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.
followed by Joshua’s own covenant making ceremony (Josh 24,1-15 [also vv. 16-27]), itself related to the earlier covenant making act in the same place where sacrifices occurred (8,30-31)22. Thus the association of animal sacrifices with sealing an agreement does appear in Joshua and has allusions in the final chapters after the allotments.
The actual agreements in both AT 456 and Joshua 23–24 contain two groups of exhortations to loyalty (AT 456 lines 43-49a, 50b-55; Josh 23,6-11; 24,14-15) followed in every case by warnings of losing the gifts given if there is disloyalty (AT 456 lines 49b-50a; 56-57a; Josh 23,12-13; 24,20)23.
|43-49a. If ever in the future Yarimlim sins against Abbael, or [if] he gives away Abbael’s secret to another king, or if he lets go of the hem of Abbael’s garment and grasps the hem of another king’s garment,||49b-50a. his towns and lands he shall [forfeit].|
|50b-55. If a descendant of Yarimlim sins against Abbael (or a descendant of Abbael), if he rel[ease]s the h[em] of Abbael’s garment, (or that of a descendant of Abbael), and if he seizes the hem of another king’s garment,||56-57a. his towns and lands he shall forfeit.|
It is significant that there are two sets in both texts. In the Alalakh grant, the first set addresses Yarimlim while the second one deals with his descendants. Yet these two addressees are not as distinctive as may first appear. Both exhortations identify the subject in relation to Yarimlim and both refer to the future. Thus s\um-ma ur-ra-am s\e-ra-am Iia-ri-im-li[-im] "If ever in the future, Yarimlim," is not unlike s\um-ma wa-ar-ki-it Iia-ri-im-li-i[m] "If a descendant of Yarimlim." As in