Back   Home

Ancient Man and His First Civilizations

Letters from Biridiya of Megiddo

 To the king, my Lord and my God and Sun, thus speaks Biridiya, the loyal servant of the king:
At the feet of the king, my Lord and my God and Sun, seven times and seven times I prostrate myself.

May the king know that since the archers have gone back, Labayu [1] carries out acts of hostility against me, and that we cannot shear the wool [2], and that we cannot pass through the gate in the presence of Labayu, since he knows that you have not given (me) archers; and now he intends to take Meggido [3], but the king will protect his city so that Labayu does not seize her. In truth, the city is destroyed by death as a result of pestilence and disease. Grant the king one hundred garrison troops to guard the city, lest Labayu take it. Certainly, Labayu has no another intentions. He tries to destroy Meggido.


To the king, my lord, and my sun, say: Thus says Biridiya, the loyal servant of the king:
At the feet of the king, my lord, and my sun, seven times and seven times I prostrate myself.

Let the king, my lord, take note of his servant and his city. Behold, I alone am cultivating in the town of Shunama [4]; and, as for me, I furnish forced laborers [5].

Behold, the hazzanu [6] who are near me do not do as I do. They do not cultivate in the city of Shunama, and they do not furnish forced laborers. I alone furnish forced laborers.
From the town of Yapu [7] they come, from my [...], from the town of Nuribta [8] . Now, may the king, my lord, be aware regarding his town.

 [1]     Labayu, king of Shechem. His main power base was Pella east of the Jordan River from where he could control the flow of Asiatic goods into Egypt.
 [2]     Wool, rather more important to Near Eastern economies than to the Egyptian.
 [3]     Megiddo, power center in the Jezreel valley, conquered by Thutmose III
 [4]     Shunama, biblical Shunem in the Jezreel Valley
 [5]     Forced labor was imposed as a kind of tax both Egyptians and in the Near Eastern kingdoms
 [6]     hazzanu, the local rulers
 [7]     Yapu, possibly Joppa (Jaffa)
 [8]     Nuribta unknown town

Egypt doesn't seem to have interfered too much in the internecine squabbles of the princelings in its empire, as long as its direct interests were not threatened. Labayu's position was such, that he did pose such a threat and an order for his apprehension was issued. The ruler of Akko was to capture Labayu and send him to Egypt, but he was bribed and let him go. Labayu was subsequently killed by inhabitants of Gina (probably today's Jenin). His two sons continued their father's policies.
Addu-qarrad urged the pharaoh to take steps against them by requesting the king of Damascus to intervene. At the same time he accused Milki-illu of being disloyal to the Egyptians (EA 250).