Amarna Tablet 244
Letter from Biridiya of Megiddo to Pharaoh


DESCRIPTION

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Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay tablet
Length: 43 lines of writing
Genre: Letter
Date: 14th cent. BCE
Sender: Biridiya
(mayor of Megiddo)

Recipient: Pharaoh
(probably Amenophis III)

Place of Discovery: Tel el-Amarna, Egypt
(ancient Akhetaten)
Date of Discovery: 1887
Discoverer: peasant woman
Current Location: Egyptian Museum
(Cairo, Egypt)
Inventory Number: C 4768 (12200)
Tablet Number: EA 244
Knudtzon 1907–1915




TEXT
TRANSLITERATION
(from Mercer 1939:2:638, 640)

TRANSLATION
(adapted from Mercer 1939:2:639, 641
Albright 1969:485;
and Moran 1992:298-99)
a-na Šarriribêli-ia 1 To the king, my lord,
ùdŠam Ši-ia ki-bí-ma 2 and my sun, say:
um-mamBi-ri-di-ia 3 Thus says Biridiya,
ardu Šá ki-it-ti Š á 4 the faithful servant of
Šarriria-na 2 Šêpê Šarriri 5 of the king: At the feet of the king,
bêli-ia ùdŠ am Ši-ia 6 my lord and my sun
7 Šú ù 7 ta-a-an 7 7 times and 7 times
am-ku-ut-me li-di-me 8 I fall down. Let
Šarru bêli-ia i-nu-ma 9 the king, my lord, be aware
iŠ-tu i-ri-bi sâbê bi-ta-ti 10 since the archers have returned (to Egypt),
i-ti-pu-uŠ-memLa-ab-a-ia 11 Labaya has waged
nu-kur-tú i-na mu-uh-hi-ia 12 war against me.
ù la-a-mi ni-li-ú 13 Consequently, we are unable
ka-si-ga ba-qa-lí ka-zi-ga 14 to do the harvesting;
ù la-a-me ni-li-ú 15 and we are unable
a-zibâba-bu-ul-lí Š á-ah-ri 16 to go out of the city gate
iŠ-tu pa-nimLa-ab-a-ya 17 because of Labaya.
i-nu-ma la-ma-ad-me 18 When he learned
ù la-a-me ti-id-di-in-na 19 the archers were not
sabê bi-ta-tum 20 coming out
ù a-nu-um-ma 21 he immediately
Šu-ut-ri-is pa-ni- Šú 22 determined
a-na la-ki-i 23 to capture
alMa-gi-id-daki 24 Megiddo.
ù lu-ú-mi 25 But may
li-ik-ki-im-mi Šarruru alaki-Šú la-a-me 26-27 the king rescue his city
yi-is-bat-Šim La-ab-a-ya 28-29 so that Labaya does not capture it.
Šum-ma-me ga-am-ra-at-me aluki i-na mûti 30-31 Look, the city is consumed by death,
i-na mu-ta-a-an 32 by plague,
i-na up-ri ù lu-ú 33 by dust. So let the
li-di-nam-mi Šarruru 34 king provide
1 me amêlûta ma-an-sa-ar-tú 35 100 garrison troops
a-na na-sa-ri aliki- Šú 36 to protect his city
la-a-me yi-is-bat-simLa-ab-a-ya Šum-ma-me 37-38 lest Labaya conquer it. Look,
i-ia-nu pa-ni-ma Šá-nu-tú i-na mLa-ab-a-ya 39 Labaya has no other purpose.
sa-ba-at-mealMa-gid-daki yu-ba-ah 42-43 He simply seeks the capture of Megiddo.
NOTES
Biridiya was the mayor of Megiddo. In the collection of Amarna Letters, he wrote seven others: EA 242-243, 245-248, 365.
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.
Archers played a key role in ancient Near Eastern warfare. For biblical examples, see Genesis 49:23; 1 Samuel 31:3; 2 Samuel 11:24; 2 Chronicles 35:23; Jeremiah 50:29; 1 Maccabees 9:11.
Labaya appears in thirteen of the Amarna letters. EA 289 may indicate that he was the ruler of Šakmu (biblical Shechem), located to the southeast of Megiddo.
Megiddo is located in the Jezreel Valley in Palestine, about 52 miles north of Jerusalem. For biblical references, see: Joshua 12:21; 17:11; Judges 1:27; 5:19; 1 Kings 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27. On ancient Megiddo, see Ussishkin (1992).




DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Describe the situation in Megiddo as Biridiya articulates it in this letter.

2. What is the purpose of the letter?
3. Why is Biridiya so intent on the arrival of archers? See Miller et al. (1986) and Yadin (1963).
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).




SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Albright, 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.
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.
Miller, R., E. McEwen, and C. Bergman. "Experimental Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Archery." World Archaeology 18 (1986) 178-95.
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.
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. Translated by J. Metcalf. New York and London: Lemcke & Buechner, 1896.
Yadin, Yigael. The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands in the Light of Archaeological Study. 2 vols. Translated by M. Pearlman. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963.


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Last Modified: 29 June 2004