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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…

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…

The Slandered Bride (3.119)

(418 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Babylon Commentary Case law or “conditional law” is often based on actual precedent, and sometimes the provisions of Old Babylonian law, or even biblical law, seem to reflect situations encountered in court cases. A little dossier of three documents dating to the reign of Samsu-iluna (ca. 1749–1712 bce), illustrates provisions in the Laws of Hammurapi, his father and predecessor, as well as the casuistic legislation of Deuteronomy.1 In addition to a wedding document and a suppl…

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…

Land Donation by the King (3.108)

(176 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Property Conveyances from Ugarit Land Donation by the King (3.108) From the present day on, Niqmaddu,1 son of Ammistamru, king of Ugarit2 has taken the house of Yatarmu, son of Sharupshu, and the fields of Ṣariru with all that they have, and has given them to Bin-ilu, Yaṣiru, and Abi-irshi,3 and their sons forever. In future nobody shall take (it) from their hands. It is a grant forever. The seal of Niqmaddu, son of Ammistamru, king of Ugarit. First the king gave them and, secondly, 200…

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…

Land Sale (3.106)

(260 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Property Conveyances from Ugarit Land Sale (3.106) Subject: Gen 41:43 From the present day on, before witnesses, Iliya, son of Siniya, and Padiya, his brother, and his sons sold 4 ( ikû)1 which are among the fields of Ṣaʾu2 for 180 (shekels) of silver3 to Sharelli,4 the queen. (These) 4 ( ikû) fields are bound like the sunny day5 to Sharelli, the queen,6 forever. Witness: Shipiṭ-Baʾal.7 Witness: Shubammu. Witness: Abdi-Milki,8 son of Yakunu. Witness: Anantenu, son of Bin…

A Letter to Zalaia (3.93)

(381 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Kumidi Commentary While most of the diplomatic correspondence of the Amarna period was found at Amarna itself (see above COSB.3.92A-G), some of it has turned up in excavations in the Levant. The following letter is known in two versions found in Lebanon at Kamid-el-Loz, the ancient Kumidi. (For other texts from the same site, see Huehnergard 1996:98). Judging by its conclusion, its royal author was presumably the pharaoh. A Letter to Zalaia (3.93) Subject: Gen 15:2; Gen 14:13; Gen 10:6; Mal 1:11;…

A Report on Work on Dūr-Šarrukin (3.98)

(368 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Assyria A Report on Work on Dūr-Šarrukin (3.98) Subject: 2 Kgs 17:6 (beginning 3–4 lines lost) ( lines 1´ -10´) [Concerning what the king], my lo[rd] wrote to me: “provide the [Sam]arians,1  a [as many as] are [in] your [ha]nds (with work) in Dūr-Šarrukin,”2 I thereafter [sent (word) to] the sheikhs [say]ing: “gather [all] the carpenters and potters; let them come (and) [direc]t the deportees [who are in D]ūr-Šarrukin.” (But) they did not consent to send (them) to me. ( lines 11´ - r. 4a) […

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…

Land Donation for Service Rendered (3.107)

(214 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Property Conveyances from Ugarit Land Donation for Service Rendered (3.107) From the present day on, Ammistamru, son of Niqmepa, king of Ugarit,1 has taken the houses and fields of Abutenu and given them to Abdi-Ḫagab,2 son of Shapidanu, and his sons forever. And the pilku3-service of tradership4 he has to perform.5 Next: while Abdi-Ḫagab performs this pilku-service of tradership, nobody shall take from the hands of Abdi-Ḫagab and from the hands of his sons (and…

Foreclosure and Redistribution of Land (3.105)

(409 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Contracts; Property Conveyances from Ugarit Foreclosure and Redistribution of Land (3.105) From the present day on, before witnesses: the governor,1 Irib-Ilu2 of Riqdi,3 has taken the house, the fields (and) all that belongs to her,4 from the daughter of Yaknu and the daughter of […]yabi, the nayyālu,5 and has given it to Abdi-Yaraḫ,6 son of Kum-U,7 for 300 (shekels) of silver.8 The fields are bound. In the future, nobody shall take them from the hands of Abdi-Yaraḫ, and from his sons. Witness…

The Murder of Sennacherib (3.95)

(633 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Letters; Assyria Commentary About three thousand letters have been recovered from the royal archives of the Sargonid Dynasty (721–609 bce) at Nineveh. Half of them were published by Harper (1892–1914) under the title of Assyrian and Babylonian Letters (hence  ABL ), and translated by Waterman (1930–36) and, in part, by Pfeiffer (1935). The whole corpus is being reedited by the State Archives of Assyria (SAA) project (Helsinki); see for now SAA 1, 5, 8, 10, 13 and 15. From the contextual pe…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 …
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