 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.[15] Ugaritic was "the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform."[16] 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.[15]

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.[17] 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.[18] Danel also had a son and, like Job, was unable to deliver him from divine harm (cf. Ezekiel 14:20).[19]

Recent uses

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

See also


  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. ^ Virolleaud, "La légende phénicienne de Danel" vol. I of Mission de Ras Shamra, C. F.-A. Schaeffer, ed. (Paris) 1936.
  5. ^ See references section.
  6. ^ NIV footnote on Ezekiel 14:14
  7. ^ Ezekiel xiv.14, 20
  8. ^ Ezekiel xxviii. 3 in an apostrophe to the prince of Tyre, "you are indeed wiser than Daniel".
  9. ^ René Dussaud, "Breves remarques sur les tablettes de Ras Shamra", Syria 12 (1931:77).
  10. ^ (Day 1980)
  11. ^ 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).
  12. ^ Wallace, Daniel B., "Who is Ezekiel's Daniel?"
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Gordon, Cyrus Herzl (1965). The Ancient Near East. W.W. Norton & Company Press. ISBN 0-393-00275-6. at p.99
  17. ^ College Press NIV Commentary on Ezekiel By Brandon Fredenburg, p. 138
  18. ^ Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible By David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, Astrid B. Beck, p. 311
  19. ^ Walther Eichrodt, Ezekiel: A Commentary, trans. Cosslett Quinn, Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1970), p. 189


  • Coogan, M.D. Stories from Ancient Canaan (Philadelphia) 1978:27-47
  • Day, John. "The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel and the Hero of the Book of Daniel", Vetus Testamentum 30.2 (April 1980:174-184)
  • Gibson, J.C.L. Canaanite Myths and Legends (Edinburgh) 1978.
  • Herdner, Andrée. Corpus des tablettes cunéiformes alphabétiques découvertes à Ras Shamra-Ugarit, en 1929 à 1939 (Paris 1963) (CTA 17-19).
  • Maralit, Baruch. The Ugaritic poem of AQHT: Text, Translation, Commentary (Berlin: de Gruyter) 1989. A highly idiosyncratic commentary and interpretation.
  • Walton, John H. Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of Parallels, "Personal Archives and Epics": Canaanite .2 (Zondervan) 1994:49.

External links

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