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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…

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 …

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…

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…

Inheritance of a Brother and a Sister (AT 7) (3.129)

(692 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Wills; Alalakh Commentary This Old Babylonian text from Alalakh resolves an inheritance dispute before the court of the king. In so doing it is clear that both sister and brother receive shares of the estate. It is thus clear that women could inherit property and take a share of their father’s estate, as in the famous case of the daughters of Zelophehad (Num 27:1–11; Josh 17:3–6). In both accounts, however, the decision is made before the leader of the nation and thus the impression is th…

Palace Receipt for the Return of a Marriage Gift (AT 17) (3.101A)

(429 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary This text comes from the Middle Babylonian level (Level IV). Although Finkelstein (1969:546) describes the document as the “Abrogation of a Marriage Agreement,” that is not its focus nor even is it clear that a marriage agreement is ended. Instead, a traitor is executed and the property is confiscated by the king who must return a marriage gift to the traitor’s son-in-law. Although the marriage law…

Transfer of Creditors (at 28) (3.102B)

(381 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary This Level VII text describes the debt owed by the fowlers (lines 1–4) and their family. The debt is transferred from one creditor (Kurbišan) to another (Ammitaku). Transfer of Creditors (at 28) (3.102B) The debtors ( lines 1–5) 1 Ašma-Addu son of Inakabiti, 2 Wikken, 3 Zuḫerasi, 4 (and) Taʾuzen, 5 the fowlers. The change of creditors ( lines 6–12) 6 Regarding the principal investment of thirty silver shekels, 7 Kurbišan son of Niminašu 8 has seized them. 9 Ammitaku 12 the…

Sale Transactions (3.99)

(34 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary The Purchase of Beer ( AT 33) Sale of a Town ( AT 52) Sale Transactions (3.99)

Security for a Loan (AT 18) (3.102A)

(602 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary  AT 18–28 are all Old Babylonian documents from Alalakh level VII. They describe mazzazzānūtu or stand-ins, people who function as security deposits until a debt owed to the king is paid. This has been compared to those who dwell in the house of the Lord (similar phrasing) in the Psalms (e.g., Pss 23:6; 27:4). The translation of  AT 18 follows the readings of Zeeb (1992:452) who incorporates readings from thirteen lines found on the tablet case (AT 39/…

The Purchase of Beer (AT 33) (3.99A)

(445 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Alalakh Commentary Found in 18th century bce Alalakh Level VII, this text describes the purchase of jars of beer and the exchange of 135 silver shekels. There is a guarantor in the form of the debtors who must make good their provision of beer. They apparently remain bound to this debt for as long as any among them shall live. The concept of debts held for the life of a person is known elsewhere in the biblical world. Th…

The El-Amarna Letters (4.80-86)

(7,085 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Commentary The El Amarna tablets represent the largest collection of letters and other literature emerging from Palestine before the writing of the Hebrew Bible. However, the letters are not limited to the land of Israel or even to the southern Levant. Originating across the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East of the fourteenth century bce, this corpus of about 380 cuneiform texts was rediscovered in 1887. They appeared at the abandoned site that became known as Tell el-Amarna in Egypt. The town was originally built as his capital by pharaoh …

List of Hapiru Soldiers (AT 180) (3.125)

(584 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Accounts; Alalakh Commentary This is a representative of many lists from Alalakh that record the names of conscripts to serve in various parts of the military of Alalakh. This Level IV text introduces ḫāpiru-soldiers. The ḫāpiru, although regarded as enemies of society in texts from Amarna and elsewhere in the second millennium bce, serve in key administrative roles in Level IV of Alalakh. There are diviners ( AT 182 line 16) and governors ( AT 182 line 13) who are ḫāpiru. In this text, li…