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Cairo Love Songs (1.50)

(231 words)

Author(s): Fox, Michael V.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Love Poems Commentary The following are stanzas from the second of two seven-stanza love songs (numbers 21A-21G) written on a vase, now shattered.1 Cairo Love Songs (1.50) Subject: Cant 8:6 ( Boy) ( Number 21A)If only I were her Nubian maid,her attendant in secret!She brings her [a bowl of] mandragoras …It is in her hand,while she gives pleasure.In other words:she would grant methe hue of her whole body. ( Boy) ( Number 21B)If only I were the laundrymanof my sister’s linen g…

Instruction of Amenemope (1.47)

(5,172 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Instructions Commentary With this long work, the Instruction genre reaches its culmination. Its worth lies not in any thematic richness, for its range is much narrower than, for example, that of the Instruction of Ptahhotep. Its worth lies in its quality of inwardness. Though it is still assumed that right thinking and right action will find their reward, worldly success, which had meant so much in the …

Love Poems (C.4)

(167 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus 4. Love Poems The extant Egyptian love song texts all date from the 19th dynasty (ca. 1305–1200 bce) and the early 20th dynasty (ca. 1200–1150 bce). The songs’ composition too seems to date from the Ramesside period. They are collected on large papyri or inscribed on ostraca. They are sometimes labelled “Entertainment” (lit. “diverting the heart”) and probably served to entertain guests at banquets. Numer…

Abecedaries (1.107)

(2,550 words)

Author(s): Demsky, Aaron
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; School Texts Commentary The alphabet was invented in Canaan ca. 1700 bce, during the Middle Bronze IIB period, a time of increased urbanization and cross cultural fertilization. This invention was probably the result of reflective thought of a local Canaanite scribe familiar with the scripts of the major powers, i.e., Akkadian cuneiform and most likely Egyptian hieroglyphic and hieratic writing. These latter …

Dua-khety or the Satire On the Trades (1.48)

(2,454 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Instructions Commentary Like the other Instructions, this work has a prologue and an epilogue which frame the actual teaching and set its stage. A father conducts his young son to the residence in order to place him in school, and during the journey he instructs him in the duties and rewards of the scribal profession. In order to stress the amenities and advantages that accrue to the successful scribe, …

The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer (1.153)

(3,623 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Just Sufferer Compositions Commentary This is the most elaborate treatment of the theme of theodicy. It includes a veritable thesaurus of medical symptoms (Tablet II) and their cure (Tablet III). Because the sufferer protests not so much innocence as ignorance of his sins, his modern designation could well be “pious sufferer” rather than “just sufferer.”1 He is identified by name in the text (Tablet III, line 43) and was possibly its author. The ancient…

The Eloquent Peasant (1.43)

(5,072 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary This work was composed during the Middle Kingdom (in the 12th or 13th Dynasty)1 and has been preserved on four papyri of that time. Three of these, known as B1 and B2 and R, are now in Berlin, and the fourth, Pap. Butler, is in London. The composition, which pertains to the class of speculative wisdom literature, contains a narrative frame and text set out in verse form. This structure is common to works composed during that …

The Heron and the Turtle (1.178)

(1,415 words)

Author(s): Gragg, Gene B.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Fables Commentary The following composition is contained on a four–column tablet excavated at Nippur in the 1951–1952 season. On this tablet it ends in the middle of the fourth column with a double–ruled line and a colophon giving the number of lines (namely, 115). The composition is similar in style to the literary disputations, but since it contains the story of a quarrel rather than the text of a deb…

The Complaints of Khakheperrē-sonb (1.44)

(2,307 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary The work was composed during the Middle Kingdom and has been preserved on a writing tablet from the 18th Dynasty. This tablet, no. 5645 in the BM, is the single surviving copy. The author is a priest of Heliopolis and his name contains the pronomen of Sesostris II who ruled during the 12th Dynasty. Unlike other compositions pertaining to the genre of speculative wisdom literature — “The Eloquent Peasant,” “The Prophecies of Neferti,…

The Dialogue Between A Supervisor and A Scribe (1.185)

(1,143 words)

Author(s): Vanstiphout, H. L. J.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; School Dialogues Commentary This piece is not unlike the preceding one in that it consists of an altercation between a senior and a junior member of the Eduba. Still, the relationship is subtly different: the senior one is not just a more mature student, but a regular supervisor (an UGULA). He submits the pupil, who is obviously aspiring to higher things at this moment, to a kind of examination which dea…

Instructions to Commanders of Border Garrisons (Bel Madgalti) (1.84)

(2,980 words)

Author(s): McMahon, Gregory
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Instructions Commentary An essential element in Hittite administration of provinces was the auriyaš išḫaš, literally “lord of the watch tower/ guard post,”1 often written with the Akkadogram BEL MADGALTI. This was the officer in charge of garrisons and administration in sensitive frontier provinces of the empire. The Hittite term is often translated “border governor”; Hoffner has proposed “margrave,” which implies the idea of governors assigned to fr…

Hittite Proverbs (1.80)

(507 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Proverbs Commentary The sayings and generalizing anecdotes by which the Hittites expressed the received wisdom of their civilization were not collected for use in scribal instruction as was the practice in earlier Mesopotamia, but are rather to be found scattered throughout texts of various types. The following is a selection of proverbs and proverbial allusions: Hittite Proverbs (1.80) Subject: Jer 31:29; Ezek 18:2 1. [ In a prayer, a queen addresses the chief godd…

The Shipwrecked Sailor (1.39)

(2,153 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Narratives Commentary The tale is set in a narrative frame. A high official is returning from an expedition that apparently failed in its objective, for he is despondent and fearful of the reception awaiting him at court. One of his attendants exhorts him to take courage, and as an example of how a disaster may turn into a success, tells him a marvelous adventure that happened to him years ago. At the end of his tale, however, the official is still despondent. The only preserved pa…

A Sufferer’s Salvation (1.152)

(518 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Just Sufferer Compositions Commentary This treatment of the theme of theodicy bridges the gap between the Old Babylonian ones (in Sumerian and Akkadian) and those of neo-Assyrian date. It comes from Ugarit, where scribal schools adopted and adapted the Mesopotamian curriculum in the Late Bronze Age. It is preserved in a single fragmentary exemplar. [WWH] A Sufferer’s Salvation (1.152) Subject: 1 Sam 28:6, 15; Pss 42:4; 80:6; Ps 113:5f [ Gap of about 15 lines]( ) Evil [port…

School Dialogues (1.SU.C.6)

(287 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus 6. School Dialogues This section has been included for a very special reason. The Scriptural parallels here might be are few in number, and inherently vacuous, if not nugatory. And that is precisely the point: the rich ‘school literature’ in Sumerian from Old Babylonian Mesopotamia shows a striking and very meaningful contrast between the two cultures. In the Mesopotamian case the perception, ordering and…

Ostracon Gardiner 304 (1.52)

(227 words)

Author(s): Fox, Michael V.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Love Poems Commentary A number of ostraca, mostly written as school exercises, hold love songs or phrases typical of love songs. This ostracon dates to the reign of Ramses III (ca. 1182–1151 bce). Ostracon Gardiner 304 (1.52) Subject: Cant 8:1; Cant 4:9 ( Boy) ( Number 54)My sister’s love is in the …Her necklace is of flowers;her bones are reeds.Her little seal–ring is [on her finger],her lotus in her hand.I kiss [her] before everyone,that they may see my love.1  j Indeed it is…

The Prophecies of Neferti (1.45)

(3,025 words)

Author(s): Shupak, Nili
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; “Prophecy” Commentary The single complete version of this composition is preserved on Pap. Petersburg 1116B which derives from the 18th Dynasty. This is augmented by fragments preserved on writing tablets and ostraca. “The Prophecies of Neferti” is a political document which was apparently composed in the court of the King Amenemhet I (1990–1960 bce) who is here cast in the role of a redeemer-king. The text is introduced by a narrative frame, setting th…

The Disputation Between the Hoe and the Plow (1.181)

(2,075 words)

Author(s): Vanstiphout, H. L. J.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Disputations Commentary This piece is undoubtedly the finest example of the genre. It has long been recognized as one of the first poetic, if heavily rhetorical, statements of the case of the common man against the rich and mighty.1 But its most striking qualities are the sheer excellence of the argumentation (plow is deftly hoist with its own petard),2 the heavy satire on the pretenses of the mighty, the earthy but clever humor,3 and most of all the irreverent but hig…

The Famine Stela (1.53)

(3,441 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Pseudepigrapha Commentary The inscription is carved in thirty–two columns on the face of a granite rock where it was given the shape of a rectangular stela. The rock face is split by a broad horizontal fissure, which already existed when the inscription was carved. After the carving, further ruptures occurred in the rock, and they have caused a number of textual lacunae. Above the text is a relief scene…

Fragment of A Wisdom Text (?) (1.81)

(211 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Other Wisdom Literature Commentary The type of composition to which this small piece of a tablet belongs is uncertain. Fragment of A Wisdom Text (?) (1.81) [If a city is in ruins (?)], then [the builders] will build [it a second time]. If a rhyton [is cracked (?), then] the artisans [will cast] it a second time, [and] they will renew it a second time. [If someone damages] a plated horse chariot, then its owner [will repair] it [a second time]. [If] a flood carries off an orchard (!…
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