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A Guarantee Hostage in the Story of Joseph (Gen. 42–44) and in Middle-Assyrian Times

Pages 207 - 210


University of Haifa

1 We follow here the biblical text according to Revised Standard Edition, published in 1971. If necessary, the Hebrew text is used. Cf. also J. Vergoote, Joseph en Egypte, Leuven, 1959, pp. 153–176.

2 bebèt mišmarkem, “in your (plur.) prison. We prefer to translate “in the house you (plur.) are guarded”’ i.e., a kind of prison for foreigners.” Cf. also J. Vergoote, p. 159.

3 weʿetʾ aḥīkem haqqaṭon tābīʾū ʾēlay weyēʾmnū dibrēkem. Here is a hint about the redeeming of the hostage.

4 wayyeʾasor ʾôtō leʿēnēhem.

5 ʾašer ʿal-bētō, lit., “over his house” – “majordomo”; cf. Y. Avishur, M. Heltzer, Studies on the Royal Administration in Ancient Israel in the Light of Epigraphic Sources, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, 2000, pp. 76–81.

6 wayyōṢēʾ ʾalēhem ēt-šimʿōn.

7 B.I. Faist, Der Fernhandel des assyrischen Reiches zwischen dem 14. und 11. Jh. v. Chr, AOAT, 265, Münster, 2001, pp. 251–252, Brief desḪ amis-Dagal; pp. 253–254. Kommentar, Tafeln 3–4. Kopie; Tafeln 5–6, Fotografien.

8 Faist, p. 253; a West-Semitic name; names of this type appear often in the Emar texts.

9 So, Bël-qarradu the “Lord” ofḪ amis-Dagal had to say to the wife ofḪ amis-Dagal, or to read her the contents of the letter. It seems that Bël-qarradu carried the letter from Assyria to the home-place ofḪ amis-Dagal.

10 Ṣar-pu, lit. “roasted”; in Middle Assyrian mostly used to designate “silver” without writing KU.BABBAR = Akk. kaspu, AHW, p. 1086a.

11 As far as I know, it is the first known mentioning of the Canaanite weight-stone (scale). The fact that 2 minas and 5 shekels appear in the text, possibly show that 5 shekels appear as 1/10 of a mina and we have here a mina of 50 shekels, and it was so in Ugarit, for use in Syria and Palestine. Cf. N. Parise, Mina di Ugarit, mina di Karkemish, mina di Khatti, DdA, NS, 3, 1981, pp. 155–160. cf. also NA4=abnu, as a weight-scale, CAD, 1, p. 59, 4, where the aban mäti “stone of the land” aban Telmun “stone of Dilmun” aban Mari “stone of Mari” appear; M.A. Powell, Masse und Gewichte, RIA, 22 V B.4, p. 515, shows that the Middle Assyrian weight system is not yet completely known. We know different systems of weight of Ugarit, Karkemish. Yamhad, AOF, 29, 1998, pp. 293–311; M. Heltzer, A New Weight from Hamath and Trade Relations with the South in the Ninth-Eighth Centuries B.C.E. The World of the Arameans, II, Studies in History and Archaeology in Honor of P-E. Dion, Sheffield, 2001, pp. 133–135; M. Heltzer, Trade between Egypt and Western Asia, New Metrological Evidence (on E.W. Castle in JESHO XXXVI), JESHO XXVII, 1994, pp. 318–321. In general the mina of this period had to be of the weight about ±500 gr.

12 The garments are of Assyrian origin. It seems also that these garments were given to Bēlqarradu, for he was the “lord” ofḪ amis-Dagal, as also for delivering the letter toḪ ilissa.

13 Faith, p. 254 and I. Gelb, AS, 21.1980, p. 357 (smk) – the name is West Semitic.

14 Ḫ amis-Dagal begins here with instructing his wife Hilissa, what she has to do.

15 šubtu, AHW, pp. 1257–1258a speaks of a permanent dwelling-place, as it seems “property”; KI – in this context must not be “fields” as Faist points out (p. 254), and we have understood of as a land plot. We see it in CAD, E, p. 308–309 erṢetu = KI, AHW, p. 243, a-b. EMEŠ-ni – “our houses” – the suffix explains all three elements – “the dwelling place” “ersetu – “landed property” and “houses.”

16 We have here the late Medio-Assyrian period, for here KI.MEŠ designate the “landed property.”

17 ḫurdu II a AHW, p. 359a “nachgeborener Sohn”.

18 Faith, p. 254; R. Zadok, Notes in the West Semitic Material from Emar, AION, 51, 1991, p. 128, 6a.

19 The name is from the root ḫṣʾʾ Zadok, AION, 51, pp. 134, 3, 1.

20 AHW, p. 1032, ZADIM – sasinnu. “Bogenmacher”; in Ugaritic –ḥrš qšt, psl qšt, k ṯtγl; The Sumerian writing ZADIM appears also in Ugarit – PRU, VI, 93; cf. also M. Heltzer, The Internal Organization of the Kingdom of Ugarit, Wiesbaden, 1982, p. 89 and note 35. BAN = qaštu “bow”.

21 A Canaanite theophoric name. Faith, p. 254; Zadok, AION, 133, 36.

22 I.e., he gave the silver.

23 Faith, p. 254, kī saparte ukal show us he typical Middle-Assyrian formula of mortgaging; AHW, p. 1170a šapartum “Pfand”.

24 Faith, p. 254. kī šaparte ukal shows, that is the typical middle Assyrian formula of mortgaging.

25 ṯamis-Dagal begins here instructions to his wife about what to do.


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