Amarna Tablet 365
Letter from Biridiya of Megiddo to the Pharaoh


DESCRIPTION

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Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay tablet
Length: 31 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: c. 1920?
Discoverer: ?
Current Location: Louvre Museum
(Paris, France)
Tablet Number: EA 365
Inventory Number: AO 7098
Original Publication: Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 19 (1922) 97-98




TEXT
TRANSLITERATION
(from Mercer 1939:2:648, 650)

TRANSLATION
(adapted from Mercer 1939:2:649, 651
Albright 1969:485;
Rainey 1978:28-29
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
te-ir-ri-Šú-na 20 cultivate
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.
NOTES
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.




DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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).




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.
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.


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Last Modified: 29 June 2004