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Biblical Notes on Some New Akkadian Texts from Emar (Syria

Harvard University Cambridge, MA 02138

IN A RECENT ARTICLE the present writer published five Akkadian texts from the vicinity of the ancient city of Emar (modern Meskeneh) in Syria.1 The texts date from the Late Bronze Age and are roughly contemporary with the Akkadian documents from Ugarit, somewhat later than the Amarna correspondence. 2 Many of the personal names in the Emar texts are West Semitic; several grammatical features exhibit West Semitic influence as well. Four of the texts are wills, and these present a few features that may be relevant to biblical customs. The purpose of this note is to bring those features to the attention of biblical scholars. In Genesis 31 Rachel steals the household gods (térâpîm/^êlôhîm) of her

1 "Five Tablets from the Vicinity of Emar," RA 11 (1983) 11-43. The tablets are currently in private hands in New York City. Emar/ Meskeneh, situated on the right bank of the Euphrates (at the great bend) and roughly 100 km east-southeast of Aleppo, was the object of recent French excavations, which produced several hundred tablets soon to be published by D. Arnaud. For bibliography, see Arnaud, "Traditions urbaines et influences semi-nomades à Emar, à l'âge du Bronze récent," Le Moyen Euphrate: zone de contacts et d'échanges (éd. J. C. Margueron; Leiden: Brill, 1978) 245 η. 1, as well as the articles in the same volume by E. Laroche, D. Beyer, and Margueron; further, Arnaud, "Humbles et superbes à Emar (Syrie) à la fin de l'âge du Bronze récent," Mélanges bibliques et orientaux en l'honneur de M. Henri Cazelles (AOAT 212; éd. A. Caquot and M. Delcor; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener V.; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1981) 1-14. 2 See D. Arnaud, "Les textes d'Emar et la chronologie de la fin du Bronze récent," Syria 52 (1975) 87-92.


The evidence of the Emar texts. Speiser.4 Thus. 76.3 Rachel's behavior was interpreted by many scholars in the light of a number of Hurro-Akkadian legal documents from the site of Nuzi and its vicinity." JBL 81 (1962) 239-48. they merely represent the family unit. Selman. A. 132 n. I. 6 a-nu-um-ma PN mârtîya(OVMV." JCS 32 (1980) 189-207. esp." BA 46 (1983) 155-64. clearly. Morrison and D. Millard and D. Huja. will not resolve the debate. Nevertheless. however. Owen. E. Rather. M. 1980) 101.MVNVS-ia) a-na sinni$ti(Mvum) ù zikari(mjAH) aS-kw un-$U "Now then I have established PN my daughter as female and male. "Inheritance by Daughters in the Ancient Near East. "Comparative customs and the Patriarchal Age. Gadd. see esp. 2:8-10. IN: Eisenbrauns." JBL 76 (1957) 216-24. A. is to enable the daughter to inherit. its similarity to that of the Nuzi documents. Rachel took the gods to ensure that she (or Jacob) would inherit Laban's estate. 110. and that the legal situation in Genesis 31 was analogous. in which family gods (ilänü) are bequeathed to a testator's principal heir. 1981) 37-46. respectively. 4 See. see also recently Z. below.NEW AKKADIAN TEXTS FROM EMAR 429 father Laban. See also n. merits our pointing it out. J. Smith on p.5 It has been argued that. Lacheman. Winona Lake. who would thereby be designated paterfamilias. Paradise in "A Daughter and Her Father's Property at Nuzi. The testator in each case. note Num 27:1-11. 161-62. J. see M. the testator makes his daughter both female and male. we may assume. they would naturally be willed to the chief heir." and Κ. Deller. ." 258 η. 60. A. Ben-Barak. "Iläni/Elohim.g. 127. in the Festschrift for the eminent Nuzi scholar E. It was suggested that possession of the family gods symbolized title to the family property. the relevance of the Nuzi material to the plot of Genesis 31 has been questioned. Draffkorn. Greenberg. which have for so long figured prominently in attempts to elucidate Genesis 31. Genesis (AB 1. 219-22. as such. for additional references. see M." Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians (éd. A similar clause occurs in at least one other text from Emar. In the last two decades. contrary to earlier claims. "The Jacob and Laban Narrative in Light of Near Eastern Sources. For a synopsis and additional bibliography. J. Arnaud. has no 3 C. the comment of S. Leicester: Inter-Varsity. Greenberg's article. esp. the household gods do not signify the right of inheritance. 9. natural or adopted. The evidence from Nuzi is given a detailed study by J." Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives (ed. cited in the following note. A. NY: Doubleday. 1964) 249-51." JSS 25 (1980) 22-33. Wiseman. Still more recently.. "Tablets. Morrison. "Une querelle de famille. "Traditions urbaines. "Another Look at Rachel's Theft of the Teraphim. "Die Hausgötter der Familie Sukrija S." RA 23 (1926) 126-27 (text 51). R. R. From the time of the publication of a text in 1926. Cassin. e. something which—apparently—she would not otherwise be able to do. See also M. Garden City. A. 47-76. two additional studies concerning the household gods have appeared: E. 5 Initially by M." Text 1:5-7. For inheritance by daughters in ancient Israel. In two of the Emar wills (our Texts 1 and 2).6 The purpose of this legal fiction.from Kirkuk. see D. E. to be cited presently.

the estate is not to be given to a stranger (nakaru. however.MES-rwT) 'íC-ka^al-lu i-nabïtïya(t-ia) aS-'bu* [i7]û/îf([DiN]GiR." Studies on . that if the two sons die without progeny. and the deaths of both the daughter and her husband.TUK-mz). holds my fields and houses." 73-76. After a series of quittance clauses. the testator refers to "my three sons".MES-W U me-te-ia hi-ú tu¡ tu-na(-ab)-bU Text 1:8."8 The verb in this clause. my possessions (and) property. "PN and PN2 (the brothers) will honor the gods and the dead of PN3 their father" (taking the verb to be not kânu D "to establish" but kunnû "to look after.NITAH) ul ßföf-mi(NU. in which the clause making the daughter female and male is preceded by the statement a-nu-ma mora (DUMU. see K. 2:11-12. the latter is the most probable rendering here. Deller. but since the same individuals' mother is the testator's daughter. In lines 26-31 we read: Sum-ma f aS-te im-tù-ut ù ma-an-nu-[um-me~e] T-na mâratîya(OUMU. 22)." despite the defective spelling of the final syllable). Lacheman and D.11 In any case.7 In both texts. . . "Let her invoke my gods and my dead. honor." designates the daughter as the legal heir.$k.ui. R. they must in fact be his grandchildren. the clause concerning the gods and ancestors is followed by one in which the testator bequeaths to his daughter his entire estate. n. "Now then. and. Arnaud informs me (private communication) that this expression appears in other texts from Emar. living in my house. 386-87. It seems likely that in both texts the clause. The clause is followed by a final stipulation.9 Following this clause in Text 1 is a series of injunctions which stipulate that the daughter's three sons are to support her as long as she lives (or they will lose their inheritance). 11. the death of the daughter and her husband's remarriage. In Text 2. will revere my gods and spirits. "Now then.MUNUS-iur) ad-din-Su-nu. 9 In Nuzi legal texts." JCS 34 [1982] 242-46) has published a text. the next clause reads: ilânïya u mëtëya lü tunabbU "Let her (the daughter) invoke my gods and my dead. The testator of this will. then whoever among my daughters." 10 Lines 13-17: a-nu-um-ma bîtâtTya(É.ME$) bîtâtîya (É. I have given my estates. It is interesting that the brothers share responsibility for the family 7 .Mtë-ia) eqlëti(A. does not otherwise occur in the D stem and normally means "to name" rather than "to invoke".A-ia) bu-Si ba-Si-ti-ia mi-im-mu-ia a-na PN mâr/ryû(DUMU. Arnaud (see the previous note).10 There follow clauses concerning the remarriage of the testator's wife (see below).MES) ù mi-tiSa PN3 a-bi-Su-nu u-ka-an-nu.MES) ù e-te^em-me-ia T-palla-afr-Su. I have no male offspring. in which two sons inherit their deceased father's estate. "Hausgötter. Nuzi and the Hurrians. "If ASte dies. see below. I. nabu. The "dead" we take to refer to the family ancestors. probably also from the vicinity of Emar. who apparently has no natural sons. the family "spirits" (etemmu) are occasionally associated with the family gods." In our Text 1. 1985 sons. and to a woman named ASte (relationship to testator unclear). 413).MONVS. namely. text 6 (pp. whom he has adopted as sons. the situaThis is made explicit in the text cited by D. everything of mine to PN my daughter." 11 M. nevertheless. Owen. they are to divide the estate equally among themselves. upon her death. bequeaths his estate to his three daughters. Sigrist ("Miscellanea. 8 DINGIR. copy on p. Note also the expression cited below in n. A recently published Nuzi will offers a close parallel to the Emar texts under discussion here: E. D. "Texts from Arrap^a and from Nuzi in the Yale Babylonian Collection.430 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 47. we read as follows in lines 25-27: PN Ù PN2 i/äw{DiNGiR.

" is associated in both dictionaries with the ll-^aleph verb zêru." In this context. analogous to that found in the Nuzi documents. E. we leave to those more qualified to discuss. lines 14-17. Institut für Historische Anthropologie. . acting as her brother-in-law. "When brothers dwell together and one of them dies without a son. and go where she will. her brother-in-law will come to her and marry her. in Geschlechtsreife und légitimation zur Zeugung [ed. 13 Text 2:18-24. "Now then PN my wife is father and mother of my estate. let her place her garment on a stool.A) lu-ú ti-i$-ku-un a-$ar libbffl(Sk-bi-$i) lu-ú ti-Uk. is relevant to the events described in Genesis 31. forthcoming]): ù Súm-ma PN aSSatîya (ΌΑΜ-iä) arki(EGiR) amîli(LÛ) rza-ia"-ri rta-lak" i-na bmya{t-ia) [mä]riy[a]([Dv]MV. aSSatîya(OAM-ia) a-na a-bi ù ummi(AMA) [Sa] bîtîya(É-ia) aS-ku-un-Si. let her place her clothes on a stool. avoid".SÚ. cognate to Hebrew zär. In both of these texts the testator has made his wife "father and mother" of his estate (upon his death). let her forfeit my estate (and) my children. In Deut 25:5 we find the beginning of the levirate law: kî-yëSëbû ^ahîm yahdäw ûmët Dahad mëhem ûbën ^ên-lô. A hollow root z-w-r cognate to Hebrew zär is not attested in Akkadian." I wish to thank Prof. line 42. like that from Nuzi." In two of our Emar texts occurs an interesting parallel to marriage to an Ή zär. "I have established PN ." Text 2:6-8. but Sumf-ma is preferable." Text 3:3-5. 30.) The other text is our no. "enemy. 14 Akkadian zayyäru.A) U-iS-ku-un a-Sar [libbiSißk-bi-Si li(-it)}-ta-lak. note that they appear to receive equal legacies—both get half the estate (miSil bîti). Wilcke ("Familiengründung im alten Babylonien.ME$-$i) a-na //m'(GiS.12 Later the testator states (according to the better preserved text): Sum!-ma PN aSSatTyaipKU-ti-ia) arki(EGiR~ki) amíli(LÚ) za-ia-ri ti-il-la-ak subatí$i(TÚG. . and in the light of Deut 25:5 we may assume that zayyäru is a West Semitism. lö^tihyeh Dë$et-hammët hahûsâ lëDîS zär. my wife as father and mother of my estate." Wilcke has also improved on my original reading of lines 10-11 of this text (see also his notes 171 and \12):pi-i bâbi(VLA-bî) ''lu-ú la-a* t[u]-us-sa amîlSi(LÛ-Si) i-na bìtìya(É-ti-ia) 7w/-w" [/]Λ-V tu-Se-re-eb.NEW AKKADIAN TEXTS FROM EMAR 431 tion is. Müller. yebämäh yäböD cälehä ûlëqâhâh lô lë^iSSâ wëyibbëmâh.14 Like zär in gods and ancestors. "If PN my wife would follow a strange man." The verb waräSu. in lu-ú tù-ur-Sa-Su-nu. Another West Semitic lexeme appears in our Text 2. "to hate. . (and) go off where she will. W. "May they [dual. the dead man's wife must not belong to a stranger outside. Whether the evidence of the documents from Emar. meaning "to inherit" (cf. fern.Sú. and the importance of an heir's access to the family gods was clearly not confined to the latter site. she may not bring a man of hers into my house." following a proposal of C. however.] inherit them.1 read the first word of line 18 as i-nu-ma. "She (the testator's wife) may not leave the gate. "And if PN my wife would follow a strange man. 3. (In "Five Tablets.ME$-i[a]) [li-te-li subät-Si (TÚG-ÍÍ) a-nä] ///ÍI(GIS." 17. CAD Ζ 15. 12 a-nu-um-ma PN aSSatîya(OAM-ti-ia) a-bu ù ummu(AMA) ri<T bîtîya(É-ia) Si-it-ma. we present here a reading of these lines differing from that offered in "Five Tablets." Anhang. cf. AHW1503. Wilcke for providing a copy of the typescript prior to publication of his article. PN . ."13 The Akkadian form zayyäru is normally a literary word meaning "enemy. as noted earlier. that meaning is clearly inappropriate. .

Snijders. "heir. The subject is not necessarily a widow who wishes to remarry outside the family. . 19 D." JAOS 94 (1974) 181 and n. lines 16-23.. "The Cuneiform Tablet from el-Qitär. 176-77). 126-27." Mélanges syriens offerts à Monsieur René Dussaud (Paris: Geuthner.1 wish to thank Prof. The Meaning of"xi in the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill." RA 63(1969) 136 n. and Tell el-Qitär. Arnaud. Cassin. the testator in his will has given his wife control over part or all of his estate. C. D.21 The reason for this stipulation in the case of a widow who wishes to remarry is clear. "Symbolic Gestures in Akkadian Contracts from Alalakh and Ugarit." 258 and n. is made to renounce. which is to be compared with Hebrew (ben-)nekär and nokrî in addition to Akkadian nak(a)ru. 2. The injunction to deposit one's clothes in the house before leaving is found in other texts from Emar16 and in Akkadian texts from Hattusas. 1939) 1. become part of another man's property.19 the injunction applies to persons who violate the conditions of the legal documents. In the texts from Ugarit18 and Tell el-Qitär. "Humbles et superbes. 121-48. Thureau-Dangin. is otherwise unattested in Akkadian. 75-78. without the stipulation.17 it is the heir apparent of Ugarit. any claim to the estate in question. 25966. also A. 260-62. zayyäru in these texts denotes not necessarily a foreigner. Arnaud. Ugaritica 5 text 83 (pp." 7. Nougayrol. 17 J. Nougayrol. While there is in all of these texts undoubtedly an element of humiliation intended in forcing an individual to leave the paternal estate naked. "Humbles et superbes." 12 and η. Ugarit. lines 23-27 (see also lines 37-39). notes that the related noun warräSu. symbolically. 20 Four of these are cited in E. in a private communication. In our Texts 2 and 3 from Emar and in the Nuzi documents just referred to. should he decide to accompany his adulterous mother into exile. lines 6-10. and leave naked. 18 F. esp. 83. In the text from Hattusas. "Traditions urbaines. 2. prohibited from taking even a stitch of clothing. Draffkorn Kilmer. "Pouvoirs de la femme et structures familiales. L. see also J. Snell. it is stipulated that if the testator's widow wishes to remarry. 136-44. Cassinis thorough discussion of the Nuzi material. instead the word that appears is nikaru. 21 See E." is common in Emar texts. should she remarry. Arnaud informs me (private communication) that zayyäru is not attested in his Emar texts. 1985 Deut 25:5. 1953) esp.432 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 47. Arnaud.15 The widow of the testator may marry such an outsider only on the condition that she leave her first husband's house. D.20 finally. Humbert." Abr-Nahrain 22 (1983-84) 159-70. but merely someone outside the family circle. Snell for sending me a typescript of his study before its publication. Hebrew yäraS). 68-70. In several wills from Nuzi. PRUA. ibid. Syria 18 (1937) 246. 16 See D. 15 See P. esp. there is clearly also an economic motive: the individual. 20. A. "Les adjectifs 4zâr' et 'nokrf et la 'femme étrangère' des proverbes bibliques. Arnaud. she is to be stripped of her clothes before being sent out of the house. See also D. that part of the estate would.

.25 and E. Chiera. The relevant part of the Hana text is discussed in detail by E. . penD ap$îtennâ cârummâ wëhissagtîha këyôm hiwwäledäh. kî-hP löD HM wëDanokî löD D îsah." 23 The levirate law is also intended to provide an heir for the deceased brother. vol. a woman who wishes to divorce her husband must leave the house naked. therefore. H. 5 (Philadelphia: ASOR. It is significant that in the two Emar texts the word zayyäru occurs to indicate explicitly a man outside the family. 1962) texts 2:60-61. Kuhl showed that this passage." 136 η. "Take action against your mother. In the Sigrist text. von Rad. 26 In "Pouvoirs. vol. that she remove her harlotry from her face and her adultery from between her breasts.24 C. a widow who wishes to remarry is to be stripped and 22 Compare the injunctions in wills which prohibit the selling of family property to a stranger (usually nakaru." ZAW 54 (1936) 277-80. R. 8 (HSS 19. Cambridge. 1966) 154. in which an adulterous wife is divorced and stripped naked. 1934) text 444:17-18. e. 38. MA: Harvard University. esp. Pfeiffer and E. 24 C. Cambridge. making her as on the day of her birth. Gordon soon discovered another relevant Nuzi document. In each of the Nuzi texts.g. 25 "Hos 2:4-5 in the Light of New Semitic Inscriptions. vol. Cambridge. 1942) text 366:23. R. E." ZAW 52 (1934) 102-9. 1965) 1." In an article published fifty years ago. Chiera. vol.23 Both in the Emar (and Nuzi) documents cited above and in the levirate law.NEW AKKADIAN TEXTS FROM EMAR 433 The stipulations of these contracts. of course. to which we have already referred above. Ancient Israel (New York: McGraw-Hill. C. note lines 31-33: bïtu(t-tu4) Sa be-li-Su<-nu> a-na na-ka-ri la-α i-na-din. for she is not my wife and I am not her husband. take action. MA: Harvard University. H. Deuteronomy (OTL. Philadelphia: Westminster. wëtasër zënûnêha mippänehä wëna^apûpêha mibbên sädehä.22 A similar intent also forms part of the motivation for the levirate law expressed in Deut 25:5: were the dead brother's wife to marry an ^îSzar. Excavations at Nuzi. see G. "Pouvoirs. part of the family property would be lost. But the economic motive is also present. are provisions intended to prevent a widow from alienating her husband's property by marrying someone outside the family.26 In the Hana text. Excavations at Nuzi. the normal Akkadian word for our zayyäru). Lacheman. Cassin. Cassin has added two more. 1 (HSS 5. just as zär appears in Deut 25:5. Publications of the Baghdad School. "Their lord's estate may not be given to a stranger. then. lest I strip her naked. MA: Harvard University. "Neue Dokumente zum Verständnis von Hosea 2:4-15. 4 (HSS 13. Joint Expedition with the Iraq Museum at Nuzi. Hos 2:4-5a reads: rîbû bëHmmëkem rîbû. Kühl. 105-6. Excavations at Nuzi. are intended to keep the patriarch's property within his family. de Vaux. 2. R. in the Akkadian texts it is possible only if the widow renounces claim to her dead husband's estate by means of a humiliating gesture. probably from the vicinity of Emar. is paralleled by a Middle Babylonian text from Hana and a text from Nuzi. Lacheman." 137-38. 7:44-45. 1929) text 73:26-28. In Deut 25:5 such a marriage is simply forbidden. From Nuzi note.

Hosea (Hermeneia. 57 The issue here is not adultery. The Aramaic Inscriptions ofSeßre (Rome Biblical Institute. but also one of economic destitution 27 . 1974) 34 Note also the following curse found in one of the Sefire stelae. in addition to shaming her. but also suggest that the treatment of the wife in Hos 2:4-5 was intended. to emphasize her sudden lack of economic security. Philadelphia Fortress. but the political faithlessness of the women's husbands But again the image invoked by the curse is not only one of humiliation.27 See H W Wolff. 1985 sent forth naked.434 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY | 47. so may the wives of Matï°el and the wives of his offspring and the wives of [his] n[obles] be stripped " See Fitzmyer's comments. of course. lines 40-41) fw^yk zy tcrr z]n[yh kn ycrrn nSy mtc:>l wnSy cqrh wnSy rfbwhf "[And as a pros]ti[tute is stripped]. 1967) 14 (Stele I A. The parallels not only illustrate what was apparently a widespread custom. To these parallels we may now add our two Emar texts. according to the reading adopted by J A Fitzmyer. ibid .

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