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Approaching ancient near eastern treaties, laws, and covenants.

The volume under review (henceforth abbreviated TLC) is an ambitious undertaking to edit and analyze the treaties, laws, and covenants of the ancient Near Eastern world that has finally been realized after over a half-century of labor. The result is a rich resource of texts written in eleven different languages and spanning three millennia. It is a great boon to have English-language translations of this diverse body of material and to now be able to move between the texts with such ease.

TLC consists of three parts. Part 1 contains the transliterations and translations of the anthologized texts. Part 2 offers commentaries on these texts together with several analytic indices and other tools. Part 3 is a synthetic overview of the texts, providing both synchronic and diachronic perspectives. In what follows, I discuss TLC's three parts in order. First, however, I look a little more closely at what exactly constitutes a "treaty," "law," or "covenant," since we shall see in the discussion of part 3 below that more than semantics is at stake.

One hundred six different texts are identified in TLC as treaties, laws, and covenants. According to part l's introduction, "treaties were used to govern relations (parity or vassals) between separate groups, or group(s) and/or a significant individual"; "laws (agreed or imposed) were a device for regulating conduct within a given society or social group"; and "covenant could be used to define relations between individuals on the purely human level, or between individual(s) and deity" (p. xxii). (1)

Not appearing in the anthology are "[a] variety of decrees, edicts, miscellaneous formal oaths, etc." [that] "form no part of that grouping (other than at most marginally), and so are necessarily excluded from this work" (part 1, p. xxii). Twenty-one such texts are listed at the end of part 1 together with a brief explanation of the reason for their omission (pp. 1082-86). Unfortunately, the most common explanation ("Edict, not a treaty, hence omitted here," for the so-called Hittite edicts, e.g., the Edict of Mursili II for Niqmepa of Ugarit) leaves us wanting a little more. Since these texts governed relations between two communities (Hatti and Ugarit in the example given above), they fulfill the requirements of a "treaty"--notwithstanding obvious formal differences from those contemporaneous Hittite texts that happen to be conventionally designated in the scholarship as "treaties." In the absence of any definition of "edict" that justifies their exclusion, the exclusion of the Hittite Edicts seems unwarranted. (2)

Other seemingly relevant texts do not even make it into the list of "not included" texts. For instance, it is surprising not to meet the Middle Assyrian Palace Decrees, "a collection of regulations dealing with the internal activities and behavior of the palace personnel, and in particular of the palace women (the 'harem') and those male officials who interact with them" (Roth 1997: 195). Such texts, governing life within a community, would seem to qualify as "laws," according to the definition put forward in the introduction, quoted above. (3) The absence of a number of other seemingly relevant texts, such as the "oath-protocols" from early-second-millennium Mari, the contemporaneous edicts of restoration,4 the Hittite instructions, the proclamations of late second-millennium Nuzi, and the edicts and decrees of the first-millennium Neo-Assyrian kings, is equally questionable. It may seem uncharitable to focus on what was left out of a work that runs over 1500 pages. But since the authors use only the texts appearing in TLC as comparanda in their synthetic study in part 3, the question of what is included and excluded is an important methodological issue, as is discussed in more detail below.

In part 1, transliterations and translations are provided on facing pages for 84 of the 106 texts identified as treaties, laws, or covenants. (5) The authors' statement that these editions are "not intended to replace existing standard editions of any given group of texts included" (part 1, p. xxii) is accurate. The text editions generally follow the various standard editions, with the primary deviations being minor word changes and some reordering to fit the line-by-line translations adopted in the anthology. Unfortunately, a number of errors seem to have crept into the process of textual transmission, so that while it is exceedingly useful to have the anthologized texts collected in a single volume, one probably still wants to use the standard editions for any substantive work. (6)

Part 2 contains a variety of resources intended to help the analysis of the anthologized texts. These include philological commentaries, indices of several different topics, and especially "chromograms" of the texts, which "lay out as vividly as visually possible the conceptual pageant through the centuries of the changes in format in the triple class of document studied in this work" (part 2, p. xix). As the commentaries to the texts are quite short and generally open with some background on the sources for or general structure of a given text before pointing the reader to the standard edition or a relevant reference work for the translation of various words,71 concentrate here on the indices and chromograms.

The authors provide four indices (to general topics; prices, fines, and tributary payments; deities appearing as witnesses and in curses and blessings; and topics in curses and blessings) and a brief discussion of the ancient terminology used for the types of texts gathered in the work. It is clear that a great amount of effort went into assembling the data contained in these indices, and it is quite valuable to be able to see at a glance in which anthologized texts, for instance, the Mesopotamian sun-god Samas appears as a divine witness or in a blessing or curse. However, the utility of some of the indices, particularly those to general topics and topics in blessings and curses, is diminished by the decision to use English keywords that generally do not match the words used in the translation and can be quite interpretive.

I provide here a few examples from Assur-nerari V's treaty with Mati'-ilu of Arpad (SAA 22, the authors' No. 90) to illustrate this point. The curse "[May Istar, the god]dess of men, the lady of women, take away their bow" (v 12-13) is only cited under "Misery, for people" not "Weapons" or, better, "Sterility." (8) The curse "May they be deprived of Adad's thunder so that the rains become forbidden to them" (iv 12-13) is cited with several other curses under "Drought" (part 2, p. 213) but not "Rains, failure of" (part 2, p. 217), where we find listed only a curse from the Code of Hammu-rabi, "May Adad, lord of plenty, canal inspector of heaven and earth, my helper, deprive him of rain from heaven (and) flood (water) from the source" (1 64-69). And the curse "May his land altogether [be reduced] to wasteland, may only an area of the size of a brick (be left) for [him to stand on]" (i 4-6) is cited under "Destruction, devastation" but not "Ground," thereby obscuring any connection with the famous curse from Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty, "May the gods ... make the ground as narrow for you as a brick" (lines 526-27), which is cited there.

Part 2 ends with a series of "chromograms," which are essentially outlines of the anthologized texts. The authors have identified a total of twelve elements that occur in various combinations in the totality of the anthologized texts and then color-coded these elements (so that, e.g., laws or stipulations are "Royal Blue," while curses are "Sharp Crimson"). (9) A chromogram thus consists of a column of colored bands indicating the presence and order of particular elements in a text. The strength of these visual interpretations, for which this textual description is unfortunately inadequate, is their ability to clearly and quickly communicate possible patterns of content and structure. For instance, the aberrant structure of the Zakutu treaty, which alone among the Neo-Assyrian treaties lacks a crimson band (signifying-curses) at its end, is obvious at a glance and invites further investigation. (10) On the other hand, it is less clear whether these chromograms allow the authors to
   express with utmost clarity the actual occurrences, factually, of
   the clear grouping of documents that belong together in the
   characteristic formats and content that were peculiar to this or
   that particular historical epoch,--and likewise with equal clarity
   the correspondingly sharp contrasts in format/content visible
   between different periods in the sequence, (part 2, p. xix)

In other words, according to the authors' method, the fact that one finds a band of yellow (signifying "4a. Depositing, b. Reading out, of Document") in the chromograms of both the Hittite treaties and the covenants between Yahweh and Israel in the Pentateuch, yet not in those of the Neo-Assyrian treaties is one of several clues revealed by these visual interpretations of the texts that the original form of the covenants dates closer to the time of the Hittite treaties than to that of the Neo-Assyrian ones. (11)

However, it is important to remember that looking at the chromograms cannot substitute for consulting the actual texts if one wishes to engage in anything more than the most superficial comparative analysis. For instance, even though the yellow bands that signify deposition in the chromograms of, for example, the treaty of Tudhaliya IV with Kurunta of Tarhunatassa and the covenant between Yahweh and Israel in Joshua 24 look identical, when we compare the relevant section of the Hittite treaty:
   Now, this tablet has been prepared as the 7th copy; and with the
   seal of the Sun-goddess of Arinna, and with the seal of the
   Storm-god of Hatti has it been sealed. Thus, one tablet (deposited)
   before the Sun-goddess of Arinna; one tablet before the Storm-god
   of Hatti; one tablet before Lelwani; one tablet before Hepat of
   Kizzuwatna; one tablet before the Storm-god of lightning)?); one
   tablet in the Royal Palace, deposited before Zitkhariyas; and one
   tablet, Kurunta, King of the land of Tarhuntassa, keeps in his
   house. (No. 73 iv 44-51)

with the relevant section of the Biblical text:

And Joshua wrote up these matters in the document of instruction of God. (Jos. 24:26)

we sense that the practice of "Deposition" documented in these two texts may be more different than yellow bands can convey.

The chromograms also take into account only the written features of the anthologized texts when material features of those same texts can add important information, especially when the texts are written on cuneiform tablets that have a good archaeological context. For instance, to continue the issue of deposition discussed above, the absence of yellow bands in the chromograms of the Neo-Assyrian treaties signifies the absence of any statement concerning their deposition. Not only is this absence not entirely accurate, (12) but the 2009 discovery of a tablet inscribed with Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty in the inner sanctum of a temple at Tell Tayinat confirms that official Neo-Assyrian "treaties" were deposited in temples. (13) Therefore, while the chromograms' presentation of information can spur one's thinking, they need to be consulted judiciously and always in concert with the actual texts.

Some of the same interpretive issues found in part 2 reoccur in part 3, the Overall Historical Survey, perhaps because the synthesis found there is based on the analytic tools assembled in part 2. The explicit aim of part 3 is to offer "a continuous narrative of the ever-changing history and cultural contexts of our corpus through three millennia of its currency" (part 3, p. xiv). Tracing changes in the structure and content of the anthologized texts is at the heart of this narrative, and in order to do so, the authors make frequent reference to the chromograms, as illustrated by this observation on Old Babylonian treaties:

Almost all of these exhibit a very striking new format wholly different from all that had gone before and from almost all that ever came after. The dense array of mainly very consistent chromograms ... makes this stunningly clear. With the rarest exceptions, each such document begins with a vertical column of witness-deities at the left, balanced by a corresponding column at the right, saying repeatedly "swear!" (Name by name, 'By Deity X.... swear!') Only then do the stipulations and curses-for-infringement follow, in one case, preceded by a brief ceremony, (part 3, p. 247)

Yet do we really encounter such radical change? Considering only the chromograms, it may seem as if we do. In contrast to the format oath-stipulations-curses found in the chromograms of the Old Babylonian treaties, the chromogram of the third-millennium treaty between Naram-Sin of Akkad and a ruler of Elam shows the oath interspersed seven times throughout the text as well as other features not found in the second millennium, such as blessings and a statement on the deposition of the text.

However, the chromogram fails to capture other features of the Naram-Sin treaty equally relevant to the discussion: The text, found at Susa, is written in the Elamite language and "the appeal to the gods enumerates more than 35 deities who constitute almost all the deities of the Elamite pantheon" (Altman 2012: 35); yet "[t]he superb writing and the careful spelling of the Elamite [treaty] mark the tablet as a product of the royal chancellery at Akkade, and no doubt an Akkadian version is waiting to be excavated there" (Westenholz 1999: 92). As Altman (2012: 36) observes, the concurrence of these features suggests that "we may here have a case similar to the customary practice of the first half of the second millennium" whereby "the parties exchanged tablets that included a unilateral undertaking on which the addressee was supposed to take an oath before his (and the symbols of the other party's) gods in the presence of the messenger of the other party who brought the tablet." In other words, when we admit evidence beyond the chromograms, a different picture emerges, one that emphasizes continuity not disruption.

We encounter a similar situation in the authors' discussion of the six texts from Ebla that are anthologized in TLC. The chromograms for these are mostly blue (indicating stipulations), sometimes broken by one or more bands of grey (indicating the presence of a title or preamble) and once each by bands of crimson (curses) or purple (witnesses). The visual contrast to the third-millennium material on the facing page (the Stele of the Vultures and the Naram-Sin treaty mentioned above) is quite striking, since the chromograms for these Mesopotamian texts show the blue repeatedly broken up by yellow bands (indicating oaths). This contrast leads the authors to position the Ebla texts as representative of western treaty practices that are marked by simplicity and practicality in contrast to the repetitive complexity of Mesopotamian practices:
   And in the West? The chromograms tell it all. The entire Sumerian
   formulary is set aside, in favor of brutal simplicity. The most
   basic format is simply that of the stipulations themselves (No. 5),
   or with end-frame (Nos. 4, 6). Or with occasional subtitles (no
   initial title), but ending with witnesses and curses appended (No.
   3 [sic! In error for no. 2?]; cf. No. 7). Or, finally with a proper
   title (besides subtitles) and nothing else beyond the stipulations
   (No. 3). In other words, the 'western' attitude was one of putting
   first things first (the essence of the treaty), then of
   establishing the presence of divine witnesses and their
   accompanying role of enforcing sanctions (via curses) on any breach
   of the treaty, and finally of adding (sub) titles only as and where
   felt appropriate. Strict practicality rules here! (part 3, p. 22)

When we look at the texts themselves, however, this dichotomy of "western" simplicity and "eastern" complexity collapses. ARET 13 6 (the authors' No. 5), presenting the "most basic format," is probably an extract from a longer text, as in fact the authors note elsewhere (part 3, p. 5). ARET 13 20 and 21 (the authors' Nos. 6 and 4, respectively) may also be extracts or even preliminary drafts: The "end-frame" or "title" identified by the authors is simply a brief statement identifying the text as a "tablet of the oil-offering" between two cities, and four of the six columns on the reverse of ARET 13 20 are blank. ARET 13 18 (the authors' No. 7) has been identified by its original editor as a school exercise (Fronzaroli 2003: ix), as again the authors note elsewhere (part 1, p. 41; part 2, p. 19). And ARET 13 10 (the authors' No. 3) may be a compilation of letters sent from the king of Manuwat to the king of Mari during treaty negotiations between these two cities.

While all of these texts possess great historical value, none can be taken to represent Eblaite, let alone "western," treaties if they are extracts, drafts, or belong to other textual genres. This leaves only the famous treaty of Ebla and Abarsal (ARET 13 5, the authors' No. 2) to demonstrate the "brutal simplicity" of the west, and this solitary text approaches the two Mesopotamian examples in structural complexity (one of which, the Stele of the Vultures [the authors' No. 1], is, of course, actually a commemorative monument and not a treaty and so, while informative of inter-polity practices in the third millennium, is itself representative of another textual genre).

If these two examples show an overreliance on the chromograms, in other places one notes a striking disconnect between the analytic tools assembled in part 2 and the arguments advanced in part 3, as is well illustrated by the authors' treatment of some material from the Pentateuch. A little more than one-third of the overall historical survey (98 out of 288 pages) is taken up with arguing that Yahweh's covenants with Israel should be dated "at the hinge between the late 2nd and the 1st millennia B.c., because they show clear physical and conceptual affinities with the rest of the documentation of the former epoch, but also now form part of a larger complex finalized in the latter epoch" (part 3, p. 117). One basis for this assertion is two tables that compare the curses found in Lev. 26 and Deut. 28 with curses found in the third millennium, early second millennium, middle second millennium, late second millennium, and first millennium (part 3, pp. 194 and 197-98). Looking at these tables, the authors observe that "whole runs of topics in No. 83 [= Deut. 28] thus appear in early, mid., and/or late 2nd millennium sources, and never in the 1st-millennium treaties, etc., at all" so that "[o]n overall balance, the content and coverage of curse-topics in Nos. 82-83 [= Lev. 26 and Deut. 28] link those two documents in origin (but not necessarily final form) with the 2nd millennium" (part 3, p. 201).

However, the authors' own indices in part 2 belie this claim, especially the "runs of topics" that the authors claim appear in Deut. 28 and second-millennium sources but never in first-millennium sources. In the interests of space, I discuss only two examples from one run, items 16-30 in the table. Here is the first example as it appears in the authors' table (part 3, p. 198):
                3rd    E 2nd   M 2nd                           1st
No.    No. 83   mllm   mllm    mllm    L 2nd mllm              mllm

16     house                           57 ([section]) 17ii
       lost                            [58 A ([section]) 17]
                                       74 ([section]) 1 o'

When we decipher this row, we discover that it is telling us that, among the texts anthologized in TLC, a curse concerning a lost house appears in Deut. 28 and in three sources dating to the late second millennium (Suppiluliuma I's treaty with Tette of Nuhasse [No. 57]; Suppiluliuma I's treaty with Aziru of Amurru [No. 58, poorly preserved]; and the Ulmi-Tessub Treaty [No. 74]) but does not appear in any sources dating to the third millennium, early or middle second millennium, or first millennium.

Yet this information is contradicted by the index of topics appearing in curses and blessings found in part 2, in which only Deut. 28 is listed under the only relevant heading, "House, not dwelt in" (p. 214). And when we look at the curses themselves in full, we discern the reason. Here is the curse from Deut. 28:

"A house you will build, but you will not dwell in it" (Deut. 28:30 = TLC No. 83) and here are the curses from Suppiluliuma I's treaty with Tette of Nuhasse and the Ulmi-Tessub Treaty (the curse in Suppiluliuma I's treaty with Aziru of Amurru is the same as that in the treaty with Tette of Nuhasse and so is not reproduced here):

(If Tette does not abide by the treaty), then Tette [and his head], his [wiv]es, his sons, his grandsons, his house, his city, his land, along with his property, may they destroy [them(?)] (Suppiluliuma I and Tette of Nuhasse, TLC No. 57 iv 48-52; cf. also Suppiluliuma I and Aziru of Amurru, TLC No. 58 rev. 12'-16')

(If you <do not observe> the words of the treaty), then the Thousand gods shall blot out yourself, your wife, your offspring, your land, your house, your threshing-floor, your orchard, your field(s), your cattle and your flocks, and all your property (Tudhalia IV(?) and Ulmi-Tessub of Tarhuntassa, TLC No. 74 rev. 5-7)

The degree of correspondence between the Hittite curses and that found in Deut. 28 is open to question. But if this degree is acceptable for identifying a curse as concerning lost houses and including it in the table, we might expect also to find listed there this curse appearing in a first-millennium treaty:

May Assur, father of the gods, who grants kingship, turn your land into a battlefield, your people to devastation, your cities into mounds, (and) your house into ruins (Assur-nerari V and Mati'ilu, TLC No. 90 v 5-7)

And in the event that one might reasonably want a greater degree of correspondence between curses, one can find it in another first-millennium treaty that has escaped the authors' attention:

May your sons not take possession of your house (Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty, TLC No. 94: 429-30)

Here is the second example as it appears in the authors' table:
                    3rd    E 2nd       M 2nd   L 2nd   1st
No.    No. 83       mllm   mllm        mllm    mllm    mllm

22     exile (1),          14 E20/3,
       >idols(1)           27/7

This row informs us that a curse concerning exile and idols appears among the anthologized texts only in Deut. 28 and a source of the early second millennium, specifically in the epilogue of the Code of Hammu-rabi. Again, this information is at odds with part 2's index of topics appearing in curses, where, under the heading "Exile" (part 2, p. 213), we find attestations from seven different sources, including four different Neo-Assyrian treaties. (14)

Putting aside the uneasy relationship between the analytic tools assembled in part 2 and the claims put forward in part 3, however, it should be emphasized that the entire enterprise of finding a historical setting for a curse or any other feature of structure or content for the anthologized texts purely on the basis of parallels is of course fraught with methodological peril. A host of difficult questions immediately raises itself: What degree of similarity is required to make two features parallel (cf. the example of the lost house in Deut. 28:30 discussed above)? How many parallel features are required to justify placing two texts within the same historical setting? Can factors besides contemporaneity account for the parallel features? Given that the anthologized texts are often damaged and sometimes only a few are extant from a particular historical period, to what extent should the lack of a parallel in a given period be taken as evidence that this feature was in fact absent? And should our search for parallels even be restricted to texts that seem functionally similar to us, namely other ancient Near Eastern treaties, laws, and covenants?

These questions are neither asked nor answered in TLC, which lacks any explicit discussion of the comparative method its authors employ. As addressing them all is outside the scope of this review, I consider only the last question here. If one answers this question in the affirmative, namely that we should restrict our search for textual parallels to a given ancient Near Eastern treaty, law, or covenant to other ancient Near Eastern treaties, laws, and covenants, then it is critical that the pool of ancient Near Eastern treaties, laws, and covenants, however those categories be defined, is assembled as completely as possible. For if a relevant text escapes being added to the pool, then it also escapes being used as a comparandum. This absence necessarily compromises any attempt to establish the historical setting of a text by its formal similarity or dissimilarity to other texts in the pool. For this reason, the lack of any justification for omitting the "oath-protocols" from Old Babylonian Mari, the contemporaneous edicts of restoration, the Hittite edicts and instructions, the Nuzi proclamations, the Middle Assyrian Palace Decrees, or the edicts and decrees of the Neo-Assyrian kings, mentioned at the beginning of this review, is regrettable from a methodological point of view, even if one acknowledges that including all of these texts in the pool of comparanda would be a difficult task.

But I am not convinced that the best place to look for parallels is in texts that appear to us to be functionally similar. Some curses from Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty, for instance, find their closest parallels in the first-millennium Mesopotamian collection of incantations known as Surpu, and Watanabe (1987: 33) has discussed in detail a particular curse that finds parallels not just in Surpu and another contemporaneous incantation collection, Maqlu, but also in a kudurru of the Babylonian king Marduk-apla-iddina I. It seems safe to say that the ancient authors and editors responsible for the texts anthologized in TLC wore many hats. Any conclusion reached, then, on the historical setting of a text therein purely on the basis of its similarity to a pool of other texts defined by conformity to the etic categories "treaty," "law," and "covenant" runs the risk of being a false positive result.

These observations aside, the pool of texts anthologized in TLC is remarkable. The texts are profoundly significant from a historical perspective, and TLC offers an incredible vista on the various attempts of human beings to organize themselves and their fellow humans during the first half of history. The authors are to be congratulated for their efforts in assembling this rich resource and making it available.


Altman, A. 2012. Tracing the Earliest Recorded Concepts of International Law: The Ancient Near East (2500-330 BCE). Leiden: M. Nijhoff.

Beckman, G. 1996. Hittite Diplomatic Texts. Writings from the Ancient World, vol. 7. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Fronzaroli, P. 2003. Testi di cancelleria: I rapporti con le cittd. Archivi Reali di Ebla, Testi 13. Rome: Missione Archeological Italiana in Siria.

Harrison, T. R, and J. F. Osborne. 2012. Building XVI and the Neo-Assyrian Sacred Precinct at Tell Tayinat. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 64: 124-43.

Lauinger, J. 2011. Some Preliminary Thoughts on the Tablet Collection in Building XVI from Tell Tayinat. Journal of the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies 6: 5-14.

Parpola, S. 2003. International Law in the First Millennium. In A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, vol. 2, ed. R. Westbrook. Pp. 1047-63. Handbuch der Orientalistik I, 72. Leiden: Brill.

Parpola, S., and K. Watanabe. 1988. Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths. State Archives of Assyria, vol. 2. Helsinki: Helsinki Univ. Press.

Radner, K. 2006. Assyrische tuppi ade ais Vorbild fur Deuteronomium 28, 20-44? In Die deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerke: Redaktions- und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven zur "Deuteronomismus"-Diskussion in Tora und vorderen Propheten, ed. M. Witte; K. Schmid; D. Prechel; and J. C. Gertz. Pp. 351-78. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, vol. 365. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

--. 2006-2008. Provinz. C. In Reallexikon der Assyriologie, vol. 11, ed. M. Streck. Pp. 42-68. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Roth, M. 1997. Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, 2nd ed. Writings from the Ancient World, vol. 6. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Watanabe, K. 1987. Die ade-Vereidigung anlafilich der Thronfolgeregelung Asarhaddons. Baghdader Mitteilungen, Beiheft 3. Berlin: Gebr. Mann.

Westenholz, A. 1999. The Old Akkadian Period: History and Culture. In Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit und Ur III-Zeit, ed. P. Attinger and M. Wafler. Pp. 17-117. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, vol. 160/3. Freiburg/Gottingen: Universitatsverlag/Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Jacob Lauinger

Johns Hopkins University

This is a review article of Treaty, Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East. 3 vols. By KENNETH A. KITCHEN and PAUL J. N. LAWRENCE. Part 1: The Texts; Part 2: Text, Notes and Chronograms; Part 3: Overall Historical Survey. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2012. Pp. xxvi + 1086, xix + 268, xiv + 288. 298 [euro].

(1.) Cf., however, the definitions found in the preface, "laws that govern life in a given community ..., treaties that govern relations between such communities, and covenant used by or between individuals, or them and groups or in dealings with a deity" (part 1, p. xix). A text governing the relations between a group and an individual, then, is a treaty according to the introduction and a covenant according to the preface.

(2.) Beckman (1996) includes them in his collection of Hittite diplomatic texts. The exclusion of the edicts is more puzzling because their introductory formula (e.g., "Thus says his Majesty, Mursili, Great King, King of Hatti, son of Suppiluliuma, Great King, Hero") is of the same type as that taken by the authors as one of the hallmarks of the late-second-millennium treaty tradition: "But in the late 2nd millennium, we have a veritable spate of compact treaty-titles mainly from the Hittite archives that take the compact address-form identical with Jos. 24:2a: 'Thus (speaks) X, + epithets'" (part 3, p. 118, emphasis in the original).

(3.) Roth (1997) includes them in her edition of cuneiform law collections. Note that the Middle Assyrian Palace Decrees describe themselves as riksu, "bond, agreement," using the same word that one finds in second- millennium sources designating texts that are identified in TLC as "treaties" (part 2, pp. 235-37).

(4.) These are briefly mentioned (part 3, p. 45) in a discussion of ancient Near Eastern laws that are "deducible without extant 'codes'" (p. 41).

(5.) Another eight texts are presented only in translation because they are fragmentary or in Demotic or Greek. Fourteen additional texts are listed at the end of part 1 (pp. 1082-86) but not translated because they either are extremely fragmentary or were still unpublished at the time of writing. All translations quoted in this review are from TLC.

(6.) In checking the accuracy of the text editions, I focused most closely on the Neo-Assyrian treaties, where I found surprises such as that Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty (SAA 2 6, the authors' No. 94) was composed in "the eponymy of NabQ-belu-usur [sic], governor of Dur-Sharruken" (1. 665), i.e., Khorsabad, when in fact Nabu- beluusur was the governor of Dur-Sarrukku, a city probably to be located near classical Opis (see Radner 2006-2008: 65, citing previous bibliography). The presentation of the Zakutu treaty (SAA 2 8, the authors' No. 96) has a number of errors. For instance, in the preamble half-brackets indicating a damaged but legible sign have become single quotation marks (e.g., 'sa' for sa [obv. 1]; 'zak'-ke-e for 'zak'-ke-e [obv. 7)], dan-'nu' for dan-'nu' [obv. 9). Parpola and Watanabe's (1988) emendation SA(text: TA*) in rev. 2 is normalized simply as libbi without any note in the transliteration (though it is noted in the commentary, part 2, p. 98). Similarly, the emendation Pa] in rev. 20--where [[ ]] stands for << >> in the idiosyncratic but consistent conventions of the SAA publications--is transformed into [sa], informing us that that sa is not preserved in the text and has been restored, instead of that sa is present in the original but to be removed, as Parpola and Watanabe intended.

(7.) I quote in full this representative paragraph on lines 500-600 of Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty (SAA 2 6) in order to give the reader a proper sense of the commentaries' philological scope: "Line 512 'call us to account' as CAD 2/B, 1965, 365a4, literally 'to require at our hands.' Line 534 'tin', so with CAD 1 /All, 1968, 127a, under annaku traditionally rendered 'lead', but this latter metal is abaru, cf. CAD 1/AI, 1964, 36-38. For abaru, see further B. Landsberger JNES 24 (1965) 265-296. Line 555 'mongoose' Akk. sikku CAD 17/S1I, 1992, 433b, AHw 1234a. Line 563 't[ub]e', so Parpola & Watanabe [= SAA 2 6] 52. Line 579 'caterpillar', so Parpola & Watanabe (53), CAD 2/B, 1965, 333b; ANET 540 and Wiseman (74) have 'butterfly'. Line 593 'chameleon' Akk. hurbabillu CAD 6/H, 1956, 248a, AHw 358n. See Text 82, Lev. 11: 30. Line 594 'honeycomb', so Parpola & Watanabe (54); CAD 8/K, 1971, 110b and AHw 430a have 'honey-cake'. Line 599 'grubs' is our attempt to find a synonym for 'caterpillar' (so AHw 29a3 'Raupe') literally 'the devourer'" (part 2, p. 97).

(8.) The word qastu, "bow," is best understood here as a euphemism for the penis, so already CAD E s.v. ekemu usage e, and see CAD Q s.v. qastu mng. If for a parallel (Biggs, Saziga 37, No. 18: 3).

(9.) A full list of the elements and their associated colors: "1. Blackish-gray. Title and/or Preamble"; "2. Bright Orange: Prologue"; "3. Royal Blue-. Laws or Stipulations"; "4. Lemon-, a. Depositing, B. Reading out, of Document"; "5. Bright Purple: Witnesses"; "6b[sic]. Lush Green: Blessings"; "6c. Sharp Crimson: Curses"; "7/8. Golden Yellow: 1. Oath; 8. Solemn Ceremony"; "9. Medium Brown: Epilogue"; "10. White: Frame and Label texts; nontitular Colophons"; "11. [White]: (Sanctions)"; and "12. [White]: HRAFs ('Historial Reminiscences & Archaeological Flashbacks')" (part 2, p. 253).

(10.) The aberrant structure is probably because the text is a draft or excerpt of a longer text; see Parpola 2003: 1047 with n. 3.

(11.) E.g., "As both the text itself and our given analysis in Vol.[sic] I and the chromogram (in Vol.[sic] II, p. 262) equally demonstrate, No. 84 [= Jos. 24] is totally typical of a 14th/13th century treaty/covenant type text in virtually all features. In our extant text, the stipulations are in essence honed down to the single crucial matter of full obedience, and exclusively to YHWH as their sole sovereign without rival. The renewed covenant was drawn up, and rulings (with it) written down (24:25-26); deposition as ever (4a [= deposition]). Thus, regarding features 1 to 4b [of the chromograms] inclusive, all of our Nos. 82-84 [= the covenants between God and Israel] are very clearly identifiable as an integral part of that large and very characteristic corpus that reigned supreme in overall format and range of contents specifically within precisely the 14th--13th centuries BC, and in fact barely beyond the roughly 170 years at most within c. 1350-1180 BC overall" (part 3, p. 185).

(12.) The relevant passage is best preserved in the Tayinat exemplar of Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty, not published in time for the use of the authors: "You will guard like your god this sealed tablet of the great ruler on which is written the ade of Assurbanipal, the great crown prince designate, the son of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, your lord, which is sealed with the seal of ASSur, king of the gods, and which is set up before you" (SAA 2 6: 407-9; see now JCS 64 113). But cf. already the translation in SAA 2 6 on the basis of the material available at the time: "You shall guard [this treaty tablet which] is sealed with the seal of ASSur, king of the gods, and set up in your presence, like your own god."

(13.) Lauinger 2011, Harrison and Osborne 2012; on official "treaties," tuppi ade, in contrast to chancellery copies of the same, see Radner 2006: 367-74.

(14.) The curses cited in the authors' index are "YHWH shall bring you, and your king that you shall set over you, to a nation that you know not, you or your fathers; and there you will serve other gods, and wood and stone" (Deut. 28:36); "And you I shall scatter among the nations, and I shall draw upon ("after") you (the) sword; and your land shall be devastated, and your cities be in ruins" (Lev. 26:33); "The loss of his city, the exile of his people, the overthrow of his kingdom, not producing his name and his reputation in the land, let [Enlil] decree with his serious voice" (LH xlix 73-79); "May (Istar) hand over that (man) into the hand of his enemy, and may they lead him as a captive to the land of his enemy" (LH li 19-22); "May Marduk, the great lord, whose commands take precedence, [by his unalterable word] order his non well-being and the dispersion of his people" (SamSi-Adad V and Marduk-zakir-sumi, TLC No. 89 l.e. 16'-17'); "May Mati'-ilu [disappear] from his land together with hi[s] sons, [his magnates], (and) the people of his land. He will not return to his land, nor will he [behold] his land (ever again)" (Assur-nerari V and Mati'-ilu, TLC No. 90 i 18'-20'); "May Melqart (and) Eshmun deliver your land to destruction (and) your people to deportation; may they [uproot] you from your land" (TLC No. 93 iv 14'-15); "As a caterpillar does not see and does not return to its cocoon, so may you, your women, your sons, (and) your daughters not return to your houses" (Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty, TLC No. 94: 579-81).
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Title Annotation:Treaty, Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East, 3 vols.
Author:Lauinger, Jacob
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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