Kudurru Stones & Abrahamic Covenant
It is normal to compare the Abrahmic Covenant with the Suzerain-Vassal treaties, well known from “Hittite” cuneiform texts (very few actually mention the Hittites). However, it has correctly been pointed out that there are large range of differences between these”Hittite treaties” and the Abrahamic Covenant. This covenant is much more closely related to the land-grants represented on the“Kudurru Stones” or “Babylonian Boundary Stones”. These Kudurru Stones represent the royal granting of private property rights to individuals and their descendants.
A number of characteristics are common to these Royal grants:
(1) The king granting the land is often identified with His titles and accomplishment;
(2) The individual receiving the grant of land is protected by a curse against any who would infringe rights of the landowner. In some of the examples we have the granting king taking the oath, “May I be cursed if I take back what gave to you.” (Abba-El to favored servant);
(3) These Royal grants are normally awarded for some form of loyal service;
(4) The gifting of the land is not only to the favoured individual but also to his descendants on into perpetuity;
(5) As the portion of land is central to these grants there is often a description of a survey of the land involved;
(6) Often these refer to property being granted to a favoured individual who is asked to settle amongst a hostile population.
(7) In many of these land grants the gift consists not only of the land but also everything and everyone who dwells on that land.
All the above Kudurru Stone elements can be seen in the Genesis 15 version of the Abrahamic Covenant.
A fuller discussion of how Kudurru Stones help us understand the Abrahamic Covenant can be found on Day 14 of the 2011 “Counting the Omer Biblically” notes at: www.facebook.com/pages/Counting-the-Omer-Biblically/19309…
Whilst important parts of this paper are original to the author Kudurru Stones have been well known for over a century. Every now and then various scholars have pointed out the close parallels between Kudurru grant giving and the Abrahamic Covenant. Unfortunately the older, more established habit of comparing this covenant with the “Hittite Treaties” has been repeated so often that few consider any alternative. The author would like to thank the following scholars for their contribution to his understanding. Examples of Kudurru Stones can be viewed in the British Museum, London, the Louvre, Paris and the National Museum of Iraq.
M. WEINFELD, “THE COVENANT OF GRANT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST”, JAOS 90(1970)
Tim Hegg, “the Covenant of Grant and the Abrahamic Covenant”, read at the Regional Evangelical Theological Society, 1989
L.W.King, “Babylonian Boundary Stone and Memorial Tablets in the British Museum” (Oxford University Press) 1912
Typical Boundary Markers. Such markers were specifically protected under the Law of Moses (Dt 19:14; Prov 22:28) In fact Dt 27:17 tells us, ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ Job (24:2) shows us that this has been understood as theft since ancient times. Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek & Roman law also viewed such moving of these boundary stones as a crime. Those who refuse to live righteously are described in Hosea 5:10 as ‘like those who remove a landmark’.