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A Record of Hire (3.137B)

(191 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Rental and Hire Transactions Commentary The text originates from Nippur and dates to the Ur III period (8th year of Šu-Sin, 12th month, ca. 2030 BCE). A Record of Hire (3.137B) (lines 1–6) Geme-Nungal and Šu-Durul, her son, received from Lugal-azida 1 shekel of silver, the wages of Ur-Iškur.1 (lines 7–14) Before Ur-Iškur, before 〈PN〉, son of Ur-Sin, before Lu-Iškur, (and) before Tulta, son of Lugal-hegal, they swore by the name of the king to measure out 6 l…

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 Loan of Silver to Šuna (3.136E)

(212 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Loan Transactions Commentary This tablet and its envelope come from Nippur and date to the Ur III period (1st year of Ibbi-Sin, 6th month, ca. 2028 BCE). The transaction involves an antichretic arrangement, in which the interest on the loan is paid off by the labor of the pledged slave woman (see also the next two loans, COSB.3.136F and COSB.3.136G and above, COSB.3.116). A Loan of Silver to Šuna (3.136E) (lines 1–6) Šuna received 7 shekels of silver from Šeš-dada (as a loan); in l…

Papyrus Rylands VI (3.6)

(387 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Egyptian Archival Documents; Contracts; Saīte Demotic Self-Sales into Slavery Commentary A cultivator Peftjauawykhonsu, attested in five papyri from El-Hîbeh in Middle Egypt, sells himself into slavery in return for payment and actions performed by the priest Nessematawy “in year 2 when I was dying.”1 Subsequent documents renew the initial contract and record temporary transfers of ownership. The self-sale documents are distinct from most slave contracts, in which the slave is treated as ch…

A Shipping Contract (3.139)

(258 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts Commentary Functional contracts typically end with a witness list and a date. In the latter, note that the month name in the standard Babylonian calendar became the basis of the later Hebrew month names, replacing the Canaanite names of pre-exilic times. The present text also features a Persian Gulf seal, crucial for dating the civilization of the Persian Gulf. 7. A Shipping Contract (3.139) Subject: 1 Kgs 6:1 (1–3) 4 talents of haltikku-wool,1 2 bushels of wheat, 2 (bushels) of sesame (4–7) Hat…

The Marriage of Puzur-haya and Ubartum (3.135B)

(119 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Marriage Agreements Commentary This tablet and its envelope originate from Lagaš and date to the Ur III period (4th year of Ibbi-Sin, ca. 2025 BCE). The Marriage of Puzur-haya and Ubartum (3.135B) (lines 1–4) Puzur-Haya took Ubartum as his wife. (lines 5–11) Before Ur-Damu, son of Ur-meme, (before) Ur-Dumuzi, (before) Bulali, (and before) Alduga, son of Ur-Dumuzi, the witnesses, before them, the oath by the name of the king was sworn. (line 12) Year that En-amgalana, the high-priest of…

Slave Sale (3.133A)

(239 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Sale Transactions Commentary This text comes from Lagaš and dates to the Sargonic period (ca. 2250 BCE). Slave Sale (3.133A) Subject: Gen 10:10 (lines 1–6) Gala, Geme-LIŠ (and) her two daughters — they are his wife and children (i.e., of Gala); Lu-TAR (and) Šadu — they are his brothers. (lines 7–10) Lugal-ušumgal, the governor of Lagaš, bought them from Šu-ilišu, the judge. (lines 11–16) Puzur-Adad, son of Dudu, brother of Šu-ilišu, brought them from Akkade a (and) made them “cr…

A Loan of Silver to Ur-Enlila (3.136F)

(227 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Loan Transactions Commentary The text may originate from Nippur and dates from the Ur III period (1st year of Šu-Sin). This is an antichretic loan transaction, in which the interest on the loan is covered by the produce of the pledged field (see COSB.3.136D above and COSB.3.136G below). A Loan of Silver to Ur-Enlila (3.136F) (lines 1–5) Ur-Enlila, the farmer, received from Ga’akam 9 shekels of silver (as a loan); its interest (is) 2 shekels and 36 grains of silver.1 (lines 6–7) (In lieu of th…

A Loan of Sheep Fat (3.136C)

(205 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Loan Transactions Commentary This text comes from Nippur. It dates to the Ur III period (9th year of Šu-Sin, 10th month, 23rd day, ca. 2029 BCE). A Loan of Sheep Fat (3.136C) (lines 1–5) Adda-kala and Pussa, his wife, received 20 qû (liters) of sheep fat from Adda-kala (as an interest-free loan). (lines 6–7) They are to return it till the 30th day of the month ZÍZ.DURU5 (= 11th month). (lines 8–13) They swore by the name of the king that, if they do not return it (as specified), the…

A Loan of Silver to Šu-Ašli (3.136A)

(215 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Loan Transactions Commentary This tablet and its envelope come from Nippur and date to the Ur III period (5th year of Šu-Sin, 2nd? month, ca. 2033 BCE). A Loan of Silver to Šu-Ašli (3.136A) (lines 1–3) Šu-Ašli received 25 shekels of silver from A-zida (as an interest-free loan). (lines 4–5) He is to return the capital of the silver to Nippur till the month Apin-du8-a (= 8th month). (lines 6–8) If he does not return (this) silver (as specified), he will measure out 2 kor (= 600 l…

Demotic Self-Dedication Texts (3.EG.B.2)

(269 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Egyptian Archival Documents; Contracts Commentary Attested from Memphis and the Faiyum during the Ptolemaic period, “self-dedication texts” date to the second century bce. The texts show similarities both to the Saïte self-sales into slavery and to earlier oracular amuletic decrees issued by temples in the name of a protective deity. Amuletic decrees of the Third Intermediate Period (Dynasties 21–22) present the god as listing a long series of individual evils from which…

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…

Real Estate Transaction (3.133D)

(203 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Sale Transactions Commentary This text comes from Umma and dates to the Ur III period (before Šulgi’s 33rd year, ca. 2062 BCE). Real Estate Transaction (3.133D) (lines 1–14) 11/3 sar of a house — 17 1/6 shekels of silver being the price of the house; 1 mina of wool, 1 headband, (and) 1 liter of oil being the gift for the house — Ur-nigingar, son of Girini, the chief constable, bought (this) house from Gugu, son of Ušmu, (and) Išagani, his wife, from both of them. (line 15) He (i.e, Ur-nigingar) com…

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…

A Barley Loan from Assur (3.56)

(383 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Contracts; Assyrian Aramaic Commentary Discovered in excavations at Assur, this Assyrian Aramaic inscription recording a loan of barley is written on a triangular clay docket. It dates to the mid-7th century bce based on its archival context.1 A Barley Loan from Assur (3.56) Subject: Exod 22:24; Lev 25:36–37; 15:2; 23:20–21 ( Five fingernail marks on the top of the tablet) ( lines 1-reverse 1) Barley belonging to Aššur-šallim-aḫḫē,2 (debited) against Akkadayu.3 3 ( emāru “homers”)…

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…

The Manumission of Umanigar (3.134A)

(280 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Manumissions Commentary This text comes from Nippur and dates to the Ur III period (the 6th year of Amar-Sin, ca. 2041 BCE). The Manumission of Umanigar (3.134A) Subject: Gen 15:3 (lines 1–5) In the city-gate of Ninurta (named) “Lofty-city-gate-of-heaven-and earth,”1 Atu, his father, manumitted2 Umanigar, the slave of [PN], because of his being the (only) heir.3  a  (lines 6–9) Lu-kirizal (and) Lu-dingira, brothers of Atu, swore by the name of the king that (in the futu…

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…

Another Record of Hire (3.137C)

(183 words)

Author(s): Steinkeller, Piotr
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Contracts; Rental and Hire Transactions Commentary The text comes from Nippur and dates to the Ur III period (2nd year of Ibbi-Sin, 6th month, ca. 2027 BCE). Another Record of Hire (3.137C) (lines 1–6) Geme-Nungal received from Lugal-azida 3 shekels of silver, the yearly wages of Šu-Durul, (her son).1 (lines 7–11) She swore by the name of the king to measure out 10 liters of barley (as his) daily (wages), if Šu-Durul stops working. (lines 12–16) Abinu’a, Lateniš, Lu-Sin, (and) Adda-kala — these…
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