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Ancient Stories of Childless Rulers and Divine Heroes

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posted on Sep, 5 2019 @ 12:50 PM
In many ancient myths we find stories of kings/Patriarchs who were unable to have children but with the help of the gods they eventually gave birth to powerful heroes. Whether there is symbolic meaning in these narratives is for you to decide.

The first story we'll take a look at the ancient Canaanite legend of Aqhat which was written on a series of cuneiform tablets around 1300 BC , The story starts with a king called "Danel". The opening scene introduces Danel as "the man of Rapau," the first of the Rephaim (or Rapauma), the divinized, deceased ancestors of the Ugaritic royal house. The story starts with Danel in a temple, where he is making offerings to the divine Assembly in hope of gaining the deities' favor.

Then Danel, the man of Rapau,
the Hero, the man of the Harnamite,
.... he gave the gods food,
.... he gave the holy ones drink.
He cast off his cloak and lay down,
put off his garment and spent the night.
One day passed, and on the second...

Danel keeps providing food & drinks until the 7th day when the thunder god Baal (the equivalent of Indra/Zeus) decides to visit him.

Then, on the seventh day,
Baal approached with his compassion:
"Danel, the man of Rapau, laments,
the Hero, the man of the Harnamite, moans:
For he has no son as his brothers do,
no heir like his kinsmen;
unlike his brothers, he has no son,
nor an heir, like his kinsmen.

The text continues with the god Baal telling his father the god El to provide Danel with a son.

he has given the gods food,
he has given the holy ones drink.
So, my father, El the Bull, bless him,
Creator of Creatures, show him your favor.
Let him have a son in his house,
an heir inside his palace,
to set up a stela for his divine ancestor,

Danel's face lit up in joy,
and above his countenance shone.
His brow relaxed and he laughed,
he put his feet on a stool,
he raised his voice and declared:
"Now I can sit back and relax;
my heart inside me can relax;
for a son will be born to me like my brother
an heir, like my kinsmen,
to set up a stela for my divine ancestor,
a votive marker for my clan in the sanction

Here we see that Danel has a "divine ancestor" which makes it clear that the Raphiates were part of a godly lineage.

The text continues with minor goddeses of childbirth called "Kotharat" visiting Danel at his Palace.

Danel arrived at his house,
Danel reached his palace.
The Kotharat entered his house,
Radiant Daughters of the Crescent Moon.
Then Danel, the man of Rapau,
the Hero, the man of the Harnamite,
slaughtered an ox for the Kotharat,
he gave food to the Kotharat,
drink to the Radiant Daughters of the Crescent
One day had ended, and on the second

Just like before, the food & drinks were offered until 7th day.

Then, on the seventh day,
the Kotharat left his house,
the Radiant Daughters of the Crescent Moon ...
... the pleasures of the bed,
. the delights of the bed...
Danel sat and counted the months...

Three partially broken lines follow, which include words suggesting the counting of months of pregnancy. About ten further lines are missing.

Columns 3 and 4 are also completely missing. From events later in the story, it is clear that Danel's son Aqhat was born. The text continues with the god of crafts Kothar who tells Danel that he'll provide his son with a powerful bow.

"I'll bring a bow there,
I'll provide the arrows."
And then, on the seventh day,
Danel, the man of Rapau,
the Hero, the man of the Harnamite,
got up and sat at the entrance to the gate,
among the leaders on the threshing floor.
He judged the cases of widows,
presided over orphans' hearings.
Then he raised his eyes and looked:
he saw Kothar coming,
he saw Hasis approaching.
Look!—he was bringing a bow,
he saw Hasis approaching.
Look!—he was bringing a bow,
look!—he was bearing arrows.
Then Danel, the man of Rapau,
the Hero, the man of the Harnamite,
called to his wife:
"Listen, Lady Danataya:
Prepare a lamb from the flock
for Kothar-wa-Hasis's appetite,
for the desire of the Skillful Craftsman.
Give food and drink to the god;
serve and honor him,
the lord of Egypt, the god of it all."
Lady Danataya obeyed;
she prepared a lamb from the flock
for Kothar-wa-Hasis's appetite,
for the desire of the Skillful Craftsman.
After Kothar-wa-Hasis had arrived,
he put the bow in Danel's hands,
he set the arrows on his knees.
Then Lady Danataya gave food and drink to
the god;
she served and honored him,
the lord of Egypt, the god of it all.
Kothar left for his tent,
the Skillful One for his home.

When Aqhat eventually grows up the goddess Anat (daughter of El) became jealous of Aqhat and offered him immortality if he handed over his bow , Aqhat refused and told Anat that she was a liar ,The goddess Anat became angry and founded a person to assassinate the hero which caused the bow to fall into the Ocean.
In the Sumerian tablets there is a similar conflict between Gilgamesh and the goddess Ishtar.

The second story we'll take a look at the Hindu myth of Arjuna who along with his brothers & sisters was born to a sterile king called Pandu. the story comes from the Mahabharata written around 400BC.

Pandavas - The Five Sons of Pandu

The Pandavas are the five sons of Pandu, a king of the Kuru dynasty. Yudhishtra, Bheema and Arjuna were born to Kunti, his first wife. The twins Nakula and Sahadeva were born to his second wife Madri. Each of the Pandavas has a divine father, as Pandu was incapable of fathering a child as a result of a curse. The father of Yudhishtra is Yama, the father of Bheema is Vayu, the father of Arjuna is Indra and the fathers of the twins Nakula and Sahadeva are the divine Ashwini twins.

Just like the story of Aqhat , the hero Arjuna was given a powerful bow by Agni the Hindu god of crafts and just like the Canaanite story the bow also fell into the ocean.

edit on 5-9-2019 by ancienthistorian because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 5 2019 @ 12:50 PM
Next is the Hebrew story of the patriarch Abraham who's wife Sarah was too old for child birth. Just like the story of Aqhat he was visited by divine beings at his tent and told his wife to prepare a lamb and something to drink.

While he was sitting at the entrance to his tent. 2And Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3“My lord,” said Abraham, “if I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, that you may wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 And I will bring a bit of bread so that you may refresh yourselves. This is why you have passed your servant’s way. After that, you may continue on your way.” “Yes,” they replied, “you may do as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Prepare three seahs of fine flour, knead it, and bake some bread.” 7Meanwhile, Abraham ran to the herd, selected a tender, choice calf, and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8Then Abraham brought curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and he set them before the men and stood by them under the tree as they ate.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked.
“There, in the tent,” he replied.
10 Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year, and your wife Sarah will have a son!”

The last story is the legend of Samson who's mother was infertile and was approached by an angel who helped her give birth to a hero with superhuman strength.

Now there was a man from Zorah named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, whose wife was barren and had no children. 3 The Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “It is true that you are barren and have no children; but you will conceive and give birth to a son.
Then the woman went and said to her husband, “A man of God came to me. His appearance was like the Angel of God, exceedingly awesome. I did not ask Him where He came from, and He did not tell me His name. 7 But He said to me, ‘Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son.
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, “Please, O Lord, let the man of God You sent us come to us again to teach us how to raise the boy who is to be born.”
9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God returned to the woman as she was sitting in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman ran quickly to tell her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has reappeared!”
“I am,” He said.
12 Then Manoah asked, “When Your words come to pass, what will be the boy’s rule of life and mission?”
13 So the Angel of the LORD answered Manoah, “Your wife is to do everything I told her"
“Please stay here,” Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “and we will prepare a young goat for You.”
16 And the Angel of the LORD replied, “Even if I stay, I will not eat your food."
.........24 So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson.

edit on 5-9-2019 by ancienthistorian because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 5 2019 @ 01:32 PM
Another dude was banging his old lady.

posted on Sep, 8 2019 @ 10:37 AM
It's clear that ancient people put a lot more faith in heredity than we do today.

If a person were born among them who demonstrated great leadership ability, they wanted that person to lead so they could conquer their enemies, and/or secure their existing lands.

Trouble is, they focused so much on preserving that one line, the descendants would get inbred, leading to infertility (among other problems, such as insanity, and congenital defects.)

And the people honestly believed that only this guy's descendants would be fit to rule. So the whole nation got worried if he couldn't produce an heir.

posted on Sep, 18 2019 @ 04:54 PM
a reply to: ancienthistorian

That passage about Manoah makes me thing of a plot for a doujin where a clergy prays on desperate commoners.

Anyone wearing clean clothes from nice fabrics and sporting a fresh shave would appear angelic. Man of god seems like clergy. "It is not i who is giving you a child but god" seems like the right dialogue choice.
In the end the over privileged clergy did not want to eat the food of the commoners and wants to go back to his temple full of wine and cheeses.

Not trying to make light of a story, but seems like some rhetoric a drunkard could write to glorify his night prowling.

posted on Sep, 26 2019 @ 12:46 AM
great thread! indeed, it's the same tale over and over again, the same themes, different names , and local color reinterpret some tropes, but overall, some things were very different back in the day, and some where either seeded, or just awoken by esoteric means!

Thanks for sharing!

posted on Oct, 10 2019 @ 11:53 PM
edit on 10-10-2019 by RelSciHistItSufi because: (no reason given)

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