This Week in the Context of Scripture

Do make sure and drop by Annuma and check out Brook Lester’s take on This Week in Context of Scripture. We conclude this week a series of Hittite archival letters sent from “his Manjesty” to Kussu. Additionally we read a letter sent from an Egyptian Queen Naptera to Puduhep, a Queen of Hatti and a letter from Hattusili III of Hatti To Kadasman-Enlil II of Babylon. In this latter letter, we read of a covenant that was established between two “brothers” that was supposed to be eternal. Thus, when one king died, the covenant extended to the progeny of the dead king, and his son becomes the new “brother” of the surviving king, maintaining the former alliance. The events of the letter suggest some time has passed since the young son assumed office, perhaps too young to rule independently, and that the young ruler now of age is acting in ways that suggests he is either unaware of or uninterested in honoring the alliance established by his father.

The editors of COS have identified a number of passages in Samuel-Kings that correspond to the political conflicts described in the letter. For example, the use of the term “brother” between covenanted parties can be found in 1 Ki 9:13; 20:32. On the extension of political alliances from departed kings to their sons, we read in 1 Sam 10:1-2, “After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. And David said, ‘I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.'” These letters provide an interesting window into the political alliances typical among Hittite rulers in the late 2nd millenium BCE. While the events in the Bible belong to the 1st millenium BCE, it is helpful to see how these types of alliances and treaties are comfortably situated in the ANE in the general time period we read about the Bible. These connections lend support to those who would defend the use of texts like Samuel-Kings as evidence that can help us to understand better the historical period these texts record. While there is no reason not to critically analyze the biblical text and subject it to the same kind of scrutiny other historical documents are subjected to, a “guilty until proven innocent” approach is hardly justifiable.

Next week’s readings will pick up a little from this past week’s.

6th – Letter from Piha-Walwi of Hatti to Ibiranu of Ugarit (3.32)
7th – The Case Against Ura-Tarhunta and His Father Ukkura (3.33)
8th – City Inventories – KBo 2.1 (CTH 509) (3.34)
9th – Cult Image Descriptuions – KUB 38.2 (Bildbeschr. Text 1) (3.35)
10th – Votive Records – KUB 15.1 (CTH 584.1) (3.36)
11th – Archive Shelf Lists – From Buyukkale, Building A, Rooms 1-2 (3.37)
12th – From Buyukkale, Building A, Rooms 4-5 (3.38)

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