Big Dreams and Broken Promises: Solomon’s Treaty with Hiram in Its International Context -- By: Michael S. Moore
BBR 14:2 (2004) p. 205
Big Dreams and Broken Promises: Solomon’s Treaty with Hiram in Its International Context
Fuller Theological Seminary Southwest
Opinions remain divided over whether the Hebrew term bĕrît in 1 Kgs 5:12 refers to a preexilic idea rooted in Israel’s past or a postexilic idea reformulating Israel’s past. Both positions harbor elements of truth, yet the repeated occurrence of the words kittu (“treaty”), raḫâmu (“love”), aḫḫûtu (“brotherhood”), māmītu (“oath-treaty”), and epēšu šulmu (“make peace”) in the Amarna Letters implies an entire history of covenant-making prior to Solomon’s treaty with Hiram. To imagine this relationship as having no history prior to the fifth century b.c. is to deny the witness of history itself, particularly as evidenced in the Amarna texts.
Key Words: covenant, treaty, love, oath, peace, Amarna, 1 Kings
Several years ago at an annual meeting of the SBL, Prof. Frank Moore Cross presented a paper entitled “Reuben, Firstborn of Jacob.”1 Afterward, in the question-and-answer period, the late Prof. Costa Ahlström asked Prof. Cross why he continued to labor under “antiquated” notions like “tribal league” and “premonarchic covenant” in his analysis of Syro-Palestinian history. To this reprimand Cross responded with an off-the-cuff rebuke, politely asking his inquisitor why he so readily accepted every sort of ancient Near Eastern evidence as “historical” except the biblical evidence.
Eleven years later Cross fleshed out this response in a now-famous essay entitled “Kinship and Covenant in Ancient Israel.”2 Here he summarily rejected the view of Lothar Perlitt and others that bĕrît (“covenant/treaty”) might refer only to a late idea originating in the postexilic period, and further, that it might refer only to the
BBR 14:2 (2004) p. 206
“natural obligation” of “inferiors” to “superiors.”3 Instead, he re-stated the thesis that “covenant” is a very old idea rooted in ancient Near Eastern kinship networks. Marshaling a wealth of onomastic, philological, anthropological, and biblical evidence, he argued that covenants and treaties were very old ideas, dependent neither on the d...
Click here to subscribe