Because She is a Daughter of Emar

Because She is a Daughter of Emar

Masamichi Yamada

(REFEMA 2nd Workshop: Jun 24-25, 2013, Tokyo)


Among the Emar texts, RE 61, a marriage contract of the Syrian type, is noteworthy for two unique expressions concerning women. The first is kīma mārāt Emarki, “according to (the custom for) the daughters of Emar” (l. 11), which shows that there was customary law for female citizens in Emar and that it regulated their marriages. The second is kīma mārat ( šīt, “because she is a daughter of Emar” (ll. 17f., 21f.). An analysis of the text reveals that this clause is parallel to the almattu-azibtu formula attested in the texts of the Syro-Hittite type: its intention is to protect the legal status of free women who are in a socio-economically inferior position. In short, both forbid treating these women as slaves.

 I. Introduction

In several Late Bronze Age Akkadian texts from the great bend area of the Middle Euphrates, we find the phrase kīma āli, literally, “as the city.” This is a technical phrase meaning, “according to the indigenous, customary law of the city.” In the texts from Emar of the thirteenth and the early twelfth centuries B.C., this phrase is attested in a total of eleven texts, six of the Syrian type and five of the Syro-Hittite type. The phrase kīma āli is found also in a text from Ekalte of the fourteenth century B.C., and a variant, uruEkal[t]eki, “according to (the custom of) Ekalte,” is found in another text.

Kīma āli is probably an abbreviated form of kīma paraṣ āli, “according to the custom of the city,” as suggested by an Alalaḫ text from the fifteenth century B.C., AT 17. According to this text, a certain Šaduwe, a man of (the city of) Luba, asked for the daughter of Apra as his daughter-in-law. At that time Šaduwe brought a gift to Apra, kīma paraṣ uruḪalabki, “according to the custom of Aleppo.” We are not sure why there is a reference to Aleppo in a text from Alalaḫ, but perhaps Alalaḫ followed the customs of Aleppo, or perhaps Abra was a citizen of Aleppo living in Alalaḫ

Among the occurrences of kīma āli in the Emar and Ekalte texts, one occurs in a debt contract from Emar, ASJ 13-T 34. The text states that when Šamaš-abu borrows 20 shekels of silver from Ya’ṣi-belu, the interest will be added “according to (the custom of) the city,” without specifying the rate, most probably because the custom of the city was very clear about the rate. All the other cases are found in texts relating to inheritance, in which the sons divide their father’s estate among themselves “according to (the custom of) the city.” In my opinion, this means that the eldest son receives a larger portion than his brothers, probably a double portion. Although the phrase kīma āli is not attested elsewhere, there is no doubt that the customary law of Emar covered also other areas in the social life of the Emarites, such as marriage, as we saw in the above case of Alalaḫ.

Concerning marriages in Emar, at the previous REFEMA workshop, I took up the almattu-azibtu formula, which says that a certain woman “is a widow with widows, (and) a divorcée with divorcées.” I concluded as follows: “(This) formula is concerned with married, free women who are in a socio-economically inferior position. It prescribes directly that they are to be treated like other normal widows and divorcées when they become widows or divorcées. However, its intention is more general, to insure they are treated as free women, not as slaves. In short, it says, they cannot be enslaved.”

The almattu-azibtu formula is attested only in texts of the Syro-Hittite type. But how did the Syrian-type texts intend that those women should be treated? This is the problem I will discuss below, using the Emar text RE 61, a marriage contract.


II. Text: RE 61

In the handout, I provide the transliteration and translation of the main part of the document, omitting the list of witnesses. When reading this text, it should be noted that ll. 16f. are problematic. In view of his handcopy, parts of G. Beckman’s readings of ⸢e?-ru-ub in l. 16 and of u-ta!-ar-ši in l. 17 are difficult to accept, and they do not seem to make good sense in the context. Neither do J.-M. Durand’s recent proposals seem very satisfactory to me. Instead, I suggest reading a-na UGU-[ḫi-ši] 16 lík-ru-ub ú-ul ú⸣-[na]- 17 :ga-ar-ši, “he ought to bless [her] (and shall) not b[la]me her.”

As for the first verb likrub (karābu G prec., I admit that CVC signs are used only occasionally in the Syrian-type texts, and that the phonetic value lík for the ŠID sign, i.e., lak, is late and rare. However, when CVC signs are used, we sometimes find alteration of the central vowel, for example, tàm for tim in Emar VI 185, and ṣár for ṣur in Emar VI 138.

My reading of the second verb as unaggar (nagāru D pres. is more hypothetical. But in the support of this, I would note the following points. Firstly, we would hardly expect any word between the negation ul and the verb in l. 17. Secondly, the third person prefix of the D stem /u-/, is usually not written with u, but with ú. Thirdly, although a Glossenkeil usually consists of double oblique wedges, we find it as a single oblique wedge or Winkelhaken in Emar VI 156 and RE 20, though with an indent, unlike here.

Although the above proposals for the readings are admittedly tentative, it seems likely to me that these lines prescribe that the husband be kind to his wife. In other words, a tyrant was never regarded as the ideal husband, even in the male-centered society of Emar.


III. Discussion

The text RE 61 records two marriages, in which brides are exchanged between two families. Dagan-milki gives her daughter Aḫlamitu to Aḫi-ḫamiṣ as his wife, and in turn, Aḫi-ḫamiṣ gives his daughter Na’mi-šada to Dagan-milki as the future wife of her son Yaḫanni-ili. It is interesting to note that the phrase kīma mārāt Emarki, “according to (the custom for) the daughters of Emar,” is used in l. 11 in reference to the latter marriage, though it probably refers to both marriages in actuality. In any case, this phrase, a variant of kīma āli, indicates that in Emar there was customary law for female as well as male citizens, and that it regulated their marriages.

Although both Aḫlamitu and Na’mi-šada are called “daughters of Emar,” in this text there is found no reference to the “bridewealth” (terḫatu), usually paid by the groom’s side to the bride’s side in marriages between citizens. This is probably because the payment by one side was simply balanced by that of the other. So, it seems reasonable to think that the two families were more or less at the same economic level.

Of the two marriages, that of Na’mi-šada with Yaḫanni-ili is assumed to be in the future. At present, she is given into the hands of his mother Dagan-milki as (her) “daughter-in-law and daughter.” The pair of abstract nouns used here, kallūtu u mārtūtu, indicates that it was a matrimonial adoption. Probably either Yaḫanni-ili or Na’mi-šada or both were still too young for marriage at the time. In my opinion, the text states that when both become mature, if Yaḫanni-ili marries Na’mi-šada, he shall be gentle with her. Then one may ask, if he does not marry her? There is no doubt that Dagan-milki will marry her to someone else, as is usual in matrimonial adoptions. The omission of this stipulation here is probably because their parents thought their marriage was virtually certain.

As observed above, both Aḫlamitu and Na’mi-šada were female citizens of Emar. But if they were normal citizens, one may wonder why it was necessary to designate each one as a “daughter of Emar.” In this respect, it is worth noting that the families of daughters given in matrimonial adoptions were usually in an economically poor position, as it is well attested in the Nuzi texts, our main source of matrimonial adoption contracts. This seems to be true for the Emar texts, too, particularly when we compare Emar VI 216 and 217 as we did at the first workshop. If this is correct, then the family of Na’mi-šada was in a low economic position in society, and since the two families were on about the same economic level, the family of Aḫlamitu was probably in a low economic position as well.

This point may be further supported by the very PN of Aḫlamītu, which means “a female Aḫlamaean.” The Aḫlamaeans are well known as nomads or pastoralists who had a close connection with the Aramaeans, whether or not they were identical with them. So, it is obvious that “Aḫlamitu” is an inappropriate name for a normal, female citizen of Emar. However, her deceased father was undoubtedly an Emarite citizen, since she is designated as a “daughter of Emar.” Is she an adopted Aḫlamaean girl, or was her father from an Aḫlamaean family which had been living in Emar for long time? In any case, it does not seem strange that the family of Aḫlamitu was in a low socio-economic position in Emar.

Now, let us consider the meaning of the clause kīma mārat ( šīt, “because she is a daughter of Emar,” in ll. 17f. and 21f., in light of this understanding concerning the two families. In both cases, it can be understood that the clause is used to protect the legal status of a free woman in a low socio-economic position, when her husband marries or divorces her. The latter case is particularly noteworthy: if Aḫi-ḫamiṣ should divorce Aḫlamitu, he will divorce her, no doubt using due process according to (the custom for) the daughters of Emar. In other words, he has to treat her as other normal divorcées. This immediately reminds us of the meaning of the almattu-azibtu formula in the Syro-Hittite-type texts. If the meaning is the same, is not the intention also? The answer must be positive. In my opinion, the phrase means that she is to be treated as a free woman, not as a slave. This point is supported by a matrimonial adoption contract from Nuzi, AASOR XVI 42.

In this text, Ḫanate, a female slave of (the lady) Tulpun-naya, takes Ḫalb-abuša as her “daughter and daughter-in-law,” so that Ḫanate may marry Ḫalb-abuša to whomever she wishes. However, this contract adds the stipulations as cited in the handout, saying, positively, that Ḫanate will treat Ḫalb-abuša as a female citizen of Arrapḫa, and negatively, that she will not make her a slave. That is, even though Ḫalb-abuša is put under control of the slave Ḫanate, she cannot be enslaved, because she is “a daughter of (the land of) Arrapḫa.” That there was a clear distinction between a female citizen and a slave is evident here.


IV. Conclusion

On the basis of the above considerations, we may conclude that both the clause kīma mārat ( šīt and the parallel almattu-azibtu formula are meant to protect the legal status of free women who are in a low socio-economic position. In short, both forbid treating these women as slaves. Thus, although different expressions are used in texts of the Syrian type and of the Syro-Hittite type, the idea that such women should be protected was a general one in Emarite society.




I. Introduction

1. kīma āli, “according to (the custom of) the city”

a) Syrian type: Emar VI 184: 11’; ASJ 13-T 23: 23; 34: 3; RE 8: 38; 28: 33; 30: 22

Ekalte II 92 (= RE 69): 21; cf. also 25: 6 ( uruEkal[t]eki)

b) Syro-Hittite type: Emar VI 112: 10; 177: 27’; 201: 50; 203: 4’; TS 46: 9[1]

cf. ki-ma pa-ra-aṣ URU.Ḫa-la-ab.KI, “according to the custom of Aleppo” (AT 17: 5)

2. almattu-azibtu formula (Syro-Hittite type)

Protection of the legal status of free women in a socio-economically inferior position (vs. slaves)

→ Then, what about those women in the Syrian-type texts?


II. Text: RE 61 (Syrian type)

1 fdda-gan-mi-il-ki DUMU⸣.MÍ dKUR-ta-ri-iḫ ŠEŠ.ḪÁ ši-bu-titu-še-ši-iba-nu-um-mafa-ḫa(sic)-la-mi-t[a] DUMU.MÍ-ši a-naa-ḫi-ḫa-mi-iṣ DUMU EN-lu-ka a-na DAM-⸢ut-ti⸣ [Ø] ta-an-din a-nu-um-ma <m>a-ḫi-ḫa-mi-iṣ DUMU EN-lu-ka DUMU.MÍ-šu fna-aḫ-mi-KUR a-na dda-gan-mi-il-ki DUMU.MÍ dda-gan-ta-ri-iḫ 10 a-na É.GI.A u DUMU.MÍ-ti 11 ki-ma DUMU.MÍ.MEŠ e-mar.KI 12 id-di-in-ši šum-ma 13 mia-ḫa-ni-DINGIR DUMU ri-x x […][2] 14 fna-aḫ-mi-⸢KUR⸣ DUMU.MÍ [a-ḫi-ḫa-mi-iṣ] 15 i-ḫu-uz a-na UGU-[ḫi-ši] 16 lík-ru-ub ú-ul ú⸣-[na]- 17 :ga-ar-ši[3] ki-ma DUMU.MÍ [Ø] 18 URU.KI.e-mar.KI ši-it šum-m[a] 19 ma-ḫi-ḫa-mi-iṣ DUMU EN-l[u-ka] 20 faḫ-la-mi-ta DAM->šú<-š[u] 21 iz-zi-ib-ši ki-ma DUMU.MÍ e-mar.KI 22 ši-it iz-zi-ib-ši

Dagan-milki, daughter of Dagan-tari’, caused (her) ‘brothers’ to be seated as witnesses. Now she has given her daughter Aḫlamit[u] to Aḫi-ḫamiṣ, son of Belu-ka, as (his) wife. Now Aḫi-ḫamiṣ, son of Belu-ka, has given his daughter Na’mi-šada to Dagan-milki, daughter of Dagan-tari’, as (her) daughter-in-law and daughter according to (the custom for) the daughters of Emar. If Yaḫanni-ili, son of Ri…[…], marries Na’mi-šada, daughter of [Aḫi-ḫamiṣ], he ought to bless [her][4] (and shall) not b[la]me her, because she is a daughter of Emar. If Aḫi-ḫamiṣ, son of Bel[u-ka], should divorce hi[s] wife Aḫlamitu, he will divorce her (using due process), because she is a daughter of Emar.

Notes on ll. 16f.:

・⸢lík-ru-ub — ŠID (= lak) for lík: late (NA, NB, LB) and rare; but cf. ša-ni-tàm(DIM/tim)-ma (Emar VI 185: 22’); ṣár(ZUR/ṣur)-pí (e.g., Emar VI 138: 10)

・⸢ú⸣-[na]-:ga-ar — (1) ul X (not erasure) vb.?; (2) u- as a prefix of the D-stem (cf. ú-)?; (3) a single oblique wedge or Winkelhaken for a Glossenkeil with an indent (Emar VI 156: 8; RE 20: 5a, 19a)


III. Discussion

1. kīma mārāt Emarki (l. 11): customary law for the female citizens of Emar

2. The marriages

a) Two Emarite women are exchanged

・Aḫlamitu and Na’mi-šada: “daughter of Emar” (ll. 17f., 21f.)

cf. bridewealth (terḫatu)

b) Na’mi-šada: in the kallūtu u mārtūtu of Dagan-milki = matrimonial adoption

・If Yaḫanni-ili marries her → to be gentle with her

・(If he does not marry her → Dagan-milki will marry her to someone else!)

3. The two families

a) Emphasis on the “daughter of Emar” → Why?

b) Remarks

・Na’mi-šada: given in matrimonial adoption (cf., e.g., Emar VI 216-217)

・Aḫlamitu: Aḫlamītu, (lit.) “a female Aḫlamaean”

∴ Both families were in a low socio-economic position

4. kīma mārat ( šīt

esp. if Aḫi-ḫamiṣ should divorce Aḫlamitu (by due process)

cf. 1 almattu-azibtu formula

cf. 2 AASOR XVI 42 (Nuzi):      matrimonial adoption of Ḫalb-abuša by Ḫanate, a female slave of (the lady) Tulpun-naya

20 ù fḫa-na-te fḫal-bá-bu-ša 21 ša ki-i mārat [a]r-ra-áp-ḫe i-p[u]-ša-aš-ši 22 a-na amtiti la ú-ta-ar-ši

Ḫanate will tr[e]at Ḫalb-abuša as a daughter of (the land of) [A]rrapḫa. She shall not turn her into a slave.


IV. Conclusion

The intention of kīma mārat ( (Syrian type):

parallel to that of the almattu-azibtu formula (Syro-Hittite type)



Arnaud, D. 1985-86: Recherches au pays d’Aštata. Emar VI/1-3, Paris (= Emar VI).

— 1991: Textes syriens de l’âge du Bronze récent (AuOrS 1), Sabadell (= TS).

Beckman, G. 1996: Texts from the Vicinity of Emar in the Collection of Jonathan Rosen (HANE/M II), Padova (= RE).

Ben-Barak, Z. 2006: Inheritance by Daughters in Israel and the Ancient Near East: A Social, Legal and Ideological Revolution, Jaffa.

Durand, J.-M. 2013: “Quelques textes sur le statut de la femme à Émar d’après des collations nouvelles,” Semitica 55, 25-60.

Grosz, K. 1987: “On Some Aspects of the Adoption of Women at Nuzi,” in: D. I. Owen & M. A. Morrison (eds.), General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi 9/1 (SCCNH 2), Winona Lake, Ind., 131-152.

Justel, J. J. 2008: “L’adoption matrimoniale à Emar (Syrie, XIIIe s. av. J.-C.),” RHD 86, 1-19.

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Sigrist, M. 1993: “Seven Emar Tablets,” in: A. F. Rainey (ed.), kinattūtu ša dārâti (= Gs. Kutscher), Tel Aviv, 165-187, Pls. II-VIII (= GsK-T).

Tsukimoto, A. 1991: “Akkadian Tablets in the Hirayama Collection (II),” ASJ 13, 275-333 (= ASJ 13-T).

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Yamada, M. 1997: “Kīma āli: On the Customary Law of Emar,” Bulletin of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan (= BSNESJ) 40/2, pp. 18-33 (in Japanese with English summary; see

— 2013: “The Chronology of the Emar Texts Reassessed,” Orient. Reports of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan 48, 125-156.

— forthcoming: “Widows and Divorcées as Free Women in Emar: A Study of the almattu-azibtu Formula,” BSNESJ 56/2 (in Japanese with English summary).

        [1]   Not Emar VI 29: 9; GsK-T 2: 7 (ki-i-ma URU-lè-e is to be read as ki-i ma-ṣi-me-e, “as many as”).

        [2]   Probably the deceased husband of Dagan-milki (Beckman). Durand suggests reading: dumu hu-ta⸣-⸢ri.⸣

        [3]   Cf. Beckman: a-na ugu-[ḫi-ši] 16 e?-ru-ub ú-ul x [   ] 17 u-ta!-ar-ši …, (If Yaḫanni-ilī takes Na’mī-šada as his wife) “and goes in to [her], he will not […] (Rather), he will return her according to (the custom for) a daughter of the city of Emar”; also Durand: a-na muh-[hi-ši] 16 e-ru-ub ú-ul {X X} 17 u-ga-ar-ši …, (Si, Yahannel ayant épousé Na’mi-šada) “entre la retrouver, il ne la traitera plus en étrangère: elle est/sera assimilée à une citoyenne d’Émâr.”

        [4]   Otherwise, “to invoke blessings upon [her]” or “to pay homage to [her].”

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