Building On Stone? Deuteronomy And Esarhaddon’s Loyalty Oaths (Part 2): Some Additional Observations -- By: Markus Zehnder

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 19:4 (NA 2009)
Article: Building On Stone? Deuteronomy And Esarhaddon’s Loyalty Oaths (Part 2): Some Additional Observations
Author: Markus Zehnder


Building On Stone? Deuteronomy And Esarhaddon’s Loyalty Oaths (Part 2): Some Additional Observations

Markus Zehnder

University Of Basel, And Ansgar Theological Seminary

Many elements found in the so-called Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon (VTE) and in the postulated “Ur-Deuteronomium” as well as in other parts of the book of Deuteronomy are attested in other documents of the ancient Near East, especially in Hittite vassal treaties and loyalty oaths from the 14th and 13th centuries B.C. and in Aramaic treaties from the 9th and 8th centuries B.C. In addition, it is probable that further textual witnesses containing similar elements once existed but were lost because of the perishable material that was frequently used. These observations, together with the dissimilarities between “Ur-Deuteronomium” and VTE both in content and in historical background pointed out in part 1 of this study,1 caution against overly optimistic claims of a dependence of “Ur-Deuteronomium” on VTE. This article will also argue that, with respect to some parallels in the curse sections, a direction of dependence that is inverted compared to the one commonly held cannot be ruled out.

Key Words: Deuteronomy, Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon, Hittite vassal treaties, Hittite loyalty oaths, treaty of Tell Fakhariyeh, treaty of Sefire, Code of Hammurabi, Leviticus 26, curse

Parallels Between VTE And “Ur-Deuteronomium” Found In Additional Texts

A number of elements that are mentioned as parallels between VTE and a proposed “Ur-Deuteronomium” can actually be found in other documents of the ancient Near East as well. I mention the following twelve elements.

Setting Up The Treaty And Keeping The Wording Unchanged

Provisions about the setting up of the treaty document and injunctions to keep its formulation unchanged can be found both in VTE (§§35-36, lines

397-413) and Deuteronomy (Deut 4:2; 13:1; 11:18-20; 27:1-8; 31:9, 24-26).2 Similar arrangements are mentioned in a number of Hittite documents. One example is the following passage in the treaty between Shattiwaza of Mittanni and Suppiluliuma I of Hatti:

[A duplicate of this tablet is deposited] in the land [of Mittanni before th...

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