HITTITE ROYAL DOCUMENTS
THE EMPIRE OF HATTI
1. Treaty with Amurru
These are the words of the Sun Murshili,
the great king, the king of Hatti, the valiant, beloved of the storm-god,
the son of Shuppiluliuma, the great king, the king of Hatti, the valiant.
Duppi-Tesshub, your grandfather Aziras rebelled against my father,
but then submitted to my father again.
When the kings of Nuhassi land* *between Halba (Aleppo) and the Orontes River
and the king of Kinza* rebelled against my father, *Qadesh, on the Orontes (Tell Nebi Mend)
Aziras did not rebel.
As he was bound by treaty, he remained bound by treaty.
As my father fought against his enemies, Aziras fought likewise.
Aziras remained loyal to my father, and did not arouse my father's anger.
My father was loyal towards Aziras and his country;
he did not undertake any unjust action against him,
nor did he arouse his anger or his country's anger in any way.
300 shekels of finest-quality gold,
the tribute which my father imposed upon your father,
he brought year by year, never withholding it.
When my father became a god*, *died and was deified
and I seated myself on the throne of my father,
Aziras behaved towards me just as he had behaved towards my father. . . .
When your father died, in accordance with your father's word I did not reject you . . . . .
I sought after you . . . .
Although you were ailing, I the Sun put you in the place of your father,
and I took your brothers and sisters and Amurru* in oath for you. *Duppi-Tesshub's land
. . . . Honour the loyalty-oath to the king and the king's kin.
And I the king will be loyal toward you, Duppi-Tesshub.
When you take a wife and beget an heir, he shall be king in Amurru.
And just as I am loyal toward you, I shall likewise be loyal to your son.
The same tribute as was imposed on your father and grandfather,
who presented 300 shekels of good and finest-quality gold,
weighed with standard weights,
shall also be presented by you.
Do not turn your eyes to anyone else.
Your forefathers presented tribute to Egypt, but you shall not.
To my friend you shall be a friend, and to my enemy you shall be an enemy.
If the king of Hatti is in Hurrian or Egyptian territory, . . .
and if you Duppi-Tesshub do not remain loyal,
together with your infantry and chariotry, . . .
then you are acting in disregard of your oath.
As I the Sun am loyal to you,
you shall extend military assistance to the Sun and to Hatti.
If an evil rumour arises in Hatti that someone is to revolt against the Sun,
and you hear it, then set out immediately with your infantry and chariotry,
and come to the aid of the king of Hatti.
If any one oppresses you, Duppi-Tesshub, or if anyone revolts against you,
then you shall write to the king of Hatti,
and the king of Hatti will dispatch infantry and chariotry to assist you . . . . (a gap)
The sun-god of heaven, the sun-goddess of Arinna,
the storm-god of heaven, the storm-god of Hatti,
Sheri and Hurri* . . . *the two bulls of the storm-god
the storm-god of Nerik, the storm-god of Lihzina . . .
the patron-god, the Hattian patron-god, Zithariya . . .
Ea, Allatum, Telipinu . . .
Sin*, lord of the oath, Ishkhara, queen of the oath, *Akkadian moon-god
Hebat*, queen of heaven, *Hurrian goddess, consort of Tesshub
Ishtar*, Ishtar of the battlefield, Ishtar of Nineveh . . . *Mesopotamian Venus
the Hattian warrior-god . . .
the Hapiri gods*, *gods of the Habiru
Ereshkigal*, *Sumero-Akkadian goddess of the netherworld
the gods and goddesses of Hatti,
the gods and goddesses of Amurru . . .
Anu, Antu . . ., Enlil, Ninlil*, *leading deities of the Sumero-Akkadian pantheon
the mountains, the rivers, the springs, the great sea,
heaven and earth*, *cp. Deuteronomy 30:19
the winds, the clouds.
Let these be witnesses to this treaty and to the oath.
The words of the treaty and the oath, which are inscribed on this tablet,
if Duppi-Tesshub does not honour the words of the treaty and the oath,
may these gods of the oath destroy Duppi-Tesshub,
together with his person, his wife, his son, his grandson, his house, his land,
and everything that he owns.
But if Duppi-Tesshub honours the words of the treaty and the oath,
which are inscribed on this tablet, may these gods of the oath protect him,
together with his person, his wife, his son, his grandson, his house, his country.
This is an example of a Hittite suzerain-vassal treaty, imposed by the emperor ('the sun'), Murshili II (1339-1306, approximately) on the vassal-king Duppi-Tesshub of Amurru (in Lebanon). It is found in two versions, Akkadian and Hittite. In the Stipulations and Witnesses sections large gaps have been filled with corresponding data from the treaty with Tetti of Nuhasshi.
Such documents show us the roles attributed to deities in national politics and international relations, and how the gods were believed to perform them: sending rewards and punishments on kings and nations who kept or broke their bond. In this regard, note the imprecation and benediction (cursing and blessing) at the end of this document (and compare the detailed sanctions at the end of Hammurabi's lawcode, in Mesopotamia).
Editions and Translations
J. Friedrich, Staatsverträge des Hatti-Reiches in hethitischer Sprache (1926) 1-48.
E. F. Weidner, Politische Dokumente aus Kleinasien; die Staatsvertrâge in akkadischer Sprache aus dem Archiv von Boghazkoi (1923) 76-79
Albrecht Goetze in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 203-205, with details of sources.
2. Treaty with Mitanni
. . . .
I, the sun, Shuppiluliumma, the great king, the king of Hatti, the valiant, the
favourite of the storm-god, went to war, because of the insolence of King Tushratta.
I crossed the Euphrates . . . .
I proceeded to Shuta, and ransacked it.
I reached Wasshukanni*. *capital city of the Hurrian kingdom Mitanni
The inhabitants of Shuta, together with their cattle, sheep, and horses,
their possessions, and their deportees I brought to Hatti.
Tushratta, the king, had withdrawn; he did not come to meet me in battle. . . .
Because of king Tushratta's insolence I attacked all these countries in a single year,
and conquered them for Hatti.
On this side I made the Niblani mountain* my frontier, *the Lebanon
on the other side the Euphrates river is my frontier.
. . . .
A copy of this tablet has been deposited before the sun-goddess of Arinna,
because the sun-goddess of Arinna regulates kingship and queenship.
In Mitanni a copy has been deposited before Tesshub, lord of the shrine of Kahat.
They shall read it out regularly in the presence of the king of Mitanni,
and in the presence of the sons of the Hurrian land. . . .
At the end of this treaty we have called the gods to be assembled,
the gods of the contracting parties to be present, to listen, and to serve as witnesses:
the sun-goddess of Arinna, who regulates kingship and queenship in Hatti,
the sun-god, the lord of heaven,
the storm-god, the lord of Hatti,
Sheri and Hurri*, *the two bulls of the storm-god
the mountains Nanni and Hazzi*.... *Mons Casius, near Ugarit and Antioch
Ea and Damkina*, *Ea, Akkadian god of wisdom; Damkina, his consort, or Hittite equivalents
Telipinu*... *Hattian god of fertility
the warlike Ishtar...
the Hapiri gods*, *gods of the Habiru
all the gods and goddesses of Hatti . . .
Tesshub*, the lord of heaven and earth, *Hurrian storm-god
Kushuh*, *Hurrian moon-god
Shimigi*, *Hurrian sun-god
the Harranian* moon-god of heaven and earth *Harran (Genesis 11:31)
Ea-sharru lord of wisdom,
Anu and Antu, Enlil and Ninlil*, *5 Sumero-Akkadian gods
the twin gods Mitra and Uruwana*, *Indo-Aryan Mitra-Varuna, gods of covenant
Indar*, *Indo-Aryan Indra, weather-god
the Nassatiyana gods*. . . *Indo-Aryan twin Nasatyas, charioteers of the sun
Tesshub lord of Wasshukanni . . .
the mountains and the rivers,
the gods of the heaven and the gods of the earth.
If you Shattiwaza the prince, and you the sons of the Hurrian land,
do not fulfill the words of this treaty,
then may the gods, the lords of the oath, blot you out . . .
together with your land, your wives, and everything you have. . . .
May these gods of the contracting parties bring misery and poverty upon you.
May they overthrow your throne, Shattiwaza.
May the oaths sworn in the presence of these gods break you like reeds,
you Shattiwaza together with your country.
May they exterminate from the earth your name
and your seed born from a second wife*. . . . *his wife was a daughter of Shuppiluliuma!
If you Shattiwaza the prince, and you the Hurrians,
fulfill this treaty and this oath, then may these gods protect you, Shattiwaza,
together with your wife, the daughter of the king of Hatti,
her children, and her children's children,
and also the Hurrians . . . .
May Mitanni be restored to its former position, may it thrive and expand.
May you Shattiwaza,
your sons and sons' sons from the daughter of the great king of Hatti,
and the Hurrians, exercise kingship forever.
May the throne of your father persist, may Mitanni persist.
These are extracts from the treaty of the Hittite king Shuppiluliuma I (about 1380-1340, contemporary with Akhenaton and Tutankhamon of Egypt) with the Hurrian king Shattiwaza of Mitanni. The covenant is composed in Akkadian, the language of international diplomacy at that time. On the historical setting of this treaty see Gernot Wilhelm, The Hurrians (he calls this king Shattiwaza; Goetze has Mattiwaza).
A striking feature of the document is the presence of Indo-Aryan gods among the divine witnesses (as known in the Indian Vedas and the Iranian Avesta); these were presumably worshipped by Aryans living in Hurrian society. Notice particularly Mitra, the Aryan god of covenants, Iranian Mithra (see the hymn to Mithra in the Religion of Zarathushtra section).
Other aspects of Hittite treaties can be seen in the covenant between Murshili and Duppi-Tesshub above. With regard to the form of such documents, there are comparisons to be made with the Biblical Covenant between Yahweh and Israel (Exodus 20-24, for example), and also with Akkadian treaties.
In the treaty with Amurru, notice the reference to Qadesh (here called Kinza), the city where Hatti and Egypt came to blows, early in the reign of Ramesses II, in the following century. A covenant was eventually made between Egypt, which took the form of a parity treaty between two equal emperors; but the examples given here are suzerainty treaties, imposed by the emperor of Hatti on conquered vassal kings.
In the remaining extracts in this section we see how the gods were involved in international relations: they were believed to impose sanctions on treaty-breakers, and punish them for their sin (breach of covenant).
Edition and Translation
E. F. Weidner, Politische Dokumente aus Kleinasien; die Staatsvertrâge in akkadischer Sprache aus dem Archiv von Boghazkoi (1923) 2-35.
Albrecht Goetze, in Ancient
Near Eastern Texts, 318, 205-206, with references to sources.
3. Prayers of Murshili II
To the storm-god of Hatti
Storm-god of Hatti, my lord, and you gods of Hatti, my lords.
Murshili, the great king, your servant, has sent me (saying):
Go to the storm-god of Hatti, my lord, and to the gods, my lords, and speak thus:
Whatever have you done?
You have let a plague come into Hatti land.
The country has been suffering heavily from this plague.
For twenty years people have been dying,
in my father's days, in my brother's days,
and in my own days, ever since I became priest of the gods.
With death raging through the land like this the plague has not abated.
As for me, I can no longer bear the agony of my heart and the anguish of my soul.
Whenever I have celebrated the festivals I have worshipped all the gods,
not missing out a single temple.
The matter of the plague I have laid in prayer before all the gods,
and made vows to them:
Hear me, you gods, my lords, drive the plague out of Hatti;
the reason why people are dying in the land, let it be established by an omen,
or let me see it in a dream, or let a prophet declare it.
But the gods have not listened to me,
and the country has not been healed of the plague.
Hatti has been sorely afflicted.
The few people left to offer sacrificial loaves and libations have also been dying.
This has weighed heavily upon me. . . .
I have now been made aware of two old tablets.
The first tablet deals with the offerings to the river Mala*. *Euphrates
The olden-day kings regularly presented offerings to the river Mala.
But since the time of my father, while the plague has been raging,
we have never presented offerings to the river Mala.
The second tablet concerns the city Kurushtama*. *in northern Anatolia
The storm-god of Hatti brought people of Kurushtama into Egyptian territory,
and made an agreement about them with the Hittites,
so that they were under oath to the storm-god of Hatti.
Thus the Hittites and the Egyptians were both under oath to the storm-god of Hatti,
but the Hittites disregarded their obligations, and promptly violated the sacred oath.
My father sent his infantry and chariotry
to attack the Amka region*, inside Egyptian territory. *in Syria
He sent more troops to attack it again.
Whereupon the Egyptians took fright and asked my father
for one of his sons to be king over them*. *request made by Tutankhamon's widow
When my father gave them one of his sons, they took him away and killed him.
So my father became angry; he went to war against Egypt and attacked it;
he defeated the infantry and chariotry of Egypt;
the storm-god of Hatti, my lord, allowed him to prevail. . . .
They brought back to Hatti the prisoners they had taken. . . .
These prisoners brought a plague into the Hittite land,
and from that day onwards people have been dying here.
When I found the tablet about Egypt, I asked through an oracle of the god . . .
whether this was the cause of the wrath of the storm-god of Hatti, my lord.
And it was established.
I also asked whether the matter of the offerrings to the river Mala
was a cause of the plague, and it too was established by oracle.
I admit my guilt before the storm-god. . . .
I am making offerings to the storm-god of Hatti, my lord, on that account.
Because I humble myself and plead for your mercy,
hear me, storm-god of Hatti, my lord,
and let the plague cease in the land. . . .
Storm-god of Hatti, my lord, and you gods, my lords,
it is true that people are always comitting sins,
and my father sinned and transgressed
against the word of the storm-god of Hatti, my lord.
Although I have not sinned in any way,
it is also true that the father's sin falls upon the son,
and so my father's sin has fallen upon me.
I now confess to the storm-god of Hatti, my lord, and to the gods, my lords:
it is true, we have done it.
And because I have confessed my father's sin,
let the spirit of the storm-god, my lord, and of the gods, my lords, be appeased.
Have pity on me and drive the plague out of the land.
Do not let the remaining few die, who can offer sacrificial loaves and libations. . . .
If you require additional restitution from me,
tell it to me in a dream and I will repay it to you. . . .
Or if people are dying for some other reason, reveal it to me in a dream,
let it be disclosed in an oracle, let a prophet declare it,
or let all the priests find out through incubation. . . .
To the Sun-goddess of Arinna
O gods, take pity on your land Hatti.
On the one hand it is afflicted with plague,
on the other hand it is afflicted with rebellion.
The protectorates beyond the frontier, Mitanni and Arzawa, have both rebelled;
they do not acknowledge the gods, they have broken their sacred oaths.
They continually engage in pillaging of temples;
let that be for the gods an occasion for vengeance.
Send plague, hostility, famine, and bad fever into Mitanni and Arzawa.
The rebellious lands are rested, but Hatti is a weary land;
unhitch the weary and harness the rested.
Furthermore, countries which belong to Hatti . . .
have also renounced the sun-goddess of Arinna.
They have refused their tributes and have now begun to attack Hatti.
In times past, with the help of the sun-goddess of Arinna,
Hatti would overwhelm the surrounding lands like a lion.
Moreover, from cities it destroyed, such as Halba and Babel*, *Aleppo and Babylon
and from all countries, it took goods, silver, gold, and gods,
and placed them before the sun-goddess of Arinna.
But now all the surrounding lands have started attacking Hatti.
Let this be an occasion for vengeance for the sun-goddess of Arinna.
O goddess, do not let your name fall into disrepute. . . .
Send bad fever, pestilence, and famine on
these enemy lands.
Two prayers are presented here in abbreviated form, both uttered by the Hittite king Murshili II (about 1339-1306), son of Shuppiluliuma I (about 1380-1340). There are a number of prayers concerned with the same problem: a plague that had raged in Hatti (Hatti, Khatti) in the time of these two kings.
Plagues were regarded as divine punishments; hence Murshili asks the gods to reveal the cause of their anger and what restitution they require. He is led to believe that neglect of ceremonies for the Mala (Euphrates) river was one reason for the divine wrath, and another was breach of covenant by his father. Gods were the witnesses to covenants and the guarantors. Shuppiluliuma had crossed the border between the Hittite kingdom and the Egyptian empire, and had invaded the region called Amka, which was in the territory of Pharaoh Akhenaton and his successor Tutankhamon; and because the storm-god of Hatti was watching over the treaty between Hatti and Egypt, divine punishment was imposed on the Hittite king. It was noted that the plague came into the Hittite land with the prisoners that were brought from the Egyptian territory. A complicating factor was that Ankhesenamon, daughter of Akhenaton and widow of Tutankhamon, fearing that she would have to marry an Egyptian commoner, asked Shuppiluliuma to send one of his sons to be her consort. The prince was murdered in Egypt, possibly by Ay, who took the throne himself. This Egyptian request for a prince is mentioned in the first prayer above.
In the second prayer an apparent injustice is pointed out to the Hittite gods, particularly the sun-goddess of Arinna: the vassal states (notably the Hurrian kingdom Mitanni) were rebelling, and thus breaking the divinely sanctioned treaties they had made with their Hittite overlord; but the Hittites were suffering the pestilence, and not the rebels. Murshili asks the gods to vindicate him and themselves, and suggests that they remove the plague from Hatti and inflict it on the rebellious countries.
Editions and Translations
René Lebrun, Hymnes et prières hittites (1980), 55-179, 203-216, new edition, French translation.
Albrecht Goetze, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 394-396, who there documents his sources.
4. Ritual before Battle
When they perform the ritual at the border of the enemy country he sacrifices a sheep to the sun-goddess of Arinna and to the storm-god, the patron-god and all the gods,
to Telipinu, the gods and goddesses of Turmitta . . .
to all the mountains and rivers.
One sheep they sacrifice to Zithariya.
They speak as follows:
See, Zithariya is appealing to all the gods;
the sanctuaries which had long been dedicated to Zithariya's worship,
the countries which have fallen into turmoil
would celebrate great festivals for him in all of them.
But now the Kashkeans* have taken them; * mountain tribes from Black Sea region
the Kashkeans have begun waging war;
they boast of their power and strength;
gods, they have belittled you.
See, Zithariya is appealing to all the gods;
he is bringing his complaint before you;
vindicate his cause, all you gods;
let it be of great concern to the gods.
The sanctuaries have not only been taken from Zithariya by these people,
but have also been taken from all the gods, all of you;
from the sun-goddess of Arinna, from the storm-god of Nerik,
from the storm-god, from the patron-god,
from Telepinu, from all the gods.
His cities have been taken from you also.
See, Zithariya is bringing his case to all of you gods;
take your own case to heart;
vindicate your own cause in vindicating the cause of Zithariya.
Gods, blot out the Kashkean nation.
Let every single god take thought for his place of worship,
and win it back.
Let Zithariya win back his place of worship,
let him roam these lands at will again;
let people celebrate his great festivals again . . . .
He speaks as follows:
Gods of the Kashkean nation, we have summoned you to this assembly;
come, eat and drink, and hear the accusation we bring against you.
The gods of Hatti have done nothing to you, the gods of the Kashkeans;
they have not put you under constraint.
But you, the gods of the Kashkeans, have begun war;
you have driven the gods of Hatti out of their realm
and taken their realm for yourselves.
The Kashkean people have also begun waging war;
from the Hittites you took their cities,
and you drove them out of their farmlands and vineyards.
The gods and people of Hatti are calling for blood vengeance;
the vengeance of the gods and people of Hatti will be wreaked
on you the Kashkean gods and people.
. . . .
The gap seems to have contained a ritual of purification to ensure that the army is victorious.
Let him eat and drink . . . .
Let him return to the army and fight the enemy.
When he has finished, he goes again before the Hatti gods,
and they eat the meat and the bread.
He brings sacrifices to the Hatti gods, the storm-god of the army, and the warrior-god.
They give them as much to drink as they think fit.
The master of the gods* receives the implements used at the feast, *the officiating priest?
and the sheepskins.
They return to the army, and go into battle in this condition.
This text records a typical ritual before battle. The gods of the Hittites and of the enemy are invoked, and the Hittite gods are asked to take vengeance on the enemy for their unprovoked attack on cities and temples of Hatti. This is why the gods act as witnesses to treaties: when breach of covenant (rebellion, sin) occurs, these gods are asked to take vengeance on the covenant-breaker. A similar situation is found here, but there was apparently no treaty between the Hittites and the Kashkeans.
Edition and Translation
Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazkoi (Berlin 1921-1944) vol. IV.
M. Witzel, Hethitische Keilschrift-Urkunden (Keilschriftliche Studien 4 (1924) 60-65.
Albrecht Goetze, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 354-355.