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|Length:||43 lines of writing|
|Date:||14th cent. BCE|
(mayor of Megiddo)
(probably Amenophis III)
|Place of Discovery:||Tel el-Amarna, Egypt
|Date of Discovery:||1887
|Current Location:||Egyptian Museum
|Inventory Number:||C 4768 (12200)|
|Tablet Number:||EA 244
(from Mercer 1939:2:638, 640)
(adapted from Mercer 1939:2:639, 641
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|
|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-ú||42-43||He simply seeks the capture of Megiddo.|
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).
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).
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.