Page images

‘mighty Amorite rulers,' and builds for them an 'imperial city ... which was powerful enough to rule the land from the Mediterranean to Babylonia.' All this and much more is based on fragmentary evidence piled high and even higher on names of places, names of deities, or fugitive allusions in Babylonian and Assyrian texts all of periods far later than the '3rd, 4th, and 5th millenniums' in which this supposed and subjective empire is presumed to have held sway. One dislikes intensely to say it, but the book presents no objective, positive evidence that there was such an 'empire.' The word 'empire' is quite inexcusable, no kings' names of those who ruled it being known, and no imperial city of theirs ever having been excavated."1

The statement that my position is "based on fragmentary evidence . . . all of periods far later than the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, millenniums,” is, however, an unintentional misrepresentation of fact. I admit that the evidence presented in the monograph to prove the actual existence of an empire, which was all that I had to offer at the time, was slight; but, nevertheless, it is there. On pages 89 and 104, there is written: "The earliest Amorite king, who by his inscriptions informs us that he had conquered Babylonia, is um-Shamash, (also read Ishar-Shamash), king of Mari, and Patesi-gal of Enlil, which means that he was suzerain over the land

at least part of Babylonia and refers unquestionably to one of those early periods when Amurru was the dominant power in Babylonia."

But while admitting the title was used when the evidence was slight, I am pleased to be able to say that more recent discoveries have completely established the view that there was such an empire. Two years ago a fragment of an early dynastic tablet was discovered in the collection of the University of Pennsylvania, which enables us to fill out the break in the list of ruling kingdoms, and restore

1 Rogers, American Historical Review 25, 700 f.

[ocr errors]

the three missing ones that had ruled Babylonia in the fourth millennium B. C. One of these kingdoms was the Amorite city Mari,2 which fact is in strict accord with what I have maintained. In other words, the city Mari, which name was synonymous with Amurru,: is here found ruling Babylonia. This puts the question of the use of the word "empire" beyond any further dispute. We now have, however, also other very important light on the subject.

From an omen tablet in the Pierpont Morgan Library, considered in connection with other known facts, we now obtain the information that Humbaba had humiliated Babylonia' a thousand years earlier, in the fifth millennium B. C. Even a predecessor called Zu, the “storm bird,” had apparently also done this.

In view of these facts, I feel quite certain that the reviewer, as well as others who have shared his opinion, will withdraw the assertion that the use of “the word 'empire' is quite inexcusable."'5 The concluding part of the same sentence, however, namely, "no imperial city of theirs ever having been excavated,” is unfortunately correct. If one had been excavated, it is highly probable that investigations along these lines would have been unnecessary.

There are those also who contend that the word “Hebrew" was unjustifiably used in my recent work, entitled A Hebrew Deluge Story in Cuneiform. Of course this assertion is based on a dis

· See Legrain, Museum Journal 1920, 175 f. and Clay, Jour. Amer. Orien. Soc. 41, 243 f. • See Empire of the Amorites, p. 68 and Jour. Amer. Orien. Soc. 41, 257, note 75.

Clay, A Hebrew Deluge Story 42 f; and Babylonian Records in the Library of J. Pierpont Morgan IV, 14:65.

• It appears to me that the astrological and omen texts, which unquestionably go back to a very early time, and which refer to the king of Amurru as well as the kings of Akkad, Elam, and Subartu, should have been sufficient evidence to make such opposition seem precarious. In the omen literature there are many references to the king of Amurru; to cite a single example, "If there was an eclipse of the sun on the 16th day, the king of Akkad will die, and the king of Amurru will seize the throne." (ZA 16, 220).

agreement with my basic position. The criticism is satisfactorily answered in the pages which follow.

For the laymen, let me explain here the use of the terms Amorite and Hebrew. The name of the land west of Babylonia, as far as the sea, was called Amurru by the Babylonians and Assyrians. This is only a geographical term, embracing the entire land, having had its origin, doubtless, in the name of a city, as the terms Babylonia and Assyria had their origin in the city-names Babylon and Ashur. This country was occupied by the Aramaeans, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Canaanites, and other peoples. The use of the term Hebrew, Amorite or Amoraic, for the early language of Amurru, is intended to designate the early West-Semitic language used in this land, of which we have traces in early cuneiform inscriptions, and which in time developed into what has been preserved for us, which we call Biblical Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic, etc. In other words, the term Hebrew for this early language, is to be regarded as used here in the same sense that the Semitic language of the "plain of Shinar" is called Babylonian; although in the early period the upper part of the land was called Akkad, and still earlier Uri, or Uru. We have an exact parallel in calling AngloSaxon early English.

The great antiquity of the Amorite civilization, as well as the Amorite origin of the Semitic Babylonians, has quite recently been unreservedly accepted by Professor Ungnad of Breslau (see Chapter I). When this becomes general-in the light of the data we now have, it cannot be otherwise and when these contentions as regards the traditions which Israel and Babylonia had in common, are accepted-nor can this also be otherwise in the light of the facts here presented—a readjustment of a far-reaching character will have to be made in every work on the early history of the Near East. Besides the restoration to history of a great civilization, that of the Amorite Empire, it means that the political and religious

history of Babylonia, as well as of the Sumerians, must be greatly modified; it means that Egyptologists will doubtless feel inclined to take cognizance of even greater influence than heretofore from Syria; it means that the Classical scholar will appreciate that the civilization, reputed to have furnished Greece with many myths, was very ancient and very real; it means that Israel need not be regarded as semi-barbarous Arabs from the desert, who borrowed their religion, their institutions, and even their ancestry from Babylonia; but that their civilization, including their traditions, was deeply rooted in their own past history; and it means the abandonment of many pet theories such as the Arabian cradle-land-wavetheory-of-migration to account for the Semites in Syria and Babylonia. In a word, it is impossible to realize at present how farreaching in extent are the modifications of prevailing views that acceptance will require.

In the same review above quoted, in referring to my withdrawal of one of the many identifications which had been previously made, there is written the following: “It is a pity that other scholars are not so transparently honest.” It seems to me that it is not unreasonable to express the hope in this connection that others will manifest the same spirit. If, in the light of recent research, scholars are convinced that the views which they have published on this subject need modification, especially as regards the traditions of the Old Testament, which are being taught generally in our colleges and schools, as well as in the pulpit, it is to be earnestly hoped they will let this fact become known.

Although I have entered the arena with a thesis of a far-reaching and revolutionary character, and have tried to show that the views of all my fellow Assyriologists are wrong, I am gratified with the manner and spirit of those who have opposed it, for among all the many reviews and articles written by American and foreign scholars,


I know of but a single source-which happens, I regret to say, to be that of a former pupil—which could be said to be aggressive.

During the past years certain scholars, other than Assyriologists, have not only sympathetically followed in these investigations, but have wholly or in part accepted their results. I deeply appreciate the encouragement they have given; for after all the specialist in Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic, who also is able to weigh the vagaries of the Assyriologists, is in the best position to judge the merits of the issue; although it is possible even for the student of general history to do this intelligently, especially in the greater part of the discussion which follows. I should like very much to have before the reader of these lectures all that these scholars have written. However, I shall confine myself here to the views advanced in the interests of Babylonism or Sumerism, which are responsible for the deeply rooted conviction that Israel borrowed its religious literature from Babylonia.

I desire, in conclusion, to thank also my colleagues, Professors C. C. Torrey, E. W. Hopkins, A. M. Harmon, and Ellsworth Huntington, as well as my former colleague, James A. Montgomery, for suggestions and references which are indicated in connection with their names; and also Doctors E. M. Grice and Samuel Feigin, who have read the proof, and the Reverend George A. Kohut of New York, who has not only read the manuscript, but also, as on previous occasions, made possible the early publication of the work on the Alexander Kohut Memorial Publication Fund.


May 19, 1923.

« PreviousContinue »