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.
Joshua, so in the Alalakh text, the emphasis lies upon both the present generation and future generations of those who benefit by the grant. The same "sin" or disloyalty is also repeated in both Alalakh clauses, using similar idioms.
In the book of Joshua, the first group constitutes the main part of Joshua’s charge to Israel in chap. 23, while the second section appears at the end of the covenant description of chap. 24 and occurs as a dialogue with Israel who insist on affirming their loyalty (vv. 16-18. 21.22.24). In both cases, however, the double exhortation and warning serve to reinforce the importance of the stipulations and the conditional nature of the gift that has just been given. This observation is true regardless of the possibly different origins for Joshua 23 and 24. The similarity of expressions in both Alalakh exhortations may suggest that these texts are not original with their document, either. In both cases, however, the repetition of the charge and warning serves rhetorically to emphasize the exhortation to loyalty.
4. AT 456.68-76 and Joshua 24,16-33
The final lines of AT 456, lines 68-76, appear on the upper and lower edges of the tablet. They include a list of witnesses to the land grant and agreement, as well as the fact that Yarimlim was caused to swear divine oaths (lines 75-76, ni-is\ ila4ni (MESŠ) ú-s\a-az-ki-ru). As customary as this may be for agreements, it is nevertheless of note that this parallels one of the final sections in the last chapter of the book of Joshua. There the people agree with Joshua that they are witnesses against themselves to observe the clauses of the covenant (Josh 24,22). Their statements on loyalty take on the character of oaths before God, using the customary language of sworn promises, "far be it from me" (Heb. h9a4l|=la4h) and the asseverative kî, "surely" (Josh 24,16.21). The point is that both texts include witnesses and oaths to further enforce the land grant and the promises of the recipient regarding loyalty.
If the town list in the first 18 lines of the preserved text of AT 456 forms part of the historical background that continues through line 30, then this land grant resembles the book of Joshua in every major part of its structure: (1) a narrative background explaining the circumstances leading to the allotment; (2) the allotment itself with mention of specific towns and recipients; (3) the repeated stipulations