Yesterday I mentioned the fable of the wild ass and the man in Aḥiqar. Here is Lindenberger’s, 203, translation from the Elephantine Aramaic papyri.
[A man said] one [da]y to the wild
ass (ערדה), [“Let me ride] on you, and I
will provide for you.” [The wild
ass replied, “keep] your care and
fodder; I want nothing to do with
Clearly the wild ass wants no part of the bargain. The wild ass (עָרוֹד in Hebrew) resisted the life of Balaam’s domesticated she ass (his אָתוֹן).
Lindenberger’s directs our attention to Job 39:5-8,
Who set the wild ass (עָרוֹד) free,
And who loosed [the] bonds of [the] swift ass?
Whose home I have made [the] wilderness
And whose dwelling [the] salt flats.
He laughs at [the] uproar of [the] city;
He does not hear [the] shouts of the [the] driver.
He roams the hills [for] his pasture,
And he searches after anything green
Lindenberger, 273, n. 556, also suggests we compare Jeremiah 48:6 as emended to read,
Flee, save your lives!
Be like wild ass in the desert.
The emendment follows the Old Greek, ὥσπερ ὄνος ἄγριος ἐν ἐρήμῳ (OG Jer. 31:6) instead of the MT כַּעֲרוֹעֵר בַּמִּדְבָּר, “like a (the proper name??) Aroer in the desert.”
One shouldn’t necessarily see any literary contact between the Aḥiqar fable and the Biblical passages. Rather the commonality is likely within a cultural web of shared experience including shared experience with wild asses.
There is not a direct parallel to our fable in the other extant versions of Aḥiqar but the Arabic and Syriac versions seem to reflect a similar sentiment. I quote from Lewis’, 775-6, translation of the Arabic:
O my boy! They set the ass down at the table and he fell, and began to roll himself in the dust, and one said, “Let him roll himself, for it is his nature, he will not change.”
The Syriac version makes it clear that we are dealing with the head of an ass served for dinner.
The semantic equivalent of עָרוֹד, wild ass, in Akkadian is sirrimu of which an onager, (akkānnu), is the most common (only?) example in Akkadian. In the Babylonian Theology, 48, the sufferer asks,
The onager (akkānnu), the wild ass (sirrimu), who filled itself with [ . . .]
Did it pay attention to the giver of assured divine oracles?
[Lambert 73, 75]
And remember that Enkidu’s father was an onager (akkānnu) and wild asses (sirrimu) raised him on their milk (Gilgamesh, VIII:4-5). You are what you eat.
Lewis, A. S., translation of the Arabic version of Aḥiqar in R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English: with introductions and critical and explanatory notes to the several books (2 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), II, 724-76.
Lambert, Wilfred G., Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford University Press, 1960; reprint Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1996)
Lindenberger, James, M., The Aramaic proverbs of Ahiqar (Johns Hopkins Near Eastern Studies; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983)