EA 290 and Bit Ninurta

William Moran’s translation of EA 290 reads as thus:

[Sa]y [t]o the king, my lord: Message of [‘Abdi]-Heba, your servant. I fall at the feet [of the kin]g, my lord, 7 times and 7 times. Here is the deed against the land that Milkilu and Suardatu did: against the land of the king, my lord, they ordered troops from Gazru, troops from Gimtu, and troops from Qiltu. They seized Rubutu. The land of the king deserted to the Hapiru. And now, besides this, a town belonging to Jerusalem, Bit-NIN.URTA by name, a city of the king, has gone over to the side of the men of Qiltu. May the king give heed to ‘Abdi-Heba, your servant, and send archers to restore the land of the king to the king. If there are no archers, the land of the king will desert to the Hapiru. This deed against the land was [a]t the order of Milki[lu and a]t the order of [Suard]atu, [together w]ith Gint[i]. So may the king provide for [his] land.

Note that Gimtu (Gath/Tell es-Safi) and Ginti (Gath-Carmel/Baqa Jatt) are distinct cities. Rubutu is probably Arubboth/Araba in the West Bank, due to its nearness to Ginti and its consistency with being the Rubutu of the Taanach letters and the Shoshenq list. Suardatu is the king of Gimtu and Milkilu is the king of Gazru/Gezer. Qiltu is Keilah, a city of Jerusalem which allied with Gath.

The question here is what this letter’s Bit Ninurta is to be identified as. A number of scholars, including a large number of chronological revisionists (i.e., crazies), interpret the letter a stating “besides this, Jerusalem, Bit-NIN.URTA by name, a city…” and suggest Ninurta stands for Sulmanu, which stands either for Solomon or for the local deity of Jerusalem. This is quite a bit of a stretch, to say the least. Thus, most scholars look to other “Beth” names in Judah to find Bit Ninurta: Beth-Horon and Beth-Lehem (House of Bread). I know of no LB remains at Beth-Lehem. Beth-Horon may have belonged to Shechem or Gezer. Thus, the location of ‘Bit Ninurta’ remains uncertain, though Beth-Horon, near Gezer, is most likely.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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