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Sale of a Town (AT 52) (3.99B)

(482 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary This is one of several texts at Alalakh from Level VII in which towns are bought and sold (see  AT 53–58). In this case a woman and her son, and therefore the one living heir, sell the town of Iburia to Yarimlim of Alalakh. The sale of towns recalls their use in payment from Solomon to Hiram (1 Kgs 11:11) and as a wedding gift from pharaoh to Solomon (1 Kgs 9:16–17). See also  AT 1 ( COS COSB.2.127) and  AT 456 ( COS COSB.2.137). Sale of a Town ( AT 52) (3.99B) Subject: Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 1…

A Letter Reporting Matters in Kalaḫ (Kalḫu) (3.96)

(1,336 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Assyria Commentary This letter (NL 16; ND 2765; IM 64159) comes from Kalaḫ (Nimrud) and dates between 720 and 715 bce during the reign of Sargon II. Therefore its contents cannot refer to the aftermath of the campaign against Ashdod in 712/ 711 bce (see note 1). Beside the issues regarding a festival that has recently been celebrated in the city and certain bull colossi that the governor, Marduk-rēmanni, had been placing in their appropriate locations, the l…

Letter of Rib-Haddi of Byblos (Gubla) (EA 362) (3.92E)

(736 words)

Author(s): Moran, William
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Tell El-Amarna Commentary The most diligent — and most wearisome — of the Pharaoh’s vassal correspondents, Rib-Hadda (here Rib-Haddi) continues his litany of requests for action against the rising state of Amurru to the north, earlier under Abdi-Aširta, now under his sons, especially Aziru. The Pharaoh is Amenophis IV (Akhenaten). Letter of Rib-Haddi of Byblos (Gubla) ( EA 362) (3.92E) Subject: Gen 43:28; 1 Sam 24:9; Isa 60:14; Ezek 27:9; Exod 5:3; 9:15; Lev 26:25; Num 14:12; Deut 28:21; 2 Sam…

Letter of Labʾayu of Shechem (Šakmu) (EA 253) (3.92F)

(444 words)

Author(s): Moran, William
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Tell El-Amarna Commentary The Amarna archive preserved three letters from Labʾayu ( EA 252–254). In the first, he agrees, very reluctantly, to obey orders of the king he finds very distasteful; in the others, both apparently in reply to a letter from the Pharaoh questioning his loyalty, especially in his dealings with Gezer (Gazru),1 he sets the record straight. Letter of Labʾayu of Shechem (Šakmu) ( EA 253) (3.92F) Subject: Gen 43:28; 1 Sam 24:9; Isa 60:14; Josh 10:33; 12:12; 16:3, 10; 21:21; J…

Land Sale (3.118)

(341 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Neo-assyrian Contracts Commentary Dating to 649 bce (reign of Assurbanipal), this tablet was discovered by Macalister during excavations in 1905 (a year after the first tablet, Gezer 1, see above). It records the sale of a plot of land by an Israelite named Natan-Yau. Like Gezer 1, this text’s personal names demonstrate the mixed population of the city as well as the role that some Israelites continued to play in the economics of the region. Land Sale (3.118) Subject: Jer 39:9 ( lines 1–2) Seal o…

The Goring Ox at Nuzi (3.121)

(391 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Nuzi Commentary The favorite textbook illustration of negligence in the law collections of the ancient Near East is that of the goring ox (Finkelstein 1973, 1981; Jackson 1974). In reality, cases of oxen goring may have been rare; only one such case has been identified in the surviving documentation. It illustrates, to some extent, a provision found in the Laws of Eshnunna ( COS COSB.2.130 §53) and the Covenant Code (Exod 21:35f.). It happens to come from Nuzi, a site east of the Ti…

Administrative Record (AT 457) (3.126)

(492 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Accounts; Alalakh Commentary This Level IV text contains a list of “citizens” from Taya. More than sixty lines list individuals and their place of origin. The places, where they can be identified, appear to be located in the regions around Alalakh and Aleppo. Several place names recur. One group, Akubia, Mudue and Paḫliš, occur together in AT 457 and two other administrative texts,  AT 223 and  AT 343. The personal names can be analyzed according to the languages of the various ancient N…

Letter Asking for the Return of Stolen Donkeys (AT 116) (3.91)

(227 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Alalakh Commentary This letter exemplifies the small collection of epistolary literature from Alalakh (Akkadian  AT 106 -  AT 117; Hittite  AT 125), all from Level IV. The introduction compares with letters from other Late Bronze Age collections at Ugarit and Amarna. The writer, Ianḫe, is concerned about donkeys that belonged to him but have been seized by his servant. This concern recalls the search of Saul in 1 Samuel 9. Letter Asking for the Return of Stolen Donkeys ( AT 116) (3.91) Formulaic …

A Debt Note (3.116)

(675 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Neo-assyrian Contracts Commentary This second tablet from Tel Hadid is dated by eponym to 664 bce. It was discovered in situ in rescue excavations in 1997 on a plaster floor of the central unit of a three-room late Iron II building (Brand 1998). The tablet is nearly intact and very readable. The text is a debt-note with an antichretic pledge1 — a pledge of a person or persons (usually family members) in lieu of the interest on the principal of a loan. There are no risk o…

Letter of Abdi-Heba of Jerusalem (EA 286) (3.92A)

(1,051 words)

Author(s): Moran, William
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Tell El-Amarna Commentary This letter is one of six ( EA 285–290) in the Amarna archive from Abdi-Heba,1 ruler of Jerusalem, to the Pharaoh, probably Amenophis IV (ca. 1350–1334 bce).2 Letter of Abdi-Heba of Jerusalem ( EA 286) (3.92A) Subject: Gen 43:28; 1 Sam 24:9; Isa 60:14; Jer 2:5; Mic 6:3; Deut 4:34; 5:15; 21:5; Gen 42:15–16; 15:21; Deut 6:5; Judg 5:31; 1 Sam 18:1, 3; 20:17; 2 Sam 19:7; 1 Kgs 5:15 ( lines 1–4) Say to the king, my lord: Message of Abdi-Heba, your servant. I fall at …

The Letter of Takuhlina (3.94)

(544 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Aphek Commentary Relatively few cuneiform documents have so far been recovered from the soil of Israel/Palestine, but excavations continue to turn up more; see Hallo, Origins 161, for a provisional list.1 The site of ancient Aphek, for example, has yielded eight texts and fragments dating to the very end of the Bronze Age (ca. 1200 bce) as the following letter indicates. It originated in Ugarit and was destined for the Egyptian vizier who may have been stationed at Aph…

Marriage Customs (AT 92) (3.101B)

(499 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary This is an important Level IV text for understanding marriage customs in Late Bronze Age Alalakh. Unfortunately, it is fragmentary and difficult to interpret due to grammatical anomalies. Apparently this is a “pre-nuptial agreement” that provides for contexts in which the wife may offend the husband and thereby cause a divorce. The settlement of the divorce is envisioned and different for each case (lines 6´-14´).1 As in so many other marriage documents from t…

Seven Years of Barrenness Before a Second Wife (AT 93) (3.101C)

(184 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary This text, from Level IV, compares with the manner in which Jacob worked seven years for Laban before he was allowed one of his daughters as a wife (Gen 29:15–35). However, there are significant differences because with Jacob the issue was not barrenness but his desire for Rachel. Seven Years of Barrenness Before a Second Wife ( AT 93) (3.101C) 1 x x du 2 From this day, before [Niqmepa the king:] 3 The daughter of Ilimili, 4 Zunzuri, Idat[ti (?) 5 has taken for a wife. 6 Two hundred s…

Sale of an Estate (3.117)

(607 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Neo-assyrian Contracts Commentary Dating to 652 bce, the tablet was discovered in 1904 by R. A. S. Macalister during excavations at Gezer. The text is a sale contract for an entire estate: land, house, servants, etc. Unfortunately, because of the fragmentary nature of lines 6–9, the particulars (including the sale price) are missing. The personal names mentioned in the text give an important insight into the mixed population of the city of Gezer during the period of…

Royal Land Grant (3.110)

(171 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Property Conveyances from Ugarit Royal Land Grant (3.110) From the present day on, Ammistamru, son of Niqmepa, king of Ugarit1 has given to Yaṣiranu, son of Ḫuṣanu, the village ( ālu) E[—]ish with everything it has forever, (also) to his sons and grandsons. Its grain, its beer ( šikaru)2 of its (the village’s) tithe, and the sheep — the pasturing tax ( ma-aq-qa-du)3 shall be for Yaṣiranu. The silver of the gifts and silver of the bridegroom’s friend and service boys ( sú-sa-pi-in-nu-ti…

Letter of Tušratta, King of Mitanni (EA 17) (3.92D)

(762 words)

Author(s): Moran, William
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Tell El-Amarna Commentary In one of the earliest letters of the Amarna archive, the king of Mitanni tries to patch up relations with Egypt and renew an earlier alliance. Letter of Tušratta, King of Mitanni ( EA 17) (3.92D) Subject: Deut 6:5; Judg 5:31; 1 Sam 18:1, 3; 20:17; 2 Sam 19:7; 1 Kgs 5:15; Deut 1:27; Josh 6:2; 7:7, 24; 1 Kgs 22:6; 2 Kgs 18:30; 19:10; Exod 14:28; Deut 2:15; Josh 7:24 ( lines 1–10) Say to Nibmuareya,1 the king of Egypt, my brother: Thus Tušeratta,2 the king of Mitanni,3 your bro…

Sale of a Slave (3.114)

(590 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Neo-assyrian Contracts Commentary Recently a number of inscriptions from T ī l Barsip (Tel Aḫmar) have been published.1 Most of the Neo-Assyrian cuneiform documents from the site seem to come from a single archive, that of a man named Hanni. Interestingly, three of the tablets (13, 18 and 20) mention a man named Issār-dūri who is further identified as “the son of Samiraya” (“the Samarian”).2 Two of the other personal names in this tablet are gentilics like Samiraya: Hama…

Sale of a Slave Woman (3.112)

(508 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Neo-assyrian Contracts Commentary Dating to approximately 642 bce (see note 1 below), this text (BM 103956) records the sale of a slave woman named Bānât-Esaggil. The person selling the slave woman has a Yahwistic name, Yadiʾ-Yau. This same woman appears to have been sold some years later (see note 2 below). Sale of a Slave Woman (3.112) ( lines 1–3) The seal of Yadiʾ-Yau,3 the […] of the chief of public works,4 owner of the woman being sold. ( Seals, faded) ( lines 4–8a) Nabû-metu-uballi…

Receipt for the Purchase of a Debt Slave (AT 65) (3.100)

(299 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary This level VII tablet records the purchase of a debt slave. Debt slavery was well known in the ancient Near East. The use of the andarārum was a special dispensation that allowed all those in debt to be freed of their debts. In order to circumvent this possibility, Sumunnabi had a special clause written into the agreement. Perhaps this type of permanent servitude, with no exclusions, was what Leviticus 25:39–42 addressed. It required release of all those in debt du…

An Assyrian Horse List (3.128)

(831 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Accounts; Neo-Assyrian Commentary This tablet (× cm), with two columns on the front and two columns on the back, was discovered during the 1957–63 excavations of Nimrud (ancient Kalḫu) in an area at the southeastern corner of the lower city known as Fort Shalmaneser. The text is one of the administrative documents known more specifically as the Horse Lists.1 Apparently, it was a formal check list either preceding or following the actual muster lists, which were less carefully wri…
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