Ta'anach Text 1
Letter from Guli-Adad to Talwashur of Ta'anach

Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay tablet
Length: 30 lines of writing
Genre: Letter
Sender: Guli-Adad
Recipient: Talwashur
(ruler of Ta'anach)
Date: 15th cent. BCE
Place of Discovery: Ta'anach
(modern Tell Ti'inik, West Bank)
Date of Discovery: c. 1903
Excavator: Ernst Sellin
Original linguistic editor: Frédéric Hrozný
Current Location:
İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri
(Istanbul Museum of Archaeology)
Tablet Number: Ta'anach 1
Inventory Number: ?

(from Hrozný 1904:113ff;
Rogers 1912:281-82;
and Albright 1944:12-27)

(adapted from Rogers 1912:281-82;
Albright 1969:490)

Lines 17-18, 21-23, and 29-30
are particularly difficult to
translate with certainty.
a-na mTal-wa-šur 1 To Talwashur
ki-be-ma 2 say:
um-ma mGu-li-Adad 3 Thus says Guli-Adad:
bu-lu-ut dam-ki-iš 4 Live well!
ilâni li-iš-a-lu 5 May the gods attend to
šu-lum-ka šu-lum 6 your welfare, the welfare
bîti-ka mârê-ka 7 of your house, (and) your sons.
at-ta ta-aš-pu-rum 8 You have written me
a-na ia-ši aš- Šum kaspi . . . 9 concerning silver. . .
u a-nu-ma a-na-din 10 And behold,
50 kaspu ki la e-te-pu-šu 11 I will give you 50 (shekels) of silver.
ša-ni-tam a-na mi-nim 12 Further, regarding another matter,
u-tir tu-wa-ša-ru-ni 13 Why have you sent
šu-lum-ka a-na-mu 14 your greeting so soon?
u a-wa-tam mi-im-ma 15 Everything
ša ti-iš-mi 16 you have heard
iš-tu aš-ra-nu-um . . . 17 I have also (learned)
kat iluBêl-ra-am id-i 18 from Belram.
ša-ni-tam u šum-ma 19 Furthermore, if
i-ba-ši u-mi-an-nu 20 there is a diviner
iluA-ši-rat liš-ni-nu 21 of Asherah, then let him discern our fortunes
u liš-mu-ur-ru 22 and the omen
u it-ta-am 23 and the interpretation
u a-wa-tam te-ra-ni 24 send to me.
aš-šura Šalmârti-ka ni-du 25 Furthermore, regarding your daughter
ša i-na aluru-bu-teki 26 who is in Rubutu,
Šalša-al-mi-ša 27 Shalmisha,
u šum-ma i-ra-bi 28 when she is grown,
ta-da-an-ši a-na ša-ru-te 29 let her become a singer,
ši-i lu-u a-na be-lim 30 or give her to a husband.

The Ta'anach archive consists of thirteen documents: four letters and nine lists of names. The town of Ta'anach was located in the foothills above the Jezreel Valley, and approximately 8km southeast of Megiddo. Excavations of the most ancient levels of Ta'anach were carried out by Prof. Ernst Sellin (University of Vienna) in 1902-1904, and by Prof. Paul Lapp (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) in 1963, 1966, 1968. It is mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 12:21; 17:11-12; 21:25; Judges 1:27; 5:19; 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Chronicles 7:29.
Talwashur was the local ruler of Ta'anach, which was part of the Egyptian empire. I follow here Glock's reading of his name. Hrozny read his name as "Ishtar-washur"; Rogers read it as "Ashirat-yashur"; and Albright read it as "Rewashsha."
Guli-Adad was probably the mayor of a town near Ta'anach. His name includes the divine name Hadad, the Semitic storm god, associated with Ba'al (see Greenfield 1999:377-82). Rainey and Glock read his name as Ehli-Tešub, using the Hurrian form of the storm god: Tešub.
diviner of Asherah refers to some sort of professional associated with the goddess Asherah. Compare the "prophets of Asherah" in 1 Kings 18:19. This reading follows Albright's of u-mi-an-nu ("specialist"), rather than Rogers's u-ba-an ("finger"). In the ancient Near East divination used various means, for example, reading sheep entrails, interpreting flight patterns of birds, and casting lots.
Asherah is the principal West Semitic goddess (see Day 1992; and Wyatt 1999).
Rubutu is a town whose location is not precisely known; but it seems to have been between Gezer and Jerusalem (see in the Amarna correspondence EA 289:13 and 290:11).
Shalmisha : Compare this girl's name to that of one of Herod's granddaughter's (in Greek): Salampsio.


1. What can you determine about the relationship between the sender and receiver of this letter?

2. Why did people consult diviners in the ancient world? Compare this passage to the passages in 1 & 2 Samuel about "consulting Yahweh," especially 2 Samuel 16:23. (See Mendelsohn 1962; Long 1976; and Grabbe 1995.)
3. In the 15th century B.C.E., was 50 shekels a great deal or a little? What can you conclude from the fact that they are dealing with silver rather than with "in-kind" goods?
4. Where does the name "Hadad" show up in the Bible? What significance does the use of this name have for bibical interpretation?
5. Where does the name "Asherah" show up in the Bible? What significance does the use of this name have for bibical interpretation?

Albright, W. F. "Akkadian Letters." In Ancient Near Eastern Text Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, 482-90. 3d ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969.
Albright, W. F. "A Prince of Taanach in the Fifteenth Century B.C." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 94 (1944) 12-27.
Cryer, Frederick. Divination in Ancient Israel and Its Near Eastern Environment: A Socio-Historical Investigation. JSOT Supplements 142. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994.
Day, John. "Asherah." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 1:483-87. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Glock, Albert E. "Taanach." In Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume, edited by Keith Crim, 855-56. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976.
Glock, Albert E. "Taanach." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 6:287-90. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Glock, Albert E. "Texts and Archaeology at Tell Ta'anech." Berytus 31 (1983) 57-66.
Görg, Manfred. "Zum Namen des Fürsten von Taanach." Biblische Notizen 41 (1988) 15-18.
Grabbe, Lester L. Priests, Prophets, Diviners, Sages: A Socio-Historical Study of Religious Specialists in Ancient Israel. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity, 1995.
Greenfield, Jonas C. "Hadad." In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by Karel van der Toorn et al., 377-82. 2d ed. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
Hrozný, Frédéric. "Die Keilschrifttexte von Ta'annek." In Tell Ta'anek, edited by Ernst Sellin, 113ff. Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften 4. Vienna: Gerold, 1904.
Long, Burke O. "Divination." In Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume, edited by Keith Crim, 241-43. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976.
Mendelsohn, Isaac. "Divination." In Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, edited by George A. Buttrick, 1:856-58. Nashville: Abingdon.
Moran, Willam L. The Amarna Letters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992.
Rainey, Anson F. "Verbal Usages in the Taanach Texts." Israel Oriental Studies 7 (1977) 33-64.
Rainey, Anson F. "Taanach Letters." Eretz-Israel 26 (1998) 153*-162*.
Rogers, Robert William. Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament. New York: Eaton & Mains, 1912. Reprinted with New Foreword and Bibliography by K. C. Hanson. Ancient Texts and Translations. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005.
Wyatt, Nicholas. "Asherah." In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by Karel van der Toorn et al., 99-105. 2nd ed. Leiden: Brill, 1999.

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Last Modified: 29 October 2014