SPECIAL TOPIC: HITTITE (SUZERIAN) TREATIES

A. Jeremiah 11:1-13 are a summary of YHWH’s activity toward the man Abraham and his seed.

B. The Hittite treaties of the second millennium b.c. offer us an ancient, historically contemporary parallel to the structure of Deuteronomy (as well as Exodus – Leviticus and Joshua 24). This treaty pattern changed by the first millennium b.c. This gives us evidence for the historicity of the Pentateuch and Joshua. For further reading in this area, see G. E. Mendenhall’s Law and Covenants in Israel and the Ancient Near East and John Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context, pp. 95-107.

C. The Hittite treaty of the second millennium b.c. and its parallels in Deuteronomy

1. preamble (Deut. 1:1-5, introduction of speaker, YHWH)

2. review of the past acts of the King (Deut. 1:6-4:49, God’s past acts for Israel)

3. treaty terms (Deuteronomy 5-26)

a. general (Deuteronomy 5-11)

b. specific (Deuteronomy 12-26)

4. results of treaty (Deuteronomy 27-29)

a. benefits (Deuteronomy 28)

b. curses/consequences (Deuteronomy 27)

5. witness of deity (Deut. 30:19; 31:19, also 32, Moses’ son functions as a witness)

a. a copy in the temple of the deity

b. a copy with the vassal to be read annually

c. the uniqueness of the Hittite treaties from the later Assyrian and Syrian treaties were:

1) the historical review of the past acts of the king

2) the cursing section was last pronounced

D. The Hittite treaty pattern of the second millennium and its parallels in Joshua:

1. identification of the King (Jos. 24:1-2)

2. narrative of the King’s great acts (Jos. 24:2-13)

3. covenant obligations (Jos. 24:14,23)

4. instructions for depositing the treaty in the sanctuary (Jos. 24:25-26)

5. the deities of the parties involved invoked as witnesses (Jos. 24:22)

6. blessing of fidelity; curses for violation (Jos. 24:20)

 

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