Guide Ancient Near East: The Basics

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A Companion to the Ancient Near East

The Hittite documents also required the vassal to read its text. Understanding ancient Near Eastern treaties illuminates many passages in the Bible. The most striking example is the book of Deuteronomy, which shows features of both the Hittite and Neo-Assyrian texts.

Like those treaties, the heart of Deuteronomy is the stipulations laws in chapters A historical prologue precedes the stipulations Deut , and a section of blessings follows them Deut , as in the Hittite treaties. The curses, as in the Neo-Assyrian texts, are very extensive Deut and in some cases remarkably close to curses in the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon compare lines — with Deut Like the Neo-Assyrian loyalty oaths, Yahweh, the suzerain, makes his covenant with the entire vassal population, Israel see Deut , which includes future generations. Finally, when Moses exhorts the Israelites to love Yahweh with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength Deut , historically we know this covenantal love is an act of loyalty and obedience rather than a subjective , tender emotion.

This unique adaptation was probably quite subversive. Yes and no. The Bible generally conceives of Yahweh in anthropomorphic terms—that is, with human form see Exod , Exod and characteristics for example, he has human emotions and the ability to see, hear, smell, and walk.

Also, Yahweh lived in a big house a temple , with servants priests to care for his needs sacrifices. This is all very much in line with the rest of the ancient Near East. However, unlike other ancient Near Eastern peoples, who crafted images of their gods, the Hebrew Bible generally denigrates divine images see Exod , Isa and in places strongly opposes giving Yahweh any material form see Exod Also, in contrast to the unabashed polytheism of other ancient Near Eastern cultures, the biblical texts focus on only one god. Of course, the Hebrew Bible was written over a long period of time, and it reflects changing ideas, even about Yahweh.

Thus, many biblical texts are henotheistic , that is, they see Yahweh as the most important god among various other gods that existed see Deut , Josh Only a few biblical texts are explicitly monotheistic Isa , and they date to the sixth century B.

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People are very similar in all cultures by virtue of their shared humanity. But each culture develops some distinctive features that make it unique. From a historical perspective, a more balanced approach that recognizes both its similarities to and its differences from neighboring cultures is the best recipe for understanding the Hebrew Bible.

Alan Lenzi is associate professor of religious and classical studies at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He specializes in the study of first-millennium ancient Near Eastern religious traditions, including the Mesopotamian imperial context of the Hebrew Bible. The Assyrian empire based at Nineveh fundamentally shaped the history and literature of ancient Israel. The Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh share many points of contact, with common themes, motifs, messages, and imagery. This article discusses such matters as the ideology and symbolism of dynastic monarchy as institutionalized in the ancient Near East.

The Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten may have been the first monotheist, but his espousal of the sun-god Aten was atypical of ancient Egyptian religion. The Ten Commandments fit into the structure of treaties and contracts common throughout the ancient Near East. The Ten Commandments are not really commandments, nor are they the foundation of western civil law. Despite the numerous Mesopotamian touches in the Tower of Babel story Gen , there is almost no Mesopotamian material relating to it.

Where Is Mesopotamia?

Michael Chan on how the study of ancient images and artifacts can shed light on the biblical text. The word monotheism was coined in the 17th century and is often understood as the belief in one god with a denial of the existence of other deities. Carol Newsom on how biblical scribes likely were influenced by their neighbors in Egypt and Mesopotmia. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period. A region notable for its early ancient civilizations, geographically encompassing the modern Middle East, Egypt, and modern Turkey.

People from the region of northern Mesopotamia that includes modern-day Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. The set of Biblical books shared by Jews and Christians. A more neutral alternative to "Old Testament. Having the attributes of henotheism, the recognition of the existence of multiple deities while worshipping only one, often a tribal or family deity.

Religions of the ancient Near East - Wikipedia

Of or related to a religious system characterized by belief in the existence of a single deity. The foundational document of the United States, which outlines the structure and powers of the government as well as the rights of US citizens. Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath 1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face o View more.

The Law concerning Slaves 1These are the ordinances that you shall set before them:2When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seven Pagan Shrines to Be Destroyed 1These are the statutes and ordinances that you must diligently observe in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has The Destruction of Jerusalem Reviewed 1Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.

His mother's name was Ham Insurrection against Gedaliah 1In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came Zedekiah Reigns over Judah 18Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. Publication Status: In Print. Series: Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures and its Contexts Publication Date: Oct 3, Interior Color: Black. Trim Size: 6 x 9. Page Count: Language: English. ISBN: Only registered users can write reviews.

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