>The Amarna Letters and A Cry for Help

>Haaretz has an excellent article analyzing recent archaeological excavations being conducted at Beit Shemesh. Some of the findings relate the ruler of the city writing one of the Amarna Letters requesting help from Egypt in her struggle against the Apiru. The following are excerpts from the article:

To the king my lord and my sun: These are the words of your servant, Belit-nesheti [literally, “mistress of lions/lionesses”]. I fall at the king’s feet seven times over. I must tell the king that this country is witnessing [acts of] hostility and that the land of the king, my lord, will be lost forever.”
. . . . .

A Canaanite queen from one of the cities in Palestine’s lowland sent this desperate request in the 14th century B.C.E. to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. The name of the city ruled by Belit-nesheti is not mentioned in this letter or in others that depict violent acts that aroused in her a justified feeling that she was facing a dire threat.

. . . . .

Belit-nesheti’s letters are part of a collection of letters written in cuneiform in the Akkadian language (the lingua franca of that era) on clay tablets, that was discovered in the late 19th century in Egypt in Tel Amarna, which is located midway between Cairo and Luxor.

. . . . .

Her cries for assistance from Pharaoh, who was during this period the supreme ruler of the region and of a number of Canaanite cities, elicited no response, as indicated by the findings that have recently been discovered in Tel Beit Shemesh

. . . . .

If the Canaanite city that is slowly being uncovered at Tel Beit Shemesh is, in fact, the city ruled by Belit-nesheti, these impressive archaeological findings supply fascinating evidence of the day-to-day reality in Canaan that is depicted in the Amarna documents.

The article is very informative and provides valuable information about the conditions in Canaan at the time of the religious reforms of King Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhenaten.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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