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The Noble Daniʾil

September 16, 2008

The other day, NTWrong made an interesting comment on my post Was Daniʾil a King?:

Although it’s often not given much attention in these learned scholarly discussions by Margalit, de Moor & co, aren’t there three terms in parallel in the texts, not just two (mt rpi, ǵzr, mt hrnmy)? Does that change things?

Looking around the literature, NTWrong is certainly right on this one. Very little emphasis has been paid to the term ğzr in this text.

The fuller context of Daniʾil’s title at the outset of Aqhat is as followed:

[aphnk] (1) [dnil. mt . rp]i.
aph . ğzr (2) [mt . hrmny .]

The Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language (DUL) gives three meanings for the term ğzr: 1) “lad, youth”; 2) “Noble, hero”; 3) “champion, warrior.” The last meaning is debateble since it occurs in only in CAT 1.3 II 22 and paralles, 1.19 IV 44 and in a broken context in 1.73:11. The last is largely useless to us here, and the first two attestations don’t immediately lend themselves to an independent definition — it is entirely possible to see the meaning here as “lad, youth” given that those are the people who tend to go to war. Additionally, collapsing the first and third meanings makes the second stand out even brighter, especially when it is used largely in Aqhat.

DUL holds that ğzr can be used with the meaning “Noble” as a title of heroes and gods. It shows up as term for Daniʾil several times (e.g. 1.17 I 1 and parallels; 1.17 II 28 and parallels; 1.17 VI 20 and parallels, etc. etc.) as well as in the questionably connected Rapiuma texts (1.22 I 7 and parallels). It also describes Kirta’s son Ilḥaʾu in 1.16 I 36 and parallels. Finally, it shows up as an epithet for Mot in the Baʿlu Cycle (1.6 VI 31 and parallels).

These contexts are quite confusing, and it is easy to see why the commentators keep quiet on this confounding quandry. With the exception of Ilḥaʾu, all of the contexts for the second meaning revolve around death to some extent. Is the very choice of this epithet for Daniʾil indicative of how the story will procede? Does the choice of this term indicate that mt rpi should be translated as “devotee of the god Rapiʾu? NTWrong is right that the term ğzr should be given more attention.

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