Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bonus 14 - Mari Tablets

Tablet of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, concerning the foundation of an ice-house in Terqa. Baked clay, ca. 1780 BC.Department of Oriental Antiquities, Richelieu, ground floor, room 3 Jastrow (2005) Public Domain

The Mari tablets (1796–1761 BC ) were written primarily in the Akkadian language (Semitic dialect) although a few were bilingual, also written in Hurrian and Sumerian.  The tablets were primarily from the second millennium (1800–1750 BC) and contained treaty documents between Iasmah-Adad and Zimri-Lim as well as between Zimri-Lim and Hammurabi.1.  While the text dealt largely with financial, administrative and business transactions, they mention personal and place names with striking parallels to the Patriarchal records in Genesis. The customs, practices and names reflected in the Mari texts also illustrate practices during Patriarchal times that are similar to those mentioned by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For example, treaties and covenants were ratified by the killing of an ass, as described in the pact between the Shechemites and Jacob (Gen 33:19; 34:1–3). Yahweh’s name appears in the tables but while not likely worshiped at Mari appears to be known among the Yawi names like the OT name Yawi-El (Joel). The practice of the ban or Hêrem placed on life and property of conquests, that was proclaimed at Jericho (Josh 6), is also described in the Mari tablets as the asakkum. Among the similarities both accounts describe severe penalties for violating the ban.2.

1. Jean-Marie Durand, “Mari (Texts),” ed. David Noel Freedman et al., trans. Jennifer L. Davis, Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 4:533.
2. Abraham Malamat, “The Ban in Mari and in the Bible,” in Biblical Essays, Proceedings of the Ninth Meeting of Die Ou-Testamentiese Werkgemeenskap in Suid-Afrika (Potchefstroom, South Africa: Society for the Study of the Old Testament, 1967), 40–49.

This bonus information was quoted from:

David E. Graves, Key Themes of the Old Testament: A Survey of Major Theological Themes (Moncton, N.B.: Graves, 2013), 220-21.

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