🔼The name Haddakel: Summary
- Keen Frivolity
- From (1) the verb חדד (hadad), to be sharp, keen or swift, and (2) the verb קלל (qalal), to be light or frivolous.
🔼The name Haddakel in the Bible
The Haddakel, a.k.a. Hiddakel or Hiddekel, is the third of four rivers of Eden (the others being Pishon, Gihon, and Parat). Although most translations mention this river by its modern name Tigris, in the Bible this river is consistently called Haddakel.
According to Genesis 2:14, this river flows east of Assyria, which is a problem since the signature city of Assyria, namely Ashur, was situated on its banks. In our article on the name Tigris we have a look at what might be going on with this. The second time the Haddakel is mentioned in the Bible is in Daniel 10:4, where the prophet Daniel has a vision while standing by the banks of the "great river" that is the Haddakel.
🔼Etymology of the name Haddakel
The name Haddakel somehow managed to derive from the more usual name Tigris, or more precise: both appear to have a common ancestor in the Avestan word tighri, meaning arrow, or the more general tigra, meaning sharp or pointed.
Our name Haddakel appears to have been formed somewhere on the intersection of a phonetic transliteration of any of the above, and available Hebrew roots that would allow fidelity to the original meaning of "swift river". The question now becomes which roots that might have been.
Fuerst's Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament suggests that our name is derived from the verb חדק (hdq), meaning to prick:
The unused verb חדק (hdq) probably meant to prick, string or separate, and may even derive from the twice-used noun חדק (hedeq), meaning brier.
But this does not explain the letter lamed in the name Haddakel. The word דקל (daqel) denotes a date tree palm. In this sense the name Haddakel would be related to the name Diklah.
More interesting and more common, however, are the words חד (had), meaning sharp:
The verb חדד (hadad) means to be sharp or keen or even swift. Adjective חד (had) means sharp (mostly of swords) and adjective חדוד (haddud) means sharpened or pointed.
The verb חדה (hada) is similar to the previous, but appears to lean more toward keenness, swiftness or even gladness and resonance. In some cases it plainly means to rejoice. Noun חדוה (hedwa) means joy or gladness.
The ideas of sharpness and joyfulness meet in the noun חידה (hida), which means riddle; a verbal exercise meant to sharpen the mind and give joy in the process. Posing riddles was an important element of life in societies that were wisdom-based, which explains the many Biblical scenes that revolve around riddles. The denominative verb חוד (hud) means to pose a riddle.
Note the emphasis on collectivity in these words, as well as the principle of preservation of momentum that underlies both the mechanical process of resonance and social phenomena such as humor, fashion and even language itself.
And either of the words קל (qal/qol) meaning swift or frivolity:
The verb קלל (qalal) means to be light-weight and hence to be swift or trifling. It's the opposite of being weighty and thus important or glorious. Adjective קל (qal) means light or swift. Noun קל (qol) means lightness or frivolity. Noun קללה (qelala) means "a making light" or a dishonoring. Adjective קלקל (qeloqel) means contemptible or worthless. Noun קיקלון (qiqalon) means disgrace.
Likewise, verb קלה (qala) means to be lightly esteemed or dishonored. Noun קלון (qalon) means shame or dishonor. Surprisingly hip, this verb may also be used in the sense of to roast or burn. Noun קלי (qali) denotes parched grain, which was a common staple in Biblical times.
For a meaning of the name Haddakel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Rapid, but more complete would be Sharp Rapids. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names renders The Rapid Swift.