Tuesday, January 21, 2020

And it all relates

Wyatt draws connections between Og and the Greek character of Ogygos, mythical founder of Thebes and survivor of a global ood (Eusebius, Praeparatio evangelica 10; Pausanius, Description of Greece 9.5.1). Ogygos is also the namesake of the island of Ogygia, which Homer describes as the “ὀμφαλός . . . θαλάσσης,” “navel of the sea” (Odyssey 1.50). Ὠκεανός (Ocean) and Ὤγυγος (Ogygos) are formed on the same root. For the Greeks, Ocean was a boundless sea that wrapped like a river around the world (Hesiod, Works and Days 168–71; Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 227; Stasinos of Cyprus, Cypria 8). If one can draw a connection from Ocean to Ogygos to Og, Og of Bashan bears some resemblance to Yamm.

On the other hand, the image of Ocean is identified with an ageing Dionysus who descends to the underworld. Ocean as the transformation of Dionysus appears on two triumphal arches erected in Rome by Septimius Severus, whose wife Julia Domna was a Syrian priestess. Ocean appears as the transformation of Bacchus on a dish from the Roman Cunetio Hoard (late second century CE) and on a frieze on the temple of Bacchus at Baalbek. Dionysus is himself associated with the Green Man through his patronage of agriculture, his ability to make plants grow where he sets foot, and the ability of his followers, according to Euripides, to draw water out of the ground by striking it. So one might also propose a resemblance between Og and Khidr or Baal.

The term “Bashan” itself can be equated with the Ugaritic bṯn (cf. Akk. bašmu, Aram. ptn, Arab. bathan; KB3, 1.165), which is used to describe Yamm/Leviathan in KTU 1.5 i.2.16 Bashan appears several times in Psalm 68, which twice calls God “Rider of the Clouds” (68:7, 33), identical with rkb ʿrpt, an Ugaritic title of Baal used repeatedly in the Yamm stories (e.g., KTU 1.3 iv 4, 7). In Ps 68:16[15], Bashan is called the Mountain of God and mentioned right after Zalmon, which Ptolemy identified as Jebel Druze (Geography 5.14.12). This means that in Ps 68:17[16], it is Bashan that “God desired for his abode, where the Lord will reside forever.” Then in 68:23[22], Bashan is mentioned in parallel with Yamm. Perhaps God lives on Mount Bashan, then, in 68:15[16].19 John Day believes this use of geographical Bashan discounts translating Mount Bashan as “Serpent Mountain,” noting that bṯn already enters Hebrew as פתנ (e.g., Ps 91:13, in parallel with תנין; cf. Arabic baṯanun). But common sources can lead to two ulterior forms in a second language, either if the Hebrew bet and pe both correspond to the Ugaritic b because this is a composite set with overlapping segments or if Bashan and peten are a doublet, borrowed at different times from what is historically the same item in the single source language (cf. castle and chateau or gentle and genteel). The word Bashan need not be Hebrew in any case. Place-names are famously tenacious. Moreover, Deut 33:22, which says that Dan springs forth from Bashan, uses the oddly sea-serpentesque verb—hardly what one expects of the “whelp of a lion,” while Gen 49:17 actually calls Dan a serpent (both נחש and שפיפן). Del Olmo Lete pushes things too far in arguing that Bashan was the Canaanite “hell.” But a final link between Ugarit and Baal in particular and the Bashan region is the probable presence of Lake Hula as ṯmq in KTU 1.10 ii 6–12, a place “abounding in bulls” where Baal hunts (but not the ṯmk in KTU 1.22 i 17).—Robert Miller, Baal, St. George, and Khidr, pp. 25–27.

<idle musing>
Indeed! The whole book is like this. I won't extract anymore from it, but if you like this kind of thing (I do!), be sure to read it.
</idle musing>

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