Amarna Tablet 79
Letter from Rib-Hadda to the King of Egypt


DESCRIPTION

pictures from www.heptune.com/art.html
Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay tablet
Length: 47 lines of writing
Genre: Letter Requesting Assistance
Date: 14th cent. BCE
Place of Discovery: Tel el-Amarna, Egypt
(ancient Akhetaten)
Date of Discovery: 1887
Discoverer: peasant woman
Current Location: Vorderasiatisches Museum
(Berlin, Germany)
Inventory Number: VAT 1634
Tablet Number: EA 79
Knudtzon 1907–1915




TEXT
TRANSLITERATION
(from Mercer 1939:1:286, 288)

TRANSLATION
(adapted from Mercer 1939:1:287, 289
and Moran 1992:149-50)
mRi-ib-Addi iq-bi 1 Rib-Hadda says
a-na beli-Šu Šàr mâtâti Šarri rabî 2 to his lord, the King of Lands, the Great King,
Šàr ta-am-ha-ra ilat Bêlit 3 the King of Battle: May the Lady
ŠáalGub-la ti-di-en 4 of Gubla grant
dunna a-na Šarriribêli-ia 5 power to the king, my lord.
a-na Šêpê bêli-ia d ŠamŠi-ia 6 At the feet of my lord, my Sun,
7-Šú 7-a-an am-ku-ut li-ma-ad 7 I fall down seven times and seven times. Be informed
i-nu-ma iŠ-tu ka-Š á-ad 8 that since
mA-ma-an-ap-pa a-na mu-hi-ia 9 Amanappa's arrival to me,
ka-liamêlûtGAZ.MEŠ na-ad-nu 10 all the 'Apiru have turned
pa-ni-Šú-nu a-na ia- Š i a-na 11 their face against me
ka bi-imAbdi-AŠi-ir-ta 12 at the instigation of Abdi-AŠirta.
ú ji-eŠ-me bêlili 13 Let my lord listen to
a-wa-temeŠardi- Šú ù uŠ- Š i-ra-ni 14 the words of his servant, and let him send me
amêlûta ma-sa-ar-ta a-na 15 a garrison to
na-sa-ar àl Šarri a-di 16 defend the city of the king, until
a-sa sâbê bi-ta-ti ù 17 the archers come out. And
Šum-ma ia-nu sâbê bi-bi-ta-ti 18 if there are no archers,
ù en-ni-ip-Šú ka-li 19 then all the lands will unite
mâtâti a-naamêlûtGAZ.MEŠ Ši-me 20 with the 'Apiru. Listen,
eŠ-tu sa-ba-atal Bît-Ar-ha 21 since the conquest of Bit-Arha
a-na bi-imAbdi-A-Ši-ir-ta 22 in accordance with the demand of Abdi-AŠ irta,
ù ki-na-na tu-ba-ú-na 23 they seek in the same way
i-bi-ŠáalGub-la ù 24 to unite Gubla and
alBat-ru-nakiù en-ni-ip- Šú 25 Batruna; and thus all lands would be united
ka-li mâtâti a-naamêlût GAZ.MEŠ 26 with the 'Apiru.
2 alâni Šá ir-ti-h u a-na ia- Ši 27 Two cities remain with me,
ù tu-ba-ú-na la-qa-Š&uacute-nu 28 and they are also attempting to take
eŠ-tu qa-at Šarri riju-wa-Ši-ra 29 them from the king's hand. Let my lord send
bêliliamêlûta ma-s a-ar-ta 30 a garrison
a-na 2 ala-ni-Šú a-di a-zi s âbê 31 to his two cities until the arrival
bi-ta-ti ù mi-im-ma 32 of the archers, and give me something
ji-da-na-ni a-na a-ka-li-Š&uacute-nu 33 to feed them.
ia-nu mi-im-ma a-na ia-Ši 34 I have nothing.
ki-ma issuri Šá i-na libbi bi 35 Like a bird that lies in
hu-ha-ri ki-lu-bi Šá-ak-na-at 36 a net, a kilubi/cage,
ki-Šú-ma a-na-ku i-na 37 so I am in
alGub-lakiŠ á-ni-tú 38 Gubla. Furthermore,
Šum-ma la-a i-li-e 39 if the king is not able
Šarrurula-qa-ia e Š-tu 40 to rescue me from
qa-at na-ak-ri-Šú 41 the hand of his enemy,
ù en-ni-ip-Šá-at 42 then all lands
ka-li mâtâti 43 will unite
a-namAbdi-A-Ši-ir-ta 44 with Abdi-AŠirta.
mi-nu Šú-tú kalbu ù 45 What is he, the dog, that
íl-ti-ku mâtâ Šarri ri a-na 46 he takes the king's lands for
Šá-a-Šú 47 himself?
NOTES

Great King was the ancient Semitic phrase describing an emperor (for biblical examples, see: 2 Kings 18:19; Psalm 48:2; 95:3; Isaiah 36:4; Jeremiah 27:7; Matthew 5:35.)
Gubla is biblical Gebel, later called Byblos, on the Phoenician coast (in modern Lebanon).
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.
Amanappa is the name of a an Egyptian official, who is mentioned in ten of the Amarna letters.
Bit-Arha is an unknown location.
Batruna is the name of a Phoenician coastal town located north of Beirut (in modern Lebanon).
Dog is a common Semitic metaphor of either derision or self-deprecation (for biblical examples, see: 1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Samuel 9:8; 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13).




DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. The author of this letter, Rib-Addi, is the "mayor" of Gubla. What is his relationship to the recipient of the letter, the Pharaoh of Egypt? Why would Rib-Addi describe himself as bowing 7 times and 7 times before the Pharaoh?

2. Who is Abdi-AŠirta? What role does he play in this drama? What is his strategy? Why does he draw Rib-Addi's disdain?
3. Who are the 'Apiru (see Astour 1976, Buccellati 1977, Gottwald 1979:401-26, Greenberg 1955, Hallock 1939, Lemche 1992, and Moran 1967? What role do they play here?
4. Rib-Addi's comparison of himself in lines 35-38 to a bird in a snare is a common one in the ancient Mediterranean (see Psalm 124:7; Ecclesiastes 9:11-12; Amos 3:5). Compare Rib-Addi's self-description to Sennacherib's portrayal of his siege of Hezekiah in Jerusalem ( Sennacherib Prism 3:18-43 ).
5. Who is the Lady (Bêlit) of Gubla? What is her role in this letter?




SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Astour, Michael C. "Habiru." In Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume, edited by K. Crim, 382-85. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976.
Campbell, Edward A. "The Amarna Letters and the Amarna Period." In Biblical Archaeologist Reader vol. 3, 54-75. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
Chaney, Marvin L. "Ancient Palestinian Peasant Movements and the Formation of Premonarchic Israel." In Palestine in Transition: The Emergence of Ancient Israel, edited by D. N. Freedman and D. F. Graf, 39-90. Social World of Biblical Antiquity Series 2. Sheffield: Almond, 1983.
Gonen, Rivka. "Urban Canaan in the Late Bronze Age." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 253 (1981) 61-73.
Gottwald, Norman K. The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel 1250-1050 B.C.E. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1979.
Greenberg, Moshe. Hab/piru. American Oriental Series 39. New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society, 1955.
Hallock , F. H. "The Habiru and the SA.GAZ in the Tell El-Amarna Tablets." In Mercer 1939:2:838-45.
Knudtzon, J. A. Die El-Amarna-Tafeln. Vorderasiatische Bibliotek, vol. 2. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907–1915 (repr. Aalen: O. Zeller, 1964).
Lemche, Niels Peter. "Habiru / Hapiru." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 3.6-10. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
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.
Moran, William L. "Habiru (Habiri)." In The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 6.878b-80b. Washington, D.C.: Catholic Univ. Press, 1967.
Na'aman, Nadav. "Amarna Letters." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 1.174-81. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Na'aman, Nadav. "Economic Aspects of the Egyptian Occupation of Canaan." Israel Exploration Journal 31 (1981) 172-85.
Na'aman, Nadav. "Habiru and Hebrews: The Transfer of a Social Term to the Literary Sphere." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 45 (1986) 271-88.
Oppenheim, A. Leo. Letters from Mesopotamia. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967.
Winckler, Hugo. The Tell-el-Amarna Letters. Translated by J. Metcalf. New York and London: Lemcke & Buechner, 1896.


Return to A Collection of Mesopotamian Documents

Return to K. C. Hanson's Collection of Ancient Documents

Return to K. C. Hanson's HomePage



Last Modified: 29 June 2004