Copyright © 1956 by Westminster Theological Seminary, cited with permission.
THE HA-BI-RU--KIN OR FOE
MEREDITH G. KLINE
C. An Ethno-Professional Interpretation.
It has appeared that the currently dominant identifications
of the ha-BI-ru as a social class of one sort or another are
inadequate. They fail to discover a common denominator for
all the ha-BI-ru (and the ha-BI-ru alone) that will satisfy all
the known documents. The investigation must turn to other
possibilities. Was ethnic unity the peculiar stamp of the
ha-BI-ru? Was their hallmark the practice of a particular
1. Ethnic Unity. Examination of the morphological data
led to the conclusion that the variety of forms found for the
word ha-BI-ru is most readily explained in terms of variations
of the proper name for an ethnic group.113
Other features point in this same direction:
There are indications of family relationships among the
ha-BI-ru114 and of self-contained communities or tribal organi-
zation in the ha-BI-ru pattern of life.115
The word ha-BI-ru is used in contrast to particular ethnic
terms and, therefore, as at least the equivalent of an ethnic
term itself. Repeatedly in Hittite rituals and treaties the
ha-BI-ru are paired with the Lulahhu (the people of Lullu).
In one ritual116 this pair appears in a list of social classes,
113 See supra, WTJ XIX, pp. 9-11.
114 See ibid. p. 21, n. 98 and cf. JEN V, 452, 453, 456, 465; SMN 2145
for mention of ha-BI-ru women with their children or alone.
115 E. g., at
1956, pp. 264-265) aptly compares the ha-BI-ru among whom Idri-mi
found political asylum to the tribe in Retenu in which Sinuhe passed his
years of exile.
116 No. 91 in Bottero, op. cit.
suggesting that "the Lulahhu and the ha-BI-ru" had become
a cliche among the Hittites for the social category of foreign-
ers.117 Such usage, however, would be only local and secondary
in the case of the ha-BI-ru as it obviously must be in the case
of the Lulahhu. As a matter of fact, once it has been estab-
lished that the ha-BI-ru cannot successfully be identified as
a social class, all evidence that they were regarded in particular
areas as one specific group of foreigners,118 becomes so much
support for the interpretation of them as a specific ethnic
Certain Egyptian texts also mention ha-BI-ru in lists con-
taining ethnic elements. In the
lists 3,600 ‘pr (i. e., ha-BI-ru) among those he took captive
on his second Asiatic campaign. They are preceded by 127119
princes of Rtnu (Syria-Palestine) and 179 brothers of princes.
They are followed by 15,200 .S3s.w (Bedouin of the desert
used in the sense of the settled population of Syria-Palestine)
and 15,070 Ngs (people of Nuhassi). The intermediate posi-
tion of the ha-BI-ru in sequence and numerically between the
aristocracy and the ethnic terms would make it precarious to
determine from this text alone whether the ha-BI-ru were a
social class or ethnic group. Similar ambiguity is present in the
testamentary enactment left by Ramses III in which he cites
the properties accumulated by the temples of
politan section the serfs of the temple are listed as follows:
"warriors, sons of (foreign) princes, maryannu, 'pr.w, and the
settlers who are in this place: 2,093 persons”.120 What is clear
is that the ha-BI-ru were in the eyes of the Egyptians an
easily identifiable group distinct from the Bedouin and the
general population of Syria-Palestine--a fact incompatible
117 Perhaps more specifically, foreign servants. They are located in this
list on the border of the upper and lower strata of society. In the somewhat
similar list, KUB XXXV, 45, 11, 2 ff., they are closely associated with the
118 See supra, WTJ XIX, pp. 18 ff.
119 Or 217 or 144.
120 Papyrus Harris I, 31, 8.
ton, 1950), p. 261, n. 7) regards all these serfs as foreign. Posener (in
Bottero, op. cit., p. 170) considers the "settlers" Egyptians.
with the theory that the ha-BI-ru were an indistinct social
class.121 Of course in
their foreign status among the Hittites was a local and
temporary condition. It is clear, too, that their presence in
from Syria- Palestine,123 which was somehow distinct from
other such troops both general (e. g., the Hr.w) and elite (e. g.,
maryannu). One plausible explanation of their distinctive-
ness would be that it was ethnic.124
From the Mesopotamian area too come examples of
ha-BI-ru used as the equivalent of an ethnic term. In the
Mari texts, for example, the ha-BI-ru are distinguished from
such ethnic groups as the Beni-laminu, Beni-Simal, and "the
men of Talhaya".125 So again in the Palestinian area the
121 G. Posener, ibid., p. 175, observes that in the case of the term 'pr.w,
"Les determinatifs les designent simplement comme des strangers; it ne
s'ajoute aucun signe qui caracterise une classe sociale, un genre de vie ou
une occupation, comme on en trouve, d'une fagon reguliere ou sporadique,
apres des appellatifs d'emprunt comme mri, mrjn, mskb, n'rn, kt (n), etc."
According to Albright, the foreign warrior determinative is used on the
smaller Beisan stele of Seti I.
122 Cf. also the stele of Ramses IV in the Wadi Hammamat recording
the personnel of an expedition sent to procure blocks of stone (Couyat
and Montet, Inscriptions hieroglyphiques du Ouadi Hammamat, no. 12).
The high priest of Amon heads the list followed by nine civil and military
officers (Nos. 2-10), 412 subordinate officers (Nos. 11-16, 18, 21, 22),
5,000 men of the army (No. 17), 800 'pr.w (No. 19), 2,000 slaves (No. 20),
130 quarrymen and stone-cutters (No. 25) and ten skilled artificers and
artists (Nos. 23, 24, 26, 27). Similarly, two
hieratic papyri from
dated to the reign of Ramses II depict 'pr.w drawing stone. (Papyrus
123 The Beisan stele attests the presence of some ha-BI-ru in that area
near 1300 B. C. and the Papyrus Harris 500 account of the taking of
Joppa locates ha-BI-ru there in the 15th century (though the manuscript
itself is 13th century).
124 If the 12th century proper name, p3-'pr (see no. 191 in Bottero,
op. cit.) has anything to do with the ha-BI-ru, it might be an indication of
their ethnic distinctiveness since names of the type article plus substantive
are often ethnic (e. g., p3-hr); they are, however, also professional (e. g.,
p3-hm-ntr, "the priest").
125 See supra, WTJ XIX, p. 14, n. 66. Cf. A 109. Contrary to Bottero
(op. cit., p. 188) ha-BI-ru is not shown to be an appellative by the Mari
texts and others which designate certain towns or countries as the place of
proximate origin or residence of the ha-BI-ru. The ha-BI-ru of these
ha-BI-ru, according to the Amarna and other evidence, were
a well-defined group which could be contrasted with ethnic
elements like the Sutu, native Palestinian troops, and "men
Another feature which comes as no surprise on the assump-
tion that the ha-BI-ru were an ethnic group is the mention of
the "gods of the ha-BI-ru" in the Hittite treaties.127 It would
not be as common for inter-ethnic professional groups to have
guild deities128 and it is unlikely that a general social class had
its own gods.129 Relevant here is the god dha-BI-ru found in
an Assyrian Gotteradressbuch130 and in Hittite ritual.131 Pos-
sibly the similarity of dha-BI-ru and LUha-BI-ru is accidental132
but otherwise there could be evidence here of the tribal
character of the ha-BI-ru in the appearance of their eponymous
texts may also be understood as a distinct ethnic element not indigenous
to, or only temporarily located in, these places.
126 Cf. e. g., EA 195:24 ff. ; 246:5 ff. ; 318:10 ff.
127 Gustavs (ZAW, N. F. 3, 1926, pp. 25 ff.) disposed of the opinion of
Jirku (Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 1921, pp. 246 ff.; 1922, p. 38; and
Der Alte Orient, 1924, pp. 18 ff.) that the proper translation is "the gods
Ha-BI-ru". Jirku was compelled to regard as a scribal error: ilaniMES sa
LUSA-GAZ (Keilschrifttexte aus Boghazkoi (hereafter KBo) I, 2, Rs. 27;
cf. I, 3, IV, 5). Nor could he explain the genitive found in all cases but
one (excluding, of course, the use of the ideogram). The one exception is
a Hittite nominative: (KBo V, 3, I, 56) which Gustavs treated adjectivally.
(Cf. Goetze in Bottero, op. cit., p. 81). Might this reflect the fact that what
appeared like a nominative elsewhere, i. e., ha-BI-ru, was a shortened
gentilic? Gustavs also proved groundless Jirku's view that the ilani was
a plural of majesty.
129 Greenberg (op. cit., p. 87, n. 9) argues that the summary type formula
used to designate the gods of the ha-BI-ru points to an agglomeration of
gods from diverse sources, not to a single pantheon of an ethnically unified
group. That this is gratuitous is apparent from the use of the same sum-
mary formula for the gods of the ethnically unified Lulahhu.
130 KAV 42, II, 9. It is part of a corpus known as the "Description of
the city of
131 Collection of tablets found at Boghazkoi (hereafter Bo) 5239:7 and
132 W. von Soden (in Bottero, op. cit., p. 135) says of the Neo-Assyrian
dha-BI-ru that it represents the Akkadian ha'iru, hawiru, "spouse".
133 So Jirku, op. cit. Of uncertain relation to dha-BI-ru and LUha-BI-ru
are the personal names ha-BI-ra-am (of Old Akkadian texts), ha-BI-re/ri
There are also instances of peace treaty and covenant
oaths governing the relation of ha-BI-ru groups to kings.134
These are compatible with an ethnic but not with a social class
The ethnic view is not without problems. Often urged
against it is the onomastic evidence, for ha-BI-ru names range
inside and outside the Semitic sphere.135 Caution, however, is
required in drawing ethnic conclusions from onomastic data.
A migratory group will adopt names current in their new land,
for imitation of the higher social strata is a common human
foible.136 According to an ethnic interpretation of the ha-BI-ru
they will everywhere have assimilated their names to the
indigenous population except, as far as the evidence goes, at
Nuzu where they are apparently recently arrived from a
Semitic area and even there the process of assimilation to
Hurrian names may be seen to have begun.
and ha-[BI]-ir-di-il-la (from
til-la (from Nuzu), and the Egyptian personal names containing the
element ‘pr. Gustavs (ZAW, N. F. 17, 1940, pp. 158, 159) judged ha-BI-
ir-til-la to be "H. is lord" and thus further evidence of dha-BI-ru. If that
were correct, the fact that -tilla is a common element in Hurrian names
would suggest Hurrian associations for dha-BI-ru (cf. supra, WTJ XIX,
p. 4, n. 17). Moreover, most of the Nuzians who bear the names ha-BI-ra
and ha-BI-ir-til-la appear to have Hurrian relatives. And along with
dha-BI-ru in the Assyrian Gotteradressbuch are mentioned the Hurrian
deities Seris and Hurris (cf. Albright, BASOR 81, 1941, p. 20. n. 20).
Problematic, however, for Gustavs' interpretation are the facts that in
every other case the word compounded with -tilla is verbal or adjectival
and tilla is itself a Hurrian deity or surrogate for one.
134 Cf. supra, WTJ XIX, p. 17 and n. 84; and P. A. Pohl, Orientalia 25,
1956, p. 429. See below for further treatment of these texts as evidence of
the ha-BI-ru professional character.
135 "The analyzable Old Babylonian names are Akkadian; those from
Alalalb are, with few exceptions, non-Semitic;
one of the two from
is non-Semitic; from
At Nuzi H. names, mostly Akkadian, differ in a marked degree from those
of the local (in this case, Hurrian) population . . .". So Greenberg sum-
marizes. op. cit., p. 87.
136 While granting that this is a "proven tendency", Greenberg, ibid.,
n. 9, says that the edge of the above argument has "been dulled by frequent
use". It may be the beginning of scholarship to realize that an accumula-
tion of authorities does not validate a view but it is a bit novel to judge
that popularity invalidates one.
The wide dispersal of the ha-BI-ru throughout the Fertile
Crescent and adjacent areas which has earned for them in
modern studies the epithet "ubiquitous" has also been thought
a difficulty for the theory of ethnic unity. But it is reasonable
to envisage this ubiquity of the ha-BI-ru as the sequel of an
ethnic wave that dashed across the
even the earliest extant mention of ha-BI-ru in Babylonia.137
If so the question arises whether their ultimate origins lay in
the desert enclosed by the Crescent or in the tracts beyond.
In opposing the ethnic view Greenberg appeals to what he
believes to be evidence in the Amarna letters of accretions to
the ha-BI-ru ranks. Thus, Abdi-Ashirta is called the GAZ-
man;138 "the townsmen of
against the king, are said to `have become H.'"139; and we
read of Amanhatbi that he "fled to the SA-GAZ men”.140 If
Canaanites could so readily become ha-BI-ru (or SA-GAZ)
how can ha-BI-ru denote an ethnic status? The texts in
question, however, mean no more than that certain leaders and
loyalists identified themselves with the efforts of the ha-BI-ru
Canaanites did not actually become SA-GAZ but became, in
respect to their relationship to the Pharaoh (the recipient of
these letters), "like GAZ men" (i. e., rebels).141
The major considerations bearing on the possibility of
ha-BI-ru ethnic unity have now been surveyed. The hypoth-
esis which accounts with the least difficulty for all the facts
137 DeVaux, ibid., p. 265, compares the similarly widespread Sutu and
Arameans. Cf. also the Terahites who left elements
of the family in
general westward movement of the ha-BI-ru from
covery. Even according to present evidence the ha-BI-ru are found from
138 EA 91:5.
139 So Greenberg, op. cit., p. 75. The text, EA 288:44, reads: ardutuMES
ip-su a-na L[U.M]ES[h]a-[B]I-[r]i.
140 EA 185:63.
141 In following Abdi Ashirta the people of Ammiya are said to have
become "like GAZ men": i-ba-as-su ki-ma LU.MESGAZ (EA 74:28, 29;
cf. 67:16, 17).
is that the ha-BI-ru--at least the characteristic core of
them--did represent one ethnic stock.
2. Professional Fraternity. Ethnic unity need not have
been the only or even the dominant element in the Gestalt
called ha-BI-ru. Frequently in the extant record of their
exploits it is their professional role which occupies the fore-
ground and that role is military. In fact, they are almost
everywhere and always engaged as professional warriors. They
man the garrisons at
tolia; conduct razzias along the
and endure the fate of captives of war in
Especially illuminating are the new pages in ha-BI-ru history
from Alalah and Boghazkoi.
At Alalah the term ha-BI-ru (or SA-GAZ) denotes the
members of a particular military corps. The available details
concerning the constituency of this ha-BI-ru corps contradict
all identifications of the ha-BI-ru as a social class such as the
hupsu. The Hurrianized society of Alalah was divided into
distinct social classes. The maryannu occupied the top rung,
followed by a free class of tradesmen, the ehelena. Next came
the rural dwellers called sabe name, subdivided into the hupsu
and haniahu. There were also, as always, the poor (muskenu)
and the slaves.142 Now the significant thing is that the
membership of the ha-Bl-ru corps cut across these classes.143
It comprised ehelena,144 muskenu,145 slave,146 and even the
142 See Wiseman, AT, pp. 10 ff.; Speiser, JAOS 74, 1954, pp. 18 ff.;
Mendelsohn, BASOR 139, 1955, pp. 9 ff. Wiseman equates only the hupsu
with the sabe name, associating the haniahu with the ehelena.
143 Cf. supra, WTJ XIX, p. 16 and n. 78. Eissfeldt recognized this
(Forschungen and Fortschritte 28:3, March 1954, pp. 80 ff.), but Greenberg
blurs the situation when he comments that the SA-GAZ "are grouped
with a military class composed of ehele and hanyahe" (op. cit., p. 65).
144 AT 182:27; cf. 180:27.
145 AT 180:31; 182:29.
146 AT 182:14.
147 According to the probable implications of the charioteers in the
ha-BI-ru corps (AT 180:24; 182:19; 183:6; 226:1) and the most probable
interpretation of the list of family chiefs (AT 198, esp. line 42; cf. supra,
WTJ XIX, p. 16., n. 80). Since the maryannu status was obtainable by
marriage and royal grant as well as by inheritance and since this class had
Alongside the ha-BI-ru as a second military body at Alalah
is the sanannu corps.148 The two groups have much in com-
mon. The sanannu corps too is composed of members of the
various social categories. Both groups consist in part of
charioteers. The members of both come from towns around
Alalah and farther afield.149 Both are coordinated with towns
in civil administration. Thus in a cattle census the totals are
given in terms of the sheep, rams, and asses belonging to
Alalah, Mukish,150 the SA-GAZ, and the sanannu.151
What the distinction was between the ha-BI-ru and the
sanannu corps is uncertain. Perhaps it lay in the area of
military specialization.152 Another possibility, however, in
line with the apparent ethnic unity of the ha-BI-ru would be
that the distinction was (at least on the ha-BI-ru side) ethnic,
as in the case of David's Pelethites and Cherethites.
Once again in the two new documents153 from the Old
Hittite royal archives at Hattusha154 the SA-GAZ stand forth
as a distinct corps on a level with other regular branches of
the Hittite military. In one document155 the SA-GAZ troops
no rigid ethnic barrier (cf. R. T. O'Callaghan, Aram Naharaim,
1948, p. 66) there is no difficulty in the presence of ha-BI-ru regarded as
substantially an ethnic unity among the maryannu.
148 See AT 183, 226, and 350.
149 See AT 145 and 341.
150 Wiseman suggests that Mu-ki (-is) -he be read for Mu-ki-he.
252 AT 350; cf. 352. The sanannu total is elsewhere (AT 341) itemized in
terms of sixteen towns around Alalah.
152 Albright (apud Wiseman, op. cit., p. 11, n. 4), relating the sanannu
of Alalah to the tnn of the Ugaritic texts, compares Akkadian sananu and
suggests tnn, "strive", as the common stem; he translates sanannu as
"archers". Gordon (Ugaritic Manual, Rome, 1955, no. 2049) renders the
Ugaritic tnn, "a kind of soldier"; and the plural, "members of a certain
153 At the time of this writing these documents have not yet been pub-
lished and I am greatly indebted to Prof. H. Otten for his kindness in
making available to me his article Zwei althethitische Belege zu den Hapiru
(SA-GAZ) shortly to appear in Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie, in which he
presents the texts in transliteration and translation along with an excellent
discussion. Cf. P. A. Pohl's reference to these texts in Orientalia 25, 1956,
154 The modern Boghazkoi.
155 141/d=KUB XXXVI, 106.
are seen joining the troops of Hatti in a pledge of allegiance
to the city of
of a self-maledictory oath, the characteristic covenant form
found in the ritual of oath taking for Hittite soldiers.156 In
the other document,157 it is the rights of the SA-GAZ troops
which are guaranteed, and that by means of a solemn oath
taken by the sovereign. This disclosure of the official status of
that ha-BI-ru within the political establishments at Boghazkoi
and Alalah158 suggests that much of the ha-BI-ru activity
which has appeared to be independent marauding was directed
from the capital of one of the ambitious empires of the day.
3. Proposed Solution. Two elements are integral to the
entity called ha-BI-ru: ethnic unity and military fraternity.
In the extant records the military connotation is often
Comparable to this dual character of the ha-BI-ru is that of
the maryannu. Professionally, they were the experts in chari-
otry; ethnically, the characteristic core and majority of them
belonged to the Indo-Aryan stock which constituted the ruling
and patrician class in the unusual symbiosis of Mitannian
society. The maryannu and ha-BI-ru categories are not com-
pletely parallel since, as noted, the ha-BI-ru corps cut across
the social classes and included maryannu. Nevertheless, the
maryannu do offer a social phenomenon in the immediate
historical context of the ha-BI-ru analogous to that presented
here as an interpretation of the ha-BI-ru, particularly with
respect to the essential point of the correlativity of ethnic and
professional character in one group.160 And if the ha-BI-ru
156 Cf. KBo VI, 34 and its duplicate KUB VII, 59.
158 Cf. also their employment by governments in the early Babylonian
administrative texts and in some of the Mari and Amarna letters.
159 Locally the name develops an even more specialized military sig-
nificance in the LUha-BI-ri officer at Alalah (AT 164); cf. the SA-GAZ
16o If it be the case that the ha-BI-ru were not ethnically one but that
there were additions from various ethnic groups to the original ethnic
stock of the military organization, that too would find its parallel in the
maryannu who, though they were predominantly Indo-Aryan, were not
exclusively so (cf. above n. 147).
and maryannu were kindred phenomena, the ha-BI-ru will
have been, within the Mitannian orbit at least, a kind of
This interpretation has the advantage of being based on
that which is pervasive rather than elusive in the texts. At
the same time it is able to account for the various types of
polarity in the ha-BI-ru career. Readily understood for
example are both their settled and free-booting phases. The
latter isolated from the former has led to the theory that the
ha-BI-ru were a second millennium B. C. counterpart to the
condottieri of the late Middle Ages.162 This theory properly
recognizes the family structure and fighting profession of the
ha-BI-ru but is one-sided in not doing justice to the phase of
their history which finds them a long since settled and re-
spected element in a mature cultural complex. Both phases
find room, however, within the historical vicissitudes of an
ethnic but far-flung group, in the shaping of whose life the
controlling factor was a committal to the military profession.
The pursuit of happiness for them might become the pursuit
of trouble and a hectic chase it led the ha-BI-ru at times. But
militarists who identify themselves permanently with a par-
ticular political cause can there achieve honor and influence.
Indeed, the warriors and the priests generally constituted the
two highest social groups. Such an exchange of loyalty and
recognition marks the status of the ha-BI-ru in the Old
Hittite empire and especially in the Alalah-Ugarit sector of
the Mitannian hegemony.
The Nuzu documents have appeared to present a puzzling
exception to the military pattern of ha-BI-ru life. If so, was it
that though militarists they found no call for their professional
services at Nuzu and were obliged to seek more peaceful
means of support? The difficulty of making such a transition
might well have compelled them to give up a measure of their
freedom for a measure of security, as was involved in accepting
the terms of their servant contracts. Or was it (as is also
possible on an ethno-professional approach) that some indi-
viduals belonging to the ha-BI-ru ethnic whole did not
161 For the importance of the guild system in the Ras Shamra texts see
J. Gray, The Hibbert Journal, January, 1955, pp. 115 ff.
162 So, e. g., Albright, JAOS 48, 1928, pp. 183-185.
participate in the military guild? Obviously in this category
are the ha-BI-ru women who appear alone or as widows
(apparently) with children.163
As a matter of fact, however, traces of the military motif
can be detected even in the Nuzu
only recently secured the Nuzu area and would want to
maintain its military strength there. It was a halsu district,
an area of farms and hamlets defended by towers and fortified
houses. Such areas were occupied in part by military veterans
settled as feudal tenants and were, in effect, frontier canton-
ments.165 Moreover, Tehiptilla, from whose archives the
majority of the ha-BI-ru contracts come was the first halsuhlu
official appointed over the Nuzu district and it would not be
unusual if business conducted in the name of his house were
actually official state business.166 In addition, there are Nuzu
ration lists which deal with certain ha-BI-ru collectively,
citing provisions assigned for them and (significantly for the
possibility of a military role) for their horses. The form of
these lists recalls the Old Babylonian administrative texts
dealing with ha-BI-ru mercenaries.
A unifying strand is suggested, therefore, for all the ha-BI-ru
documents in an ethno-professional interpretation. But within
that identifying unity there is considerable diversity as to
local and secondary conditions. In order to describe more
adequately the place of the ha-BI-ru in the history of their
age it is necessary to ask not simply what? but when? and
where? Especially important is the question of the association
of the ha-BI-ru with the Hurrians.
163 See n. 114 above. Cf. the SA-GAZ women singers mentioned in a
Hittite text (no. 138 in Greenberg, op. cit.).
164 Not, however, by regarding the ha-BI-ru there as prisoners of war
(so Chiera). Such a supposition is contradicted by the voluntary terms of
the contracts (cf. ramaniu and pisu u lisansu) and by a text like JEN V,
455, which indicates that the ha-BI-ru Mar-Ishtar had come north from
165 Cf. J. Lewy, HUCA XXVII, 1956, pp. 56, 57.
166 Cf. J. Lewy, op. cit. XIV, 1939, p. 601, n. 75. Possibly the halsuhlu
official at Nuzu had a military as well as judicial function. There are
indications that the halsuhlu was at times at least a garrison commander.
(cf. J. Finkelstein, Journal of Cuneiform Studies (hereafter JCS) 7, 1953,
p. 116, n. 30).
4. Political Affiliation. Ha-BI-ru and Hurrian careers in
chronologically. The Mitannian kingdom extended at times
from east of the Tigris to
from one end of it to the other. Beyond these borders, both
ha-BI-ru and Hurrian individuals and influence penetrated
among the Hittites and into
somewhat earlier, to almost the end of the second millennium
B. C., although evidence of the ha-BI-ru in strength vanishes
by the close of the 14th century. The date of the Hurrian
arrival is a moot point but they too are clearly on the scene
well before the Ur III period.167 The rise of the Hittite
Suppiluliuma in the second quarter of the 14th century marked
the end of Mitannian strength in the west and the rise of the
Assyrian Shalmaneser I a century later in the east terminated
Hurrian political significance.
In short, there is a general contemporaneity of ha-BI-ru
and Hurrian careers, with the political importance of each
declining sharply by about the close of the 14th century.
Bottero mentions the disappearance of the ha-BI-ru from
history at the end of the second millennium as a difficult
problem168 but a far more significant problem is why the
evidence of ha-BI-ru community organization and military
enterprise disappears about the end of the 14th century.169
And it is difficult to divorce the answer to that question from
the simultaneous collapse of the Mitannian empire.
The clue provided by ha-BI-ru--Hurrian contemporaneity
is confirmed by the evidences of their cultural-political con-
geniality.170 By way of contrast, the welcome afforded the
167 There were two Hurrian kings at Urkish in the
as early as the third millennium. (See J. Finkelstein JCS 9, 1955, p. 6;
cf. O'Callaghan, op. cit., p. 47).
168 Op. cit., p. 198.
169 The mention of ha-BI-ru in Egyptian slave gangs after this date is
obviously not a real exception.
in Ethnic Movements in the
nium B. C., 1933, pp. 34 ff., regarded the ha-BI-ru as culturally dependent
on the Hurrians and identified the Hurrians and one branch of the ha-BI-ru
One of the cliches among the threatenings of prophets of woe
was that the ha-BI-ru were coming171 and historians in
describing anarchic conditions of the past often observed that
the ha-BI-ru had roamed the highways uncontrolled.172 In the
18th century ha-BI-ru raiders were a plague to Amorite
incursions were a menace to loyalist native chiefs
Their reputation is epitomized in the SA-GAZ epithet which
seems to have been applied to them as intruders into the
Mesopotamian area and is probably to be understood in the
sense of "thugs". Of course, the ha-BI-ru were at times
employed by various governments as mercenaries, but even
among the Hittites where they had their own settlements and
enjoyed legal guarantees of their rights as a division of the
military, they were still regarded as foreigners.
Within the Mitannian hegemony, however, the exchange of
loyalty and respectful recognition which marks the relation
of the ha-BI-ru to the government seems to have traditional
roots. Especially in the Syrian area the ha-BI-ru are a thor-
oughly integrated element in the civil-social complex. There
they are found in permanent settlements and contribute to
the community leadership--civil, cultic, and military. It is,
moreover, the Hurrianized pattern of society that forms the
native habitat for the ha-BI-ru as a societal species; for in it
the ha-BI-ru find organizational analogues to themselves. The
evidence for the various elements in this picture has already
been given173 and may now be supplemented by observations
concerning the Amarna and Nuzu situations.
as the main components of the Hyksos. The assumption that ha-BI-ru
were involved in the Hyksos movement is plausible in view of their military
profession, their known presence in
their role in Syria-Palestine and slave status in
171 So in the omen literature if the ha-BI-ru may be seen in the SA-GAZ
of these texts.
172 So again if SA-GAZ refers to ha-BI-ru in the Old Babylonian literary
texts (cf. in Bottero, op. cit., nos. 6-8).
173 See above the comparison of ha-BI-ru and maryannu and cf. WTJ
XIX, pp. 12, 15, 16, 21.
Mitannian leaders with their designs of encroaching on
Egyptian holdings could only have regarded with satisfaction
the activities of the ha-BI-ru in
Amarna letters. In view of the contemporary ha-BI-ru--
Hurrian associations in adjoining
ha-BI-ru program and Mitannian policy will hardly have been
due to coincidence.174 Then the collapse
the expanding New Hittite power confronted the ha-BI-ru
with crisis and decision. And the noteworthy fact to emerge
is that the ha-BI-ru as an organized entity did not survive
the fall of
may attach to the political allegiance of the ha-BI-ru during
this crisis,175 their fundamental affiliation had been in the
Mitannian sphere where they had enjoyed their most satis-
factory social adjustment.
Meanwhile at Nuzu on the eastern extremity of Mitannian
dominion ha-BI-ru are found in a relationship to the Hurrians
rather different from that at
ence is perhaps to be explained by the recentness both of
of the ha-BI-ru there from a non-Hurrian area, in contrast to
the long association of the ha-BI-ru with the Hurrians in
ha-BI-ru were obliged to accept at Nuzu, though less at-
tractive an arrangement than the one enjoyed by their col-
underscore the unusually cordial association which prevailed
between the often ominous ha-BI-ru and the kingdom of
been convincingly equated by J. Lewy with that of the
174 Cf. EA 90:19-25.
175 In the period of Mitannian disintegration the ha-BI-ru cooperated
with the Hittites in their Palestinian interests. So, for example, they
assisted Aziru against the loyalists when he was being used as a tool by
the Hittite Suppiluliuma (cf. Boghazkoi-Studien VIII, 4). Similarly, during
the Old Hittite period ha-BI-ru mercenaries are found in the army of a
Hittite king at a time when he was contending against the Hurrians (cf.
nos. 72 and 72' in Bottero, op. cit.). A lack of coordination among the
various contingents of the ha-BI-ru military fraternity would lead to
such political complications.
‘ebed ‘Ibri in the biblical legislation.176 To the extent that this
is so it is evidence (not as Lewy concluded that the ha-BI-ru
at Nuzu were regarded as foreign servants but) that the
Hurrians treated the ha-BI-ru there like needy brothers.
Such is the plain meaning of the biblical ‘ebed ‘Ibri laws.177
Here then is a promising area for future investigation as the
volume of ha-BI-ru texts continues to grow. Available evi-
dence, however, would seem to warrant the conclusion that
within the period of our documents the primary base of opera-
tions for the ha-BI-ru, their center of family-tribal settlement
and societal integration, and their strongest political attach-
ments were in the Hurrian sphere. The implications of this
for earlier associations of the ha-BI-ru and Hurrians or Indo-
Aryans before they appear on the stage of near eastern history
are uncertain. In our present state of knowledge it appears
more likely that the ha-BI-ru were part of the massive migra-
tion from the north that brought the Hurrians into the Fertile
Crescent in the third millennium B. C. than that they were a
native element there.
(to be concluded)
176 The following parallels are adduced by Lewy: a) there was a fixed
terminus understood for the period of service (cf. Exod. 21:2 and JEN V,
455:1-7 and 8-16) ; b) there was the option of choosing to become a
permanent slave (cf. Exod. 21:5-6; but see, too, Lev. 25:39-41; and JEN V,
452, 453, etc.); c) the servant who left might not take with him a wife
given him by his master (cf. Exod. 21:4; but see, too, Lev. 25:41; and
JEN V, 437; cf. JEN VI, 611). Levy's position that there was a law
which automatically fixed the term of service in such contracts unless the
contract itself stipulated the master's lifetime, is criticized by Greenberg
(op. cit., p. 67, n. 28) on the ground that no contracts mention such a
feature. It seems, however, that the date formulae of JEN V, 455 are best
accounted for on an assumption like Lewy's.
177 This matter will be more fully examined later in this article. Even
if the Nuzu and biblical phenomena are not identified it must be recognized
that the ha-BI-ru at Nuzu were treated far more favorably than ordinary
slaves. They do not sell their persons to their patrons. They may termi-
nate their service by furnishing a substitute. The relationship of servant
to master is at times expressed in terms reminiscent of adoption contracts.
This material is cited with gracious permission from:
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