Habakkuk 3 and the Ancient Near East

A major procedural problem is always faced by anyone trying to relate the Ancient Near Eastern texts to the Old Testament. There need to be a control over matters like genre and the materials purpose. Unfortunately, evidence has it that some scholars have endeavored to ‘biblicize’ early Near Eastern documents prior to their comparison with OT materials’. M.

Sassoon has made a suggestion that ‘it is imperative that the literature of each culture be appreciated on its own merits’ before it is compared with the biblical material. Whenever ‘relationship’, ‘connection’, ‘association’, ‘correspondence’, ‘parallelism’, ‘similarity’ etc. are discussed between them, asKitchen notes, ‘it is necessary to deal individually and on its own merits with each possible or alleged case of relationship or borrowing by making a detailed comparison of the full available data from both the Old Testament and the Ancient Orient and by noting the results’.Many scholars view Habakkuk 3 as a Canaanite-Ugaritic influence. For example, Cassuto makes a suggestion that Habakkuk has recollections of the legend of the clash between Yahweh and the prehistoric Dragon Sea or River. He states that, ‘despite the successive changes of thought, the literary tradition is preserved in all its details’.

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It is for this reason that he finds an insinuation to Baal’s club aymr, with which he overpowered Yam in KTU 1.2 in the word ‘%u014Dmer end of the difficult Habakkuk 3:9. H. G. May recognized in the phrase ‘many waters’ (v.15) ‘the “rivers” and the “sea” which Yahweh wrestles and overcomes, even as Baal wrestled with Sea and the River in the myth of Ugaritic ‘.

J. Day in his new book also makes an argument that the imagery of the heavenly conflict with the dragon and the body of water is Canaanite and not Babylonian in derivation. He makes a suggestion that Habakkuk 3 encloses a number of mythological references which have their setting in Baal myths. For instance, according to him, Habakkuk 3:9 refers to the seven arrows of Yahweh and therefore the Yahweh’s seven thunders and lightning’s are demonstrated there, like Baal’s seven lightning’s in KTU 1.101[UT603]: 3b-4 (RS 24.245 lines 3b-4).

He also argues that ‘the insinuation to Resheph’s taking part in the clash with disorders has its definitive setting in the Ugaritic text KTU 1.82.1-3’. It is therefore significant to make note that J. Day employs terms like ‘allusion’ and ‘reference’ not for only literary expressions, but for the phenomenon which he argues that it is behind the expressions.TSUMURA is the Ugaritic Poetry and Habakkuk 3 27 for a fictional occurrence, as in the expression ‘a reference to the myth of the victory of Baal over the sea-god Yamm.

” At this juncture, it might be supportive to make a note of the fact that scholars have distinguished the manifestation of two or three unlike accounts of the Baal Myth in Habakkuk 3. For instance,Habakkuk 3:8-10, 15 has been believed to replicate one version of the Baal myth, the ‘Baal-Yam myth’, while Habakkuk 3:5 have been believed to reflect the other account, the ‘Baal-Tnn myth’, founded on a somewhat wrecked text. And for those who allow the Albright’s emendation of the wording in v. 13 find a third account, the ‘Baal-Mot myth’ as the setting of Habakkuk 3.19Consequently what researchers have done in terms of relative study of various Ugaritic texts and Habakkuk 3 is not actually a contrast of two fictional wholes as of two cultures, but an adhoc contrast of some remains of Ugaritic myths and a component of the Old Testament prophetic writing.

Whenever saneness of two items is being referred to and in a certain language, a question must come up: in which sense and why the sameness is only apparent and also fictional in most of the cases. It makes sense to talk of similarity between X and Y merely when their dissimilarities are plainly identified. In this characteristic, the level of sameness or difference is more significant than the truth that similarity exists. This is the same with when we try to make out the same words in two languages. For there can be no grounds as to why the same type should constantly bear the same meaning even in two related languages.

Nevertheless, there is no proof that the whole myth of prehistoric Canaan was carried to the Bible by way of the so-called historicization. It is practically merely in the texts of poetry that those ‘similar’ resources come into view and they typically comprise a group of phrases or words, never condemnations or conversations. It is a common rule that synchronic learning should come first before diachronic one in any literary or linguistic study. For instance, a metaphor in a poetic language should be considered in a basis that is synchronic prior to treatment of literature comparatively.Yhwh versus the Sea (Habakkuk 3:8)It has for a long time been suggested by many scholars of the old testament that this passage is a reflection of the Hebrew complement of the Canaanite Chaos-kampf design in the myth of Ugaritic Baal-Yamm. For instance, Cassuto gets to trace in this verse ‘an echo of the ancient Canaanite ideas, even though indirect’: ‘”River” and “sea” that reminds us of “the Prince of the Sea” and of “the Judge of the River” against whom Baal fought.

‘ whereas Wakeman confesses that ym and nhr come into sight regularly as a poetic cliche, she embraces the analysis that only Habakkuk 3:8 ‘ directly reflects the myth, talking about the rage of God and his arrangements for battle.’ Albright, so as to be familiar with here a personified ‘River’, alters MT hbnhrym to hbnhrm [habn%u0101h%u0101rem]. Therefore, he finds here the straight Hebrew complement of the myth of Ugaritic of Baal not in favor of nhr (river) and ym (Sea). Eaton appears to be a step ahead and distinguishes here the real commencement of storm. As a result he says “The storm has broken, and it is as though the heavenly power with cloud and rain and thunder-bolts fights against rivers and seas which for their part leap and rage against their ancient adversary. As often in Hebrew poetry, the angry waters here represent all opposition to God while the unleashing of heaven’s tempest signals God’s power and will to subdue such opposition that there may be salvation, the victory of life”.

Eaton makes an assumption of the actual storm and exemplifies the water (seas and rivers) and storm, the usual phenomenon and explains them as the contrasting powers which battle against each other. However, his postulation lacks support from the text. Additionally, he employs metaphors, ‘angry waters’ and ‘heaven’s tempest’, to explain the paranormal powers. Nevertheless, not like Psalm 46, in Habakkuk 3 it is Yahweh becomes angry and not the waters. Besides, Habakkuk 3:8-10, appears to correspond to not only ‘God’s power and will to subdue’ but the definite and once for all incapacity.In conclusion, the frequently recommended correlation between Habakkuk 3 and the myth of Ugaritic mythology does not appear to be well founded.

The declaration of the conventional word-pair ‘rivers’ and the ‘sea’ in chapter 3:8 do not routinely give good reason for presuming the Ugaritic background: that is the Canaanite Chaoskampf pattern of the Ugaritic Baal-Yamm myth. The ‘chariots’ (v. 8) and the ‘bow’ and ‘mace’ (v. 9) are to be contrasted with a lot of antique Near Eastern patterns of successful human being kings travelling in a chariot with a maze and a bow in their hands. Habakkuk 3:13b also appears to replicate conflict imagery, to a certain extent than a definite Canaanite myth.

As for resep, it should not be put in use as a proof for the continuation of exact myth of Ugaritic as corresponding to Habakkuk 3. It is significant that a metaphorization of a normal word should be cautiously notable from a demythologization of a name that is divine.