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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Daphne

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(Δάφνη, the laurel; so called from the verdure of the place, or because this tree was sacred to Apollo), the name of several localities mentioned in later writers.

1. A celebrated grove and sanctuary of Apollo near Antioch (q.v.), in Syria. Its establishment, like that of the city, was due to Seleucus Nicator. The distance between the two places was about five miles (Strabo, 16:750), and in history they are associated most intimately together (Antioch being frequently called . ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ, and πρὸς Δάφνην, and conversely Daphne entitled Δ . πρὸς Ἀντιοχείαν, Josephus, War, 1:12, 5; comp. Ant. 14:15, 11; 17:2, 1). The situation was of extreme natural beauty, with perennial fountains and abundant wood. Seleucus localized here, and appropriated to himself and his family the fables of Apollo and the river Peneus, and the nymph Daphne. Here he erected a magnificent temple and colossal statue of the god (Libanius, De Daphnao Templo, 3, 334). The succeeding Seleucid monarchs, especially Antiochus Epiphanes, embellished the place still further. Among other honors, it possessed the privileges of an asylum. It is in this character that the place is mentioned, 2 Maccabees 4:33. In the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 171), the aged and patriotic high-priest Onias, having rebuked Menelaus for his sacrilege at Jerusalem, took refuge at Daphne, whence he was treacherously brought out, at the instance of Menelaus, and murdered by Andronicus, who was governor of Antioch during the king's absence on a campaign. Josephus does not give this account of the death of Onias (Ant. 12:5, 1). When Syria became Roman, Daphne continued to be famous as a place of pilgrimage and vice. "Daphnici mores" was a proverb (see Gibbon's 23d chapter).

The beginning of the decay of Daphne must be dated from the time of Julian, when Christianity in the empire began to triumph over heathenism. The site has been well identified by Pococke and other travelers at Beit el- Miaa, "the House of the Water," on the left bank of the Orontes, to the south-west of Antioch, and on higher ground, where the fountains and the wild fragrant vegetation are in harmony with all that we read of the natural characteristics of Apollo's sanctuary. Smith, s.v. It is a small natural amphitheatre on the declivity of the mountains, where the springs burst with a loud noise from the earth, and running in a variety of directions for a distance of about two hundred yards, terminate in two beautiful cascades, which fall into the valley of the Orontes. The largest of the fountains rises from under a vertical rock, forming a small abyss or concavity, on the top and sides of which are the massive remains of an ancient edifice, perhaps those of the Temple of Apollo (Kelly's Syria, p. 281). For a translation of an ancient inscription recently discovered on the site, see the Jour. Am. Or. Sot;. 6:550. See Muller, Antiq. Antiochen, p. 64; Smith's Dict. of Class. Geogr. s.v. (See ANTIOCH).

2. A town or village (χώριον ) near the fountains of the little Jordan (Josephus, War, 4:1, sec. 1). Reland (Paloestina, p. 263) and others have considered this as identical with Dan, proposing to read Δάνης for Δάφνης, and referring in support to Josephus, Ant. 8:8, 4. Recent explorers have shown this to be an error, and have discovered the site of the Daphne of Josephus in the present Dufneh, two miles to the south of Tell el-Kady, the site of Dan (Van de Velde, Memoir, p. 306; Syria and Palestine, 2:419; Robinson, Later Researches, p. 393; Wilson, Bible Lands, 2:172); Thomson, Land and Book, 1:388),

3. In Numbers 34:11, the clause rendered in the Λ . V. "on the east side of Ain" (q.v.), and by the Sept. "on the east to (of) the fountain," is given in the Vulgate "contra fontem Daphnim." The word Daphnim is most probably a marginal gloss, and may perhaps refer to No. 2. Jerome, in his commentary on Ezekiel (c. 47), refers to the passage in Numbers, and gives reasons for concluding that "the fountain" is Daphne No. 1. The Targums of Jonathan and of Jerusalem give Daphne or Dophne as the equivalent of Riblah (q.v.) in Numbers 34:11 (q.v.). The error into which Jerome and the Targums have fallen appears to have arisen either from a confusion between Daphne on the Jordan with Daphne on the Orontes, or from mistaking the fountains near the mouth of the Orontes for those at its source.

4. A fortified town on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile (Δάφναι, Herod. 2:30, 107), the TAHPENES (See TAHPENES) (q.v.) of Scripture, distant from Pelusium sixteen Roman miles (Itin. Ant. Iter a Pelusio Memphim).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Daphne'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/daphne.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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