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The Sarcophagus Inscription of ʾEshmunʿazor, King of Sidon (2.57)

(1,796 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Phoenician Inscriptions Commentary This black basalt sarcophagus, manufactured in Egypt and imported to Phoenicia, was found in 1855 in a shallow, rock-cut tomb in the Sidonian necropolis. After a false start on the head of the coffin itself, the stonecutter engraved the full inscription on the lid. ʾEshmunʿazor became king at the death of his father, Tabnit, in the mid-fifth century bce. He was an infant at the time of his accession and lived to reig…

Khirbet el-Qom (2.52)

(896 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Hebrew Inscriptions Commentary This late eighth-century bce epitaph appears on a slab of limestone recovered in 1967 after having been looted from a cave-tomb at the site of Khirbet el-Qom, about eight miles west of Hebron in the Judaean hills. The slab was originally part of a pillar adjoining one of the burial chambers in the tomb. The interpretation of the inscription, which is rather crudely w…

The Nabataean Tomb Inscription of Ḥalafu at Madāʾin ṣāliḥ (2.68)

(453 words)

Author(s): Healey, J. F.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Nabataean Inscriptions Commentary For general comments see the Kamkam inscription above. The Ḥalafu inscription is dated 31/32 ce and located on the facade of tomb no. E 18.1 The Nabataean Tomb Inscription of Ḥalafu at Madāʾin ṣāliḥ (2.68) Subject: Gen 31:5; 32:10; 43:23 Ownership ( lines 1–7a) This is the tomb which Ḥalafu son of Qosnatan2 made for himself and for Suʿaydu, his son, and his brothers, whatever male children may be born to this Ḥalafu,3 a…

The Funerary Inscription from Pyrgi (2.58)

(894 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Phoenician Inscriptions Commentary The Phoenician inscription is engraved on a sheet of gold leaf found in excavations at the site of ancient Pyrgi (Santa Severa), the principal port of the wealthy Etrurian city of Caere (modern Cerveteri, ca. 30 miles north of Rome on the Tyrrhenian coast), in the ruins of a temple dated archaeologically to ca. 500 bce. The sheet was found together with two similar plaques bearing Etruscan inscriptions, one of whi…

Book of the Dead 109 (2.11)

(548 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; The Book of the Dead Commentary The New Kingdom vignette depicts the deceased standing behind the spotted Khurer-calf, with his arms raised in daily adoration of a seated Re-Harakhty. The spell is a counterpart to Coffin Text 160 ( COS COSB.1.21) and Book of the Dead 108 for “Knowing the Souls of the Westerners.” For discussion, see Sethe 1924:1–20; and the bibliography in Hornung 1979:482. As in the earlier Coffin Texts, the remarkable size of the underwor…

Funerary Stela (Saqqarah; Location Unknown) (2.63)

(70 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Aramaic Inscriptions Funerary Stela (Saqqarah; Location Unknown) (2.63) Blessed be Peṭees[e] son of Yhʾ[1… by/before DN] Bibliographical References Aimé-Giron 1939 Fitzmyer and Kaufman 1992:B.3.e.28  TAD D20.4. Notes^ back to text1. The praenomen is Eg. ( pʾ-dy-ʾs.t, “The [One] whom Isis Gave”) but the fragmentary patronym is unrecoverable.Porten, Bezalel

King of Byblos (2.55)

(699 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Phoenician Inscriptions Commentary The limestone sarcophagus of King ʾAhirom (fl. 1000 bce) was found in 1923 during the French excavations at Byblos. ʾAhirom’s epitaph, commissioned by his son and successor, ʾIttobaʿl, is carved around the edge of the lid and the upper rim of the coffin. The inscription surmounts an elaborate relief, in which the king is depicted enthroned on a cherub throne and recei…

Funerary Stela (Carpentras) (2.64)

(1,776 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Aramaic Inscriptions Commentary This inscription may be entitled “The Immortalization of Taba.” Its composer was well-versed in Egyptian funerary vocabulary. In a grammatically correct, well-fashioned quatrain he has deftly woven original Aramaic formulae — “Blessed be Tabi” (1a), “Before Osiris blessed be” (3a), “serve” (4a) — into translations of Egyptian terminology and formulary. Bicolon (1…

The Royal Steward Inscription (2.54)

(566 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Hebrew Inscriptions Commentary This damaged grave inscription was found beneath a modern building in a burial chamber hewn from the rock of the eastern slope of the Kidron Valley in the village of Silwan in southeastern Jerusalem. The tomb is widely believed to have been that of the Hezekiah’s royal steward Shebna, who was condemned by the prophet Isaiah for, among other things, presuming to have a tomb cut for himself in the rock (Isa 22:15–25). Though he may have…

Funerary Stela From Saqqarah (Berlin Gipsformerei 939 Formerly ÄM 7707 [destroyed WW II]) (2.62)

(1,296 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Aramaic Inscriptions Commentary Aramaic text Funerary Stela From Saqqarah (Berlin Gipsformerei 939 Formerly ÄM 7707 [destroyed WW II]) (2.62) Subject: Esth 1:1; Dan 9:1; Ezra 4:6 Blessed be Abah son of Ḥor1 and Aḥatabu daughter of Adiyah,2 all (told),3 of Khastemeḥi the city4 before Osiris the god.5 Absali son of Abah,6 his mother (being) Aḥatabu,7 thus said8 in year 4, month of Meḥir, (of) Xerxes9  a the king10 … Hieroglyphic text ( Transcrip…

The Nabataean Tomb Inscription of Kamkam at Madāʾin ṣāliḥ (2.67)

(634 words)

Author(s): Healey, J. F.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Nabataean Inscriptions Commentary The inscription, dated 1 bce/ce, is the finest of 38 carved on Nabataean tomb facades (this one is tomb no. B 19) at the site of Madāʾin Ṣāliḥ (ancient Ḥegra) in northern Saudi Arabia. The tombs were first described and the texts copied by C. Doughty in 1883. Subsequent work, especially by J. Euting and Frs A. Jaussen and R. Savignac (Jaussen and Savignac 1909…

Contrasting Harper Songs From the Tomb of Neferhotep (2.13)

(1,317 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Harper Songs Commentary Offering a traditional and a skeptical response to the fate of the dead, these banquet songs are part of a trio carved on the walls of Theban Tomb 50, dating to the reign of Horemheb (ca. 1319–1292 BCE). The first song to be read by the tomb visitor (conventionally termed the second Neferhotep song) forms a reaction to these contrasting approaches (see  COS COSB.1.31). Adjacent to this is the song extolling the rewards…

Book of the Dead 125 (2.12)

(3,461 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; The Book of the Dead Commentary The most famous of all Book of the Dead chapters, Spell 125 contains the celebrated protestation of innocence by the deceased before an underworld tribunal of forty-two gods, corresponding to the like-numbered nomes, or provinces, of Egypt. The duality of the “Two Truths” also reflects geographical, not ethical, considerations, as the goddesses correspond to the dual n…

Hymn From the Tomb of Ay (2.14)

(1,409 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Grave Inscriptions Commentary This hymn of the God’s Father, and later Pharaoh, Ay derives from the east wall thickness of his private tomb at Amarna. Reflecting the official theology of the contemporary Atenist cult, the prayer stresses the universality of Aten, the visible solar disk, and the prophetic role of his son, Akhenaten. The hymnist’s figurative expressions of abundance in terms of huma…

Aramaic Mortuary Texts from Egypt (2.P185)

(627 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Aramaic Inscriptions Commentary Achaemenid Egypt has yielded a half-dozen mortuary texts, one offering table and five stelae with Aramaic inscriptions. Their period of discovery spans two and one-quarter centuries (1704–1920’s ce). Three certainly, and the others most likely, were found in the Memphis-Saqqarah area, and today each is housed in a different museum — Louvre in Paris ( COS COSB.2.60 [discovered 1851]), Musées Royaux d…

Funerary Stela (Brussels E. 4716) (2.61)

(546 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Aramaic Inscriptions Funerary Stela (Brussels E. 4716) (2.61) Subject: Gen 14:19; Judg 17:2; 1 Sam 15:13; Ps 115:15; Ruth 3:10 Blessed1  a be Tuma2 daughter of Bokrinf3 by4  a Osiris.5 Bibliographical References Lipiński 1975b T. Muraoka, ‛“Hebrew Philological Notes.”  AJBI 5:88–104. ( 1979 ) ’ , Muraoka and Porten 1998 RÉS 1788 J. Scharbart, ‛“ brk.”  TDOT 2:279–308. ( 1975 ) ’ , Jürgen Kurt Stark, Personal names in Palmyrene inscriptions., …

The Sarcophagus Inscription of Tabnit, King of Sidon (2.56)

(716 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Phoenician Inscriptions Commentary Tabnit’s sarcophagus was found in 1887 during the excavation of a shaft tomb in Sidon. It was manufactured in Egypt of black basalt, and it bears a hieroglyphic inscription that shows it was originally intended for an Egyptian general by the name of Pen-Ptah (Assman 1963). It was evidently brought to Phoenicia as plunder and appropriated as a coffin for Tabnit, who ruled Sidon in the second quarter of the fifth century bce (see n. 1…

A Nabataean Funerary Inscription From Madeba (2.69)

(235 words)

Author(s): Healey, J. F.
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Nabataean Inscriptions Commentary There are two copies of this monumental funerary inscription, one in the Vatican, the other in the Louvre (AO 4454). They are identical except for a minor variation in line-division. In both exemplars words are separated by spaces; scriptio continua is the norm in Nabataean.1 A Nabataean Funerary Inscription From Madeba (2.69) Ownership ( lines 1–7a) This is the tomb and two funeral monuments above it which ʿAbdʿo…

Offering Table from the Memphis Serapeum (2.60)

(1,520 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Aramaic Inscriptions Commentary Written somewhat carelessly without clear word separation, this four-line text (Louvre A0 4824) is susceptible to different interpretations (see notes). The smoothest translation is achieved if we view it as a calque on Egyptian grammar. We surmise that the memorial offering-table was originally deposited in a public place outside the sanctuary proper. Offerings,…

The Khirbet Beit Lei Cave Inscriptions (2.53)

(639 words)

Author(s): McCarter, P. Kyle
Subject: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Monumental Inscriptions; Mortuary Inscriptions; Hebrew Inscriptions Commentary These two inscriptions, along with several shorter texts and a number of graffiti, were discovered during road construction in a burial cave at the site of Khirbet Beit Lei, about five miles east of Lachish in the Judaean Shephelah. Though found in a burial cave, the texts are not conventional tomb inscriptions, and no grave-goods were found with them. They offer …
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