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xii + 145 pp.

£35 / $55 / €48
List Price

£12.95 / $17.50 / €15

‘I have written to the king, my lord’
Secular Analogies for the Psalms
Roger Tomes

The psalms in the Hebrew Bible have often been compared with the religious texts of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Canaan. Roger Tomes shows, in this incisive monograph, how the letters of the ancient Near East, from Mari, Amarna, Ugarit, Nimrud and Nineveh, are an equally rewarding analogue.

In them we find suppliants, caught in crisis situations, appealing to their rulers; they use the same arguments to persuade them to act as the psalmists in their appeals to God: protestations of innocence, confession of faults, promises of loyalty, descriptions of plight, appeal to the other’s own interests, direct reproaches and quotation of the reproaches of enemies, and expressions of dependence. These are parallels that have much to teach us about the social position of the psalmists and their relationship to the cult.

Roger Tomes was Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Religions and Theology, University of Manchester, and formerly Lecturer, Northern College, Manchester.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 1
1-905048-09-2, 978-1-905048-09-0 hardback / 1-905048-71-8, 978-1-905048-71-7 paperback
Publication April 2005

Tomes's project explores the natural language of subjects in a kingdom, drawing principally on collections of letters in Akkadian, mainly the Amarna and Nineveh archives. The language of petition, he argues, is comparable across the diplomatic and political realms, as well as the religious, throughout the ancient Near East. Previously supposed lines of influence on Hebrew psalmody from a common stock of religious language through contact with Babylonia or Egypt directly, or through Canaanite mediation, are too exclusive ... [S]uccessfully widens the scope for understanding the context of the language of the Psalms and ways in which Israelites expressed their attitudes to God, and it should stimulate all future commentators on the Psalms. A.R. Millard, Vetus Testamentum.

[A] valuable study, making readily accessible a whole range of ancient texts which have a direct bearing on the interpretation of the Psalms.
R.E. Clements, Society for Old Testament Study Book List