Back   Home


Ancient Man and His First Civilizations


Letters by Rib-Addi of Biblos to Amenhotep IV



The power of Egypt in Retenu was decreasing; the Hattians had conquered Mitanni and extended their power southwards. The Amorite king Aziru conquered a number of Phoenician cities such as Niy, Tunip and Sumur, which were either allied to or governed by Egypt.


Rib-Addi, a faithful vassal of Egypt, was old and ill.


Rib-addi spoke to his lord, the King of Lands:


May the Mistress of Gubla grant power to my lord. At the feet of my lord, my sun, I fall down seven times and seven times. Let the king, my lord, know that Gubla, your handmaid from ancient times, is well.

However, the war of the 'Apiru against me is severe. (Our) sons (and) daughters are gone, (as well as) the furnishings of the houses, because they have been sold in Yarimuta to keep us alive. My field is "a wife without a husband," lacking in cultivation. I have repeatedly written to the palace regarding the distress afflicting me, . . but no one has paid attention to the words that keep arriving. Let the king heed the words of his servant........... They . . . all the lands of the king, my lord. Aduna, the king of Irqata, mercenaries have killed, and there is no one who has said anything to Abdi-Ashirta, although you knew about it. Miya, the ruler of Arashni, has taken Ardata; and behold now the people of Ammiya have killed their lord; so I am frightened.

Let the king, my lord, know that the king of Hatti has overcome all the lands that belonged to the king of Mittani or the king of Nahma [4] the land of the great kings.

Abdi-Ashirta, the slave, the dog, has gone with him. Send archers. The hostility toward me is great. ................ and send a man to the city of . . . I will . . . his words.



Another letter: 


Rib-addi says to his lord, the King of Lands, the Great King, the King of Battle:

May the Lady of Gubla grant power to the king, my lord. At the feet of my lord, my Sun, I fall down seven times and seven times. Be informed that since Amanappa's arrival to me, all the 'Apiru have turned their face against me at the instigation of Abdi-Ashirta. Let my lord listen to the words of his servant, and let him send me a garrison to defend the city of the king, until the archers come out. And if there are no archers, then all the lands will unite with the 'Apiru. Listen, since the conquest of Bit-Arha in accordance with the demand of Abdi-Ashirta, they seek in the same way to unite Gubla and Batruna; and thus all lands would be united with the 'Apiru. Two cities remain with me, and they are also attempting to take them from the king's hand. Let my lord send a garrison to his two cities until the arrival of the archers, and give me something to feed them. I have nothing.

Like a bird that lies in a net, a kilubi/cage, so I am in Gubla. Furthermore, if the king is not able to rescue me from the hand of his enemy, then all lands will unite with Abdi-Ashirta. What is he, the dog, that he takes the king's lands for himself?



The conspiracy organized by Rib-Addi's brother in favor of Aziru of Amurru, son of his old enemy Abdi-Ashirta, drove him to seek refuge with Hammuniri . From there he sent his son to the Pharaoh bearing a request for aid.



Rib-addi [speaks] to the king, his Lord, [the sun of all countries]; [I have prostrated myself] seven times and seven times at the feet of the king, my Lord. I have written repeatedly in order (to obtain) [ troops ], but have not received them, [ and ] the king, my Lord, has not listened to the words of his servant. I have sent my messenger to the palace, and [he has returned] (with) empty (hands): there were troops for him. When the people of my house saw that no money had been given, they reproached me, the governors, my brothers, and they despised me. On the other hand, I set out for Hammuniri and in the meantime a brother of mine, younger than me, conspired against me at Gubla [1] to deliver the city to the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. When my brother saw that my messenger had returned empty(handed) and that there were no occupation troops with him, he despised me and thus he committed a crime, and he expelled me from the city. May the king, my Lord, not hold back (before) the actions of this dog.


Now I cannot enter the land of Mitsru [2]; I am old and I (suffer of) a serious disease in my own flesh. May the king, my Lord, know, that the Gods of Gubla are angered and the disease has become chronic, although I have confessed my sin to the Gods. Therefore I have not appeared before the king, my Lord. Now then, I have sent my son, servant of the king, my Lord, to the king, my Lord. May the king, my Lord, listen to the words of his servant and may the king, my Lord, give troops of archers to conquer the city of Gubla in order that enemy troops not enter her, nor the sons of A[bdi-A]shirta, and it become necessary that the troops of archers of the king, my Lord, reconquer it. See, (there are) many men who love me in the city and few are my enemies. When the troops of archers will be leaving and the day of their arrival be known, the city will return to the king, my Lord. And may my Lord know (that) I am willing to die for him.


When I was in the city, I made an effort to keep it for my Lord and my heart was firm (in the support of) the king, my Lord. It would not have delivered the city to the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. Therefore my brother has caused enmity between me and the city, to deliver it to the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. May the king, my Lord, hold back with respect to the city. Certainly there is inside her (walls) much gold and silver, and in her temples there is much of everything. If they conquer her, may the king, my Lord, do with his servant as he wants, but may he give me the city of Buruzilim as residence.


Now I am with Hammuniri, since Buruzilim has made the (other) cities hostile (to me) . They have become enemies for fear of the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. When I came to Hammuniri because of the sons of Abdi-Ashirta, when they were stronger than I and there was no encouragement for me from the mouth of the king, I said to the king, my Lord: See, the city of Gubla (is) his. In her (there are) many things of the king, the possessions of our ancestors. If the king holds back, he will not have left any city of Kinahnu [3]. May the king not hold back his action. Now I have sent to the king, my Lord, your servant, my son. May the king send him quickly with troops to take the city. If the king, my Lord, feels compassion for me and returns me to the city, then I will keep it for the king, my Lord, like previously. If the king, my Lord, [ does not return to me ] to her [... ] the city of Buruzilim [... will do] as she sees fit to his servant (?) ... Hammulniri [ I remain with him (?)].


May [the king, my Lord], listen to [the words] of his servant and send immediately troops to take the city. May the king, my Lord, not hold back with regard to this evil deed, that was committed against the countries of the king, [my Lord], and may the king, my Lord, quickly send troops of archers to take the city immediately. When they say in front of the king about the city: "the city is strong", it is not strong before the troops of the king, my Lord.



No help came from Egypt and Rib-Addi disappeared from history. Aziru after several years in Egypt returned to Amurru allying himself to the Hittites.




[1]Byblos [2] Egypt [3]Canaan [4]Nahma (Naharima, Naharin - i.e. the two rivers): Mitanni








The Great Hymn to the Aten


Praise of Re Har-akhti, Rejoicing on the Horizon, in His Name as Shu who is in the Aten-disc, living forever and ever; the living great Aten who is in jubilee, lord of all that the Aten encircles, lord of heaven, lord of earth, lord of the House of Aten in Akhet-Aten; (and praise of) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives on truth, the Lord of the Two Lands: Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re; the Son of Re, who lives on truth, the Lord of Diadems: Akh-en-Aten, long in his lifetime; (and praise of) the Chief Wife of the King, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands: Nefer-neferu-Aten Nefert-iti, living, healthy, and youthful forever and ever; (by) the Fan-Bearer on the Right Hand of the King ... Aye.


He says:


Thou appearest beautifully on the horizon of heaven,

Thou living Aten, the beginning of life!

When thou art risen on the eastern horizon,

Thou hast filled every land with thy beauty.

Thou art gracious, great, glistening, and high over every land;

Thy rays encompass the lands to the limit of all that thou hast made:

As thou art Re, thou reachest to the end of them;

(Thou) subduest them (for) thy beloved son.

Though thou art far away, thy rays are on earth;

Though thou art in their faces, no one knows thy going.


When thou settest in the western horizon,

The land is in darkness, in the manner of death.

They sleep in a room, with heads wrapped up,

Nor sees one eye the other.

All their goods which are under their heads might be stolen,

(But) they would not perceive (it).

Every lion is come forth from his den;

All creeping things, they sting.

Darkness is a shroud, and the earth is in stillness,

For he who made them rests in his horizon.


At daybreak, when thou arisest on the horizon,

When thou shinest as the Aten by day,

Thou drivest away the darkness and givest thy rays.

The Two Lands are in festivity every day,

Awake and standing upon (their) feet,

For thou hast raised them up.

Washing their bodies, taking (their) clothing,

Their arms are (raised) in praise at thy appearance.

All the world, they do their work.


All beasts are content with their pasturage;

Trees and plants are flourishing.

The birds which fly from their nests,

Their wings are (stretched out) in praise to thy ka.

All beasts spring upon (their) feet.

Whatever flies and alights,

They live when thou hast risen (for) them.

The ships are sailing north and south as well,

For every way is open at thy appearance.

The fish in the river dart before thy face;

Thy rays are in the midst of the great green sea.


Creator of seed in women,

Thou who makest fluid into man,

Who maintainest the son in the womb of his mother,

Who soothest him with that which stills his weeping,

Thou nurse (even) in the womb,

Who givest breath to sustain all that he has made!

When he descends from the womb to breathe

On the day when he is born,

Thou openest his mouth completely,

Thou suppliest his necessities.

When the chick in the egg speaks within the shell,

Thou givest him breath within it to maintain him.

When thou hast made him his fulfillment within the egg, to break it,

He comes forth from the egg to speak at his completed (time);

He walks upon his legs when he comes forth from it.


How manifold it is, what thou hast made!

They are hidden from the face (of man).

O sole god, like whom there is no other!

Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,

Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,

Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,

And what is on high, flying with its wings.


The countries of Canaan and Nubia, the land of Egypt,

Thou settest every man in his place,

Thou suppliest their necessities:

Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.

Their tongues are separate in speech,

And their natures as well;

Their skins are distinguished,

As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.

Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,

Thou bringest forth as thou desirest

To maintain the people (of Egypt)

According as thou madest them for thyself,

The lord of all of them, wearying (himself) with them,

The lord of every land, rising for them,

The Aten of the day, great of majesty.


All distant foreign countries, thou makest their life (also),

For thou hast set a Nile in heaven,

That it may descend for them and make waves upon the mountains,

Like the great green sea,

To water their fields in their towns.

How effective they are, thy plans, O lord of eternity!

The Nile in heaven, it is for the foreign peoples

And for the beasts of every desert that go upon (their) feet;

(While the true) Nile comes from the underworld for Egypt.


Thy rays suckle every meadow.

When thou risest, they live, they grow for thee.

Thou makest the seasons in order to rear all that thou hast made,

The winter to cool them,

And the heat that they may taste thee.

Thou hast made the distant sky in order to rise therein,

In order to see all that thou dost make.

Whilst thou wert alone,

Rising in thy form as the living Aten,

Appearing, shining, withdrawing or aproaching,

Thou madest millions of forms of thyself alone.

Cities, towns, fields, road, and river --

Every eye beholds thee over against them,

For thou art the Aten of the day over the earth....


Thou are in my heart,

And there is no other that knows thee

Save thy son Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re,

For thou hast made him well-versed in thy plans and in thy strength.


The world came into being by thy hand,

According as thou hast made them.

When thou hast risen they live,

When thou settest they die.

Thou art lifetime thy own self,

For one lives (only) through thee.

Eyes are (fixed) on beauty until thou settest.

All work is laid aside when thou settest in the west.

(But) when (thou) risest (again),

[Everything is] made to flourish for the king,...

Since thou didst found the earth

And raise them up for thy son,

Who came forth from thy body: the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, ... Ak-en-Aten, ... and the Chief Wife of the King ... Nefert-iti, living and youthful forever and ever.