Richard S. Hess, «The Book of Joshua as a Land Grant», Vol. 83 (2002) 493-506
Despite a variety of attempted identifications of the book of Joshua, or portions of it, with other ancient Near Eastern legal documents, the form of the royal land grant remains the closest of those studied in terms of structure and content. In particular, the form of this type of document, as illustrated in the archive of the Middle Bronze Age site of Alalakh, provides an important and useful set of parallels with those found in the sixth book of the Bible. The essay considers the strengths and weaknesses of identifying the book of Joshua in this manner, as well as its implications for the interpretation of the book. In addition, the origin of these documents in the West Semitic world invites consideration of a specific genre or literary type that flourished in those cultures and perhaps provided a link for related documents in the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean worlds.
into the hands of Israel. This key idea of the land as a gift is affirmed before and sometimes during every major conflict17. The emphasis is upon the work of God. Although Joshua and Israel are mentioned, they are merely witnesses who view the work of God and reap the benefits of divine gifts. The same is true of Yarimlim and his lack of direct involvement in the war, at least as related in the text. The focus is upon Abbael who makes the cities a gift to Yarimlim. It is not the burning of Yarimlim’s former city, or any acts of loyalty that he might have accomplished in the battle, that formed the basis for the gift. Rather, it is Abbael’s own work and subsequent generosity that receives the emphasis, both in terms of the battle and the subsequent gifts of Alalakh and Murar.
Some specific points of comparison have to do with this battle account and those found in Joshua 10 and 11, the southern and northern campaigns. In all cases the battle account begins by naming the chief enemy and the town that he governs: Zitraddu of Irridi (AT 456.19), Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem (Josh 10,1), Jabin of Hazor (Josh 11,1). In all cases this is followed by an incitement by the enemy that brings others into the battle (AT 456.23-24; Josh 10,3-5; 11,1-4). In both AT 456.25-27 and Josh 10,11 divine weapons are mentioned that have meteorological associations, either with the weather deity or with stones from heaven.
A further point of parallel has to do with the final line in this section of the Alalakh text. It describes how there was peace in the land at the end of the battle. The same idea occurs in Josh 11,23, after the last battle in the book. This description of the land as possessing "rest" from war contains the first use of the root, s\qt@ , in the biblical text.
2. AT 456.31-39a and Joshua 13–21
|31. URU ir-ri-di!KI!-mi-i KI h~e-pé-em||
|32. a-na a-h~i-ia a-na-ad-di-in||
Will I give it to my brother?
|33. [a]-na pu-h~a-at URU ir-ri-diKI||
In exchange for Irridi
|34. [s\a it-ti-]s\u ik-ki-ru[-ú.-ma]||
[that] rebelled [against] him
|35. [as9-bat-t]u-ma e[h~-pu-ú]||
[and that I captur]ed and d[estroyed,]
|36. [URU a-la-l]a-ah~[KI . . .]||
|37. [a-na ia]-ri-im-li-i[m a-na-ad-di-in]||
[I will give to Ya]rimlim.