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|Length:||31 lines of writing|
|Date:||14th cent. BCE|
(mayor of Megiddo)
(probably Amenophis III)
|Place of Discovery:||Tel el-Amarna, Egypt
|Date of Discovery:||c. 1920?
|Current Location:||Louvre Museum
|Tablet Number:||EA 365|
|Inventory Number:||AO 7098|
|Original Publication:||Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 19 (1922) 97-98|
(from Mercer 1939:2:648, 650)
(adapted from Mercer 1939:2:649, 651
and Moran 1992:363)
|a-na Šarriri bêli-ia||1||To the king, my lord,|
|ù dŠam Ši-ia ki-bí-ma||2||and my sun, say:|
|um-ma mBi-ri-di-ia||3||Thus says Biridiya,|
|arad ki-it-ti Šá Šarriri||4||the faithful servant of the king:|
|a-na Šêpê Š arri bêli-ia||5||At the feet of the king, my lord,|
|ù dŠam Ši-ia 7 Šú||6||and my sun, seven times|
|ù 7 ta-a-an am-qut||7||and seven times I fall down.|
|li-di-mi Šarru bêli-ia||8||Let the king, my lord, be aware|
|a-na ardi-Šú ù a-na ali ki-Šú||9||regarding his servant and his city.|
|a-nu-um-ma a-na-ku-ma||10||Behold, I alone|
|ir-ri-Šú ah-ri- Šú||11||am cultivating|
|i-na alŠú-na-ma ki||12||in the city of Shunama;|
|ù a-na-ku-ma||13||and, as for me,|
|ub-ba-lu amêlûti ma-as-sa||14||I provide forced laborers.|
|ù a-mur-me||15||Now, behold,|
|amêlûtu ha-za-nu-ta||16||the mayors|
|Šá it-ti-ia||17||who are near me|
|la-a ti-pu-Šú-na||18||do not do|
|ki-ma ia-ti-ia la-a||19||as I do. They do not|
|i-na alŠú-na-ma ki||21||in the city of Shunama,|
|ù la-a tu-ub-ba-lu-na||22||and they do not provide|
|amêlûti ma-as-sa ù||23||forced laborers.|
|a-na-ku-ma ia-hu-du-un-ni||24||I alone|
|ub-ba-lu amêlûti ma-as-sa||25||provide forced laborers.|
|iŠ-tu alIa-pu ki||26||From the city of Yapu|
|yi-la-ku iŠ-tu Š ú-nu||27||they come, from my resources(?),|
|an-ni-ki-ma iŠ-tu||28||as well as from|
|alNu-ri-ib-daki||29||the city of Nuribta.|
|ù li-di-mi||30||Now, may|
|Šarru bêli-ia a-na aliki -Šú||31||the king, my lord, be aware regarding his city.|
Biridiya was the mayor of Megiddo. In the collection of Amarna Letters, he wrote seven others: EA 242-248. On ancient Megiddo, see Ussishkin (1992).
Seven times is a common Semitic expression for "repeatedly." Note some biblical examples: Psalm 12:6; 119:164; Proverbs 24:16; Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:4.
Shunama is the biblical town of Shunem (modern Solem) in the Jezreel Valley, and the home of Abishag, the young woman who warmed the aging David (2 Kings 1:2-4).
Forced labor (massu; Hebrew mas) was a common practice in ancient Near Eastern empires. Royal subjects could be pressed into long or short-term service for the king on a variety of projects: construction, mining, forestry, etc. For biblical examples, see: Genesis 49:14-15; Exodus 1-2; 5:4-19; Deuteronomy 26:6; 2 Samuel 12:31; 20:24; 1 Kings 5:13-18; 9:20-22; 12:1-12, 18; Isaiah 31:8. Consult Rainey (1970).
Mayor (hazzanu) refers to the town "head man" who ruled locally for the Egyptians.
Yapu is perhaps the biblical town of Joppa or another town of that name closer to Megiddo.
Nuribta is a town of unknown location, but in the vicinity of Megiddo.
1. What is Birdidiya's reason for writing this letter?
2. What is the historical/geographical significance (relative to this document) of the biblical comment about Issachar going into forced labor (Genesis 49:14-15)?
3. How does Biridiya compare himself to mayors in the surrounding area?
4. Why would a mayor call himself a "servant"?
5. What was the strategic role played by Megiddo in military-political history of Canaan and later in Israel? Consult Ussishkin (1992).
W. F. "Akkadian Letters." In Ancient Near Eastern Text Relating to the
Old Testament, edited by J. B. Pritchard, 482-90. 3rd ed. Princeton:
Princeton Univ. Press, 1969.
Albright, W. F. "The Amarna Letters from Palestine." In Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II.2: History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region 1380-1000 B.C., 98-116. 3d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Aldred, Cyril. "Egypt: The Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty." In Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II.2: History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region 1380-1000 B.C., 49-97. 3d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Campbell, Edward A. "The Amarna Letters and the Amarna Period." In Biblical Archaeologist Reader vol. 3, 54-75. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
Knudtzon, J. A. Die El-Amarna-Tafeln. Vorderasiatische Bibliotek, vol. 2. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907–1915 (repr. Aalen: O. Zeller, 1964).
Mercer, Samuel A. B. The Tell El-Amarna Tablets. 2 vols. Toronto: Macmillan, 1939.
Moran, Willam L. The Amarna Letters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992.
Na'aman, Nadav. "Amarna Letters." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 1.174-81. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Rainey, Anson F. "Compulsory Labour Gangs in Ancient Israel." Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1970) 191-202.
Rainey, Anson F. El Amarna Tablets 359—379. 2nd ed. Alter Orient und Altes Testament 8. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1978.
Ussishkin, David. "Megiddo." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 4.666-79. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Winckler, Hugo. The Tell-el-Amarna Letters. Trans. J. Metcalf. New York and London: Lemcke & Buechner, 1896.